Rain, rain…

Had to do the evening chores early yesterday when the black clouds rolled in. Rained off and all all afternoon and looks like most of the night, but the big boomers missed us. So far today looks like a replay of yesterday, all overcast and soggy.

I remember Claire, when she lived here, laughing at her PNW friends who thought they might want to visit in the winter because it’s the desert, right? Can’t get really cold. Uh huh. And it never gets really wet, either – except that when it does, it doesn’t kid around about it.

The short list of things I don’t like about the desert is that it has weather.

Also, I’ve got a new big issue. Neighbor L is mad at me. I practiced with my .44 yesterday morning without calling her first, and she says I spooked her and D’s horses while they were riding – at their gate, which is the better part of a mile away with a hill in between. I don’t understand how they could have even heard it, but this is a new wrinkle. They’ve got horses now and they do like to ride them. Maybe I need to move my pistol target out of my yard to someplace on the other side of a lot more dirt.

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Truth in advertising…

…will not be found here today. :)

I got nothin’ this morning. Sorry. Here’s a picture of some kittens.

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Back home safe…

Two hours later than hoped for, but relatively unstressed. My boys were fine, they apparently just napped through the day and LB didn’t feel any need to empty the trash or paint the floor with excrement, so it’s all good. Now they’ve had their Jeep ride while I took care of chickens, and the rain held off till now. I’ve got a new movie I’ve never seen, some Tom Cruise bomb called Live Die Repeat that finally made it to the sale rack, and we’re gonna tune out for a while.

Here’s a Johnny Cash song I heard on the way back, that I’d never heard before.

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High Impact/Low Probability: Low Impact/High Probability. Illustrated.

I’m going to town this morning. The big town about 50 miles away. This means a costume change. I have a drawer full of presentable blue jeans, a couple of t-shirts and a couple of overshirts I set aside for these occasions. Also the bat-belt accessories get trimmed down.

There’s a ritual to these things. I live in the desert and sometimes don’t see strangers for months at a time. Being naturally an introverted misfit, this has not enhanced my social grace. What I’m trying to say is that I really don’t like to go to town, but now with the glaucoma thing it’s necessary or I’ll gradually go blind. I need the eyedrops, and the only place I can get an affordable discount is at a Wal-Mart. They don’t put Wal-Marts out where I live. So I do what I’ve always done when faced with a task I’d rather shirk: I reduce it to ritual.

Part of the ritual is arming myself. I’d go without pants before I’d go without my gun, but I’m really (really) trying to deflect attention so I’m not going to carry the .44. Ordinarily I’d bring the 1911 just because it’s my second-favorite pistol while still far more concealable than the Taurus*, but when – like today – I’m working up a case of nerves I’ll dust off a little number that’s been on loan from Ian for years.

And it always reminds me of how probabilities and magnitudes affect our choices. Day to day, the probability that I’ll actually need to shoot something is pretty low, but still higher than where you probably live. There’s no social cost to being seen carrying a gun, so there’s no reason not to carry a big gun in a comfortable holster. On the other hand the consequences of not having a gun when a gun is needed are really fairly low. When I shoot a varmint, I’m more often defending the dogs or chickens or just removing an irritant – I’m really in no personal danger. Still, big gun.

In town the chance of needing to shoot some(body) is vanishingly low, though not quite zero. And if I do need to, it’s not going to be just one of those things. It’s going to alter and maybe ruin – maybe end – my life. Also, in town the custom is to go concealed. So, little gun.
Above, my everyday gun – a beater Taurus .44 Special. Puts big slow bullets in things. When used on varmints up to dog-size, resolves issues quickly. Lousy sights, okay trigger, moderate recoil. Weighs a ton.

Below, my ‘go-to-town’ gun – a Hungarian PA-63 in 9mm Mak. Puts small zippy bullets in things. Lousy sights, comically bad trigger, ouchy recoil. Small, slim and light like a feather. This pistol is made to be carried by a person who doesn’t expect to shoot it.

Hence, high impact/low probability – the chance that I will draw this pistol with intent to fire today is so low it barely registers on the list of things worth worrying about. But paradoxically if I do, I’m going to spend the entire time wishing to hell I’d brought a bigger gun.

And now I’m going to town. Later.

*And mind you, this is just my nerves talking. This ain’t NYC we’re going to. I could throw a shirt over the Taurus – or even not – and probably nobody would say a word to me as long as I didn’t pass a “no guns” sign. With the 1911 I regularly do that, and nobody says anything. People here are generally casual about guns, it’s no big deal.

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Me so handy 2

It’s only Monday, and this has been my week for playing Suzy Seamstress. I mentioned earlier that the new camo net I got for the chicken yard was about a foot short of what was needed. That didn’t bother me because the coop, with its metal roof, needed more shade than the net alone could provide. The Rhode Island Reds seem able to handle any amount of cold, but they’re not crazy about heat and it does get hot inside the coop. I want them happy in there while they’re laying eggs.

I had some lengths of landscape cloth scrounged from elsewhere, but none quite long enough to do a good job of covering the coop without excessive – and unsightly Facebook smileys – sagging. So yesterday afternoon I sewed two together.
Fastened it down against the wind with wire, and now the coop is sheltered on all sides.

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Me so handy

For going on a year now I’ve been carrying this old Schrade LB7 because even though I prefer a fixed-blade I don’t have one of reasonable size that takes or holds as good an edge.
But the thing about old stuff is that it’s old. And sometimes old stuff falls apart. Half the stitching on the Schrade’s holster fell apart as soon as I started using it. So I fixed it…
…with this gadget here. I’m not sure what it’s called, and I wasn’t sure how to use it. But it was time to learn, and wasn’t hard to figure out.
This morning during chores, the other half fell apart. Me fix!
That’s only the second time in all the years I’ve had it that I’ve found a use for that gadget. But nothing else would do, so it’s good to have around.

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New Toy

Running around this morning doing Monday chores. Cleaning out rodent traps, taking care of three sets of chickens, making sure various plants and trees are alive, that sort of thing. Putting to use some of the stuff Landlady brought up last weekend: Do you know how sad it is, with all the cool shooting stuff out there begging to be bought, when a hermit blows his whole shooting budget on a bag of crushed walnut shells? That’s sad. But I put new media in the case polisher, because I’m a (ahem) mature, sober individual who does not waste money on useless fripperies. (/ahem) Dammit.

I got to play with fripperies anyway, thanks to an unnamed benefactor…
I load all my pistol practice ammo on a single-stage RCBS press, which is a fine little press don’t get me wrong but when you thread the powder dumper on it every part of the press except the part that actually holds the dumper is directly in the way of the operation. I’ve loaded several thousand cartridges on this little press, and every single time I’ve dumped powder into one of them I’ve wanted a separate dumper stand. But lo! They’re expensive for what they are.

Now I’ve got one of my very own, and thank you very much.

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Quick ‘n’dirty cinnamon raisin bread

What with the heat and humidity, the Red Ladies have been getting a lot of bread to eat because my regular recipe makes two loaves and I can’t eat it all before it goes moldy. So today I impulsively decided to do something different with that second loaf.
I rolled it out flat after the second rise, then sprinkled cinnamon and raisins evenly over the dough, rolled it up tight, and let it rise again. And hey presto!
I’m getting to like my own baking a bit too much. Putting on weight.

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“Little Bear, you’re violating laws of physics. You’re going to get us in trouble.”

If anyone could explain how he tied what amounts to two half hitches in his tie-out cable, I’d appreciate it.

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I’m thinking they should probably look for earlier clues…

A ‘sex worker’ shoots one of her clients dead with his own gun: Guy turns out to be an honest-to-god serial killer. That’s the set-up for today’s Quote of the Day. Okay? Now: How could this have been avoided?

An actual police spokesman said these actual words with his actual mouth, I totally did not make this up:

Lt. Cooper called Falls a “bad actor” and pointed out what many sex workers might recognize as a tell-tale sign of a serious problem.

“He made a deal with the victim to exchange money for her services as an escort,” Cooper said. “He brought no money with him. What he brought with his (sic) was a firearm, four sets of handcuffs, and all of the items you have photos of from the trunk of his car. So… clearly his intentions were dark.”

Yes, Lieutenant, that would certainly be an indication of trouble. But by the time you know all these things he’s rolling you into the truck, and it’s too late to worry. Perhaps something a little more useful? No?

Ed. Note: The fact that we possess and regularly use many of these same items should not be taken as a sign of serial killerhood on the part of any member of TUAK staff or management. Thank you.

Ed. Note: The fact that we possess and regularly use many of these same items should not be taken as a sign of serial killerhood on the part of any member of TUAK staff or management. Thank you.


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Woodshed, Secret Lair, Mk. III

Time to put the woodshed back up. I built a new 4X8 floor from pallet wood earlier in the week, but couldn’t put up the hoop until Landlady came back with the fencepost driver.

I made some improvements in this one. A better floor. Those half-walls will aid greatly in stacking, and they let me raise the hoop so I can stand upright inside. The low roof on the old one was a colossal pain.
That went well enough, but then it was time to display my tactical error. I bought a new tarp – even a fairly good one is good for three years tops – but wanted to do something about that bright eye-catching white. So I hit it with a couple of cans of red primer … which didn’t stick at all. It flakes off at every excuse. Now that it’s tied down, I’ll try to fix it. Without getting overspray all over my nice new cabin walls.

Sheesh. Next I’ll be covering the chair with plastic. Knitting a little cozy for the spare TP roll. One with a kitty face.
Seriously, it’s annoying. The old one looked just fine against the old Lair walls. This is a better one – and I don’t like it because it’s not “pretty.”

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Watch this to the end.

Tennis ball’s in the water. Dog wants the ball. Dog doesn’t like to swim. What to do?

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Good tools make me smile.

Up till this morning this was my favorite adjustable wrench. It’s made by Diamond Tool & Horseshoe, it was a gift from my father in 2006, and though it was pretty worn then it has served me well enough for nine years including a year and a half in a small engine shop. The jaws are beaten to hell and the action is scratchy, but it’s still a better wrench than you’ll see in the average fix-it toolbox. I’ve gotten a lot of use out of it.

This morning I was cleaning up the box of tools my older brother sent me, and all of a sudden the Diamond got demoted to just another tool in the box…
My father was a tradesman back in the day and when I was a boy he had many high quality tools. But he retired almost 40 years ago and things go away. Much of what was in the box was decent mass-market tools no better than what I already have. But a few survived the purge. This Utica Tool adjustable had clearly sat in the box for a while, it needed cleaning and a shot of penetrating oil, but then it remembered who it was. You can work the action on this wrench with your pinky, and it’s smooth like on brand-new $70 wrenches I’ve fondled in welding supply stores. When I was a dealership wrench I never put out for a good adjustable, they’re too bulky for tight places and not as strong as box- or open-end wrenches. But if I had, I’d have wanted one like this. It may not look like much to your eye, but this was the jewel in the Cracker Jack box. :)

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We stylin’ now, boy…

Got back from going to town with D&L: 25 bales of grass hay for their horses and one bale of straw for Landlady’s chickens. Getting that stuff stacked just so would be a helluva job for the two of them, he’s around 70 and she’s not far behind and doesn’t weight much more than one of the bales. In that group I’m the youngster at 61, though I’ve racked up a lot more body and frame damage that I’m paying for now. But between the three of us we get an assembly line working: She gets them off the trailer and into position for the hand truck, I hook them onto the handtruck and wheel them into the hayroom, and he stacks them just exactly so. I think they work harder than I do in the process, but since we can only do it one bale at a time each of them has a minute to breathe while I shuttle the handtruck back and forth. And anyway, it goes pretty quick.

Then to Landlady’s to put her new straw in the Big Chickenhouse, which she cleaned out while I was gone. Then home for a bite of lunch, and to give the Red Ladies their new roof. 0724151139
Off with the raggedy old cargo parachute, on with the new camo net! It’s even the right width, though it could have been another foot or two longer. Probably I’ll fill in over the coop with some landscape cloth I have in the powershed.
Told Landlady this morning over coffee – you guys have me so domestic and style conscious now, with the cabin all sided and the contrasting trim paint, I may actually have to paint the ugly powershed to match. What next? Doilies?

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Care Packages!

Got a text that said, “I’m here, and I’ve got a crap ton of stuff for you.” And she did!

And some of it was quotidian stuff I bought, and some was a new camo net for the Fortress of Attitude, and some was kind of melancholy – I inherited a box of old sheet-metal tools from my father – and some was genuine TUAK care packages!
Somebody found out Uncle Joel has a wish list, and hit it pretty hard. Some reloading gear and one of those gadgets for filing a saw chain on the bar. Also somebody paid far too much in postage to send me coffee and flour, thank you very much…

And there’s a new shiny for the Lair’s Wall’o’kitsch!
0724150511This is shaping up to be a busy day, because I’ve got to schlep hay with D&L and then then there’s a Landlady project. But this is going up posthaste.

Thanks, guys!

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Lou Lenart

I happened to see an item during my morning surfing, saying a man named Lou Lenart has died at 94.

The name wouldn’t normally have meant a thing to me. But as it happens, a few months ago I read one of Ian’s military history books called The Pledge, by Leonard Slater. Ian has the 1970 first edition, but it’s still available in paperback. The book doesn’t spend a lot of time on the actual 1948 war, it’s really about what happened before that. After WWII, a large percentage of surviving European Jews said, ‘Screw this, we need to kickstart Israel.’ Of course a great many people objected to the idea, and the western powers cooperated just half-heartedly enough to ensure that Israel would be born in blood if at all. And so behind the scenes there was this amazing, sometimes comical, sometimes inspiring effort to deal with the logistical needs of the inevitable war that would inaugurate either the birth or the stillborn death of modern Israel. Much of this happened in America, where some factions within the federal government officially endorsed arming the Jews while other factions hunted the people trying to actually do so as criminals.

The Jews took what they could get: For example they needed warplanes and wanted P-51s but simply couldn’t get them in time so they smuggled – and I do mean smuggled – some Me-109s* into Palestine from Czechoslovakia. The Brits, on the other hand, actively armed the Arab nations with surplus Spitfires, which led to some of the most ironic air battles in the history of military aviation. And that’s where Lou Lenart comes in.

It’s a really fascinating book and I recommend it. Lenart appears in it only briefly, in a typically dysfunctional but decisive manner: (Lengthy excerpt below the fold) Continue reading

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QoD: “This isn’t why I’m a hermit, but it’s a good reason anyway” edition

The organizers of Free Pride Glasgow in Scotland have hit a snag in their mission to plan a totally inclusive event: Some activists think drag queens are offensive to transgender people, others think banning drag queens is offensive to transgender drag queens, and still others think allowing only transgender drag queens is offensive to cisgender drag queens.

You kids today. When I was a boy, cross-dressers got in trouble for being weird. Now they get in trouble for not being weird enough…or something, I confess I can’t really follow this…

Cis Drag Queens Banned from Pride Event Because They Might Offend Trans … Drag Queens

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The official rifle of InRange?

A good messy non-NFA means of swiftly turning money into noise.
Go here first, watch the video, then after you are properly inflamed with lust you can go here and get your very own. Pricey, but I think you’ll agree life is really not possible without one.

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Morning at the Secret Lair

0722150626Laying hens are skeptical of changes in their cages. They awoke to a new addition and promptly behaved like ape-men confronted by a big black monolith – by trying to cover it in straw.
0722150628Yeah, still painting trim in a desultory manner. LB’s tanking up so he’ll be able to mark every bush between here and Landlady’s later this morning…
0722150629…While Ghost practices the fine art of Yard Customization. You can’t properly recline unless it is in a hole of precisely the right size, shape, depth, temperature, consistency…
0722150631Meanwhile I’m doing some yard customization of my own with the construction of Woodshed, Lair, Mk III. This one will be the same size and location as before but a little further from the cabin, facilitating maintenance of both, with a better floor and wooden half-sides. Pallets continue to give their lives in the effort, along with a couple of small fence sections I brought home having no idea what I’d ever do with them. Today the shed begins to become three-dimensional, though I can’t put up the hoop that forms the roof and most of the walls until Landlady comes back with her fencepost driver.

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Secretary Kerry, sometimes when a person says he wishes death to you and your entire nation…

It means he doesn’t want to be your friend.

What the camera sees...

What the camera sees…

What Sec. Kerry sees.

What Sec. Kerry sees.

It’s all right. The Poli Sci course at Yale was a long time ago and probably didn’t cover that. But someone should have mentioned it when you became Secretary of State.

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