In all his glory…

Yes. We sanded drywall today.

And then we mudded the walls again.

This afternoon we went up the wash and had fun – it turns out my guest is a bit of a rockhound, and this place can make a rockhound happy if he has the right guide.

Tomorrow we sand drywall.

There will not, if I have anything to say about it, be a third coat.

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You need one of these.

I had a bedroom addition full of drywall dust and scraps. I’m about to have lots more dust where that came from.

I needed this…

No problem, Ian’s got a nice one at his cave. I brought it to the Lair last week and learned that, absent brilliant sunlight, it could empty my batteries to the point where the inverter shut down in like 10 minutes. Not good.

Enter this…

…and the problem went away.

I’ve said many times that I don’t like portable generators, and that except in specialized cases where they’re an unavoidable evil I don’t even want a portable generator near me. They’re loud, they’re undependable, they’re … well, they’re loud and undependable. On a job site sometimes they’re inevitable, but I hate them.

If you just need one regardless, don’t waste your money on the cheapest thing at Lowe’s. Save your shekels or sell your daughter into slavery or something and get a Honda. I’m not an all-knowing expert or anything but I did spend a year and a half working in a small engine shop in an area (this one) where there’s lots of broken portable generators. You know the one brand I never once worked on, because not one ever came into the shop needing repair? Honda.

Also, they’re unbelievably quiet.

ETA: I got an overnight email from a proud owner of a Honda EU2000:

What you didn’t mention in your post is that the EU2000 is an inverter generator, which has the same relationship to a normal generator that a Toyota Prius has to a 1980-style gas guzzler. A normal Home Depot-style generator might suck up to a gallon of gas each hour, while (depending on load) an inverter generator might quietly hum along for several hours on that same gallon of gas.

Do the math! Suppose I needed power for an entire month following a hurricane. At a typical $3.00/gallon for (say) 12 hours per day that’s around $36 per day! Times 30 is $1080 per month!

So they’re also economical, which is something I thought might be true but wasn’t sure of so didn’t mention.

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Let us now praise glorious Spam.

Thanks to the generosity of Big Brother, the Secret Lair has something it lacked for several years…

…a staple meat supply.

I’ve always kind of liked Spam (the original kind: Flavored Spam is an abomination unto Joel) but didn’t eat it much because it’s $2.50ish at the dollar store and that’s too much for my budget.

Now new Spam arrives monthly and I could get sick of it if I allowed myself to. This week I’ve had a houseguest who brought actual meat – Bratwurst, ham, steak ohmygod – and as I made my usual breakfast this morning…

…that other meat protein only served to remind me that I really do like Spam. I can get 3 or 4 meals out of a single can, depending on how I slice it.

I’m aware that cements my status as an incurable redneck. I’ll live with the affliction, it comes in handy sometimes.

Speaking of reminders, the temperature this morning reminded me that Winter Is Coming. Right at daybreak it bottomed at 36 degrees, and I hope my houseguest spent a tolerably comfortable night in his travel trailer.

It’ll warm up fast once the sun gets over the ridge, though.

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Sometimes I’m all like…

…I know exactly what I’m doing.


This week it’s probably too late to come to my senses.


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It works!

Scary thing: Build a wall. Do it right. Paint the wall. Give it all the trimmings.

Then cut a big hole in the wall.

Undoubtedly there are contractors and skilled builders who wouldn’t have thought twice about it. I reconsidered the whole project when it came to that one thing.

It took us a while to get the vent pipes cut to the right sizes, (the hot air outlet is concentric to and inside the cold air inlet, which is kind of clever) but then we got to cover the big appalling hole with a pretty vent cover.

Then came the fun part.

It works!

Okay, it’s not entirely complete. It’s built to run on a portable propane bottle with a barbecue regulator and it does that quite well. But just to get it running we ran the hose up through the hole in the floor and connected it directly to the gas valve, and the furnace swiftly got so hot that I became very nervous about that flexible hose so I shut it down. I still need to run it long enough to burn the paint off the firebox so it stops stinking, so I need some pipe and a few fittings. But we ran it through its paces and it does function. The only problem so far is that it takes forever to get the pilot to light with the sparker. Once I get it properly plumbed I’m going to see if it lights more readily with a match.

But it works! It heats the room. Thermostat says on, it’s on. Thermostat says off, it’s off. A person could actually spend a night in this room on a frigid night without needing half a dozen wool blankets and a blasting cap to get him out from under them to go light the woodstove in the morning.

This is shaping up to be a remarkable winter.

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I’m making out like a burglar this week.

Don’t know why I’m doing my own work. The way I’m going I could hire Donald Trump, get him some bigger hands, and put him to work doing my drywall. On my private island.

I’m particularly interested to learn that over a hundred billion people surf the Internet on a regular basis. For one reason or another.

Wonder where they’re all hiding?


Attn: Lucky Winner ,

We are pleased to inform you that one of the best things that can happen to any Internet user is to be rewarded for spending money and time on the Internet. You may not have known that over one hundred billion people daily surf the Internet on regular basis for one reason or other. These Internet users including yourself, pay access fees to various Internet Service Providers (ISP) all over the word who in turn remit surplus funds to the numerous World Wide Internet Technology Companies (WWITC) for the development and advancement of Global Information Technology.

So much money is generated from people like you all over the World for using the Information Superhighway (the Internet) without your being aware the enormous sum that go to the stake holders (WWITC). Without your patronage, this would not have been possible. After we conducted a research on the issue, we concluded that Internet users should be compensated. As a result, we embarked on a worldwide lottery promotion with a sophisticated automated database to randomly select E-mail accounts that frequently surf the Internet. Consequent upon this, your E-mail address was picked for Category “A” Winners.

After the automated computer ballot, your E-mail address emerged as a winner in the category “A” with the following numbers attached
Ref Number: EH 9590 OG 0612,
Batch Number: 563881545-ES/2017

You and other category A winners are therefore to receive a cash prize of $3,000,000.00 (Three Million United States Dollars) from the total payout of One Billion US Dollars earmarked in the lottery for category A winners. Your prize award has been insured with your E-mail address, which qualified you for the lottery and will be transferred to you upon meeting our requirements, statutory obligations, verifications, validations and satisfactory proof of E-mail address ownership.

To file in for the processing of your winning cash prize, you are advised to contact our certified
and accredited claims agent for category “A” winners with the information below:


You are advised to provide him with the following information:

First name:
Last Name:
Telephone/Fax number:
Country Presently Located:
Ref Number:
Batch Number:

NOTE: All winnings must be claimed not later than 14 days, thereafter unclaimed funds would be forfeited after a trio repeated forwarding of this message to you without your response. Remember to quote your reference information in all correspondence.

You are to keep all lotto information confidential, especially your reference numbers and the password of your E-mail address. Since we do not know you, if an impostor hacks your E-mail account ID and claims your money without our knowledge, we shall not be liable. Double claims will not be entertained so be careful. Furthermore, should there be any change of address do inform our agent as soon as possible.

Congratulations!!! And thank you for being a user of the World Wide Web.

Martina Carlos,
Netherlands Lottery Co-ordinator!!

My spammers are getting a bit long-winded, don’t you think?

Ah, well. Back to work.

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Got all the drywall up!

It took. All. Day. But unlike yesterday where we worked all day and actually mounted four sheets of drywall, today we worked all day and drywalled the entire bedroom and closet.

Unfortunately in the course of that I didn’t take any time for pictures.

And right now there are no lights in there, so I can’t do it for this post. Maybe tomorrow. But screw that, you’ve seen a room covered with raw drywall.

Tomorrow morning: The Furnace!

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Sorry, things have been a bit cluttered here…

And today’s not going to be better.

With luck, it’ll be worse.

We got the insulation up in a single afternoon, that was pretty easy with two guys…

But yesterday we didn’t really accomplish as much as hoped. We did get the ceiling in, though. Continue reading

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Received this email yesterday, which I’m convinced is totally legit…

Dear Friend.

Good day and God bless you. I feel quite safe and satisfy dealing with you in this charity project. My name is Mrs.Virginia Dumitru a merchant in Romania. I have been diagnosed with Esophageal cancer. It has defiled all forms of medical treatment, and right now I have only about a few months to live, According to medical experts.

I have decided to give aims to charity organizations, as I want this to be one of the last good deeds I do on earth. So far, I have distributed money to some charity organizations in the U.A.E, Algeria and Malaysia. Now that my health has deteriorated so badly, I cannot do this myself anymore.

The last of my money which no one knows of is the huge cash deposit of TWELVE MILLION DOLLARS $12,000,000, That I have with a finance/Security Company abroad. I will want you to help me collect this deposit and dispatched it to charity organizations.

I have set aside 25% for you and for your time if you want to help me to collect this Funds and also invest this money.


Name: [redacted]

Email: [redacted]

Remain blessed in the name of the Lord.

Yours in Christ,


Ha ha! I will totes “help” the poor lady collect this funds and “dispatched them to charity organizations,” yes sir. I’m off to give all my banking info to an “attorney in the Netherlands!” Nothing bad ever resulted from doing that, I’m quite sure. Then it’s a simple matter of acquiring my private island in the Caribbean – I understand there are some going cheap right now. So long, suckers!

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Sorry, busy day…

A friend of the blog traveled a long distance to help me finish the last part of the construction, arriving on the same day the drywall was delivered, along with some other materials a neighbor had ordered. So it was a busy morning which segued into a busy afternoon. All the insulation is up, and tomorrow we hit the drywall.

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Thank god for bureaucrats…

Without them, how could disaster survivors ever regain their sense of normalcy?

Celso Perez: “We had a lot of trees down in the street and the streets were blocked. We were out here, us and our neighbors, cutting the branches down and trying to open up the streets.”

Later Monday afternoon, as Celso was clearing the tree branches, a car pulled up from Miami-Dade County…

Celso Perez: “And we thought he was here to help us or offer some type of assistance with the trees, maybe he was going to bring us ice or something.”

The code enforcement guy did give Celso something…

Celso Perez: “He said he would have to cite me for having my fence down.”

Also you can’t have all this debris lying about. It could be really dangerous if there should happen to come a hurricane. I’ll have to cite you for that.

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You gotta wonder…

Maybe all this nuclear war talk only comes from the fat little freak thinking he needs an excuse to enjoy launching big rockets?


I mean, I used to enjoy launching big rockets…

…but I was spending my own money.

So they never got too big, and I didn’t have to dream up excuses for why I was causing splashes around Guam. I wasn’t pretending to advance my nation’s interests or picking fights with superpowers. I was just having fun.


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Time to get busy.

very fine house 2

I sort of took a week off from work and worry, contenting myself with the quotidian chores…

…and putting construction aside, because this is to be a momentous week if all goes well. Starting sometime late tomorrow I should have an actual houseguest, who’s coming from far, far away to help me knock off the last stage of the job: Install the furnace, then the insulation and drywall. In short, make the addition ready for occupancy.

(That won’t finish the thing, god knows. I still need a rear porch and stairs. I haven’t painted the trim – or even built some of the trim. Two major cabin sides could really use another coat of paint. But I’m running out of money and year, and I really want to be moved in before winter.)

Point is, the whole “actual houseguest” thing doesn’t happen often and while it’s welcome it’s also an extra layer of stress. So today I have to get off my ass and put on my apron…

Bake bread…

…straighten up the yard and clean off the top layer of dust and clutter from the Lair lest it embarrass me in front of strangers. As usual.

And then comes the actual work. This may not be a heavy posting week, but things are happening in the background.

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That was…very weird.

I’m still learning all the tricks of the magic elf box. I was taking some pictures preparatory to the (belated, I’ve been busy) morning post when I got the picture files all scrambled up by pushing one too many buttons. Suddenly it lumped all the pics in memory up in one album marked “2017” and…made a movie of them. Complete with zoom pans and music.

Did rather a better job of it than I would have, too. I’m not really the artistic sort.

Yike. Still haven’t figured out how to get back to looking at individual pics, but I’m working on it…(phone starts playing homerolled movie again) “No! Nonono, don’t do that…ever again. Lessee, what does this button do?”

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Little Bear update

Didn’t expect to be writing an update so soon. I hoped either the filtered water or the course of antibiotics would eventually straighten LB out, but certainly not so soon or so sudden.

He appears to have had a urinary blockage, which cleared on its own. I noticed last night that he could suddenly make a big splashy gush, where for the past several days it’s been more of a drawn-out and rather effortful trickle. This is only the second full day of antibiotics, and he’s been drinking RO filtered water exclusively for maybe four. That can’t be enough time to actually affect either a UTI or a blockage, so I’m thinking it’s spontaneous.

Of course blood in the urine is a great bacteria incubator, which means he might have been starting a lovely infection even if it wasn’t contributing to his symptoms. Also stopping antibiotics while there might still be bugs to kill is bad medicine – even I know that. Plus I’ve got this big stack of dog food cans here. So he’s going to continue on the meds for the full two weeks unless there’s some reason to stop, and he’ll just keep drinking the same water I do for the duration.

But for the record his little problem seems to be clearing up.

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Do you like chocolate?

You’re a very bad person.


Your afternoon chocolate bar may be fueling climate change, destroying protected forests and threatening elephants, chimpanzees and hippos in West Africa, research suggests. […] Ivory Coast’s (sic) now has about 2.5 million hectares (6 million acres) of natural forest, a fifth of what it had at independence in 1960, according to European Union figures. Most of the losses have been due to expanding agriculture.

This is bad, presumably, because – taking up the white man’s burden – we must guide the gentle, ignorant natives to understand the joys of their natural place. Away with cities, agriculture, trade, and other such contaminations which sully their happy peaceful lives of hunting and gathering in the pristine African forests!

Or…something, I don’t know…

But…climate change! For the children! FEEEEEL what a bad person you are! Also notice how virtuous we are, since we care so much more than you. Climate change! (ah, it feels so gooood to be so good…)


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A neighbor gave me a roll of 16″ insulation, so rather than let it lay around until it was officially time to put up insulation I decided to go ahead and stick it between the rafters.

Fiberglass insulation never used to bother me. A little itching, a little wheezing, no problem. Zelda would have had a coronary had she watched me work in the old days. But now I can’t so much as unroll it without feeling like this is the last big asthma attack and I’z comin’, ‘Lizbeth.

Seriously. A paper mask doesn’t do a thing for me. It was a problem, since the time was coming.

I gave it some thought, and then I brought down the odd-shaped canvas bag that’s hung in an unobtrusive corner of the loft for years… Continue reading

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I’ve always known there’s an army of RV gypsies out there, but…

…it hadn’t occurred to me to wonder what the 2008 “recession” did to it.

The linked article is ostensibly about Amazon exploiting an unorthodox resource in filling its need for seasonal workers (apparently robots don’t do quite as big a percentage of the warehouse work as Bezos has implied) but the interesting part is about what retirees do when their savings are stolen by bankers and they’re left on the street. I suppose they’re expected to quietly wander off and die somewhere, but you know how actual people can be so troublesome that way – they have a bad habit of living on and clogging “the system,” and they’re doing that by the thousands and tens or hundreds of thousands.

I suspect Obamacare’s “single-payer” successor will have a plan for that. Then things will all be neat and tidy and workers won’t ask any intrusive questions. But in the meantime all those troublesome older people insist on living on after their usefulness is expended. What can a giant corporation do but exploit them?

Meet the CamperForce, Amazon’s Nomadic Retiree Army

Before the crash, the Apperleys had been doing all right. Bob worked as an accountant for a timber products firm, and Anita was an interior decorator and part-time caregiver. They thought they would retire aboard a sailboat, funding that dream with equity from their three­bedroom house. But then the housing bubble burst […] Bob compared the “slow-dawning reality” of his new life to waking up in The Matrix: learning that the pleasant, predictable world you used to inhabit is a mirage, a lie built to hide a brutal reality. “The security most people take comfort in—I’m not convinced that isn’t an illusion,” he says. “What you believe to be true is so embedded. It takes a radical pounding to let go.”

I know exactly how that feels. It feels like terrifying shit. There’s a life past it, though I have to admit a camper in Quartzite never sounded very attractive to me.


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It may not cure him, but he’ll enjoy the treatment.

LB can’t be fooled or forced into swallowing pills. It’s like his superpower or something. So I have to crush them and serve the powder with canned dog food. He’ll snarf that down without question or pause.

So he’s gonna love this.

While I was out that way anyway, figured I may as well fill the chickens up on their pellets. So everybody but Uncle Joel is feeling well-fed at the moment.

In fact I think I’ll cook up some lunch.

D&L said their dog Butch went through the same thing a few months ago and could actually see crystals in his urine. Put him on filtered water, problem went away.

But as one commenter said, we really are guessing. At the moment he isn’t even showing any symptoms. I let him out when I got home for a nice long comfortable-looking pee that didn’t have a trace of blood in it.

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Vet: Sorry I didn’t get back to you on that blood test. How’s your dog?

Me: I buried my dog two weeks ago.

Vet: (long pause) Oh.

I’ve actually had that conversation. Word for word. It sort of stuck in my memory. And I’m not saying the vet was responsible for that particular dog’s death, in fact I don’t believe the dog could have been saved. I do think the trained professional I took him to could have been a lot more pro-active – or at least just admitted he was useless. Instead he gave me the impression something was being done, and I waited too long before trying anything myself.

I’m not even a very pet-intensive person, and I can think of three times a vet failed to save the life of an animal under my care. In the other two cases, either misinformation or general uselessness led directly to the death of the animal. In Fritz’s case above, as I said, I think the vet’s fecklessness wouldn’t have mattered in the long run.

I’m not saying veterinarians are bad people. Maybe your experiences have been far more positive. Mine indicate they’re not very useful people.

Oh, don’t get me wrong: If LB had a bone sticking out, I’d have been in a vet’s office yesterday if I had to illegally and hazardously drive him there myself. That’s a condition I’d expect any doctor to know how to handle. But in cases like this, where even the cause of the symptom isn’t known and can’t be learned very well, I know exactly what a vet would do: Prescribe a course of antibiotics and say “go with God.”

Well, I’ve got that covered already. I just needed info on the dosage, which (thanks to the daughter of a friend of the blog who has my phone number) I now have.

I’m off this minute to a large-animal vet in town to purchase amoxicillin. Whether or not it helps LB’s going to love this: He’s absolutely immune to pills – he can spit them out or vomit them up no matter how you inject them down his throat or wrap them in food. So pills must be ground up and hidden in canned dog food. Twice a day. For two weeks. Yeah. He’s gonna love that.

Sorry if this is poorly written or unintentionally offensive, I’m in a big hurry. Have to catch my ride to town or wait till Monday.

BTW, LB actually seems fine. He had that one spell, and I’ve watched carefully and it hasn’t happened since. So far. Still gonna doctor him, though. Also I’m changing his water.

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