Thursday, May 31, 2012

Trench-filling at M's Dome has come to a whoa...

Though the rock situation has been resolved - explosively, in one case - we're back to my old nemesis "not enough parts."

M wants to run a water line for a faucet in the curved front wall between the Dome and the powerhouse. Makes perfect sense, and it's now or never because the water line we need to splice it into is destined to be under about ten feet of dirt. But search as we did we just couldn't find the right parts. We went to the little town about 45 miles away, where there's an excellent hardware store, and missed closing time by mere minutes.

So for now I've just been chipping more rock, and also widening the trench at the far curve, just where the hole to be filled opens back up. It's right there that the water line runs, that we need to splice into for the new faucet. So I can't cover it up just now, which means there's not much but fiddling to do.

Aw, damn.

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Note to self: Fire Speech Writer.

Good news: Obama alienates Poland by referring to “Polish death camps”

Bad News: The United States government has a president who will say absolutely anything, if it appears on a Teleprompter screen.

Worse News: The United States government has fallen so far it actually cares what Polish politicians think.

Yeah, she's mild tempered. But...

...that doesn't mean you want to screw with her.

Felice the Mare came home from training the other day. She'd gotten kind of barn-sour with her previous owners. Horses are like old hermits: Once they get the idea they don't have to work, it can be hard to convince them otherwise. Anyway, H put her in the second-biggest enclosure with Comet the yearling colt. I wondered about the wisdom of this: There's a good reason Spirit despises him. He likes to play, and he's a biter. Didn't say anything about it, though. None of my business.

Anyway, I went over for shit-shoveling this morning and H had Comet tied at the hitching rail and was doctoring his left front leg which had a swelling the size of a whiffle ball and a lot of skin missing from his knee. Nobody knows what it was about (I can guess) but sometime in the middle of last night Felice decided the best use of her time was to stomp the living shit out of Comet.

H will probably separate them now.

You wanna know what's really cool?

Expiration dates on stuff that doesn't easily go bad. I love them.

Saturday morning M showed up at the Secret Lair, and he was holding not his usual rilly cool gun for show and tell but a case of beer. There were two more up in the ridge in his truck.

You gotta love a guy who'd remember that the old hermit squatting on his land isn't abstemious. And you gotta love a store that routinely marks out-of-date beer very far down. Even though it drinks just fine.

Thanks, M! Thanks, unknown store!

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

For the record, I can't name any of these ladies.

...though I'm pretty sure I'm supposed to know who they are.

Cool production, though. As so often, I'm not sure exactly what the product placement is trying to say. "Pepsi, the soft drink of hated tyrants" really can't be the message they were shooting for.

H/T to KurtP.

The practical aspects of the zombie apocalypse...

Shambling, filthy, abysmally stupid, neither alive nor fully dead, obsessively driven to consume the flesh of others...

But enough about congressmen. Let's discuss how they'll keep taxing zombies when they finally show up.

The irony gets a little thick sometimes.

Barbara Tuchman would be very disappointed in them. Wilhelm II rolls in his grave.

Who* in 1935 would ever have thought the Germans would end up being the grown-ups of Europe? And they still can't get any respect.

*Besides Germans, that is...

Not a judgement, not a prescription. Just an observation.

Reading over at Claire's this morning, she's talking about the joys of growing old. The example of one of those joys struck a chord.

Once when I was much younger somebody told me, "Some guys are just meant to be bachelors, Joel, and you are the classic case." I grew up knowing nothing good about women except that they were mysterious, pink and soft and I wanted one, despite the fact that all the women I knew were prone to yelling and hitting and I wasn't allowed to yell and hit back. I wasn't even sure why I wanted one. Television and movies suggested there was more to them than that.

As I got older, of course, I discovered at least one of the whys but I didn't know how utterly unsuited I was to actually pursue a relationship with one until I disastrously gave it a try. One of the things the experience taught me was that they come honestly by their propensity for yelling and hitting. As far as I can tell they're driven to it by guys like me. Even though we honestly mean no harm.

At the time, that observation about bachelors seemed a cutting remark, an insult. Now, of course, I understand that it was just an observation - a correct one I should have paid more attention to.

I'm not convinced that the benefits of growing old outweigh the liabilities. But one of those benefits, if we have the wisdom and circumstances to take advantage, is a pearl of great price. That's the ability to look at who and what you are, warts and all, and understand that it's not something that needs to be condemned or even corrected. I thought that the way I am made me a bad person. I didn't like being a bad person, so I spent decades trying to be some other sort of person. All I did was make everybody miserable. I felt really bad about that, but try as I did there didn't seem to be anything I could do to change it.

So - despite the monumental external plumbing - I'm not built to be a great lover. Hell, I'm not built to be a decathlon champion, either, but it never upset me. Now, at this far happier phase of my life, I can relax and enjoy. Some guys are just meant to be bachelors.

Monday, May 28, 2012

An earth-shattering kaboom!

I've still got it.

Private to Unreconstructed, if you're out there: Your kind gift of a few years ago saved me some hours of breaking rocks in the hot sun. Thanks!

See, there was this rock. It wasn't much of a rock, at this stage. Once upon a time it was an absolutely enormous rock, so big there was no way we could move it with the resources at hand. And it had to go, because it was directly in the path of the concrete pad for M's Dome, which we had spent weeks and weeks working on. At heartbreaking expense, M hired a guy with a tractor-mounted jackhammer to come in and remove the rock. He did so, and though there was this one little stub still poking out into the trench it didn't amount to anything. We thought that was the end of the matter.

Yeah. Except it turns out there was no way to back M's tractor Gulchendiggensmoothen out from behind the Dome without one of the big, expensive rear wheels whacking that stub of rock. And once you were there, you had about four inches of room to back and fill and wiggle around it. Sooner or later that rock was going to tear out a sidewall. It had to go.

I whacked at it for a while with a pickaxe, but this was a really solid chunk of rock. I started asking around if anybody had a jackhammer, if M's hammer drill couldn't get it done. We were all sitting around the dinner table last night while I told my sad story of how my progress had come to a stop because of a lousy rock.

M - being M - said, "Can we blow it up?"

Hm. The notion honestly hadn't occurred to me, but it was attractive. Once I wouldn't have thought twice about it, but I'm not exactly well-stocked with explosives around here, I mean we're not the big, scary Hutaree. And anyway I haven't done that sort of thing since ... well, it's been a long time.

But still. I've got some of those flash-bangs [REDACTED] left here. I doubt they've got enough grunt to do the deed, but I don't know they don't. It'd be fun to try.

So I cannibalized the charges from three small, harmless bombs - really just big firecrackers - drilled some vertical holes in the rock, packed them, fused them, tamped them...

Pretty short fuse. Who can we get to light it? It should be the person whose idea it was, but then it also needs to be someone who can run like a gazelle. That leaves me out on two counts. Hm. Who can we find?

THERE he is!

Whoo Hoo! I saw chunks of rock flying, along with the sandbag and bits of cinder block. To my surprise, it might have actually done some good!

Yeah, I've still got it. And M still has all his fingers and toes.

Photos courtesy of M's Dad, who actually stood there and watched him do that.

Friday, May 25, 2012

Forget what I said about dying yesterday...

It turns out I'm immortal.

Things that make me say "Hm."

I heard about this briefly on the radio yesterday afternoon.
STOCKTON (AP) – A judge has refused to release a tuberculosis patient who was jailed and charged after allegedly refusing to take medication to keep his disease from becoming contagious.

San Joaquin County Judge Brett Morgan on Wednesday denied 34-year-old Armando Rodriguez’s request for release.

The Record of Stockton reports the judge said he was uncomfortable releasing Rodriguez because of his methamphetamine and alcohol use and past behavior.
And at first, of course, I got all outraged: "You're keeping a guy in jail without due process because he wouldn't take his meds? You see nothing wrong with that?" Because that's pretty much my default reaction to anything.

The meth and the booze, I don't care about. Kill yourself any way you want. Hey, I can go full Scrooge. Go ahead and reduce the surplus population, druggie.

But locking a guy up for refusing to take pills? Normally my reaction to that is pretty unambiguous.

And then reality set in. Cue the internal dialogue:

Wait now. Here's a guy who can pretty much kill people by breathing on them, and he steadfastly refuses to do anything about it.

Normally, steadfastly refusing to do stuff gets a big thumbs-up from me.

But that's going too far, ethically.

Yet when do I start getting a vote about what's "too far?"

Answer: When you're hurting or threatening other people.


They already tried to get him to take free meds, and he wouldn't do it. You gonna start shooting people with TB in the head, when they refuse treatment or quarantine? Your mother probably died of TB, Joel, and it took her years to do it. (ed note: Exactly what killed her is uncertain. Long story.) How many other people you gonna wish that on?

Yeah, but...jail?

They don't have TB wards any more. And there's no ethical difference between that and jail, the difference is purely esthetic. The door's still locked.

Full disclosure, as if you didn't already know: I spend most of my waking hours thinking I have all the answers. Cases involving involuntary quarantine or forced medical treatment for deadly contagious diseases slap me upside the head and remind me that that's not so.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Oh, yeah. Thanks.

Never Yet Melted has a post up on the "Ten Most Painful Stings."

Number 9: the Tarantula hawk wasp, Pepsis hemipepsis: “Blinding, shockingly electric. A running hair drier has been dropped into your bubble bath.”

Very common around here. Attracted to open water, which means they love my outflow pipe. Water a tree, they're there. Easy to spot because of the red wings. Plus they're the size of an F-18.

Fortunately they're about as aggressive as a cottontail. I'm ugly, but not tarantula ugly.

Speaking of Chainsaws...

My first thought was "Yowch, that's gonna be hard on a very expensive chain." But it turns out he knew where to cut it without trying to saw through the harp.

Now the only question is "why?" But of course the answer would take the form of another question. "Why not?"

OC Drama Llamas...

In the gun blogs there is much huffing and kerfuffling on the subject of open carry. One must open carry, or the republic will fall. One must not open carry, or the Bradys will win.

Feh on all who ... Oh, just feh.

Carry a gun. Do it the way that makes the most sense to you. And when "experts" tell you the way that should make the most sense to you or you're an assclown, just remember the old koan:

When you meet the Buddha on the road, kill him.

Or if that's a little harsh, at least snub him socially.

That trench behind M's Dome needed its own name...

...So I decided to name it

Profanity Alley

I made a deal with Ian sometime late last year
He traded me a pistol for some work
I quite admit it seemed to me a good idea
Didn't know that I was being such a jerk

Going down, rolling down
Down Profanity Alley where I spend my time
Going down, falling down
If you find me at the bottom won't you drop a dime?

When I dig into the pile to pick up a load
But only get me a few teaspoons and a rock
When the tractor climbs a hillside and runs out of fuel
I get to thinking this adventure is a crock

Going down, rolling down
Down Profanity Alley in a clapped-out Ford
Going down, falling down
One good thing is I'm unlikely to find myself bored

And sometimes when the tractor feels like it will roll
And that I'm going to squash under the wheels
I tell myself that physics is still on my side
But I tell you that's sure not the way it feels

Going down, rolling down
Ol' Profanity Alley gonna kill me soon
Going down, running down
When I die they're gonna clean the mess up with a spoon

And when for the tenth time that day the tractor's stuck
And I think that it will never be the same
I say some words my dear old mother wouldn't approve
There's no question that my driving's kinda lame

Going down, rolling down
'Cause Profanity Alley isn't none too wide
Going down, creeping down
If I live a thousand years I'll see the other side

Now even though you hear me say some mournful words
And sometimes curse my father for my birth
I understand that promises are meant to be kept
So I keep on showing up to dig the earth

Going down, rolling down
Down Profanity Alley every blessed morn
Going down, trudging down
Seems like I've been filling trenches since the day I was born

But if someday you find me on the bottom slope
With a tractor's bucket wrapped around my head
Don't want you thinking that it's such an awful shame
You don't have to shovel no more when you're dead

Going down, rolling down
Down Profanity Alley where I'm gonna stay
Going down, laying down
And I knew what I was getting into anyway

Just promise me that you won't put me in the ground
Leave me on a hilltop for the birdies' beaks
I've already seen enough time at the bottom of a hole
And I figure that the critters gotta eat

No matter how much you may hear me bitch and moan
Remember this old fella knows the score
I spent most of my life inside a carpeted cube
And I'd rather dig a hundred cent'rys more

Take me up, carry me up
And Profanity Alley is a better deal
Take me up, carry me up
To Profanity Alley for a turn of the wheel

Even more exciting adventures in digging...

When I moved to the desert to live, instead of just to visit, I had surprises to contend with. One was how damned cold it gets in the winter, but praise Gaia I can set that aside for six months or so. The other was how much effort I'd have to put into water management.

This is my gully. There are many (many many) like it, but this one - alas - is mine.

The problem with this particular gully is that it's right behind and above the Secret Lair. Gullies are normally dry, rocky things of no particular interest. But sometimes they become wet rocky places and that's the problem. This one, when it runs, normally flows into a little natural trench that turns sharply left at the bottom and sort of lets the water sheet off to the wash. But sometimes the water jumps the trench, and then it wants to go right where the Lair is. It doesn't happen every year, and when it happens it isn't always bad. But we don't plan for the best-case scenario.

I knew about it beforehand. The very first summer I started excavating for the foundation I came to the site one morning and found my (early, poorly thought out) foundation trenches completely full of water. It makes you think.

What it mostly made me think was that I wanted to use piers instead of a solid foundation. There were other factors in that decision, but water management was one of the big three. So I built the Lair on concrete piers instead of block, but I still needed to do something about that water.

Step one, dig that trench out. Deeper, straighter, more attractive to flowing water. Then berm the Lair's side of the trench to make my little mud flat less attractive. The berm is a work in progress. It hasn't been seriously tested yet, but the one time the gully has flowed since starting that, it worked.

Since installing running water in the Lair, of course, water now uses that trench every single day. The outflow pipe from the sink, and one day please god the shower, goes here. I found that, though the trench was probably sufficient as an emergency measure, as a thing to live with every day it had shortcomings.

So I dug a continuation of the trench, out to lower ground and well away from places where I commonly wanted to walk.

This latest trench wasn't my best work - it wasn't very straight, and I quickly grew tired of looking at it. Besides, it runs through clay and needed frequent cleaning that - knowing me - it wasn't going to get.

Yesterday I used up the last of my sewer pipe. That improves the function of the extended part of the trench, and also means I get to cover the damned thing back up. Which covering I finished this morning after my first cuppa. Now I's happier.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

If we don't make people pay to be oppressed, the terrorists will win!

Senate Dems back increase in air travel fee to close funding shortfall at TSA

Money quote:
Sen. Mary Landrieu (D-La.) said the $315 million in funding would otherwise come from taxpayers and argued it is better to stick passengers who rely on TSA with the bill.
"Passengers who rely on TSA?" They're going to raise that much money just from airline passengers who are family members of TSA goons?

"Yes ma'am, we have you booked on the 3:15 flight to Tulsa. That'll be five million dollars, please."

Hey, I can dream.

Sigh. How did these people ever win the war?

I like coffee. If I want a cup of milk and sugar, I won't waste good coffee in it.

Cocoa, now - that's different.


Yes to about 50% of it. Never caught the Glock bug, and if I did I probably wouldn't own a 30 round mag for one. That's just silly. I haven't bought a gun magazine since I figured out (duh) why all the T&E articles are so glowingly positive even when I happen to know the gun sucks, and I have no girlfriend or significant other so those don't apply. Other than that...

But I'm not a gun nut. Ian is a gun nut. Since we became friends I had to stop calling myself that because, y'know, truth in advertising. "You not only know how many Mosin-Nagant variants there are, you care." "You don't take European vacations, you go on hajj to John Browning's office in the FN factory." "Even your shooter friends ask you to shut the hell up about guns." THAT'S a gun nut.

H/T to Borepatch.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Your tax dollars in flight

No, I know it isn't anything new. Still stinks.

Campaign Trail Airlift
Campaign Trail Airlift: Air Mobility Command recently stood up two squadrons to provide dedicated airlift for President Obama's re-election bid. Four C-17s temporarily stationed at JB Andrews, Md., and approximately eight C-130s at New Castle ANGB, Del., form the 305th Expeditionary Airlift Squadron and 306th EAS, respectively. They are expected to commence operations in April. "The Banner Express mission provides dedicated assets to our highest priority airlift—Presidential support," said Col Allan Hess, 89th Operations Group commander. Formed only to support a sitting President in his campaign, the Air Force last stood up "Banner Express" squadrons for President Bush in 2004, 89th AW spokesman 2nd. Lt. Gregg Johnson told the Daily Report. AMC will inactivate the squadrons—mustering a combined 160 aircrew and support personnel—following the Presidential election in November.
The good news is that, since they're not corporate jets, none of this is evil or greedy.

QoD: "If you friend me I may have to kill you" edition...

There are only so many times a person can exclaim LOL or WTF before his or her soul just gives up and disintegrates to ash. I have never wanted a Facebook page. I like --- treasure --- the fact that I have lost contact with people I didn't like much in high school, or the first office I worked in, or I met once on a bus thirty years ago. It would frighten me to be suddenly invaded by those people.
Bob Guccione Jr

I don't go heavily into the fan stuff, y'know...

But I does loves me some Firefly. While hunting around for the Leslie Fish song below, I came on this. I've heard the Escape Key song, but not this version. Wish they'd done something more creative with the video, though.

They're old, they're ... experienced...

But they still work if you actually wire them to something.

Yesterday I scored some like-new 12 gauge multistrand wire. This morning before it got too hot I tore out all the Dr. Seuss wiring that theoretically but not really united my scrounged solar panels into a harmonious whole and re-wired them correctly. Found two hidden bad connections. Ditched a multitude of wire nuts.

Voltage is still low, of course, and I really do need to score some new batteries and a charge controller. But the whole system immediately started working a lot better. The inverter is no longer screaming at me.

Never assume you know why something you barely understand isn't working, until you actually check to see if you can find out.

Monday, May 21, 2012

Once there was this singing group...

And they released some really weird songs.  I liked it.

Later they got into disco, which I didn't like so much. But even there they added a little quality to an otherwise execrable genre.

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Went on a little expedition yesterday...

Near where I live is a dried-up shitsplat of a little town that's been around for a long, long time. Somehow they even get grass and trees and gardens to grow, and I imagine that took generations of careful irrigation and soil amendment.

And once a year they throw a combination car show and chili cook-off. Yesterday I tagged along with my good neighbor D, just for lack of anything more constructive to do.

 All this green shady stuff seem really strange to me.

 My neighbor D decided to see if he could get a new gun belt. He tried to go the wonder-nine semiauto route like everybody else, but now he's no fooling back to his single action .45.

 I don't suppose I should be surprised that in redneck country there are a lot of really cool cars hidden in garages here and there.

 More of that shady stuff. What do you call those big green things?

To my shock, I actually encountered a fine example of my all-time favorite "If I were rich" dream car. Not original, though: The fuel-injected 5.0L engine looks like it was pried screaming from a mid-eighties Mustang.

And that's about all there was to see. The chili was good, though.

Chainsaw Use and Maintenance for Beginners

Here's TUAK's very first (and possibly last) how-to essay. If you already know how to use and maintain a chainsaw, or if you just don't have one, proceed no further because this is rather long.

If you do own one and are feeling a bit uncertain on some related matters, click away.

BTW, if you do take the time to read this for information and find it inadequate, please leave a comment as to how it could have been improved. When writing a piece like this it's very easy to make assumptions about what readers do and don't already know. Y'know?

Friday, May 18, 2012

I admit it...

I got nothing today, and I'm tired of the inverter (in the very middle of a delightfully sunny day, mind you) making that girly (Oh! The batteries don't have any power! You're running on the input from the panels and I'm gonna tell!) squeal which isn't even a chirp anymore but a solid "You gotta be kidding me, what the hell do you think you're doing" tone.

Yeah, we've got problems. My intrepid exercise in solar electrical system parts scrounging is falling apart like a paper mache bowflex, and I have got to scrape together money for a couple of batteries.

Guess I shouldn't be sitting here bitching about it on the keyboard, huh? Yeah, not if I want electric light tonight I shouldn't.

Anyway, I'm working on something a bit different which might show up tomorrow but more likely Sunday. It's a rather lengthy illustrated how-to on chainsaw use and maintenance, but I may actually have to bop the 'pooter over to Landlady's before I can type it all up. Ironic, no? If it actually comes off right I may try similar things. If it doesn't I'll let it roll off the front page and forget the whole thing ever happened.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

I want this guy to be Vice President next time, too.

First we need to change that thing in the constitution where he gets to be prez if the current chairwarmer dies, because ... well, damn. But after attending to that little detail, I say Joe Biden as Vice President-For-Life. The only thing they're of any use at is comic relief and there hasn't been a good one since Agnew. If we just get rid of that scary "first in line of succession" thing, Joe Biden is the all-time gold standard in vice presidents.

Biden Calls Himself 'Middle Class Joe'
I get tired of being called a "middle-class joe," like that's somehow I'm just good old Joe and I don't dream.
There is no known documentary evidence that anyone besides Joe Biden has ever referred to Joe Biden as "Middle Class Joe." He was called "Senator Biden" for 36 years before becoming VP. With the exception of three post-college years, according to Wikipedia, he has never held an actual job in his adult life. If he ever had an adult life, for which there is little hard evidence. He's very far from the richest senator, which after six terms is somewhat remarkable and indicates he may not be taking his personal corruption as seriously as the job normally requires. Or maybe he's just not as stupid and blurty as he comes across: That's an impressive house for a guy supposedly worth a couple of hundred grand.

But "middle class?" I don't think that's how they define that.


God, you're despicable.

Chuckie (all your stuff are belong to me) Schumer:
At a news conference this morning, Sens. Schumer and Bob Casey, D-Pa., will unveil the “Ex-PATRIOT” – “Expatriation Prevention by Abolishing Tax-Related Incentives for Offshore Tenancy” – Act to respond directly to Saverin’s move, which they dub a “scheme” that would “help him duck up to $67 million in taxes.”

The senators will call Saverin’s move an “outrage” and will outline their plan to re-impose taxes on expatriates like Saverin even after they flee the United States and take up residence in a foreign country. Their proposal would also impose a mandatory 30 percent tax on the capital gains of anybody who renounces their U.S. citizenship.

The plan would bar individuals like Saverin from ever reentering the United States again.
Because how dare you move away from the robbers? Have you no patriotism?

H/T to Snarkybytes.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Further exciting adventures in digging...

So two days ago I wiped out the big stock gate of my closest neighbor (and very best customer) by essentially bashing it repeatedly with a big backhoe. This did not go unnoticed.

To say I was anxious to make good the damage would be a wild understatement. So I dug out the broken stub of the gatepost, along with its heartbreakingly massive concrete plug. Then I supplied a new (used) gatepost from my own stash and two sacks of concrete (from Landlady's) and reset the post. Did that right away.

Yesterday morning, after the concrete had a chance to set, I came back and together we re-hung the big gate. He seemed happy with that, but you know a repair like that is never quite as good as it was before the act of destruction and I really didn't want him thinking of me every time the thing creaked or sagged or was harder to roll than before. I did tell him that if further repairs were needed I would do whatever possible to make it good, but he's aware I have virtually no money and may not be capable of truly keeping that pledge.

Spent yesterday evening brooding about it. Yeah, the gate's back up and seems to work just fine. But it wasn't enough. I still felt a debt, even if he says he doesn't.

So this morning when I went back for shit-shoveling, I brought the Jeep's trailer. There was a big pile of concrete rubble on his plaza, made far worse when a couple of years ago a cement truck driver chose that spot to clean out his drum. I know for a fact that pile of crap has bugged J ever since, because he's mentioned it several times. Two hours later I found the answer to the question, "What would happen if you completely filled the trailer with concrete chunks and tried to drive away with it?"

The answer is, "Landlady's Jeep will apparently pull anything." The brakes noticed the load, but the engine didn't seem to. I knew where there's this big hole that needs filling...

J seems happier now. My back hurts, but I'll probably sleep better.

Hm. I have bread. And butter. And a cat, ...

An otherwise useless cat, as it happens.

And of course I have duct tape.

And a nagging electrical supply problem.

Hey, Click! C'mere a minute, wouldya?

The Ego has Landed

Okay, I didn't know you could read glowing presidential bios on the site, because I don't recall ever going there before. But this morning, thanks to a plethora of sources, it seems those bios are now New! and Improved! thanks to the fine folks in the hope'n'change administration.

Example, at the bottom of the Reagan bio...
Did you know?

President Reagan designated Martin Luther King Jr. Day a national holiday; today the Obama Administration honors this tradition, with the First and Second Families participating in service projects on this day.

In a June 28, 1985 speech Reagan called for a fairer tax code, one where a multi-millionaire did not have a lower tax rate than his secretary. Today, President Obama is calling for the same with the Buffett Rule.

I haven't actually read them all, but supposedly they did this in the bios of every president for the past 90 years. Except Gerald Ford.

Yes, even Carter.

Look quick, if you're interested. That rumbling sound in the background is the Memory Hole going into gear.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

I am not the resource of you.

Obesity and National Security: The Battle to Reduce the Nation's Waistline

Lemme get this straight. You want me to watch my waistline because otherwise how will you know if I'm available to go kill inconvenient brown people that weren't bothering me before?

Two words come to mind. One is "you." The other is a vulgar euphemism for sexual intercourse. Not in that order.

Ofer heaven's sake...

It ain't that big a deal.
We had Steve stand on the corner of Main Street with a loaded weapon on his side, out in the open. Dozens of people walked right by Steve without noticing anything. There were a few who seemed to notice the gun and take a second glance but kept on walking. When we added three more open carriers and a child more people seemed to notice the guns. Most we talked to offered support.

Okay, I remember when I moved here and had a very hard time open carrying in town. In town I carried concealed at first even though that wasn't legal (no license) just because I didn't want to cause - or be a part of - a hassle. I'd been illegally carrying a concealed pistol for years'n'years, and that was my comfort zone. So I guess this sort of article shouldn't annoy me as much as it does, and truthfully I do very occasionally run into people who don't like it though only one ever said anything.

So I guess I should be more sympathetic. But I swear sometimes it only seems like a big deal because people who should know better make it a big deal. It's a gun, not a demon on your belt with a mind of its own. Act like it, and most other people will. In the process, you're helping to re-normalize something that should never have become abnormal in the first place.

Monday, May 14, 2012

The alt-text is best.

Sent to me by Landlady, before she found out I stole her concrete. You gotta go here and read it, because while the comic is good the alt-text is the icing on the cake.

I'm not a huge xkcd fan normally, but sometimes it knocks out out of the park.

Having a lot of electrical problems...

I think my "salvaged" batteries are done. They're not taking a charge worth a damn. Computer use is quite limited, and so expect light posting till I can figure out how to fix it.

One of those days...

I wanted to get my digging out of the way fairly early today, since it's been warming up pretty good. So I put the boys into Gitmo early and dumped a few buckets into the trench behind M's Dome before shit-shoveling.

I'm aware that my previous attempts to describe the issues I've been having with this haven't exactly been masterpieces of clarity, so here's something worth a thousand words.

Yeah, it's kind of a tight fit. But we're making progress. BTW the top of the dome is twelve feet high, which should give you some notion as to scale. It has taken a lot of dirt, and will take a very great deal more.

Anyway, Since the tractor was all warmed up, I left the Jeep at M's place and drove the tractor to J&H's for shit-shoveling. Now and then I take it over there so I can pile the manure higher.

When I arrived, H was at the gate. Normally I park outside, but she obligingly opened the gate for me so I drove right into their plaza. That was my first mistake.

The current manure pile is right outside the fence. So when I was done with shit-shoveling I fired up Gulchendiggensmoothen, drove out the gate and turned right. This was my second and terminal mistake.

The tractor was well outside the gate, but nevertheless there was a heart-stopping crunch that seemed to go on for a very long time. The backhoe had tangled up in the gatepost.

There wasn't much damage. To the backhoe. The gate was bent in a couple of places and the post was totaled.

Sigh. Yeah, J was a little upset with me.

So I went home, got the Jeep and some tools, and headed right back. An hour and a half of digging in the sun later...

Private to Landlady: I owe you two bags of concrete.

Tomorrow morning I have to go back and help J re-set the gate.

Friday, May 11, 2012

Slaughter of the Innocents...

Some weeks ago a kind reader sent me a packet of seeds. No, not that kind of seed, Mr. DEA, sir. These are Santa Domingo Casaba melons, and they're supposed to do well in a dry, hot environment. Hope so, 'cause I like melons.

But if experience is any guide, I'm sending these innocent infant plants to their deaths. I've got my plot all prepared, it's all bermed and mulched and fertilized. As soon as I plant these seedlings I'll cover them with straw so they can harden away from full sun. And they'll probably die anyway, because I planted them.

I've got a neighbor who got a melon plant just from spitting some seeds on the ground. I've got other neighbors who grew tomatoes they didn't even know they were planting, just from washing seeds down the grey water drain. But me? Oh, I'm a bad man for just thinking of planting a garden.

Oh, for god's sake...

Be afraid, America. Be very afraid. Terrorists walk among you, and your freedom and safety are in the hands of Complete Freaking Idiots.

Witness, for your terrorized edification, the new face of terrorism in America.

Thank you, Jet Blue and TSA! Who knows what carnage could have ensued? Why, if not for our beloved Saviors in Uniform, we wouldn't have any freedom left!

Thursday, May 10, 2012

I've never done this before, but...

Bumped. Just because I'm not tired of looking at it yet.

I really get a kick out of that little guy. Even though he does occasionally try to bite.


I briefly reviewed the Monster Hunter International books here. Then I lent my two to Ian, who got me started in the first place by lending me his copy of Monster Hunter Alpha but hadn't read the first two himself. I've been praying I get them back.

But you know what? I want the whole thing. Since through the vagaries of bookselling this new omnibus currently sells for less than a paperback copy of Alpha, it looks like I'm going to be able to give Ian a gift of what I already lent him.

There's also a second Grimnoir book coming, and I want it because the first one was at least as good as the MHI books. Larry Correia is the best new writer I've encountered since I don't know when, and he's cranking them out like he thinks he's Asimov. Hope he keeps doing it.

The Stupid! It...Costs a Lot of Money!

Saw this over at Uncle's, and thought maybe it was a joke. I swear that's the only reason I clicked.

Look, if you want to hang three kinds of optic, four different flashlights and a chandelier from your AR, I'm not the guy who's going to stop you. Also, save your pennies because you really need one of these.

As for me and my house:

It's just a carbine, okay? It's supposed to be light and handy and shoot bullets. How much gingerbread really improves it?

I'm shocked. Shocked!

To find waste and mismanagement going on here.
The OGR/T&I report makes a series of recommendations
I've got one recommendation, but don't expect anybody to take it.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Hey, that actually worked!

(Insert fascinating picture of a big, dusty hole in the ground here)

I've had a problem at M's Dome for some days now.

I've been filling in the big trench surrounding the Dome, basically using the tractor's bucket to build a road as I advance. I got to the turn where the trench goes to the rear of the Dome, and couldn't go any further. The tractor wouldn't make the turn.

So I widened the trench. That helped a lot, but I still couldn't make the turn. I tried digging out the far part of the trench, because I really, really didn't want to pull out any more of the bottom of the hillside. That didn't work at all. With death in my heart I dug out the bottom, reducing the angle of the turn as much as I possibly could without digging up M's septic line or propane pipe. It still got awfully narrow right at the end, and I was certain I'd made a big mess to no purpose at all. Pushed all the spoil up the hill and dumped it into the trench, as far as I could reach. That left me with a big pile of dirt right at the end of the "road," which the bucket simply couldn't reach to push down into the trench.

Got out the idiot stick and spent about three quarters of an hour shoveling all that dirt down into the trench, smoothing out the "road" and extending it as far as I could. Now: with the bucket raised up high to avoid the narrow spot, could I sneak the tractor around the turn? After about two hours of digging, that was the big question. If I could, I was in business for another ten or twelve feet, until I had to make the second (even narrower) turn. If I couldn't, we were done. I was out of ideas.

Success! I scooped up a nice, full bucket, brought it to the turn, raised the bucket WAAAAY up high, and eased the tractor forward around the turn on all that loose shoveled dirt as far as I dared. I want to fill the trench using the tractor, but not WITH the tractor if you accept the distinction. When I dumped the bucket (which was so high I ended up wearing half the contents, since the wind was coming up), every bit of dirt that fell down and didn't blow onto me fell past the fill and right into the hole.

So I'm back in business and can go back to just moving dirt for a while. It won't be a long while, because the second turn is narrower still. I think that part of the hillside will be easier to break up and knock into the hole, MAYBE making it possible to make the second turn.

Once I get the rear of the Dome's trench filled in and figure out how we're going to make that second turn, the rest is mere tedium. At least until it's time to actually cover the dome with dirt, because I don't have any idea how we're going to do that.

The good news is that I'm starting to think the whole job won't involve importing dirt. The excavated dirt is going a lot further than I feared it would.

Don't run!

If you run, they got to chase. They'll pull you down like a deer, boy. Turn and face'em. You got to be the biggest dog. Never run.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

What happens after you refuse a police search

Go watch this. This is a pretty good use of seven minutes of your time.

Then come straight back, y'hear?

Tell the folks at TWA we said hi.

The New York Times. The Grey Lady of news. All the news that fits, we print.

But not for much longer, and the publishers can thank their own loyal minions for the final blow.
"What am I gonna do? Am I gonna eat cat food? Am I gonna move in with my kids? Am I gonna commit suicide?"
How about this? I Don't Give A Damn.

Call it the dance of the low-sloping foreheads.

How Government Wrecked the Gas Can

Via Unc, a tale too many people miss in the hustle-bustle.
It fascinates me to see how these regulations give rise to market-based workarounds. I’ve elsewhere called this the speak-easy economy. The government bans something. No one likes the ban. People are determined to get on with their lives, regardless. They step outside the narrow bounds of the law.

It wouldn’t surprise me to find, for example, a sudden proliferation of heavy-duty “water cans” in 1- and 5-gallon sizes, complete with nice spouts and vents, looking almost exactly like the gas cans you could get anywhere just a few years ago. How very interesting to discover this.
Maybe you can't stop the signal, but you can sure muck it up.

And yes, speaking as somebody who uses gas cans a lot, the new designs have probably cost me hours in total, just filling the Jeep. Safety-wise, it's not an improvement. But as a way of keeping how important the government is right in my face at all times, it works like a charm.

Because f**k you, that's why.

Jay G brings more logic than the gun controllers are likely to be able to handle.

Monday, May 7, 2012

Hey, I'm getting good at this!

Cooking has always fascinated me.

It's the sort of fascination that arises in a childish mind when constantly confronted by the end result of an apparently arcane art, the actual process of which is forbidden. In the environment in which I grew up, cooking was a "woman thing." Yeah, I know that sounds sexist and maybe it was, but not on the part of the men: In my entire life I've never been chased out of a kitchen by a man.

So I grew up with the unexamined assumption that any sort of cooking more complex than barbequing steaks or boiling water must be some really complex procedure requiring years of study and an absence of Y chromosomes. Seventeen years of active marriage did nothing to disabuse me of this, since my wife routinely chased me out of the kitchen, too.

It was a little frustrating: My very own glass ceiling.

One meal I have always especially enjoyed is pot roast. My wife, in the part of our marriage in which she made things I enjoyed eating, was very good at pot roast. One post-marriage day, possibly in a fit of longing for that long-dead part of my life, I got to craving pot roast and wondered whether I could somehow duplicate her efforts myself. I read up on it in an elementary cookbook, and it seemed simple enough. So I gathered materials and tried it - and it turned out all the women in my life had been scamming me, for all my life. My pot roast was as good as hers, because pot roast is very simple. So - and this really came as a shock - is roasted chicken.

I'm still working on bread, as regular readers know. Sometimes my bread comes out perfect. Sometimes, using exactly the same materials and procedures, it does the other thing. I'm still not completely clear on why. But quick breads are something I've gotten very good at. Like Jeremiah Johnson, I make damn good biscuits. The beauty of quick breads is that they're predictable. If you do the right things in the right way, they always come out good.

Yesterday, faced with a surplus of bananas resulting from last Wednesday's shopping trip, I impulsively tried my hand at banana bread. I love banana bread, but never tried to cook it. Again, it always seemed like a woman thing.

Not so!

Perfect! Take that, matriarchal oppressors!

Fun with Spam

Since revising the comment word verification rules some months ago, I have of course been inundated with spam. Most of it is ads for porn or Viagra or cheap watches, or indecipherable walls of words using alien alphabets. Those go down the memory hole.

Others are more fun.
Thanks be given to you hugely much in regard to the relieve forum. I highbrow a masses and got to be acquainted with the lucid with attractive people. I'll be a iterative visitor.
I don't know what it means, but I'll take it as a compliment.

Sunday, May 6, 2012

I guess it's better than those chanting schoolkids...

But still. I wonder how long the "Forward" thing is going to stick around? Like "Julia," it's born to be mocked.

Which doesn't make it any less creepy.

Y'know, the Beatles got tired of that sort of thing but I've a feeling Barry actually enjoys it. Do people really believe this shit, or are those women paid to pose for the pic?

Whatever. None of my business. Ladies, this Weird Al is for you.

Saturday, May 5, 2012

Guilty secrets of being a guy...

You know what I've always wanted? I mean, ever since they got popular with the mall ninja crowd and we started hearing about them, so when I say "always" I really mean a couple of years?

I've always wanted my very own tomahawk.

Not a "throw it and watch it bounce off the log" tomahawk, either. A real, cool tactical tomahawk.

I have no explanation for this. Looking back on my life, I can't think of a single time I squeaked out of some high-pucker-factor situation thinking, "God, if only I'd had a tomahawk." Hasn't happened once. Don't expect it soon.

Sometimes it's a little embarrassing being me.

UPDATE: Something heartwarming and further embarrassing just happened. A very good friend emailed me. He'd followed the link and said, "I ain't buying you a $300 tomahawk. But there's this cheaper one from SOG - you want that? 'Cause I'll buy you that." Which was really cool, and it made my day, but I had to explain that - while it's true I do kinda want one - my need for a tomahawk roughly parallels my need for a third nipple. I only wrote about tomahawks because mixing bowls aren't funny.

Friday, May 4, 2012

But we can always go to the courts to set things right. Right?

There's no point getting worked up when some individual government "bad apple" violates your rights and abuses you, because you still have recourse to the courts. We can always get justice in the courts. That's what we're told. Right? Well...

Not if Massa says we can't.
John Yoo, the UC Berkeley law professor who advised President George W. Bush on interrogation of terror suspects, can't be sued for allegedly authorizing a prisoner's harsh treatment even if it amounted to torture, a federal appeals court ruled Wednesday.
Since 1982, the Supreme Court has ruled that government officials can't be held legally responsible for violating individual rights unless those rights were clearly established at the time.

"We cannot say that any reasonable official in 2001-03 would have known that the specific interrogation techniques allegedly employed against Padilla, however appalling, necessarily amounted to torture," said Judge Raymond Fisher in the 3-0 ruling.

He said the high court didn't rule until 2004 that inmates held as enemy combatants were entitled to humane treatment, and the scope of their rights is still unclear..
Look, I'm not here to praise Jose Padilla, or to bury him. For all I know, he's the real Tim Osman. I know absolutely nothing about him except what the government told me.

And what the government told me for the first four years of his "detention" turned out to be bullshit, didn't it? If he'd ever in his life even heard the words "dirty bomb," he'd have confessed to turning out a gross of them. As it is they gave Jack Bauer four years alone with the guy, and I can only assume the reason he didn't come back with evidence of bombs was because there was no such evidence.

That was four years in a Navy brig, no due process, no trial, no nothing except
sleep deprivation, stress positions, isolation, and extremes of temperature, light and darkness.
Treat me like that for a week, and I'd confess to assassinating Lysander Spooner if I thought it'd get you off my back.

Earth to U.S. Government: When other governments do those things, you've always called it torture. You were right.

And the notion that grown people don't know what torture is when they're in the process of doing it to someone is not consistent with the idea that those same people are uniquely qualified to rule us because they're so much smarter than we are and all.

But thank god John Yoo will be all right. I was really worried about that.

If you give a horse a cookie...

He's going to say, "WTF is this? I want my big play ball!

Comet turned a year old last month, which was about when this was shot.

I solemnly promise, Lady.

I would willingly die before breaking this pledge.  Your private property is safe from me.

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Yes, I'm a guy.


Got tired of tripping over ammo cans* in my 200 square foot lair. So I figured, I've got that space over the window, some spare shelf brackets and that length of 2X10.  I can put up an ammo shelf in my living room if I want to.

Because I'm a guy.

Compulsions to do such things may be the reason I'm an unmarried guy, but what the hell?

* Yes, I have more ammo than this.

Wanna make a dog think you're a GOD?

Yesterday after shit-shoveling I went into town with J to do some shopping. I was low on a lot of stuff and had been lovingly working on a list for days. J dropped me off at the dollar store while he ran his errands, and I loaded up on canned stuff. Nothing that wasn't on the list.

Then he picked me up and we went across the street to the grocery store where I blatantly violated Joel's First Rule of Food Shopping:

Never Shop For Food While You're Hungry.

'Cause if you do that, you're gonna come home with stuff you don't usually eat, and you're gonna cry about the money you just wasted. Which is what happened.

There was this package of ribs "reduced for quick sale." In this particular store, buying any meat at all is dangerous because their reefer is powered by geriatric squirrels or something. "Reduced for quick sale" is IGA-Speak for "It's already gone bad." But it looked so goooood...

Turns out I dodged that bullet, but I started cooking it before I'd even put the cans away because it sure wouldn't be good tomorrow, y'know?

Now, the boys were still in Gitmo. That meant I got to watch a movie on my 'pooter and chow down in peace on the first ribs I've eaten in YEARS. Having no refrigeration, I'm kind of a vegetarian but not from any philosophical conviction. Gad, it was good.

Then I went and got the boys. Since I'm a defacto vegetarian, that pretty much means they're defacto vegetarians. They're probably not as resigned to it as I am.

And this time the boys knew instantly that something otherworldly and wonderful had been going on in the Lair while they were gone. I had their attention. I also had all those bones and all that fat and gristle.

And the boys, they settled right down and had themselves a party, fed to them by the hand of the best dad on earth.

Julia, on the other hand, can get a job or go to hell.

Having just spent time congratulating myself on what a fine, noble, virtuous bastard I am, let me just point something out:

This is not how that's done.

If other people's money or the threat of imprisonment for willful non-participation is involved, that's not what I was talking about.

A sense of humor is definitely required here...

But it's always important to consider that the other guy might think his point of view is at least as valid as yours - especially when you're at war and breaking each other's stuff...

H/T to The Grey Lady, official TUAK purveyor of fine maple syrup.

Practice Random Kindness and Senseless Acts of Beauty.

From Bill St. Clair: A Sweet Lesson on Patience.

I didn't pick up any more passengers that shift. I drove aimlessly lost in thought. For the rest of that day,I could hardly talk.What if that woman had gotten an angry driver,or one who was impatient to end his shift? What if I had refused to take the run, or had honked once, then driven away?

On a quick review, I don't think that I have done anything more important in my life.

We're conditioned to think that our lives revolve around great moments.

But great moments often catch us unaware - beautifully wrapped in what others may consider a small one.
When I first came to this area, I spent the first year and a half working at a little shop repairing chainsaws and tillers and selling propane.

This is not a rich place - for most of the people I met during that period it's quite a poor one. A guy's generator goes out, maybe he can't pump water. His chainsaw takes a dump, maybe his family doesn't have firewood. After a while you get to thinking maybe your job is more important than you originally thought. Maybe sometimes you're right about that.

So maybe sometimes, you know - that little old lady who comes in at the end of the month and can only afford four gallons in her five-gallon propane tank, paying with loose change - maybe you go ahead and fill the bottle. It's three bucks out of your pocket. If you got something better to spend it on, go do that. The Indian with the two kids in his pickup, ragged coats - maybe his worn-the-hell-out chainsaw needs to go to the front of the queue. It's all the same to me which machine I get back on its knees next. Might be more important to him.

I'm not superstitious about anything but karma. And I have no evidence that karma has any more reality than leprechauns. Hell, I always tried to do the right thing, all my life, and mostly it got me kicked in the teeth. Expecting anything back from it is a sucker's bet. Mostly it's just a way to justify making myself feel good about ... myself. I never met most of those people again. But I figure what the hell? Nobody ever died from taking a minute to do the right thing, y'know? For no better reason than because you can.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

This is your ruler...

This is your ruler on drugs...

And of course I'd never dare suggest anybody could ever do it (whatever it is) better than The Pelosmeister.

But somebody did.  They were prettier, too. And even when their lyrics didn't make any more sense than yours, Nance, they still had a helluva guitarist and they'd never heard of Botox. 

A good way to get the day started...

I was supposed to bake bread yesterday. All winter I've waited till the afternoon, because then it's easier to get things warm. Yesterday afternoon came around, and there were just other things I felt more like doing.

When you bake bread in the afternoon, it seems like that's all that you do all afternoon - even though the physically active phase of breadmaking doesn't take an hour. You've still got to be there.

This morning I came down from the loft and, oddly enough, I didn't have any bread. But I figured, I've got time. And I'm gonna be here anyway, 'cause it's like six in the morning.


A breakfast that takes three and a half hours to make - and lasts me a week.  Plus the Lair isn't all hot.

'Course I'm gonna be late for shit-shoveling...

Since I only heard about it today, I guess that means I'm disloyal.

You can't make this stuff up. can. It helps if your name starts with "Kim," or "Pol," or "Mao." But I suppose you can, in fact, make this stuff up.

Might also help if you gave people a little more time to string garlands and bake cakes.

NOW, THEREFORE, I, BARACK OBAMA, President of the United States of America, do hereby proclaim May 1, 2012, as Loyalty Day. This Loyalty Day, I call upon all the people of the United States to join in support of this national observance, whether by displaying the flag of the United States or pledging allegiance to the Republic for which it stands.
Seriously, I think.

Did you feel more loyal yesterday? What did you do to celebrate?

 And is it significant - in an ominous way - that nobody told me?

UPDATE, BEFORE ANYBODY ELSE SAYS IT: Okay, so I'm clueless. It's still creepy.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Maybe he's just trying to jigger the betting odds?

Maybe he figures Romney is such a weak reed the D's already have the election in the bag. Maybe it's a rare moment of honesty.

Or maybe his team really is this stupid. Or thinks you are.

Either way, the Obama re-election team has unveiled its new slogan, and it's ... not historically unprecedented.

Osama Bin Laden, still allegedly dead today!

Barack Obama, still the mighty warrior who personally tracked the evildoer down and tore out his spine with his bare hands!

As Jay Carney, the hapless White House press secretary, explained yesterday in marking Obama's important role in Bin Laden's death:

"Let me put it this way. You've heard of Chuck Norris? Jack Bauer? Sergeant Rock?"



If you're a collectivist, please stop calling yourself an anarchist.

There's an actual, very simple definition for the word Anarchy, as you probably know. And just in case you didn't:

1. Absence of any form of political authority.
Seems pretty simple on the surface. Unfortunately the poor word has been around plenty long enough for history to have given it a number of other uses, some of them bizarre. Wikipedia:

There are many types and traditions of anarchism, not all of which are mutually exclusive. Anarchist schools of thought can differ fundamentally, supporting anything from extreme individualism to complete collectivism. ... [M]uch of anarchist economics and anarchist legal philosophy reflect anti-statist interpretations of communism, collectivism, syndicalism or participatory economics. However, anarchism has always included an individualist strain supporting a market economy and private property, or morally unrestrained egoism. Some individualist anarchists are also socialists or communists while some anarcho-communists are also individualists or egoists.
How you get from "no rulers" to "complete collectivism" (and everything in between) within the same supposed philosophy has always been a mystery to me. But people are weird.

Some people are also stupid, as demonstrated by these brainless nihilistic twits who apparently called themselves "anarchists."

Personally I just avoid the word. It only leads to confusion. But let me tell you: Whenever I'm pointlessly plotting to blow up perfectly innocent bridges in Cleveland, I always go shopping at the FBI for my explosives and other supplies. They're so accommodating.