A 6X12 loft is 72 square feet…

…which, when occupied by two dressers, a twin bed, a chair and a laundry hamper, feels more like zero square feet.

I thought about that this afternoon after finally getting the big dresser down (intact!) from the loft. And then I thought, wow, there’s a lot of space up here now.

No, you can’t see it. It is pretty much all my architectural sins remembered. Think Bart Simpson’s treehouse, but lots dustier than that. Anyway it’ll make a dandy storage area.

Of course emptying it pretty much filled the floor of the main cabin. Continue reading

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I am currently bellowing the most sincere belly laugh of my entire life*.

How Hillary Clinton Still Can, and Should, Become President After the Trump-Russia Investigation

Okay, before we get to the actual method by which Hillary will become president (snicker) please allow me to editorialize for just a moment…

People, this is Donald Trump we’re talking about here. A very famous, very famously unpleasant individual with a massive negative publicity trail going back longer even than Hillary’s. You’ve been trying to get him on Russian collusion all year and only succeed in beclowning yourselves over and over. Surely by now Trump must be the most investigated individual in human history, and that’s the best you’ve got? Mythical Russians and one p*ssy-grabbing remark? My only possible conclusion is that Trump must have been a closet saint all those decades, and was only pretending to be a vulgar immoral oaf like unto a particularly uncivilized baboon. Maybe I should start supporting him?

Be that as it may. Sit down, remove all spewable liquids from your vicinity and get a load of this.

Here’s how constitutional law expert Lessig lays it out:

If number 1: If Trump is definitively found to have colluded directly with Russia, he would be forced to resign or be impeached.

If number 2: If Trump is removed, Vice President Mike Pence would become president.

If number 3: If Pence becomes president, he should resign too, given that he benefited from the same help from Mother Russia.

If number 4: If Pence resigns before appointing a vice president, Ryan would become president.

If number 5: If Ryan becomes president, he should do the right thing and choose Clinton for vice president. Then he should resign.

“The answer seems unavoidable: He should nominate the person defeated by the treason of his own party, and then step aside and let her become the president,” Lessig writes. “Without doubt, if Ryan did the right thing, that would be the most extraordinary event in the history of America since the Confederate Army fired on Fort Sumter. But unlike that, this event would build the union, not divide it.”

Yup. That’ll work.

*Okay. I can actually think of a couple other, even more sincere belly laughs. But those were due to intensely personal experiences not shared on a frickin’ blog. Get off my lawn.

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The return of Sister Creaking Springs

Neighbor D offered to come over and help me get my mattress down from the loft.

For occasions just like this, I made the loft railing easy to remove. It’s so close to the ceiling, otherwise it would be impossible to shift furniture.
Continue reading

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Winter Is Coming

I used to make fun of people who froze a lot of meat and called it “preps.” But in my case these are just luxuries, to keep me from going insane with depression if I’m stuck through the winter with nothing but six buckets of beans and rice.

Actually I’m a lot more likely to be stuck at the cabin during Monsoon than winter, and Monsoon doesn’t worry me at all. So go figure: I got burned, and now Winter is the time for prepping like it’s 1999. On a more practical note, paying gigs drop off to nothing during the winter and I tend to burn a lot more propane, which costs money. So stocking up on meat isn’t just feeding my neurosis. Last winter Landlady brought me a whole bunch of pork, and I assure you it all got eaten.

Anyway I got paid last week for a paying gig, and for once it wasn’t all instantly spent on building materials. So I brought home some more cheap cuts of chicken to squirrel away in Ian’s freezer. I’ve been doing this every chance I got, when I had a few extra bucks and the market’s meat reefer wasn’t broken.

Also a big package of “smoked sausage,” which is more like slightly spicier than usual hot dogs. It’s good to store some snack food, rather than nothing but ingredients.

And today, before Ghost goes home, we feast on hot chicken!

Before somebody says it, no. They don’t get the bones.

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Look who dropped in for a visit!

S&L are traveling again, just for a few days. L and I tried something different with Ghost this time, barricading off the rear patio and leaving him outside during the day. That way I’m only visiting 2-3 times a day rather than 5. I liked it and I expected Ghost to as well. Guess not.

Look who just showed up at the cabin, barely able to take another step?

He is currently engaged in an effort to drink ALL THE WATER. Then I’m going to have to help him safely down the cabin stairs – which he could barely climb – to piss it all back out again. Wouldn’t really be a problem except I still have to go to town.

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“How bourgeoisie of you!”

To put up a closet rod in the new closet, I needed a closet rod and brackets. Alas the only ones I owned that were even close to the right length were already holding up a bunch of seasonal clothes. So I tore it all down and scavenged the hardware. Then I did something I keep meaning to do…

I sorted through all the shit that had been hanging in the powershed.

A little backstory, long-time readers already know this: I was comically unprepared for the winter of 2008-2009, which I spent almost completely alone and without reliable transport. Occasionally thought I’d freeze and/or starve, and the experience left me a bit (more) neurotic about being prepared next time. Among other quirks I couldn’t turn down a free coat or sweater, no matter how inappropriate, worn-out or hyper-redundant. Came the time I had so many coats and sweaters there wasn’t room to store them all. I’m still getting rid of them. And now of course I a) have a really nice winter work coat and don’t need to scrounge or improvise, and b) am completely revamping my seasonal storage arrangement, moving essentials indoors and away from the rats for the first time. It’s time to finish paring down the third-hand winter coats.

By “paring down,” I mean haul them to town and dump them in the donation bin behind the local thrift store. Quite to my surprise I’ve ended up donating more than I buy there, because neighbors tend to give me first refusal on their cast-offs and TUAK readers are incredible.

So anyway I was getting ready to load stuff into the Jeep for the Monday morning water run and I wanted this stuff out of my yard. But on the top of one pile was my old shooting jacket, from when I used to compete with a rifle…

…and I thought, “What’s the thrift store going to do with that?” And it occurred to me, belatedly, that I knew somebody who did know what to do with it, assuming he didn’t already own a dozen better. So I texted Ian with a picture, asking if he wanted it. He replied sure, and so I told him the circumstances. And he wrote back,

“Taking stuff TO the thrift store, eh? How bourgeoisie of you! :)

And that gave me my first good laugh of the morning, is all. You could apply many descriptors to me, several of them truthfully negative. But “bourgeois” would not be among them.

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I’m from Michigan. I should know these things.

What a difference one little foam pad made. Last night the bedroom temp went two degrees lower than the night before and I slept like a veritable rock.

Winter has not yet arrived, but we’ll be getting nights in the mid-thirties regularly now and you’d think that it would have occurred to me that you don’t want to spend those nights on an uninsulated air mattress. But no – I was so excited at the chance to finally build my new nest in this thing I spent the whole frickin’ warm season constructing that I just leapt ahead oblivious – and got like four hours sleep. One layer of additional insulation and I slept like a baby.

I do need my regular mattress, though, and that will call for a second set of hands. I can get it down from the loft, it’s really quite light. The question is what it’s doing while I get myself down from the loft after it.

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Actually I think it’s the headline writer who does not understand how electricity works.


ice cream power outage

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So naturally the temperature crashed overnight…

Not especially cold, not even a record for the season. It went two degrees colder one night last month. But I wasn’t on an air mattress downstairs last month.

Thanks to Unfamiliar Bed Syndrome I didn’t drop off till probably sometime around eleven. I’m not sure what time it was when I woke up cold, but I do know it was three ayem when I gave up and got out of bed to light the new heater. The bedroom thermometer read 53, which is not very bloody cold. But I should have thought to pull that inch-thick pad of memory foam off the regular mattress, because the air mattress wasn’t holding heat at all.

Reading the story of the thermometers later, it appears the new heater is better at heating the main cabin than the addition. The addition temperature never exceeded 55 degrees even though the heater quietly hissed away for the remainder of the “night” – and in fact is still on now, because I want to see what it’ll do when it has some help from the sun. The heater makes its own corner warm, but it appears (no surprise) it would really benefit from a fan. Or maybe a bedroom door – if the nights are going to be cold this coming week I may need to rig something to let me hang a blanket over the doorway.

I’m also going to take the woodstove pipe down today and make sure nothing has nested in it during the warm months, because I don’t believe it’ll be long before we’re burning wood.

By the way, Judy? I did pay attention to whether the heater was endangering that corner of the fabric on the footstool. It’s not even making it appreciably warm.

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Moving day!

I was hoping to get some hardware in town this morning, but I’m never sure a Saturday trip will happen. So I spent the waiting time putting switch and outlet covers on, then took the opportunity of the trip to tend Landlady’s chickens to pick up all the bedroom furniture except the bed.

My plan called for removing the loft railing, which is made for easy removal, then lower the mattress and disassembled dresser with a rope. I stood in the middle of the cabin and said, “You plan to lower a six foot mattress nine feet. And then it’s going to, what? Stand on its end while you come down the ladder?” This was not a good plan. The cabin is too small, something’s going to get broken.

The bedframe still needs some work anyway; turns out it needs a wheel, and the clamps holding the two halves are missing so there’s some drilling and screwing in its future. To do that I really need the mattress.

Drat. But I am undaunted. Remember this?

Hasn’t been out of the rat-resistant shed since it arrived last November. But what this situation calls for is the Emergency Backup Bed. :) Continue reading

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…and every lock that ain’t locked when no one’s around…

Found myself humming that song this morning. Little Bear and I took a nice walk looping around toward Landlady’s place to tend chickens, and on the way I got to thinking about drywall anchors for closet and book shelves. Never having had a scrap of drywall on the Lair until very recently I didn’t own a single one. I could get some tomorrow if D&L want to take their semi-regular Saturday trip to the dollar store but that’s not certain, and anyway it’s kind of a hassle.

On the other hand I know where stuff is stashed in Landlady’s barn…
So now I have shelf brackets and drywall anchors. Now to scrounge up some lumber for the shelves themselves…

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Best Day Ever

I woke this morning to the knowledge that there was absolutely nowhere I had to be, absolutely nothing I had to do (beyond the standard quotidian chores that keep the wheels on) and absolutely nobody I had to talk to. Yesterday was busy. Tomorrow will be busy. For once, today is just a day. No geriatric dogs who need their diaper changed, no horses that need to be fed, no trips to town, no overdue correspondence. Can’t even work on the bedroom while the floor finish cures.

Later today when it warms up a bit I’ll bake bread, but by now I can do that on autopilot. It’s a chore but not a burden.

I dressed in my favorite BDU trous and hoodie. This morning LB and I will take a nice leisurely walk for the first time in what seems like weeks, since there’s noplace that needs to be rushed to. There’s still yard debris from the building and painting, maybe if the wind behaves itself I’ll do a clean-up pass. Maybe I’ll haul some lumber to where the firewood operation will commence once that new Honda generator arrives.

Or maybe I’ll just dig into this big box of old books my visitor left me, and let the world outside my window go to hell in its own way.


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Floor finish completed.

I’ve got materials for a third coat but I don’t think I’m going to do that.

There were bits that were still a tiny bit tacky this morning after 24 hours. If this coat dries as slowly as the first did, I won’t be able to do any more work in here until Saturday and then only in stocking feet. And I want to start setting up the closet, which is Stage One of MOVING IN!!!

Wood trim will have to work around the furniture. The main part of the cabin, I confess, mostly got trimmed in good intentions but I can’t get away with that here because of all the raw drywall edges everywhere. But if I wait till that’s done I won’t be in before spring, and I’m not waiting any longer. The move-in begins this coming weekend.

:) It smells awful at the moment, but it really looks nice.

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Ay, ’tis a sad day.

Mourn with me, brethren and sistren…

I’ve probably had these jeans 20 years. Didn’t actually wear them much in summer since moving here, which is why they lasted as long as they did. Started patching them last year but the fabric is just rotted. When I was a teenager that would have been stylish, but I’m really not a stylish kind a guy – at a minimum my pants have to keep my balls covered or they’re of no use as pants and it’s time for them to retire and spend more time with the cleaning rags.

But I mourn my loss, nonetheless.

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“Quick-dry,” my ass…

This is my bedroom floor…

…on which I laid the first coat of urethane 4 hours ago. And it’s still not dry enough to walk on, even without boots, for a second coat. Plus the smell is killing me. I waited till it was warm enough to open all the windows, and I’m really glad for that precaution because this stuff is awful.

Stuck without anything constructive to do while I waited for each molecule of my floor treatment to individually and sequentially dry, I loaded up LB in the Jeep and we went to Landlady’s barn.

There we (okay: I) got to work on the bedframe I scored from the local thrift store Monday. Fortunately the wind has settled down.

BE IT KNOWN that I basically took everybody’s advice here. I scraped it down with a wire brush and steel wool. Then I burned it with frickin’ fire (propane torch). Then I primed it and painted it. Any bedbug egg that could have survived on this contraption would have come from a bug that had already conquered the world, so I’m not worrying about bugs any more.

That took a couple of hours, and we came home only to learn that the floor still wasn’t walkable even in socks. Now I’m starting to wonder if I even want to hit it with a second coat today, lest the air be too foul for sleeping when I have to close the windows. Doesn’t take long at all to apply and it’s easy as pie. But the drying time is glacial. This is quick-dry? How long does slow-dry take?

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LB defends his home from the dreaded tourist…

Actually that’s Ian and his mom about a month ago, and LB was hoping they’d let him out and/or give him food. But whatever.

I have learned something everybody already knows: When you raise livestock – or are standing in for someone who raises livestock – you don’t get to call in sick. Truth is I’ve been borderline ill for the past few days but that doesn’t exempt me from driving back and forth across the frickin’ desert to feed dogs and horses and water gardens. (I am the only person I know whose standard Jeep survival kit includes a shovel and plastic bag w/roll of toilet paper, because “that’s” always a symptom when I’m not feeling well and it doesn’t care where I am when it strikes. Fortunately most of the time there’s nobody around to see me jump out and take care of business beside the “road.”)

I am getting a little done on finishing up with the bedroom, but I’ll admit I’m officially behind schedule. May still make it by the weekend but I haven’t even started cleaning painting and modifying the bedframe I acquired on Monday and that will take time – in a cold wind I really don’t feel like standing around in. With a paint sprayer. I may actually resort to the air mattress at first, because I really truly do want to GET MOVED IN.

Today I have an ambition for completing the floor finish, and then I’ll turn my attention to how I can dismember the big cheap dresser in the loft and transport it down in one piece. There’s a lot of work to do setting up the closet before it will even make sense to move the bedroom furniture in permanently.

So there’s lots of work left to do, and a little of it is getting done. But it kind of depends on how I feel, and lately I haven’t felt so great and most of my energy is going to keeping livestock and gardens fed and watered.

Also I owe a couple of people correspondence. For some reason my mail server has decided that my email address doesn’t exist and I am simply not qualified to deal with why that would be. I’m not ignoring you, I’m being embargoed by my own mail server.

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I didn’t know any of these still worked.

I’ve been going up the plateau twice a day since last Wednesday to take care of T&S’s gardens and animals. Noticed that this one property I pass has tracking solar panel racks that actually sort of work.




From the peculiar angle, these would be passive tracking racks which work with a cylinder of liquid that boils and expands through the day, then cools and contracts at night. They’ve been around a long time, and I’m impressed that they still work – especially on this windy plain. They don’t have a good reputation for durability; maybe this guy actually maintains his.

Tracking racks, like wind generators, were a lot more commonly seen around here ten years ago than they are now. They have the obvious advantage of tracking the sun across the sky, which must have seemed a much more important consideration before the Chinese got into the act and solar panel prices crashed. Now panels wholesale for $0.85/watt, and it doesn’t make a lot of sense to spend $3,000 plus just for your rack tower. Plus they’re terribly susceptible to wind damage – which is why I’m surprised these still work at all. I’ve heard they can’t withstand any snow load at all. Plus they require frequent maintenance, which isn’t real likely on your average redneck homestead.

Pretty much everybody around here builds fixed racks, which of course can’t track the sun, and then they just throw a lot of solar panels at the problem.

Neighbor S may have taken that to extremes. But then he’s the one buying them wholesale. Less efficient per panel, perhaps. But a lot more efficient per dollar, for a much more durable and dependable solution.

I should point out that the rack above is right next to the original broken passive tracking rack.

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It’s official: I’m too out of touch to be allowed out alone.

My Jerry cans for gasoline are still all working, but all in all they’ve been a disappointment. I found myself in an auto parts store this morning on an unrelated matter and decided to at least see what plastic jugs are going for these days ($20 a pop! I’m doomed.)

And I couldn’t quite see what was going on with the spout at a glance, so I took a moment to remove the spout from the can to see how it worked…

…and I literally can not figure it out. There is a sort of plastic mechanism present, but as far as I can tell there actually is no way to make liquid flow from the jug through that spout into a vehicle or anything else. For your protection.

Oh, I’m sure there is a way. Probably not a very good way, but there’s a way.

Once I was a master mechanic. I’m used to figuring gadgets out. If I can’t tell at a glance how a gas can spout works, there’s something wrong with me or the spout. I took this one apart and fiddled with it, and couldn’t figure it out.

I’ve officially been in the desert too long to be of any use to man or beast. Also, somebody’s selling a gas can with a pouring spout that doesn’t actually do anything.

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Where is Pol Pot?

History is dotted with bizarre revolutionary movements that found brief local success, generally through exploiting a power vacuum. They rule through wild promises and terror, first purging “others” they can demonize as looters and wreckers, then turning on their own membership for the crime of insufficient revolutionary zeal or whatever. Their cultural goals are often, well, bizarre – and they usually prove efficient only in the manufacture of body piles. Most reasonable people, whatever their other differences, consider these movements a development to be avoided.

Their Great Leaders often end badly, but not before generously spreading a lot of horror. One thing all these movements have in common, though – there’s always a Great Leader.

Never thought you’d encounter such things right here in the good ol’ USA, didja?

Yesterday while reading Claire’s take on the latest Antifa nonsense, I got to wondering about something. Following a rabbit hole I found myself at the 90’s-style antisanal website of something calling itself the Revolutionary Abolitionist Movement. Understandably curious as to who or what they propose to abolish, I read on…

The same forces that put people in bondage also utilize gender roles as a source of domination. Overcoming imprisonment and liberating humanity from captivity must happen simultaneously with the abolition of gender constraints.

Um…okey doke.

This is probably two overage kids in mom’s basement, having imbibed rather more Gender Studies than was good for them. Kids today: In my day we had cigarettes and ditchweed, and we liked it that way. But the revolutionary vanguard this and “infrastructure of resistance” that did sound reminiscent of things I myself once thought were really neato, coming from the lips of John Sinclair when I was a kid worshipfully hanging around the Rainbow People’s Party house in Ann Arbor. Speaking of cigarettes and ditchweed…

…which familiar sound made me think, “This is all coming from the colleges, isn’t it?” Probably not an original thought, given how much colleges have put themselves in the news lately. Those “revolutionary” hippies lounging on couches and imbibing watered-down Marxist theory with their bong water grew up to be the grizzled and frustrated but ever-so Progressive professors filling kids’ heads with more toxic doses of the lovely, exciting propaganda I swallowed so eagerly at 16 – and vomited up at my first taste of how societies and economic systems actually work. Simple nostrums and bumper sticker slogans sound perfectly reasonable when you’re sixteen, which is why nobody lets a 16-year-old run anything more complex than a lawn mower.

…which in turn made me wonder, where are the real leaders of this latest bullshit? I’m seeing a lot of violent crowds, a lot of familiar rhetoric. But I’m not seeing a Great Leader.

So where’s Pol Pot while all this is going on? I begin to suspect he’s lurking around here somewhere.

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Picking paint always makes me nervous.

I can never tell from a paint chip in a hardware store what it’s going to look like on the wall.

Then when I start to smear it on the wall it always always looks terrible. I have to force myself to withhold judgment until it dries. Even then things only turn out all right in the end about half the time. The light is a lot different in a hardware store.

And I could have gone lighter here. But I think it’ll be okay.

And in any case it’s only paint. I hated the old exterior color, and still put up with it for two years and nobody died.

There’s still some trim to do around the windows, but the walls are basically done.

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