Sometimes you just gotta nap, I guess…

Wow, I just spent four hours unconscious and it literally couldn’t have come at a better time. I’m happy to be of service to my friends but I won’t deny I’d like to go home now, and having that event delayed by even a couple of days kind of depressed me. So even though old Uncle Joel really isn’t much of a napper, when I got a little sleepy around eleven I went with that. To my surprise I fell right to sleep and woke up at three – just in time to meet the mail carrier for the very first time in three weeks because it turns out this was the day the vacation hold came off my friends’ mail. So I blew off four hours of boredom, caught up with my sleep, and still didn’t miss the mail. That’ll do for a good day, by recent standards.

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The Stick of Despair

Woke this morning to learn my friends’ return has been delayed. Only slightly, won’t really change anything, but still. “Delay” is not, at this point, good news.

My cerebral function having come almost entirely to a halt, I’ve been sitting here watching videos of this guy carving walking sticks. The videos contain a certain percentage of folksy bullshit but he’s quite skillful at producing photorealistic rattlesnake carvings. He has clearly given rattlesnakes a lot of thought, and I’m impressed by his patience for detail.

This morning’s stick depicting the last moments of a mouse that has attracted a snake’s attention kind of matches my mood…

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Pet. Peeve.

I’m so bored. Going on three weeks here at my friends’ house, and (if I correctly recall) only a few days before I can go home. It’s Sunday afternoon and I’m drinking wine and burning up their wifi watching Youtube videos more or less at random because the alternative is … I forget if there’s an alternative.

Anyway. Longtime readers know that Uncle Joel has kind of a knife problem. I can watch a hundred reviews of a hundred guns without my heart going pitty-pat but I want every knife I see advertised despite already having a very nice EDC knife and a pretty damned nice backup knife and two or three perfectly serviceable backup backup knives. It’s positively silly to collect working knives – but I’d do it if I could afford to.

Which is why I’ve been privately having adulterous thoughts lately. Not long ago Ian brought home a Terävä Jääkäripuukko (Yeah, I looked that up, because I no longer have a life) which is a modernized take on the Finnish Puukko and is sold by Varusteleka. I ALREADY HAVE A PUUKKO, I KEEP IT IN THE JEEP AND NEVER USE IT AND I ABSOLUTELY DON’T NEED ANOTHER ONE but I acknowledge that I’m powerless against knife addiction and my life has become unmanageable and that’s not even the pet peeve to which I earlier alluded.

This shit is. Just stop watching after the first few seconds, because it’ll rot your brain…


See what he did there? Did you see that? I haven’t even watched past the first ten seconds of that excerpt, because I no longer have any respect for the idiot’s opinion. The very first thing he does with the knife is start beating on it with a heavy stick. Somehow “batoning” has become the most important thing any working knife can do – if a knife won’t survive severe abuse, it must be just no damned good.

Look, I won’t even try to claim I’ve never done it. Actually I did it for weeks, the first winter I lived in the Secret Lair because I didn’t own a hatchet for splitting kindling. Cold Steel UWK, and it worked fine – but I was still aware with every painful concussion that I was abusing the knife through poor planning: I never tried to fool myself into believing that’s what the knife was for. And then I got a hatchet and in eight years I’ve never done it since.

Seems like every knife review on every video, “batoning” is the very first thing the reviewer wants to show me. And it’s idiotic, is all I’m saying.

Okay, I’m done.

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So if you ever wondered where “crime guns” come from…

This news story suggests the chain of custody is circular. The government steals’em from criminals or “criminals.” Then somebody steals’em from the government and sells’em to genuine criminals, since the rest of us wouldn’t dare touch’em. Then the government ends up with’em again…

ATF Caught w/ Pants Down, Scrambling to Find Thousands of Firearms Stolen from Facility

The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms (ATF) found itself in hot water last week when an investigation by the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel revealed that thousands of firearms and firearm parts had been stolen from an ATF gun-destruction facility in West Virginia.

According to the report, a contract security guard at the facility has been stealing federal property since 2016, including automatic rifles, semi-automatic handguns, Glock slides, magazines, and scopes. The ATF is being cagey about how many firearms the guard stole, but his plea agreement indicates that he nabbed at least 3,000 Glock slides, over 4,000 firearm parts, fifteen rifles, eighty handguns, and nine NFA Class III firearms.


h/t to Mutti

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Things that make me want to take up needlepoint…

…because I need this sign in my kitchen…


I overslept for an hour and would still be in bed if Torso Boy hadn’t reached Peak Bladder and started licking my nose to move things along. It’s after six and I’m only about half an inch into first coffee, so leave me alone. Under the circumstances I got a kick out of this.

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I am not a bicyclist…

I’m just an old one-legged guy trying to get to the market before it gets hot.

Thought about that as I was laboriously pedaling the mile and a half to the Trader Joe’s this morning, heard “on your left” behind me, and got contemptuously passed by a guy on a skinny racer bike who made me mutter, “You’re not a superhero, you’re just a dweeb in brightly-colored Spandex.”

I saw a lot of brightly-colored Spandex this morning, particularly on a crowd of elderly morning bicyclists meeting at the “Bakery Cafe.” Yup, matching bike jerseys with faux-sponsorships splashed all over them as if they’d just stopped off from the Tour de France to have a croissant before entering the winner’s circle or whatever bike racers do. I thought it was … cute. I guess.

But I’m just an old guy trying to get to the market before the heat makes it unpleasant.


…and having missed the opportunity to stay up with trends in morning snackeries, I prefer Dunkin’ Donuts.

This is a very nice city, I’m sure. I mean no insult… Continue reading

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I like this little flashlight.

Regular readers know I normally carry a bunch of stuff on my belt and so don’t normally have a lot of use for a penlight. But for the past few weeks I’ve gone with virtually nothing on my belt and so adjustments have been required. I have a good folding knife that seldom comes out of the drawer – check. I have a semiautomatic and an IWB holster – reluctantly check. And thanks to a Generous Reader, just barely in time for this trip I have a new pocket flashlight…


…and I was interested to see how it holds up against my normal expectations – and honestly whether I would even end up carrying a flashlight at all. I never used to before I moved to the boonies, and got along just fine. But for many years I’ve lived in a place with lots of little utility outbuildings and without ubiquitous electric light, and would no sooner go without my flashlight than without boots so I’m used to having one around. And it turns out that yes, even in this strange world with lots of lights everywhere a handy flashlight is still … handy.


Getting that basket back on its track in the dark is a hassle.

Anyway, for the past few weeks I’ve been using this little thing, and except for missing my belt sheath I kind of like it. It’s an LED, runs on one AAA battery with three light modes, none of which are flashy annoyances. It’s not a “tactical” light’em up till their eyes bleed and then stab’em with the pointy bits light, it’s just a very handy and surprisingly bright little tool. Unlike my usual BLF


…which is substantially bigger, heavier and more expensive, I actually like the pocket clip on the little Lumentop. It’s substantial and reversible and won’t pop off into the nothin’ without notice. Clip this bitsy thing to your hatbrim and you won’t even know it’s there except for the light. I can’t yet speak for the overall battery life but my trip is soon to come to an end and it hasn’t let me down yet and AAAs are cheap, so it’s all good. I can recommend it.

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I’ve been trying to understand World War One…

…for decades, really. It seems, in the glorious clarity of my uneducated hindsight, to have been the most avoidable of wars. And it does seem that one of the causal factors was how few influential people really wanted to avoid it. I mean I tend to put all the blame on Kaiser Wilhelm but that’s clearly not all there is to it. Wilhelm could have simply invaded France any time he wanted and no doubt eventually he would have, it’s not as though he needed Austria to invade Serbia first, but already I digress.

My point is, sometimes really bloody wars start for really silly reasons and I wonder if I’m watching one start now.

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An innovative use for stretch film in making a bush shelter…

This Russian guy is cool. He’s a St. Petersburg lawyer who spent a few years of summer vacations building a log cabin. Here he shows how he built surprisingly long-lived temp structures with saplings and stretch film, a material I wouldn’t have considered…


I doubt this would work for very long anywhere UV is a consideration. But as a quick way to waterproof a structure without having to figure out how to fold a tarp just right, it’s clever.

The second temp structure is a hoop shed, with which I have some experience. Always a good design, simple and windproof, if you don’t mind open ends.

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Okay, this is ironic.

Indoor temperature is beginning to climb. Those linemen I mentioned the other day, who have been laying new cable every day this week, shut off the power without notice this morning. It’s only been an hour or two so far but that’s enough to begin to make itself felt – these houses aren’t meant for use without air conditioning.

The workers are aware of that and I’m reasonably confident that they plan to reconnect the power before there are headlines and lawsuits about dead geezers – they do this all the time. But the irony of the situation does not escape me. At home, where the electrical service consists of whatever half-assed contraption you built, this doesn’t happen. The houses aren’t dependent on air conditioning, for one thing – the windows open. Nobody would ever be stupid enough to let their life depend on home-grown electricity, and even if they did there’s nearly always a Plan B even if it’s only a generator. Finally, nobody gets to pull a switch and shut off your power without you getting a vote. Yeah – that’s the way it’s done when a bunch of redneck amateurs run around loose.

So to actually find myself without power and without any backup plan but to wait and hope, I had to come to the big city where professionals are in charge. Swell.

BTW I’m pecking this post out on my phone because of course there’s no wifi.

ETA: My faith in the power guys was not misplaced, the power came back on about fifteen minutes after I posted the above.

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Good news for San Francisco vapers…

e-cigarettes are about to be banned in San Francisco. Which, if SF logic holds constant, means e-cigs are about to be handed out free. Because once a practice is declared socially deviant it becomes enshrined as a human right and must thereafter be subsidized.

Hey, don’t look at me. That really seems to be the way it works. I’ve been to San Francisco: It used to be a nice place.

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Huh. I thought this was a dead practice…


A lineman working with spikes and a belt. Didn’t know anybody still did that.

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Little tiny prairie dogs…

The place is crawling with them, about the size of small chipmunks. I think of prairie dogs as field-ruining plague-carrying vermin, but around here they’re like yard squirrels.


It’s funny to watch them, though – out in the driveway using the side wall as a blind. When I packed to come here I considered and rejected the idea of bringing those iPhone lenses Big Brother gave me, and regretted the decision my very first full day here. With a long lens and a tripod I could get pics, but really not without. They cavort all over the place at all times except when they detect an outdoor human.

Wish I knew what variety they are. They’re too small to be black-tail, which is the only kind I’m familiar with. So far the Internet isn’t much help.

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Here’s a good way to start your day…

Willie covering the old Mac Davis guy anthem!

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Always wanted to know how to do this…

Karl gives us the inside scoop on shotgun speedloading for 3-gun competition.

I see what I’ve been doing wrong now!

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Torso Boy out-thought by a Roomba…

This is the only picture you will ever see of Torso Boy in the same room with a Roomba.


And that only because he was outflanked and momentarily surrounded. The next picture, if I’d held the button down, would have been a fat little ginger streak in the lens as he took advantage of my diversionary action on his behalf.

Yes, it’s cleaning day. By, you know, an old hermit’s standards. I wouldn’t expect gleaming walls or anything…

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“Mom? Does your rifle ever feel…not so fresh?”

Sometime last year I bought something for my rifle from Midwayusa.com. It was the first and probably only time but also kind of a gift that keeps on giving because now Midway won’t leave me alone. And I don’t complain a lot because sometimes, even though I have no plans to ever buy anything else rifle-related online, I get a link to something entertaining.

For example…how about a cleaning jig and electric toothbrush for your AR?


That’s either the silliest thing I’ve ever seen or a tool I didn’t know I couldn’t live without – if I had an AR. I think that with a clearance price of a hundred bux, I’m gonna go with that first thing. Cool idea, though. I…guess…

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Grocery Day

Left at quarter past five, found out the Wal-Mart is not in fact open 24/7. Fortunately it opens at six. So I took a walk around to the other end of this big shopping center where there’s a Dunkin’ Donuts. Judging from its early clientele the franchise is headed for the dumpster of history, because I fit right in: A whole bunch of elderly people with nothing better to do before six in the frickin’ ayem than meet at the Dunkin’ fergodsake Donuts joint. And for once I didn’t need to act like anything other than what I am. Yup, I’m old.

Anyway…


Got back about quarter to seven. The trip out is slightly net uphill, plus this morning there was a bit of an outbound headwind so happily coming back is the easy part. This is why I was obsessing a couple of weeks ago over where the hell I hid my backpack. Poor thing’s filthy: I wonder if there are online instructions for cleaning one?

Somebody, I think Coloradohermit, asked about how the bread came out…


Pretty darned good, really. I noted that the texture and crumb were “weird,” and was interested myself in finding out whether weird meant worse. Actually I believe the reduction in altitude solved some longstanding complaints. Love the way it rose, I usually get a noticeable difference in density between the top and bottom of the loaf because it normally doesn’t rise evenly. It has a very pleasant texture – it actually formed a crust, which I’d given up wishing for. Tastes about the same, of course.

And now that the groceries are put away and I’m done dinking around, I’m going to have my hot shower. Hot shower! I’m going to miss them. Think I’m gonna start bugging Ian about fixing the one in the Cave.

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How to know you’re living in the right place…

Step 1: Leave home and note how you feel about returning.

I’m in a very pleasant room at this moment. It’s 6:00 as I type this sentence. I have coffee before me, breakfast on the griddle, sunshine peeking through a sunroof, some nice writing equipment sitting on a lovely marble-ish island in a – well, very pleasant – great room of a house – hardly a Detroit tracthouse, not really a McMansion, just a nice house in a nice neighborhood on the outskirts of what is probably a nice city.

And I just caught myself studying a calendar of the month of June…


…and then pacing around the lovely kitchen doing elementary arithmetic in my head.

“Let’s see…if I’ve been here nine days, and there’s twelve days to go … that means I’ve been here three-eighths – No! Three-sevenths! Of the total time. Right? Before I can go home.”

Point is I’m not exactly being tortured. I could even be doing a lot more stuff than I’m doing. It’s hot in the middle of the day, sure, ridiculously hot, but it’s not hot at the moment and I could be out getting all the exercise I want. Tomorrow I’ll probably saddle up and go to the stores again because I’ve run out of the “exotic” stuff I bought last week. Not looking forward to it. I’m aware that I’m pissing away time that Claire would be all using for contemplative stuff – she’d have had the answers to half the world’s spiritual conundra neatly tied in a bow by now – but I’m dividing my time between reading old ebooks, watching old movies, staring out windows, alternately messing up and scrubbing the kitchen, and pacing and fretting. I’m like that unhappy monk who knows he’s supposed to be a contemplative but really truly isn’t.

Yes, I’m whining about nothing – but my purpose really isn’t even to whine: I’m happy to be here, happy to be doing a solid for a friend, happy to be experiencing ease and air conditioning and daily hot showers and still to be pining to return to my grubby scrounged hand-made Lair. There have been two other occasions since I got settled into the Gulch where I came to the city, experienced its pleasures, and practically ran screaming back home. My opinion is confirmed: I am where I belong, and how many people can say that? When I was a middle-aged businessman away on travel, I dreaded going home because home sucked. Now I can’t wait, because home is paradise and paradise needs a coat of paint on its new porch roof. I perceive that as success. And it’s well worth three weeks out of my so-busy schedule to re-confirm.

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Baking in somebody else’s kitchen…

Bake in your own kitchen twice a week for year after year and you’ll get to knowing where everything is so well you’ll stop even thinking about it. That can be a problem if you need to plan on baking in somebody else’s kitchen for a while. First week I was here I bought some bread but I always planned to bake my own when that ran out and so I brought the essential stuff, or the stuff I thought was unlikely to be in the new place. There’s a really nice oven so that was unlikely to be a problem; I bake in an antique and it always works out okay.

So yeah, here were plenty of mixing bowls. I was stumped for a while on a measuring cup, but it turned out I only overlooked the obvious one standing there waving its nonexistent arms at me. Never did find sugar, and we’ll see how that affects the final product. But I had yeast, and my bread pans, and the dough beater I’m familiar with. Totally forgot a cooling rack, but I can improvise that. So off we went…


…and I’m looking forward to tasting it this evening, because the texture of the loaves is kinda weird. Not sure why, probably just a difference in the ovens. Anyway, it’s bread and likely to be a lot more familiar than what I bought last week.

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