You’ll walk a little taller and stand a little prouder…

Knowing you just paid $130 for a shovel.

But wait! There’s more! This isn’t just any shovel, you mall ninjas. This is the tacticalest shovel in the entire physical universe.

Includes Over 12 tools & carry bag:
Utility Knife
Phillips & Flat-head Screwdriver
Ferrocerium Rod (Fire Starter)
Bottle Opener
Hex Bolt Wrenches
Wire Cutter
Rechargeable Tactical Light & Mount
First Aid Kit

It actually comes with a mountable flashlight. A tactical one. I didn’t look to see where they stuck the whistle and the compass.

This is…seriously the greatest thing ever. I recommend that everyone who ever slapped down $12 for a concealed carry permit badge purchase at least two of these immediately. Two is one! Because one is none, and that’s tactical.



ETA: I just went back to the linked site (Yeah. I’m bored. It’s raining.) and found that I hadn’t given this shovel nearly enough credit for tacticalness. I should be sued by its marketers for not pointing out that the handle is not only hollow, but also comes apart in 3! Yes, 3! Pieces, for extra super-tactical fragility!

Order yours today!

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Soggy lumber & meds run…

We had an impressive windstorm yesterday afternoon, gusting to a full gale on the ridgetops. Often an afternoon windstorm means a change of weather, but April windstorms generally just mean it’s April. I didn’t give it much thought.

So naturally overnight we had a big change in the weather. Woke up wondering what happened to the sun – we had heavy overcast and the smell of rain. Bottom dropped out of the temperature. Looked like a nasty day ahead. I tagged along with D&L to get glaucoma meds and some lumber for the new woodshed.

Good thing I decided not to stock up on concrete – I still have to make that phone call – because on the way home the sky opened. S had a tarp stashed under the truck seat, so I didn’t ruin $12 bucks worth of concrete I need for setting the poles.

We got things transferred to the Jeep trailer between squalls, and I made it home as quickly as I can: Ghost can’t hold it the way he used to be able to, and a trip to the Big Town with him in the cabin is asking for trouble. He was a good boy, but he really needed to go and didn’t much appreciate my suggestion that we wait for the next lull in the rain. Tomorrow might not be too bad, so maybe I can get those poles set, but if the wind keeps blowing I’ve lost my weather window. Figures – over a week of glorious weather goes away the minute I finally score some building materials. Stupid weather.

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Laughed so hard I thought I’d die…

MJR sent me a link to this, with the note “Look at the money you are saving by doing what you do.”

Swallow any coffee that may be present before clicking that link, you have been warned.

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Wow. Imagine what a hellhole Chicago would be…

…if it weren’t a gun-free paradise?

I don’t know which is more appalling: The casualty rate so far this year, or the fact that they’re actually a little behind the curve from last year!

The number of people shot in Chicago this year is nearing 1,000 after a violent weekend left seven dead and 31 others wounded, according to data kept by the Tribune.

As of Monday morning, at least 992 people had been shot in Chicago this year. Last year, the city passed the 1,000 mark on April 20 and had reached 1,054 by this time, the Tribune data show.

The pace of homicides is virtually the same as last year. There have been at least 179 homicides so far this year compared with 180 this time last year, according to the data.


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“How did I get that way up here?”

Boy, I’ve gotten older in the past eight or ten years.

I have a cache up in canyon country that I haven’t visited in quite a while. It’s a last-ditch emergency cache, having nothing to do with natural emergencies like the cabin burning down – I called it my “on the run” cache, and it’s just a big ammo case containing a backpack filled with food, water and basics. This particular canyon heads for the state line, it’s immune to motor traffic, and there are plenty of places to hide from airborne search. But you’ll die in it without provisions – and maybe with provisions.

If I wanted to keep it useful I should have visited it more often, but that particular level of paranoia has lessened over the years and it was always “But what would I do with Little Bear” or some other excuse. The case is in a cave fairly high in the canyon wall, not easy to get to, paved with cactus spines from many generations of pack rats, unlikely to be stumbled upon accidentally.

But it’s been bugging me, maintenance is important and I’ve neglected this one so long I should either service it or bring it home for other use. Also there’s a problem with caches in the desert: Finding a hiding place is easy, but finding it again can be hard. I chose this particular cave because I was pretty sure I could find it again, but that was years ago.

Well, this morning I had to go to S&L’s to water their plants, and I wouldn’t take the dogs because Ghost would insist on staying and there’d be an argument. So finding myself dogless, I drove up the wash as far as the Jeep could go and then hoofed it into the canyon.

Son of a gun, I was no longer exactly sure where I’d left the cave. And when I found it, I wasn’t sure how I’d ever gotten up there. Finally making it up there, I wondered aloud how I’d ever made the climb while lugging a big metal ammo case.

I’m not as spry as I used to be, even with the prosthetic improvements.

I’ll go back with pads and gloves…and a hundred feet of rope.

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How can it be that in a “free country,” there really are questions you’re not supposed to ask?

Not that there’s anything wrong with that, he added hastily. And not that we hear the phrase “free country” much anymore anyway…

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Helpless and terrified is no way to go through life.

It’s a windy season in a windy place. Walking with Little Bear, I’m always looking for blown trash that needs to be carried back to the Lair.

Today on the noontime walkie I saw a bit of blue paper…

Must have come off an ammo case while I was shifting things around in the powershed. I stuffed it in my pocket, thinking at the time that any other place it might be considered a rather exotic bit of litter. Not here, though, and I don’t mean just here at the Lair.

Hoplophobes oxymoronically claim that gun people arm themselves out of some irrational fear of the world, and at the same time they complain that armed people violate their right to “feel safe,” whatever that means. I’m reminded of Heidi Yewman – remember her? She played a stunt for a magazine article: She bought a gun and carried it loaded for a month, refusing to take training or even read the manual, doing the strict minimum it took to get a carry license in her state. Her point, of course, was to “prove” that the very fact that she could do such a silly, stupid thing legally was proof that “we” need stricter laws preventing people from doing what she did. And she wrote this unintentionally revealing snippet about herself:

I thought the gun would make me feel more powerful, more confident, and less fearful. I was wrong. All I felt was fear. Physically taking the gun out of the safe and putting it in a holster on my hip literally reminded me that I was going out into a big bad scary unsafe world. There were days when I put the gun back in the safe and stayed home because it simply took too much energy to be scared. It was easier to be at home without the worry and responsibility of being “the good guy with the gun.”

But there are still some people who are prepared to accept the responsibility of their own protection. We accept that the wolf won’t avoid our door just because we prefer not to think about it. We know that we can be at least as effective at protecting ourselves as a uniformed someone an hour away is at protecting us, and we’ll probably be far more motivated.

I don’t object to Ms. Yewman’s stunt, or her irrational terror which is none of my business. But I reject her demand that because she prefers to live ‘without the worry and responsibility,’ I and others like me must be forced by law to do the same.

Screw that.

That bit of wind-blown blue litter probably came from me, but it might not have. It might have come from any number of neighbors, just as well armed and just as willing to use their arms for defense as I am. I am blessed with neighbors not afraid of their own shadows – and you know what? That makes me “feel safer.” :)

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Sleepy Sunday…

What a beautiful day. By nine it was t-shirt weather, which meant let’s do a couple of laundry loads…

It takes a restful hour to go through a couple of buckets of laundry, and this will probably be the first week I tell Former Weekender Neighbor L I have none to bring her when she makes the invitation. It’s just too nice outside not to do outside chores.

I’ve still got this absurd tarp that used to cover the hoopshed, and the wind keeps knocking it off the woodpile. I really should be working on the new woodshed and bedroom piers, but there’s a snag: I hate talking to strangers on the telephone, and getting the building materials I need will involve doing a lot of that. Wasted a week procrastinating, but tomorrow really truly needs to be the day.

And I may have made another big mistake with the ladies in the Fortress of Attitude. Normally only the Big Chickenhouse gets sunflower seeds, but when I recently bought a new sack I filled a tub and left it at the Fortress. And now the ladies are complete shameless addicts. They keep trying to tell me about this new federal law that forbids entering the Fortress without an offering of sunflower seeds. I ask them how they know about this law. Did they get a visit from a social worker? Is there a secret radio receiver in the coop? What? They’re protecting their sources.

Also – I know I’ve asked this before, but it torments me – how do they even know they like sunflower seeds so much? They swallow them whole, just like pellets. I’ve slaughtered chickens that had undigested sunflower seeds still in their crops. So how can they even taste them?

Bread I kind of understand. (They love bread, too.) Bread would at least come apart on their tongues, right? But why prefer seeds to pellets, when they’re both just hard objects swallowed whole?

Ah, well. I’ve made a cup of tea, and now I’m gonna enjoy a book and a warm breeze for a while.

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Andrew Cuomo is my new hero.

How did Cuomo make $783,000 on memoir that sold 3,200 copies?

In all, Cuomo has made $783,000 from HarperCollins for his book. The book sold 3,200 copies since it was published in the fall of 2014, according to tracking company NPD BookScan.

That works out to royalty payments to Cuomo of $245 per book.

Gaw Damn, that must be a helluva book. I don’t know what writing class he attended, but I want a reservation to the next one NOW.

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Earth Day, a commemoration that makes me almost ashamed to be living a greeny’s dream

Let’s turn this over to our Poet Laureate…

“I’m getting tired of that shit. Tired of that shit. I’m tired of f*cking Earth Day, I’m tired of these self-righteous environmentalists, these white, bourgeois liberals who think the only thing wrong with this country is there aren’t enough bicycle paths. People trying to make the world safe for their Volvos. Besides, environmentalists don’t give a shit about the planet. They don’t care about the planet. Not in the abstract they don’t. You know what they’re interested in? A clean place to live. Their own habitat. They’re worried that some day in the future, they might be personally inconvenienced. Narrow, unenlightened self-interest doesn’t impress me.”

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“Nooo! I dowanna gooo!”

This is the third time it’s happened in April alone; it’s a traveling month for S&L and every time they load up the car Ghost gets relegated to Uncle Joel’s Cabin. Which he has decided he hates, at least relative to his normal paradise.

So I showed up at the appointed time and L was trying to convince Ghost to walk out the door. And Ghost was having none of it. He knew why Uncle Joel was there – no doubt L had been sending “packing to leave” signals all morning – and he was not amused.

Fortunately I had anticipated an attitude issue, so I brought LB’s leash. Ghost loaded into the Jeep with scant grace and refused to even enjoy the ride as we stopped off to visit chickens and then came back to the Lair.

And he accepted a treat in the name of noblesse oblige, and then he demanded that I move over because he was appropriating the kneehole for the duration. Which will be through Wednesday this time.

L has promised that May will be a travel-free month. Ghost isn’t a problem – hell, we lived together for eight years – but this business of being judged and found wanting by a dog over and over becomes wearing after a while.

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The smallest useful caliber?

Self Defense
I don’t remember where I found this. For the record I believe this tactic is illegal in Alberta so don’t get caught.

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I wanna job at Fox News, just so they’ll fire me.

Bill O’Reilly Paid Up to $25 Million in Fox News Exit Deal

That is equivalent to one year of a rich new four-year deal that O’Reilly finalized earlier this year. The network and its parent company, 21st Century Fox, completed the deal with knowledge that a New York Times story would reveal settlements with women who accused The O’Reilly Factor host of harassment after the ouster last summer of founding CEO Roger Ailes amid his own sexual harassment scandal.

Ailes left last July with a $40 million payout, the remainder owed on his contract.

I was in the wrong business. As a contractor I got fired a lot – it was routine – and the nicest anybody ever was about it was to give me a month’s warning. Mostly it was just “thank you and goodbye.” Hell, I’d have settled for a single million. Just one lousy million. But no.

Maybe I should have hit on the women in the office. Maybe that was my mistake.

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Every time I have a birthday…

These things get a little heavier.

I swear it’s true.

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Little Bear’s recurring dream…



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That’s what a loaf of bread is supposed to look like.

Still haven’t figured out what I’m doing wrong with that bread flour (S’s theory of too much kneading is attractive but not entirely persuasive) but this is what a good loaf looks like made with all-purpose flour.

An earlier search for “difference between bread flour and all-purpose flour” yielded dozens of descriptions of what the loaves should look and feel like, and no suggestion of different handling at all. So…the Internet is stupid.

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The pipefitter’s body was taken into custody on suspicion…

…of assault on a government tree. Upon discovery of McClanahan’s suspicious ethnicity, the body was turned over to The Department of Homeland Security for investigation of possible terrorist connections. It is currently undergoing enhanced interrogation, and early reports mention a lack of cooperation suggestive of possible Klan affiliation.

The unidentified tree, wounded in the line of duty, remains in serious but stable condition and is expected to make a full recovery.

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Yes, James. Starvation can cause behavioral change.

Which in turn can cure obesity. Win/win.

This guy, who’s apparently running for Parliament, actually said on television that the two countries that come to his mind that have gotten a handle on their citizens’ obesity problems are…North Korea and Cuba.

So if you suffer occasional bouts of depression and angst because American politicians can be such stupid clueless dickwads…I suggest bookmarking this video for future use. They can get worse.

I understand Venezuela is coming along nicely on its battle against obesity, as well.

I believe that faint background noise is his campaign manager hanging himself off camera.

And even so…even with that vast depth and breadth and height of idiocy…he’s still wrong. The Nork government hasn’t quite managed to cure everybody’s obesity problem.

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And we’re back.

This has been a simulated denial of service brought to you by the good folks at Whatever Government Agency Frightens Joel Most. This has only been a test. If this had been a genuine denial of service Joel would be on a plane to Yemen or Orange County or someplace equally horrible for some quality tune-up time, and you’d know bupkis. Thank you for your cooperation, and behave yourselves.

WGAFJM: For Your Protection.


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It’s the flour.

I gather that when S&L first bought their property up here 15-odd years ago, their short-term intent was to throw together a combination bug-out location/construction camp. They brought up a house trailer* and built a quicky utility building, then over many years of weekends they built their wonderful big house and better outbuildings.

Since it was at least theoretically an emergency retreat from the beginning, they stashed quite a lot of food there including five pails of “high gluten white flour,” one pail of which L just opened to see if it was still any good. She found it free of bugs, but wanting to stick her toe in the water she did what people seem to do when they’re not sure about some ancient food stash – she gave me some of it.

It looked like flour, felt like flour, smelled…not exactly like the all-purpose flour I’m used to but not bad, you know. I proofed some yeast, started adding flour, and as soon as the dough ball started to form I knew where I’d smelled that smell before.

Two years ago L gave me two sacks of “bread flour” that I just couldn’t work with at all. The dough ball has a granular texture, it’s more like mixing corn meal mush than bread dough. The dough doesn’t change its character under kneading, not if you knead it all day. It soaks up a lot of water fast. And it only rises once.

I’ve done it so often by now it’s imprinted in my DNA: You knead the dough until it’s smooth and homogeneous, you coat it with oil and let it rise in a warm bowl, you cut it in half, punch it down and let it rise again in warm bread pans, you bake it. But with this stuff the first rise goes off in an encouraging manner and then that’s it. When you finally give up on the second rising and bake the loaves anyway, you get two unappetizing-looking bricks.

It’s exactly the same as I remember from two years ago. I don’t know what I’m doing wrong but I don’t know how to work with this stuff.

At least I got a good food bucket out of the deal.

*true story: If you climb under their house you can still see the frame of that trailer. They built the house in sections, one section surrounding the trailer. That way, no matter the weather, they always had a decently livable place on the site. Once part of the new construction had been rendered residence-worthy, S tore down the structure of the trailer with a Sawzall and gradually hauled it to the dump. But the frame stayed right where it still is.

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