Wait. What happened to equality?

When I read elsewhere that Gabby Giffords was on a ‘Protect All Women tour,’ I assumed it was a snarky joke. Who besides cisgender patriarchal white male jerks would ever think all women need protection? Surely at least some of them are capable of protecting themselves. Right? I mean, I know some women and would step in to lend a hand if they needed it, but …
Women around here tend to know how to use guns.

So…a “Protect All Women” tour? Some gun writer just made that up to be snarky, right?


Giffords’ organization that she created earlier this year, the Protect All Women Leadership Network, hosted the fifth day of her Protect All Women tour in Tempe at the O’Connor House.

Giffords is in the midst of traveling to nine states in nine days, also visiting Connecticut, Iowa, Maine, Minnesota, New Hampshire, Oregon, Pennsylvania and Washington.

“We can lead the way,” said Giffords in her speech before opening up the discussion. “We stand for common sense. … We stand for responsibility. We can change our laws. We can win elections. Please join your voice with mine.”

Whatever happened to those annoying “have it all” women from the ’70′s & ’80′s? They were far preferable to the ones progressives are turning out these days, who seem so fragile that merely the thought of a guy like me will cause them to shatter like a crystal figurine of a…I dunno, crystal figurine. Or something.

Shit. What I’m trying to say is, I’ll help if you want, but screw you if you’re too special to protect yourself. And I’ll be dipped in liquid dog shit before I’ll make myself helpless just so you can ‘feel safe.’

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Up with the chickens…

…to feed the horses.

Everybody with a pet knows what a hassle it can be when you need to go out of town and find someone to take care of your animal(s). The bigger the animal and the more elaborate its needs, the bigger the hassle.

Good thing there’s that dependable old guy who lives in the holler and never goes anywhere, huh? So this weekend I’ve been doing a lot more back-and-forth, feeding and watering horses. That should be over now, since if the plan holds H will be back this afternoon. Sure glad I got that tire fixed, because the two days of normal back-and-forth raised blisters on the end of my stump and – unexpectedly – blew out my right knee to a moderate degree. I used to joke that if I had a left leg the right leg would be my “bad” one, but in truth I haven’t had any trouble with that knee since we put in the foundation for Landlady’s barn in ’07. So I was surprised that a few walking trips would stir it up. When all the boys were here I used to walk a great deal more than I do now.

Weather is very iffy: This is the third consecutive cloudy day, though yesterday it cleared just enough after rain to fully charge the batteries. I’m still waiting to see what the weather wants to do today. I’m gonna see if it’ll warm up a bit before going back for Monday shit-shoveling.

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Here’s something useful I didn’t know I didn’t know

From Brigid: The difference between paraffin and beeswax in candles turns out to be significant and could even be important to you.

Personally I don’t use candles, but if you do you might want to read this.

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Private to Moms Demand Attention: Armed robbery is already against Kroger policy.

Okay, now, this is funny. A guy wearing a scary mask and waving a gun around robbed a Cincinnati Kroger.

No, that’s not the funny part. In fact that’s kind of deplorable. The funny part is that Moms who Demand Attention, which as you probably know is drumming to get Kroger to ban open carry, saw this as a perfectly logical cause célèbre.

Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America

ANOTHER ARMED ROBBERY AT KROGER: This man robbed a bank inside a Cincinnati-area Kroger yesterday. Police say he wore a grey skeleton mask and demanded cash while brandishing a semi-automatic handgun at a teller. The robbery comes only two days after a man at another Cincinnati Kroger was robbed at gunpoint in the restroom: http://cin.ci/1w8GXnq

These crimes at two Kroger stores in one week should serve as a wake up call to Kroger’s leadership to prohibit the open carry of firearms in its stores. Kroger customers should not be responsible for determining if someone in the store holding a gun is a criminal or making a political statement.

As far as I can tell, the reasoning here is that if everybody is allowed to open-carry in the store, then how can anybody know which of the gun-toting hooligans is there to rob the place and which is just doing some shopping?

Based solely on the picture from the security camera – which was posted on MDA’s Facebook link, by the way – I think the people there might have been able to discern a
subtle clue.
Really, I’m almost embarrassed to have to explain this, but it seems necessary. So here goes:

Your Uncle Joel openly carries a handgun quite commonly. If I happen to be in the local food store, I may not even be the only one. It’s that kind of place. Shouldn’t bother you. But if somebody burst into the store wearing a fright mask and waving a gun around, screaming some variation on “Gimme the money,” I might find that person rather alarming.

So to summarize:
Person wearing a gun in a holster, peacefully pushing a cart around and buying Cheerios: Not a robber.

Person wearing a fright mask and brandishing a gun while screaming “This is a robbery”: Probably a robber.

Hope this helps.

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Come back with a warrant: Not just pretty words, Mr. Director.

Governments hate encryption*. That’s a truism like ‘a cloudless sky is blue,’ but the feds were traditionally a little more discrete about acting on their hatred before the current police state demanded out loud that we sacrifice ‘a little convenience for a lot of security.’

To everyone’s shock, I’m sure, that new power was promptly abused. Quite to my shock, a couple of electronic gadget vendors not normally associated with the love of privacy recently decided that if they had to choose, they’d rather alienate the feds than their entire customer base. This seems to have sent the director of the FBI, no doubt among others, into a bit of a tizzy.

“Encryption isn’t just a technical feature; it’s a marketing pitch … it’s the equivalent of a closet that can’t be opened. A safe that can’t be cracked. And my question is, at what cost?” Comey said. “Both companies [Apple and Google] are run by good people, responding to what they perceive is a market demand. But the place they are leading us is one we shouldn’t go to without careful thought and debate.”

In a tightly moderated speech and discussion at the Brookings Institution—not one technical expert or privacy expert was asked to participate; however, several questions from the audience came from privacy-minded individuals—Comey railed on the “post-Snowden” world that has arisen since people began caring about their privacy.

At the link there’s a video of the speech Comey gave at the Brookings Institute a few days ago, but it’s over an hour long and I can’t watch it. From the excerpts, I gather I’m not actually missing much of substance. But watch it if you will, you know, if you’re a connoisseur of lame arguments.come-back-with-a-warrant

*When proles use it, of course. It’s a tool of truth and justice when governments use it.

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A roaming gun free zone?

You’ve got to give them points for consistency, I suppose. The double-plus goodthinking fathers, mothers and nannies of Washington DC determined long ago that only criminals and cops should have guns, that’s the way they like it, and that’s the way it’s going to stay while there’s breath in their bodies, court orders and bad publicity be damned.

Forced to [appear to] recant by some federal court, the DC city council passed what reasonable people would have considered an unreasonably restrictive concealed carry law. It grants all discretion for deciding who “needs” a license to the police chief, and the police chief is on record as saying that nothing short of celebrity status or multiple sucking chest wounds will ever qualify anyone as having “need.”

Living in a crime-plagued area of the city, for example, where killings have occurred or drug sales are common would not be sufficient cause for a concealed-carry permit, [DC police chief] Lanier said. Owning a home that has been burglarized, even multiple times, also would not necessarily give an applicant standing, she said, because the District has been required since 2008 to allow residents to keep guns in their homes for self-defense.

Rather, Lanier said, for concealed-carry permits, “we’re talking about a specific threat to you. If there is a threat, you have been threatened, you are the victim of stalking, you are the victim of domestic violence,” she said.

But that’s not nearly restrictive enough for the greatly-caring Lanier. No, indeed. She wants the council to go back for another slice of the pie.

She said she would like the council to consider adding provisions in the permanent bill that would ban carrying weapons inside government buildings, in parking lots and in cabs.

But the big problem is that proles with guns must be kept far from their masters at all times. Washington DC crawls with masters as a discarded chicken wing crawls with cockroaches, and they do move about restlessly. How to keep the poor special dears safe from us mouth-breathing civilians? How? How?

The bill would ban the carrying of handguns within 1,000 feet of a public event, demonstration or dignitary under police protection. Lanier said those restrictions are vital because the nation’s capital is a target for terrorists and lone gunmen who would seek to harm the president or other officials.

Yes, they’re specifically worried about motorcades. Which are not exactly rare in DC. And apparently there must be strict guidelines for ensuring that only the right people ever carry guns within 1000 feet of one. Oy.

Lanier conceded that it was difficult to provide advance notice of motorcades carrying dignitaries through city streets and said it was reasonable for gun owners in the vicinity of such events to be personally warned.

The current dispute in council, it seems, is not whether law-abiding people peacefully abiding by the law should be left in peace. No. The dispute is whether they should be warned off whenever a gun-free zone appears around them, or whether they should just be arrested on sight without being even offered an opportunity to withdraw from the precious vicinity of a public servant.

Oy. It ain’t easy being despotic.

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Damn, that was thoughtful.

Woke up this morning to a message indicating somebody had dropped $200 into my Paypal account for new tires. That was awfully thoughtful, and much appreciated. Unfortunately the Jeep, being a Jeep, bears tires that originally cost the approximate price of a sultan’s tomb. Each.
buried by money
But with two hundred bux in hand I can at least visit the tire shop in the nearest crappy little town with my head held somewhat high. Maybe I can replace the rears, which are the only ones that really (really!) need it.

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Timing is everything. :)

So yesterday, amid my troubles, a paying gig landed in my lap. J told me just a few days ago that we wouldn’t be making any more arsenic caps for at least a month. This both pleased me, because it’s the most tedious job in all Christendom, and also bummed me a bit because it’s a fairly easy $150.

Then yesterday he said April Fool, they’re completely out of arsenic caps and screaming for more, and could I start on some that very day?

For the record, the point of arsenic caps is to turn the cap of a squeeze bottle into a gadget for exposing test strips to very precisely-measured amounts of water. It takes twelve hours to convert 300 of these…1016140939aInto 300 of these.1016140941 :) Sounds stupid, doesn’t it? But there are between ten and twelve – depending on how you count it – individual modifications in each cap. Each is done by hand, and together they comprise a soul-deadeningly tedious chore. I generally break it into two six-hour days, which is as long as I like to leave the boys alone in the cabin anyway. I said I’d start today, and I did.

What’s that got to do with timing? Well…H has a big diesel pickup which chose this week to go on the fritz. And so she had an appointment to get some work done on her turbocharger this very morning. Your Uncle Joel, coincidentally, needed somebody to offer their cargo-style vehicle to take the Jeep’s tire to the shop for repairs beyond what I can do with a plug kit in the yard. Serendipity!

So now the tire is fixed and remounted, and I’m back on wheels. Which is good, because even with the new prosthetic parts walking that round trip hurts.

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A lengthy and unpleasant morning…

1015141301Tore an inner sidewall on the crappy spare I’ve been using – that’ll teach me to get tires fixed when I can, because now I’m stranded. What with one thing or another I had a nice five-mile walk through broken country which left me very, very sore. Plus the Jeep is down until I can get a tire repaired in town. Not the spare with the torn sidewall, of course: That was toast even before I drove two miles on the rim. I tried to temporarily plug the small tear with my can of “Plan C” fix-a-flat, which did no good. I hate that stuff and would never use it on a tire I care about at all.

The above paragraph made a mess of trying to make a short story out of a long one because I’m in rather a state right now. If I’d known it was going to happen I’d have worn one of those nice gelsocks with my prosthesis. As it is, I’m just kinda lame. It’s happened many times before, and I’ll get over it.

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Life sucks, and then you get cheese.

Poor Ghost.
forloveYesterday morning before shit-shoveling he vanished without notice or trace. This is very common behavior on Saturdays, when our weekender neighbors S&L are up. He’s been doing it for longer than I’ve lived here, and I’m not ever going to stop him.

You’ve noted that yesterday was not a Saturday. It’s quite a bit more rare on Mondays, and so I was a bit concerned. Still I had a good idea where to start looking for him, and sure enough S&L had decided to stay the week and work on their house.

(S&L are retired. In the case of S, that just means “Now I’ll start a business in a field I’m interested in. If I don’t get rich, at least I’m having fun.” So they’re not particularly sedentary people. This time around they stayed the week to build a big garden wall.)

So anyway, S&L were there are so was Ghost, reclining regally under a tree and supervising the work. He did not look overwhelmed with joy to see me, and I did not insist he get in the Jeep. We’ve been through this many times before.

This morning I came back with the Jeep trailer to haul off some stuff for them, and Ghost was a little more interested. S said, “We’re going to [the big town about 50 miles away] and we’ll be gone all afternoon and evening, so maybe he should go home with you.” I opened the door, and Ghost hopped in willingly enough.

But we’ve been through this, too. He gets his Jeep ride, and then trots right back to Auntie L and her wonderful kitchen. No sooner had I parked the Jeep next to the cabin than he was straining to get out. Instead, I reached for the second leash.

Betrayed! Let it be known that Ghost does the best “you suck” face in all dogdom.

But Uncle Joel does have cheese, which can heal a wounded heart. And it was late in the morning, when Ghost likes to nap in the kneehole anyway. So what the hell? He proceeded to eat his cheese and take his nap.

And three hours later when he wanted out, he’d apparently forgotten S&L were ever here. At least he didn’t rush off to the Wonderful Place.

Probably he will again tomorrow, if he hears them.

ETA: While I was writing this, Ghost whined to come back in.100_4435It’s not that he doesn’t like it at the Secret Lair. He just also loves his Auntie L. And sausage.

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Neglect thou not to subtract the tare, Joel.

I’m conducting an experiment. It’s for educational purposes only.
100_4433I borrowed this Kill-a-Watt from neighbor J. It’s a terrifically useful gadget for anybody with a roll-yer-own electrical system, and turns out to have a slightly disorienting flaw that should have been more obvious to me from the first: It draws electricity, which it duly adds to the measure of electricity drawn from whatever you’re measuring. Which throws off the totals somewhat.

Oh, it wouldn’t matter in a proper (big) electrical system. 0.1 amp: Who cares, right? Well, when you’ve got a less-than-400-watt system, those tenths add up and they’re what I’m (finally, belatedly) trying to track down. And right away I started getting weird numbers.

Plug the coffee grinder into it and read 0.9 amps: Well, that sounds about right. Plug a single CFL into it, and it tells me the thing draws 0.3 amps, which is twice what I expected. So I plugged in an automatic on/off nightlight the dogs bought me so I’d stop stepping on them on my way to the loft ladder: 0.15 amp? Wait just a cotton-pickin’ minute here. That’s the advertised draw of a CFL, and the nightlight has a single small LED. No way. It should barely register.

And it would barely register, if it weren’t for the parasitic draw of the Kill-a-Watt itself. Which I neglected to consider.100_4434Live and learn. As always.

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So the government figures you need help using a microwave oven.

This isn’t new and apparently it didn’t catch on. I just thought it was funny.

The weird* thing about it is that there seems to be no such website as myplate.gov. USDA has choosemyplate.gov, which might be what they mean. Damned if I spent a second trying to find anything there, though.

I want a refund on whatever portion of my money they blew on this.

*unless you assume bureaucratic incompetence, in which case it’s not weird at all.

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And here we go.

Came down this morning to outdoor/indoor temps of 35/51. By no means as cold as it’s going to get, duh, it’s only mid-October. But cold enough, alas, that it’s time to begin suffering my morning dose of tension.
It’s not the stove’s fault. This stove went in December 2012 and has never given me a moment’s problem. The stovepipe doesn’t pack up with soot and creosote like it did with the old stove. I’m not burning as much juniper, which also helps.

But that chimney fire almost three years ago put the finish on my lovely new phobia, and now I can’t enjoy indoor fire. If I could afford the propane I’d hook up the perfectly good heater I own but never use. But I can’t, and wood’s free, so here I am. Suck it up, tough guy.

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Best Oatmeal-Raisin Cookie Recipe

It’s a windy, windy day here at the Secret Lair. Sometimes it drops down to merely gusty. Not at all cold, really, but for sure a day to stay in and bake cookies.
100_4432This is the best and most reliable oatmeal cookie recipe I’ve tried. Been using it for over a year and it is a partial consolation for winter, which I hate.

Trigger Warning: Be advised that as with all proper cookie recipes, it contains enough sugar to give a marble statue the jidders. Also it makes 3 dozen cookies, so consider freezing some of the dough for later.

1 cup shortening
1 cup white sugar
1 cup brown sugar
2 beaten eggs
1 tbsp vanilla
1 1/2 cups flour
1 tsp salt
1 tsp baking powder
1 tbsp cinnamon
3 cups oatmeal
1 cup raisins

Cream together the shortening and sugar. Add the eggs and vanilla, and beat till consistent.

Mix in the flour, salt, baking powder and cinnamon.

Finally add the oats and raisins and knead it all together.

Bake 10 minutes – no more! – at 350o

Resist temptation, let cool first. Gratification delayed is character gained.

They’re a sinful act on Sunday.

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Working on it…

It did not taste as good as it smelled. At least not out of my sister-in-law’s horrible percolator. In fact it put me off coffee for more than a decade.

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Sometimes you’ve got to wonder: What’s in that hole?

The sandy banks of the wash are liberally punctured with dens of rats and ground squirrels and such: I don’t hurt them because they can’t hurt me.

But what the hell lives in that one?


We encountered it in a seldom-visited tributary to the wash, quite a good distance from the Lair. Ghost could fit in it handily. If it’s a coyote den, it’s the first I’ve ever found. I’d say badger but it’s too big.

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Cruise Control is a Mischievous Little Dork.


Cruiser’s pen is right next to the one that holds Avalon, H’s favorite saddle mare. Avalon is a sweet girl but a little excitable – when another horse screws with her, instead of going off somewhere else she stands there and gets mad. Cruise Control is a miniature gelding with the attitude of an imp, and he seems to take absolute delight in getting a rise out of Avalon. He’ll reach through the bars to nip her flank, and instead of moving three inches away and sneering she stays put and throws a big fit. Lately this happens pretty much every time I have to clean their pens, so I can’t say I appreciate it. Avalon does not always accurately identify friend from foe, and you don’t want to be in there with her when she’s being an idiot.
Truth is, after two days of rain I really didn’t want to be in there with her at all. If there were an Olympic event in mass shitting, Avalon would be the betting man’s favorite and today it was nicely mixed with thick mud. Makes me wish I could wear mucking boots: Today I could have used them.

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Sunny Morning…

…for once. I heard something about a tropical storm down south of here, didn’t pay any attention at the time but it might explain the sudden spasm of wet weather. It rained all night, night before last, and a couple of times hard yesterday morning. Apparently one of those cells was over the big plateau to the east of here, which drains into the canyons at the headwaters of the wash, because the wash ran some yesterday after the second hard rain and I don’t remember it ever doing that in October.

But, you know, it’s like that place up north where all the children are above average. Unusual weather is pretty normal around here.

I installed two pretty nice new 240 amp/hour batteries in February and could probably get away with sailing through two or three overcast days not changing my routine at all, but instead I treat them like they’re my geriatric grandmother with a bad hip. So I was off the ‘pooter, which is my biggest draw, all yesterday and most of the day before. When it became clear that we’d get some sun this morning I checked the charge just before full sun and it was 11.97V which is as low as I’ve ever seen them and really a pretty good charge considering that they probably haven’t hit float since the first part of the week. According to this chart I’ve got right here that would be a 40% state of charge if the batteries were disconnected and not running anything, which they’re not. With the inverter on there’s always a fairly substantial parasitic draw. So maybe more like 50%. You can’t hurt a battery that’s in good condition by running it down fifty percent occasionally.

If the remote on the inverter worked, which it doesn’t, it would be a simple matter to shut the whole thing down at night. I’ve done that during times when I was having battery troubles, but normally it’s really not worth the bother of traipsing to and from the powershed twice in the cold dark. So mostly I don’t do that.

I’m gonna let things charge up now. Don’t know if the clouds are coming back. More later, maybe.

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Overcast morning after a cloudy day…

…and nothing’s really going on anyway. Just sayin’ I’m gonna give the batteries a break this morning and see how things go. Later.

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Learned two new things before the coffee was cold…

1. Apparently his name actually was Paul Revere. Sort of.

2. These geezers were still touring.

I’m sorry he’s dead and all, but Paul Revere & The Raiders had a single big hit which I loath almost as much as In The Ghetto, and which the pop stations played so constantly it came across like some sort of demented FCC torture technique, and that made them special in my memory. Seriously, when the Jackson Five reached this level of ubiquitous awfulness I pulled the radio right out of my ’70 Maverick and hired a body shop to pave over the hole where the antenna used to be.

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