Gadgets for the Hermit

I got an early Christmas present from Neighbor L!
It’s a teeny little washing machine! And if it works as advertised, it’s going to ease one of the less pleasant winter chores. I don’t mind doing laundry at all when it’s warm, in fact it’s kind of relaxing. But since I never got around to inventing hot running water, laundry in winter can be … painful.

It’s late in the day to try it out and I’ve got bread in the oven, but tomorrow’s supposed to be even nicer and it will definitely get a fair test then.

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Hey, kids! Want to make yourself really popular around the dinner table this Thanksgiving?

Just memorize these useful facts*! Then when your fat, toothless Uncle Cletus starts mouthing off about his barbaric deer hunting adventures, you can hit him with the Cluebat of Truth**! Have fun, be safe, and Talk Turkey on Guns!

* “Facts” used in this infographic are not certified to contain actual facts.

** You should not hit people with real bats, though they’re still better than guns. Actual truth not guaranteed.

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We’re number worst! We’re number worst!

Yay! Since Tam has evolved past the point of wishing to converse with hoi polloi, I’ll just comment here. bigotry is good when we do itThanks to the infographic located here, I have learned that the Gulch is located smack in the heart of one of what the solons at NYT consider to be the worst places in the country to live.

Which makes it one of the best places in the country to live. :)

If you want to learn how to live cheap and simple, situate yourself among people who are already doing that. Well-scrubbed Eloi who think a cup of coffee should cost five bucks minimum have nothing to teach you.

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The difference between knowing about it and doing it

I’ve got a big yellow paperweight sitting in my driveway at the moment, and the large portion of my subconscious that still thinks normal discourse involves bullying and being bullied has a field day with me every time I look at it. So in proper philosopher fashion, I’m going to try to use that in gassing about something unrelated. Continue reading

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I was out in a field shoveling up horse shit when my phone rang…

There really is one sense in which we’re living in an L. Neil Smith utopia. I was all by myself, having hiked to J&H’s to find them not home because they went to town to buy hay. No problem, I knew what to do and was industriously doing it when my phone rang. And I enjoy writing that phrase because it still occasionally seems incongruous enough to be funny. When that only happened routinely on Star Trek episodes, it wasn’t especially believable. But there I was, ol’ Cedar Rat Joel, so broke I’ve no idea how I’ll get Landlady’s Jeep fixed, ten miles from the nearest land line, up to my knees in horse shit and ordering a Subway on my Captain Kirk communicator – which I bought for twenty one bucks from a bubble pack at a crappy dollar store. That’s some seriously cool capitalism right there, yo.

And just to compound the incongruity, I used the same gadget to take a picture of the scenery I was seeing at the time. Kirk’s gadget couldn’t do that. :)

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More on why Eloi should never, ever be in charge

Via Robb Allen, this offering right here. If this doesn’t ruin your morning, you’re untouchable.

I Was Mugged, And I Understand Why

Last weekend, my housemate and I were mugged at gunpoint while walking home from Dupont Circle. The entire incident lasted under a minute, as I was forced to the floor, handed over my phone and was patted down.

What has been most startling to me, even more so than the incident itself, have been the reactions I’ve gotten. I kept hearing “thugs,” “criminals” and “bad people.” While I understand why one might jump to that conclusion, I don’t think this is fair.

Not once did I consider our attackers to be “bad people.” I trust that they weren’t trying to hurt me. In fact, if they knew me, I bet they’d think I was okay. They wanted my stuff, not me. While I don’t know what exactly they needed the money for, I do know that I’ve never once had to think about going out on a Saturday night to mug people. I had never before seen a gun, let alone known where to get one. The fact that these two kids, who appeared younger than I, have even had to entertain these questions suggests their universes are light years away from mine.

Who am I to stand from my perch of privilege, surrounded by million-dollar homes and paying for a $60,000 education, to condemn these young men as “thugs?” It’s precisely this kind of “otherization” that fuels the problem.

For full effect you really do need to read the whole thing – not that I actually recommend it.

There’s a phrase I wrote down on a piece of paper several months ago and have looked for opportunity to use ever since – I think this is as good a place as any.

Eloi (n) – That class of people for whom “Meet the New Boss, Same as the Old Boss” comes as a message of hope and renewal.

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On the application of whiskey to make bad situations worse

Know what happens when you get a little jolly in the evening before you finish all your chores? You don’t finish all your chores.100_4508And then you get to deal with the giant block of ice where your chicken waterer used to be. The ladies are displeased with me. Which in turn is sort of the story of my life.

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Having an unusually bad day – and it started so well.

Everything was fine until 9:30 when I loaded up the boys and the Jeep wouldn’t start – at all. Cranks fine, won’t hit. I used to tell students that’s the easiest condition to diagnose, but that was on cast-iron pushrod engines with carburetors. Now it could be:
a. arcane fuel system problem
b. arcane ignition problem
c. stripped teeth on a timing belt
d. something I’ve forgotten about entirely.

Engines have moved on just a tad since I was a dealership wrench, is what I’m saying. When I quit, they still had distributors.

I already had to go to town because it was time for my bi-annual propane regulator failure. So I ended up giving shit-shoveling a miss and hiking overland to D&L’s to catch a ride to town – to find that the place I normally buy my regulators from no longer sells them. Totally wasted trip, I could have kept up with shit-shoveling instead. Fortunately D&L are going to another town tomorrow or Wednesday, and they can definitely get me one there. Not an urgent matter, the current one still works fine in the afternoons. Just not in the frigid mornings.

Now I’ve got to hike over to Landlady’s to feed chickens. Then I’m going to try this product I was able to get in town, made by some guy named Evan Williams. Because it’s been that kind of day. :)

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No, you can’t have a BB gun. A cop will put your eye out.

12-Year-Old Boy Shot by Cleveland Police has Died.

I had quite a rant going on this, but weariness caused me to remember I’ve said it all before. So just go read that if you want, and we’ll pretend I spent an hour writing it this morning.

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Happy Monday!

Hope you guys are staying warm wherever you are. I am. Sticking to my resolution to stop letting warm fires freak me out, the cabin temperature is up 15 degrees and climbing fast as of this paragraph, from the low of 34o at 7:30 when the dogs teamed up to climb the ladder and bodily toss me out of my warm bed, damn them. Outside temps bottomed out at 16o with no wind, so not so bad except it’s still only November.

Hope you’re doing at least as well, and that it warms up a bit.

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Good day for it, I guess…

It’s one of those awful cold windy days where the only shelter is indoors but the wind is swirling around so much that the stovepipe can’t make up its mind if air should be going up or down. Fire don’t burn so good when it’s doing that.

I am morally opposed to using my propane oven for interior heat – unless I want to, and preferably when I can get some double duty out of the expenditure. This past week Ian brought up a bunch of cast iron skillets he found somewhere and offered me one. I have wanted a smaller skillet than my usual and he had one, but it needs seasoning so very badly. Plus my big skillet which I rarely use also needed some attention.

And having heated up the oven for that purpose, it would have been wasteful! Wasteful! not to crack the door and use that heat for the cabin. See? It was totally responsible behavior on my part.

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Does TUAK need a logo?

Regular commenter MJR sent me a couple of presents yesterday. I never really considered whether TUAK needs a logo, but do appreciate the thought.

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Now, that’s a hitching post.

Once upon a time, my neighbor H moved up here intending to raise horses. Among the things she arranged for that make her yard different from yours and mine, she put in a lovely rustic-as-hell hitching post made of rough round poles maybe 18 inches in diameter. Looked strong enough to tether an ox.

Two weeks ago it fell right over. She hadn’t reckoned with something I also learned the hard way: We have termites that seem to be descended from Cthulu. They avoid junipers for some reason, but any dead wood you put into the ground will eventually be found and destroyed. When I was planning the Secret Lair, the first generation of stakes I used were eaten right to the surface.

H has been taking lessons at this rather odd welding class that seems to go on at all times. It seems to be sponsored by the local power plant, which donates quite a bit of expensive materials and also uses the class for recruiting. Some of the materials the plant has donated include extremely thick-walled steel pipe, I presume for handling high-pressure steam. Students at the welding class, having paid a very nominal price for the use of the materials, may find themselves building the damndest things…
Let’s see the little bastards eat through that.

Neighbor L liked the idea so much she wanted one too. Each weighs on the order of 300 pounds, so yesterday afternoon a bunch of us got together to move them off the trailer. D&L haven’t set theirs up yet, but J planted this one this morning – with a little help from Uncle Joel.

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Another Pleasant Valley Friday…

“It’s a sign of how dull my life has become,” I said to J, “That breaking in this new shit fork may be the high point of my day.” Actually it’s a typical busy Friday: Right now I’m waiting for a phone call to help unload a new iron hitching post that won’t get eaten off at the ground line by termites, and then I have to bake bread. But for the moment I’m home.

That's one week's accumulation from three and a half horses. We used to let it pile up for a year at a time, but J&H got very tired of that. So now I haul it away. This is the primary reason I wanted the new fork.

That’s one week’s accumulation from three and a half horses. We used to let it pile up for a year at a time, but J&H got very tired of that. So now I haul it away. This is the primary reason I wanted the new fork.

Most of the time I take it Ian's fruit tree plantation. This is the second pile I've hauled for him: They take a few years to compost in the dry climate.

Most of the time I take it Ian’s fruit tree plantation. This is the second pile I’ve hauled for him: They take a few years to compost in the dry climate.

Then it's back to J&H's for brush cutting. I give them an hour a week, which is just about enough time to fill and empty the trailer once.

Then it’s back to J&H’s for brush cutting. I give them an hour a week, which is just about enough time to fill and empty the trailer once.

The brush goes out to a spot in the boonies that's unlikely to come back and haunt me. I like to think of it as "building habitat." I'm sure the BLM rangers would approve.

The brush goes out to a spot in the boonies that’s unlikely to come back and haunt me. I like to think of it as “building habitat.” I’m sure the BLM rangers would approve.

And while I was posting the pics I got that phone call I was waiting for. So I’m off again.

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Speaking of dog and coyotes…

Seems there was another coyote attack in NH a few days ago, and this time the dog stood and delivered.

The woman involved in the Monday morning attack didn’t want to be identified. Her 4-year-old dog, Mac, has too many wounds to count and is wearing a pain patch on his hind leg but was credited with fighting off the coyote.

The woman and her dog were attacked while they were walking in a field on her property. Her husband heard her screams and drove his truck to separate them from the wild animal.

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“Geez, we look like we’re heading back to the rez.”

So said L as we strapped a big horse-feeding tub on top of a pickup-load of plywood, roofing, wood pellets and long tools. I said, “Well, we sort of are.”

I saw the greatest thing this morning, just as the sun broke across the desert while we headed out toward the county road. There was a big bull elk not fifty feet away, turned like he was posing for the cover of a Cabela’s catalog. And just behind him was another, with an even bigger rack. I doubt either was in Boone & Crockett territory, but either one would have looked good on a trophy-hunter’s wall. Gad, they were beautiful things. Though they weren’t happy with our decision to stop and look, neither ran away. They both just struck another pose. I had a camera right there in my bag, but it never occurred to me to take a picture.

I yielded to temptation today and bought two tools that were not in the budget, both aimed at specific repeat chores I really wasn’t well-equipped for.100_4507
I’ve been tearing pallets apart for my firewood using a Wonderbar and a framing hammer and hating every not-very-productive minute. I finally decided it was better to buy a single crowbar than to curse the pallet – or something like that. Also, every Friday for months I’ve loaded and unloaded a trailer-load of horse manure without a proper fork. You ever try doing that with a shovel? It will make you dread an otherwise simple job. It seems kind of ironic to be buying tools for a job I’m doing for free in the first place, but that’s just the nature of irony: If I’m gonna keep doing it, I’m by golly going to own the only tool designed for just that job.

Farmer Joel, signing off.

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Going to town early

I have to leave early for hardware and glaucoma meds, and may not be back for quite a while. Given the topic of yesterday’s last post, I didn’t want anybody getting the idea I was now residing in the colons of a pack of badly-poisoned coyotes. Don’t know if there’ll be any actual content today or not. Depends.

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Guess I’d better go back to carrying the AK for a while.

That was very unusual. I just got a personal visit from D&L, who said they couldn’t raise me on my phone, wanting to know if Little Bear was all right.

Seems they got a call from another neighbor who lives a little off my beaten path, who swore he saw a pack of fifteen coyotes setting upon a very big, very black, very hairy dog with another pack closing in on the fun. The guy said he shot the lead coyote, at which point the dog beat feet in (what D&L took to be) my direction. Nobody could think of a big black hairy dog around here other than LB, but he’s been with me all day and he’s just fine so it wasn’t him.

Now, I don’t know the guy who’s telling this story from Adam. We’ve waved at each other passing on the road a few times and had one very brief conversation, but that’s it. So I don’t know how much credence to give the story. It’s true that the coyotes have been unusually vocal the past few days, but that’s not the way they normally behave around here. Packs aren’t that big and they’re not that aggressive with things that can bite back. A “mastiff-sized” dog would not normally be their first choice in victims. So maybe it’s just a story, but in case it isn’t I’m suddenly not as happy with my choice of EDC gun. If the boys and I turn a corner and run into a pack of fifteen mean animals, I’m gonna feel pretty silly with my measly five-shot .44. (Although again, this guy claims to have spooked the pack with one kill.) So I figure what the hell: It’s kind of a pain, but that’s why I keep the AK loaded, right?consistency

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At least it shows they’re thinking.

Okay, so the gunblogoverse is getting its jollies LOLing on the new, weird Taurus Curve.taurus_curve_22And while I hereby cheerfully join the chorus of people saying they’d have no use for this gun – ever, under any circumstances – I don’t like the rush to scornful laughter that I’m hearing everywhere.

It seems to me (he said from the depths of his huge knowledge of economics and marketing*) that pistol manufacturers are just now trying to catch up with the still fairly recent boom in the CCW market. There’s been quite a gush of new, light, itty-bitty pistols lately, and what they have in common is…everything. Other than tiny semiauto vs. tiny revolver, they all look alike. If there’s a substantive way to choose between them, I don’t know what it is. Gunmakers hot to find some way to stand out are busily looking for ways to, you know, stand out. So we get the unfortunate R51, the even more unfortunate Boberg XR9, and now this. Okay. I know nothing about the actual shooting qualities of the gun except that Guns & Ammo gives us the following less-than-glowing report…

With a bit of practice, getting hits on torso targets positioned across an average-sized room (15 ft.) was no problem during G&A’s initial testing this summer.

…which in case you didn’t know is gunragese for “GAD this pistol sucks.”

And maybe it does. In fact I’ll go with probably it does. But none of this is new, or necessarily bad. When I first heard about it yesterday, I was reminded of a couple of recent Forgotten Weapons videos, featuring tiny little pocket pistols – both innovative and distinctly weird, and no doubt justifiably forgotten – from the turn of the twentieth century.

Maybe pistol design has reached a climax state, and the only way to substantively improve on them is to make something totally different like particle beam weapons. Given the rash of failed innovation, I suspect that may be the case. But they keep trying, and that’s probably good.

I’m reminded of something the older brother mentioned below once said to me, when I was a young boy and had just said or done something wrong but not completely moronic: “At least it shows you’re thinking.”

*Yes. That was meant to be ironic.

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Hey, check it out!

I have said before that I have an older brother who is to me, in terms of intelligence, as Stephen Hawking is to Little Bear. We don’t correspond much because he had the misfortune of being born the only social member of a pathologically asocial family, but after all these years he still tries. He’s by far my favorite sibling but you’d never know it by the way I stay in touch. Anyway that’s my story and I’m sticking to it.

Landlady came up for a week of working on her house* and brought a couple of care packages. An envelope of green rustling stuff from Tennessee Budd, and a well-wrapped box from big brother.

I’ve been getting care packages from readers for years. Some are funny, some are useful, some are well thought-out and some do the other thing. I appreciate them all. But never have I received a care package that received this much…care. Continue reading

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