Hm. While I’m pouring cement next month I may need to make one of these.

I think I’ve got everything I need to make one with recirculating water, including an overnight shut-off timer.

Looks like it’d need a pipe up the middle, a very slight lip around the edge for a very shallow pool, and of course it would need to sit in something holding the feed water and the aquarium pump…

We have lots of hummingbirds in the desert, is why it got me thinking.

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Winter suddenly returns…

Briefly, too, if the forecast means anything. And the forecast saw today’s weather coming a week ago. It should hardly be surprising, it’s only March, but the days have been warm and golden long enough that people are tempted to say right out loud that winter’s over and summer’s early.

Of course I piled all my firewood outdoors and tore the shed down, so now it’s all in a big soggy pile. Guess I could dig around and find some dry enough to burn, but I really don’t want the hassle of a fire. So I dragged out my Heater Buddy and expended one of those little “this won’t get you through the night” camping bottles of propane. The irony is that by the standards of an ordinary March, the day is actually fairly clement. Windy, though, and supposed to get windier still, and it remains to be seen whether we’re done with the rain and snow and freezing rain. So I’m cocooning indoors and catching up on my reading.

The heavy overcast will provide the first good test of how my solar panels cope with the newly-expanded battery bank, at last somewhat depleted, once the sun comes back which it’s supposed to tomorrow. So it’s all good, but I really don’t have anything to write about today.

Normally when the day is too boring to provide blogfodder I spend time online looking for news to gas about, but all the news is more boring yet. I’m not quite that devoted to being entertaining. Except for this, which is too hilarious to need any commentary from me. So until such time as something happens worth writing about, here’s Joel: Checking in and signing off.

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Fare thee well, faithful woodshed…

I didn’t get anything done yesterday, don’t know why but the trip to the big town took it all out of me. I’m not a lot more ambitious today, but tomorrow it’s supposed to be cold and rainy (ie, seasonal for once) and today I wanted to finish getting the woodshed torn down.

The hard part is done: finding and then cutting or untwisting a couple of dozen wire ties holding the tarp to the stock fencing, untangling the fencing from the fenceposts, then pulling out the fenceposts. That last part wasn’t the nightmare I anticipated because I deliberately didn’t sink them very deep to begin with. Just deep enough that the pressure of the wood on the fencing doesn’t cause them to bow out is deep enough to be good. If you sink them properly you’ll never get them out of the ground without a post puller, which I don’t have.

Taking the wood part down to its pieces is just a matter of unscrewing a whole bunch of screws with a driver until it falls apart. Don’t be under it when it falls, don’t leave the screws laying around, easy peasy.

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Gelsock Bleg Update: Penultimate

I got another text from my maildrop location, informing me that the gelsock count, which had supposedly come to a whoa at 25, is up to 30. That’s well over my most optimistic hope, largess it should take several years to wear out. I hoped (unrealistically, I thought) for a 3-week rotation and you guys gave me a month’s supply.

I’ll give a final report when they actually get here, which won’t be until weekend after next earliest. Thanks, guys. I’d say you renew my faith in my fellow man but I rather expect you’re a select group and patterns you set shouldn’t be expected from the general pop.

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Movin’ on out

Spending the better part of the day at the big town about 50 miles away, on a sacred mission to increase eye doctor wealth. So don’t send the ransom or start polling hospitals.

ETA: Back. That stuff they put in your eyes to dilate the pupils? Hate that stuff. Also, the price of the eye drops roughly doubled so thanks much (on behalf of myself and Wal-Mart) to the guy who sent that hundred bux to the tip jar. Wouldn’t have made it without you.

Having solved LB’s bladder problem, I’m gonna go lie down for a while.

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Done with that part of the chore…


Stocking the woodshed every year is very time-consuming but seems less so because I do it a little at a time and it’s kind of a constructive process. Emptying it didn’t actually take as long as two hours but it seemed to go on forever.

And all the time I was doing it this morning, I was thinking about improvements I could make. The hoopshed is an unexpectedly successful makeshift, but I think that since I’m in construction mode this summer anyway I’m going to retire it. For one thing I’m thoroughly sick of building condos for rats*.

I recently acquired a whole bunch of hardware cloth. Of course I could never keep a woodshed entirely rat-free, but at least I could build one where it wasn’t convenient for generations of them to build all the way at the back, essentially ruining a bunch of wood. Also the tarpaulin roof and pallet floor are never good for more than a couple of seasons, and flexible walls are not good for keeping neat piles neat. I’ve settled on what will probably be the new permanent location, so maybe I should plan on a pole barn with stockade walls, lined with hardware cloth, rather than a rebuilt hoopshed.

* Sidebar: I met what was until this morning the current occupant. He (we stood so close for so long, I know it was definitely a he) acted as though he couldn’t believe what was happening, like a welfare queen finally facing the eviction crew after months of threatening letters. He seemed more outraged and unbelieving than frightened. Should have brained him with a piece of firewood while we were there.

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Wow. That’s the way to ridicule something ridiculous.

Just read it aloud.

Actor recites all 9 hours of Amazon Kindle T&Cs

according to Australian consumer rights advocacy group Choice, that lengthy jargon can often conceal strange clauses, and it’s unfair to expect consumers to wade through them. To highlight just how ridiculous it is, Choice hired an actor named Laurence to read aloud all 73,198 words of Amazon’s Kindle terms and conditions.

Based on the estimation that 500 words is one A4 page, that’s 146 pages, and it took poor Laurence nine hours to slog through the whole thing.

And then they posted it on nine Youtube videos.

Unfortunately the best solution Choice can come up with is more laws. Methinks it’s too many laws that got us into this in the first place.

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Slow progress emptying the woodshed…

This is the fast part, compared to stacking it all back up, but (I tell myself) it’s the part that’s hard on my shoulder.

But I’m mostly there…

I have to take each armload out and wing it onto the pile, which is as far as from the woodshed as I can fling a ton or so of firewood three or four pieces at a time…

…so probably this is the only part that’ll mess up my shoulder again. I wasn’t a major league pitcher before I wrecked the shoulder.

And look who I found…

I knew sooner or later I’d find the rat nest. At least one really gooey nest was inevitable. Didn’t expect to find the rat, though.

Kinda makes me melancholy, when I find a mouse or a rat dead in its own nest. On the other hand it was a very fine nest, and we had few or no nights even down to single digits this past winter. So this one didn’t die of the cold, or probably of injuries. It just died. Maybe disease, maybe – given how big it was – it just got really old. In its line of work, that would be considered a win.

Personally, I plan to never die at all. But then, probably so did he.

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Dammit! If I’ve said it once I’ve said it a thousand times…

Don’t wear a good shirt while fiddling with batteries.

Bet it happened when I used the hydrometer. That always splashes acid around, and I know I didn’t use the rubber apron. Yes, Zelda, I know I should have used the rubber apron.

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In Praise of Seymour

Things have been placid in the two flocks. I moved Seymour to the big flock and right away started getting stressed-out hens and one injury, but I moved the four obvious malcontents to the Fortress of Attitude and things settled down in both locations pretty much immediately. Seymour’s still on report, and may still end up as roast high school principal, but right now things are going well.

In fact, Seymour works hard to fulfill his function.

He’s a rooster, and most of the time he only theoretically has any function. But this afternoon, in his opinion, the time had come for him to throw his tender young life between the flock and the Horrors of Nature.

I came by this morning, did a bunch of stuff, had my mind on the next chore, and apparently I forgot to latch the chickenhouse door. There was no wind, and so there was no immediate indication that I’d screwed up. But this afternoon the wind came up and blew the door open. I don’t know when, it could have been hours before my afternoon visit. I saw the door, looked around and didn’t see any loose chickens, went inside and only saw Seymour standing at the door between the chicken house and their fenced yard like Horatius at the bridge, gonna defend his hens. He saw me, sounded a warning and actually fluffed himself for righteous, futile battle. When I settled him down and got past him, there were nine stressed-out hens in the fenced yard all safe.

Funniest thing I’ve seen in a while: He was ready, gonna fight whatever came through that normally-closed door to the death. Would have been his death, but he was gonna do it.

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Signs of Spring…

My pitiful pear tree made it through another winter, not that this one taxed it very hard. Flowers, sure, but they’re just faking me out. This tree will actually fruit the day after I’m elected Pope. It grows a little more every year, though.

The Mormons do it much better, I’m afraid, though none of them will ever be elected Pope either.

D&L wanted to make the weekly water run this morning instead of the usual Monday. I brought the Jeep trailer along because they had a couple of pallets they wanted me to haul off. Then on the way we found two more that some slob had dumped by the side of the county road. So I hauled them all to my “to become firewood” pile…

While I unloaded the trailer this little guy thought he was hiding. “I’m just a shadow in the shadows, you can’t see me.” Yeah, you’re a distinctly rabbit-shaped shadow, and I see you fine. He was in no danger, though; they look plump and delicious and they’re easy to kill but they’re all fur and bones. What little meat is there after you dress them out is tasteless.

Here’s something else that looks plump and delicious…

Yeah, the calves are coming. In another couple of weeks we should be up to our collective ass in them. Then a few weeks after that the cattlemen will release the bulls, and walkies will become adventures.

Must be Spring.

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It begins. Have mercy on us sinners…

Little Bear’s starting to drop his winter coat. For the next several months I shall begin and end each day by cursing whichever of his ancestors decided she just had to have sex with that Newfie.

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Gelsock Update III

We’ve hit 24 confirmed, either arrived or definitely in transit. Awesome.

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Just to be contrary…

When I was a kid we moved a lot. I eventually sort-of graduated from the twelfth public school in which I was ever enrolled, so I was always the new kid. You could say I was a bit maladjusted. You could also say an atomic bomb is a bit loud.

Being socially isolated, I read a lot. Which ironically meant I tended to do poorly in school and was also better educated, in a spotty sort of way, than most of my “schoolmates.” For example, I made it a point to never wear green on St. Patrick’s day – because I knew where the tradition came from. Which virtually none of my “schoolmates” did.

In fact, just to be a prick (and even though I couldn’t possibly have cared less about religion, or about Irish history for that matter) I occasionally found some way of wearing orange. All the times I did that, nobody ever got the joke. Not once.


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Oh, this is going to take forever…

It’s a sad day when you find yourself cursing a mercifully warm winter…

…but I have to move my woodshed, which should by all rights be nearly empty. Instead I used about 3/10s of the contents. Don’t seem right.

I keep telling myself it only means less work this coming autumn when it’s time to fill the thing again. But right now that’s poor comfort.

Got about this far along when I decided I’m doing this all wrong. Wherever I move the wood to, it’s just going to be a new rat nest and I’ll just have to move it all again when I set the woodshed back up. So why am I wasting all this effort being neat? The thing to do is to just pile up the present contents outside the woodshed, tear the shed down and decide its new permanent place, then go ahead and set it up there and refill it. Won’t be much extra work now and it’ll save loads of extra work later.

It’s probably going to have to be on the wrong side of the drainage ditch, but if need be I can always knock together another bridge. I thought for a while of putting a long overhang on the side of the new bedroom addition for a permanent woodshed, but there are pretty good termite-related arguments for not doing that even though it would look better. The hoopshed design is cheap and has worked out well for the past four years.

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Flash! Stephen Colbert does a bit that’s actually funny.

He should pick on his fellow mutants more often.

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And the sign over the bread line read, “Honk if you love Socialism…”

…but there were no cars, because there was no fuel.

Venezuela has a bread shortage. The government has decided bakers are the problem.

In a press release, the National Superintendent for the Defense of Socioeconomic Rights[*] said it had charged four people and temporarily seized two bakeries as the socialist administration accused bakers of being part of a broad “economic war” aimed at destabilizing the country.

Yup. The honchos in the Venezuelan government were embarrassed by bread lines. So, in a brilliant example of historical illiteracy – dovetailing nicely with their economic illiteracy – they arrested a bunch of bakers.

Yeah. We need more government controls here.

Also I’m reminded I need to buy more flour when I’m in the big town next week…

*Dig this: The National Superintendent for the Defense of Socioeconomic Rights is apparently responsible for arresting people who get caught exercising what, in a sane society, would be their socioeconomic rights. Must be socialism.

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Gelsock Bleg Update II

I have just received a communique by carrier pigeon that five gelsocks arrived today, and that the maildrop might well tip over and capsize under sheer reader awesomeness, the way poor Guam did under the weight of 8000 marines and their equipment, causing many deaths.

21, people, and with that we declare victory over all our enemies, real and imagined. You guys are a blessing. May you never really know how important these things are to my ability to walk around.

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‘Hey, I’ve watched a James Bond movie*. I know what silenced guns sound like.’

Okay, as far as I know she didn’t actually say that. But you just know that’s what she’s thinking.

From the deepest depth of the U.S. Senate, I bring you…the sort of woman who is the reason men are occasionally still tempted to say things like, “Listen, Toots…”

Kirsten Gillibrand: How will the police solve gun crimes if people are allowed to use silencers?

*The biggest beef I have with gun-fact inaccuracy in movies is the way somebody can blaze away indoors with an automatic shotgun or something equally appalling and nobody around him even winces at the eardrum-destroying noise.

I’m sorry, what? You’ll have to speak up. Yes, I do have permanent tinnitus and severe hearing loss. Why do you ask? Oh! Yeah, it’s because when I was young I was immortal and stupid.

Also, I have used suppressors on centerfire pistols and one submachine gun. They’re not even particularly quiet, and I wouldn’t care to fire one indoors without (what’s left of my) hearing protection.

A single-shot break-open .22 with a good suppressor and subsonic ammo, however, can be as quiet as a pellet gun. Which isn’t silent, either.

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Gelsock Bleg Update

That’s encouraging. I got a text from a person at my maildrop, informing me of seven packages “that appear to be stump socks.” I asked the person to open the packages and ascertain the contents, which turned out to be sixteen gelsocks.

From emails that went back and forth there might be a couple more in transit, but sixteen is already a huge help; if I can rotate them over an 18 or 20-day cycle (not every single one I already have is completely trashed, just most of them) they’ll last a good deal longer. Also I think despite what the care label says, these things wear out a lot faster around washing machines. So I’ll avoid those this time around.

Thanks, guys! Due to [stuff we don’t share about other people on blogs] Landlady won’t be around for another couple of weeks, so we should be able to wrap up this whole sordid bleg issue around the first of April.

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