Flowers in the Desert

It’s Monsoon season, which is a pain in the ass. It’s also pretty necessary, because this is the time of year when we get the bulk of our moisture. There’s rain and snow in winter and spring, but now’s the time we get our big gully busters.

Still. Mud. Flash floods. Never being sure the roads will be passable from one hour to the next. Kind of a pain in the ass. Good thing there’s all these flowers.

That’s my yard, between the driveway and the wash, in the afternoon light. Millions of tiny yellow, white and purple flowers everywhere. Continue reading

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In other news, all American airports and bus and train and filling stations to be closed…

Because anyone who can be described as a traveler must be racist.

Hey, why not?

Traveler, USC’s mascot, comes under scrutiny for having a name similar to Robert E. Lee’s horse

When Richard Saukko galloped his chalk-white Arabian horse named Traveler around the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum almost 56 years ago, it was supposed to be a one-time stunt.

Instead, the brief performance before USC kicked off its season against Georgia Tech turned into one of college football’s iconic traditions. A succession of white horses named Traveler have followed — Traveler IX debuts this fall — trotting out of the tunnel as “Conquest” plays and the costumed Trojan warrior atop the horse waves a sword. But during a rally earlier this week to show solidarity in the aftermath of the violence in Charlottesville, Va., a USC campus group linked the name to Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee, whose favorite horse was Traveller.

At the rally, according to the student newspaper the Daily Trojan, Saphia Jackson, co-director of the USC Black Student Assembly, asked students not to be quiet, and reminded that “white supremacy hits close to home” and referenced the name of the Trojans mascot.


I don’t want to be niggardly in my condemnation of racism, but probably more than one white horse has been named Traveler. Also, there’s no evidence that the Traveler ever owned a slave, or even had an opinion about the practice.

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Well played!

Once in a blue moon a chicken will do something at least vaguely suggestive of learning ability. It’s virtually always food-related.

I started breakfast and noticed that my remaining bread is about to go moldy, which settled the question of whether this should be a baking day. Meanwhile the chickens, who had already been fed, were raising cain outside as if they were being deprived of something. From the way they stacked up in the corner when I opened the back door, they were expecting a bread treat. It’s possible I’ve been overindulging them – the new back door does make tossing treats easier than before.

The view from the new back door.

The view from the new back door.

So I opened the door and tossed a piece of bread to the far side of the chicken yard, and three of the four hens made a mad dash for it. The fourth remained exactly where she was, and the second chunk landed at her feet. She grabbed it and ran, with three hens in hot pursuit. :)

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Might come in handy someday…

Hey, Little Bear! I’ve got a new trick for you to learn…

h/t to Carl.

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Stupid is as stupid does.


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This post is brought to you by #Realnuze.

Trump broke the sun

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I had to stop painting the Lair when I was denounced by the Gulch’s Committee* on Cultural Compliance…

Yeah, they accused me of pretending to be a Person of Color. 😉

Thank you, you’re wonderful. I’ll be here all week. Don’t forget to tip the borscht and try the waitresses.

*You know you’re living some semblance of a free life when you have to stop and look up the spelling of “committee.” :)

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And another sigh. Spam again.

This is why I like canned meat…

Second Monday in a row the local food market’s meat reefer’s been broken down. I had my mouth set for some roast chicken, but it’s Spam again this week. Fortunately Big Brother restocked me.

They were also out of potatoes. Again. I happened to mutter “how does a food store run out of potatoes?” in the presence of an employee. I got a discourse on how each department has a weekly budget which somehow doesn’t permit the purchase of potatoes, I confess I wasn’t really listening. I dunno – I’m not an economist, but it just seems as if potatoes might be a logical product for a food store to sell all the time, not just for the few minutes after the potato shipment comes in.

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Sigh. Seems like all I do is spend money these days…

See this? This was totally not in the budget.

That’s what I get for being fastidious, for doing normal, ordinary maintenance. Yeah. A slob would not have needed to buy a new waterer.

Calcium scale had really built up on the old waterer, which is only, I dunno, maybe a little over four years old. I had a little left over of the cleaning-strength vinegar I use to clean the toilet bowl, and last night I thought, “I’m planning to buy more vinegar tomorrow, so I should expend everything I have on cleaning this waterer.

Yeah. Probably would have been a better idea last year. This year it turns out the calcium scale was the only thing holding the water in.

There’s a reason nobody around here uses iron water tanks any more.

(grumble) What pisses me off is that I had the money! I had the money because I got paid a finder’s fee for those batteries, right? Which wasn’t even any part of the negotiations, my neighbor just said, “Good job, here you go.” And I thought, I dunno, I’ll see how the insulation and drywall costs go, and then maybe I’ll buy something shiny with the windfall, if I don’t end up spending it on building materials.

And I did. I spent it on something shiny. For the f*cking chickens.

BUT! The morning is not all doom, gloom and dragons eating the sun. I also finished fixing the platform of S&L’s painting scaffold.

Yup! And I got it locked to the scaffold, and I dragged the ladder over and got everything level, and climbed up with no trouble at all, Even ol’ Acrophobe Joel can work on that now. So I’ve lost my last excuse not to start painting again.

Maybe it’ll rain?

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You’ve got to wonder…

…about the efficiency and thoroughness of some people’s thought processes. That’s all.

ETA: Meanwhile, it has been revealed that 90% of America’s neo-nazis live in secret underground bunkers.

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Comes a time when age trumps tradition, like it or not.

Big Brother has always liked waterbeds. He had one in 1970 when I was in high school and lived with him. He has one now.

But alas…

Unsurprisingly, [Big Brother’s wife’s] health has been quite questionable since our trip. Our doctor is amazing. [She] has been coughing for the last couple of weeks. As he tries to figure out why, that fellow has been calling her several times each week to keep track and to offer suggestions. Few doctors answer phone calls from patients, fewer yet PLACE them.

She must sleep sitting up so she can drain, so our cherished homemade 40-year-old water bed finally must go. It is simply too old to learn new tricks. Very expensively, we have ordered a new split “adjustable” bed to replace it. Like a hospital bed, she will have the option of sleeping on a recline, while I will be able to continue to sleep flat as before. Until it arrives, she spends much of each night in a recliner, leaving us separated but at least still in the same premises.

Life goes on.

So it does, given the slightest chance.

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Care packages!

Landlady’s schedule got bumped up a week and though I knew these packages were in transit I was so sure they wouldn’t be here this weekend I had already planned to spend money I really can’t afford on wire. But the donated wire has arrived!

A hundred foot coil of braided 12 gauge duplex! I can now finish the 12v wiring. This stuff is expensive, at least it is around here. Also leather bones for LB, some canned meat, and…

That’s the undershelf reading lamp for the new bedroom, which will go over the headboard (on the new/old bedstead, which is also coming sometime next month). Complete with dimmer control, which time will tell how useful that will be but I’m guessing probably lots given the application.

Also, Generous Reader Terrapod sent a bunch of thermostat wire, more than enough to get the furnace’s thermostat over where it belongs, halfway across the room from the new furnace.

And! He threw in some new trailer hold-downs, always extremely useful, AND!

A new Official TUAK camera! Which promptly set out to teach me what an out-of-touch old coot I am: You see that sign on the front that says “Touch Screen?” Well, I didn’t see that. There’s only five buttons on the whole machine, one is the shutter catch and another is on/off which seemed to leave very few buttons to control what would no doubt prove an awful lot of functions. And none of the buttons were rockers. So even when I could persuade the screen to display a menu, how the hell was I to make selections? I actually spent like fifteen minutes on this perplexing question, finally resolving to download a manual.

Then I was playing with the camera on a Ghost run, and I saw that sign. “Touch Screen.” And I remembered that people with smart phones could make them do things by touching or swiping the screen…

And I felt kind of stupid.

Speaking of stupid, while I used my telephone to take the picture of the camera above*, I kept hearing it make “shutter click” noises. Turns out you can take pictures by … touching the screen. Which is one of the dumber functions I can think of, because how do you hold the camera still while you do that? But maybe it has some use I haven’t yet discerned. Kinda meta, though. While I was gazing into the camera lens, it was gazing back into me.

Thanks, guys!

*Repeat that sentence to yourself over and over in a quiet environment, and see if a picture of The Infinite doesn’t appear in your mind.

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So. Scenario: You’ve invited some traditionalist Australian aborigines over for brunch and only then get to wondering…

“…but what do they eat?” to the rescue!

Or something. I can’t imagine what else you’re expected to do with honest-to-god ground-up crickets.


I do not recall how this got in my tabs, but it was too good not to use for something. The morning got complicated, but expect a care package post later.

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“First they came for the Nazis…”

History doesn’t always repeat itself but it does often rhyme.

First they came for the Communists, and I did not speak out—Because I was not a Communist.

Then they came for the Trade Unionists, and I did not speak out—Because I was not a Trade Unionist.

Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out—Because I was not a Jew.

Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak for me.

Irony alert, of course, because the “They” Niemöller goes on about are the Nazis. Not much chance neo-nazis are going to “come for” anybody in any organized way very soon – have you met those rubes? Seriously, they make the KKK look like the editorial board of the National Review in its heyday – but the social justice warriors are taking no chances. According to Brad:

In a similar vein, CloudFlare has removed the Daily Stormer from its service. (Among other functions, they protect websites from DDoS attacks.)

Reversing the company’s previous stance on not censoring content, founder and CEO Matthew Prince wrote in an internal email that he “woke up this morning in a bad mood and decided to kick them off the Internet. It was a decision I could make because I’m the CEO of a major Internet infrastructure company.”

“My rationale for making this decision was simple: the people behind the Daily Stormer are a**holes and I’d had enough,” Prince wrote. “Let me be clear: this was an arbitrary decision.”

I had considered subscribing to CloudFlare to protect our web sites, but forget that — I don’t want to lose our web presence because some arrogant CEO woke up in a pissy mood one day. And there you see on naked display the attitude of all the Silicon Valley CEOs: I can kick people around because I’m the CEO of a major Internet firm.

Fortunately nothing at all bad can come of such things – because they’re only happening to nazis, and nobody really disputes that nazis are assholes. I mean, seriously. How is such a depth of historic illiteracy possible, that there are still people eager to call themselves nazis? But we used to say – seems like only a little over a week ago – that the measure of a free society is that it can let such people be as stupid as they like as long as they don’t start hurting people. Now suddenly they’re an existential threat and we must all applaud while our betters release the hounds? Niemöller is screaming from his grave.

And somewhere there’s a mine shaft where a canary has stopped cheeping.

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Let us now praise Akiba Horowitz.

All this flashlight talk has had me thinking about them – like, where did the word “flashlight” come from anyway? The English call them “electric torches,” which is at least more descriptive.

It turns out there’s an answer, related directly to the poor performance of primitive technology.

Early portable electric lights were called “flash lights” since they would not give a long steady stream of light.

Akiba Horowitz, a Russian immigrant who changed his name to Conrad Hubert, was a literal 19th century rags-to-riches tycoon. He didn’t invent the flashlight but he tinkered with gadgets illuminated with small electric lights and formed the American Electrical Novelty & Manufacturing Company. In the course of all that he hired David Misell, the man who actually did invent the gadget still recognizable as the tubular flashlight, and bought his first patents. Then he put him to work improving it, because apparently the first commercial products were pretty sad. But they were such self-evidently useful tools that they quickly became popular despite their limitations.

Even I remember when flashlights had filament bulbs and drycell batteries that ran out fast, and for that reason were equipped with both constant-on and momentary switches. Because you got better battery life if you “flashed” the light.

I also learned that the American Electrical Novelty & Manufacturing Company is still around, sort of. Guess what it’s called? :)


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LED bulbs rule, illustrated.

I got to playing around with something last night, since at the moment the Lair sports working examples of the three main types of lightbulb.

I used to use Compact Fluorescent bulbs exclusively, because while LED bulbs with standard sockets existed and pulled like half the wattage, they cost three times as much. That has changed in the eight years of the Lair’s existence, and so now the only 120v CFLs in the cabin are the ones in sockets that just don’t get used much anyway. Spending money unnecessarily is a sin, unless it’s for fun things like alcohol.

But virtually the very first off-grid life lesson I learned upon moving to the gulch, the very first morning when I killed my hosts’ inverter with one, is this:


A demonstration below the fold: Continue reading

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Well, there it is.

The best thing on the Internet today.


fa and antifa are about as different as dems and repubs. Which is to say you can tell them apart basically only by the flags and certain fringe policy positions.

I’ll say this, though, in favor of MSM suddenly deciding to view nazis with alarm for a while: At least right now they’re hating on people who actually consider themselves fascists. That’s pretty rare, when you think about it.

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“The Revolution will be complete when the language is perfect.”

So wrote George Orwell, and reading his book when I was a kid I never really understood why he pounded away at language so. I was only in it for the story; he was trying to make an important point.

And here it is:

California Proposes Jail Time for Using the Wrong Pronoun for Transgenders

SB 219, titled the “Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Long-Term Care Facility Resident’s Bill of Rights,” states, “It shall be unlawful for a long-term care facility or facility staff to…. willfully and repeatedly fail to use a resident’s preferred name or pronouns after being clearly informed of the preferred name or pronouns.” It imposes fines and jail time on any long-term care employee who refuses to use transgender pronouns. Fines for repeat offenders could be as high as $1,000 and a jail term of up to a year.

The bill will also mandate bathrooms and rooming situations be designated by gender identity and not biological sex. There are no exemptions for long term care facilities run by religious institutions who integrate their beliefs about gender into their policies and practices.

Reality is a social construct. Which is to say, it is what our would-be rulers say it is.

California. I almost wish I still lived there, only so I could have the pleasure of leaving again. But I swear it seems to have gotten a lot crazier just in the past few years.

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Wow. You guys have weird problems out there.

Yeah, I got nuttin’ today but my stats page tells me I shouldn’t ignore the blog just because I have nothing constructive to say.

So here’s a random image I stole from the Internet.


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Now I just need twelve small bolts…

…and maybe then I can finish the Lair’s first coat.

There’s the scaffold…

…and there’s the reason I’m not up on the scaffold right now.

I promised to replace the platform in return for the loan of the scaffold. It wasn’t a selfless promise, because I ain’t standing on that ever again. Worried me to death the last time.

So I spent some morning work time making a new one. But since I’m still an acrophobe, I won’t be walking on it till it’s securely bolted to its frame. And that won’t happen till I can buy some bolts, which probably won’t happen till next Monday.

I could start on the lower second coat, but then I’d probably be out of paint again. First I want to put two coats on that upper front part, and get it out of my life for another two or three years.

So for now I’m fiddling with electricity and otherwise not accomplishing much on the addition.

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