Gotcha! This is why I do this.

100_4640I went on jihad against the local packrats because they had begun working with such determination to destroy the Jeep’s engine – and possibly me in the bargain. I quite concede that my earlier laissez faire attitude let the population get out of hand in the first place.

Since then I’ve trapped over a dozen rats but only one actually under the Jeep’s hood, where I always set a trap. Last night made it two. Obviously female and protrudingly pregnant, which under other circumstances might make me feel a little bad. Right now, not so much. She was probably looking to make another nest in there. Oh! Peanut butter! Snap.

In other, less successful news – it’s the third day of heavy overcast and rain, so I’m staying mostly offline. I tested the well pump this morning by directly connecting it to the tractor’s battery, and got nothing at all. Can’t even get it to spark, which looks like an open circuit. Could be nothing more than a corroded fitting – 200 feet underground. When Ian and I pulled it out of the ground two years ago it was everything both of us and a block & tackle could do to get it done and I haven’t gotten any stronger since then, so I’m gearing up for a lengthy period of hauling my own water. Not the first time, but I do need to get some bigger water jugs when I go to town on Monday. By the time I’d finished the cleaning up that accumulated, all the water I hauled yesterday was just enough for dogs and chickens and I had to go back for more today. Not gonna do this every damn day, that costs too much gasoline. Unfortunately my Plan B water source at Landlady’s is also broken down for some reason I haven’t been able to find so I’m filling up at J&H’s.

One thing about neighbors in the desert? When another neighbor says “can you spare some water” the correct answer is “help yourself.” J&H lived there for a year before they could even afford to sink a well, and they hauled their water from D&L. D&L have also had occasional well problems. It’s one of the joys of off-grid life, and when it’s not going around it’s coming around. We share water – not quite like in a Heinlein novel, you know, but we do.

But…alas, that’s the one big downside of a Real Flush Toilet. Which means…100_4639At least right now it isn’t very cold and I can leave it outside. For now.

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“Could be worse,” same wag said. “Could be raining.”

So it’s raining, and I’m having some problems right now and don’t want to compound them with dead batteries so I’m going off line until this clears up. As to the water situation…

This has always been a weak spot in my preps. Although I seriously have a Plan E for acquiring water, I don’t have a good way to store any other than the main tank. I’m currently on Plan C.

Something weird is happening with the pump’s electrical system. I’m measuring 33 volts from the solar panel even in heavy overcast, which is not actually possible. 32 of those volts are going to the 12-volt pump, which oddly enough is not running. Jury’s out on whether the pump has some sort of high-voltage cutout, but I’m unaware of one. I think the solar panel may have shorted to where we’re getting unreasonably high voltage at essentially no amperage, but I’m frankly guessing. If it ever stops raining I’d like to try an experiment involving the tractor’s battery, but right now I’m just hunkering and hauling water.

More later, when I can.

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Oh, grumble.

Ah, the wonders of off-grid living. So placid. So serene and trouble-free. So…#$%^!!!

If I’d checked the level in the water tank more often, I’d have known trouble was coming. Then maybe I could have done something about it before the whole place suddenly became uninhabitable. But did I do that? No! That would have made perfect sense. Wouldn’t even have been out of my way, since I drive by the damned thing a couple of times a damn day. Keep telling myself I oughta, too. When I’m not actually driving past it.

Tank’s empty, pump’s not running and maybe hasn’t been for weeks, I dunno. But I know I won’t be using my Real Flush Toilet for a while. Washing dishes will need advance planning. I’ll be hauling water a lot from now till I can get the damned thing fixed.


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When did fear become patriotic?

I keep running into discussions in which I end up denounced as a traitor and a Very Bad Person because I don’t consider Islam to be much of a threat.

If I condoned or made excuses for terrorism (I certainly don’t) I could understand it. But that’s not what people object to. “Don’t you understand that ISIS wants to take over the whole world? I hope you’ll be happy when we’re all living under Sharia law!”

When all I’m saying is that Islam is the Pinky and the Brain of world domination. Moslems have been working on it for 1500 years or so, and one time they managed to conquer Spain. But couldn’t hold it. True, they’re God’s gift to ensuring that the middle east remains a hellhole, but when it comes to conquering the rest of the world they’re pretty much reduced to taking Japanese guys hostage and whining about cartoons. Try as I might, I cannot take this seriously as a global threat.

But let me bumble into some conservative blogger’s 2-minute hate session and mention anything along these lines, and you’d think I’d burned down a church.

Granted that terrorism should not be tolerated – though how disarming everybody by law is going to fix terrorism is a question for which I doubt there’s a good answer – and it’s easy for me to talk when I’m one of the last people on earth who has to worry about some guy going Allah Akbar on my skinny ass. I can understand people getting upset and even over-reacting about terrorism. It’s the fear of Islamic world domination I don’t get. And why, oh why, is displaying that fear considered a sign that you’re a good patriotic American?

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Uncle Joel is bummed. And sore.

Beautiful day. Gorgeous day! And I finished a big project yesterday, and today all I had was shit-shoveling which I wrapped up relatively early, and then I could go out and play. Wanted to take that little ATV down the wash to where the Jeep can’t go. This was the day.

But I didn’t get there. Looks like I burned out the cheap-ass Chinese clutch in the sand. Turned around and limped it back toward home and almost made it. Got within a mile or so. And then we were just done.

Walked home. Came back with the Jeep.


Ah, well – at least it won’t cost me anything to tear into it and see if it’s something I can fix myself. But I am bummed. That little thing is useful for back-and-forth between chores, or would have been in spring/summer/autumn. Not so good in mud. Sucks in sand, to be honest, it’s like powering against the brakes. Which I think is what took out the clutch.

Good news is that the little ATV appeared so useful that Landlady pledged enough money to take the bigger one to town and get it diagnosed. Personally I think the engine is toast, but I’ve been wrong before. In fact it happens often.100_4638Neighbor D is bringing his flatbed down on Monday morning for the regular run to town. Meanwhile I’m charging the battery and stripping off those stupid boxes, which will make it easier to deal with while the engine isn’t running.

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Global Warming Dooms Northeast: “I told you so,” Al Gore tweets from Davos

In an unexpected and devastating turn of events, the non-arrival of epochal snowstorms has caused the governors of New York, New Jersey and Connecticut to revoke their earlier travel bans, unleashing a wave of noxious and deadly fumes from mass and individual transportation which will surely depopulate the entire region by Friday, says Nobel Prize winning climate advocate Albert Gore from his hardened bunker in Davos, Switzerland.

“I tried to warn them, but only my fellow solons would listen,” said Gore. “Had they given us reasonable levels of power, by now we would have constructed and herded entire populations into high-density cities on pylons high enough to surmount the inevitable rise of the seas and banned all unauthorized travel, but they would not have it. And now see what they’ve done?

“Well, Gaia knows I tried. Now if you’ll excuse me, my private jet is waiting.”

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QoD – “Because that’s where the money is” edition

In reference to those poor trusting chumps who saved for their kids’ colleges with ‘tax-free’ plans…

If you’ve worked to avoid needing the government’s aid, you are essentially unpatriotic and an enemy of the state. By making yourself independent of government, you effectively oppose it.

Here comes Barack “Willy Sutton” Obama to take it all away – for your own good, of course.

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Sorry. Pretty day.

Almost hit sixty today. You think I’m gonna hang around indoors and play with the ‘pooter? You nuts?

Tomorrow may be as bad. which is to say, as good. I had three different off-site tasks for today, but tomorrow’s a fairly big one.

Oh…sorry about you folks with the big blizzard. Hope you live and all, but I’m enjoying the warm spell.

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Note to self…100_4635When cleaning chimney pipe, either take the damned thing outdoors or pay more attention to what the other end of the cleaning rod is doing.

That is all.

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Oh, let’s just put some randomly-chosen school children in charge of the government.

It would be cheaper, and I can’t see how the results would differ.

Two pull quotes from an article I couldn’t even bring myself to finish…

The White House’s outrage over Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s plan to speak before Congress in March — a move he failed to coordinate with the administration — began to seep through the diplomatic cracks on Friday, with officials telling Haaretz the Israeli leader had “spat” in President Barack Obama’s face.

“We thought we’ve seen everything,” the newspaper quoted an unnamed senior US official as saying. “But Bibi managed to surprise even us.

“The secretary’s patience is not infinite,” a source close to Kerry told the Post. “The bilateral relationship is unshakable. But playing politics with that relationship could blunt Secretary Kerry’s enthusiasm for being Israel’s primary defender.”

I labored over a pithy comment, and then decided not to bother.

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I sympathize with my own cause but question my technique.

My anti-mouse experiment needs work. I put four traps under the hood last night, got two confirmed kills and two missing traps. Searched till my fingers were freezing and couldn’t find them anywhere.

Also got a third packrat in the powershed. I wish I’d kept better records, because I’ve now quite lost count of how many rats I’ve killed this winter. In the neighborhood of a dozen, anyway. For once the trap between the Lair and the woodshed was unmolested, and I’m seeing no new nesting activity in there. Of course that might be because I’ve spent a lot more time in the woodshed than before, moving stovewood out.

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Granddatter’s First Rifle!

After all, she’ll turn four this year. Woke to an email from daughter, announcing that Ari the Husband had decided he was sick of waiting.

No word on Kaelyn’s reaction, but I’d be surprised if she’s not cool with it.

kaelynI’ll have to start on that beginner’s kit for improvised demolitions.

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Come one, come all…

I’ve genuinely lost track of how many packrats I’ve killed in the little space between the Lair and the woodshed. Got another last night which makes at least six…100_4627

And every time I put a mouse trap under the Jeep’s hood, I kill a mouse. Every single time. So I got to wondering what would happen if I set two mouse traps under there.100_4629So tonight, I’m setting four. If that works, I may need more mouse traps.

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America’s Mystery Miracle Meat!

Courtesy of commenter MR, The history of Spam! Complete with recipes!

I didn’t know the bit about its part in WWII (“It’s why war is hell.”) but am not surprised that Spam has recently become a part of ironic hipster cuisine. Personally I like it – when I can get it, for it’s a bit pricey for my regular budget – for the very reason it was created: It’s tasty when prepared, lasts forever on a shelf, and needs no refrigeration. Also the article confirms my impression that it’s really not as toxic as most canned meat, er, products.

I usually cube mine with potatoes and onions or eat slices with my most common breakfast, open faced with fresh bread and eggs. Fry the slices separately while you toast one side of your fresh-sliced bread on the griddle. Then butter the griddle, break one egg on the griddle for each slice, break the yolks, lay a slice of Spam and a slice of bread on each egg and fry them together. Delicious, quick, and guaranteed to get your dogs’ attention from a mile away.

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Says here I’m not poor…

No, indeed. I “feel a responsibility to choose another path that is as life-affirming and as sustainable as [I] can make it while still remaining connected and participating in [my] native culture.”

Get a load of this shite.

Voluntary Poverty is a far more fundamental and effective way to decrease consumption and impact while increasing connection and improving life all around. Our family of four lives on about $7000 a year (less this year) and our lives are more enjoyable, fuller, richer, healthier, more inspiring to others, and more interesting to ourselves. (Note: for comparison, the poverty level as set by the government for a family of four is around $22,000). This is nothing new of course; sages and mystics have been sharing the joys and even the necessity of voluntary poverty and simplicity for eons. This article is simply my two cents as a modern day American.

That’s what I’ve been doing wrong! I haven’t been capitalizing it!

Technically not much in this Mother Earth News article is actually wrong – this guy is doing much the same thing I am, he’s just being much (much much) more self-righteous about it. I moved out because I couldn’t take the bullshit anymore: He apparently reinvented the Peace Corps…

We are connected in our community. We are free to do our “work” and host community dinners, help neighbors start gardens, offer art classes for kids, make murals, orchestrate community improvement projects, distribute food and clothing, host workshops…We also have a network around our home that can help tend our place (gardens, animals) when we are away. It’s also amazing what shows up when you are available to receive, use, and share it: our little Be the Change project gives away over $200,000 worth of clothing each year from donations from the Common Threads program of the Patagonia company.

And of course there’s a lovely big dollop of White Guilt on top…

[M]y wife and I are white, well-educated, healthy, American citizens who were raised in loving families. In every way in this time and place we have the world at our fingertips – we were born on third base. And, because we know what our American corporate and consumerist lifestyles do to people on the other side of the tracks – be they in our country or, more commonly these days, abroad – we feel a responsibility to blah, blah, blah.

Yuppies. There goes the neighborhood.

H/T to Landlady.

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In an episode of my ongoing dispute with Ghost over who owns the Lair’s only chair…

I bought him a bed while I was in town.

And then I put his blanket in the bed, so it would smell right.100_4624He’s not convinced.100_4625He’s not entirely unconvinced…100_4626Well…okay. For now.

I got back home just in time for the predicted weather change, which actually happened exactly on schedule. In my more than eight years here, I think that’s a first. So now all of a sudden it’s freezing rain and snow, and we’re spending the evening together in my toasty Lair. Bless you, sudden absence of my chimney fire phobia!

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Not actually calling for a fatwa against Ian here…

I personally think a simple whipping would be sufficient. But then I’m a moderate M1A shooter. Also, anyone who’d hang that much rail farm on an M1A is clearly an apostate from the true Church of the Immaculate M1A*, and deserves whatever happens to his rifle.
mud-test-thumbAnd besides, when he’s right he’s right.

*Also, there’s a reason I called it the Church of the Immaculate M1A, because as Ian shows here bad things can happen when they’re not kept that way. On the other hand, when you get a case jammed in your gooped-up chamber you get to horrify all the AR and FAL shooters on the line as you boot-stomp the op rod until it pulls loose, and that’s always good for a hoot.

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Off to the Big Town…

My neighbors D&L go to the big town about 50 miles away once or twice a month, and normally I just give them money and get them to pick up my glaucoma meds. More and more I find the experience less and less enjoyable and would rather just stay in my nice quiet desert. But I’ve worn right through the sole of my left boot, a fact of which our recent mud avalanche very unpleasantly reminded me, and that’s not something I can delegate.
So I’m away from TUAK central today. Please address any correspondence requiring immediate attention to TUAK’s Associate Editor, Little Bear Joelson.

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Mess not with Uncle Joel…

For lo, he is annoyed with your entire species.

The War on Rodents marches on.
100_4623That’s the second from the powershed, for eleven in total. Gone are the days when I thought these things had substantial non-negotiable territories and that my troubles were only being caused by two or three rats. There is some evidence I’m having an effect on their activities, but no support at all for any hope that I’m going to run out of rats soon.

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All righty, then…

The etymology of the word Derp is beyond my means or interest to track down. I believe the person responsible for applying it to gun accessories is Tam, though I can’t defend the opinion. Nor am I prepared to offer any precise or encompassing definition. Like pornography, I know derp when I see it.

And I see it.

Yes, the grip-knife. Because … well, just because.

As laughable as you may find this product, if it really is a product which I’m not sure, save a guffaw or two for the website that purports to advertise it. Now, that’s derp.

Full disclosure: I was once very young, and also once possessed a box or two of absurd accessories for my so-aftermarket-it-was-virtually-a-replica M1 carbine, none of which caused the poor sorry thing to actually run for more than 2 or 3 rounds at a time. So I’m laughing with…no, I’m not. I’m laughing at anybody stupid enough to want this. But also at myself, because there was a time.

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