Saturday, June 30, 2012

Look at my new shinies!

Some weeks ago I lamented that I'd lost all but one of my good Wilson Combat 1911 magazines, along with my mag pouch.

This morning I met Landlady, who had a care package from Tam of View from the Porch. And look what Tam sent me!

That's one damned expensive care package. Two WC mags just like the ones I lost, a 10-round Chip McCormick, two individual pouches, and one of those scary but infinitely adjustable Blackhawk holsters with the push-button retention.

Thanks, Tam!

We've been all morning stuccoing Landlady's house, and as soon as I get cleaned up we're going to town for a hardware/lunch run. I think I'm gonna wear the Blackhawk just because it's so shiny.

Friday, June 29, 2012

High (Desert) Finance: Things work out.

Spent the first part of the morning sweating about money. I've got a few things going on, and they all require it, and I ain't got none.

Looking at my shopping list for regular consumables (food, gasoline, propane, telephone time, ISP) I need to spend about $130 minimum, $80 of it this weekend, and my total cash worth was $66.

Then the next step in the electrical upgrade - I learned today that my new charge controller would cost $175 with shipping, for which I have a grand total saved of $100. I also need to spend a bunch of money on roofing, wire and conduit for the new power shed, and couldn't even afford a box of frickin' nails to finish the framing.

The more I pored over this news, the worse it became. It was kind of distressing.

Then - things worked out. I scored another paying gig for week after next, and that one pays pretty promptly. That should take care of the charge controller. Plus I cut a deal with the guy, who's an Ebay maven, to just go ahead and buy the controller once I've got enough on account with him, so I don't have to worry about delivery time and details.

Then M and I went into town this morning to do a landfill and grocery run which was on its way to tapping me out. But M spotted this guy with a semi trailer who was buying recyclables. I had those four big old AGM batteries and he had a couple of old swamp coolers, so it was worth a trip back to town. That put another $50 in my pocket, which is enough for propane and maybe some gasoline.

I scrounged some really good heavy-gauge cable and conduit, so all I need to complete the power shed is fasteners and roofing and I have enough money in my pocket for fasteners (In the entire little town nearest where I live, there is nobody who sells nails. Nobody. So I really need to plan ahead.)

Still dunno what I'm going to do about roofing, but it'll work out. Because if you keep your eyes open to possibilities, things have a way of doing that. It's a weird life sometimes, but not a bad one.

The "Individual Mandate" explained...

"The crack about North Korea was sort of funny..."

Since hearing about it in February, I've really looked forward to any chance to watch Iron Sky.

Last night I finally got my chance. (People who like to argue about IP: Please don't ask how.) And all I can say is, "You had Moon Nazis going for you. You even had Sarah Palin as president. How could you - how could anyone - possibly screw up a satire with those advantages? I'm almost impressed."

Never has a film fallen so flat with me. I've seen ED WOOD flicks I enjoyed more than this. Disjointed plot, characters doing absurd things for opaque reasons when they had any reasons at all, dialogue I wouldn't wish on a hated enemy. Note to Scriptwriters: Absurdity is certainly permissible in a satire, but it has to make some sort of internal sense or at least be explained away. Otherwise, viewers like me will be too busy crossing their arms and fuming about how much you suck to have any energy left for following the movie. There actually were a couple of gags that I would have found funny, but by the time they came up I was already grinding my teeth and the film dashed right past them anyway.

It's just...flat. I watched the writers pass over one opportunity to be funny after another - it was almost as if that was the point. You'd think, in such a no-budget film, that the biggest problem would be the actors but some of them weren't completely terrible. They just had nothing whatsoever to work with. Even the computer graphics weren't totally awful, which means the production crew could have dwelt on space battles to liven things up in post. They apparently didn't think it was very important. The editing took a story that probably didn't make a lot of sense initially and jumbled it up as if the editors had just spilled reels on film on the floor and couldn't be bothered to sort them out before splicing them together any which way. Even the sound mixing was bad, which meant difficulty in trying to follow the dialogue added to the annoyance of learning that any such effort was usually pointless anyway.

I truly thought a movie about Moon Nazis would necessarily fall into one of two categories: Really good, or so campy bad it's good. No other alternative seemed possible. How can you screw up Moon Nazis?

Well, it can be done. If you don't believe me, go find a copy and watch. The only bit of encouragement I can offer is that it isn't extremely long.

Thursday, June 28, 2012

I still don't know if it's a tax or a fine...

But I do know I'm one "3-a-day" closer to finding out what the inside of a federal prison looks like. I appreciate the .gov's help sorting out my accommodations.

H/T to Claire who - if I know Claire - has dedicated the rest of the day to fondling a certain non-automotive Daewoo.

Oh! And I am now ready to make a political prediction, something I normally avoid. If Mitt the Wonder Romney wins the election, the very first thing he will do will not be to repeal Obamacare. Nor will it be the second thing, or the twelfth,... We're stuck with it till hospitals have nothing left to bind wounds with but bundles of $1,000,000,000 NewDollar notes.

The unintended lessons of government...

Submitted without further comment...

H/T to Landlady.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Just a breath of fresh air...

Click: Little Bear, Dear, you're blocking Mommy's door.

LB: You're not using it.

Click: But Mommy might want to, and where would we be then?

LB: It smells better outdoors.

Click (huffily): I BEG your pardon?

LB: Interesting, I mean! More interesting.

Click: Hmph.

LB: I think I smell a heffalump...

Paddle faster, I hear banjos!

I am reminded of a story M told a few weeks ago, sitting around the dinner table at the beautifully hand-crafted home of our weekender neighbors S&L. Landlady was there, and some of M's family, and D&L, and we were getting pleasantly plastered on some really good scotch S had opened for the occasion, and the conversation had reached that point where a person might get howls of laughter by reading the phone book aloud if he did it well, and we probably should have gone home.

It was the summer of 2009. I can place it exactly because that was the summer we spent putting up M's Dome and it's sort of fixed in my memory. M, Claire and I were having lunch together under the breezy overhang of Landlady's barn. That spot gives you a good view of the neighboring ridge, along which runs the road to M's Dome, and that's how M happened to spot the black minivan.

We don't get many minivans out here and that would have drawn M's eye anyway, but this one was acting oddly. It moved forward slowly, stopped, went backward, slowly progressed again. Somebody was looking for something, on a road where nobody but us had any earthly business being in the first place. M thought it was suddenly a nice time to take a walk, and I didn't disagree.

It was a hot day and we'd been working all morning so neither of us was exactly dressed for an evening at the casino. M's a good-looking young man and never seems to sweat, so he wasn't so bad: He was dressed in his usual jeans and t-shirt, with a nice skateboard-taped wonder-nine. I was grubbier and smellier even than usual, with my usual faded camo, scraggly beard, t-shirt with the sleeves torn off, and the continent's ugliest AK47. Down the slope, across the wash, up the slope, look for the road.

When we found the (shiny, rented) minivan it was parked and empty. Tracks led off to the left, toward the cliff. We followed at our leisure and soon spotted a man and woman wandering rather aimlessly near the cliff. They were early middle age, well-dressed, and looked profoundly misplaced. The woman was carrying a purse dog of some sort and the man had - something small - on a leash. M suggested that I stay back in the junipers while he approached them. In hindsight I think he meant I should not approach them at all, but I could be wrong.

Anyway, he broke cover and approached the couple. Conversation ensued; I couldn't hear what they were saying over the shrill yapping of the two little dogs. Little Bear was still a pup at the time and unusually obedient, so he stayed with me. It wasn't much of a confrontation. The woman seemed friendly enough to M, but the man kept his distance.

I watched this for a while and figured, well, if they had absorbed M's presence it was time for them to get a load of me. When I approached the whole dynamic changed. What had been a fairly friendly encounter in the boonies quickly degenerated with a big assist from Little Bear who decided that whatever that thing on the leash was, he could take it.

I never did firmly identify the thing on the leash. If you let Andy Warhol design a pit bull terrier it would probably look a lot like this little dog. It was pugnacious and terrified and very loud. The man on the other end of the leash never said a word but clearly radiated the desire to be a million miles elsewhere in any direction. The woman was actually pretty cool about the whole thing. I slung the AK, walked up and said hi, then didn't say anything more because the dogs were making so much noise I was kind of in overload and couldn't have followed a conversation in any case.

M and the woman talked - or, well, kind of shouted - and it turns out she had bought this parcel of desert land online years ago and had never actually seen it so she had taken the opportunity of a road trip to drag her resisting husband out here. They lived in New York, and what she'd been thinking when she bought the parcel I really couldn't say but it was clear she had not consulted hubby. He wasn't getting into the spirit of the thing at all, in fact if I had to guess I'd say he was wondering if they were all going to escape unscathed.

We finally said our goodbyes and headed back into the brush. When we got back to Claire M chirped, "You know anybody looking for land? There's a parcel about to come up for sale."

But the upshot came a few weeks later. This couple hung around the nearest town for a couple days, made some acquaintances, had some further conversations in a less disturbing if still somewhat rustic setting. And it turns out that, while hubby wanted to go back to civilization right frickin' now and never again stray from pavement and bistros and Officer Friendly, the woman thought the whole thing was pretty cool. The notion that armed residents would actually respond to the presence of nosy strangers and find out for themselves what they were doing there, well, she thought that was appropriate and rather empowering. She liked the idea of living in such a place. The man thought he'd fallen into a Deliverance remake, and on the spot he devoted the rest of his life to learning to cope with the disturbing memory.

Of course having come in peace, neither of them were ever in the slightest danger - at least not from us. I do get an occasional kick out of thinking back on their widely-different perceptions of what, to us, was a perfectly normal way to greet strangers and determine their intentions.

Monday, June 25, 2012

If I should die before I wake... least I lived to witness the supreme irony.

Carl Marx on a credit card. I'm not exactly sure what it says, but it's gotta say something.

Who's in your wallet?

Woke to an email from one of my benefactors. has been registered as the blog's new domain. Might not be much longer.

I forget who first suggested that name, but I thought it was pretty cool.

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Monsoon arrives...

Three days of very hot, no breeze. Then yesterday afternoon the storm clouds came and meant it. That's the first good rain we've had in almost a year. Last year's monsoon was paltry and it hardly snowed at all in the winter. Yesterday we got a good pounding for almost an hour, then nothing for a while, then it gave us some more and cleared up just before full dark. It's clouding up again now but I don't think there's any rain in it. Still hopefully we'll have a good soak - not enough to wash away the Lair or any of its outriders, but good. I want to see flood water rush past the Lair, not under or through it.

For those who weren't around the blog when I built the Lair: It's not exactly right on a flood plain, but it is on pretty low ground. I'm on a meadow thirty or forty yards from a big wash and maybe ten feet above it. The wash is deep, and this plain doesn't look like it's been scoured by water in the memory of man but there is a gully behind the cabin that has caused me some thought. Outflow from the fully has jumped its channel at least once since I've been here. Since the cabin was built I've revised, straightened and deepened the channel and that worked the one time I've seen the gully run but it wasn't much of a run. In case the channel and berm don't keep the water polite, I'll just let the water go where it wants. The Lair's on nine concrete piers set on deep concrete pads, so the worst a flood could do is make a muddy mess. I'm much more afraid of fire.

Even down here, the greatest danger isn't flood but lightning. I don't worry about it much because there's so much high ground on all sides, but it's never far from my mind in a storm. My neighbors who built on ridges get lightning-struck often, and after taking some damage two of them spent big bux on lightning protection. They haven't suffered any damage since. Materials like that, I've been keeping my eyes open for.

Meanwhile, work on the new power/storage shed has come to a halt due to lack of materials. Framing for three walls has run me completely out of 2X4s. Y'know, it's a little ironic for a guy who's not exactly tied to materialism to have to say this, but I Need More Stuff.

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Being president is apparently very dangerous.

But are you really afraid your supporters will rise up en masse and attack you with their dinner forks? Because I gotta tell you...

President Obama Can’t Be in the Same Room As Forks Anymore?

...I'd quit that job right frickin' now, were it me.

Introducing, for your zombie-shooting pleasure...

The AR-15 Shark-Jumper 2012!

Friday, June 22, 2012


Oh, man. It's been kinda hot for the past couple of weeks, but nothing really worth complaining about and we always had a nice evening breeze to cool things down for sleeping. Now it's 11:30, I just finished three and a half hours raking, shit-shoveling, trailer-emptying and tree-watering in the hot sun, and I come home to find it's 94 degrees INDOORS. By high desert standards that's hot. The work schedule says I should be baking bread but that's not going to happen. Afternoon playing on the 'pooter is now truncated by the overheat fan going on in the inverter. That never used to happen.

There's cold beer in Landlady's fridge, courtesy of M. Think I'll go see if it's lonely.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Equipment: I'm not a mall ninja, I just play one on TV.

A few months ago I visited Landlady's house. The boys were in the Jeep with me and went mad at the sight of three dogs hanging around the porch. They were big, ugly pit bull sorta dogs. One was obviously female, and from the looks of her belly she had a nursing litter somewhere.

First thought: Shoot them. Impediments: I wasn't carrying a gun, and I really didn't want to shoot dogs that were trespassing but not otherwise causing any problem. I especially didn't want to shoot the female. So I chased them off, and they went. I went up to the barn on Landlady's Ridge, loaded one of M's rifles, and went looking to see if they stayed gone. They did. (Yes, I know. I ALWAYS carry a gun. Except this time. I was just going from the Lair to the Meadow House, and didn't feel like strapping on a heavy pistol or carrying a rifle. Embarrassing. My bad.)

Anyway, the dogs didn't come back and I didn't hunt them. Then three days later a pack of NINE big, ugly pit bull sorta dogs tore up a neighbor's cow, which had to be put down. Were “my” three among them? Probably. Could I have made a difference if I'd been carrying my gun and used it? Possibly. Next time I don't get squeamish, I just shoot.

It's an example of a problem I occasionally have, which is that I get to thinking “You're acting like a silly-ass mall ninja, Joel. Do you really need all this hardware?” Most days, of course, I don't. But some days I actually do. When I get dressed in the morning I don't know which kind of day it's going to be. I don't have any childish fantasies about fighting off looters or zombies or feds - I'm too old for that shit. But with my every-day 1911 I have killed numerous snakes and one very belligerent badger. I have covered but not killed a treed bobcat with my AK, when it turned out she just wanted me to take my dogs and go, go, for the love of God just go. I'm always happiest when encounters end that way. Far more often than I've shot, I've been comforted in scary but ultimately non-dangerous situations by the fact that they're there.

Here's another example.

This is my very favorite knife. It's not fancy or expensive, it's just a tough, ugly slab'o'steel that takes a really good edge. It's clearly not the sort of knife you'd choose to carry every day if you lived in a town, because people would think you were some sort of weird poseur. But in the boondocks it has great utility. I use it for everything: Prying, scraping, whittling, poking holes in things. Yesterday I chainsawed this telephone pole a neighbor asked me to get rid of, and it turned out the pole still had a ground cable stapled to it, which is how I now know the knife works great for prying staples out of telephone poles.

It's useful to have around. But I do admit it feels a little stupid to carry this Jeremiah Johnson pigsticker everywhere I go.

It gets worse. I've always hated the sheath. It originally came with this floppy nylon strap which made no sense at all. I got it modified with a hanger loop that made the knife ride much too close to my body: The handle spent all day digging into my ribs.

A month or so ago I got to wondering if I could rearrange things for better utility. Turns out that hanger loop fastens just as well on a diagonal...

...which means now I walk around looking like a kid playing Zorro, and it feels kinda stupid. But it's a lot more comfortable and easier to use.

Then there's all the camo. Hey, I drive around in a bright yellow Jeep: I'm not trying to hide from anything, okay? But BDU trous are by far the best pants I've ever found for the desert: They're roomy, tough, have lots of pockets, and when bought surplus they're cheap. They're cooler than jeans and last better. But they don't come cheap in solid colors, so if people want to laugh at the camo I guess they're welcome to.

Point is, sometimes what makes you look like a dumbass is actually the best gear for the job.

Ow. Migraine.

Intended that this should be a busy morning before it got hot. Then my vision started closing in, as it does a few times a year. Seems like everything goes out of focus. Can't see to read, can barely walk across the Lair. Experience tells me any attempt to hold a conversation will make me look like a complete idiot, and I definitely should not attempt to operate any power tool, weapon or motor vehicle. If I avoid going out in the sun, the effect will pass within about an hour and be followed by a blinding headache that will fade after some interminable length of time.

If I don't avoid going out in the sun, the blurriness/disorientation thing will be accompanied by the blinding headache. So climb in where it's dark and relatively cool, and wait for it to go away.

Fading now, sort of. Ow.

I'll pass.

There's a plant that grows around here, and you can't miss it if you see one in bloom. I never gave them much thought before yesterday. But in the early morning as we Jeeped through the wash on the way to Gitmo, I saw one growing all alone in the sand where no plant more exotic than a tumbleweed had any business being, apparently just as happy as mint in a midwesterner's herb garden. Big splashy white flowers. It was kinda weird.

And I mentioned it later to the guy for whom I'm doing all this raking (Five trailer-loads so far and maybe a little more than half done. I'm too old for this.) He asked me if I hadn't heard of Jimson weed before. Yeah, I'd heard of it but never claimed to be a botanist. He said I was looking at it, also called "Sacred Datura," and then he went off at considerable length about its history among the Indians and its uses as a hallucinogen.

I remembered to look it up this morning, and decided that Indians are crazy.
Ingestion of plant material can induce auditory and visual hallucinations similar to those of Datura stramonium, with the active compounds being concentrated in the seedpods and roots; concentrations vary widely between samples, and onset is slow. This makes dosage estimation a difficult and adds further risk to the administration of material that already has potentially lethal side effects. Scopolamine is the primary active molecule; it is related to atropine, with a similar, largely anticholinergic activity. Effects may include dry mouth, hyperthermia, profuse sweating, drowsiness, lethargy and anteriograde amnesia - along with the before-mentioned hallucinations and sensory distortions. These compounds also induce a profound dilatation of the pupils and suppress eye saccades, resulting in considerable degradation of visual acuity, often to the point of functional blindness. This may persist, to a reduced degree, for days. The combined effect may result a panic state in the user, a particularly dangerous situation in someone temporarily deprived of useful vision; users are prone to serious accidental injury. Scopolamine induces respiratory depression at hallucinogenic doses. The combination of anesthesia (in the hospital) and Datura is usually fatal due to combined respiratory depression.[1] Seizures and fevers as high as 43 C (110°F) have been reported.

What, exactly, is the problem with checking the address first?

Would that make your job too hard? Because we don't want to make your job too hard, short-bus. On the other hand we don't want you to shoot us, our children, or our dogs. So let's compromise, okay? Check the frickin' address first.

I see by the clock on the wall...

...that it's time to complain about the weather!

It's early summer, which means hot in the afternoon and windy/cool in the evening. Of course this is also Murphy's Land, which means the weather does whatever the hell it wants. All month it's been hot. Mid-nineties most days. Yesterday it scraped the bottom edge of three figures. Ol' Stalwart Joel is Stalwart, so that didn't bother him. But when evening came and there wasn't a breath of wind, it just stayed hot. Ol' Stalwart Joel was rinsing his head in cold water. The Secret Lair so hot and stuffy he was dripping sweat on the collar of his camo tuxedo.

Every summer there's an infestation of evening insects, and though this is my sixth summer here I don't believe they've repeated once so far. It's always something different. Last night I noticed these tiny little winged things, almost small enough to come in through the holes in the window screens.

And on the screens last night there were thousands of them. It was spooky. They wanted in bad. The wall next to my evening lamp gradually became coated with lucky applicants who'd found ways past the screens. A little after nine Ghost detected something that needed to be chased and barked at in the very worst way. He wouldn't shut up about it, Click was still outside, and I started getting concerned. Maybe there was something near the cabin that could eat Click. So I made the mistake of letting Ghost out to do his chase/bark thing. Every time I opened the door, it was as though somebody aimed a high-pressure bug hose at me and opened the valve wide. Click and Ghost and I (I never saw or heard anything, which is not unusual) finally came back in, but it was too late: The Lair was now thoroughly infested with these tiny and apparently harmless but very annoying things. Continued concentration on my book was now out of the question.

I figured I'd had enough fun for one night, so I turned off the lamp and went up to the loft, careful not to show any light that would attract the (now apparently zillions of) bugs. They mostly stayed downstairs, so that was good but the loft is more than eight feet off the floor and it was still hot. And it stayed hot, apparently till the wee hours. Broken sleep, and a night that lasts about a year. I've got a bunch of stuff to do this morning before it gets hot again, but all I want is to go back upstairs and back to bed.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Fast & Furious goes into extra innings...

So I heard on the radio this morning that "President Obama on Wednesday asserted executive privilege over documents sought by a House committee in its investigation of the botched “Fast and Furious” operation." It's all very funny: Last I heard from Obama on the topic, he heard about it on the television. What's to keep secret?

And now everybody's waiting to see if Issa will successfully get a "contempt of Congress" vote against Holder, docs or no docs.

And to be honest, it's all very disappointing. Holder is a political animal, here today and gone tomorrow. Contempt of Congress? Hell, I'm guilty of that four times before breakfast. What did he know and when did he start lying about it? The question is meaningless. Who gives a damn? Holder would cheerfully lie about the gender of his own mother if that was on the docket for the day. He's a political bureaucrat.

No, I wanted this to be about ATF. The Inglourious Basterds of F-Troop have been a thorn in our side since long before anybody ever heard of Eric Holder, they're the ones who carried out this illegal, immoral, murderous operation and they're the ones who should pay for it. "Botched operation" my ass - this was all about providing fodder for the "90% of illegal guns in Mexico" lie from the beginning, and everybody knows it.

Shut them down. Prosecute and punish everyone involved. Pull down their headquarters and use the materials to build public privies, then salt the earth where it stood.

Then repeal every single law that made such an abomination possible. That would be a satisfactory outcome. "Contempt of Congress" charges on some interchangeable admin apparatchik? Pfah.

ETA: By the way, have you noticed that the congressvermin didn't get excited about F&F until Issa & Co. turned the focus away from ATF and onto Holder? Tearing chunks out of Obama's AJ is something the repubs in congress can get into, but they weren't at all interested in doing something about ATF.

Crazy morning ahead...

Got several things to do, hopefully at least one to finish.

In the place where a thought-provoking wall'o'words that would CHANGE YOUR LIFE FOREVER FOR THE BETTER should be, here's a funny picture.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

How to make skydiving safe

I sometimes read an article, then scroll back up to the header to see if it's from The Onion. This has just got to be a joke.

Tragedy spotlights loose skydiving regulation
The incident is shining a light on an industry that has almost no regulation.
Except there is, in fact, regulation.
The Federal Aviation Administration does, however, set guidelines for tandem jumps like Winoker's. Each such jump requires two parachutes and each instructor needs a minimum of three years experience and 500 jumps.
But experience and equipment are only part of the equation. The USPA says instructors must pass an FAA medical exam - the same exam private pilots undergo.
Which sounds a lot like regulation to me. And nobody suggests that either the instructor or the company he worked for had violated even the smallest one of those regulations. Or even that skydiving is - statistically - an especially deadly thing to do.
The United States Parachute Association says 3 million people skydive in this country every year.

In 2011, there were 21 related fatalities. Of those, just one was a tandem jump like Winoker's.
That's three million skydivers. Presumably a lot of them do it more than once a year. So that's 21 fatalities in how many jumps? Nine million? Twelve million? More?

So let's recap: We've got an anecdotal tragedy in which two guys jumped out of an airplane and subsequently died. I'm very sorry that happened, but I also know which alternate behavior could have prevented the tragedy. I practice it every day. I have not jumped out of an airplane every single day, almost 21,000 times, and I'm not a grease spot. So my way works.

On the other hand, some people seem to enjoy jumping out of airplanes and most of them don't die, either. Still: You're jumping out of a frickin' airplane, man, and you're hoping to be saved by a piece of nylon. I presume everyone who does this is aware that there may be some small element of risk. I presume nobody is being pushed out of the airplane. Because that would be wrong. If pushing unwilling people out of airplanes is not currently against some law, I hereby suggest that it really ought to be.

Short of that, though, what's the problem? How would stricter regulation have prevented this tragedy? The writer/advocate never gets around to mentioning specifically how he'd have fixed this. But I can guess that "ban the sport" at least briefly crossed his mind.

Hey, regular readers! Listen up!

Remember back in March, when I announced TUAK might be moving to its own domain? Well, that project just sat there for a while, because it's a Joel project and that's what they often do. When I don't know what I'm doing, which is frequently, step one is usually to take a break and the breaks can last a while.

My friends are on my ass about it, and since they're the ones doing the work I guess I should get serious. This morning they wanted me to pick a domain name. Seems like an important first step, no? seems a little long. seems a little cryptic.

Suggestions? Opinions?

At least they didn't keep me hanging...

Thank you for contacting us about our PVC leg. We would be glad to assist you, however we are currently using our PVC leg only as a temporary secondary leg while we work on obtaining more testing for it. Once it is well-tested, we would be glad to share the design with a prosthetist in your area if he/she is willing to fabricate and fit the leg for you (unless of course you are a prosthetist yourself).

Translation: It's a student project that's not going to change anybody's world and has already been wildly oversold.

Monday, June 18, 2012

Sometimes I get a song stuck in my head...

...And I want to hang on to it for a while, because it might make good relish for a post about something else.

But I usually forget. So today's Song in my Head is dedicated to most of mankind. Present company excepted.

When V'ger comes back, I hope he's not too mad...

Voyager 1 signals that it has reached the edge of interstellar space - 11billion miles away

I didn't know the thing was still transmitting. That's cool.
The Voyager 1, built by Nasa and launched in 1977 has spent the last 35 years steadily increasing its distance from Earth, and is now now 17,970,000,000km - or 11,100,000,000miles - away, travelling at 10km a second.

Indications over the last week implies that Voyager 1 is now leaving the heliosphere - the last vestige of this solar system.
So how come nobody can make a breadmaker that lasts more than six months?

On second thought, let's not go to California. It is a silly place.

I have questions. I have doubts. But if it works I'll take two.

A giant leg up: BYU students invent new prosthetic leg

They used to carve "wooden legs" out of actual wood. It wasn't very complicated and it probably didn't cost all that much. It also didn't work very well. Now a prosthesis will probably work just fine but the cost has skyrocketed - it can cost five figures. They do wear out, they do cease to fit. And then you get to do it all over again because alas we're not lizards or starfish and we don't grow our missing bits back.

I was whining just a few days ago about this situation, which is becoming increasingly relevant in my own life. (BTW, I kinda hate it when bloggers go on and on about their illnesses and disabilities. I don't self-identify as "handicapped" and hope I'm not running on about this at excessive length. Mostly I don't give it much thought: I put on my leg in the morning, and then I put on my pants, and then I get on with my eerie-ass day. But it has become an issue lately. Forgive if I mention it too often.)

Anyway, Saturday afternoon I was sitting on Landlady's porch and she brought up this BYU group she'd heard of. They claim to be able to crank out a limb made of PVC, foot and all, for $25. She showed me an article about it here.

I've heard about expedient-materials prosthetics before: It's a huge issue in places like Cambodia where landmines still breed and spread like mushrooms, but hide better, and nobody's got the cash for J. E. Hanger to come and open lush prosthetic palaces that improve your mobility and lighten your insurance company's oppressively heavy wallet. The expedient-materials thing comes and goes and never seems to amount to anything. As with solar power systems, it's possible to over-scrounge if you're looking for quality and durability.

When you live in the boonies, of course, durability is kind of important. Can you imagine being a mile and a couple of deep ravines from your Jeep when your leg goes "sprong" and falls to pieces around you? That's gonna be a long hop.

So I'm looking. I've even sent them an email asking for more info. But I'm skeptical. On the other hand, as Landlady said, it's a trip to Salt Lake City and $25 bucks. Even I could put that together. If it turns out to be inferior to what I've already got, I'm out the price of a little road trip.

Sunday, June 17, 2012

MSNBC: We put the "Napalm" in "Civil Discourse."

I remember when liberal newsreaders claimed to be all neutral and stuff. Can't say whether Bashir has ever made that claim. But what bothers me is that if you're going to make a political ad about a bus tour, add stock shots of things blowing up and call it news reporting, it should at least be funny.

Death star blowing up in political ad: Funny.

School bus blowing up in political ad: Not as funny as Bashir seems to think.

We actually have conversations like this...

Yeah, mean. I know. But they're such slow-moving targets.

Ghost has the best "you suck" face in the inhabited galaxy.

QoD: : "Oh, just go ahead and shoot" edition...

I'm trying to think of an alternate scenario where you could stumble across a screaming toddler being sexually assaulted by a grown man with his trousers at half-mast and not be cleared guns hot.

"Electric Brain Fart" would be a good name for a rock band.

So Friday afternoon I took delivery on a couple of six-volt deep-cycle batteries for the Lair, represented as lightly used.

And yesterday morning while it was still cool I brought my wrenches and multimeter out to hook these bad boys up. Simple chore, wanted to get it done before it got hot and so they'd have plenty of time to charge. No problem, right? This is seventh-grade theory. Series to increase capacity, parallel to increase voltage.

Or is the other way 'round?

Either way, what I want is positive-to-negative. Simple enough to remember. If twelve-point-something comes out the end, screw the theory. It works.

It occurred to me that I hadn't wired together this particular sort of battery connection in so long that the actual proper arrangement of the actual physical cables had completely slipped my mind. And I got it wrong, and what came out every time I tried completing what seemed in my tired brain to be the correct arrangement just resulted in sparks. Never a good thing, when there's no load on the circuit at all. When you see sparks, always back off and think about what you're doing. It actually took me a couple of hours to sit back, drink more coffee and simply trace the circuit: What are you trying to accomplish here, Joel? Let's just do that.

Bottom line, though: I began typing this before six in the blessed AM, which is hours before I would previously have dared fire up my evil, power-sucking laptop. Granted it's a power hog of a laptop, it gets really hot and has an all-high-speed-all-the-time fan, but still. Laptop. Doesn't draw that much power but I never dared fire it up first thing in the morning.

So I guess we've made progress.

Yeah, the solution is very simple.

On the construction side of the project, giving the batteries and all the other new-ish components somewhere to go, I made no progress yesterday. I've got everything I need to frame and sheath the walls. I've got no idea at all how I'm going to roof it, but that will come. And the good news - the REALLY good news - is that I've got access to actual expert assistance when it comes time to wire it all together. Right now I'm just laying groundwork. When I'm done, which will almost certainly be before the days start getting shorter, there'll be a new 240-watt panel that was actually built in this century mounted on good racking on the Lair's roof, a real inverter that wasn't just meant for running a CD player in the back seat, a new charge controller, all humming purposefully away in a covered, insulated building of their own. I already have all the major components except the charge controller and they're not very expensive. I need roofing, insulation, wire, and some more conduit and I'm golden.

ETA: The electric power is the one part of the Secret Lair that has disappointed - even though it has worked about as well as I predicted. I scrounged everything in the generating system, and so went for the point of irreducible complexity - it can't get simpler than this and still work, which means I knew all along its function would be absolutely minimal. I thought that would enough to suit my very simple wants and needs, and it just wasn't. Live and learn: No matter how much you simplify your life, in some areas there's a difference between "absolute minimum" and "practical minimum." When you fail to take note of the difference beforehand, you end up doing complex and expensive things twice.

Friday, June 15, 2012

More Sorrier...

There's not much in the way of time or energy for blogging just now. Making progress, though! Really!

I've got lumber enough for the floor and about two walls for the new powerhouse/storage shed. Floor's completely in now (And that's in a single day, which for me constitutes breakneck speed) and I hope to raise at least the framing for two walls this evening when it cools off. We're well into summer here. Don't know what I'm gonna do about roofing but can't put it off because it looks like Monsoon might arrive a little early.

Also, I'm now the proud owner of two new different batteries: 225 CCA six-volt Exides. I don't know the actual condition, but unless they're a lot more sulfated than they were represented to be they're the answer to my prayers and the price was right. We'll see. Now - if they work out - I can spend money formerly earmarked for batteries on a new charge controller, and except for wiring and conduit I'll have everything needed for a complete solar power upgrade. And boy, do I need it. But I do need a place to put it all, hence the hurry on the shed.

Scrounging can be taken too far, it seems...

Thursday, June 14, 2012


I've got two projects going on, it's hot, my leg is killing me, I'm in a foul mood, and the 'pooter is still being run by a partially-sulfated 115 amp-hour battery so I can't spend hours looking for blog fodder.

In short, I got nothing today.

Good news: I've got excellent prospects for new(ish) batteries and a new charge controller, which are the last components I need for the system rebuild.

Bad news: That means I finally have to get busy and build a shed to keep it all in. Which of course means MORE parts I don't have. Plus when the contractor is me, things tend to go very slow.

Now I have to turn the computer off, so I have power for my drill. No, I'm not kidding. :(

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Go read this.

It seems there's this columnist named David Brooks. I don't know much about him. What I glean from his writing makes it unlikely he'll be invited to the Gulch very soon.

A couple of days ago there was published a column of his titled "The Follower Problem." I won't bother fisking it, because Radley Balko already did. It's (Balko, not Brooks) worth a read.
This makes me wonder if Brooks owns a television or regularly reads a newspaper. Our politicians are clownish, ridiculous people. Even if you’re the die-hardest of die-hard blue- or red-staters, in your most honest moments you have to concede that Nancy Pelosi and John Boehner are absurd human beings. If they didn’t hold positions of power, you’d want nothing to do with these people.

Politics—the quest for power because you’re sure that you, more than others, know what’s best for everyone else—has always been a profession worth ridiculing, going back to the satirists who found plenty to ridicule in the earliest democratic institutions in Rome and Greece. But here in America we have a political process—another institution subject to 236 years of fine-tuning—that’s particularly cartoonish. The set of skills it takes to get elected and achieve success in politics are not only the sorts of traits you’d never want in the people who govern you, they’re actually character flaws. They’re the sorts of traits decent people try to teach out of their children. To be successful at politics, you need to be deceitful, manipulative, conniving, and mostly devoid of principle. (Principled politicians are rarely remembered as “great legislators.” And historians bestow greatness on the presidents most willing to wage war, accumulate power, and exceed their constitutional authority.) The most successful politicians sell voters on their strong convictions and principles, and then, once elected, they do as they’re told, in order to accumulate power and status within the party.

Did you ever wonder who this guy is?

Me neither. :)

I've "killed" him dozens, maybe scores of times and the question never once occurred to me. Turns out there's a bit of a story behind him, though.

Huh. I did not wake up this morning expecting to learn something from the NYT.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Oil Drum Septic - Six Month Update.

(warning: Picture of excrement ahead)

Six months full-time, anyway, since we moved into the Lair in mid-November. The septic system's been on-line for nearly a year.

I confess I decided on the old standard 55-gallon drum thing with a lot of trepidation, and only after reading many testimonials that it actually works. Even while shoveling in the last of the trenches, I had a very bad feeling about this. That first barrel's gonna fill up solid with crap and there I'll be, crapping on the hillside and trying to find a place to rent a pump and a place to pump it to.

Lately it's been bothering me, even though the toilet still works just fine. What's really going on down there? So I went to my lumber pile, found an eight-foot length of PVC, pried the cover off the cleanout pipe...

...and convinced myself that it really was a good idea after all. The PVC clunked on the bottom of the first drum as though it were empty. Pulled it up, and there was like a 2-inch smear of nearly decomposed crap. The drum isn't even trying to pack up.

Okay. I'm convinced now.

I found this poignant...

If you look at the barrel, you will see the emerging muzzle flash. The bullet is immediately behind it, and is about to come spiraling out… fly across 100 meters of sand, and tear into the ribcage of a man trying to kill me first.

This picture captures the absolute last millisecond before my first confirmed kill.

It’s the last picture I have of me as an innocent human.
My first thought was, "That looks like a flash photo. In a firefight? I'm having a hard time suspending disbelief." In context, though, it's from a blog filled with pix from some guy's deployment in the sandbox and none of the other pictures are questionable, so I'll buy it.

I've never killed a man. I've deliberately injured two: One I should feel bad about because I beat him into a hospital in a burst of irrational anger. But I figure, hey, the guy was a dick. Bet he won't do that again. The other guy I stabbed, after giving him every opportunity to back down and avoid it, and I deliberately DIDN'T kill him. I could have done and gotten away, but saw no need. I wasn't angry with him, didn't really want to hurt him at all. He was either wasted or crazy and ... to be honest I don't feel bad about him, either. If I shot a guy who was trying to kill me? I doubt I'd lose a lot of sleep.

But I think I understand about loss of innocence. It's NOT like sex, except in one sense it is: There's your life before the first one, and your life after. The line of demarcation is very clear in your mind for the rest of your life.

I guess maybe EVERYTHING has value...

In response to last week's bitchfest about a local clean-up gig, I got an email from M saying, in effect, "You're dumping that stuff in the boonies? Are you nuts? Bring it to my place and dump it next to the manure pile!"

The thought that this crap, consisting of juniper shards, old straw, dead grass and tumbleweeds and a great deal of mixed-in dirt might have value had honestly never occurred to me. But M's been getting into hugelculture, which is a way of amending "soil" so it would contain nutrients and hold moisture. Once he mentioned it, piling it up and saving it seemed the obvious thing to do. Should have thought of it myself.

So now I'm starting a new pile, next to the manure I bring to M's place every time I take M's tractor to J&H's. Can't hurt, I guess.

Speaking of junk, I wish those neolithic aborigines would stop leaving their busted Tupperware all over the place.

Got an early start this morning, to dodge the heat. On the way to Gitmo the boys got all worked up because it seemed like we scared up wildlife around every corner of the wash. Saw a big bobcat near the target stands and four or five rabbits. Must have been a lively spring in the burrows because it seems like every cottontail is a little one.

Worked at filling the trailer till I was staggering, then drove it to M's place and dumped the load. It's been hitting mid-nineties before noon for the past few days. Yesterday afternoon I rigged a hillbilly shower in my yard because the bath-in-the-sink thing hasn't been getting it done. Fortunately there's always a late-afternoon breeze that cools things right down.

Monday, June 11, 2012

Misery doesn't love company, it demands it.

Note to self: Stop readying the comments on stories like this. You know they only make you crazy.

Okay. So there's this lady. She was a singer in a band I never heard of, and she made a lot of money, and then (pure conjecture) she went nuts.
Hill said she withdrew to heal and grow away from the forces that had oppressed and manipulated her in the past. She didn't name any names.

"It was critically important that I find a suitable pathway within which to exist, without being distorted or economically strong-armed," she wrote. "Failure to create a non toxic, non exploitative environment was not an option."
I've got no problem with that. Don't know what she's talking about, don't care. Drop out, go underground - who the hell am I to criticize, right?

Of course the IRS did not agree.
...federal prosecutors in New Jersey charged Hill, 37, with three counts of "knowingly and willfully fail(ing) to make an income tax return to the IRS,"...
And all this time I thought that was voluntary. Well, never mind.

Just another day in the land of the free. I should have closed the tab. Instead, I scrolled down.
What a crock of ####, PAY YOUR TAXES

"...she didn't cheat on her taxes; she went underground..." -- how stupid can you be? There is no difference in the above statement...underground is just another way of saying you cheated on paying your taxes...who doesn't know this?

Cheating is cheating, underground or above.

Throw her in jail.

It does not matter WHERE she lived, if she is a US Citizen, she is REQUIRED to file annual tax forms reporting ALL of her income." She will probably try to say that, like Wesley Snipes, she was "misled" to believe otherwise. Sorry,do not buy it. She owes,
It goes on like this at some length. The only dissenting voice was somebody who claimed she shouldn't "owe" taxes because, as a black person, she should be getting paid by the taxpayers.

I occasionally wonder why voters don't do something about the scam they've bought into. It takes moments like this to understand that they have exactly the rulers they deserve.

At least she's toying with the idea...

I've complained numerous times that my cat is broken. It may be that these reports were exaggerated. It may be that mistakes, as they say in government, were made.

Every evening without fail, Click goes outside at dusk and stays out past nightfall. She doesn't offer reports of what goes on during these times, and the only real thought I've given to them is a rather forlorn wish that she wouldn't do it. During the day she's safe in the yard because the boys are nearby. After dark the rules are off. Four-legged predators creep near, owls (we've got owls the size of predator drones, they must be seen to be believed) are in the air. It's not at all safe.

But Click is Cat, and Cat does what she will. Given the complete lack of recent evidence, I jumped to the conclusion that her campaign of extrajudicial killings had come to a halt. I had mixed feelings about that. On the one hand, I didn't miss the daily ritual of cleaning up gut piles on my floor. On the other...she's supposed to keep mice out of the house and I had evidence that she wasn't doing it.

I ramble. Last night she stayed out later than usual, after nine o'clock. I was thinking of grabbing the spotlight, going out and calling her. Sometimes she comes when called. I kept telling Little Bear to move: He likes to sleep against the door, which blocks her entrance. Then as if she heard me thinking about her, she came inside. In her mouth was a small, limp and apparently dead mouse. Hey! First time in well over six months!

She walked around from one place to another with this mouse hanging out of her mouth as if unsure where the banquet should take place. Finally she seemed to settle on the bathroom, perhaps for a bit of privacy. She was out of my sight for a minute or two. All the time I could see her, the mouse in her mouth never twitched and I assumed it was dead. Then from the bathroom there came a sudden fierce scuffling noise.

She came shooting out of the bathroom, sans mouse. She looked frantically around. the message in her eyes clearly said, "Which way did it go?" Hey, I was watching and as far as I saw it never left the bathroom. Apparently she lost it in the clutter piled up in the not-yet-functional shower stall.

Bummer, dudette. What have I asked you concerning the importation of live rodents? I distinctly recall numerous conversations on this topic.

Well, she is Cat. Cat does what she will. I guess I'm glad to see she's not quite as retired as I thought.

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Hear that?

That's the sound of the Secret Lair's inverter not squealing like a little girl under the dreadful, unsupportable weight of my laptop 'pooter.

And the reason is...

Yeah. Which sort of bolsters my all-along contention that efforts to rehab those old "real" storage batteries can be written off as a failure.

Check this out:

Two summers ago we replaced Landlady's batteries with some that were made in this century. I rescued the four "best" from the recyclers and tried to rehab them with the desulfator kindly donated by Friend of the Blog Silver.

Last summer they worked pretty well. Of course last summer I wasn't living here. Now they're just done.

Last week I put the desulfator on this little marine battery from Landlady's barn, and it came back real well. Yesterday afternoon I hooked it up, and this one little battery is running the Lair far better than the big lumps of inert lead ever did. As a proof of concept, so far it's working pretty well.

I'm trying to finish two paying gigs that will net me $250. I know what I'm going to spend it on.

I'm thinking of feasting on 64 ounces of your flesh, pal.

But it would probably poison me.

See, this is why I live in the desert with dogs and guns. Right here.

The confusion, the incoherence, the contradictions are rife. But the intent comes through loud and clear. I read a single example...
Are bacon-cheeseburgers next? As a practical matter, no. Sodas are an easy target because there is nothing, nothing, nutritionally redeeming about them. But might there come a day when the New York City Department of Health mandates that burgers be limited to, say, four ounces? Indeed there might. And why not? Eight- and ten-ounce burgers are sick things.
So, as a practical matter bacon cheeseburgers won't be banned. Until "there comes a day" when they are. Thanks for clearing that up.

Geez, it's too early in the morning for this. Have a lot of people gotten kind of tubby? No doubt, and it isn't new. Hell, at one point when I lived in the city I was headed for 200 pounds and I'm not a big guy: About fifty pounds of it were pure flab. I don't blame drive-throughs and Big Macs, though I love them dearly. I put the blame right where you do, Mr. Tomasky: On me. Which doesn't mean we agree about anything, because nobody had the right then and nobody has the right now to stick even a metaphorical gun in my face (and we both know the gun isn't a metaphor, don't we?) and demand I eat less and get more exercise. "It's my life," says my personal life coach Eric Burton, "and I'll do what I want."

Oh, judge all you want. If - god forbid - I knew anything about your personal life, Mr. Tomasky, I'm sure I'd find plenty to judge. That's just the way it works. The difference between us is that nothing on this earth could induce me to reform your unsavory habits at the point of a gun - as long as they weren't harming me.

But then we'll never agree on what constitutes harm, will we? I note that the word Liberty appears twice in your screed - both times in sneer quotes. What you find a dispensable luxury, I consider essential to my well-being. Even more essential than Big Macs, though I love them still.

You say that in your perfect world:
We’ll have won an important victory over Libertarianism Gone Wild, a far bigger threat to society than even Sunkist Orange.
I say come and try to win your victory, Mr. Tomasky. But have the courage to do it yourself, if you feel that strongly about it. Don't hide behind bureaucrats and uniformed goons to win your victory. Come and take it yourself.

I promise not to eat you.

Saturday, June 9, 2012

"...Never again to look in the face of a looter."

Wendy McElroy gives what seems to me a pretty good breakdown of the difference between "Going Galt" and "Gulching" and explains why she prefers that first thing.

Me, I'm more of a gulcher. Though the word is obviously derived from Atlas Shrugged, I believe it was coined by our very own Claire. To my amusement, it was deleted from Wikipedia in 2009 as an "Aynrandian neologism."

Good. Disappearance is good, when you're a gulcher. Of course that doesn't explain why I sit here and blog about it day after day, but you know what Emerson said about foolish consistency.

Please make it stop.

A couple of days ago, just as a lark, I looked up an image of a seventies-era motorcycle helmet. I did this just once. I am now inundated with images of motorcycle helmets every time I open a tab. I am truly sick of looking at motorcycle helmets now.

Give up the intertubez forever? Slash my wrists? Which is the most rational alternative? I'm trying to fact-check an article here: At the moment I really, professionally need to use the tubez. It's extremely annoying.

This is particularly so since I don't use Google for a search engine. I use Startpage. While it's true Startpage only promises not to "record my IP address," a promise I suppose is probably meaningless, it clearly has no ethical problem with selling me targeted advertisements for products I truly don't want to buy (or after this morning, ever even see again.)

I will now go and do a search on "warm fuzzy puppies" followed by "septic tank effluent pump." The resulting nervous breakdown caused by trying to custom arrange my new advertisements should let all the magic smoke out of all the servers on the Internet.

I will then take a nap.

The solution to the problem of too many parasites feeding on the U.S. economy is ... wait for it ...

Yes! More parasites! Very good, class!
"We've got a couple of sectors in our economy that is still weak. Overall, the private sector has been doing a good job of creating jobs," Obama said. "The big challenge we have in our economy right now is state and local government hiring has been going in the wrong direction."

But wait! Obama can explain:
The president, in response to a question Friday afternoon in the Oval Office, backtracked somewhat on his comments his morning that "the private sector is doing fine."

"It is absolutely clear that the economy is not doing fine. That's why I had a press conference," Obama said.
Presumably the presser was supposed to fix things. Inexplicably, it did not. Fortunately this is not a problem since scapegoats are at hand.
"You know, and what I'm interested in hearing from Congress and Mr. Romney is what steps are they willing to take right now that are going to make an actual difference?" Obama asked. "And so far, all we've heard are additional tax cuts to the folks who are doing fine, as opposed to taking steps that would actually help deal with the weaknesses in the economy and promote the kind of economic growth that we would all like to see."
Mr. President, I'd like to go on record as saying I'm not to be included in your definition of "we all."

Friday, June 8, 2012

Remember when McDonald's fries tasted really good?

I do. It was a long time ago.

Operation Obtain Kitten hits a speed bump...

"Different" doesn't always mean "dependable," duh. Indeed, in my experience it rarely does.  The percentage of "different" people I meet these days could certainly be described as rather high, and I've been very fortunate in that the ones around me are mostly very dependable indeed.

Unfortunately, sometimes I have to go outside that group. Case in point: The lady with the kittens.

Ah, well. We're looking elsewhere.

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Sigh. Also Ouch.

Okay, so my current (local) paying gig involves a rake.

After last year's fire scare, people are giving thought to the amount of really, profoundly flammable stuff that tends to collect around fencelines and now they want it gone. That's completely cool, y'know, have rake will travel. I'm in the process of creating a dead zone of about thirty feet on the windward side of a neighbor's whole property. We're not talking about construction trash here, just shattered juniper limbs, blown straw, old tumbleweeds, that sort of thing. A simple matter of raking it up, shoveling it into the Jeep's trailer and taking it someplace else. Nobody asks where. Nobody cares: There's lots of "someplace else" around here and I know where most of it is.

But oh, it gets to hurting after a few hours. I'm really starting to think I need a new leg, but that's not going to happen. Back in '08 I got this one modified for a newer and far superior foot and that was a huge help. For a couple of years I could walk anywhere I wanted and there were few issues but that's just not the case anymore. I dunno: Maybe it's all the weight I've dropped. It just doesn't seem to fit anymore, no matter how many old socks I wrap around the insert. But you do with what you've got. It's still worlds better than crutches.

Wandering aside: I lost my leg forty years ago this year, as of just a couple of months past. My first prosthesis was built in a smelly little shop with no talk of government assistance or even insurance. Just five hundred dollars please, plunk it on the counter and limp out of the storefront. My older brother borrowed the money from his credit union, knowing it would probably take me years to pay it back - I was just a kid and suddenly damn near unemployable. He wouldn't talk about interest, even though he certainly paid some. When I finally had the money I stuffed five $100 bills inside a brand new Bell Star brain bucket and left it on his couch when he wasn't home. He thought that was pretty cool: I knew he'd always wanted one.
Don't laugh. This was a really fancy helmet in the seventies.

The second prosthesis would have cost almost five times as much, and that shop didn't deal in cash at all. They just naturally assumed it was being paid by insurance or the government, and though I'd love to deny it I admit the state paid the freight. First legs don't last long, it seems, because your stump changes a lot under its pressure. I couldn't walk any more.

From then on each succeeding limb was paid for by co-pay and insurance from whatever company I was working for. The cool thing about this particular "pre-existing condition" is that orthopedic surgery is a lot better these days and amputation has become relatively rare, and insurance companies used to throw it into the package pretty casually. Not so much by the turn of the century, though, which is why I didn't replace this one before moving to the boonies.

I don't even want to know what it would cost for a new one, but it's fun to imagine the look on some intern's face if I demanded to know the price tag and then started counting FRNs out on the counter. That'd be fun. But not in this lifetime.

Now I've got to get cleaned up because I'm going into town to meet that litter of kittens I wrote about earlier. And now it looks like I might have to do a sales job because I've been warned that the lady's acting kind of flaky and might want to keep all the female kittens. I won't bring another tom out here: May as well plan to eat it myself as do that. Toms won't stick around where they're safe and they always get killed.

So anyway, that's all for today. It's been a busy one, and will stay so till the evening when I can't run the 'pooter.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

I seem to detect a...trend...

Violent Attack in Scott, Man Accused of Biting Off Chunk of Victim's Face

Okay, I admit it. I said "Yeah, yeah," and blew it off. Somebody explain again why shotguns are a poor choice against zombies.

Um...quickly, please...

ETA: Yes, I know this is being built up as another drug scare. Pretty sure I'm safe from the effects of bath salts. M suggests I'm immune from the effects of baths, period. Which is not true, BTW. He's still pissed about the Ezra Pound post.

The editorial staff and management of TUAK...

...steer clear of all political content, unless we think it's funny. Or angering. Or when we're just stuck for something to post.

There was always something better to write about or link to than a dumbass recall election in Wisconsin, and so TUAK has maintained a policy of silence on that subject. (Except to say "Neener neener, unions - LB)

Until now. The tragedy and unexpected magnitude of this terrible dislocation cannot in good conscience go without notice.

In Canada, officials fear that refugees from Wisconsin will brave the treacherous journey across Lake Superior in the hopes of giving birth to so-called “anchor babies” on Canadian soil.

Mr. McGlindon offered reporters a look at satellite photos showing the boat people larding their vessels with wheels of premium cheddar cheese, possibly in the hopes of bribing Canadian officials on Superior’s northern shore.

Um...Look, I know they can be annoying. But...

I'm pretty sure there's still a law against this, and for once I agree with it. Shotgun's way too much gun.

Shamelessly stolen from New Jovian Thunderbolt.

And then...THEN we'll all be safe.

The war on men...
Pretty soon, men will not be allowed out in public unescorted by a woman or some authority.
I think it's possible that every guy has a story like this. Maybe not thrown out of the store bad, but bad. I have occasionally thought that if I'm to be assumed untrustworthy just because I'm a guy, why shouldn't I just go ahead and be untrustworthy? The pay's the same.

H/T to Unc.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

On a hot afternoon...

Napping with your head in the water bowl makes perfect sense.

Snuggling with a big, black furry creature makes...less.

Gerald Butler reborn as a cat...

It's just a little .gif, but I've had trouble with those. So go here and see the mighty feline shot in 300-O-Vision.

People throw away the damndest things...

...And I do the damndest things with them.

So I go over for shit-shoveling at J&H's yesterday morning, right? And J&H had guests from the city over the weekend, and apparently went out and bought a bunch of food that turned out not to be used because the guests supplied the food. These things happen.

And H comes out of the house when I get there and says, "Hey, Joel! You want some food?" And I think she's talking about breakfast, to which she sometimes invites me and which I always accept because bacon. But she's actually talking about three bags of food, of the sort I don't indulge in because refrigeration, and also money. While I don't understand why they don't just freeze it for another day, who am I to look gift groceries in the mouth, right? Maybe their freezer's full.

Now, some of this stuff is just plain mine, and the boys can give me the big brown eyes all they want but they're not getting any. J&H have expensive taste in sausage and I do not waste it on dogs. But there are also these three packages of hot dogs. I could fire up the little fridge in Landlady's barn and they'd stretch for months. But no matter how long you're deprived of them, hot dogs are just hot dogs.

So I know they're getting some of this. And the big question, all the way home, is "How much do I share, and how much do I get greedy with?" Because this is the sort of thing I actually worry about.

Monday, June 4, 2012

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Kittens, Kittens Everywhere!

As regular readers are aware, my cat is broken. Not broken broken, you know, all her parts seem to still function. She respirates oxygen and consumes kibble. But her Wanna Kill Mice switch seems all gummed up, and I don't think it's coming back. She's about eight years old, give or take a bunch, and seems to regard that as retirement age. Okay, I mean who am I to complain? It's a personal decision.

Anyway, the otherwise obvious answer of getting an emergency backup cat comes with some issues, principal among them the fact that cats are only about halfway up the food chain around here and it hurts my feelings to provide variety to the diet of the local coyotes, owls, hawks, bobcats, mountain lions, feral dogs, etc. So I'll admit I haven't pursued this issue with any real vigor. Then I started finding droppings INSIDE the Secret Lair, and that's just unacceptable. Landlady's been after me for some time to get a kitten while Click's still around. There are excellent reasons to do so:

  • Click has a near-mystical ability to stay alive in the desert, due to her stringent attention to some fundamental rules. She could, IF she chose and the kitten would learn, teach these rules to her understudy.
  • The dogs will protect and cherish the kitten, as they have done to all her predecessors. IF the kitten learns at an early age to accept them.

I had one other cat, before I became the local dog nanny. He didn't learn and he didn't like the dogs. Or Click. And he didn't survive. Lesson learned: Either go without cats, or get a female kitten while the dogs and the older cat are still around and active.

Having decided to chance that second thing, I was faced with the problem of where one goes about finding a kitten. I'm a hermit, you know. I don't get around much.

Well, I let it be known to the neighbors that I was in the market for a female kitten. Very shortly thereafter, I got a call from my neighbor J that there was a CraigsList ad from a local town, for some kittens that had been dumped and needed a home. I contacted the people immediately. They flaked out on me. That was last weekend.

As it happened, Landlady was up at her property last weekend. She said, "No problem. There are kittens galore in [the city where she lives.] You want, I get." I said cool.

But you know: Live local, shop local. A few days ago I got a call from another neighbor. The family at the local auto repair shop has a litter they're looking for homes for. So it seems our little Lair will soon know the pitter-patter of little paws, very soon.

Personal to Landlady: Abort Operation Obtain Kitten. I say again: Abort Operation Obtain Kitten.

Updates to follow.

Saturday, June 2, 2012

So I understand it's Open Carry Weekend...

...and we're all supposed to post pix of ourselves open carrying, or something. I don't normally pay attention to holidays, especially when they're artificially declared to "raise awareness" of stuff...

But still. For the cause, here's Joel's waist in full bat-belt mode. Believe it or not this is actually how the belt looks most days*, though for the pic I probably should have put on an unstained shirt...

*flashlight optional, since I keep getting caught without it.

Sometimes you gotta stand next to people you can't stand.

O: Hey, at least I didn't call you Chimpy McHitler, you f**king fascist.

B: Shut up and smile for the camera, you f**king commie. And stop poking me.

Friday, June 1, 2012

I enjoyed the stories too. But...

You can get further into them than is really good for your social life. Just sayin'.

London's answer to OSHA will definitely have something to say about the bludgers. And watch the brooms around the nannycams, because there's almost certainly a law against knocking them off their poles. Other than that, by all means carry on.