I’m old enough, experienced enough, and dumb enough to know…

…that the list of possible answers to the question “what could go wrong?” is extremely long. Name a mistake, I’ve probably made it. If it was fun, I’ve done it lots. But I do try to learn from the more serious ones.

And one of the more serious life lessons old one-legged Uncle Joel has learned from his mistake-ridden life is this: Not only must you take precautions not to stupidly strand yourself too far out in the boonies to walk back, you must know that you know how to use those precautions.

Training! It isn’t just for Tactical Timmies anymore. As a side benefit you not only learn how to use emergency gadgets but you also ensure that said gadgets work in the first place.

Point currently in discussion: I want to take the new electric bicycle farther afield. Probably to town at some point, but the truth is I’ll probably cheat and trailer it to the county road. From there the total round trip actually pedaled will be less than 10 miles. But there are also neighbors more distant than D&L where I occasionally do paying gigs, easily within the bike battery’s range but gotten to entirely on rough dirt roads with cactus and sharp rocks and lots of nice thorn bushes. Honestly that trip sounds like a lot of fun and I’ve wanted to do it for several days while the weather’s still dry, but it would be stupid to do so unless I not only have the equipment I need to repair and re-inflate tires but know that I know how to use it.

Big Brother sent me a gadget I didn’t even know existed…

…and I was damned if I could figure out how to use it. Couldn’t be that difficult, right? Two threaded fittings and a dial. But I only had one gas cylinder and didn’t want to expend it until I had spares. One fitting seemed to go with the cylinder well enough but I couldn’t figure out how the other one went on the tube.

Using my spare tube, I finally concluded that it didn’t fit. There didn’t seem any way to make it fit. Conspired with Big Brother, who agreed: There are two kinds of tire valve (I did not know this) and the device is for the other size. It’s the wrong gadget. Nifty, compact and efficient, but it won’t work at all.

Point is: The time to learn that was in Ian’s cool cave with a beer on the table, not kneeling on rocks in the hot sun ten miles from home. Old man not so dumb.

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Got some D news today…

He’s still in hospital but out of ICU and out of danger. Says he can kind of make a fist and his right arm is tingling, rather than still numb. His speech still comes and goes.

Supposed to be about two weeks before he can be transported closer to home.

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I enjoy Ian McCollum’s videos as much as anybody. He’s been doing it a long time now and he’s truly good at it. I fully understand that he has lots of devoted fans, and he has earned them with a lot of hard work and talent. Full marks, no lie. I get a certain amount of (annoying) reflected glory just because he’s a friend of mine.

But by chance I encountered a tribute video that … I dunno … maybe a little over the top? Bordering on creepy? Maybe it’s the soundtrack. Maybe it’s just me.

I’ve got nothing else to offer right now and it’s going to be a busy morning. Enjoy.

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There’s a language barrier but we’re still pals.

“Slap me five!”
“Don’t understand.”
“Slap me five!”
“Sniff your hand?”
“No! Slap me five!”
“Still not…”
“Slap me five!”
“Can I…buy a vowel or something?”
“Slap me five!”
“Okay, look. How about you just pet me?”

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Taking a step back to get something I’ve missed…

The Monsoon has hit pause and it’s gone back to being sunny and really sweaty hot every day. Fine, there are advantages and disadvantages but you know what? I really like taking showers. And someday there’ll be a new water heater at Ian’s place but in the meantime sitting around wishing I could have a real wash is not getting me anywhere. I decided that, despite my doubt about their efficacy, a possible little of something was better than a definite lot of nothing.

So…I did something I’d always dismissed as useless.

I bought one of those five-gallon camping shower bags.

And I cleaned out the Lair’s shower tub, which over the past nearly eight years has been taken over by water bottles and dog food sacks and mummified spider carcasses, and I rigged up a way to hang the bag – and bottom line, it works. It’s not my friends’ glorious shower in the Big City, but it works well enough. Better than nothing. Should have done it years ago.

Now I need to find a shower curtain. Pretty sure the local dollar store has those.

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I like this bike!

Honestly I didn’t expect to. The only other time I tried to use a bicycle around here it was not a pleasant experience. Between the soft sand in the wash crossings and getting my kidneys beat to death on every washboard and washout, I wasn’t sorry when it fell to pieces, and it didn’t take long.

But this is entirely different, and not just because of the motor assist…

Okay, mostly because of the motor assist. But also between the bigger tires and the sprung front fork, I can take it places I’d never have tried taking a more conventional bike. This morning after chicken chores I went for a climb up a seldom used road that winds up the ridge bordering the western edge of the Gulch. Got almost to the top under the bike’s own power, when I’d have had to stop and push it for the last steep bit. The “motorcycle” throttle is fine for level roads but isn’t made for climbing – but even the old one-legged guy can pedal it up any hill gravity will let the bike keep traction on, without signs of cardiac or pulmonary distress. As long as I keep it geared way down low. A real bicyclist could do magic with it.

I met L at elevenish to unload horse feed, which means in all I put about 14 miles on the bike today. And even with all the hill climbing…

…there’s well over 50% charge indicated. Which seems strange because I didn’t really spare the battery although I guess what goes up must come down and down doesn’t require electricity. Still, I’m really pleased with how it’s working out.

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Turn in your weapons, citizens…

We promise we won’t let it get ridiculous.

Yeah, it’s a little old but I still think it’s funny. In a not very funny kind of way.

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“Sell it BACK to the government?”

Lady, I don’t recall ever buying a gun from the government.

So I don’t believe I’ll be interested in selling any “back” to it. But thanks for the open threat. One appreciates a clear statement of where one stands with one’s own government.

“I think we should ban assault weapons as well as large magazines, and as part of passing that ban, do a buyback program across the country so that those who own them can be compensated for their money that they spent,” Gillibrand replied. “But I think both of those ideas are strong.”

The New York senator contended that an assault weapons ban would also require Americans to turn over certain firearms to the government so that so-called “assault weapons” would not be accessible to any people.

“You don’t want people to retain them because if you make them illegal, you don’t want to grandfather in all the assault weapons that are all across America,” Gillibrand said. “You would like people to sell them back to the government so that you can make sure that people who shouldn’t have access to these weapons couldn’t have them.”

“The point is, you don’t want people using assault weapons, and so the point is if you are arrested for using an assault weapon, you’re going to have an aggravated felony,” she continued. “I mean, the whole point is when you make it a crime to own an assault weapon, then if you are found using it, that would be the issue.

Note that she’s not talking about using an “assault weapon*” in a violent crime. She’s saying it’ll be an “aggravated felony” to get caught owning one at all. Yeah, that’s gonna work out real well.

But thanks for clearing up that “nobody wants to take your guns” thing.

*However they end up defining that nebulous term…

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D Update

I had a long phone call from Neighbor L this morning, catching me just as I was leaving for morning chicken chores. D had a setback shortly after the stent procedure, having trouble with his left arm and periodically with his speech. They did another cat scan and MRI, and told L that while there are no large areas of brain damage suggesting a major stroke or anything, there are pinpoints and also an area of “infusion,” where what had been dry of blood was now “they didn’t want to say swollen, but…”

D is really down and frustrated and L was clearly upset, though she said the doctor she talked to was quick to assure her that it didn’t appear D had had a major stroke and he really should regain full function. But the term “six months” was spoken.

He’s still in ICU because things are not stable at all so they’re watching him constantly but once he’s done with that they’re going to transfer him to the hospital in the big town about 50 miles away. That could go on for quite some time, because he’s going to need a lot of therapy and getting home care way out here is pretty much a non-starter.

So – I’m finally going to get a chance to pay back some of that massive ob they’ve been laying on me for the past several years. I’ll likely be spending quite a lot of time there doing maintenance and animal chores, possibly for quite some time to come.

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Pretty sure I heard a wolf this morning.

Lying in bed at quarter to five, I was trying to go back to sleep and Torso Boy was trying to get me up with sufficient subtlety as not to get yelled at. He was doing his squirmy-but-not-pushy thing when he froze and growled, and under the growl I heard a sort of chattering noise which I couldn’t place at all.

I shushed him and was rewarded with several repetitions. It was close but not right under the window, maybe as far away as the wash or the top of the ridge. Definitely canine but weird, not like the yips and howls of the coyotes which we hear frequently though not in the past week or so. Don’t know how to describe it except as a high-pitched chattering. Sounded like it was coming from only one animal, not the pack howl with which the coyotes serenade us.

It’s situations like this that made me want a light on the end of a rifle after Laddie joined me. He goes out to the closest juniper to pee first thing, usually in the dark, and normally I light his way with my belt light. This time I lit it with my weapon light which didn’t suit him – he has a thing about long guns, I suspect Mama Liberty tried to get him used to gunfire and only succeeded in making him afraid of rifles and shotguns, but this morning I didn’t care. I’ve lost too many cats to dawn predators, I’m not losing a dog to one.

But of course there was no sign; it probably didn’t come anywhere near the yard.

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D&L’s Batteries

I may have mentioned that Neighbor D is, er, particular about when and how certain issues of maintenance are handled. He has 16 big Rolls Surrette batteries, (he needs all that because he runs at 48V for his 240V workshop tools,) each one costs three times what one of my new batteries does, and he’s not made of money.

When he was in the hospital 4-5 years ago he fretted about his batteries, which he lovingly services every two weeks, and … it’s not that they’re due, it’s that this is the day. So, because he really will worry about it, I went over and inspected and filled his batteries this morning.

That’s a nice box. The only one I know of locally with active venting. I’d have built it with a removable front because those things are heavy, but other than that it’s a joy to work with.

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News at last!

It’s been a very pretty day, and I’ve been out in it. Finished digging out the plugged drainage ditch, took a long walk, set up a timer on the bike charger, just generally hung around waiting for the phone to ring.

They had D on hold most of the day but finally did the stent procedure this afternoon and he’s in ICU now. Apparently it went very well, he’s had no further trouble, and we’re hoping for the best and to have him back soon.

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By comparison wolves are kind of relaxing.

Other people get all the fun. I’ve heard two reports of wolves today – from neighbors who happen to live close by each other. Both shot over them and chased them away.

There haven’t been wolves in this country since a hundred years ago when they were deliberately hunted to extinction. But our beloved protectors in the federal government, in their infinite benevolence and mercy, chose to keep their human property strong by releasing predators in their midst – and crafty by forbidding their human property to get caught killing the predators. All praise and honor to our beloved protectors in the federal government.

(ahem) Really, exactly what the point of that was, I do not understand. But I’ve been wondering for going on thirteen years whether the wolves released 30-odd miles north of here would ever spread to our country. Now I have one not-so-reliable report that they have, and one fairly-reliable report in agreement, all on the same day.

I got the reports echoed back through Neighbor L, who said, “Oh shit, Joel’s running around on that bicycle now. Better make sure he knows.”

I’ve never seen one in the flesh but from pictures I’ve seen I’m not absolutely sure I could tell a Mexican Wolf at sight from a coyote, except by size and maybe behavior. A few years ago we had a sort of uber-coyote that scared hell out of all the dogs except maybe Little Bear but then that just stopped on its own. Maybe this will too, but I almost hope not.

Wolves would bother me if I were running livestock, or let my dog run loose. But I remain the biggest baddest meanest SOB in the valley. I have neighbors who kind of snicker at my policy of never leaving my porch unless I’m ready to do battle with whomever or whatever – but it has always seemed perfectly reasonable to me.

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Oh yeah! I remember anxiety…

No news yet on Neighbor D. I just got back from town with L for the Monday morning water run, she’s pacing and fuming even when sitting in a driver’s seat but still needs drinking water and they don’t keep 2 weeks’ reserve like a paranoid hermit I know so we had to make the trip even if she didn’t want to.

D got airlifted to a hospital in the Big City last night, and since then nothing good has happened. Also nothing terribly bad. They couldn’t download his – let’s see if I remember this – CRI with background something – and so wanted to shoot some more pictures before doing the stent(?) procedure. Then he got assigned a neurologist who wanted to treat him with blood thinners first instead of a cardiologist who’d just dive in and roto-rooter that artery like L thought was right, she spent most of the time yelling at people on her telephone which I’m pretty sure wasn’t helping but what do I know…

See, there are two kinds of people when it comes to medical emergencies. There’s the kind who jumps right in and wants what she wants and will not shut up until she gets it. Then there’s the kind who waits quietly for the asshole doctors to get their heads out of their collective ass even if quietly fuming and waiting to die – and I’m afraid I’m that second kind. I hate confrontation, and arguments from authority tend to shut me up even though I also hate arbitrary authority. So when I’m in the shotgun seat listening to L building up the steam to blow an L-shaped hole in the truck’s roof I’m picking up on her anxiety and getting more and more anxious myself even though I realize I should be the calm supporting neighbor. By the time we were headed home she was getting positively nauseous and I was taking deep calming breaths myself.

And that’s how I spent my morning.

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Oh, this isn’t good…

Back feeding horses again this afternoon. D’s been hospitalized: Maybe a TIA, maybe a stroke. He was reported better, then he wasn’t.

And it was such a nice week…

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Also butler to batteries and chickens and horses…

Since it seemed likely to rain yesterday evening and today, I brought the bike’s battery and charger back to the Lair with me. I don’t expect this to be regular practice since I’m currently storing the bike in Ian’s Cave and he’s got lots of unused juice, but the manual is almost ominously adamant about not leaving the battery plugged into the charger longer than necessary and it doesn’t look as though I’ll want to be doing a lot of extra back-and-forthing today.

And it’s taking a surprisingly long time. That picture took forever to load given the poor cell signal in the weather; it’s now quarter to nine and the charger has been plugged in for nearly 3 hours this morning, plus probably that long yesterday afternoon.

It’s taking a noticeable amount of power…

…but nothing my system seems to find distressing even in the gloom. If we had any real sunshine I don’t believe it would even notice the extra load.

Whoops, even as I typed the previous sentence the charger signaled a full charge…

…and the charger backed off…

So that’s good to know. I think the bike must have been shipped with the battery already partially charged, which would make sense. It only took about four hours to charge it the first time, closer to six this time.

BTW, it sure is nice to have decent rain gear after all these years. Last year somebody sent me a rain suit – the pants only work if I take everything off my belt but the coat is fine. And recently somebody sent me this from my wishlist…

…a comically wide-brimmed waterproof hat. Which I wore seriously for the first time this morning when I went to take care of chickens.

Unfortunately it appears I’ll probably use it again at noon. While I was waiting for pictures to load I got a phone call from Neighbor L. D is back in the hospital all of a sudden, we don’t know yet how serious it is but I’ll be going out to take care of their dogs and horses today at noon.

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Silly little bastard…

Days are starting to get shorter. Which means Torso Boy’s Favorite Time is getting a little earlier every day.

I’m sitting in the bedroom chair reading a book. It’s sevenish and starting to get a little dark when TB suddenly bounds out of his bed and stands there staring at me, his stub of a tail wagging a mile a minute. He’s already been out for a pee so this could only mean one thing…

It’s bedtime! He gets his treat and then he races into the bedroom and waits impatiently for me to pull the blanket back so he can jump in. And that’s the last he’ll bother me – unless I transgress by watching a movie or something past nine or so, then he’ll come and get me and won’t leave me alone until I also go to bed.

Little man likes his routine – kind of to a fault.

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Okay, then. Assume 20 miles range.

I just got back from afternoon chicken chores, riding the electric bike through the wash for the first time because the sand is knocked down a bit and the mud has mostly dried. That will not be a route open to the bike most of the year, as I expected: Fat tires or no fat tires it’s a handful in sand.

I’ve ridden it in a number of different power assist settings and also kind of abused my “electric motorcycle” privilege a few times without recharging, to get a feel for how far it’s safe to go on my hilly dirt roads with fair assurance the battery would get me back. After this morning’s chicken chores the charge indicator was on one bar under load, two bars at rest…

…with the odometer showing 18 miles. This afternoon I took it through the wash, pedaling most of the way. That’s a half-mile shorter, so 1.6 miles round trip, and that final bar doesn’t last. The charge controller never shut me down, but the indicator was blinking any time I used the power at all.

So call it 20 miles dependable range in this terrain. For the record it’s 22 miles, almost exactly, by road from my driveway to the near edge of town and back. That “motorcycle” throttle sucks a lot of juice. I could do a round trip, I’m … pretty sure, but I’d have to stay honest. You can go faster pedaling and it takes about half the indicated amperage of playing motorcyclist. But it’s 22 miles of pedaling.

I can believe a person pedaling on level pavement with a low to middling assist setting could probably go 40 miles with watts to spare, like the ads promise – I was pleasantly surprised to have gone so far on one charge out here.

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Aaand that’s the last time the word “Epstein” will appear in the news…

Jeffrey Epstein committed suicide in his jail cell by shooting himself twelve times in the back.

No, really he was “found hanged.”

Epstein’s suicide also comes just after he named several prominent Democrats as members of his alleged sex ring.

The article does not explain exactly how a prisoner on suicide watch successfully hangs himself. By all accounts it couldn’t have happened to a nicer guy, and I’m guessing the whole thing will just go away now. Memory hole open, memory hole closed.

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Rain, rain…

It was dripping rain before daybreak. It’s dripping rain now. Looks like it’s going to do this all day long.

The forecast for the weekend is even worse. It’s just a day for a good book and a pot of tea.

But I’ll take my blessings where I find them – it’s actually cool.

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