Gettin’ ready to kill me some hippies…

(And a big gulchy welcome to our heroic protectors at the Department of Homeland Security…)

At Joel’s Gulch (poultry division) if you won’t lay eggs, you will eventually be guest of honor at a chicken dinner. But since our chicken operation is at something less than an industrial level, this isn’t something I do very often or very well. Got used to it the year before last, but that was a long time ago and now I’ve gotta psych myself up all over again.

And after the somewhat-botched Great Cornish Slaughter of 2014, I figured it was about time I made a proper killing cone. So I studied at the University of Internet for a while, and though most posted instructions involve big sheets of sheet metal flashing it turned out I had the proper raw material laying around already…

Old traffic cone! Cleaned some up in J&H's horse pasture, former toys of my li'l buddy Comet. Then haven't quite gotten a chance to haul them to the dump. Cut the top off to a diameter of about 3 1/2"...

Old traffic cone! Cleaned some up in J&H’s horse pasture, former toys of my li’l buddy Comet. Then haven’t quite gotten a chance to haul them to the dump.
Cut the top off to a diameter of about 3 1/2″…

Then cut off the pedestal. Turns out a skilsaw isn't the best possible tool for this...

Then cut off the pedestal. Turns out a skilsaw isn’t the best possible tool for this…

But a utility knife is perfect.

But a utility knife is perfect.

I debated quite a lot where I was going to hang the thing. The best location was in full view of the Fortress of Attitude, and that didn't seem quite right. Finally decided on an obscure side of the powershed, out of the wind (and sun, unfortunately...)

I debated quite a lot where I was going to hang the thing. The best location was in full view of the Fortress of Attitude, and that didn’t seem quite right. Finally decided on an obscure side of the powershed, out of the wind (and sun, unfortunately…)

If anybody with more experience at this sort of thing has any suggestions for alteration, this would be a good time. Plan to choose and isolate a Brahma at random this evening.

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Shocking! Even if you give it an expensive haircut, your terrier probably likes to kill rats.

How unmutual!

Full disclosure: Landlady’s little townie dog Dharma loves to kill rats. Ghost and LB ignore them, unless they build nests right smack in the boys’ territory.

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Liquid Refreshment…

Went to town this morning for the first time in a couple of weeks. Maybe it’s just the season, but more and more I’ve been making the trip less and less.
Call me a hoarder, but I love full buckets, barrels and jugs. I am offended by empty buckets, barrels and jugs. One of my flour buckets went empty day before yesterday, so it was time to restock. I try to keep at least a month’s drinking water* on hand but that really isn’t practical in the winter: I’ve got the jugs, but no place to store them all where they won’t freeze so I do the best I can with what indoor space I have. And all my gasoline comes in five gallons at a time, so I keep that flow as constant as I can. The Jeep is not terribly economical on gas, but I don’t really use it all that much so this system works.

I’ve wanted a spading fork of my own for a couple of years and never got around to acquiring one until this morning, so yay. And yeah, Evan Williams dropped by for a visit. We’ll be chatting this evening.

While at the feed store with D&L I saw something funny…
I’m guessing three things: The backstory here involves irate neighbors. “Good back yard” means “Good back yard fence,” and “trainable” means “not trainable.” The only thing worse than a large impulsive dog is a large, impulsive and violent dog in a neighborhood with other people’s pets.

*Ever since a terribly painful health issue two and a half years ago, I no longer consider my well water drinkable except when unavoidable. It’s potable, but only just.

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See, this is what happens when a major government says, “Hold my beer and watch this.”

It’s like all the trailer park bubbas in the world were rounded up, handed a nuclear weapon and lots of cash and told, “See what you can do.”

So somewhere in the New Mexico desert, unknown and unmourned, lies an American relic, a piece of history like no other: the fastest man-made object ever. And I harbor the hope that, whether it’s found or not, our nation and the world of science will someday realize our error all these years and recognize that the Pascal-A Manhole Cover, not Voyager 1, is the fastest man-made object ever.”

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Huh. Some sort of miracle cure, I guess…

So you remember a few days ago, when I said a Generous Reader had sent me a free tablet – a tablet computer has been on my want list for years, I confess, though I could never bring myself to spend that kind of money on a shiny of that sort even if I had the money – and then complained that the sound didn’t work?
Well, I’ve used the thing for ebooks since then – it’s very useful for ebooks – and then last night I was idly fiddling with it and learned that for absolutely no apparent reason the sound works now. No, I didn’t do anything that could possibly have fixed it. It’s just fixed.

It’s hard to accept that once upon a time – like, back in the mid-eighties – I was the guy in our department who set up new computers. Because I was the ex-mechanic, and machines did not frighten me, and computers were a lot more like cars back then than they are now. They had parts. Plug in the new board, power it up, type in some DOS, and you’re good to go. But I’m like a baby in a leopard cage when it comes to swiping at pictures on a touch screen. So this is what it means to get old…

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In the future, trousers will be forbidden to all Americans of Micronesian descent.

For the record, it seems the wearing of toe rings and/or bangles is now sexist or racist or something. Just so you know.

“In pop culture, you have probably seen the likes of Iggy Azalea and Selena Gomez wear them for music videos and performances,” Olivia writes. And that, she continues, is not okay.

Thanks for pointing that out, Olivia. I’ll take note of that while prying this diamond out of my nostril…

Speaking of that, I actually went to the painful extreme of looking up the source article, which should give you some idea of how boring cold weather is. It lists 11 Indian/”South Asian” modes of body decoration, some of them extremely bizarre practices I have never ever seen anyone do outside the pages of National Geographic, which are also now off limits to Westerners. Be warned.
strange lady

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Could be worse. Nobody yelled “Die, Jeb, Die.”

Here’s an actual headline that actually appeared on an actual news site:

Jeb Bush to unimpressed New Hampshire crowd: ‘Please clap’

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Helpful Hermitty Hints

It’s Thursday, the fourth in our string of really unpleasantly frigid mornings. Sunlight has been good all week but the temperature has rarely ventured even briefly above freezing which means all that ice we got at the end of the weekend is still with us.

Being a one-legged geezer, one of my least favorite things in life is a slippery stairway, and the Lair’s entrance is in shade constantly from sometime in September to sometime in April, so I didn’t know when the ice would ever melt off the stairs on its own. Ice, unlike snow, is difficult to remove from wooden steps by mechanical means.

Fortunately it’s extremely easy to remove by chemical means. The desert didn’t teach me this; I’m from Michigan.

Being an unmutual hoarder, I’ve got a bucket full of 25 pounds of table salt. I’ve never used it, and to be honest I don’t recall why I bought it. For seasoning, I always use the little one-pound cylinders available very cheap at the dollar store, and I always keep three or four on hand.

Salt is also useful for melting ice. It works even in the shade, even when the temperature is in the teens. The melted ice mixes with the salt to form brine, which has a much higher freezing point. Just saying.

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I see a picture, and I just can’t figure out…
I’m sure there’s some really logical reason for these people to be doing this. I’m convinced of it. For the life of me, though, I can’t guess what it might be.

And I might be wrong, but those look like two of the unhappiest dogs I’ve ever seen.


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Essay Question on Police Academy Final Exam: This portion will comprise 25% of your final grade.

Situation summary: You have shot to death the unruly person you were assigned to subdue, and the innocent bystander behind that person. In less than 100 words, describe how you will proceed to make this situation worse.

Chicago (AFP) – A white police officer plans to sue the estate of a black teenager he shot dead because he was traumatized by the fact that he accidentally killed the teen’s neighbor in the incident, his lawyer said.

“The damage is my client feels horrible that Bettie Jones is dead because of the actions he was forced to take,” attorney Joe Brodsky told AFP.

No, that’s not satire. Satire is dead or dying in another room somewhere, kicked in the kidneys by reality one too many times. Seriously, though, who wouldn’t want to be Rahm Emanuel right about now?

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Beats trading artillery barrages, I guess…

You probably don’t remember an article I linked year before last, where a bunch of South Korean activists sent balloons bearing 10,000 Choco Pies over the Nork border. I thought that was cooler than shit.

Um…Perhaps that was an unfortunate choice of phrase. It seems the balloon barrage has been ongoing, hasn’t been one-way (I have no idea how this works in terms of prevailing wind, so please don’t ask) and has recently turned very nasty indeed.

North Korea bombards South with used toilet paper


North Korea has escalated its propaganda war with a new wave of balloon launches aimed at South Korea, and is now loading balloons with used toilet paper, tissues and cigarette butts.

A government spokesman described the North’s psychological warfare methods as “immature”.

Sounds fair.
Private to Kim Jong Un: When you need a wall to keep your own people in, you’re doing something wrong.

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This is not, as far as I can tell, a parody.

The least appealing person I’ve ever seen demonstrates why guns in public places are a bad thing…or something.

No straw man arguments there. And as far as I can tell, it’s not supposed to be a parody.

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I used to call it “acclimating,” but mostly it just felt like coping.

Forgive me, I know I’m going on at unnecessary length but there’s something about this situation that tickles my inner Oliver Wendell Douglas. I went to bed unusually late last night and slept unusually heavily, and woke to find I had completely missed what must have been an extremely unpleasant snowstorm. The temperature crashed into the low teens and the wind drove the snow into drifts in the lee of every object it couldn’t just knock over. By eight ayem when I went out to feed and water them, not even the chickens had wanted out of their coop: Seymour contented himself with crowing the morning in with his head stuck out the little door and the rest of him inside the coop where it was relatively warm.

Enough snow stuck, of course, that I still had to climb the ladder and squeegee an inch of loose powder off the solar panels (It was overcast when I got out of bed, but the sky had completely cleared by eight) and I’m still warming my toes from the unavoidable flurry of morning outdoor chores. Now I’ve got the panels clear, the porch swept, the chickens fed and watered and the woodbox filled, and meanwhile the cabin heated up nice and toasty.

Point being, I slept through a storm I would normally have expected to suffer through. And now in its frigid aftermath I’m no more uncomfortable than you probably are, wherever you are. And after all this time, that feels like a serious accomplishment. :)

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In the fullness of time, this may radically change my power usage on winter nights.

Look at the new shinie I got over the weekend from a Generous Reader!
It’s a Trio 7″ tablet. Given the apps that come with it, it appears to be designed more-or-less exclusively for reading Facebook on wi-fi but I can sneakernet ebooks and movies to it and they’ll play. Unfortunately the movies are of no use to me so far because I haven’t figured out what’s wrong with the sound: I can get it to beep and boop if I want it to, but it won’t play sound with or without headphones and I don’t know what’s wrong. Downloaded a manual but it’s useless*.

So I don’t know if I can ever get it to play those newfangled talkie shows – I suppose I could send away for MP4s of Metropolis or Birth of a Nation and it would be okay – but it does open up that enormous file of ebooks I’ve had for ten years to actual use. And the battery life is excellent. I can charge it during the day, use it in the evening, and hardly use any house power at all.

I can also – and actually might – set up that wi-fi router I have stored in the powershed and use the tablet to surf in the evening with no more power use than needed by the modem and router. Pretty damned hollywood for a cedar rat.

Thank you! Also, if you know what I’m doing wrong with the sound, I’d appreciate a hint. But even without that, it’s useful. I’ve got a bunch of old ebooks I’ve wanted to re-read for years, but not at the cost of spending hours tied to the laptop.

Thank you!

*Having written a good many operating manuals in my professional life, I am naturally critical of most manuals I encounter but this one is a masterpiece of uselessness. I’ve seen Jinglish translations that covered more ground, and were entertaining to boot. This one is basically advertisement for apps, it’s almost designed to be useless.

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And we’re unexpectedly back.

Snowed like a sonuvagun for an hour, then cleared completely. Maybe an inch accumulation on top of a 1/4″ of ice, so it was another hour before I could clear my solar panels but we’re actually in pretty good shape right now. You want to see something sinfully luxurious? May be NSFW if your boss is ascetic, just saying…
On a typical day of this sort, on any of my previous nine winters in the Gulch, I’d be huddling in two or three sweatshirts and praying for April. The wind is blowing, the snow is horizontal, the temperature may not creep above freezing by sundown – and my only complaint is I really wish I hadn’t put that last log on the fire. A little tarpaper and plywood goes a long way.

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Weather has returned.

Right on schedule, too. The weatherman promised rain or snow overnight, and we got both. First torrential rain, followed by freezing temps and snow. So the whole world is covered with ice this morning, which I have to wait for the sun to clear off the solar panels. And just when I began to have hope of that happening fairly quickly, the clouds rolled in again. So there it is.

In fact, here comes another snowstorm. So no ‘pooter for me. Later.

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Chicken Coop of the Damned!

So Friday I knew that Landlady was coming up for the weekend. Just to be nice, and since when I get a surplus of eggs there’s really almost nothing I can do with them except make the mother of all omelets, I put a dozen eggs from the Fortress of Attitude on her kitchen counter.

By so doing, I unknowingly sentenced half a dozen lazy hippie chickens to death. One of the first things she asked, when I saw her yesterday morning, was “Did any of those eggs come from my hens?” And I had to be honest: “Not one.”

So this morning she told me it was time to send the last surviving Brahmas to Chicken Heaven, where angels will feed them forever even though they’re completely useless.

Don’t know when I’ll get around to it, there’s no special rush and since it’s actually been almost eighteen months since I slaughtered a chicken I’ll have to work myself up to it. But they’re toast. And so is Selma, that Rhode Island Red in the center of the first picture, just because she’s a bitch and doesn’t play well with others. I may or may not move Agnes back to the Fortress, but to be truthful they’re both four years old and probably all laid out. Certainly neither of the two old RIRs have laid an egg since they finished moulting, and this ain’t a rest home for chickens.

It’s the last day of the month, the day before official Battery Day, but today it’s sunny and warm except for the extreme wind and tomorrow is supposed to be cold and snowy with extreme wind. So I decided to do my running around today. That way I can cocoon in front of the fire with a book and not feel the least bit guilty about it. Continue reading

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Oh, good. I was really worried about that.

White House: Clinton Will Not Be Indicted Over Emails ‘Based on What We Know’

White House spokesman Josh Earnest said Friday that Hillary Clinton would not be indicted over her private email scandal “based on what we know from the Department of Justice.”

And since what we know is that she violated every known or even conceivable law and regulation on the subject of Classified Documents, Handling Of, I guess that’s that.

I’m so shocked that it even went so far. She’s such a sweet little old lady, why can’t those bad men leave her alone?

Also, the obligatory note that if you or I had done a tiny fraction of the bad things this sweet little old lady has done, we’d be in a supermax a long time ago and for a long time to come.

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Poor Little Bear, #Many

So LB hurt a front paw in late December, hurt it worse in the first week of January, and for most of the month has been on soft duty in which I tried to keep him from jumping out of the Jeep or running down the Lair’s stairs too enthusiastically while it healed. But for the last week I haven’t caught him favoring it at all, so in yesterday’s beautiful afternoon I thought what this pack needed was a nice long walkie.

LB certainly didn’t disagree. We went up the ridge and along the road to the end of Ian’s property, then into the boonies till we got to the edge of the cliff along the south wash. Turning back, we had fun going overland along the cliff faces. Except after maybe a mile of this – me having forgotten all about LB’s injury – he suddenly and with no warning at all went tripodal again. And by the time we got back to the Lair, having to do it in some fairly rough terrain, he was favoring that paw pretty badly. So that was a mistake. But he seemed to like it anyway. By late afternoon and time for a Jeep ride to tend Landlady’s chickens, he seemed right as rain but I need to remember to go a bit slower with him. He’s a pretty heavy dog, and can’t shrug off injury to the parts that hold him up.

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So that’s a…compromise?

Hey, remember last month when Virginia’s Attorney General threw CCW holders under the bus?

Well, good news, everyone! Governor Terry McAuliffe and “republican leaders” have concluded a series of backroom agreements that restores reciprocity, sort of, and all the repubs and the NRA had to give away was any hope of Virginia gun owners ever feeling safe from the state…

In exchange, Republicans softened their stances on issues that have long been non-starters in the GOP-controlled General Assembly. Under the deal, the state would take guns away from anyone who was under a two-year protective order for domestic-violence offenses. And State Police would have to attend all gun shows to provide background checks for private sellers if they requested the service.

So everything’s cool, Virginia, except that you better never get your wife mad at you and there’ll be armed goons looking over your shoulder any time you think it might be fun to pop into a gun show. But other than that, yay! Say hey for the beauties of compromise, I guess…

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