Thursday, March 31, 2011

Maybe the guy just enjoys getting awards for things he didn't do.

Okay, first he gets the Nobel peace prize forty seconds after the election, before he even had a chance to break any of his campaign promises about ending the wars - and certainly before he got us all into a new one for no very good reason.

Now he gets a prize for transparency in government. Oh, wait - you didn't hear about that? No reason you should have, I suppose...
President Obama finally and quietly accepted his “transparency” award from the open government community this week — in a closed, undisclosed meeting at the White House on Monday.

The secret presentation happened almost two weeks after the White House inexplicably postponed the ceremony, which was expected to be open to the press pool.

No joy in mudville.

GC Guy was really excited. For the first time in the history of the company, the plant that produces cases for his geiger counters was shipping them to him by the pallet! Big time!

Er...That was almost two weeks ago. Today Yellow Freight finally shuffled its corporate feet and admitted that they've lost the pallet. Yesterday we closed up the last cases we had, and now we're temporarily out of the geiger counter business.

The REALLY bad news is that there are other things to work on, so he didn't just send me home.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

A terribly great leap forward!

GC Guy called me on Saturday, all excited. "We're getting a building for the geiger counters!" he crowed. M and Landlady happened to be standing there, so I hit the speaker button. Hilarity ensued.

I assumed he meant he'd rented some commercial space in town, which would have brought near-certain fiscal collapse to the whole enterprise but is the sort of thing GC Guy's father is capable of insisting upon. But no: They're literally getting a building. A 12X30 prefab. Towed to the property and dropped there. Okay, well, that made more sense. I suppose. When the radiation panic dies, you can always use it for something else. And argue with Dad over who's paying the $6000. I hung up the phone and yelled (something like) "SHITE!" Because I've really been hoping the inevitable end of the current radiation panic will cause the reduction - if not the complete collapse - of the market in geiger counters. But somebody's betting relatively big bux that that's not the case.

This morning the building arrived. It's exactly as advertised: A bare, 12X30 room with a garage door on one end, one people door and one window. A couple more windows, some electricity and some insulation and this will actually be a pretty good workspace - much better than the one we've been using. Till we get the windows in it's gonna be hell for ventilation, but GC Guy already has some spare windows it won't take us much time to install.

He's really excited. I was...less so.

In the Good News department, that old Taurus .44 is sweet! It's got a really nice trigger, and I've been carrying it around in this ludicrously mis-matched holster because I'm afraid it'll get sad all alone during the day. After all it comes from a broken home. There's a wonderful store in a town about 45 miles away that almost certainly has the holster I need, and possibly even some ammo (Did you know .44 Special has gotten hard to find? Because I didn't) and I'm trying to finagle a ride from any neighbor who's going in that direction. I'm still carrying around my salary from two weeks ago* and it's burning a hole in my pocket.

*In the bad news department, I'm theoretically making all this money but will have trouble actually getting paid. GC Guy's company insisted on taking me on as a 1099 employee, which was acceptable, but of course they pay in checks. Which are difficult to cash when you don't have Valid Government-Issued Photo Identification. Which I don't. So instead of FRNs, I'm getting paid in a different sort of green paper that's even harder for me to spend than usual. I'm working on it.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Sunday, March 27, 2011

How to turn a short job into a long one, in five seconds or less.

This morning I went over to D&L's to trade an hour's labor for a shot at their washing machine. The labor they wanted done was simplicity itself: Change the oil in their Onan and Champion generators.

Everything went swimmingly, and I was congratulating myself on what a neat job I'd done. Irony's coming.

I asked D to switch on the Onan so it could fill the new oil filter, and then I'd check the oil level again. He did. The Onan is inside a dark generator house, and I couldn't see what was going on. If only I had, it would have saved substantial work.

Uncle Joel left the filler cap off the crankcase. That little two-banger engine holds almost a gallon and can crank up some serious oil pressure. Uncle Joel spent the next three freaking hours cleaning up the mess, from wiping down the rafters to scrubbing the adobe floor with kitty litter, and in between removing every panel on the engine to get all the hidden oil pools.


Saturday, March 26, 2011

Gaia Update

J and I have high hopes for Gaia, because we'd like to have a horse or two around his place who doesn't think anybody but H is beneath their notice. So we've been spending a lot of time trying to convince Gaia that men are not completely evil.

She's a sweetheart, but still very shy. Today her mother Torry was being very protective and worked hard to keep herself between her baby and the strange man with the camera. Maybe it was the wind, or maybe it was because I rarely go into their space without a shitwagon for an excuse. But if you stay real still and go to one knee, sooner or later Gaia will come out from behind her mama and come up to touch noses with the strange creature who so far hasn't done her any harm.

She's gonna be lovely when she grows up.

The first "M's Dome" update of the season.

Spring is here, and with it the first updates to M's Dome.

One of these days I really hope to report that M's Dome has become M's earth-bermed home, and that we can stop updating the damned thing. But until then, we'll keep working on the walls.

Today wasn't anything too terrible, almost a token effort. He brought some three-inch blocks so we could bring the two sections of wall more in compliance with one another. But it was definitely a sign of things to come.

Friday, March 25, 2011

Landlady promised me a mega care package...

...and she delivered!

Alcohol! Tobacco! AND Firearms! Yeah, baby! Also coffee, oranges, and (pant) corned beef.

Actually I'll be paying for the wheelgun, but in tractor labor for M. By strange historical coincidence, this is the very wheelgun (44 Special, 2" barrel) I looked at back in December, but the price was too high then. Now I can afford some leather for it, and even a bit of practice ammo! Joy!

Thursday, March 24, 2011

I'd just like to remove two words from the title...


Ban sought on texting while lawmaking

Part of normalizing something is lightening up about it.

As regular TUAK readers know, I've had a thing or two to say about pink guns here. Today Claire mentioned her opinion on the subject, and some of the comments she got led me to believe some folks need to lighten up a bit.

Sure, there are serious reasons for serious gun finishes. When I outfitted my own carbine, I went for deliberate ugly.

I went for ugly because I didn't ever want to sweat the scratches and dings a carry gun's gonna get out here, and because I wanted my carbine to make people wonder, "how crazy is this guy really?" Obviously it isn't for everybody. Normally you'd go for stainless or parkerized, or some more serious, more durable finish. Guns are tools, and tools are serious business. Sure.

But c'mon. Guns are also - or at least I hope we reach the stage where they are - personal accessories by which you can kind of express yourself. Would I carry a pink gun? Oh, hell no. But I'm a smelly old hermit, and it wouldn't go with the image. Anybody who paints her nails outlandish colors, or frets over the lace on her underwear, might get a big kick out of carrying a boomstick in an outré color. When that sort of thing becomes popular, we're seeing the re-normalization of personal weapons as a part of everyday wear. Which personally, I think is a good thing.

Anyway that's the direction I hope we're going. And if that means putting up with pink pistols, whether literal or metaphorical, I'm completely on board with it.

Hee Hee ... Oh, Dearie My ...

Our hero may have wanted to keep a narrower - er, smaller - no, I mean lower profile...

Here's a surprise - Action Heroes apparently make lousy cops in real life, too!
According to beefy action film star Steven Seagal's former "boss," Jefferson Parish Sheriff Newell Normand, Seagal is not "on loan" from Jefferson Parish, as Seagal asserted recently after a massive MCSO raid on a home in Laveen, where one -- count him, one -- suspect was nabbed for his alleged involvement in raising roosters for the purposes of cockfighting.

Indeed, according to Sheriff Normand, who once played host to Seagal's A&E reality series Steven Seagal: Lawman, the tough-guy Akido master resigned rather than face an internal affairs investigation by the JPSO into allegations of sex trafficking and sexual assault raised in a 2010 lawsuit by an ex-employee.
You guys deserve every particle of embarrassment this guy's association brings you. I wish you joy of it - and then that you burst into flames.

H/T to Balko.

Land of the free, home of the theatrically violent

Steven Seagal teams up with patriotic ol' Sheriff Joe and pours his amazing marshal arts bulk into a tank for a violent televised raid on a - chicken-raising operation? In a tank? C'mon...
PHOENIX -- Sheriff Joe Arpaio rolled out the tanks to take down a man suspected of cockfighting.

West Valley residents in the neighborhood are crying foul after armored vehicles, including a tank, rolled into their neighborhood to make the bust.

Neighbor Debra Ross was so worried she called 911 and went outside where a nearby home had its windows blown out, was crawling with dozens of SWAT members in full gear, armored vehicles and a bomb robot.

“When the tank came in and pushed the wall over and you see what's in there, and all it is, is a bunch of chickens,” Ross said.
But sleep tight, citizens! Our brave protectors have proven themselves so concerned for the chickens' standard of living that they immediately relieved them of their lives.
Thousands of dollars in damages were made to the property and 115 birds were euthanized on the spot.
And a wonderful time was had by all. Except the neighbors. And the unarmed, inoffensive guy the cops arrested. And the chickens, I suppose.

Yet people just loooove Sheriff Joe, and keep electing him. And I presume keep watching this dumbass television show I never heard of before now.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

The dems seem a bit off message here...

QoD - "topic of the day" edition:

Seriously, the news media has always had the attention span of a hyperactive Pekingese in desperate need of a Ritalin MilkBone, but it's more noticeable at some times than others, and lately it's been very... hey! Let's go ride our bikes!

- Tam

Hey! Lookit this!

TUAK passed 100,000 visits today!

Thanks, guys!

Good news!

GC Guy: We're not causing these GM tube failures, Joel. Must be from shipping, because we've been really careful with them.

Me: I can't testify I haven't caused any failures, but I have been treating them like they're filled with nitroglycerin.

(Phone rings, GC Guy takes the call.)

GC Guy: Company wants a rush order of two units for the TSA at Chicago O'Hare.

Me: Okay, I need to go home and actually fill two tubes with nitroglycerin now.

GC Guy: I didn't hear that.

I console myself that I just build them, I don't decide where they get sent.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

What is this "constitution" of which you speak?

Shite. I can't keep the politicians straight without a scorecard. I expected some GOP pols to try eviscerating Obama over Libya, as if they've got room to talk. So I turn on the news and who do I hear? A democrat? Aren't they supposed to be on the Big O's side? And he bases his complaint on the constitution? Last I heard, that ol' piece of paper wasn't relevant to either party any more, and certainly not to democrats.

My goodness that's a sour-faced old parasite. It's all very well that he starts his bloviation by throwing O's words back in his face, not that this would be the first time - or the tenth time - Obama has forgotten some campaign promise.

"If we don't abide by our constitution, everything falls apart here." Is this guy new in congress? Because it seems as though I've heard his name before, but since when did a congressvermin care about the constitution? Did he just find it under a filing cabinet or something?

Is this the same kucinich who cared so much about the constitution a few years ago that he wanted to establish a Department of Peace and Non Violence and ban handguns?

Monday, March 21, 2011

Holy Double Standard, Batman!

Seen at Tam's:

I'm not a big Sarah Palin fan myself, but if this isn't grounds for a libel suit there's no such thing.

Dumb Twat? Excuse me? The party of civility would go insane if Limbaugh said something like this about Hillary. But somehow this is greeted by howls of approval, and nobody's got anything to say about it but a bunch of bloggers. Something's wrong with this world.

Yike! Wind!

We had as luverly a windstorm as I've ever seen here today, fer shur. I knew we were in trouble when I woke at one and the wind was blowing. Wind before dawn always means the afternoon will be hell; hell before nine in the morning means the whole frickin' desert will blow away by the afternoon. And so it was.

At geiger counter central we went from bare trays to 160 units ready to solder, and no way to solder them. GC guy has been doing the soldering outdoors; that was clearly impossible. He set up a ventilated room in his house to do it, but a very little experimentation proved that trying to move the trays from the building where we assemble them to the house would allow the wind to sweep the boxes right off the trays into ... well, into Nebraska. He's got this thing about soldering indoors, like a little solder smoke is going to kill him. Why, when I was his age...

So now I'm not sure what we're gonna do tomorrow. We can't assemble more boxes because we're out of trays and places to put them, but if he's not willing to solder the damned things we're kinda stuck. One thing for sure is that I've got a full day ahead of me, because I've got to start shit-shoveling early so I can get everything in. Also, the weather forecast says our nice warm weather is going away for a while - back into the twenties. Shite.

Meanwhile, here in plumbing hell at Landlady's place, I got the freeze damage fixed at Landlady's house while the well pump filled the cistern. Hot and cold running water, yay! Yeah, except when I went back to the powershed, stuff was floating around in there. Plumbing guy's brilliant piping job had come apart in a truly spectacular fashion. I left him an irate voicemail, to which he has so far failed to reply. Landlady's due here at the end of the week and I was really looking forward to delighting her with her fully-functional house plumbing, and now the whole system's down again. If he doesn't respond in the next day or two I'll make up a list of stuff we need to just do it ourselves. Last week I got ten feet of pipe, but I'm pretty much out of fittings. If I just look the current installation over and get the parts I need, I can't possibly do a worse job than he did and then we can get it up and running this weekend. I say hopefully. This is truly...ridiculous. If you ever move to the boonies, bring your own contracting skills because the locals kinda suck.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

...Why it's good to be a dad...

I got an email from my daughter this morning. She sent me a bunch of photos which I'm not going to share, because - well, they're of a pregnant lady and they're just for me.

Surfing around, I went to Robb Allen's place. And he showed me this:

And damn. Between the two events, it reminded me of when my daughter was a towheaded little thing. And I wasn't always a very good father, and sometimes she'd drive me to thoughts of violence, because - poor thing - she was a lot like me and even when she was a toddler she just couldn't go along to get along. But them sometimes - sometimes she'd do something like this and remind me why letting your daughter live isn't just a matter of pheromones.

You can't squeeze them too tight or they'll break. But you can try to find ways to show them that, even if sometimes there's no two creatures in the universe with more communication troubles than a man and his daughter, you still really do know that there's nothing in the universe more precious than she is.

The downside of "off the radar"

My papers are not in order. It's a sad fact.

Even back when I went to some effort to keep my papers neatly in order, they were usually screwed up in some way. Some license or registration out of date, some form not filled out right or sent to the wrong office. If I ever in my life went to a DMV office to renew a driver's license and actually accomplished that on the first try, the incident isn't coming to mind right now. So it isn't really a political statement, just a Freudian thing: I'm terrible about paperwork.

In the past several years, of course, this has become a real issue because on some matters I don't even try anymore. I have no driver's license, for example, and for various reasons not to be discussed here I would find it difficult and expensive to change that. For a long time I drove around anyway - yes you CAN drive without a license, the car starts right up - but then I got caught and it was an extremely humiliating and expensive experience which I mostly strive not to repeat. So now I don't even own a car - the Jeep belongs to Landlady, and while I use it for local, mostly off-road chores I don't often risk it by going into town. One of the downsides of small towns is that once the local law knows you, it doesn't forget you.

This raises certain complications. I can and do store one freak of a lot of beans and rice, but a steady diet of little but that makes life itself a burden after a while. So I impose on neighbors for rides a lot, trying to keep karmic balance by always showing up when they want something done, but that doesn't always work. My neighbors are also largely hermits, and sometimes the ride supply just dries up. This was the case for quite some time before last week, when I suddenly found myself fully employed and without the time to bum rides or take very long walks through the desert. Which meant I was down to pretty much nothing in the pantry except the bulk stuff - I didn't even have time to bake bread. Yesterday afternoon I went to raid the last of Landlady's old supply of dried potatoes, and found out why that rat has been so evident in the pantry lately...

Between that and the egg lady down the road going out of business, that was just the last friggin' straw. I wanted something fresh to eat, and I wanted it now. Here I had a pocket full of money, and nothing I could spend it on!

So last night I waited for dark and did something bad. I locked up the boys - making sure to top off the water in case I didn't come back - and I snuck into town. So now, until I get paid tomorrow, I don't have a pocket full of money. But I do have potatoes and onions and eggs and quicky lunch stuff and booze and tobacco and gasoline.

And having gotten away with it this once, except for a twinge of conscience over the risk to Landlady's Jeep, I don't feel a damn bit bad about that. Guess I'm just evil.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Here we go again...

As the shooting starts.

BENGHAZI, Libya (AP) — The Pentagon says the United States has launched a missile strike on Libyan air defenses.

American warplanes, ships and submarines prepared to launch a furious assault on Libya's limited air defenses Saturday, clearing the way for European and other planes to enforce a no-fly zone designed to ground Moammar Gadahfi's air force and cripple his ability to inflict further violence on rebels, U.S. officials said.

Hours after Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton attended an international conference in Paris that endorsed military action against Gadhafi, the U.S. was poised to kick off its attacks on Libyan air defense missile and radar sites along the Mediterranean coast to protect no-fly zone pilots from the threat of getting shot down.

Place your bets - Which of today's heroic freedom fighters will become the vicious tyrants the U.S. will be fighting in Libya ten years from now?

"Shoot him in his toodles," heh...

I don't know for sure what toodles are, but I'm quite sure I don't want this lady to inform me.

Wow. Now THIS is how to make an unabashedly political movie review.

Bill Whittle on Battle LA:
I spent every single second of this movie wishing I'd joined the Marine Corps, and being ashamed of myself that I did not. And that's a good thing.
Yeah, I had the same reaction when Will Smith punched out that alien in Independence Day. "Welcome to Earth!" Ba-dang! Marines are awesome when they're fighting movie aliens! It chokes me up, man.

Bombing the world for peace

Saw this on Unc:

A lot of libertarians are strict non-interventionists. I’m not. When you are a human rights violator, I think that your shit needs to be blown up, and we’ve got the bombs. Qadhafi is certainly a human rights violator.
I don't know who he's calling "we." I don't admit to having any bombs at all. But I suppose he's talking about Obama and the military. So how's that been working out so far?

Lessee: "We" started bombing Afghanistan into a state of peace and freedom in late 2001. "We" invaded Iraq to bring it peace and freedom in 2003. That's eighteen years of war, admittedly with concurrent sentences, and both places are hellish basket cases. I don't doubt that the Taliban and Saddam were human rights violators, but I wonder how many Afghanis and Iraqis wish "we'd" left them alone. Come to think of it, since neither nation's government disarmed their people, I occasionally wonder how unhappy those people really were with their governments before "we" came along and freed them. Seems like they could have shot the bastards themselves if they were feeling all that oppressed, and I seem to recall video of cheering crowds surrounding Saddam, shooting AK-47s in the air. Why should I feel so sorry for some dumbass who can't even miss the sky and hit Saddam, that I'm willing to risk my own hide to get rid of the guy for him?

And now this chickenhawk wants "us" to bomb Libya, because of that bad ol' Qadhafi. Okay, but I hope at least that when he advocates this, he's planning to join up and do it himself. But I doubt it.

Holy Improvisation, Batman!


I've had trouble with the Jeep's battery since winter before last. Since I never had trouble with it during the summer, I rarely gave it much thought. In the winter I was too cold and broke to do much more than think about it. But this was clearly its last season - if I didn't put it on a charger every other night, every single night when it was below freezing, the Jeep wasn't going anywhere the next morning. But batteries are expensive.

Craigslist can be a wonderful thing. I've got some friends who have become real Craigslist-watchers, and one of them found me a local guy who had a nearly new battery he wanted to let go fairly cheap. With the help of Landlady, I hooked up with him weekend before last, and then I had a nearly-new battery. Trouble is, it was a side-terminal style and wouldn't bolt right to the Jeep. I didn't even know they still made those miserable things, but it was now what I had.

It took nearly another week before I could get back to town and buy a set of adapters at the auto parts store. This morning I found that the Jeep's terminals didn't fit the adapters. I had already swapped out the batteries when I learned this, and the last thing I wanted to do was put the old battery back. I tried finagling the adapters every which way, and they just wouldn't work. So I rummaged around and found a pair of bolts with the right thread size. Too long, of course, so I carefully cut them off. With a few washers to get the fit just right, the Jeep now starts with a fair show of enthusiasm. We'll see how well it holds up after we've bumped through the desert a bit. I'll be keeping tools handy.

Friday, March 18, 2011

Wait. What?

Was this some other Martin Luther King I never heard of?
To make the point, the AFL-CIO is planning a series of nationwide events on April 4, the 43rd anniversary of the day the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated after speaking in Memphis, Tenn., on behalf of striking black garbage collectors. The message: King's cause, and that of angry schoolteachers in Madison, are one.

"April 4 [is] the day on which Martin Luther King Jr. gave his life for the cause of public collective bargaining," Trumka said in another speech, in Washington, on Wednesday. And on the AFL-CIO blog, there is this notice: "Join us to make April 4, 2011, a day to stand in solidarity with working people in Wisconsin, Ohio, Indiana and dozens of other states where well-funded, right-wing corporate politicians are trying to take away the rights Dr. King gave his life for."
Now having too many government workers making too much of other people's money is the moral equivalent of equal rights for oppressed races? Are you, like, frickin' crazy?

Please tell me nobody's gonna buy this. Because it's my dark fear that people really are this stupid.

I haven't said this in years, but...

Thank God It's Friday!

Thursday, March 17, 2011

I'm probably not going to write a lot about geiger counters in the future.

GC Guy: Sorry about doing the soldering in here, Joel. It's just too windy outdoors.

Me: Hey, I'm a child of the fifties. I'm just glad you weren't grinding uranium.

This has been a high-stress week for GC Guy and his wife. When married couples are under stress, they tend to bitch at each other. I've never regarded this as much of a spectator sport. So I try to keep my head down and just do the thing so I can go home.

Finding ways to do the thing without supervision really isn't difficult, because most of this isn't rocket surgery. Assembling geiger counters is just like assembling any other electronic widget; once you know the order of the steps and where the wires go, you really spend most of your mental energy on ways you'd improve the process if you were in charge. Which I'm not, and the few polite suggestions I made were pretty firmly rebuffed. He's been building these things in lots of five and ten for years, and his way of doing it always worked for him. Now all of a sudden he's got hundreds of them on trays in various states of construction, and it's easy to get the trays mixed up and forget something vital. Like, before you glue down the speakers it's very important to clean the inside of the cases with alcohol because there's something in the mold-release agent that doesn't get along with hot glue. So today right around quitting time, the speakers started falling off a whole tray's worth of production. The good news is that it was very easy to establish I hadn't been responsible for cleaning the cases on that tray. Like I said, the guy's stressed out.

I really hope the panic ends soon, because this is going to massively suck in another couple of weeks.

Boys in Blue! What's the best way to defuse a "domestic disturbance" call?

How about setting the guy on fire? Y'think that might work?

Okay, sure. The guy was clearly someone I'm glad wasn't married to my daughter. But still: Gasoline - high-voltage electrical discharge. Right away I'd be thinking, what could conceivably go wrong?

H/T to Claire

Well then, maybe they should secede.

I've got no problem with it. Others in the county might not agree.

Commenter S sent me this amusing piece about some liberals in Pima County, Arizona who aren't happy with the recent direction of the lawmaking in that state:
Jokes about the effort, and the liberal history of the region, abound. "The official state license plate would read: Baja Arizona: Your Welfare Is Our Business," wrote Roger Yohem, a columnist for "Inside Tucson Business. "The official state gun would be the Hasbro Super-Soaker."
See, what has always bothered me about the whole concept of states and nations is that there actually IS a law - or a whole bunch of laws - somewhere that says you're stuck with association with this arbitrary group of people, even though you personally may have nothing in common with them at all. That probably makes a lot of sense to whoever's in charge at the moment, but it never made sense to me. So far as I'm concerned, I am the sovereign nation of Joel. Get off my lawn.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

(Chortle) Just when you thought something was so obvious it didn't need to be said...

Breda's got a post about how a lot of gun dealers still suggest .38 snubbies to woman customers looking for a first handgun. She thinks this is very bad advice:
Sure, snubbies live up to a lot of their selling points (It's small! It's light! It'll fit in your purse!) but no one ever seems to tell women what it feels like to shoot one. So let me say it right now...

It sucks.

A lightweight .38 snubnosed revolver is quite possibly the worst choice for a potential new gunchick because, you know what? Practicing with one enough to actually be able to hit your target is the opposite of fun. The recoil hurts, your hand goes numb, and if the trigger is heavy, JMB help you...your finger will be sore and red long after your trip to the range. You'll be tempted to give up and let your "best gun for a woman" collect dust in a drawer somewhere.
That's pretty much always been my take on it. The lighter the pistol the heavier the recoil, all other factors being equal. I've never understood why lightweight revolvers with heavy triggers and lousy sights are so commonly offered as the best choice for new shooters who are likely to have issues with recoil and the hand strength it takes to keep a light revolver on target while you drag a DA trigger through what it needs to do its thing. You still hear the same bad advice year after year, but I'd have thought a bunch of experienced shooters would consider it so obvious it barely even needed to be said.

Which just shows how wrong I can be, because you gotta check out the comments she got! I haven't seen such an argument since a forum poster said something nice about 9mm.

To me, $200 is a lot of money.

You've heard the prepper professors say that step one is "get out of debt." I can testify that that's mighty good advice. I was over at J&H's early yesterday morning, frantically shoveling shit before I had to run and make geiger counters. Their neighbor is D&M. D's a former cop, out of work because of a bad back. M also lost her government job. D&M are not, frankly, my very favorite people and I make it a policy to have as little as possible to do with them. But they're now desperately in the process of trying to sell their property because they're about to lose it. They're the only people in the neighborhood with an actual mortgage, and now they can't make the payments.

If you don't have debt, you don't have debt payments. Whatever money you make (after taxes, of course) you own. Which means you only absolutely need enough money to keep you in the things you absolutely need. I've been getting by for months on a regular income of $30 a week. I haven't been getting by real well, and certain things that I'd normally consider necessities have become luxuries, but I have been getting by. In the past three days I've made over $200, and I feel rich beyond the dreams of avarice - I've spent evenings spending it in my mind, a rather pleasant way to pass the time.

Just saying. Sometimes debt is unavoidable, of course. When you're supporting a family you've got responsibilities that I no longer have, so I try not to get all self-righteous. But still - when you can avoid it, you really should.

This is something I don't understand.

I've been seeing a lot of complaints by conservatives that the Big O isn't doing enough to save the world.
3. To ensure that the president does not focus unduly on your war, schedule it while he is preoccupied with other matters: a Motown concert, a conference on bullying, his golf game, and finalizing his Final Four picks.
Call me a contrarian, but I kinda wish Obama would play more golf and do less important stuff. I never really understood why a revolution in Libya or an earthquake in Japan was an automatic clarion call for the American president to change clothes in a phone booth and swing into action. It's been a long time since I read the constitution, so maybe it's in there somewhere and I just forgot.

George (Whiskey Rebellion) Washington is very much not my favorite historical figure, but "Beware of foreign entanglements*" is not the worst advice anybody ever uttered.

*Yes I know he didn't use those exact words, because Washington never used four words when forty would serve**. But that was the gist of it.

**In that single sense he was a lot like me. Though I also have wooden body parts.

Well here's a pretty kettle of fish...

A couple of years ago, my idea of heaven would have been a mindless regular job located here in the gulch, with no commute and no paperwork. Yesterday morning I was handed that opportunity on a platter, and I blinked.

I've told you I've got this friend who makes geiger counters. It's a little more complicated than that, of course. It's a small piece of a family business, scattered all over the place. The components come from all over, with only the assembly happening here. It seems the family head has decided that maybe, given recent events, it could be a bigger profit center than it has been. So yesterday morning I got offered a regular job. Not all that regular, you understand, but I'd be spending a hell of a lot of time making widgets.

My first reaction was entirely negative. Here I've spent years learning how to live on nearly nothing, and mostly having fun with it. I'm really not ready to go back to spending most of my time showing up for work.

On the other hand...

Well, on the other hand I don't own a shirt that isn't a rag. I don't shoot anymore, because I'm down to my “working stock” of ammo and won't dip into it for practice. I'd really like to own my own wheels again. It'd be nice to finish the Lair. Wondering if I'm going to freeze to death isn't the most upbuilding experience I've ever had.

I don't really believe this volume will keep its pace. Panics are as perennial as the grass, but they also go away as fast as they come. When he said “forty hours” my heart froze. But experience says it'll be a lot less than that. In fact I said right up front my part of it would be less than that or I wouldn't play.

In short, logic says I should go ahead and do it. And I probably will. But I'm afraid I might be giving up something I'm going to miss.

Sorry for the no post thing...

I did something yesterday I haven't done in a long time. I put in a whole day's work - plus some. Came home and crashed.

Monday, March 14, 2011

The geiger counter situation is getting downright funny.

Yesterday my friend was delighted and somewhat frantic. By the time I got there this morning he was ready to blow his brains out. We set up an assembly line, and with me doing the scut work we were able to catch up with his orders if not exactly get ahead of them. I was there for six hours and definitely earned my keep, fer shur. A lot of the labor that goes into making these things isn't exactly PhD level work, and if you show me how you want something done that's the way it'll get done. Things sped up when he stopped looking over my shoulder and went and did his part of it.

The boys, of course, were sure they were ready to die - they're no longer used to spending that much time at a stretch in Gitmo. But they're gonna have to get used to it, because for the next two or three days at a minimum I'm gonna make hay while the sun shines. I'm not used to having three figures worth of money in my pocket at any one time, and even at the low hourly rate he's paying me I'm going to get ahead fast. Nice! I'm still carrying around the money I made from weed-whacking walls week before last, so right now I'm feeling pretty darned rich.

Can't spend all my time on it, because this came up just when I was getting into a fever about fixing all the winter damage to the plumbing around here. Plus as nice as the weather has been, the cabin has been calling me. But sometimes you have to do money gigs too, and they come when they come. So right now I just need to get excited about geiger counters. I suspect it won't take long for me to hate the sight of them.

Gotta run...

Woke up around 3:30, did the usual morning stuff. Let Ghost out, rolled a ciggie, picked up a book, wrapped myself in a spare blanket, let Ghost in, etc. Sinuses were on fire, throat was scratchy, and I fear I may be catching the bug Plumber Guy obviously suffered from a couple of days ago - which would really be the final insult.

Maybe an hour later ye old eyelids got heavy again, so I snuggled down with Ghost and went back to sleep. Woke with sunlight blasting my eyes, far behind schedule. Ate, got the boys in Gitmo, and now I've gotta run and commit random acts of unregulated commerce. Later.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Win some, lose some, ... Lose some.

Good news! I found out what was keeping water from going to Landlady's house, and it didn't have anything to do with that big broken hydrant!

Bad news! Uncle Joel must have been dropped repeatedly on his head as an infant, for that is the only rational explanation for why he forgot all about that perfectly visible valve he had to lean over to putz with the hydrant - the one that shuts off water to Landlady's house!

Good news! When I opened the valve, water immediately and copiously became available at Landlady's house!

Bad news! This was so immediately apparent because of the broken elbow that spilled that copious water all over the closet floor!

Plumbing. Winter. Sobriety. Hate them. Looks like it'll be a pretty easy fix, though. Assuming the plumber didn't use up all my fittings. Which, given my luck...

It's almost an ethical dilemma.

I have a friend who makes geiger counters. Excellent geiger counters – compact, no-nonsense, very reliable things. He sells them on-line, and they sell quite well among the sorts of people who like geiger counters. I always thought of them as a wacky survivalist thing - I've got one myself. They've always been quite popular in Japan.

Over the weekend they've suddenly become VERY popular in Japan, and he's up to his ass in unfilled orders. So he gave me a call, because sometimes I help him build sub-assemblies. It's one of the rarer but more profitable recurring gigs that come my way, and one of the few that occur comfortably indoors.

So normally I'd be very happy about this. But one thing I've always been able to say about my line of work, whatever it happened to be at the time, is that I don't profit from the misfortune of others. Look, I'm not a saint, and maybe it's neurotic. But I almost feel like I'm profiting from other people's troubles.

That's silly, I know. I haven't melted down a nuclear reactor in just YEARS, and wasn't anywhere near Japan at the time. In fact I'm just doing well by doing good. But still...

It's also kinda weird, as I ponder it. Here I've immured myself on a ridge in the high desert, as far away from interesting times as I could get myself. An hour ago the earthquake, tsunami and meltdown were just far-away tragedies, to be read about and tsk-tsked but not fretted over. And suddenly I'm kind of involved. Weird.

If I shot you, accidentally or on purpose...

...I'd have some 'splainin' to do, and probably some hell to pay. And I'm glad of that, because that's the way it should be. But then I'm not a cop. Cops don't live in the world you and I do.

This has been all over the internet, it's nothing new. I wasn't going to post about it because SWATs killing innocents is hardly an unusual story and Radley Balko does it better anyway. But still - this is such a classic case, and it pisses me off so damn bad.

On Jan. 5, police were searching for Stamps’ stepson, Joseph Bushfan, when they served a warrant on Stamps’ home. Bushfan was arrested outside the home, allegedly carrying crack cocaine and money.
So they already had their guy. There was no reason for a paramilitary raid on the house or its occupants.

Officers then hit the home, throwing a stun grenade and ordering everyone inside to put their hands up and lie on the floor, the report states
But they were already dressed for a party, so why not? Who's gonna stop them?

Stamps, a grandfather of 12, had obeyed and was lying in the hallway when Duncan attempted to cuff and frisk him.
The victim was non-aggressive, already "subdued," and wasn't a suspect in the first place.

“As he stepped to his left, (Duncan) lost his balance and began to fall over backwards,” the report states. “Officer Duncan realized that his right foot was off the floor and the tactical equipment that he was wearing was making his movements very awkward.
The highly-trained "only one" couldn't walk and wear body armor at the same time. Yeah, this is the guy I want kicking in doors.

Officer Duncan removed his left hand from his rifle, which was pointing down towards the ground and put his left arm out to try and catch himself. As he did so, he heard a shot.
Heard a shot? HEARD A SHOT?

"Well, Officer, M* and I were down in the wash practicing. I was standing over his prostrate body with my muzzle pointed at him and my finger on the trigger when I tripped over my own feet and heard a shot." Hello, prison. Then when I got out I could face his family's blood feud, and I'd have that coming too. Heard a &^%$! shot?

But, as previously mentioned, this is a cop so:
Duncan will not face charges.
Or, undoubtedly, any other penalty whatever. Poor, poor victim. The cop, that is. Imagine the mental stress he already suffers.

There is no justification for this. And by "this," I mean the very existence of soldier-wannabe cops. Sometimes I want to go back in time and kick Daryl Gates right in the nads.

*No Ms were harmed in the making of this post. Though he will be the first to charge admit that my muzzle discipline is dreadful, at least I keep the booger hook off the bang switch.

Just out of curiosity... anybody BUT government officials smuggling guns to Mexico?
The mayor and police chief of a tiny New Mexico border town best known for a raid by Mexican revolutionary Pancho Villa nearly a century ago were among 11 people accused Thursday of participating in a ring alleged to have illegally sent firearms to Mexico.

A federal indictment said the defendants have engaged in a conspiracy _ based in Columbus, N.M. _ to buy firearms since January 2010. Law enforcement officers executed search warrants Thursday at the Columbus Police Department, a gun shop and eight homes.

H/T to Codrea.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

What kind of supreme being would condone such irony?

Welcome, sports fans! Our score in the great Running Water playoff so far:

Uncle Murphy - 5

Uncle Joel - Bupkis, Baby!  Goat Shit!  Nada!

(ahem) To recap: The large hydrant which sends water to Landlady's House, and also incidentally provides water via hoses to any other random place you might need water, is physically broken. I don't yet know for a fact but presently assume this is the reason not one single drop of water will flow to either of these locations.

There is a broken pipe somewhere in the barn. I haven't had the heart to go look for it. So while water pressure is currently available to the barn, its only utility is to flood the floor.

In attempting to turn off the valve directing water to the barn, both ears of the valve handle broke off in my hand - in spite of the fact that the valve is less than three years old, underground, enclosed inside a valve housing, and not exposed to UV radiation.

Grrr ... BOTH - Count'em! - BOTH FREAKING VALVES on the kitchen sink of Joel's Interim Lair have suffered some sort of terminal damage. Having gotten water to flow into the sink, I actually UNSCREWED ONE OF THEM RIGHT OUT OF THE SINK TRYING TO GET IT TO STOP.

So the only location on Landlady's property which currently enjoys the blessings of running water is the former location of Claire's Lair, a fifth-wheel trailer which was SOLD AND TOWED AWAY LAST SUMMER. [/hyperventilation]

Yes, the only place we have running water is the only place we don't need or even want it. The good news is that at that location, it works quite well.

Oh, and that check valve the plumber installed last night? Leaks like a sieve. The powershed floor is flooded again.

I hate plumbing. And winter. I hate plumbing and winter.

And sobriety. I hate plumbing and winter and sobriety.

ETA: Mayberry's got the right idea here: (NSFW)

Nice business you got here. Be a shame if anything happened to it.

Commenter Suek sent the following link, in regard to that Michael more clip the other day:
The undersigned groups would like your company to publicly oppose Governor Walker’s efforts to virtually eliminate collective bargaining for public employees in Wisconsin. While we appreciate that you may need some time to consider this request, we ask for your response by March 17. In the event that you do not respond to this request by that date, we will assume that you stand with Governor Walker and against the teachers, nurses, police officers, fire fighters, and other dedicated public employees who serve our communities.

In the event that you cannot support this effort to save collective bargaining, please be advised that the undersigned will publicly and formally boycott the goods and services provided by your company. However, if you join us, we willdo everything in our power to publicly celebrate your partnership in the fight to preserve the right of public employees to be heard at the bargaining table.

Of Hearts and Minds and Scrota

Back in Viet Nam there was a saying that went, “When you've got'em by the balls, their hearts and minds will follow.” This was in reference to a policy instituted by the U.S. Government, called – oddly enough – the “hearts and minds” policy, in which it was allegedly believed that the hearts and minds of Vietnamese peasants could be obtained through the projection of large sums of money in their general direction, and by insincere promises of protection from Communist reprisals against said turncoat peasants. I understand the term has recently been revived in the government's current Afghanistan adventure.

This government policy was, of course, utterly, absolutely, obviously, and in every other way wrong-headed. The military's rhetorical response was probably more factually accurate, but its implementation rested on an incorrect premise, which was that they did in fact have the peasants by the balls.

There is no serious evidence anywhere that the average peasant was any happier being under a Communist thumb than under any other. What many American soldiers never grasped was that the peasants regarded the American military as just another thumb to be under. They had a lot of experience with being oppressed: The Chinese, the French, [oops, mustn't forget the Japanese - ed] the Germans, the French again, and finally the Communists and/or the Americans. Had any of these people been asked what they actually wanted from the invaders, the answer probably would have boiled down to “go away.” But as far as I know, nobody ever asked. Even conscripted American privates used to get really outraged by this, though they certainly had reason to know better if they'd only given it some thought.

Over the centuries VN peasants, like their Afghani counterparts, had worked out a simple approach to this matter of conflicting – er – loyalties. At the appearance of overwhelming force they would utter glad cries at their liberation from whatever they were being liberated from today. They would swear undying loyalty and fealty to the thugs du jour, wait for them to wander off and spread the benefits of civilization somewhere else, and then cut their liberators' throats in the dark of night and steal their shit. I understand feudal Japan was a lot like that, too. After a while, no matter who the invaders might be, it became a matter of considerable speculation just who had whom by the balls. But hearts and minds generally remained right where they had originally been.

There's a lesson in there somewhere for American peasants, if only they would give it some thought.

"The Gaping Maw of Charles Darwin"

Gad, I love to read Tam when she's on...
Despite the .gov wrapping as much of the west coast in Nerf padding as possible in preparation for Gaia's predicted aquatic love tap, the forces of Natural Selection managed a small victory.
Apparently, hearing that the tsunami was approaching and people should get away from low-lying coastal areas, some dude grabbed his camera, went to the the mouth of the Klamath river, and waded right out into the gaping maw of Charles Darwin.

Good work!
Though I did wonder if yesterday's tsunami warning in California would produce anything more dramatic than a tsunami warning, this time it wasn't a false alarm. But according to the linked news site there would have been no fatalities at all up and down the coast if not for the efforts of Mr. Extinction here...
The fatality was reported in northern California's Del Norte County, where a 25-year-old man was declared dead Friday afternoon after being swept out to sea off a beach while trying to photograph the tsunami's arrival, said Joey Young, a spokesman for the county's emergency operations center.
What can you even say?

Now class, I see it's time to recap the very first lesson from Self-Preservation 101, Please Repeat After Me:

Tsunamis don't like to have their picture taken, except from a very respectful altitude. The punishment for disrespect is SEVERE.

There will be a quiz.

Friday, March 11, 2011

Running water is overrated.

To my shock, the plumbing guy showed up late this afternoon. This just keeps getting better.

The pipe I thought he broke, he didn't break. When I picked it up this morning it was all shattered underneath, and it was clear that ice had done it in. Would have been nice if he'd checked for function before he left, or at least noticed that broken-off pipe two inches from where he was working, but that's life. I didn't see it, either. I was going to fix it, because Landlady left a big bag of 1 1/2" fittings right there. But then plumbing guy called all upset, having listened to my voicemail from yesterday, and said he'd be out to do it. Fine by me.

So anyway, he fixed the pipe. All's well, right? Well, not so much. At first he couldn't get any pressure at all. I checked the cistern, and while it was nearly empty it wasn't empty so water was available to the pump. He poked around, and we started getting some pressure to one side of the system. I noticed this when I saw that the interior of the barn was flooding - broken pipe, alas. I rushed and turned off the water to the barn. Then I opened a spigot on the valve enclosure going to Landlady's house, and there's not a drop of water there. Lots of water on one side (I thought) none at all on the other. This makes no sense.

Plumbing guy was still in the power shed, scratching his head. This didn't look good - why should he still be putzing with the pump if it's working? He points to a pipe, the only one I've ever messed with in there, and asks, "Is there a check valve in there?" I say no, as far as I know there's never been a check valve in there. Certainly there isn't one now.

"That's supposed to have a check valve," he says. "the pump is pressurizing both sides of the system, so the supply isn't getting drawn in right." I tell him there had never been a check valve there, and it had always worked fine before. "Well," he says, "I don't know what else it could be. It runs fine for a few seconds, but then it all gums up." We find a check valve, and he goes to work installing it. I dunno if it'll fix anything.

Meanwhile I'm wondering why there's no running water to Landlady's house, the only part I really care about. I climb in the valve enclosure; the valve coming out of the ground is open. At least it looks like it is. I grab the handle and yank it down hard; it was always hard to move. I nearly fall on my face: There's no resistance at all. Huh?

I take a closer look. The casting on the valve is broken! Broken right in half! I haven't messed with that valve for years: It was always a pain in the ass, and there's no good reason to close it, so I always just left it open. How could it be broken? And is it broken in the closed position? Because that would explain why there's no water there, but I didn't close it. If somebody else messed with it, did they not notice it broke? The handle was up, indicating open. Poltergeists? Ninjas with a sense of humor? How could a casting that's not exposed to water or ice spontaneously break?

So at the moment everything's screwed up. Plumbing guy is still banging around in the power shed, I'm gonna have to [figure out how to] take that valve apart in the morning, the barn is flooded, the sun's about down, and things are worse off than in those halcyon days three hours ago when I just assumed "it's broke."

I hate plumbing. And winter. I hate plumbing and winter.

Weather's been nice, though.

Good Lord.

I'm carefully avoiding half-witty remarks here, but still glad I'm over a mile high.

Have you ever been in a real earthquake? I was in one - ONE, and that was plenty. If it hadn't had its epicenter 'way out in the Mojave, you'd have seen footage of the wreckage for a week. It was nothing like this, five-point-something as I recall, but it was enough - t'would serve. Scared old Uncle Joel.

8.9. I can't even imagine it. But check out the buildings and overpasses: Whoever those architects were, they understand earthquakes.

Con·flate(v) - To bring together; meld or fuse

The Porcine One has declared war on ... somebody. Whoever "banksters" are. I presume it's not the same ones who finance his unwatchable movies.

He speaks in the name of "the people." Though he never gets specific about which "people" he's so in favor of, I presume he's talking about the poor, put-upon government workers. Funny thing, that: I don't feel the least bit sorry for them. In fact I occasionally wonder if they'd taste good with chili sauce - at least then they'd be of some practical use.

But sitting in front of a camera and weeping for the woes of a $100,000-for-nine-months'-work schoolteacher will only take you so far. No, what this narrative needs is a good villain. Wherever can we find one? Hmm.

Ah! Just the thing! The "Wall Street" financiers who by all accounts made out so profitably from the economic jiggery pokey of 2008 (and let's be sure to repeat that year as often as possible, so everybody knows it was a republican at fault and not the ever-virtuous Obama, who did the same thing harder) are a delightfully effective target. If any of them has a friend in the world not directly on the payroll it'd come as a surprise to me. By all means! There's our villain!

"The country isn't broke!" Moore yells. There are huge resources not yet looted by "public sector"* unions! "We have a right to that money!" he shouts, all in the name of "the people."

And here's where the conflation comes in. I don't know anything about finance, the subject gives me a headache. But from what I can make out, if there's a group of people less worthy of sympathy in this great land of ours than government workers it would have to be the "Wall Street" financial houses who used their government contacts to loot taxpayers and investors so obscenely. Between them and government unions, they serve the same purpose: Strip the people who earn money of their wealth and fill their own pockets with it. Is there a difference between the two? One group dresses better, I suppose.

But in this context, as an issue, what do the two have to do with each other? As far as I can tell, not a thing. Moore needs a villain, and he can't exactly call out American taxpayers; that would give the game away. So instead it's these unnamed "banksters," who as a class nobody loves but who would seem completely unconnected with the question of whether overpaid government workers should be paid more highly still.

Moore never mentions government workers, of course. It's "the working people" he weeps for. The very people whose money he's trying to steal, but I doubt many television viewers will catch the point. Or the irony.

*I hate that phrase, "public sector." Just say government, fergodsake.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Hoo Bother...

Landlady's been trying to get the plumbing company out here for weeks, and they wouldn't return her phone calls. This afternoon I was thinking about maybe sneaking the Jeep into town, on account of I'm almost out of gasoline and could use - but don't really need - some other groceries. I thought I'd just put the boys in Gitmo, slip the (bright yellow) Jeep into the near edge of town and park it on an obscure sidestreet, and everything would be fine. I might do that yet, except now I'm not at all confident I've got enough gas to make the trip.


Just as I was thinking these criminal thoughts, I looked over and saw there was a voicemail on my cell phone. Turns out it was the plumbing guy, from about an hour and a half before. From the message, he should have already arrived. Yeah, thanks for the warning. So I call him back, and it turns out he's been delayed. I put the boys in Gitmo anyway, which turned out not to be the best choice. Gitmo surrounds the power shed, and that's where the busted pressure pump is. So to get to it the repairman has to enter Gitmo. Little Bear is friendly with almost everybody, but he's got a real fear-aggression thing with big guys. The repairman who was coming is a big guy. But mostly LB just stands off and barks, it's not like he ever offers any real violence, so it'll probably be all right.

Anyway, about an hour after we talked, the repair guy calls. He thinks he's lost. Turns out he was doing all right, I gave him directions over the phone but he didn't have faith in them. So he turned around and tried to see where he'd gone wrong, not accepting that he hadn't gone wrong.

I should explain that the "development" I live in is bloody enormous. I don't know how big it is, but several hundred square miles at a conservative guess. I think it used to be somebody's ranch. It contains a maze of dirt roads that even after years I can't honestly say I've completely explored, and getting lost is extremely easy. The condition of the roads ranges from pretty darned good for a dirt road to barely passable in a 4X4.

So he managed to go from right on track to good and lost. I got in the Jeep to go find him. We must have talked on the phone half a dozen times and a couple of times I thought I knew where he was, but he wouldn't hold still! I kept telling him to stay where he was, but by now he was frustrated and his "never ask directions" guy instincts were running wild. I've said it before: I didn't become a hermit in the desert because of my great people skills, and this guy was pissing me off. He was also blowing through my last gallon or two of gasoline while I chased him around the damned desert. But Landlady's been trying to get these people out here for weeks, so even though after a while I wanted to leave him there to bleach in the sun, I finally talked him out of the remote cul-de-sac he'd buried himself in and got him out to a main gate where we could hook up.

It's a pretty good haul from there to Landlady's place, and while the Jeep wasn't exactly hitching and hiccuping when we got back I'll bet there's not enough left in the tank to slosh.

Turns out he brought a dog with him. So naturally Ghost and LB went nuts. I leashed them up and put them (very much against their will) into the lair.

Well, he had a replacement part for the one that broke, so that was good. He got it fixed and told me he'd re-installed it, but the glue should set up a bit before I turned it on. I thanked him and sent him on his way, happy that he thought he could find his way out because I wasn't at all sure I had enough gas to lead him out.

A bit later I went out to the power shed, opened the water supply to the pump and plugged it in. The pump fired right up, so that was good. Two seconds later water started gushing out all over the floor. I yanked the plug, looked at where the water was running - a completely new place - and it turns out that in installing the pump he'd broken a different section of pipe right off and hadn't even noticed.


I grabbed my phone and called him, but could only leave a voicemail. This sucks.

It's getting late, so I'll see if I can find enough parts to make the repair myself in the morning. If I can't, I'll have yet another reason to go into town. Which I don't have the gas to reach.

QoD - Multicultural Diversity Edition

Beheading your wife because she was about to divorce you ain't the way to "counter negative... images of Muslims", sparky...
- JayG

Well, that's unacceptable.

Landlady sent me this distressing video this morning:

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

When Men Become Truly Free

Found this poem by Colin Ryan at Coordinated Illumination. Dunno who made the video.

Gad, I love it when these guys swing in the wind.

It never seems to do any good in the long run - they keep on keepin' on. But every few years F-troop steps on its phallus a little too publicly, some congresscritter sees a chance to get some air time, and we can pop a cold one and watch the show:
Senator Chuck Grassley today said that he did not have confidence that the Justice Department Inspector General’s office could produce a report that the public would view as frank and unbiased in its investigation of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF) policy of letting guns “walk” along the Southwest border—a policy that may have contributed to the death of a U.S. Customs and Border Patrol agent.

A brief, incomplete look at F-troop's "hapless," "beleaguered" history can be found here.

Couple of kids, a camera, GPS, some helium - What could go wrong?

This is cool. A couple of MIT kids decided to see how cheaply they could get something into space. Project cost: $150. Success: Brilliant.

I can think of a couple of mechanical things I'd have done differently, but not a lot differently. And at least they remembered the batteries and the on-board heat.

Smokin' that stuff is a crime, Senator...

Seen at Robb Allen's Place...

Seems there's a new law in Florida, for you people bitterly clinging to your cameras...
16 (2) A person who photographs, video records, or otherwise
17 produces images or pictorial records, digital or otherwise, at
18 or of a farm or other property where legitimate agriculture
19 operations are being conducted without the written consent of
20 the owner, or an authorized representative of the owner, commits
21 a felony of the first degree, punishable as provided in s.
22 775.082, s. 775.083, or s. 775.084, Florida Statutes.
And I figured, there's gotta be a story behind this. The first provision makes simple trespass a first degree felony; the second, quoted above, makes snapping at pic (whether or not trespassing, as far as I can tell) a first degree felony. For the record, though I'm hardly a legal scholar, I think that's thirty years in slam. For taking a picture? Of a farm? C'mon.

A very little research netted me this:
Simpson, president of Simpson Farms near Dade City, said the law would prevent people from posing as farmworkers so that they can secretly film agricultural operations.

He said he could not name an instance in which that happened. But animal rights groups such as People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals and Animal Freedom display undercover videos on their web sites to make their case that livestock farming and meat consumption are cruel.
Ah ha! So what we have here is a connected meat baron who got burned by PETA, and bought himself a senator or two to put a stop to their nefarious goin's on. Well, okay then. I suspect (again, I speak without personal knowledge) that with the right feeding up and aging, PETA activists would make excellent steak. But that's a pretty damned sweeping law, and there's this thing called "unintended consequences..."

Oh, but that's all right. This law would never actually be enforced abused:
Simpson said he doesn't think that "innocent" roadside photography would be prosecuted even if the bill is passed as introduced.

"Farmers are a common-sense people," he said. "A tourist who stops and takes a picture of cows -- I would not imagine any farmer in the state of Florida that cares about that at all."
I dunno, Mr. Simpson. You're a farmer - of sorts - and you haven't shown much common sense so far. You don't think cops would love yet another class of soft targets to get their arrest numbers up? Because I think they would. People are already afraid of snapping pictures of trains and power stations, and you just paid for a law that makes a felon of anybody holding a camera within sight of a barn.

(sigh) Naw, nobody'd ever abuse a law like that...except they already do.

Good thing they're here to keep us safe...

...but who's gonna keep them safe from themselves?

H/T to Unc.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Flash! ATF reveals reason for "Gunwalker" screwup!

And you'll never, ever guess what it is!

"We need more money and more laws!"
Several agents said the bigger problem was not in Mexico, but shortfalls in staffing and gun laws in the U.S., which had prevented the ATF from adequately monitoring multiple sales of semiautomatic rifles to suspicious buyers.

"We have roughly the same amount of people we had when they founded us in 1972," one agent said.

He said Congress and the Obama administration had refused to support the ATF's proposal to require federally licensed gun sellers to report multiple sales of long-barreled rifles, as they were with handguns, to a single buyer.

"Can someone tell me how I can find out if Joe Blow just bought 50 guns at a gun store? If they do, I'll be happy to sit outside the door and ask him why he bought them. But otherwise, I won't know until they start showing up at crime scenes," the agent said.
Um...Didn't Project Gunwalker originally come to light because an FFL called you guys about just that scenario and you told him to go ahead and sell them? Because I seem to remember something like that...
Deguerin says the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms asked Carter's Country to complete transactions, even when sales people strongly suspected the weapons were headed to Mexican drug gangs.

"They were told to go through with what they considered to be questionable sales. They were told to go through with sales of three or more assault rifles at the same time or five or more 9 millimeter guns at the same time or a young Hispanic male paying in cash. It's all profiling, but they went through with it," said Deguerin.
But giving the feds more money and power will fix it THIS time, yessiree. You betcha.

Incidentally - I've got this bridge I'm not using anymore, and was wondering if anybody was interested...

"If elected, I promise..."

"...To put everything back just the way my predecessor had it, even though it was completely intolerable when he did it."

Here's some change you can REALLY believe in:

Obama restarts Guantanamo "trials"
WASHINGTON -- President Barack Obama approved Monday the resumption of military trials for detainees at the U.S. prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, ending a two-year ban.

It was the latest acknowledgement that the detention facility Obama had vowed to shut down within a year of taking office will remain open for some time to come.
Ya think? Guess I can let out that breath I've been holding since he got sworn in, huh?

Hey! Where'd Spring go?

The weatherman predicted rain overnight, and sunovagun he was right. Then around four in the morning the temperature dipped and we got some snow. Not a lot, just enough to make things a bit sloppy. It's still better than yesterday's all-day windstorm, which has the yard strewn with wreckage.

I thought I was hosed for my trip to the neighbors to use their washing machine, because the clouds stayed pretty heavy even after the snow stopped. But it finally cleared off around nineish, so I got my load started and then went to do my my shit-shoveling. They're off to town right now, so I can't get it out of the machine till after noon.

In other news, Gaia the new foal has taken up finger-painting. That's right. Of course Gaia HAS no fingers, so she uses mud in her mouth. J&H built a brand-new shelter anticipating her arrival, covered it with brand-new white paint, and she has taken to picking up mud in her mouth and drawing all over the once-clean wall. Nobody knows why she does this, but J is hoping she's the next equine Jackson Pollock so he can cut up the wall and sell the sections for millions on Ebay. I just said good luck with that.

Monday, March 7, 2011

Yup, the new republican majority is protecting your rights. Good and hard.

From Cato:
On Monday, House Judiciary Committee Chairman Lamar Smith (R-Texas), Homeland Security Committee Chairman Peter King (R-N.Y.) and Crime, Terrorism, and Homeland Security Subcommittee Chairman James Sensenbrenner (R-Wisc.) sent a letter to Department of Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano encouraging her to fully implement our national ID law, the REAL ID Act of 2005.

This is change I can believe in all right. You on the left, make'em afraid of the gun-toting whackos. We on the right will keep'em afraid of the terrists and the Brown Menace. The ones who don't crawl to you for protection will crawl to us. Doesn't matter which direction they crawl, as long as they crawl.

Left wing - right wing. Same stinking carrion bird in between.

Must be spring.

Woke to heavy overcast and mild wind. Now, an hour before noon, the last of the clouds have blown away and there's a windstorm like I haven't seen in years. With a sound like a train wreck, the metal shelter where M kept his Jeep parts keeps trying to blow over. I don't think it'll go this time; we chained it to a couple of T-rail fence posts. Hope it doesn't; it was hell to get on its feet last time.

Ghost doesn't like being inside during the day, but he really hates the wind when it gets this bad. He refused to leave the Lair - like me - and when I finally stomped my way against the wind to the barn he trotted right into the scriptorium with me. It's gonna be one of those days, clearly. Good news is there's excuse not to do anything resembling work. Nobody could stand upright long enough to work, when it gets like this.

ETA: Nope, with a great crash the metal shed slipped or broke its bindings and flipped right over. :^(

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Weird Barter Items

As I've mentioned, I try to keep my money needs pretty minimal. But sometimes I need - you know - stuff. Stuff I don't have. Stuff my neighbors have, or at least have better access to than me. So I keep my eyes open for stuff they need, in hopes we can work a trade. Two things I've got lots of are time and horse shit. Hm - maybe I should be a politician.

Naw. I've also got morals. Oh, well.

Anyway, I've been thinking about this quite a lot lately. Recently I traded two trailer loads of horse shit for a can of good coffee, and I thought that was pretty funny. I frequently swap extra chores for rides to town. Of late laundry has become an issue, because I've got a washing machine but no running water. So while finishing up weed-whacking at D&L's today, I suggested to L that rather than paying me the full freight, I'd swap her an hour of that work for the chance to use her washing machine once. She thought that was a fine idea, but we couldn't do it today because there's no sun and they're having to ration electricity. So we set a date, and I'll bring a load over on Tuesday morning.

She apparently mulled that over for a while while I was whacking walls, and when I came in to get paid she said she had some other chores that neither of them enjoy, and would I be willing to make this a semi-regular thing until I get my water back? I said, sure!

So now I've got my laundry problem solved for a while. No more hand washing! I'd much rather chop wood than do that.

Shocked, shocked, to find negative reporting going on here.

CBS still somewhat on Project Gunwalker...
Public Information Officers:

Please make every effort for the next two weeks to maximize coverage of ATF operations/enforcement actions/arrests at the local and regional level. Given the negative coverage by CBS Evening News last week and upcoming events this week, the bureau should look for every opportunity to push coverage of good stories. Fortunately, the CBS story has not sparked any follow up coverage by mainstream media and seems to have fizzled.
This week (To 3/1/2011), Attorney General Holder testifies on the Hill and likely will get questions about the allegations in the story. Also (The 3/3/2011), Mexico President Calderon will visit the White House and likely will testify on the Hill. He will probably draw attention to the lack of political support for demand letter 3 and Project Gunrunner.

ATF needs to proactively push positive stories this week, in an effort to preempt some negative reporting, or at minimum, lessen the coverage of such stories in the news cycle by replacing them with good stories about ATF. The more time we spend highlighting the great work of the agents through press releases and various media outreaches in the coming days and weeks, the better off we will be.
Thank you,


Scot L. Thomasson
Chief ATF Public Affairs Division
Washington, DC

Mother and Son, a quiet moment

Saturday, March 5, 2011

This is the prettiest day we've had all year.

So naturally, after work but before Landlady and M headed back to the big city, we needed a shooting break.

Here's Landlady with Vera, world's most awesome personal weapon and her very favorite.

And here she is with the embarrassing pink AK M and I got her a couple of years ago - not quite so favorite.

Personal to Sister L from Wa.

Your kind gift has wended its way to my door, and is much appreciated. I assure you it will be put to its various proper uses - in fact some of it's being used right now.


You know you're living among rednecks when...

Yesterday evening after work we drove to a little town, thirty or forty miles away. In this town is the coolest drugstore in the known universe. Through clever manipulation of the time/space continuum, these people manage to pack everything you could ever want in a fairly small building, including surprisingly well-stocked gun AND liquor racks. We call it the Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms store, and Landlady always says she hopes that if this state passes some sort of medical marijuana law, that store gets the franchise. Because that would be awesome beyond imagination.

Anyway, at the checkout stand was a flier for a benefit fun run. M spotted it and pointed it out to me as iconic of this wonderful place we've found for ourselves. It's for the benefit of a lady nicknamed "Boo-boo," and offers the following prizes:

First prize: A scoped Savage .270 rifle

Second prize: A $100 gift certificate to a local tattoo parlor

Third prize: A $100 gift certificate to a local supermarket

The first prize didn't surprise me: that's just the way this place is. The relative positions of the second and third prizes still have me scratching my head. I guess they figure groceries are here today and gone tomorrow, but a tattoo is forever.

Forgotten Weapon Shops

Landlady and M were up for a couple of days. M runs the very informative website Forgotten Weapons, a useful resource for anybody interested in the weird, wonderful ways guns fail to become iconic military weapons. Anyway, over supper M told me he'd recently posted the handbook for the M1895 Lee straight-pull rifle, and said he'd seen something weird on the cover. I looked it up:

Click for embiggenment, and then check out the store locations where you could buy one of these state-of-the-art weapons of mass destruction right off the shelf, legal as breathing. I'm so glad we're so much safer now, than then.

Friday, March 4, 2011

Thursday, March 3, 2011

If you're planning to build a straw bale house...

I just want you to know - I'm busy that day.

One thing I never noticed about straw bales? They don't all come in exactly the same dimensions. So it seems you can, if you're very careful, get an interior or an exterior wall that's fairly flat. But the opposite wall will be...lumpy.

Also, a hardware store-grade electric weed whacker really isn't rated for reducing the width of a bale of straw, especially when it's being compressed by a million others. I went through a lot of trimmer line today, and didn't actually progress very far down a single interior bedroom wall. This is going to take forever.

I actually ended up knocking off an hour before I intended to, because at about three I went into the workshop to reload the spool - again - and L was in there refinishing an old sewing machine cabinet. Now, L has a reputation for being quite a talker. Normally you can pry yourself loose from it, especially if she's paying you to work. But today





And so other than straightening up tools and cords I didn't get any more work done. I suppose my back thanks her. I've gotta go back tomorrow, after shit-shoveling.

Way to go, Wyoming!

Via Claire, this just in:
CHEYENNE, Wyo. — Wyoming on Wednesday became the fourth state to allow citizens to carry concealed guns without a permit, with Gov. Matt Mead signing a bill into law as several other states considered similar action.

The law allows state citizens legally entitled to own guns to carry them concealed starting in July. The guns still wouldn't be allowed in schools, bars and government buildings.
Cool! That was quick.

In other news: Helmke Predicts Blood in Wyoming Streets.

Gonna buy five copies for my mother!

Bedamned! I come out to the scriptorium this morning to find that yesterday morning's screed made Rational Review! You gotta scroll 'way down to find it, and it's not earning me a lot of new readers at the moment, but it's there.

Can fame and fortune be far behind? I'm gonna go look at Lamborghini ads now.

Private to ML: If I knew somebody was going to link that bloated thing, I swear to god I'd have thought twice about taking your name in vain, at least in the title, at least not without letting you know. I'm afraid you'll think I was picking on you, and I truly wasn't. Our approaches may differ, but I know damn well our hearts are both in the same place. But it's true - I really did have that little vignette of a dream.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Here's something I'll bet you've never done!

D: Have you ever used a weed-whacker?

Me: Not on a wall.

D's still getting over his knee surgery, and D&L are way behind schedule. They're building a very elaborate 4000 sq ft house, whose outside walls are constructed entirely of straw bales. It turns out one of the necessary steps, prior to mudding the walls, is to smooth out the surface of the bales. Makes sense, I suppose. The tool of choice? A weed-whacker!

It takes a long time. A very, very long time. My back hurts. I'm nowhere near halfway done. Money! Ha ha!

Seriously, I've got a gig booked every day this week except Monday, and I wish I'd started this particular one on Monday. It's been a lean few weeks, but they're over for a while.

No media bias here. Nuh-uh. Nope.

I followed an InstyLink to this "news" article whose writer was shocked!  Shocked! To find discourtesy and profanity directed toward our public masters servants!
WMUR reported on a visibly upset Concord resident who recounted to the Criminal Justice Committee how he recently had to cancel a visit with his mother because he did not want to submit to pat downs. The man made a point of overemphasizing the word “submit.”
After the hearing, Rep. Laura Pantelakos (D-Portsmouth) told the man that he does not need to get on an airplane if he doesn’t want to. “That is your choice,” she said.
“F—K you!” the man barked back, though the comment was bleeped out by WMUR.
Did a little surfing to find out what the hearing was about anyway - the article said something about "the state's sexual predator registry?"  Intriguing...

Bill Would Make Some Airport Screening Sexual Assault 
CONCORD, N.H. -- Lawmakers and residents engaged in heated debate Tuesday over a bill that would make random airport security pat-downs and body scans criminal in New Hampshire.The bill (HB628-FN) "makes the touching or viewing with a technological device of a person’s breasts or genitals by a government security agent without probable cause a sexual assault," according to the introductory text of the bill."Let's put their name on the sex offender registry, and maybe that will tell them New Hampshire means business," said bill co-sponsor Rep. Andrew Manuse, R-Derry.
"That is a crime in this state, and we should charge them every single time," said bill co-sponsor Rep. George Lambert, R-Litchfield.
WHA? Lemme get this straight...Somebody in the New Hampshire legislature is declaring war on the TSA, and this newsie thinks the big story of the day is that some uppity prole dropped an F-bomb on a congressvermin?