I’m having a philosophical discussion with myself…

…getting dressed this morning. Waiting for the first cup to kick in. I’ve got three pistols I actually use, but for EDC There Can Be Only One. And I’m no longer certain which it should be.

This is my Taurus Tracker .44 Magnum. I’ve had it for about a year and a half. It’s not an expensive pistol but it’s accurate, light to carry, has a good single-action trigger and okay sights. It’s not perfect: It has timing issues that can cause clicks instead of bangs in rapid double-action fire, but that’s not the way I shoot so what the hell? Best of all it’s enough gun to hide behind when scary things happen, which, in the boonies, they occasionally do. If I ever have to climb under another house looking for a bear, this is the gun I’ll bring. With my Peltors. Because I’ve become more and more reluctant to fire the Tracker casually. Because it’s really damagingly loud. I’m already half-deaf and have permanent tinnitus, because when I was young I was stupid. I carry earplugs with me all the time but if I have time to screw in earplugs before taking a shot, it couldn’t have been much of an emergency. Honestly, the muzzle brake is cool but I’m learning to regret having fallen in love with this pistol.

This is my franken-Mak, the Prole-Killer. It’s my go-to-town gun when I don’t feel like dusting off the 1911, and it was my fall-back EDC gun for several months after I hurt my shoulder because it’s so snubby I could draw it. It’s surprisingly accurate for what it is, though those tiny sights aren’t much help to ol’ blind Joel. Uses scarce ammo, because I don’t reload for it. Doesn’t sound like the world’s ending when I pull the trigger. Some days I carry it even when I’m not going to town, because it’s reliable and close-range accurate and not a hassle.

And this is my old faithful Ruger 22/45. I’ve had this gun since the turn of the century. I clean it every year or two, when it gets so gunked up it stops working, because it employs the patented Ruger what-the-hell-were-they-thinking reassembly procedure. It’s a .22. I’ve killed more things with this gun than with every other gun I possess combined, because most things I want to kill are small. I trust this gun. Except when scary things happen. Which, in the boonies, they occasionally do. Because it’s a .22. Which is why I normally carry the .44. Which is hurting me. Which is why more and more often I carry the .22.

I probably shoot to kill more often than you do, but it’s never a gunfight. Most commonly it goes like this: I want to explain to a squirrel’s next of kin that they should stay the hell out of my pantry, so I draw the gun I’m carrying and kill the squirrel. I have to do it quick. I do it casually if I’m carrying the Ruger. Somewhat less casually with the Mak, because scarce ammo and besides I’ll miss. I’ve grown reluctant to do it at all with the Taurus.

:) This is as close as a desert hermit comes to a philosophical conundrum. I just don’t want it to lead to an existential crisis. Y’know?

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“On the plus side, nobody actually beat him up.”

Since I never use the Book of Face, I have to keep being reminded who the hell Mark Zuckerberg is. Maybe somebody can clue me in to why anyone would want him to be president.

But he’s making noises like he wants to be president. Fortunately, he seems to have read Hillary Clinton’s book on how to go about doing that.

[A] listening tour is a proven model for success if that’s what he’s up to. Keep in mind that Hillary Clinton popularized the term when she went on her own listening tour prior to her first run for public office and it eventually led to her being elected President of … well, never mind.

There’s an old tale in politics about politicians who can’t tell you how much a gallon of milk costs. (The West Wing eventually did an episode based on that story.) This encounter at the truck stop may replace that incident. If you want to be viewed as a man of the people and prove that you’re in touch with their issues and ambitions, it’s probably best not to walk into a vignette of rural America and act like you’ve just entered a petting zoo on an alien planet.

You don’t have to be a hyper-privileged gazillionaire for this to be a problem, but I’m sure it helps a lot. When you hang exclusively with people who can’t wait to agree with every precious noise coming out of your holy mouth, you must surely start thinking that the way you do things is the way everybody wants things done. In Zuckerberg’s case, that would translate to a natural belief that everyone in the country is panting for the privilege and pleasure of cleaning his ass with their tongue.

I’m sure he brought lots of security along with the cameras, so he seems to have escaped alive and – given his demonstrated talent for cluelessness, probably unscathed as well.

I wish he and Chelsea and all their rarefied friends would just go out for a nice dinner and leave us flyover trash the hell alone.

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Don’t worry about it. My first wife was a ‘tard. She’s a pilot now.

I have seen the future…

Many College Students are ‘Book Virgins’

…and people, it ain’t pretty.

But seriously – remember when people who went to college were all smart and shit? Now you need a degree just to qualify to get squeezed out of your burger-flipping opportunity by a roboticized kiosk. Apparently colleges are no longer expected to be hotbeds of actual learning. If you can binge drink, master the complicated table of PC pronouns and duck a baseball bat, you’re good.

Don’t worry about it, though. As long as there are smart people building robots in Japan you’ll still be able to get fries with that. Right?

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There’s those legendary communication skills at work…

Time to refill my glaucoma meds. To do so, traditionally, I have to trek to the big town about 50 miles away. Normally I catch a ride with neighbors D&L, who were actually prompting me to do so – so none of this is their fault – even though they also made clear they had no reason to make the trip themselves and would rather not.

There’s a perfectly good pharmacy in the little town nearest where I live. I go right past it every week. I would much rather not blow off most of a day just to go to a Wal-Mart. But I originally started filling these prescriptions at the Wal-Mart because that pharmacy honored an amusingly odd discount card I scored when I first had my eye surgery. So for years I’ve been making that trip. Since then the prices have skyrocketed, but I kept doing the same thing mostly out of habit.

This time I rebelled and actually did something logical: I brought the prescription forms to the local drug store and asked what it would cost me to get them filled there. Getting an answer did not prove quick or simple – at one point I had to fill out a form, don’t ask me why – but I endeavored to persevere.

Turns out I’ve not only been making an unnecessary trip at substantial expense, I’ve been throwing away money on the price of the prescription.

Ah, well. Now I’m playing phone tag with some lady at the opthalmologist’s office, trying to get them to send the prescription to this other pharmacy. Possibly I’ll succeed, possibly there’ll be some regulatory reason I need a note from my mother or something.

While waiting for the information, I discovered possibly the worst product presentation I’ve ever encountered…

Chicken Poop lip balm. I wonder if they’ve ever sold a single tube of this product anywhere. Maybe people only buy it ironically? It says on the display it contains no actual chicken poop. But why trust somebody who would choose such a name?

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Becoming intimate with your tools…

A penniless hermit will find himself doing things he wasn’t taught to expect as a child. Like taking a moment in the morning to renew the duct tape wrapping on his long-broken plastic foot so it’ll go in his boot.

I keep my roll of Gorilla Tape in the Jeep rather than in the powershed because sometimes the Jeep needs it, too. And walking back to the Lair with it this morning I decided that though it’ll be a stretch I really need to get a new one. And I was surprised by a poke of mild sadness. I’ve had this roll for a long time. It has served me well, it’s gotten me out of a jam or two. And now what little is left on the roll is getting tacky and hard to work with, and it’s time to replace it with newer material. Probably I’ll put the new one in the powershed and leave this one in the Jeep, so it’ll be a gradual parting.

My father worked in heating and air conditioning. He used to buy duct tape by the bundle, and use it for the purpose for which it was actually designed. I never thought to be sentimental about a frickin’ roll of tape, that’s all. Sometimes I’m open to the possibility that I’m getting a bit loose upstairs.

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The Gulch’s weather likes its drama

Last week’s heatwave ended with a whole series of bangs, exactly as expected. A thunderboomer cell built gradually and then mostly went off to the NE to do its thing. We got not much more than a heavy sprinkle here, but a lovely (relatively) cool breeze that brought the temperature down 20o.

I went to bed early and slept all the way through for nine hours, and woke feeling refreshed for once.

Some folks say it’ll be a wet Monsoon, some say not, I say anybody who tries to predict the weather around here is taking a sucker’s bet. But I do believe I’m going to go get my good tarp from Landlady’s place and spread it on the bedroom floor.

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When you have more, you spend more.

It’s an iron law.

Three months ago I doubled the Lair’s battery capacity – tripled it, really, though two of the six batteries aren’t connected to the inverter – and so now I can run more electrical appliances if I want to.

And after the now-fading heat wave we all just suffered with, I wanted to. A neighbor was getting rid of an old ceiling fan that had seen better days cosmetically but still worked fine, and I snapped it up.

An hour’s ladder work and a newly-wrenched shoulder later, the Lair sports a ceiling fan nearly as big as its visible ceiling, capable at full speed of sucking the cooking pans off the kitchen wall. The blades just barely clear the top of the bathroom wall (they laughed at me for insisting on partial walls) and actually would tangle in the Gadsden flags until I pinned down the bottom hems of the flags.

I put that socket up there from the beginning, knowing all along that at some point I’d at least try to fit a fan into the cabin. But the power system started so laughably and improved so gradually that saving electricity became part of the lifestyle. I needed a waiver from my inner Lightswitch Nazi before I could go ahead and do the thing – but it does work.

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Unexpected oopsies

My friends S&L spent a week in their home state of Minnesota. L kindly brought me a gift of instant beer bread in a funny/ironic container…

It’s got the flour and leavening you need for basic no-knead bread, amusingly sealed into a big beer bottle. Open it, pour it into a mixing bowl, stir it up with a bottle of beer, and you’ve got beer bread. Bake and eat. Cool.

But what happens if you seal up a bottle of very fine powder in a place that’s maybe a few hundred feet above sea level, then ship the bottle to some old guy in a tiny cabin in a desert 6000′ above sea level?

A very surprising explosion, is what happens. I neglected to take pictures of the incident, alas, because I was – well, quite surprised and discomfited. But I had flour on the counter. And the stove. And everything on the stove. And the wall behind the stove. And the counter. In the other direction there was me, and everything in the cabin behind me, and…

In actual volume it wasn’t that big a deal, and there was plenty left with which to make a loaf of bread.

All in all, though, I don’t think this method will replace the old-fashioned way to make quick bread.

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QoD: “Tell me again the net good these people serve?” edition

[Y]our hands should be visible on the steering wheel and you should not be moving at all. Don’t try to get your wallet out or reach into your glove compartment for your insurance card. Remain perfectly still! Listen to what the officer tells you to do and obey his commands. If there is any doubt at all what the cop wants you to do, simply freeze. Don’t move at all until you are sure what the cop wants you to do. Always err on the side of remaining motionless rather than doing something when there is any doubt about the cop’s commands.

When the force that’s supposed to moderate danger becomes the greater danger, has it not obviated its reason to exist?

It’s time for people to stop outsourcing their own protection.


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The Gulch becomes a hotbed of decadence

I had a very odd thought this afternoon. I had dug out my bag of winter gloves and hats, stored in the rodent-resistant shed, so that I could add a couple of watch caps I’d bought and some gloves that feralfae sent me. And I…

Wait, I need a second to wrap my mind around this…

…I almost – not quite – looked forward to dragging it all out again for winter.

Okay. I know. We’re in (what I sincerely hope proves to be) the summer’s big heat wave, and life sucks. It’ll be better by Monday. Monsoon will start, I’ll stop bitching about heat and start bitching about lightning and mud. I know this. Cold sounds good right now. I’d stand in front of an open refrigerator if I weren’t conditioned not to.


Last winter was really kind of…comfortable.

Yes. Yes. Last winter was freakishly mild. True.


Even if that hadn’t been the case, it still would have been far more comfortable than previous winters. Because I’m better equipped to deal with cold, now, than I have been since moving to the gulch.

And it occurred to me, just then, how much those five winters in that little RV had cost me. I disliked winter when I lived in Michigan, but winters weren’t a seven-month ordeal. I didn’t fall into a funk in October and not come out of it till May. Like I used to do here.

“I hate winter.” It used to be a TUAK mantra, remember? The ice on the windows, hell, the ice in the sink, the frozen fingers and toes all day, the layers of sweatshirts, the water that stopped running in November. The anxiety over heating fuel vs. cooking fuel.

And I moved into the Lair in November 2011 in high hopes of more comfortable living, with the absurdly dysfunctional electrical plant and the hopelessly porous walls and the laughable free home-made wood stove that didn’t work – and then there was that chimney fire the very next February…

Wow. No wonder I hated winter.

But the physical plant has incrementally improved so much since then that it’s almost like living in a professionally built-to-code house. The walls are wrapped, the floor is insulated, the wood stove draws, the woodshed bulges. If all goes well, there will even be an actual bedroom with an actual bed and – for those unusually cold nights – an actual propane furnace. Decadent luxury!

I’ve been here eleven winters, and I’m on my eleventh summer. And – could it be? – that I’m finally


starting to get it right?

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Care Packages!

Landlady came up a day early, which brought Christmas on Friday! Yay!

Longtime Friend of the Blog ilo jones sent no less than four boxes of stuff. I got electrical stuff from Edward, the fellow who sent me that great Carhartt coat in January. And Claire, god bless her, sent two! bottles of crack sauce just when I (and the Wal-Mart 50 miles away) ran dry. Enough crack sauce and good coffee can make pretty much any life at least kinda worth living.

Spices and sauces! Winter clothes! (no joke, I even splurged on a couple of cheap mail order watch caps despite the ironic weather, because Winter Is Coming.) Books! (including one on my new LB-approved hobby, making doggy treats) Romex! 12 volt lighting! A couple of cool coffee mugs (the molon labe mug broke in transit, but I have access to Kragle.) Cookie cutters for doggy treats! Actual doggy treats! Yeast! A backup multimeter! Plus a gigantic bag of dog food from Landlady.





Helluva haul! Thank you all!

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Hopefully we’re over the top…

From here on to rain the afternoon temperatures are supposed to moderate somewhat; this is the first forecast in four where the temperature maxes out in mere double digits. Nights cool off but they don’t promise when – this is the one time of the year when a sleeping loft, however well equipped, seems like a distinctly bad idea. I haven’t been sleeping well, and that affects how useful I am during the day.

When I was a young stallion I could go without sleep for one whole night without affecting the next day’s performance. With two sleepless nights I wasn’t much good on the third day but I could stay upright and respond to stimuli. Three nights and I was pretty much hallucinating and should not be allowed near firearms or motor vehicles. But I could snap back after a night’s sleep.

I really miss the things I could do 40 years ago, but I don’t miss the prize oaf I was.

Either way, last night wasn’t as bad. I was really disgusted: I look for the evening breeze to cool things down for sleeping. Yesterday there was a steady drying breeze all afternoon that died promptly at sundown so there was nothing to do at bedtime but sit and sweat. It did finally cool down and I fell asleep, but I don’t recall just when. Anyway this morning it’s a full ten degrees cooler inside than yesterday so that’s good. It’ll get hot today but probably not ridiculous.

I want to get something done on the addition but it won’t be physical: Now that I know what I have (or have coming) in terms of windows and door I can start final drawings for the wall frames.

Also there’s the promise of care packages this weekend! It’s been months, and I woke this morning with Carly Simon singing Anticipation in my ear. (heh)

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“The Reasonably Scared Cop Rule”

I haven’t said anything about the Philando Castile murder verdict, even though it’s been on my mind and it should be on the mind of every potentially shady-looking gun carrier in the country, because I just didn’t know what to say. I’m always reluctant to speak the conclusion I naturally jump to, since I wasn’t there and I don’t know what really happened and there’s always so very much impassioned rhetoric and logic-twisting on every side that I’m unlikely to ever know what really happened. Sometimes the smartest thing is to just shut up.

But immediately after Jeronimo Yanez was acquitted the dashcam video from his cruiser was released – and to my mind it’s pretty damned damning. A carefully-picked jury disagreed. And I still don’t know what to say that would be of any positive value to anyone.

So read this instead.

Lessons Of Philando Castile and the Reasonably Scared Cop Rule

It seems weird that we are willing to make excuses for people who should be the best prepared for such scenarios that we wouldn’t make for a civilian who made the same kind of panicked decision without the benefit of training.

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Redneck bakery update

Still works fine! :)

Runs just a little hotter than I’m used to. Did the same thing last year, should have remembered to adjust the baking time.

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The problem with political news is that it’s too funny to ignore.

Case in point:

Fifty-three percent of respondents to the CBS News poll said they approve of Congress’s response to last week’s shooting, which left five people, including House Majority Whip Steve Scalise (R-La.), injured. Twenty-nine percent said they disapproved of the response from Congress.

First, this is a “news article” about a poll, which really ought to show up as a link under the encyclopedia definition of “fake news.” Which is why I almost never post about “news articles” that are about polls.

Except this one was too hilariously … stupid? Yeah. Stupid is good. … to ignore.

“[T]hey approve/disapprove of Congress’s response to last week’s shooting?” How could anyone even answer that question other than by flipping a coin? What was Congress’s response? “Investigate” Trump more? Raise taxes? Invade Liechtenstein? Have all the Supreme Court justices arrested? Other than taking a day off and televising a couple of speeches, I’m unaware of any congressional action related to the shooting. Oh, some republican congressmen did float a trial balloon about uninfringed gun rights for congressmen, but that sank like a rock when they suddenly found they’d accidentally pissed off all the armed people in the country who didn’t already work for them.

So seriously – what was this poll about exactly? I’d love to know.

But you won’t learn the answer by clicking the link.

In other news about the same stupid poll, everybody including generations yet unborn hates Donald Trump.

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Welcome to the redneck bakery.

Seven thirty in the blessed AM and it’s already over 85 indoors.

I’m out of bread, so baking must ensue. But I do not want to light the Lair’s oven.

After I covered the dough for its first rise I went outside to see if my inadequately-provisioned summer oven had survived the winter.

The original summer kitchen plan called for a nice roof and half-walls. Maybe next year. The reality, other more important projects competing, was a wire rack covered with a tarp. The cheap tarp wasn’t up to the task. It got smaller as the wind tore it apart, till finally I just bungeed a remnant around the oven. The remnant is pretty much not worth saving.

But it worked last year, and it seems to work this year. It remained mousefree, and the propane hose and regulator are apparently in good shape. If it will maintain 350o, I can bake bread without baking myself. I’m going to find out before lighting the oven in the lair, that’s for sure.

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Hiding from the sun

We have at least one good heat wave per summer, usually before Monsoon, and this one is no surprise. It’s unusually hot by a couple of degrees, though. The outdoor sensor on my cool digital indoor/outdoor thermometer has gone to meet electronic Jesus so I don’t know what the outside temp maxed out at. I do know what the indoor temp was a couple of hours after I bugged out, when I stumbled back to the Lair for my phone and a battery to fix Ian’s clock…

It’s still fifteen or twenty degrees cooler inside Ian’s Cave, so LB and I went over there. I brought this very good Andy Weir paperback*, and there’s cold beer in the fridge, and it’s too damned hot and bright to attempt any outdoor work. So screw it. We’re taking a vacation.

LB and I came out at 4:30 to feed chickens (and dogs, LB wishes me to specifically mention that it was time to feed dogs) and now I think we’re going to head back into the Cave until dusk even though things have moderated somewhat with the help of some pre-Monsoon clouds.

Anticipating this afternoon, I filled a gallon jug and tied a piece of string to the handle, then put it in Ian’s freezer. Then after we went to the cave I came back with the big ice cube and rolled it under the chicken coop where the ladies were already sheltering. They actually will cuddle with a block of ice once they stop being afraid of it. I’ve done it for the past couple of summers under the little coop, and might should do the same in the Big Chickenhouse until this heat wave passes.

If we’d only get a steady breeze after sundown. I’m thinking of abandoning the loft and inflating my new air mattress downstairs, if the Lair doesn’t cool down a helluva lot better tonight than it has for the past few nights.

* Which was the basis for a pretty okay Matt Damon flick which I have on DVD. But the book is much less Matt Damon Acting and much more good geeky fun.

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Things I never understood about Summer…

I never understood why summer officially begins on a date when “summer” has clearly been underway for over a month. Ditto winter, of course: If you haven’t already frozen solid by the official start of winter, you’re not trying hard enough.

The reason of course is that some clueless solon decreed that summer and winter shall begin at the solstice – which has everything to do with the length of the sunlit day and nothing whatever to do with the weather, which is what the season is really all about.

It used to really confuse me because prior to moving off grid I never paid the slightest attention to the solstices. Now I live by them like any Wiccan.

When I built the Lair I didn’t fully appreciate the meaning of declination – which ought to be a pagan concept if it isn’t – and so, though I always intended to mount solar panels on the roof when I could afford to I didn’t orient the cabin to true south – It’s oriented to magnetic south, which at this declination is considerably different.

That opened an opportunity last summer when I built the new ground mount. Of course it’s oriented to true south, which points more toward the sunset. It’s also at a better angle for winter efficiency, so I manage to squeeze out advantage year-round from a still very small installation.

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Remember when “the media” still claimed oracle-like objectivity?

Way back when it was only “the press,” I’m told, objectivity was neither claimed nor sought. Newspapers tended to be reliably in the tank for one party or another and said so. That’s an old tradition in this country.

But “broadcast journalists” claimed, in general, to be made of more saintly stuff. I’m old enough to be faintly embarrassed at the things we let Walter Cronkite get away with in the name of ‘the objective media.’ Mostly he was saying things most of us wanted to hear, so we chose to believe it wasn’t just propaganda.

They never were and never shall be anything but shills. And I suppose we should at least give them credit for finally dropping the mask. Here’s a precious thing I saw this morning, while waiting for the first cup to brew. In regard to an election for an empty Georgia congressional seat about which I otherwise care not at all…

Can you guess which politician lost?

Can you guess which politician lost?

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Maybe I can make it into a bandshell?

Build it and they will … stay away, I hope.


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