The Secret Lair Siding Bleg got a couple of sizable last-minute hits via snail mail, which are very timely. Thanks to them I’ll be able to do work for which I didn’t think there’d be sufficient resources. (Compared to what I paid for the actual structure, this business of finishing its exterior has become very expensive.)

As you can see, we’ve already installed a door to nowhere. :)

Tomorrow is supposed to be a very bad day to tear off the windward side of your house, but this coming week after the wind and rain give it a rest I’m scheduled to tear down the south side of the Lair and put it back together better. It’s the most complex single job because it involves framing in a new window. The door to nowhere comes next and may have to wait a bit. But I have all the materials for the upper railing. Once that’s finished, siding the upper part of the front will be the simplest part of the whole project. Without the balcony I don’t know how we’d ever do it.

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If “good decision making” was my thing, I probably wouldn’t live here.

So yeah. Yesterday I went to the big town about fifty miles away and I came back with enough building materials to rebuild the Lair’s south side and construct the parapet and exterior ladder. Included in this were three Hardie Panels…
100_4894…which, as numerous commenters have informed me, are indeed fiendishly heavy.

So heavy, in fact, that overnight they quite overwhelmed one of the Jeep trailer’s paper-thin tires…
100_4896…which wouldn’t have been a huge problem if I’d parked the Jeep where it needed to be for unloading. Alas, I did not. So I was forced to the expedient of using the much-abused tire inflator (which, as numerous commenters have informed me, is not really supposed to inflate tires against full weight) to…inflate the tire against the load’s full weight.

Once again, it came through for me. I really do recommend this little Slime inflator. Its lamp never worked and I had to cut off the cigar lighter connector and replace it with alligator clips, but the compressor works much better than I have any right to expect. Thanks again to the person who sent it to me.

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QoD: “Then why let them investigate themselves?” edition

There’s always the temptation – because you’re dealing with human beings – that they’re going to cover this up in a way that makes them look faultless.”

Press Release of the Near Future: “A full and fair investigation has revealed that Fredrick Gray coincidentally succumbed to pre-existing spine and throat injuries while being served ice cream.”

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In which Uncle Joel gets nervous, breaks a law.

It’s been far past time for my annual eye exam, a fact of which I was reminded a couple of weeks ago with some moderately scary symptoms in my right eye – the bad one. So today I accompanied D&L on one of their pilgrimages to the big town about fifty miles away, which they thoughtfully rescheduled just to accommodate me.

Seems I had a little tissue separation on my retina, nothing to get alarmed about, but it made itself known with a floater the size of a theater curtain and some bleeding, which has now healed. The eye doctor determined this, in part, by getting far too close to me and poking my eye with things. This went on for a very long time, seemed like. I took it as calmly as possible – there were no casualties – but I did not like it at all. I may have actually been microaggressed against, or something.

In fact I did not like the whole “go to the big town” experience, which seems to become more like an ordeal every time I do it. No sooner was I in the truck than my gut started to rumble.

Also, once the exam was finally over and I stepped outside, I noticed a sign on the doctors’ brand new building that hadn’t been on the old one…
Which was a darned shame. If only I had known before, what a tragedy could have been averted.
And it’s not as if I was getting away with anything – When the assistant wanted to take my blood pressure I took off my jacket and rolled up my sleeve in front of God and everybody. She’d have needed some of her own services if she didn’t see it. But this is the place it is, and nobody got their lab coats in a twist. I assume it’s an insurance thing, or something.

I also officially spent a whole bunch of money on building materials but more about that tomorrow. It’s after seven and I only just now finished feeding dogs and chickens, and I’m tired.

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Hey guys, check it out.

The Zelman Partisans has taken the jump to a joinable organization. Pay bux, get swag, build buzz.

Go thou and see!

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Maintenance – Better late than never

100_4889I don’t know how long ago, but before I ever moved here Landlady and T bought themselves one really good ladder. It has been involved in the construction of three houses and a barn, not to mention countless trips banging about in the back of the Jeep here or there. It’s been repeatedly coated with stucco, left in the rain, fallen in the wind, bashed with heavy things…

It was a darned good investment, and I’m speaking as the guy who didn’t have to pay for it. But I’d be lying if I said it withstood all that without showing any wear. For quite a while it really hasn’t worked all that well, to tell the truth. I used it to put up conduit in the barn last month, and it seemed like I spent more effort futzing with the ladder than with wiring.

Now I’m getting ready to side an entire (small) house with it, and got to thinking maybe a bit of lubrication might just possibly be in order…100_4890Yeah, you could say so. A few squirts of WD-40 seemed to take years of wear off the poor neglected thing. All of a sudden it’s working like new.

Maybe we need a PM comic for desert hermits, like the one the army’s published since somewhere around the indian wars…

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“My god! It’s full of people who can hurt me!”

Rep. Jason Chaffetz, R-Utah, is outraged to learn that D.C. security personnel did not kill a man and endanger unknown numbers of other people to preemptively protect his own much-more-important self. paulson-scared

Chaffetz said security tracked Hughes as he approached the Capitol last week after taking off from Gettysburg, Pennsylvania. A “judgment call” was made not to shoot Hughes down, Chaffetz said. Rep. Elijah Cummings, D-Md., said officials were concerned about injuring people on the ground if an attempt was made to shoot down Hughes.

Chaffetz said a combination of “lack of communication and some human error” by Capitol Police and other officials allowed Hughes to steer his tiny aircraft within a few hundred feet of the Capitol before landing on the West Lawn.

Chaffetz said he was deeply concerned at “a lack of coordination and communication” among law enforcement agencies charged with what he called “a no-fail mission” to protect the Capitol and other important sites in Washington, including the White House.

Glad you’re safe, Congressman, and that the bad, bad man in the tiny gyrocopter didn’t harm you.

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QoD: “So this is why they don’t let soldiers carry guns” edition

On the bright side, …we joined an Army where cross-dressing was prohibited; survived an era where if you did it, you were expected to keep it to yourself; and were able to retire, fortunately, before it was mandatory.

I only want to say, in support, that the mere concept of being in an organization where someone could require this of me and I would actually comply is a major reason – the specific reason, after the fear of getting my tender torso shipped to Viet Nam faded – I never even considered joining any branch of the US military.

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A pistol shooter’s most terrifying moment…

Is this one. C’mon, Ruger owners, ‘fess up. You clean your Mark Whatever .22 when it gets so gunked up it just won’t feed anymore, and you’re always half-convinced that’s the last time you’ll ever see it intact.

I love my 22/45. It’s precise, it’s handy, I’ve killed almost as many chickens with it as with my hatchet and far more varmints with it than with my rifle. Don’t get me wrong: I firmly believe there is no better .22 pistol for the money. Until I’m forced to clean it. Then for a few minutes it’s the bane of my existence.
It comes apart so easily! But I’m fairly sure there are Jesuits who got through their full training with less trouble – and less anxiety – than I spend getting the damned thing back together again. I have one antediluvian .pdf file that has followed me from computer to computer like a faithful minion, and if I ever lose it I’m lost. Lost.
I’m never certain of success until I’ve stepped out to the target and put half a dozen rounds through it. Then I can forget the whole ordeal until next time, a few bricks down the road.

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Can you set somebody on fire with muzzle blast?

Ian and Karl say yes, as a matter of fact you can. In fact with the right materials and under the right circumstances, it’s surprisingly easy.

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Getting ready for construction season on the Lair, and I’m intimidated by the imperative that certain tasks must and will be performed in a certain order, or all hell will ensue.

I was finally forced to sit down and actually organize those tasks on paper, and it occurred to me that the materials I need for accomplishing them are scattered all the hell over the place, squirreled away here and there. So I figured this morning’s task would be to get them all where they need to be, rather than where they are.
Friday I’m going to the big town about fifty miles away, and hope to return with enough materials that I can start tearing out the south side of the lair, and also put up the railing for the balcony/fire escape. So I need the little upstairs door. This is gonna be darned peculiar-looking, before it’s done…
The Lair’s going to have two doors, one right on top of the other, for no immediately apparent reason. :) You see that lighter spot on the OSB over the door? That’s where there’s no insulation or interior siding, and so the OSB weathered differently. All I have to do is cut that out, and I can install the small pre-hung door that’s been stashed in the barn for years’n'years, waiting for its moment.

The Secret Lair Siding Bleg is officially over now. Thanks very much to everyone who kicked in. We didn’t get everything we needed for a Cadillac job, but then the Lair isn’t really a Cadillac sort of place. We did get everything we need, and that’s the way these things normally work out. The Lair will be a far more comfortable place to live come Monsoon and winter, and I’m obliged to you for your help.

BTW, private to S: My lovely and talented assistant, who’s going to help me with the exterior siding, very politely invited me to go straight to hell when I suggested that stripping the Lair to the studs and replacing all the insulation and OSB might be part of the task. So, I appreciate the thought but no thanks. Not even going to contemplate trying to do it by myself.

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Sometimes life leaves you nothing.

Nothing to write about, that is. I just spent a fine, invigorating morning doing a great deal of good semi-skilled gulchy stuff, which normally I’d be pleased to crow about on the blog, except it was on behalf of some people who simply don’t wish to appear here. Nothing illegal, immoral or fattening, just private. You get people like that in the desert. Go figure.

I do, however, want to shout out to my neighbors D&L, who rescheduled their planned trip to the big town about fifty miles away just so that I could make an ophthalmologist appointment. Seems I have to do that every year or so or they’ll stop renewing my eyedrop prescriptions. So I’m going there on Friday. Good neighbors are essential when you don’t (publicly) drive.

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The three most complimentary words for a freelancer’s employer…

…are “They,” “Pay,” and “Promptly.”

Just got back from town. I had a wan hope of a check from Backwoods Home for that article they accepted last month. There’s a lot of back-and-forth in snailmail regarding contracts and so forth, and with my mailing travails a mere month would be a very short turnover. So I wasn’t really expecting a check, just thinking about one.

Probably just because of inflation this would be my biggest single payday for a feature article ever. Not that I’m gonna set up my coach and four or anything, just that feature writing doesn’t pay all that well. I’ve been paid much more for writing gigs, but they tended to involve the operations manual for some company’s proprietary database or some other company’s revisionist history (Hint: Yes, Mitsubishi was involved in World War II despite anything you might have failed to learn from what I wrote in its official history, which completely omits its most famous product.) In short, there’s writing what you want to write and then there’s writing what some company hired you to write. The second one pays one helluva lot better.

Back in the day I used to write features when I could get them even though I already spent most of my everloving day writing for money. They didn’t pay squat and I used to catch hell from my wife over them, but I had this fading dream of being a fiction writer back then and writing features let me feel like a ‘writer.’

Anyway: I got the check! Yay! It doesn’t exactly end my money troubles since I don’t exactly have a bank account into which to deposit the check, but it’s a giant step in the right direction.

If anybody happens to see the actual article at BHM – you’ll probably recognize it – be sure to let me know.

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Remember, boys and girls! Mr. Policeman is your friend!

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Must be getting old!

After (mumble mumble*) years of reloading, I produced my very first squib!
100_4879Don’t know how it happened, since I’ve got procedures specifically designed to prevent** no-charge and double-charge loads. I’ve seen what happens when a bullet gets stuck halfway up a barrel with another on its way right behind it, and I’ve gone to some lengths to avoid having it happen to me.

On the other hand I learned something new about what results when this happens in a revolver: The bullet gets stuck between the cylinder and the forcing cone, and You. Are. Done. Shooting. Ain’t nothin’ on the gun gonna work until you fix it.

Thing is, I didn’t hear the primer pop, which seems weird since I had my Peltors on and should have heard it fine. So it came as quite a surprise when the gun just hung completely up in every possible way. Even after it became clear that the bullet was stuck, I assumed the crimp had failed somehow. Which meant I had to force back the bullet on a live round, which didn’t really thrill me. I didn’t know it was a squib until I’d forced the bullet back into the case so I could get the damn thing out of the gun.

The brass is all covered with soot, and the primer’s pushed a bit out of the pocket which we’ve established is a sign of very low pressure. I tried pressing the bullet back into the case with a drift punch, but was forced to timidly tap the whole thing against the anvil of my bench vice to drive it in before I could free up the action.

Once I’d fixed it I went back and shot the rest of that fifty with no further problem.

*I really had to think about this. Give or take a couple of years, I’ve been reloading off and on for about 40 years. And this has never happened to me, though it came close that time many years ago when I learned reloading and television do not mix.

**More like ‘reduce the likelihood of,’ I suppose…

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Came on quite suddenly in the late afternoon. As of elevenish when I finally stumbled off to bed I could see to read again and my head didn’t hurt too badly, but I was still having these distracting little hallucinations off at the corners of my vision.
Though some are worse than others and this one wasn’t dreadful, I’m still not always good for much for a day or so after.

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Sure, they’re for when you want to walk your chicken.

Doesn’t everybody have one?
h/t to Landlady.

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The (hopefully) brief, amusing reign of Hillvetica

People are already having fun with Hillary’s misbegotten Progresso-H logo, to the point that it has spawned an entire typeface. Go thou and enjoy.



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…and we haven’t had a more wintery day since early February!

I intended to spend this blustery day, which might possibly crawl its sorry ass up into the low fifties by mid-afternoon, cocooned in the Lair reading a good book. But that doesn’t hold the charm for me that it used to. I do hope this means I’m becoming a better, more industrious person like my neighbor D, and not just that I’m losing what remains of my attention span.

Anyway, it’s spring. Flowers bloom!
And I’m wandering around looking for something to do. How about a visit to the reloading shack?
2I’ve still got a hundred or so sized and primed .44 cases I could load…
3It’d be a pity to waste a pretty day doing that. Boring task.

Also, it doesn’t take very long. While the boys snoozed in the cabin I wandered over to Landlady’s place to check on #2, who’s acting perfectly healthy today. Snagged a drywall square while I was there, because I just thought of a quick chore I could do…
4The floor’s been rotting out of the Jeep trailer for forever, but it’s really about to cave in. It would take about fifty dollars worth of lumber to fix it right, and then I’d only find that the bolts are frozen for all of time…
100_4874But it just so happens I recently scrounged a whole sheet of plywood too warped and rat-fouled to use for anything else. Didn’t know what I wanted to do with it when I picked it up, but it occurred to me I can probably get another couple of years out of the trailer’s floor if I overlay it with this. So that’s what we’re doing this afternoon before evening chores.

Probably time for a nap in there somewhere, too. It’s really an indoor day.

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Not quite as easy as E. E. Smith made it look…

Allllmost. Keep trying, guys.

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