Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Our pistol, which art on my belt, Springfield be thy name...

Well, Bill, sounds like you've already figured it out. If guns are a religion, it's natural to love them. I don't recall kissing one, but certainly metal objects should be polished from time to time. Especially in a dusty environment.  And I don't find the sacrificial application of Hoppes #9 all that onerous.

Although it's true that the flawless sheep I have to periodically sacrifice to my M1A gets a little hard to find sometimes.

And 3 hundred million guns? You say that like it's a lot. Hell, M has that many in his living room, and that's not where he stores his real collection.

A couple of aging progressive hoplophobes discuss the "problem," as they claim to see it. Long may they remain irrelevant...

H/T to Weer'd.

Sentences I never expected to see or hear, when I was growing up...

The overall video quality is the best of any phone I’ve ever seen.

You kids today.  Why, when I was a boy, telephones were big, blocky things that required their own tables. They were installed by highly-trained professionals, and the handsets alone made dandy blunt objects. And they had this little wheelie thing in the middle that made cool Schoooook - wickawickawicka noises, and you got in trouble for playing with them because you might accidentally call China and start a war.

Now I've got this extremely nifty Captain Kirk communicator thingy - except that he couldn't do nearly as much with his - that I never go far without, for fear the tractor will roll on me or something and I'll really, really need to call for help. And the most extraordinary thing about it is...'s generally considered an obsolete piece of crap.

Does that seem right to you?

Exclusive to TUAK: Obama's Secret Second-Term Plan

Suddenly the republican syphilitic camel doesn't look so bad...

Boy, I'm really glad all those republicans got elected to congress, because things like this are impossible now.

Via Claire,

Introducing!  For your rotting in federal prison pleasure!

The Federal Restricted Buildings and Grounds Improvement Act!

Yes! The new, improved FRBGIA, which is nothing at all like the Alien and Sedition Acts, because nobody in congress wears wigs anymore.

Well, okay. But they don't powder their wigs anymore. So it's completely different.

Remember, if you're not being annoying, you don't have anything to fear. Unless we change our minds about being annoyed.

Hee. Words you may want to avoid in future...

If you're into "social media," that is. I'm sure you can blog away in as incendiary a manner as you wish.

Or, um ... (AHEM) ...Maybe not.

Via Unc, here's a list of the words our beloved protectors of the [fanfare] Department of Homeland Security*[/fanfare] is watching, For Your Safety.

Bring a lawn chair - you'll be there a while.
Yes, the Department of Homeland Security is searching social media for…”social media”.

*I love you, DHS! Pleasedon'tkillme

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Graddatter Learns About Pet Tricks...

Look, Mommy! Kitty's going round and round!

Hoplophobes are dangerous and they need to be outlawed immediately.*

Even when I don't read the news, I know right away when there's been another mass shooting. The blood-dancers come out to play. But this one's GunControl-fu is not strong.
Think about it. What is the purpose of a gun? Gun proponents will say the bad guys already have them anyway, so we all need to have access to protect ourselves and prevent more crime. Really? Tell me how many of the other students in that classroom today had a gun to protect themselves.
And in the third short paragraph, she makes our argument for us. The answer is "none," lady. Hence the problem. And the government-paid teachers, who are there in lieu of adults? Oh, they were a BIIIIG help...
Since there was no lock, the people in the teachers lounge moved a piano in front of the door do try and keep the shooter out. “It was pretty scary. I’m still a little shaken up.”
Yeah, I'm sure glad none of those people were armed. Somebody could have been hurt!

But it gets better.
Ah, let's not forget the Second Amendment! You do realize the right to bear arms was originally written so the common man could defend himself against the government's attempts to seize his house, right?
Yes. Yes, we do.
Well guess what? Now the government has nukes, automatic weapons and sniper rifles. If it just came down to a battle of arms between you and the government, you are not going to win that one. It would be like playing road chicken with a tank. You lose, Gun Jockey!
You say this like it's a good thing. But tell me: Do you really expect the government to deploy nukes when it wants to take your house? Because even I have more faith in our would-be masters than that.
Another argument for guns is the sport. "Oh, we don't want to kill people, we want to shoot at animals and maybe tin cans on a fence". --- You want to keep tiny, discreet killing machines readily available to the public so you can practice your aim. Use a water gun! Use a pop gun! Take up jogging! Your weekend fun doesn't justify parents losing their children to psychotic gunmen when we send them off to school.
You're aware, I presume, that psychotics will always be with us, even if you pushed your magic button and all the guns "available to the public" disappeared? All you're doing is trying to ensure that the biggest, strongest psychotics are in charge.

See, here's the deal. The latest meme of the anti-gun crowd is that we "live in fear," and so we cling to our phallic "killing machines" in an insane attempt to make ourselves feel better. I think it was L. Neil Smith who rhetorically asked, "Who's crazier? The person who thinks a gun is a penis, or the person who wants to take everybody else's penis away?"

The lady who wrote this drivel apparently lives in Chicago, so I'm certainly not going to suggest that I live in a more dangerous environment than she does. In terms of predation, I don't. But there are predators here, albeit four-legged ones, and some of them are bigger and stronger than I am. Yet I don't fear them.

She probably doesn't want to know why.

H/T to Mike at Sipsey Street, who has a slightly different answer.
*Naw, not really. I think they're cute. And useful! Seriously! If you and a hoplophobe are being chased by a bear, all you need to do is kneecap the hoplophobe and make your escape!

Good karma or good luck?

This is embarrassing for a self-described hermit to have to admit, but lately other people have really been coming through for me.

Most of the following has to do with last Friday's chimney fire, but it's more than that. I've been thinking about it a lot lately. Lemme 'splain*.

I've been thriving on the good will of others since I got here. Landlady put up with the trailer long after she found it amusing. The Secret Lair is on M's property, and it's plugged into his water. If not for them, I couldn't even live here. I try to make it worth their while, but they still do it. That's an ongoing thing I try never to forget.

Last night I decided to make a batch of cookies. I've got lots of oatmeal and stuff, but wanted to spice them up somewhat. And here was a whole bunch of dried fruit! I'm not a huge fan of dried fruit normally, though toward the end of winter it starts looking pretty good, and would never have bought this for myself. But friends sent me a whole box of the stuff, assorted, and sliced into teensy cubes it goes pretty darned good baked into oatmeal cookies. I've got some right here beside me.

Yesterday I got an email from a reader, offering to send whatever money I needed to buy tools for keeping my chimney clean. Didn't even care how much it would cost, just "how much?" That was pretty cool, because I need those tools and was wondering where the money would come from.

This morning my neighbor J came out in the howling wind while I was shoveling horseshit, wanting to make sure everything was okay after my fire. And I told him I'd like to look at his stovepipe, because he's got some arrangement for disconnecting the stove from the ceiling that I couldn't quite picture. My stove takes two strong men to disconnect for cleaning. And before I was done with my chores, he'd gone on Ebay and found me a section of eight-inch stovepipe that, once installed, will let me do it myself. And once he'd assured himself that that was what I needed, he went ahead and bought it. "We'll work it out," he said.

Friday morning after I got the fire out I was pretty freaked, but I had to get the thing apart and cleaned or go without heat. So I called my neighbor D because he's knowledgeable about such things and I knew he's got the brushes and extensions. But D, a helluva guy, doesn't owe me a DAMN thing and I was hesitant about asking for help and said so. Well, he showed up right on time, we got it all apart and cleaned and back together, and while we were washing up he said something like, "You shouldn't ought to feel bad about asking for help, y'know."

And I said something like, "Yeah, well. Just seems like you do all the giving and I do all the getting. There's something in the Bible about making your foot rare at the house of a friend, because you don't want him to get tired of you."

He's a Christian, albeit a quiet one.  I'm not. "Also says, 'It's more blessed to give than to receive,'" he said.

"Doesn't mean I get to receive all the time, so my friends get the blessing of giving."

"Hey, we're neighbors. Out here that's more like family. You come when I call."

"You don't call all that often."

"So? When I do, you drop what you're doing. Don't worry about it."

"Well, anyway. I appreciate the help."

And I did, and I do - and not just from my friends here. I started up TUAK a little over three years ago, and since then I've gotten care packages from all over. I remember complaining about cold feet one time, back in the winter of '08, and since then I've gotten what will be a lifetime's supply of thick wool socks if I live to be 80. It's gotten to be the blog's running joke. When I said I might have to shut down because I couldn't pay the internet provider, people sent enough cash to keep me afloat for eight months. Grey Lady keeps sending maple syrup (MUCH appreciated.) And other stuff, stuff I can't think of right now.

None of that was what I had in mind when I started the blog - it's just another blog. But I want you all to know that I really appreciate the consideration a lot of you have shown me. It's been on my mind, that's all.

*You thought I was going to say "No, is too much, lemme sum up," didn't you?

8^() Uncle Murphy gets me coming and going!

So all night it stormed, right? Lots and lots of wind, constant light horizontal rain. Around five the sky cleared, allowing the temperature to crash. Along about sunup we got heavy clouds. The wind continued to howl. Snow expected.

So I figured, I could put off shit-shoveling until tomorrow, but sure as hell if I do that it'll all be frozen to the ground. Screw it, I'm gonna bundle up and get'er done.

Now, with last summer's geiger counter-related windfall, I'm far better set for winter than I have been, clothing-wise. New thermal longies, a thick flannel shirt, a parka that actually fits, a Gortex waterproof. Hardly wore any of it all winter, but I had it, boy. And so I layered up, got the boys squared away, and headed to the hinterlands to shovel me some horseshit.

And at first it seemed that was the right thing to do. Wind, blinding snow squalls, you name it. But the horseapples were not yet stuck, so the only real problem I had was keeping the wind from blowing them off the fork en route to the shitwagon. No doubt in my mind that if I'd put it off, I'd be chiseling the stuff off the frozen ground. At last, I got the drop on Uncle Murphy!

And then, just as I was finishing up ... the sun broke out. The wind moderated. Within minutes I was sweating into all those layers. If I'd waited TWO HOURS...

Monday, February 27, 2012

On Comments not getting posted...

Blogger has been no help to me at all. Yesterday I did the only thing I could see to do, I disabled that horrible new "word verification."

This morning I had two new bits of Russian spam - and to my shock they actually went to the spam locker - and no actual commenters' comments went there. So maybe that did something.

Figuring out how to move this whole thing to Wordpress is going to blow off the top of my hoary head.


Why. Do. They. Do. This.

I am not a computer geek. Never was.

I used to be a more functional computer user than I now am. Had to be - work depended on it. Loading new software didn't used to strain my ability. But now it's mostly just gibberish. So I run old versions into the ground, sans parachute, then try to get some more savvy friend to pry me out of the wreckage.

Unfortunately there isn't anybody like that around. So I'm on my own. My old version of Firefox finally got to where it was causing too much trouble, and so I downloaded the new one.

This took a while. Oh, downloading was easy: One click. But what do I do now? I used to be able to figure these things out, and after a cup of coffee I finally got it. Oh! I have to extract the files! Okay, now where's the one that makes it go? How do I get it on the desktop? Ah! Success!


And then! Then! I find out that Firefox does the same thing to me that Linux did, a couple of years ago: They switch all the controls around, just to screw with me. So "run" now means "cancel," and vice versa. "Open in New Tab" is now where "Open in New Window" used to be.

Why? Is it just a perverse sense of humor? Aargh!

Why yes! I am a redneck. Why do you ask?

Laundry day was much less complicated when there was water on Landlady's Ridge.

It would actually be simpler if I just washed my clothes by hand, and I suppose I should. I've got a double sink and running water now. But I really hate hand-washing clothes. I've got a washing machine - sort of - that's slowly breaking down and every load it does might be the last. I had to drag it outside the barn because it no longer knows when to turn the water flow off. Pretty sure Landlady would like me to haul it away somewhere else - anywhere else - but the Lair doesn't have enough electrical power to run it.

So - the Lair has water but no power. Landlady's barn has power but no water. The water has to come to the power.

Fill water bottles. Only need these for the first trip, because the other bottles are already full and at the machine.

Little Bear does not like it when you mess with the Jeep, and he's not in it. He doesn't have many rules, but that's one of the more important ones. Yes, he did get to come along.

Aw, crap. Didn't make sure the latch on the trailer hitch was locked. Sometimes it comes open when we're bouncing down the wash, and you have to make sure the latch is set just right. Too much weight in the rear of the trailer.

Hey, it works.

Back for more. Each cycle takes about 25 gallons, so I have to haul 50 in all. I don't have that many bottles.

The washing machine might be shite, but my drier is state of the art. Solar powered and fully automatic.

Sunday, February 26, 2012

From now on he'd like to be known as the would-be Jody Foster boy toy.

“I would like to be known as something other than the would-be assassin,” Hinckley said.

Too late. Take your Thorazine and stop talking to reporters.

Paging Mr. Il. Mr. Kim Jong Il.

Someone has found your ego.

Context is important. Especially when you want to push other people around.

Remember when one state after another started issuing CCW permits? And the hoplophobes tried to get readers to smear their shorts with breathless predictions of blood in the street? Sure you do.

As one (western, anyway) state after another now revisits "permitting" "citizens" to carry openly, those same discredited predictions are getting dusted off for a new generation. With an added dollop of "it's just ... so ... SCARY ..."
“Simply seeing someone carrying a handgun, rifle or shotgun can cause fear among the unarmed,” McEntee asserts as an unqualified universal truism. “If I were to see someone with a .45 strapped to his hip, I’d have no idea who that person is and what his intentions are and would get out of there quick.”
Well, of course that's your choice, Ma'am. I don't see anybody stopping you.

Or you could consider taking a deep, cleansing breath and visiting places where such things aren't so rare as to evoke panic on sight. Just to see if there really is anything to get worked up over before you start trying to pass laws telling other people what they can and can't carry on their belts. Context is important, when making important decisions. Even when you plan to make them for other people who haven't asked for the help.

Or, finally, you can do what you clearly intend: succumb to fear, and start trying to intimidate the people who frighten you - using the cops, of course, because you'd never dream of being so unmutual as to do it yourself.

Sometimes it's better to stand outside the system.


Yeah, I'm a wuss. So?

Day before yesterday the thing that has given me such comfort all winter long tried to destroy everything I own. Now I look at it like it's some threatening menace, crouched in its corner and waiting to attack me.

Some might recall that this hasn't been a good winter for me, fire-wise. I'll get over it - I think. I did before. Intellectually, I'm aware that the cause of Friday's fire has been fixed and there's no further danger. Emotionally, this brings no comfort. It's still there - waiting.

I want spring now.

Pretty much sums it up.

H/T to Mike at Sipsey Street, with best wishes that he feels better soon.

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Every time I think we've got it bad...

I just look at what people in other countries have to put up with.
Police arrested a Kitchener, Ont., father outside his daughter's school because the four-year-old drew a picture of him holding a gun.

Jessie Sansone told the Record newspaper that he was in shock when he was arrested Wednesday and taken to a police station for questioning over the drawing. He was also strip-searched.

"This is completely insane. My daughter drew a gun on a piece of paper at school," he said.

Officials told the newspaper the move was necessary to ensure there were no guns accessible by children in the family's home. They also said comments by Sansone's daughter, Neaveh, that the man holding the gun in the picture was her dad and "he uses it to shoot bad guys and monsters," was concerning.

Police also searched Sansone's home while he was in custody. His wife and three children were taken to the police station, and the children were interviewed by Family and Children's Services.
The kid likes it that her dad keeps her safe from 'bad guys and monsters.' Yeah, this is a job for the Child Nazis. Maybe she's got a dog they can shoot in front of her; that'd straighten her out.

All your stuff are belong to us.

And no, you're not allowed to hide it.
A hidden compartment in your vehicle, with or without drugs, could mean big trouble as Ohio officials get serious about slowing down drug-smuggling.

A proposed state law, advocated by Gov. John Kasich, would make it a fourth-degree felony to own a vehicle equipped with secret compartments. A conviction would mean up to 18 months in jail and a potential $5,000 fine.
I feel much safer now.

H/T to Balko.

"Michelle, this ain't right."

"There are still so many people left, that we must drive to despair!"
"So believe me, Barack knows what it means when a family struggles," Mrs. Obama said. "He knows what it means when someone doesn’t have a chance to fulfill their potential. See, those are the experiences that have made him the man and, more importantly, the President he is today, and we are blessed to have him.
In a way, I believe every word she says.

Of course, as Weasel Zippers points out, her deep concern would be a lot more convincing if it weren't for all those posh vacations at our expense...

Access to Tools

You know the problem with this place? Not enough tree stumps!

Tree stumps make excellent chopping blocks, if they're big enough. "Big" is kind of an issue around here, when it comes to trees.

The best I could do was this big timber, which I don't know where it came from but it's like a railroad tie with giantism. Unfortunately it had already stood in the sun for a long time, and halfway through the winter it started splitting like the firewood. I need a better block, but in the meantime there's all this old heavy-gauge wire laying around...

This was the coolest find ever. Hardware-store axes, at least the two I've had, are useless. Okay for splitting, maybe, marginally, but shite for chopping. You have to grind for a month to get an edge, then they won't hold it. Good axes are expensive.

I found this axe head on the ground one day, while walking the boys. No clue what the story is. It's real beat-up, but holds a great edge. Only cost me an axe handle and a little clean-up. As you can see, the handle is already well-endowed with idiot marks.

The one necessary skill a year and a half at the saw shop didn't teach me was how to sharpen chains without an expensive grinder. I'm only now learning how to file chain teeth. Getting there.

Friday, February 24, 2012

Okay, so here's another periodic chore.

We scraped a LOT of creosote out of the stovepipes. The chimney was, as it had already proven, a fire waiting to happen.

Somebody sent me an Amazon link, and I have bookmarked it and will spend money there as soon as I get the money together. That's the very next cabin-related purchase. Every two months, like clockwork, from now on.

My good neighbor D came over after lunch to help get the pipes down and cleaned. Being a more responsible type, he already owned the necessary tools.

Taped a garbage bag under the ceiling box, to catch what fell.

The biggest accumulation was up near the box, in the reducer. Reducers are a bad idea, it seems.

And all back together, and probably sometime tonight I'll get up the nerve to actually fire it up. I'll keep telling myself the inside the chimney is now clean as a whistle and there's nothing flammable in there.

It won't help. Good servant, terrible master.

A word about adrenalin: In the course of a long life, I've had lots of opportunity to take care of situations while I'm really scared. I can feel my heart pounding and I'm about six inches from freaking completely out, but I can prioritize what needs to be done and work down the checklist at warp speed. Afterward I can rarely think of a thing I should have done differently - except for avoiding the situation. But also afterward, I'm wrung out like a dishrag and just about useless for anything. This morning I took the boys to Gitmo, because I didn't need them underfoot while I cleaned up and there was still time to go shit-shoveling. But when I got back to the Lair all I could do was sit in a chair and watch the walls move, and didn't start feeling better until just before D called.

Guess it's good it's not the other way around. Hindsight is a bitch, especially when it involves hysteria. This place took me years to get to the point where it's at, and this morning I almost lost it due to maintenance failure. That would have sucked.

Chimney Fire!

Had a bit of excitement this morning. No apparent permanent damage, though I'll know more before I light the woodstove again. My neighbor D is coming this afternoon to help me take the whole thing apart, inspect and clean it. Creosote logs, it seems, are not a reliable preventative.

Right now I'm in adrenaline dump, and shivering with cold for the first time all winter, and glad I'm not hosing down the ashes of my cabin.

Update later.

UPDATE: Okay, I'm calmer and warmer now. Woke rather late, the fire had burned completely out overnight, it was chilly, and I quickly lit as big a fire as the firebox will support. Big Woolly, you are correct in surmising that normally my chimney doesn't get as hot as the Lehman's thermometer says it should - with a big eight-inch chimney on top of my stove's little firebox, it's hard to heat things up to the recommended level - though this morning it was well in the "TOO HOT!" range.

Anyway, I lit the fire and was waiting for my coffee water to heat up when I noticed Click the Cat staring at the ceiling with great interest. It's possible she saved the cabin. I followed her gaze and saw smoke coming off the stovepipe, up near the ceiling box. I looked at the chimney thermometer and its indicator was visibly moving.

I shooed the animals outdoors, opened the firebox, and started carrying burning logs outdoors with the fire tongs and tossing them in the fire barrel. By the time I carried out the last one, smoke was starting to come off the roof at the base of the chimney and I was entering what pilots call a "damage acceptable" situation. That's when I put out the fire in the firebox with my expensive extinguisher, knowing this might not stop the chimney fire. Then I closed off every air inlet to the firebox, and that did put it out.

I just got back from putting the boys in Gitmo for safekeeping and getting the big ladder from M's Dome. I've got to inspect the roof when we clean out the chimney this afternoon, but as far as I can tell from below there's no damage. Fortunately we took every precaution in putting the stovepipe through the roof.

Fire scares me. It's going to be a while before I trust this system again, because nothing out of the ordinary happened this morning - except that the Secret Lair almost burned down.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Yes it is, Ms. Wasserman. Yes it is.

After the tragic head injury, she was unable to resume her former career as a Denny's manager. So they made her DNC Chair - uh - person?

Democratic National Committee Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz said Thursday that GOP White House hopefuls will do nothing to help consumers at the gasoline pump.
Well, You're quite right about that, for a couple of reasons. First none of them are in a position to do anything to help "consumers" (GAD, how I hate that word) at the pump or anywhere else. Also, even if they were they'd have no incentive to do so, because they want your guy to fail and improve their chances of replacing him. Duh.

Just like you want them to fail.
“The Republican field, like Mitt Romney, thinks that we just need to remain tethered and dependent on foreign oil because all they would do is more and more drilling, which is a very shortsighted approach and it would do nothing to prevent people who are struggling to put $80 into their gas tanks to be able to make sure that that’s more affordable,” Wasserman Schultz said on MSNBC.

“And that is another example of how they are economically out of touch,” she said.
This statement makes no sense. If they want to keep us tethered to foreign oil, they wouldn't want 'more and more drilling.' If they wanted high fuel prices for some reason, they wouldn't want 'more and more drilling.' Somebody's economically out of touch, Ms. Wasserman, and while it may be the republicans I think you can find another example closer to home.

Gas prices are the gift that keeps on giving, in terms of political power, and republicans always want more drilling except when they're in power. On the other hand, While I abhor their hypocrisy on the "foreign oil" issue I've never heard a republican president call for more algae-based motor fuel. So on that score, at least, the repubs are ahead on points. Drilling more holes in the ground and pumping crude oil out of them is a strategy known to succeed in producing more petroleum-based fuels. Greater supply has occasionally been known to lower price.

That doesn't make the 'lesser evil' not-evil, but it does mean that - on this subject, at least - they are not proven as dumb as you guys.

The only question is, since they claim to know it, why don't they ever do anything about it when they're in power?

Really? We Americans just WUV you!

Yes, Abby. It's outrageous. All Americans think so. Really they do.

Now sit down, drink your overpriced coffee and stop embarrassing yourself.

H/T to Thirdpower.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Of Militia and Silly Hats...

Back in the seventies, before the sense of futility set in, I was Militia. This was way the FRACK before anybody ever heard the word "Hutaree," I'll have you know, and things were a little different. My shooting instructor was a Marine lifer who ended up getting killed in Mozambique. I'm not sure I can talk about where my demo instructor came from. I won't say it was entirely devoid of Walter Mitty aspects, but there were some things we took more seriously back then, fer shur. For one thing, live fire practice often involved shrapnel. Yeah, I know now that we were all supposed to be racist homophobe misogynist KKK neo-nazis with lots of tatoos and outstanding library fines, but to tell the truth I never met anybody like that back then. I was just an angry young man.

Anyway, The reason this came to mind: I was going through some of my daughter's Facebook photos. Yes, I have a minimal Facebook account: It's the only way I can see her photos unless she emails them to me directly.

I came upon Ari the Husband's official Army photo, and dang but that's a good looking boy. Silly-ass hat, but a good-looking boy.

Then I think I got a little red in the face, because while I was making fun of his outfit I remembered something. When I was cleaning out the Interim Lair for the move here I came upon a shiteload of photographs I'd forgotten existed. And buried in among all the travel photos were some really, really old ones...

Hint: Not one of the good-looking ones
(photo of a photo)

Yeah, back then the dumbass berets were de rigueur. So I guess I can't make fun of AtH's headgear, since I was about that age. This was like 35 years ago.

And here's Joel, about to get killed for the 437th time that day...

I'm having some weird problems with comments.

For some reason a bunch of comments are ending up in the spam locker. Dunno why, and it's affecting regular readers whose comments never went there before. Can't figure out how to make this stop. I promise to check the locker more often.

Also, the comment count seems perpetually off. Like in the squirrel post below, as of this writing I'm told there are five comments but I only see three.

This is annoying. Can anybody else familiar with Blogger lend me a clue?

Cool. I watched one of these guys just yesterday. He wasn't hunting for lures.

Over at A Trainwreck in Maxwell, KurtP posted a cool video of a guy photographing muzzle flashes. Turns out it's a series of videos, so (while muzzle flashes are cool and manly and all) I found something more awesome yet: Hawks!

I like hawks. Rabbits and snakes don't.

Ooooh. To do it, or not to do it? That is the question...

I'm in a quandary. My acquisitive self, coupled with that part of my self that likes to eat foods not found in the Four Basic Groups (Flour, Oatmeal, Beans, and Rice) is at war with my natural (IE, lazy) self.

This has to do with a cord of wood, and the lady who wants me to cut one for her. The standard definition of a cord of wood is wood cut to stove lengths, split as needed, and tightly stacked into a volume four feet by four feet by eight feet. When the wood begins the process on the trees, that's a lot of work. I PROBABLY cut that much wood this past winter (it's been a very mild winter) but for sure not all at once. In fact I've only done it twice in my life, all in one job, and it HURT. I'm rapidly headed toward "old fart."

Acquisitive Me says "A couple of hundred bucks, maybe! Shiny!"

Natural (lazy) Me says "Four feet. By four feet. By eight feet. You know how much hauling, cutting and splitting that's gonna take? You remember how badly your back hurt last time?"

Oy. I've got to tell her something. I don' wanna.

And yet: I just finished a more sedentary set of gigs - harder than cutting wood, really, but more sedentary - and almost all the money went to pay off a debt. I'm out from under that debt, which is good, but still broke. Which is not good.

So I should tell her I'll supply the cord of stovewood.

I don' wanna.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

When I lived in the Midwest, I hated tree squirrels.

As far as they were concerned, they owned the yard and I was just there to present new, entertaining bird feeders that - no matter how apparently foolproof - could not stop them. This was suburban Detroit, so I couldn't shoot them with anything louder than an air rifle. And as I learned, shooting them didn't keep them out of the feeders because they had more squirrels than I had time.

Something like this did, just occasionally, inhabit my fantasies...

As Evyl Robot learned, lots of people who don't like squirrels have YouTube accounts.

These kids today...

Oy, how I wish I'd brought my camera.

Today, being Tuesday, is a normal shit-shoveling day. And I was sitting at the 'pooter this morning, waiting for it to warm up a bit before I took the boys to Gitmo and went and did my thing when I got a call from J, one of the people I shovel shit for. He told me both he and H would be away, and that I should just give Comet the Colt a miss.

He said that for good and prudent reasons: Comet the Colt, who used to be afraid of his own shadow, is growing up. There's some testosterone flowing down in that massive plumbing, and when he's with people he wants to play. And by play I mean fight. For some weeks, J has been concerned that I'm going to get hurt.

Now, I ain't 'fraid of no colt. If I'm on my game Comet can't hurt me. But it is difficult to do two things at one time: Shovel shit and watch to make sure that Comet isn't rearing up behind me to kick my spine out through my sternum. Which he has tried. So I figured I'd just see what kind of mood he was in before I entered his enclosure, and sure enough when I did he was full of piss and vinegar. I'll admit that I have occasional visions of ending up like that guy in the last few episodes of Deadwood, laying there staring at the sky with my head caved in and nobody around to know. Uncle Murphy knows where I live. So I decided to come back to him later.

After cleaning up behind the mares, I had another job to do. J's been concerned, after last summer's wildfire scare, about all the junk wood near his fence line. He offered to pay me to clean it up and get it away somewhere. So I brought the trailer with me, and after the mares I went out and started filling it with junk. Some of it is useful for stovewood, but most is just shattered wood that got bulldozed out there years ago when J hired somebody to clear his ridge for building, and it's been laying there half-buried with dirt ever since. It's an enormous mess, I've been working on it off and on for weeks and I didn't charge him enough. But I'd been doing that for maybe forty-five minutes when H came home and moved Comet into the round pen for me. And she wanted to show me his new trick.

There are horses that like to play with toys, and horses that don't. Comet has always been one of that first kind. So a week or so ago, while he was in the round pen, she introduced him to this big inflated "yoga" ball. And she wanted me to see how he behaves with it, because he's a trip.

She threw the ball into the pen. He took one look and went nuts. He reared, he bucked, he did that thing broncs do where they hop up and down all stiff-legged. He butted it. He kicked it. He loved that ball.

And then he landed one hoof right on top of it, and it deflated in a big puddle of plastic. Show over.

She says she has ordered him one that's made for horses, somewhat more durable. I hope it is.

Monday, February 20, 2012

Hey, I take my celebrations where I can find them.

The weather forecast promised thick clouds and snow for today. So naturally it's gorgeous: No smallest cloud in the sky, mild weather, not a breath of wind.

Good thing, too. I needed to collect wood.

Having done that, it was time to play. I'm celebrating today, because I finished a gig that finally allows me to pay off M for the case of AK ammo he picked up for me, for which I was subsequently unable to pay. Which meant I could only go and sadly look at it from time to time.

Well, I don't actually have the money yet, so I haven't opened the case. But I know it's coming, and that means I can be a little less parsimonious about popping caps. To the range, go!

Synchronize your watches, For The Children!

H/T to Balko, who wins today's Internets with the best headline.

Whew! Dodged that one!

So I see this article titled, "Analyst Predicts Fisker's Demise," and my eyes see that as "Fiskars," and for a second there I thought I'd missed out.

Because I want one of these:

And really don't know what I'd do with one of these.

A few years ago M got this kewl little hatchet, which he never uses and I sort of appropriated for splitting kindling. For what it is, it's a great tool.

My neighbor J has one of those big Fiskar axes and thinks it's the greatest thing evar. Me, I use an old axe head I found laying out in the boonies, and it holds a good edge and works fine so I'll probably never replace it. Always wanted one of those fancy ones, though...

Holy Mackerel, Andy!

Okay, so here's Round Four in the on-going soap opera, "Teach Joel How to Bake Bread"

I've been using a recipe for white bread found in an old Good Housekeeping cookbook, and slavish adherence to measured portions has not been my friend. In the previous three cases, the dough came out way, way too dry. This time I went crazy with the warm milk: The book calls for 2.75 cups, and I used 3.5 cups plus the liquid in the proofed yeast.

The result was bread dough that actually behaved like bread dough - a much better texture than before. I also took precautions against low temperatures, cranking up the wood stove until I was down to a t-shirt, rising the dough in the warmed oven with a pot of hot water to help maintain warmth and humidity.

Before the first rise...

Holy Mackerel, Andy! After the first rise.

I punched down the risen dough, divided it in two, and put it back in the (re-warmed) oven for its second rise...
Yike. I've a feeling I just used up all my yeast's good karma.

Into the oven for baking...

Well, they look better. In this case, I apparently had some uneven temperature in the oven, because one of these loaves could have cooked a little longer.

This time I ended up with loaves that were plenty wide and not high at all. Probably things would have worked out better if I had some bread pans - I do have one, and wish I'd used it yesterday as a "control loaf." As I feared, the bread barely rose at all during baking so it may not have made any difference.

Texture is far better than before, but still denser than I want. I'll keep working on it.

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Well, at least he's honest about being dishonest...

H/T to Borepatch.

And once again, thanks to some asshole...

...I get ready for what might turn out to be a bad day.

In the name of philosophical purity, I usually think Thomas Hobbes was wrong about everything - including what he had for breakfast the day he wrote his drivel.

And sometimes, in the name of honesty, I think he wasn't all that wrong.  Some guys just won't rule themselves.  And that's why I'm gonna spend my day festooned with this shit.

In the bathroom of the Lair there's a big bag of dog food.  And on the bag there's a picture of a Golden Retriever.  And I sat on the throne this morning and looked at that damned picture, and that got me to thinking about Magnus.

Magnus and I only lived together for a year and a half.  Every morning he was the first thing I saw when I woke up, because he always knew when I was waking up and he was always there, waiting for me to greet the day properly by giving him lovin'.  And every waking moment of every day of that year and a half I knew someday soon I'd have to kill him.  Because he had a brain tumor, and someday he's stop shaking off the convulsions, and they'd really start to cripple him, and then we'd have to give him mercy.

Now, I loved that dog like a combination idiot son and idiot brother. And I knew I was going to kill him, and that I wouldn't hesitate because when I killed him it would be the kindest, most loving thing I could do - and I wouldn't do it a moment before that became true. And when the time came, we killed him. Landlady was there, and Claire, and me. I still miss that dog, but I don't regret killing him, because I loved him and it was time.

And this morning I was thinking about that, and I went out of the bathroom, and I checked my rifle magazines, and one wasn't full, and I got my ammo can and I filled the magazine. And I thought that today I might have to kill more dogs, and that it wouldn't be in the same spirit as the time I killed Magnus. Oh, I don't hate the dogs.  I'd let them live if I could. But I can't. I've got friends and neighbors and animals of my own, and none of them did a thing to deserve these dogs.  So today I'll walk around locked and loaded, and part of me will hope I find the ferals and part of me will hope I don't.

And if I meet the asshole who started all this, I won't hurt him.  But he's the only one I'll want to hurt. Just for proving Thomas Hobbes wasn't completely wrong.

Friday, February 17, 2012

Sarcasm: We Haz Sum

From now on our police will have the means to turn the hum drum work of small town policing into an exciting war mission. When they bust some friends playing poker they will no longer be the annoying busybodies and pompous party poopers ruining a good time – they will be fighting an organized crime gambling ring! When they bust consenting adults buying and selling marijuana flowers they will no longer be the hypocritical enforcers of the state’s alcohol monopoly – they will be soldiers on the front line of the drug war, just as important as any DEA agent in Mexico. And of course they will be worshiped as war heroes when they use their vastly superior numbers and arms and armor and armored vehicles to crack down on these unarmed scoundrels who offer no resistance, very brave war heroes whose courage will be unmatched and unquestioned.

H/T to Unc.

And amid a flurry of text messages, we're back to "FERAL."

A pack of pit bulls just killed a neighbor's cow. The ones I saw were very like pit bulls.

My dog-o-meter dropped from "feral" to "stray" last week, and now it has returned to "feral." Not to mention "shoot on sight."

For the dog-lovers among us, sorry about that. The local puppy mill is still the most likely culprit. Years of legal maneuvering having accomplished nothing, now we're getting property damage and cattle mutilations from runaways.

Bother - I'd just stopped carrying a rifle everywhere I went, and now this.

UPDATE: Well, one bit of uncertainty is put to rest: It's definitely the puppy mill. Maybe now, after years of trying to get him to, the guy will finally shut down. Meanwhile the whole neighborhood is running around with rifles. If I had some blaze orange vests for the boys, I think I'd make them wear them now.

Oh, and according to the eye witness there were NINE DOGS in the pack that got the cow. I'm not only carrying the rifle, I'm carrying the bag'o'mags.

The sort of thing I get up to at three in the morning

CAUTION: The following content almost certainly will not help you get through any part of your day. You Have Been Warned.

When living close to the edge, everything becomes about resource management. You've got this much stuff, and to get through a day you have to expend some of your stuff.  If the amount of stuff you have is greater than the amount of stuff you must expend in a day, then you're okay - for that day. If the opposite is true, you have a problem to be solved. So: Let S represent Stuff. I possess S in the amount of x, and must expend it in the amount of y.
Sx > Sy = Cool!
Sx < Sy = Ah, Shit

Of course this equation can be scaled for any desired time period, because only an idiot would plan essential resources one day at a time if he had a choice. But you get the idea.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Oh, well if Hillary said it, it must be true.

See, I've been ridiculing the whole "global warming" thing because if Inconvenient Al said it it must be a lie. But this is completely different.
Faulting the world for not doing enough to fight climate change, the United States on Thursday announced the formation of a coalition to cut short-lived pollutants that speed up warming and harm health.

US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said the coalition of the United States, Bangladesh, Canada, Mexico, Sweden and Ghana will launch a global drive to curb black carbon (soot), methane and hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs).

The chief US diplomat said such pollutants survive only a short time in the atmosphere -- unlike long-lasting carbon dioxide, the main climate change culprit -- but account for more than a third of global warming.

"We know that in the principal effort necessary to reduce the effects of carbon dioxide, the world has not yet done enough," Clinton told an audience at the State Department that included envoys from the coalition countries.
I now fear the dreaded short-lived pollutants, and vow to do my part. I'm going to cork Little Bear's ass as soon as I log off here. It Takes A huge government program Village!

Sit back, close your eyes and inhale the irony of this.

Made in the USA: Georgia factory exports chopsticks to China

The best part, the cherry on top, is the very first part of the very first sentence.

Hope and change, baby. Hope and change.

Y'know, when people first started talking about this thing called the "world wide web..." was most frequently in the context of denouncing it for the ease with which it brought this other thing called "porn" into the household.

Naturally, I just had to try some of that. But I must have been going to the wrong places on the "web," because what I found was mostly advertisements for porn. There were plenty of those.

I can only conclude that there are still lots of people out there like me. Looking over TUAK's stats, by far the most-viewed post in the blog's history is this one. By FAR. In a million years, you'll never guess the search term that brings people there.

Or maybe you will, but I'll give you a hint anyway. It has nothing to do with cats or firearms. :P

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

I dunno how you're gonna get missiles on them if they're that small.

From the "it would be really bad if Bush had done this" department, this:
As America’s drone war begins a new surge in Pakistan, the U.S. House and Senate have both approved the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) Reauthorization Act bill, a bill which would pressure the FAA to weaken rules currently in place on domestic drone authority, and allow American skies to be filled with tens of thousands of drones.
If the new bill becomes law, up to 30,000 drones could by flying in U.S. airspace by decade’s end. The Senate passed the bill by a 75-20 margin. Civil liberties groups have spoken out on the measure, stating the new legislation offers no restrictions on drone surveillance operations by police and federal agencies and could put us on track toward a “surveillance society.”
Too late to worry about that, but there's still plenty of time to think of all the ways a guy could have fun with this. I mean, even if it were shining big bright lights in my bedroom window at omigod-thirty, I'd never do anything to a police chopper because it'd probably land on somebody who didn't offend me. But a drone? Fair game, baby!

If I were a ham, I'd already be looking at frequencies and thinking directional jammer. But I'm not: I'm a shooter, and the only thing that comes to mind is...


Hey, who told winter it could intrude?

I've been having this idyllic non-winter, when suddenly...

Y'know, rain is okay and snow is okay, but sleet is just half-hearted snow. And sleet, interspersed with rain, is what I got all morning yesterday. Yeesh. Finally, in the afternoon, it settled down to some serious wind-driven snow which is somehow not nearly as objectionable. It never really got very cold. It was just gray and wet and miserable, like the desert isn't supposed to be.

And by nightfall it was getting me down. Well, that and the fact that I spent most of the day reading The Source, by James Michener. Easily the most depressing book I've ever read, and I've read the screenplay to Stalingrad. Every evil the Jews ever brought on themselves or suffered from others, all distilled in the history of one fictional archaeological dig. Yeah, great choice there, Joel.

So come the evening, I made cookies. Hell, even I can do that.
And I felt better. Fatter, anyway.

Then! Ha! Just as the sun went down, the dark heavy clouds that had oppressed the day all day long suddenly parted like a curtain. Just in time for the nighttime temperatures to crash. Hat trick, Uncle Murphy! Mazel Tov!

So this morning there is literally not one single cloud to be seen in the sky, but hoarfrost everywhere. I ain't goin' out there.

Wait. Ron Paul's a whacko, okay, I got that. But...

... I'm supposed to take this douche seriously?
One of the things I will talk about that no President has talked about before is I think the dangers of contraception in this country, the whole sexual libertine idea. Many in the Christian faith have said, “Well, that’s okay. Contraception’s okay.”

It’s not okay because it’s a license to do things in the sexual realm that is counter to how things are supposed to be. They’re supposed to be within marriage, they are supposed to be for purposes that are, yes, conjugal, but also [inaudible], but also procreative. That’s the perfect way that a sexual union should happen. We take any part of that out, we diminish the act.
Hey, Rick? I'm gonna talk about something that no president likes to talk about, too. Like which version of the constitution - which contains the president's rather limited job description - you're using to justify becoming the nation's archbishop.

Is that the King James constitution? The Douay constitution? Pretty sure it's not the Good News constitution...

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

I just got the news...

While I was clicking on the post below, my inbox beeped at me. I got an email from an old internet friend, longtime freedom-lover and delightful activist Iliolo Jones. Her husband Douglas has been fighting cancer for many months, and died a week ago.

Iliolo, I've followed your Caringbridge journal for some time, though I don't think I've ever had anything to say on it. I'm so sorry for your loss, and honor the way you stuck with him.

Rest in peace, or safe journey, or ... well, whatever happens next I wish the best of it to you.

Okay, who did this?

Was this something you actually put time into? Or does YouTube have an app for that?

I ... GUESS I'm flattered...

Trying to Perform One Complete and Complex Thought, and Remember it...

Just something I scrawled in my notebook this morning, while waiting for the power to come up. I'll check back later and see if it's gibberish.

Whenever you meet somebody who wants to tell you about your "duty" to something you didn't specifically sign up for, be aware that you're dealing with someone who cannot be trusted. It doesn't matter if all his other viewpoints coincide exactly with yours. He is a liar and a thief, and the thing he's trying to steal is you. Do Not Trust This Man. Nobody decides what your duty is but you.

Do you want to know where my country is? My country is located an inch or two under my sternum, and it consists of myself and the people I really care about, and I could count those people on the fingers of my hands. Those are the people I would die for, maybe for reasons I wouldn't even choose to discuss with them. That's my country. America is just the place I happen to live. I don't have anything against America, the place or the people. In fact I kind of like them. But I despise every aspect of America's government. As for those who somehow equate America with its government, as though whatever the government happens to want must necessarily be what every American wants, to those people I don't have anything to say at all. That attitude is so unamerican, it's clear somebody hasn't been paying attention.

Monday, February 13, 2012

Who do you think you're fooling?

NASA eyes plan for deep-space outpost near the moon

Um...guys? I know all your engineers quit at all, so maybe that's why you may have overlooked one small thing.

You can't have a "human-tended waypoint" near the far side of the moon, or anywhere else, until
you can leave Earth. Which requires this thing called a "Space Ship." Which you no longer know how to build. Remember that thing you've supposedly been designing since the end of Apollo? That thing the White Elephant Shuttle was going to give you time to put together?

Time's up.


The Economics of (Whining) Envy

Okay: First off, I live in a 200 square foot cabin, which is roughly the size of one of this behemoth's windows. So when I say I completely disagree with the writer of the screed "Huge Houses are Morally Wrong," even he might think I'm entitled to a point of view. Though I doubt it:
Some people think that if the money is legally made, it is the right of the moneymaker to use that money how they see fit, and it's not anyone else's business. Well, if you believe that you're some sort of Randian libertarian, and you should not be reading this website.
Actually I'd put it differently: If the money was made through consensual and non-coercive trade, it is the right of the moneymaker to use that money how they (sic) see fit no matter whether it was legally made or not. And it's not anyone else's business.

Does that make me 'some sort of Randian libertarian?' I am neither, but I'm familiar enough with both creeds to know that Rand didn't believe such a mishmash was possible. Rand was no libertarian. Rand denounced libertarians. But I suppose the writer is just being poetical. Or something.
Most reasonable people accept the fact that society itself contributes greatly to the ability of rich people to gain and, crucially, hold wealth (that is, the rule of law that society enforces ensures that rich people don't all immediately get robbed and guillotined, as has been the fashion at various points in history); therefore, rich people owe a great debt to society.
Get a load of this. First, does the writer know "most reasonable people?" Has he polled "most reasonable people" for their opinions? What's wrong with just saying "people who agree with me?" It would be more honest. It would not argue from intimidation or authority. But then he goes on to tacitly threaten rich people with being robbed and guillotined, so I guess "reasonable" turns out to be too much to ask in the first place. But because there was this revolution 200+ years ago where some nobles got guillotined, somehow rich people now "owe a great deal to society" - at least, that portion of society that took over the French government way back when and guillotined them.

This is getting less coherent by the moment, and we're only on the second paragraph.

Then he goes on to quote as an authority Peter Singer, one of my very least favorite people in all corporeal existence, and that's when I just sort of lost interest in fisking him further. Do what you will with it.

I'll just end with this: I spent most of my life working for wages. I have never received a single dollar, in my entire life, from a poor person. So I'm kinda glad rich people are around, and I don't care how big their houses are as long as the paychecks don't bounce.

H/T to Robb Allen.

On all the bread comments...

Thanks for all the responses, guys. I'll be going over the suggestions. I'm at about 6000 feet altitude so that could have something to do with (makes it awfully hard to cook beans, I know that) and of course the humidity is probably an issue. I'll experiment with more water in the dough. Also I'll knead more next time.

I expect the texture to be more dense than storebought - that's one thing I like about homemade. But these are just bricks of cooked dough, and I know I can do better than that.

ML, expect an email. Thanks for the offer, which I acknowledge you've made before and I didn't respond.

Unreconstructed, your suggestions regarding the dough will be followed to the letter.

I've been warming the oven and letting it rise in there, but it's touch and go. The oven doesn't have a "warm" setting, and since it's fairly small it warms up very quickly. So things have cooled down a lot by the second rising. Didn't think about putting a wet towel in there, though.

All in all, much food for thought. Results will be documented soon.

Thanks again!

Let the meltdown begin!

Tried something a little new this morning.

My neighbor D asked me if I wanted to come with him to the big town about fifty miles away. Truth is, even though there was nothing on my running shopping list that was all that important, I could use a break from the cabin so I gladly said yes.

Trouble was he needed to leave pretty early, and I couldn't make up my mind what to do with the boys. Normally when I have to leave them alone, I still run them up to Landlady's place and put them in Gitmo. They don't really like that, but it's what they're used to and they never give me a hassle. But I didn't feel like moving my schedule up half an hour just to deal with the boys, who really should be cool about staying home. The few times I've left them alone in the Lair for a few hours they got all soggy and hard to light about it: They're used to having Uncle Joel right there with them. This time would be at least five hours.

Good news: Nobody lost bladder control over the matter, or ate my reading chair. In fact I guess there really was no bad news. LB is refusing to leave my sight. Ghost made an immediate break for the door, apparently anxious that he'd never be able to go outdoors again in his whole life. Then when he'd dealt with that he wanted in, gave me a happy dance and wanted his ears scratched, then whined to go out again.

All in all, I guess they've decided this is home now.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Bread Bleg: Okay, I'm confused.

Yesterday was my third bake since moving in. The first was not good, for what I thought was an obvious reason: I didn't do anything about proving the yeast, and the room was too cold for proper rising.

The second seemed to go better: Much better rising, resulting in bread that, while kind of dense, didn't have the consistency of brick.

The third, ...

I certainly can't fault the yeast. It damn near came out of the cup, in showing its enthusiasm.

But I knew I was in trouble before the first rise. The texture is grainy, not resilient at all. It completely failed the "window test" I read about.

The first rise seemed to go well enough, though...

And the second wasn't a complete disaster. Usually when the bread's going to be terrible, it's because it doesn't rise right.

Not great. I've got a feeling I just baked a couple of bricks.

Yup. Brick.


If there had been no Nazis...

...It would be necessary to invent them.

The beautiful thing about Nazis is that it is impossible to go too far in vilifying them. Political correctness simply does not apply: There's nobody left of offend, and even if there were who cares? Trying to be too campy while playing with Nazi material is like trying to satirize a government bureau: It really can't be done. Reality will always gobsmack you in retaliation. They were just that damned corny.

Which is my longwinded way of saying that this looks irresistible, even if it turns out to suck.

I will watch this movie on DVD, or by any means necessary.

H/T to Linoge, who seems to be of my mind on the subject.

Saturday, February 11, 2012

This could explain a lot. I've always had cats...

Maybe I should section my brain this evening and check it for parasites?
Compared with uninfected men, males who had the parasite were more introverted, suspicious, oblivious to other people’s opinions of them, and inclined to disregard rules.
Hey, Click! C'mere and lemme lick your nose. I need more of that.

ADDED: Click says no. Not only no, but hell no.

Anybody got any iodine?

And wrinkled lip and sneer of cold command...

I've been re-reading Victor Koman's Kings of the High Frontier, so you know the voices in my head that most hate NASA have been dominating the internal dialogues lately, right?

And then this morning I read Carl's post right here, about how the National Space Flight Prevention Administration has cut funding for Mars exploration, which actually comes as a surprise, since what else have they got going on that they can put in the news to impress the twelve or fourteen people in America still susceptible to being impressed by NASA? These are the people who, after forty years of intensive post-Apollo research and development, are no longer capable of low earth orbit.

And I suddenly imagined a series of monuments I'm going to commission, after I've betrayed the revolution and set myself up as President-for-Life.

First I'm going to have every building in Cape Kennedy and the appropriate regions of Houston and Huntsville bulldozed and hauled off. Every brick. Then workmen will lay down vast expanses of desert sand. Then the sculptures: I'm picturing two vast and trunkless legs of stone, right? Near them on the sand, half sunk, a shattered visage lies. And on the pedestal these words appear: `My name is NASA, Hope of Generations: Look on my works, ye taxpayers, and Don't get fooled again!'

Friday, February 10, 2012

Normally I'm not a Huge Nuge fan, ...

...and I do notice that he characteristically manages to make this about his own complete awesomeness at one point. (Though, damn. He's still looking good for a guy older than me.)

Otherwise, this is pretty much my view on the matter as well. "I don't like repeat offenders. I like dead offenders."

ADDED, SINCE I SUDDENLY REALIZED I SAID SOMETHING NICE ABOUT NUGENT: That biz he pushes about having never ever taken drugs, nope, not him, uh uh?

Uh huh.

Yeah, I'm from Detroit, Nuge. I was an Amboy Dukes fan back when you still admitted being in the band.

Don't ask me: There's no good reason. He's just always gotten on my nerves.

Funny. But who's Ben Roethlisberger?

Hee. Good luck explaining THAT scar, dumbass.

But I do wonder: Was she actually aiming at his ass?

Well, it's been months now...

...and the boys have still not fully renegotiated their territory agreements with the local coyotes. Most mornings I need to help them get outside in time for the 7AM business meeting, because, dammit, there's Something Out There that needs a good barking. At that time of the morning it's usually an uppity coyote, getting too close to the Lair for their preference.

In the old days, when there was a full pack 50% composed of dogs the size of small mastodons, this was at least seemingly a more serious matter. Back then the boys' claimed territory was "everything we can see," which meant they often would charge off as a herd toward some distant berm on the farthest ridge and might not be back for an hour or more. But the big dogs were aging, and tired of this game within a year or two of my arrival. For most of the time the official territory seemed to be the immediate ridge, and the wash to the south and the meadow to the north. The coyotes seemed fine with that, really, and so the ongoing dispute was reduced to a ritual in which the opposing groups serenaded each other in the mornings and evenings and otherwise ignored one another's existence.

That truce ended when we moved here. The Lair, unfortunately, is located in a hollow near the wash, completely surrounded by ridges. Nice for privacy, not so good for staking out territory the coyotes won't violate. And since Little Bear can't be trusted to run around unsupervised, all the heavy lifting falls on Ghost. Not that he seems to mind, he treats it like a merry romp. But Ghost, very fortunately, is smart enough not to take this too far. He charges around the periphery of our little hollow but never entirely over the crests and out of sight. LB is reduced to being the Greek chorus, which frustrates him intensely. But I must say he has developed a booming bark indicative of something really, really massive back there behind the one who's running around, which I wouldn't want to encounter if I were a coyote. Coyotes, at least the ones around here, can be insolent but are not very confrontational.

Thursday, February 9, 2012


If this guy actually gets the nomination, he's in for the worst few months of his life. The Dems will kill and eat him. Since I've held a grudge ever since the "contract with America" betrayal, part of me hopes it'll happen.

H/T to Never Yet Melted.

Weather, and its effect on making a living

Today was a perfect day for working on the computer, because it was sunny but too cold and windy to want to play outdoors.

I get occasional opportunities to make a little cash on my 'pooter. But this laptop is an old power hog, and unless I'm planning to spend the evening reading by kerosene lamp my system needs direct sunlight to run it. So today, though there are some other gigs hanging over my head, I devoted to getting an increasingly problematic job out of the way. It's been on my mind and in my notes for days, and for days the clouds have made my inverter squeal like a girl every time I fired up the 'pooter. Frustrating, especially since for the past several days I've felt kinda puny and have mostly been sitting around, when I could have more happily been making money indoors.

But hopefully I've got that out of the way. Mostly. And tomorrow, if the weather forecast turns out to mean anything, is a perfect day for shit-shoveling and wood cutting. One needs to plan these things, you know. :)

But the beautiful thing about being "semi-retired" is that mostly you can pick your days.

It's the same old song...

But they look so scary!  And anybody can buy them!  Terrorists!
Some say it’s a major loophole in the law. At gun stores, you have to get a background check before you can buy a weapon. But online in most states, anyone from law-abiding citizens to dangerous criminals – even terrorists – can get just about any weapon they want, no questions asked. Our hidden camera investigation shows the deals going down in broad daylight, in suburban mall parking lots.

Yep. Personal responsibility is like that, Jeff. It's not neat, and failure to exercise it can be tragic. Nobody promised a utopia - except the people who want to outlaw the exercise of personal responsibility. Strangely, that always - Always! - ends in far greater tragedy.

Part of personal responsibility is being ready and able to defend yourself and your family and friends from danger. Not to depend on the police, who have no responsibility to protect you, but to do it yourself. The best way to do this is with the appropriate tools.

The tools of effective aggression will always be available to those who want to use them for aggression. They don' care 'bout no steenking laws. The tools of effective defense must also always be available, and the only people your "loophole" laws will defend is the aggressors, because they will certainly continue to ignore them.

Will that always be neat and tidy? No. People aren't like that. All I can promise is that the alternative will always and invariably be far worse.

H/T to Robb Allen.

Neighbors and Renters from Hell

Got to thinking about this with a post from Claire's blog - she's having trouble with a noisy neighbor who's going to wake up with a karaoke machine's head in his bed, one morning real soon.

Then over to Sippican Cottage, in which a landlord learns the joy and fulfillment of renting to a crazy hoarder.

Back when I owned property, my wife and I occasionally discussed the possibility of renting out a house we were having trouble selling.  My opinion was an unaltering "not in this lifetime."  I've known too many people, at a somewhat - shall we say - lower rung of the socioeconomic ladder than she was quite willing to admit existed.  The damage that can be done to a poor defenseless house by someone who just stops taking out the garbage has to be experienced to be appreciated.

Noisy neighbors?  Oh, I could tell stories.  In fact, I think I will.  One time - this was after the marriage, so it was only a little over ten years ago - I had this cheap little apartment that faced an alley.  On the other side of the alley was another apartment building that catered, apparently exclusively, to low-income Mexicans.  And one such family, on the ground floor directly under where my windows opened, sure loved to party.  And in those parties they enjoyed blasting Mariache "music" at ear-bleeding intensity until all frickin' hours.  I've always prided myself on being able to get used to anything, but this was a daunting challenge.

It had its compensations, though. The morning after the night when the partiers ushered in the year 2000 will forever be a jewel in my memory.  The party the night before was a masterpiece - I didn't think those people were ever going to pass out.  The least they could have done was invite the neighbors, since we got to participate anyway.  Anyway, around six that morning, on New Year's Day, to my surprise and initial dismay a garbage truck started working its way down the alley, emptying the Dumpsters.  And I don't know what the driver's problem was, maybe he was just pissed at having to work that morning, but he was taking delight in stomping those big, noisy Dumpsters up against the top of his truck, again and again, and then smashing them back down on the pavement.  Oh, it was deafening, and he did it over ... and over.

At first I was just a bit put out, since I'd been trying to sleep, y'know?  And then ... I heard the cries of pain.  Yeah, coming from across the alley.  Stomp!  Smash!  Aiii!  Music.

It's the little things.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

The Chair yields five minutes to the Honorable Senator from the NFL...

I did not know this. Though it turns out to be old news.

'Operation Fake Sweep' Results in Seizure of $4.8 Million in Fake NFL Merchandise
Speaking at a National Football League news conference on Thursday, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement Director John Morton, U.S. Customs and Border Protection Director of Field Operations in Chicago David Murphy and NFL Vice President for Legal Affairs Anastasia Danias announced the record-breaking results of a nationwide enforcement operation targeting stores, flea markets and street vendors selling counterfeit game-related sportswear throughout the country.
Good news, citizens! Your heroic, heavily-armed protectors from the Federal Government have stepped in to protect you from the terrible scourge of counterfeit football jerseys. Sleep well tonight.

And of course, what would any .gov crackdown be, if it didn't shut down websites?
U.S. special agents and officers have seized a total of 307 websites as part of an initiative called “Operation Fake Sweep.”

Launched on October 1, the project was led by Homeland Security Investigations within U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).

Most of the sweep ties into a crackdown on illegal NFL-related merchandise leading up to the Super Bowl this Sunday.

As far as the websites go, 16 of them were set up for illegal streaming of the live sportscast, while another 291 domain names were brought down for illegally selling and distributing counterfeit merchandise.
Now don't get me wrong. I've got nothing against the NFL making a few bazillion bucks, as long as it's taking them from willing customers. Counterfeiting amazingly overpriced merchandise isn't the most heinous crime I can think of, but it's still kinda theft. Seems to me that if the NFL wasn't hawking the damn, dumb things for upwards of $200, counterfeiting might not be such big biz, but that's not my business. I'm agnostic on the whole trademark and copyright infringement issue, I can see where people would object, but it's hard to be terribly sympathetic when the "victims" get to sic the feds on you for something so banal and non-violent.

But this is where I fall off the wagon: This is a "homeland security" issue? Really? Are the fake jerseys woven from Semtex or something? The Department of Homeland Security seems to think so.
Intellectual property (IP) thieves undermine the U.S. economy and jeopardize public safety. American jobs are being lost, American innovation is being diluted and organized criminal enterprises are profiting from their increasing involvement in IP theft.

We knew mission creep was gonna happen, the second Bush announced the kickoff (heh) of DHS. But

This. Is. A. Masterpiece.