Now I feel very old.

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Construction workers must go through this all the time.

I can’t do C until B is complete, but B is stalled because I’m having trouble with A… And I really need C.

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I need to install the upper door before I can do the siding up there. But first I have to put up the balcony railing, because I’m afraid of heights. But first I have to put some facing lumber across the vigas, so I have something to which to bolt the railings. But I forgot that the two end vigas are three inches shorter than the others, because those are actually 8′ timbers holding up the sleeping loft. So I needed to make caps for the two end vigas. Then I cut the first 2X8 to size to cap the vigas…100_5011… only to find (duh) that I can hold it up with both hands or I can screw it into place, but I definitely can’t do both at the top of a high ladder.

So I can’t install the door, because I can’t put up the railing, because I can’t put up the facing, because I can’t hover in mid-air. Which, if I could do that last thing I wouldn’t want the railing.

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So I got an email from Ian early this morning…

Asking about my image embedding problem, wanting to know if I was working on the Visual or Text screen. Because he said he tried it on the Visual screen and it worked fine.

And I almost responded immediately, saying I tried it both ways and neither way works.

And then I thought, “That way lies Uncle Murphy’s laughter.” Thought I’d just have a look first, to see if anything had changed.

And sure enough…
perplexed_gorilla_small1
Suddenly everything is working perfectly. No changes in settings at all. What, did it have to heal from the transplant or something?

Still slow as molasses, but I don’t imagine that’s WordPress’s fault.

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Summer Idyll – And it’s about time.

Well, crap. If there’s a way to add photos to posts in this new, improved WordPress version I’ve so far failed to find it. So just imagine there are pictures here, I suppose. I’ve got things to do. I really did take them and laboriously upload them.

It’s a beautiful summer day – for once. We paid for the mild winter with a long cold wet windy spring. Fair trade, I suppose. But today is one of those days I don’t like tourists to find out about. Not too hot, pleasantly breezy. Perfect laundry day, which is good because mine has been piling up. I’ve been either working off-site or huddling indoors, so I spent a couple of hours this morning paying the piper. Now that less of my preparations are improvised, this has become less of a crappy chore and more a pleasant time in the sun. I did run out of clothesline before I ran out of dirty clothes, though.

Need to get the housekeeping out of the way, because next week things are going to get busy around here. Neighbor D’s coming over to help me get rid of this big pile of siding you guys paid for. Then comes a whole bunch of painting, which is normally my very least favorite thing but which I think I’m going to enjoy this time. At least a little.

Which do you think? Dirt-brown or juniper-green?

And now, if this stupid thing will let me post this, I’ve got bread to bake. Later. I hope.

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Free Claire Fiction!

You ever wonder about that old koan, “If you meet the Buddha on the road, kill him?” So did Claire, with a beautiful result.

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Great. Now Ghost is mad at me.

The morning started out so well. The boys and I took a little walk to Ian’s to put yesterday’s eggs in his fridge. Then I ate breakfast and coffee’d up before hitching up the trailer and going to get the siding down from the ridge. When I went out to the Jeep, Ghost was nowhere to be found. This is common on weekends, fairly rare on a Wednesday.

I was concerned, because while Ghost has been laid-back about the cattle he has taken extreme exception to the cattle dogs. Yesterday the slopes teemed with them during some sort of round-up, and I didn’t yet know what the situation was out there this morning. But I try, I really do, to relax to the fact that this is the desert, and the desert isn’t really supposed to be safe, and Ghost has lived here successfully since he was a round-bellied little puppy. Still LB and I went back and forth in the Jeep hauling siding, and no Ghost ever showed up, and I worried.

Then I needed to pick up Landlady’s good ladder from Ian’s, but before taking it home I needed it for a few minutes at Landlady’s barn. I had completed a new electrical branch and needed to hook it up, which hookup of course was up in the high ceiling. So into the trailer the ladder went, but first we went right past Landlady’s to check and see if Ghost had gone to visit our weekender neighbors S&L. They’re retired folks, and it wasn’t completely impossible that they had shown up in the middle of the week.

Sure enough the gate was unlocked: They were either present or in the process of being robbed. So we went up their ridge, and there they were. L said, “Yeah, [Ghost] came over an hour or so ago, all happy to see me.” He was, however, nowhere in sight. While we discussed the cattle situation, Ghost came creeping out from wherever he had hidden himself.

He was afraid I had come to collect him, and unfortunately he was right about that. L was there alone and was leaving again right away, so he wasn’t welcome to stay. And he did not want to get in the Jeep with me. He hadn’t had his L fix yet.

I finally coaxed him into the Jeep, but it was after the argument. And then we spent twenty minutes or so at Landlady’s, and just as I was getting ready to go L’s pickup went past. And Ghost did not like that at all.

Somehow all this is my fault. We went back to the Lair and Ghost came inside without too much nonsense, but he’s in his bed sulking. Later I’ll let him out and he’ll disappear for a while, going off to convince himself L really has gone. Then probably he’ll come straight back tired and thirsty and ready to forgive me till next time.

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I have no talent for sorting out this kind of thing.

Part of my new troubles with WordPress came from having installed Noscript at the same time. But not the most important parts: The Add Media button seems to simply not do anything anymore. I can upload pictures, and I can manually tag text, but adding pictures to a post – which I like to do a lot – manually requires tedious coding with uncertain results as in below. At least I got the preview page back.

100_5001

Why did they do this? Could they at least have the decency to provide a simple way for a non-computer geek to undo it if I install an update and it turns out to be a turd sandwich? I was perfectly happy with the earlier version. Damn my impulsive trust in WordPress not to torpedo their own product.

Now I’ve got to go do a great deal of work. The picture above was taken on top of the ridge above the Secret Lair’s hollow. D doubted his ability to get a gigantic pickup and large flatbed down to the cabin without wrapping the whole thing around a juniper, and in fact refused to try. So we unloaded the trailer at my favorite turn-around spot on the ridgetop, and now I’ve got to make two or three trips with the Jeep trailer. Then there are a few other things I want to wrap up to clear the deck for the big cabin siding job, to commence next week sometime. Technically I can do the sawing with my house power, but possibly not all at once or at the time I want to. One cloudy day could sabotage the whole thing. So we’re going to need D’s semi-portable generator for saws. While we’re at it a second good ladder would be nice, and I still have to deal with the balcony and upper door, et cetera. Much to do.

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“The rolling in shit can stop.”

I’m pleased that Ghost has come to some new normal in the matter of the cattle. Unfortunately it does involve rolling in fresh cowshit and then coming inside to share the experience with me. But at least if he’s chasing cattle he’s doing it at night and keeping it to himself. This is good.

This morning we encountered two cowboys rounding up a bunch of cattle for reasons I didn’t bother to ask, and they were accompanied by a couple of cattle dogs who were having a very good time. Both Ghost and Little Bear, trapped in the Jeep, thought this was the worst thing they had ever seen. Fortunately I had to go to the biggish town about 35 miles away to buy siding, and that gave me excuse to lock the boys in the cabin until said cowboys and dogs had gone away. Otherwise Ghost would surely have headed out to demand satisfaction. This is going to be a very long summer.

I’d happily show you all the siding I bought, since some of you paid for it, but unfortunately I impulsively updated WordPress and this new version doesn’t seem to think attaching photos is important. There doesn’t seem to be a way to do it. In fact there are no formatting buttons of any kind. I’m very upset about this. No doubt there are ways to do it, but so far the secrets have not been imparted. Let’s see if it will let me do it manually…
Well, I can add a link.
Oh, cool, the preview page doesn’t work either. Why do these people thing it necessary to update their software by ruining it? Is it some strange drug they take?

Maybe it’ll make more sense in the morning.

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Googleapis(dot)com is my sworn enemy.

I don’t know what it is, but it’s my enemy just the same.

For weeks now, Wildblue has decided that dialup speed is good enough for the likes of me. No, there’s nothing wrong with the modem or the satellite dish, they work just fine. But pages load with the blinding speed of an advancing glacier, and of course the busier the page the slower the load. For all practical purposes some don’t load at all.

And so I spend a lot of time looking at this…
screen
…at the bottom left corner of which is this cheery message…
screen2
Don’t know what it is, but it’s a very common show-stopper. I hate it with all the passion in my heaving breast.

Someday. Someday, possibly even before I die, there will be decent cell coverage in our little gulch. And then I’ll get me one of them newfangled ‘wi-fi hotspots’ you kids are so on about. By then, of course you’ll have moved on to something else, like chips in your head that send data directly to your retinas.

Get off my lawn, dammit, or I shall shake my cane at you a second time.

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So this is how the range wars started?

There’s gonna be another one before long, the way things are going.

You remember two weeks ago I said that cattle operation did something witless with their new well pump, and now they’re pumping water all over the ground?

I tried to be polite at the time. It clearly wasn’t done without knowledge of the consequences, but I called the kid who’s been made responsible for these &^%$ing cattle and told him of the mess he was making as if he didn’t already know. That was over two weeks ago, nothing was done, they’ve driven in a herd since then, and you can imagine the mess.

The mess they make on ground they control isn’t any of my business. But that’s not exactly the Ogallala Aquifer they’re trying to pump dry, and they’re not the only ones who use it. At some point it becomes my business. And I did try to be polite.

So when being polite failed, I did something I never saw me doing – I contacted the property owners’ association to see if they’d be interested. Only to find I’d have to take a number, because those morons have been cutting fences and they’ve got the whole place in an uproar.
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And it wasn’t hard to find an example. You can’t really see this because of my crappy phone camera, but there’s no wire between the wooden post and the iron one. There was before, but there isn’t now.

Okay, this whole place is a maze of fences old and new, and quite a few don’t make a lot of sense. This one in particular would drive a cattleman crazy, because there’s wire on three sides of a – well, let’s be generous and call it a meadow – but it’s open to the wash. So cattle can get in from the wash, and do, but they’re terminally stupid and can’t find their way back out. It really could be necessary to help cattle out of this cul-de-sac every damn day, and I can see where they’d get tired of it. Which – boo-hoo – comes under the heading of Things That Are Not My Problem, Because It’s Not Your Fence And Nobody Invited You Here.

And yet, technically, it appears something of a gray area as to whether the law isn’t on the side of the fence-cutters.

And that’s not by any means the worst example. That particular fence isn’t doing anybody any good: I suppose the land is owned by somebody but couldn’t tell you who, they’re not around. But there are plenty of other fences owned by people who live here, and they’re getting cut too. Like some little old handicapped lady I don’t know whose land is fenced but who doesn’t like to get in and out of her truck to close her gate. Cattle got in and couldn’t find their way back out, so snip went the wire cutters. That one, apparently, hit the fan.

Bottom line was that when I contacted a couple of people on the POA board, I found receptive ears. I’m told they’ve already scheduled a come-to-Jesus meeting with our new guests.

But what I suspect the POA is going to hear at that meeting is “Screw you, this is what the law says.” And that’s when things could conceivably turn ugly.

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Cows prowl at night*

So last night around eight the boys got very interested in going outside. Since that’s about the right time for their last chance to empty the tanks, I thought nothing of it. Until Ghost launched out the door, and I heard the mooing of unhappy cattle. LB was right behind him, followed by the sound of a tie-out cable twanging like a guitar string, followed by frustrated barking.

I’ve noticed before that the cattle seem to move around a lot at night, to the point where one must walk carefully. The cows aren’t aggressive, but I’d hate to meet that big bull at night. He already tried to face the Jeep down once and it didn’t work out well for him, but I wouldn’t want to try him on foot.

Ghost, bless his heart, has not been the problem I feared with the cows. He has strong opinions about them coming into his immediate territory, but doesn’t seem to take the pleasure in chasing them around that he did when he was young.

Still, I didn’t know they’d want to move around so much at night.

*with apologies to Leslie Fish

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Gives me new respect for .22 Shorts.

In the course of a long life I never had opportunity to personally use a “powder-actuated driver”* before yesterday.
remington
I’ve seen them before, of course, even seen them used. But I never loaded and whacked one. Now, through a serendipitous accident of the ‘people throw away the darndest things – and often at the perfect time’ variety, I own one. And I used it a dozen times to anchor a wall frame to a new concrete pad and it sure turned a long job into a short one. I didn’t look forward with any pleasure to measuring and drilling for bolts and anchors.

What impressed me was how much a .22 Short blank cartridge can do in a very confined space. It’s supposed to drive a 2 1/2″ common nail through a 2X4 and then into an inch of concrete, and I was skeptical. Figured I’d end up finishing the nails off with my framing hammer. But I used it a dozen times and never once lifted the hammer, so that worked.


*Reviews at the link suggest there may be some long-standing quality issues with this particular version of the tool, so let the buyer beware. But mine works fine.

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Being POTUS would drive me crazy.

Seriously, if I had to spend my days on bullshit photo ops, pretending to take seriously the people who are pretending to take me seriously…
CFoYkOUW8AEOKkC…I’d just flip completely out one morning and carpet-nuke Liechtenstein or something.

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Okay, that’s humbling…

A cliche’ among us small hobby bloggers is the Tamalanche, in which Tam at View From The Porch links to something you posted and your page views spike briefly into big-boy numbers. It’s a rush.

I don’t really know anything about comparative statistics or where TUAK lies on the readership bell curve, but I do pay attention to page view stats. The time is past when I wondered if anybody was even reading the damned thing. TUAK’s very first month saw something like 750 page views, and now that’s a slow day. But readership plateaued and has held steady for years now. TUAK is kind of an odd duck, not really classifiable as this or that, and its appeal is always going to be limited. Day to day I’m basically just talking to my friends, you know, but sometimes I do fantasize that after almost seven years TUAK has become one of the big(ger) boys.

And then along comes Tam, to put me right back in my highchair. :)

A very nice QoD…tam
…shows me I haven’t outgrown a good Tamalanche.daily

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Consider the humble driver bit…

So this afternoon I was playing with my new cordless drill, putting in some new upper handholds for the loft ladder. The originals weren’t terribly well engineered and had worked loosish, and some groggy morning one was going to pull right off the wall and send me crashing to the Lair’s floor. So I had some new fasteners – and rather more careful measurements – and intended to fix that ‘when I got around to it.’

This would have involved a corded drill and an extension cord, but now I had my new toy. Look, I’m not a complete naif, I’ve owned a cordless drill before. But I could never bring myself to pay for more than a bottom’o’the’line cheapie. It wasn’t much to start with, and using nicad batteries it quickly became rather less than that. You can buy a goodish corded drill for less than a foully bad cordless, so I just did that. It works, but it’s a pain sometimes. So this new 20V B&D is a treat, okay?

But as I did the chore I got to thinking. Here’s a bit of trivia: When did people start using household drills for screwdrivers? I seem to recall I was an adult before I brought home my first driver bit…
Industrial Screwdriver Bit - Phillip…and before that, to me, a drill was just a drill. You used it for making holes in things, not for screwing them together. I’m fairly sure I was late to the show, because I always am, but still it was an innovation that started sometime. And I can’t think when it was, or come up with a productive search term.

Powered screwdrivers have been around for a century at least, that’s what Phillips screws were designed for. But when did people start using their drills as screwdrivers?

Anybody know?

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Me so well equipped

Got a care package today! Check it out…
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Oh, this is gonna get a lot of use this summer. In fact there’s an interior job I got the parts for yesterday that just went to the front of the queue for tomorrow so I can play with my new driver.

Thanks, mystery benefactor!

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I did my part for the Ayn Rand Fan Club yesterday…

100_4994Found it on a sale rack at Wal-Mart. A cheap sale rack – somebody in store management apparently didn’t expect to sell them otherwise.

Thanks to Ian I’ve already seen the first two installments: I reviewed the first one here, and don’t really remember much about the second except that it was even flatter and less entertaining than the first.

So maybe only vestigial tribal loyalty caused me to drop ten bux on the set, I dunno. I’ll watch the last installment just so I can say I’ve seen the whole thing, but frankly feel no urgency about re-watching any part of it I’ve already seen. It’s not just bad, it’s disappointing.

ETA: Movie Review: It doesn’t get better.

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Two cows with calves showed up in the yard this morning…

And they lumbered out of the brush just as I was loading the boys to go do an early chore at J&H’s place. Everything stopped while Ghost ran off to explain a few things. To his credit he herded them back the way they came and returned promptly to the Jeep for his ride.

I’m expecting a few bellyaches among the bovine gatecrashers…100_4991A few months ago I brought three bales of moldy alfalfa home and dumped it on the pile’o’mulch for Ian’s fruit trees. Yesterday, when I took this pic, the ruined hay was scattered around and half-gone. This morning it had been completely hoovered up. That stuff would have killed a horse. Are cows, with their more complex digestive systems, immune to major doses of mold? Time will tell – though it may not tell me.

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To the person who sent me that Slime tire inflator…

So this afternoon I arrived home later than planned, tired and frazzled and in a very bad mood because I had just learned I was somehow issued an old man’s eyes and then I spent an hour in a crowded Wal-Mart with my eyes all dilated and that alone would have ruined Mother Teresa’s day, and I was in a hurry because the boys had been stuck in the Lair for more hours than they’re used to, but before I could go rescue them I had to unload 800 pounds of concrete at a remote location.

This picture does not include the two 80-pound sacks that told me both tires on the handcart were flat.

This picture does not include the two 80-pound sacks that told me both tires on the handcart were flat.

And that was not good news, toward the end of what had already been a
really
unusually
crappy
day.

But thanks to you, I had the means at hand to correct the problem.
100_4992And I thank you for that from the bottom of my heart.

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Posterior Vitreous Detachment…

…is nothing to worry about, according to my offensively-cheerful ophthalmologist, unless it proceeds to a detached retina. Which ‘rarely’ happens. So don’t get all freaked out or anything, Joel.

And when it happened to my right eye last month I didn’t freak out at all. Frankly I’ve pretty much written off the vision in that eye: Once all the surgery healed it became clear that the right optic nerve was so damaged that removing the cataract didn’t actually do that much good. Some, yeah, but right vision is still cloudy and my brain edits it out almost completely. So chance of detached retina? Let’s pour another bucket of water into the ocean, shall we?

Then this morning – the very morning I already had an eye exam scheduled – I woke to find the same symptoms in my left eye. White sparks and a floater that looked like someone was waving an almost-sheer curtain in front of me. It was so distracting I’m glad I didn’t have to drive. That’s the eye that showed startling improvement from the cataract removal and lens replacement. It’s been over a year and I still rejoice daily at the improvement. Or I did before today. Now I can barely see.

None of this, I am assured but not persuaded, is at all serious. In fact he said (not in so many words) the condition is common in older people and the only way to avoid it is to die young. It probably won’t proceed to a retina detachment. It probably will clear up on its own.

On the other hand, he couldn’t help but say, “It’s a beauty, though.” Also, it’s “really weird” that it happened one after the other like that.

So that happened today.

:(

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