Care packages!

100_4550Had a couple of care packages from readers today. One of a box of military-grade peanut brittle, upon which I’m currently gorging. Probably make myself sick again.

Another, much more complex…
100_4551Don’t even know where to start. There’s some seriously useful stuff in here, and I’m grateful for all the thought that went into it.

Also – to the person who sent me the $5 for the solar power e-booklet – you know how close that came to going straight into the burn barrel? You send me an envelope with a return address that starts “From the Law Offices of” … well…

How likely is that to contain good news? :)

Also – This is the solstice, the darkest day. From here, it may still get colder but it can only get brighter. Live with a tiny little solar power system in a shadowy hollow, and you find out that really means something. On to the equinox!

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I went to a very interesting party yesterday.

And I just had to look at that title for a minute after I typed it there. “I went to a party” is not a sentence I ever expected to write again, non-fictionally. But I digress.

Maybe this sort of thing is common in neighborhoods, it’s the first I ever saw one. It happened in four different places. We had drinks & snacks at D&L’s. Then everybody trooped over to Darrel the Former Cop’s for salad (and drinks,) then to S&L’s for dinner (and drinks,) then to Landlady’s for dessert (no drinks.) There were like ten people involved, which is basically everybody in the extended gulch, the only absentee being Ian. (D talks about “our valley,” which is as good a description of the neighborhood as I could come up with since it’s bordered by high ridges surrounding the lower ridges containing Ian’s and Landlady’s places.)

Much talking, much food. I got a little overwhelmed by all the people and noise, though I know all these people, but the food was my undoing. And I was being carefully moderate, too, didn’t pig out or anything. I did have seconds on the ham, but hey, I’m only human. Everything was fine internally until that skinny little slice of teramisu and I stopped right there, but it was too late. Up half the night and then up again early with an upset stomach that still hasn’t completely eased. Really, truly not used to rich food anymore.

As I laid awake, I thought about how wrong the original plan went – how almost completely wrong – and how it ironically turned out so well in the end. Continue reading

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And then they became extinct in gigantic wars over which of them got to be played by Hugo Weaving.

Which explains why there’s not the slightest evidence of their existence, despite decades of search.

Why Superintelligent Machines Are Probably the Dominant Lifeforms in the Universe

How can they “probably” be the dominant lifeform of anything, when the whole article is blueskying a scenario with roughly the likelihood of Ringworld?

I’d bet this Susan Schneider is a big global warming believer. Can’t imagine why that seems so likely.

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Someone worked hard on this.

Just guessing, but it’s manufactured in Portland, right? C’mon, I’ll bet it was Portland.

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That’s more like it.


Yeah, baby. Now if only it’ll stay this way for a while.

Cold? Yer damn tootin’ it’s cold. But I consider myself blessed that I’ve finally shaken off my morbid fear of chimney fire enough that the inside of the Lair is nice and warm, so I can shake my ass at the hoarfrost and get on with life.

With all the moisture we’ve had, the frost gets really thick when it freezes out of the atmosphere on clear-sky nights. But a touch of sun dissolves it, as the Gulch remembers it’s supposed to be a desert and not a frickin’ embryonic rain forest.

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If it weren’t so cold, I’d go sunbathing!

Don’t know how long it’ll stay, but the sun really did show up this afternoon. Batteries and boys are loving it. I’m stuck inside making bread at the moment, but once I get the dough rising I think we’ll take a walk over to Landlady’s to see her chickens.

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Did I hear this correctly?

Okay, this computer thingy is my only news source, except for the Jeep’s radio which only returned to me two days ago and I only drive it a mile at a time. So this computer thingy is my only real news source, and I’ve been off it a lot lately. So I maybe heard this completely wrong, okay?

But what I heard was that Sony underwrote this satirical movie about assassinating Kim Jong Un – and really, who hasn’t thought about doing that? – and the Norks got their second-hand panties in a twist and hacked some Sony computers and distributed some dirty laundry of their own, and Sony pulled the movie from distribution? Seriously? That happened?

Because – judging from the fact that CGI has gotten so prevalent I’m surprised movies even still use actors, doesn’t Hollywood employ, like, every serious computer geek in the western world? I know North Korea has a rep for showing off WWII-era patrol boats and there are maybe four working aircraft in the whole country on any given day, but surely they do something important with computers. Even I do that. So how come Sony can’t assemble the talent to make every beige box in North Korea melt down or something? The disparity of force must be awe-inspiring, if they apply it.

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So gray.

Gad, this is depressing. Shouldn’t even be on the computer right now. Today was supposed to be clear, according to that lying sumbitch of a weatherman, unlike yesterday and the day before and the day before. The weather report still calls for clear later, but right now it’s overcast as can be.

I hate winter.

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I lost my leg in 1972. It hurts, and the prosthetic is very important. And since I’ve moved here, I’ve grown to love dogs. So…

…this got my attention.

That’s all I’m saying.

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Look who’s home!


And just to keep me honest – Today started drippy and has become positively rainy. So guess which new thing stopped working on the Jeep, halfway home?

I never completely lose. Seems like I never completely win, too.

ETA: Just for extra irony points, that scan tool I ordered from Amazon nearly two weeks ago showed up today.

I have dubbed it “Pointless Expense.”

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Of the War on Mice…

I saw a comment from Zelda the Zealous, demanding immediate jihad against the Lair’s mice. Took me back to a conversation I had with Neighbor J, just day before yesterday.

J has a thing about mice. He has festooned his buildings with traps like something out of a Tom & Jerry cartoon and frequently boasts of his body counts. His declining body counts, which certainly seemed to indicate that his ongoing jihad was having positive effect – until the weather turned cold. Then the count went right back up.

This has been a bad year for rodents of all types, I make no argument to the contrary. And I am probably too laid-back on the topic for my own good. I have reason for not using attractive poison, but could (and, I keep promising, will) do more with traps in an attempt to get them more polite if not completely gone. Thanks to the dogs, mice and rats stay out of the Lair. The only ones I’ve ever seen inside were carried inside by cats, and I have no more cats. I have eyewitnesses to the fact that I do kill the occasional packrat, but have always left the mice alone because what’s the point? They’re here in their millions, and will continue to be long after I’m dead. I’m happy to live and let live – as long as they will.

But this is the second strike. I mentioned how much one nibbling mouse just cost me on the Jeep, I’ve been embarrassed to mention the mess a bunch of them have been making of my reloading shack. And there, I have a freer hand: The dogs don’t go in there. So at least patchily, I really am cranking up a War on Mice.

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Woke this morning to an email…

…telling me a bunch of money had just been transferred from Paypal. Seems after yesterday’s whining post, four or five people hit the tip jar. Probably enough for me to stop procrastinating and buy those tires.

Thanks, guys. That really wasn’t where I was going with that post, but I appreciate it anyway.

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I really shouldn’t be annoyed.

But I kind of am. I mean, it’s serendipity of a sort. I never have $300 in the bank. Never. Right at the moment it’s closer to $400, raised from generous contributions to the blog and intended for tires – and spent on mouse damage. But I didn’t want to buy tires in the first place.

This is the Secret Lair. It’s the love of my life, the only home I ever built, and for all its flaws it has worked out so well, y’know? But the first thing you notice about it is that there’s something missing. Like an outer skin. And it’s been this way for five years and it’s starting to tell. Plus it’d be a lot warmer if it were complete. That was supposed to happen this year. But it didn’t. Because every time I thought I could make some progress toward raising the money for siding, something broke elsewhere.

Don’t get me wrong, I really don’t have anything to complain about. Readers have been wonderfully generous this year. The Lair’s batteries went bad: Donations replaced them. The Jeep’s brakes went comically bad: Donations got me back on the road. The Jeep’s tires went bald and into that nail-attracting phase: Donations would have replaced them, except now I’ll be spending that money on engine repairs.

And by the way, it was a mouse. An itsy-bitsy mouse ate the crank sensor harness and killed the Jeep in its own driveway, just like earlier this year a packrat ate the harness for the #4 fuel injector. Which has also been repaired now.

And I know I shouldn’t complain. If I hadn’t been raising money for tires, the Jeep might have stayed at the repair shop for weeks or months while I raised the money to get it out of hock. And that quad-repairing project came out of the blue – it had absolutely nothing to do with the Jeep – just when I found my one-legged ass shank’s mare. Which gave me wheels of a sort while the Jeep was down. Clearly somebody up there likes me. I shouldn’t complain.

But I just this hour got the word that the Jeep has been repaired, and the cost is within my current means and I’ll probably be able to get it home tomorrow, and that’s absolutely wonderful news, and I’m mad as hell about it.

Because what I wanted to spend money on this year was the Lair, and I still need tires.

Please don’t take any of this as a bleg, because it’s not. I’ll deal with the rest of it down the road. I’m just venting. I love my quiet hermit’s life, I really do, but I swear sometimes it’s as frustrating as being Mr. Suburban Man ever was.

Frickin’ mice.

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Back in the saddle again?

Just got a call from the guy at the repair shop. It’s possible – just barely possible, in this frequently dysfunctional little place – that the Jeep will be running under its own power as early as tomorrow. And that the cost will be no more than is currently in the bank, saved up for…Jeep tires.

Sigh, but better than the alternative, still possible given this shop’s track record, that it will come out MORE than is currently in the bank.

Given the mode of transport I’ve been using lately, it occurs to me my title choice is almost exactly inappropriate. :)

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Well, these things happen…

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I am not a perfect moron. Almost. Very close. But not perfect.

So this morning’s first chore was to dash into town with D&L to talk to the guy at the repair shop about the Jeep. I was going to phone but they wanted to do their regular Monday trip early, so that was the way it was. He’ll work on it at his leisure and call me with an estimate when he’s figured out the problem.

The regular Monday trip means going to the food store (senior discount day) for groceries and water. I had two water bottles, which I had already determined would fit in the milk crate I’d zip-tied to the back of S’s quad along with a very few groceries, which was all I wanted.
It didn’t occur to me that that’s a lot of weight, and not all of it is over the quad’s tiny rear rack. But everything was okay until I hit the embankment of the wash, when…well…
Fortunately the mud was nice and soft, so nothing broke except the zip-ties. Also fortunately, since I have not yet achieved perfect idiocy, I had some rope and could affect field repairs on the spot.

I kinda miss the Jeep.

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A winter warning for drivers…

In the cold, animals can be attracted to the heat of your engine. Always check before driving.

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What’s going on: Also, history’s coolest gun gets cooler yet.

Although we did get a lot of rain yesterday and some snow overnight and the mud is back to being horrendous, it looks like the promised weekend storm was more or less a bust. At quarter to ten the sun is shining about half the time, the solar panels are clearing of snow, and maybe things will get back to tolerable. Outside temps took their dear time to climb above freezing but right now I’m regretting having put that last log on the fire because it’s well above seventy in here. Looks like the batteries will be fine, and with a lot of luck we’ll even get enough sun to start drying the mud.


Speaking of mud: During a lull in the rain yesterday evening I vacillated between walking to Landlady’s to tend her chickens or taking S’s little quad. I opted for the ride and oh, what a mistake. If I were designing my own quad I’d either leave the damn fenders off entirely or make them far more substantial than these because these are just enough to get in the way without doing anything to protect the rider from flying mud. I’d have looked comical had there been anybody around to see. Given my lax housekeeping standards, when I have to strip down before I’ll allow myself into my own house you know I’ve done something extremely foolish in regard to the mud. It would be really cool if the rain would stop now and let the damn mud dry.

You guys want to see something cool? Ian and Karl have a video on InRange where Karl takes a prototype modernized FG42 through a 2-gun match and kicks some high-tech ass. Go see! If I had a million billion brazillion dollars, I would lust after one of those things. Also, I like the new InRange format a lot. Hope they can make a go of it.

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Synchronicity comes to the Gulch once again…

…in the person of Weekender Neighbor S, who called me out of the blue and asked if this was a good time to tow the Jeep to town.

I could have wheedled the help out of one of the regulars, but there was widespread skepticism as to the wisdom of pulling it through the wash even though I said the sand is nice and firm right now. S offered without being asked, showed up with his big pickup and a tow strap, and it was no tribble at all.

In fact the wash was the easy part, because the Jeep did take some damage. I was watching S’s rear bumper and not keeping my head on a swivel like I should have. He stopped unexpectedly when a car came out of nowhere at an intersection in the dirt roads. I let the strap get too loose, it wrapped around the right front wheel and tore a brake line loose. My first clue about that was…well, you can guess what my first clue was. So there was a bit of an emergency in which I put the Jeep up an embankment rather than cave in S’s rear bumper. He may have found it more startling than I did.

But the handbrake still worked and we were going to a repair shop anyway, so off we more carefully went and there were no more incidents. Then he helped me get that uncooperative ATV out of Ian’s yard, and then we took the Jeep trailer out and loaded it to the top with composted manure for their yard. L hopes to plant in there in the Spring.

All this was done in the absence of stormy weather, which is only now rolling in. As is often the case, the weather report looks to be right but about twelve hours late. So there may be no more posting this weekend: I’m very happy to have my voltage numbers back in high range and plan to leave them there as long as possible in case the overcast hangs on like it did before. Talk atcha later.

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Cloudy, with 30% chance of locust showers, fire from heaven. Boils likely after midnight.

Right at the moment I’m looking at an almost cloudless sky. My charge controller hit float sometime around ten and it’s still there, so the batteries are getting a very nice and well-deserved soak.

Which is good, because holy cow here it comes again…

The funny thing is, the storm is supposed to roll in this evening and supposedly overnight temps are going to stay in the forties. Which I’ll believe when I see it, though I certainly do believe we’ll have rain. Followed by, you guessed it, more rain. By the weather site I use, this is supposed to continue through Thursday.

So if all this is accurate, expect the “Joel only posts to bitch about the weather” thing to continue for the foreseeable future. I was going to celebrate the return of the sun with a movie tonight, but think I’ll just play it cagey and not do that instead.

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