Wait, what? Oh Lightbringer, please explain this…

Obama Sees Need for More US Icebreakers: Former Coast Guard Commandant

Maybe they need the icebreakers to open paths through the drowned bodies of all those polar bears that died because there’s no ice?

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Countdown to Solstice…

Funny how for the first fifty years of my life I was only vaguely aware of what that word means. And I associated it with Druidism and similar irrelevancies. But now I’ve got my little free sample of a solar power system, and the solstice matters. It gets dark early, which means my batteries begin to discharge early – and then it gets bright late, which means my batteries begin to recharge late. Yeah, December through January I live and die by the voltage meter. But thanks to some retrofitting and the reduction in price of LED lightbulbs, at least I don’t spend my evenings squinting like Scrooge, resenting every wasted precious photon. Oh, I’m a lightswitch nazi and always shall be, but lighting isn’t the drag on the system it used to be. I can even watch a movie at night, if the day wasn’t too gloomy and it’s not all nine hours of The Hobbit.

Also thankful I am that I seem to have shaken my phobia about the woodstove for good and all. The first two winters after that chimney fire in February 2012, the mere sound of a fire big enough to rumble in the box made my little heart go pitty-pat, and I cleaned the stovepipe at least weekly which I knew damn well was senseless but the only thing that allowed me to light fires at all. It was much better last winter, and this winter I seem to have gotten over it. Plus those dozens of old hardwood pallets I cut up in September are working out well. So as the nighttime temps slide into the teens, I’m anticipating the most comfortable winter since moving here.

Lord, that last winter in the Interim Lair, there were a few nights where it hit 20o indoors by morning, with the heater blasting all night and nothing else to be done. All my water bottles froze solid, the snow never melted off my boots. For a week at a time I never took my parka off. For a month at a time my toes never stopped hurting, and I blessed the mishap that meant I only had five toes to hurt. Didn’t know I was letting myself in for that, when I moved into an RV trailer in the desert. “It’s the desert! How cold could it get?” I thought I knew the answer to that, since I had winter camped many times in the Mojave, and I listened to the people who’d invited me out here in the first place. But wow.

Now it looks like I’ve finally – Finally! In the tenth winter! – gotten to the ‘warm fire in a cozy cabin’ stage of our little adventure. Sheesh.

I’ve got to hike over to Landlady’s place now, give LB his walky and break the ice in the chickens’ waterer. Hope you’re staying nice and warm, too.

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How funny! I was just thinking about this last night.

I happened to be looking at a paper map of the world (kids, ask your parents) and I noticed that Norway – the whole freakin’ country – has this dotted line running through it marked “Arctic Circle.” Even famously gloomy Finland, where the three national moods are depression, violence and vodka, is mostly below that line. Hell, I bitch all the time about winter, and I live in the high desert where single digits on the positive side of the Fahrenheit scale is a cold night. I’d never voluntarily live in a real winter place like Norway – or Alaska, for that matter – though I admire the physical endurance of people who say they don’t mind it.

Why does anybody even live there? Do they need to be kept there with guns, I wonder?

Says here, not so much.

To be sure, there are some aspects of the near-polar culture that might be hard to emulate elsewhere. Small Norwegian communities are tightly knit, and strong social ties increase well-being everywhere. That said, there are lessons that can help anyone think differently about cold weather.

First, Norwegians celebrate the things one can only do in winter. “People couldn’t wait for the ski season to start,” says Leibowitz. Getting outside is a known mood booster, and so Norwegians keep going outside, whatever is happening out there. Notes Leibowitz: “There’s a saying that there’s no such thing as bad weather, only bad clothing.”

Norwegians also have a word, koselig, that means a sense of coziness. It’s like the best parts of Christmas, without all the stress. People light candles, light fires, drink warm beverages, and sit under fuzzy blankets. There’s a community aspect to it too; it’s not just an excuse to sit on the couch watching Netflix. Leibowitz reports that Tromsø had plenty of festivals and community activities creating the sense that everyone was in it together.

So, don’t be a hermit whose principal winter activity is bitching about winter. Got it.

I’m doomed.

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A design flaw accidentally fixed

In early summer when I put up the first of the Lair’s new siding, I also replaced the rear window. It had always been just a set of high, narrow tilting windows for ventilation and light, because I didn’t really figure at the time that the bathroom had any screaming need for a picture window. But then came the chickens, and I got tired of suiting up and going out in the snow every time they squawked.

That worked well enough. I knew I’d get more light and heat, which in the desert might just possibly be an issue, but it turned out the sun passed over the cabin at a high enough angle it wasn’t a big deal. Only real problem was remembering to close the window when it might rain, which with the old jalousies had never been an issue.

Then it started to get cold, and I learned that I had been throwing away a helluva lot of passive solar heat better brought into the cabin. We’re still about a month from the solstice but just about the time it started to be necessary to heat the interior, the sun’s angle got down to where it blasts in through that window in the late afternoon. So the cabin is at its warmest just before sundown, which is exactly the way you’d plan that – if you’d been planning it.

So now I’ve got more passive solar heating in the winter than I really deserve, given that it was a completely unintended consequence of chicken farming. :)

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If you spend any time on Amazon on Black Friday…

Consider doing it through Claire’s link, right here. Then she gets a cut of the swag, and it’s a painless way to help her out.

I write this with a guilty grimace on my face, since I have that link in my bookmarks and invariably forget to use it. 😳

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I go through this at the beginning of every winter…

The weather gets too cold for me to want to wash laundry outdoors. So it piles up, which violates the first rule of hand-washing: Don’t let it pile up. Used to do it in the sink, which was a real pain. Last winter I got this gadget…
…which does have the advantage of keeping the whole process indoors where it’s warm. But while it’s very good for agitating, it’s no damn good at all at rinsing. That takes a lot of water, and I don’t have facility for heating that much water. So my big problem with winter laundry has always been sore hands.
I think I’ve got that handled this time, though. Rubber gloves can keep your hands dry, but they have no insulation at all and the water is plenty cold. But when I bought new ones this fall I got them a bigger size. Wear them over a pair of jersey gloves, and so far that’s insulation enough. Water will get colder, of course, but so far that works well.
It’s time-consuming, since the washer doesn’t hold nearly as much as my tubs. I’ve been working on catching up for the past couple of days. Once that’s done, I’ve got to keep caught up. It’s just a matter of finding new habits.

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Remember that old rule about no religion or politics at the table?

Well, now forget it. For some reason this year there’s been a real emphasis on ‘winning Thanksgiving dinner debates.’ This mostly comes from the lefties, who unaccountably haven’t yet declared Thanksgiving an inappropriate cultural appropriation, or racially insensitive or something, though the writers on the right wing of the carrion bird are willing to play. This morning I read that Her Satanic Majesty has now decreed that these debates shall henceforth be mandatory.
Checking my supply of brain bleach and then clicking the link so you don’t have to, I acquired this essential resource…
Oops, no, it turns out I most certainly did not. Oh, hell no. So instead I traitorously went to the house of one of her many deadly enemies and read about it…

After you enter your email address you are first offered the option to donate to her campaign. If you decline and close the window you are emailed a link to post on her campaign website entitled, “How to win a Thanksgiving debate with Republicans: Tips from Hillary Clinton’s communications team.”

The post is subtitled, “Talking points for the conservative cousin who wants to know if Hillary wears a wig,” a reference to stories popularized by Matt Drudge that Hillary Clinton wears a wig on the campaign trail.

So what does Team Hillary think will win debates with GOP family members? The post starts, “Thanksgiving dinner inevitably comes with a side of uncomfortable political conversation. Christina Reynolds, Hillary’s deputy director of communications, is here to help with some answers to your FAQs (Family’s Awkward Questions).”

First on the list of FAQs is the wig question. “Rush Limbaugh says Hillary Clinton wears a wig. Is that true?”

The answer:

Read on if you care about the answer to this and other vital questions. They’re all about Herself, of course, and they’re all oddly defensive.

It didn’t strike me as the product of a campaign that thinks it’s going to win. But maybe that’s just wishful thinking.

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Yeah, well, college kids are dumb and must be defended from themselves.

Older Brother sent me this link with his own heading: Military Weapons Ban! He was just conning me into clicking the link…

West Point bans annual pillow fight after dozens injured

WEST POINT, N.Y., Nov. 26 (UPI) — United States Military Academy leaders announced pillow fights have been banned in response to the bloody pillow melee that left some 30 freshman cadets injured at West Point in August.

See, this is why some people can never have anything nice. Because they’re stupid.

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Two things I did not know, and one thing I did…

Concerning the Macy’s parade…

In a tradition that has since been discontinued, at the end of each parade the balloons were released and allowed to drift away in the wind. Anyone who recovered a balloon and returned it to Macy’s would receive a gift.

Gee, I can’t imagine why you’d want to stop a lovely tradition like that. Think of the fun, as the helium leaks away and the balloon decides where in the packed city it wants to land its big floppy self!

When barbarians piss off other barbarians, things like this happen.

The Nov. 15 [suicide] bombing came at a top-level meeting of the Yarmouk Martyrs Brigade, a key ISIS militia known for its bloody and vicious hold over parts of the Golan Heights. Six of the group’s top men were killed, including Muhammad “Abu Ali” al-Baridi, the shadowy head of the group who went by the nickname “The Uncle.”

Al Nusra Front, Al Qaeda’s Syrian affiliate, quickly took credit, gloating on Twitter about the “heroic” attack.

If that doesn’t put you in the mood for Thanksgiving, you’re hopeless. :)

And on that note, here’s timely advice for cooking that massive bird, in a video that really ought to be considered a holiday classic.

“Just put the f*cking turkey in the oven. Don’t worry about it. Turkey really never tastes good.”

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This story sounds too good to be true, which doesn’t automatically make it false…

But it says here that two of those Paris terrorists were in fact sent to meet their virgins by non-state shooters.

There’s just one little problem with the narrative…

French police reported these two unsung heroes are from Columbia and were identified as cartel operators in northern Columbia.

You’ve got to admit, that would be a funny twist. As one commenter said,

“Let’s get this straight: Anonymous does our hacking, Russia does our bombing, and the Cartels do our policing. Either Obama is a master at outsourcing or we truly are living in BizzaroJerry World.

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Okay, that’s something NASA can’t do…

SpaceX has been trying to get this right for years. Bezos’s group finally nailed one. Welcome, people of earth, to the 1930’s.

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I do not understand these people, even a little bit.

Belgian Jews repudiate call for gun ownership

Belgian Jewish leaders denounced calls for their governments to issue gun permits to members of their communities this weekend, saying that such efforts could lead to harrowing consequences.

Last week, Rabbi Menachem Margolin, the Brussels-based head of the European Jewish Association (EJA) and the affiliated Rabbinical Center of Europe, sent a letter to senior officials in a number of EU states requesting that gun laws be loosened to allow “designated people” among Europe’s Jews “to own weapons for the essential protection of their communities.”

Belgian Jews were quick to distance themselves from Margolin’s comments, asserting that he does not represent their communities.

“I think that he has no authority to speak in the name of Belgian Jewry because he doesn’t represent Belgian Jewry,” Abraham Guigui, the country’s chief rabbi, told The Jerusalem Post on Sunday.

This guy isn’t even suggesting that gun laws be loosened to permit individuals to legally keep and bear arms. He just wants to be able to arm non-state security forces. And even that was rejected as too radical. Not by the EU, by his own people.

Is a complete lack of any sense of history an actual requirement for being a European Jew?

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Sorry about that, Chief…

Just hasn’t been a good blogging day. Sure is pretty out, though, and having come in for a sandwich I’m gonna go get some more of that while I can.

I’ve been pretty sore lately, with all those twisted joints and broken bones that I shrugged off when I was 20, congratulating myself on how tough I was. They come back and haunt your seventh (or is it the eighth?) decade, it turns out. That’s okay, it beats hell out of the alternative, but it does remind me of my favorite Bobby Bare song…

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Isn’t Turkey in NATO?

Well, then. There’s nothing scary about this at all.

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I think this might be one of those things white people need to learn…

…about cultural appropriation. Or…something.

From Landlady:

Q. Two Hands Clapping in a Forest: Can you advise me on the correct emoji skin tone to use if, say, using the clapping hands to applaud a friend’s good news announced on social media? On the iPhone’s five-color scale, my hands match the second-to-lightest shade, but in the “human diversity as it exists in the world” scale, I’m a pale white person, and I wonder if the nonobnoxious thing to do is just to go with the one that’s clearly intended for pale white people, rather than be the white person who can’t tolerate there being so much as an emoji that’s not for her. Thanks for the input!

A: Say, “Congratulations! I’m so excited for you.”


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“Don’t womansplain a man cave to me.”

On the subject of getting old, I’m really rather torn. First hand, every year it becomes more apparent that I’m getting more physically decrepit and one day must die. I’m in complete sympathy with Woody Allen on one point: “I don’t want to achieve immortality through my work. I want to achieve immortality through not dying.”

On the other hand, getting old means I don’t ever again have to be quite this young and stupid:

Man caves perpetuate patriarchy

While I think it’s perfectly acceptable, and even healthy, to have separate spaces where one can enjoy time alone, the gendered language around “man cave” is pretty gross. It takes a passive dig at femininity. It’s as if women are such burden that they’re restricted from that zone, while still expected to readily share all other spaces.

A man cave is essentially an emotional sanctuary for men to escape their responsibilities without the interruption of women or children. It’s as if these men are victimizing themselves and require refuge to revel in their false sense of masculinity.

Please allow me to condescendingly mansplain that last statement for you. You see, as beneficiaries of The Patriarchy, men are by nature of their very chromosomes inherently victimizers – even the ones who try to transcend their natures cannot change this. Therefore, as a inherent part of the power structure it is impossible for a man to be a victim of any other gender, and so if the poor sad thing is feeling a bit put upon he must logically be victimizing himself in some way. But since he’s a man, after all, his pretensions to feelings are unimportant compared to the genuine suffering of his many true victims.

Don’t bother with the link, really – it just goes on like that at greater length.

Thing is, once I would have actually taken the guilt for this. I had a house, which contained a study – it was not a “man cave” – and the colors and textures of the walls, carpet and drapery were beautifully coordinated to make the best use of the cold light from the north-facing windows. It was a very nice, quiet room and I spent a lot of time in there writing – but it was never my room. A perceptive friend once said to me, “Nothing in that house says “Joel.” It’s like you don’t live there.” And I didn’t really, I just slept there and paid all the bills.

The inside of the Secret Lair, god help you, is like a trip through my brain. It needs dusting and maybe I ought to finish the woodwork at some point, but it’s mine.
But I think that sometimes that can be nice, too. And if it’s ever invaded by a giant subterranean worm, well…I guess then I’ll wish Reba McEntire were around to have my back while I load the elephant gun.

But till then, I’m good without some college chicklet trying to explain man stuff to me. And if she doesn’t like my place – and she wouldn’t – she’s very welcome to keep away from my oppressive self and I’ll be happy to do the same.

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Does this woman have no campaign manager?

We already know she doesn’t remember any of her own lies. But with that budget, couldn’t she afford to hire somebody to remember them for her?

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Of course he’s not worried about terrorism. You can’t throw an apple core over his fence without all hell breaking loose.


An apple core thrown over a White House fence prompted security officials to clear a portion of Pennsylvania Avenue, the Secret Service said.

Parts of the avenue in front of the White House were cleared after the incident shortly before 4:30 p.m. Saturday.

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Wait, I thought you said there was a positive side.

Tam linked to this erudite article from one of my leftist betters, in which I learn that “positive” does not mean what he thinks it means.

Despite having brought to light this oft-forgotten aspect of Woodrow Wilson’s policies, which reflected his background as a product of the Old Confederacy and represent an indelible stain on his reputation, I want to issue a note of caution about the campaign to remove him from the Princeton campus and elsewhere in the country.

We must also recognize the positive side of his legacy: the federal income tax, the Federal Reserve Board, the Federal Trade Commission, the Clayton Anti-Trust Act, and the other notable achievements of his domestic policy known as the “New Freedom” that in many ways served as a precursor to Franklin Roosevelt’s New Deal.

If I may be permitted to Godwin my own post, that’s a lot like saying that Hitler may have been a bit hateful toward Jews, but on the other hand he sure did break a lot of treaties.

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First you do your work, then you can play with your new toy.

So the first item on today’s agenda was working out the stovepipe arrangement on Landlady’s new woodstove, because it gets damned cold in there and the propane blueflame heater isn’t a lot of help. We needed to call in the big guns via Neighbor D to work it out, but at last things were on fire.
Then we opened the door and all the windows, and disabled both smoke detectors, and went out in the cold to eat lunch, while the oil coating burned off the stove. Fortunately it didn’t take long, and it certainly appears that this stove is sufficient to warm Landlady’s little house.

THEN I could go out and play.

Yes, I know. Forgot to put my earmuffs back on while posing.

Yes, I know. Forgot to put my earmuffs back on while posing.

Oh, guys, this revolver is so much better than the 431. Once I got it sighted in I was running the rack at 25 yards, double action. Moved out to 50 yards and started getting some pretty embarrassing misses, but in actual pistol range this gun is sweet. With .44 special loads it’s very mild shooting and probably the porting is superfluous but why take a chance: It’s still cool.

Ian and I put 100 reloads through it. Its SA trigger is heavier than the 431’s but I swear I can already feel the DA trigger smoothing out. I used the 431 in DA as seldom as necessary just to say I had practiced with it, but this one is a pleasure. I can actually hold the pistol on target while pulling back the trigger. And since I can sight this pistol in, which I never could with the 431, I can just point the sights at the target instead of holding low and hoping. What a country!

As a proof of concept, the 431 was useful but I kept it – and made excuses for it – too long. Now thanks to a helpful reader who prefers to remain anon, I got a good deal on what looks to be a good boonie gun. I’ve got a proper holster coming and a set of Hogue grips, not that there really appears to be all that much wrong with the stock “ribber” grips but I just like Hogue.

Might have to try some magnum loads just to see if the barrel porting is really all that. The Tracker is marginally lighter than the 431 but very pleasant to shoot with next to no muzzle flip using .44 Special loads, but I can’t say it’s that huge an improvement over the 431 in that regard. Never had a gun with a ported barrel before, and I’m just curious.

IMG_0946Ian also brought a toy for us to play with. The Glock is just a Glock but the optic is something special. I’ve used cheap red-dots before and left very unimpressed, because in full sun you’ve got to crank them to 11 and the dot is vague and sometimes bigger than the target. But being Ian means sometimes you get to T&E expensive gear. This is a Trijicon that costs several hundred dollars, but the dot is sharp and clearly visible in bright desert sun and the battery life is such that the thing doesn’t even have an on/off switch. And when it’s sighted in, you can snap shots in a most satisfying manner. Too bad it costs so damn much.

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