Nice try, guys. I don’t think it’s going to work.

Those cattle guys came by on Friday, and yesterday I wandered over to see what they’d been up to…

They tried sealing the floor of that old cistern...

They tried sealing the floor of that old cistern…

...and all the big cracks in the walls...

…and all the big cracks in the walls…

And I guess we’ll find out if they did any good. Doubt it.

0328151434Curiously, through all this they’ve ignored the original well which last time I checked did have water in it. It’s very shallow, around fifty feet, and the water isn’t potable by human standards but the cattle wouldn’t care. I’ve seen no sign that they ever even looked inside the casing, they just paid big bucks to dig a conventionally deep well. Now they’re nickel-and-diming the old cistern. Weird.

Posted in Uncategorized | 4 Comments

All hail diversity, I suppose…

Though I must confess the only Spam I ever really cared for is Spam-flavored Spam. Every attempt to spice it up I’ve ever encountered just made things worse.

Posted in Uncategorized | 9 Comments

For those wondering what happened to Joel’s Cabin Siding Bleg…

Officially it’s on hold for another week or two for administrative reasons. The person who handles my vast financial empire is on the road and it’s just not a good time.

I’d blame it on the people howling for Hardie Panel and Tyvek, but even with those fripperies aside the total price for completing the Lair’s exterior would be roughly twice my original optimistic estimate of $750. But since TUAK has already received via paypal or been very reliably pledged a little more than the above figure already, it looks like y’all are going to put Uncle Joel and neighbor(s) to work this summer. A couple of people went ahead and hit the tip jar, which I much appreciate.

With that in hand, as soon as I can travel to get materials I can tear out the OSB panels that have taken the worst weather damage…
100_4831In fact I’m going to tear out that whole wall so I can install the big window I’ve been carefully working around for the past year. (Talk about poor planning: I decided that wall only needed a vent, which worked well enough until I put the chicken run right there. So now every time my primary protein source squawks, I have to suit up and walk all the way around to see what is the matter because I can’t see out that vent.)

And yes, the Lair will belatedly receive a gutter and downspout which, well…(wanders away and kicks rock…)

Posted in Uncategorized | 5 Comments

To be fair, DC residents don’t get a lot of practice at parking cars. Just at driving fruitlessly around and around looking for a space.

But here’s congressional delegate Eleanor Holmes Norton giving it the old college try. I think this may be the only Slate piece I ever linked to. I would have thought they were on her side? But I guess everybody likes a laugh at somebody else’s expense, and after all Hillary is off limits. :)

Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment

Disaster through Irony: Remember that time John Hinckley missed Ronald Reagan six times?

Seriously, look it up. Reagan might have escaped the assassination attempt unharmed, except for maybe getting squashed by a Secret Service side of beef, if his limousine hadn’t been so heavily armored. The bullet that got him was deflected into him by bulletproof glass.

And now here’s another case where the intended protection made the disaster possible. One thing everybody agreed on, after the 9/11 hijackings, was that airliner cockpit doors had to be made impregnable unless the crew let you in. So they did that: Only the wrong guy was locked in.

And wouldn’t you know it – now there are rumblings of the other-than-Alex-Jones variety that the guy was a Moslem convert. I’ve no idea whether it’s true.

Posted in Uncategorized | 7 Comments

Making the desert bloom…

At least this tiny bit of it.


Now if only we can avoid any hard freezes for a while, maybe this little thing will do something this year.

Posted in Uncategorized | 2 Comments

Here’s a pretty good summation of the whole “microaggression” thing we’ve heard so much of in the past few months…

‘Microaggressions’ And ‘Trigger Warnings,’ Meet Real Trauma

If your psyche is so fragile you fall apart when someone inadvertently reminds you of “trauma,” especially if that trauma consisted of you overreacting to a self-interpreted racial slur, you need therapy. You belong on a psychiatrist’s couch, not in college dictating what the rest of society can’t do, say, or think. Get your own head right before you try to run other people’s lives. If you expect everyone around you to cater to your neurosis, forever, you’re what I’d call a “failure at life,” doomed to perpetual disappointment.

It’s a pretty good read.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Funny how your priorities change…

I was cleaning out some old gear the other day, in a tub that had deteriorated to the point where something else had to be done with the contents. Most of it had migrated to other places or been used up over the years. What remained had just never proven useful since I moved out here. Including some I once considered very basic…
100_4827Load-bearing gear for M14 mags and canteens, an ass-pack and a radio. Stuff I used to keep ready to grab at a moment. Stuff anybody would keep current. I hadn’t looked at mine in nearly ten years, so long the 100mph tape had fallen apart on the clips. Heh. Disgraceful.

There was a little lump at the bottom of the ass-pack…100_4828Debris from a long ago consumed MRE, probably at some FTX, probably with the SC High Desert Militia. Wouldn’t consider using any of it now.

That’s the difference, I suppose, from keeping bug-out gear ready and having already bugged out long ago. :)

Posted in Uncategorized | 5 Comments

On rat traps

The traps I use, marketed under the names Tomcat and T-Rex, are fine for quick kills on large rats but they’re not outstandingly durable.

Of course when it doesn't get a quick kill, the rat has leisure to try revenge.

Of course when it doesn’t get a quick kill, the rat has leisure to try revenge.

The most common failure is for the ears to break off the removable bait cup. I've also had neighbors complain of this. The trap is still usable, if you spread peanut butter on the triggering paddle. But it's a hassle.

The most common failure is for the ears to break off the removable bait cup. I’ve also had neighbors complain of this. The trap is still usable, if you spread peanut butter on the triggering paddle. But it’s a hassle.

In this case, though, the little plastic tab that lets the trap latch open broke off. This trap is toast. But at least I can salvage the bait cup for when the next one breaks.

In this case, though, the little plastic tab that lets the trap latch open broke off. This trap is toast. But at least I can salvage the bait cup for when the next one breaks.

Posted in Uncategorized | 10 Comments

I’m such a girly-man…

It has been such a mild winter, with such an early spring, that I haven’t lit the fire in weeks. This morning just before dawn it actually got down slightly below freezing…
100_4813And rather than going to the trouble of lighting the woodstove to take the chill off the cabin, I reached for this thing I dragged home yesterday…
100_4815I have a different application entirely in mind for it, but I brought it inside yesterday to see if it even works. It does, and there’s pathetic little left in that tiny propane bottle anyway, so why not expend it in a manner that doesn’t involve me cutting wood?

Heh – for the record and not to my surprise, it’s not enough to heat the Lair in any reasonable time. But it’ll be fine in a smaller space.

Posted in Uncategorized | 2 Comments

Did you know Steve Martin is an excellent bluegrass banjoist?

I played a little banjo myself many years ago, and was also a fan of Martin’s stand-up routines, and was delighted to learn that we had that in common.

Except that Martin didn’t ‘play a little banjo.’ He kicked ass.

Seems he’s kept up with it. Also, I really like this song.

Posted in Uncategorized | 7 Comments

From the “people throw away the damndest things” file…

Over the weekend I spent several hours helping J&H pack for their move, in return for which they gave me first crack at some stuff they didn’t want to keep or move. Much usefulness, including one ‘want.’

J bought this several years ago but the wind on his ridgetop blew it over, tearing its top cover and scratching a brand-new rifle and permanently traumatizing J – over the scratch. Since then it has bleached in the sun off in a corner and attracted occasional covetous glances from Uncle Joel. It needed some Gorilla tape to patch the tear and some WD-40, but other than that it’s in perfect shape.

Seems strange that as many years as we’ve had this range we’ve never built a shooting bench. I put it at the 100 yard line because that’s the most commonly used, but it’s portable enough we can move it back without a lot of hassle if we want to.

Posted in Uncategorized | 2 Comments

Also, Bob Fosse routines cause me to experience anxiety.

Some day I need to take myself to a feminist conference. I have no idea what they do there except pass resolutions denouncing all the things that upset them, but clearly that is also entertaining.
Seriously, these people are missing a bet. If they called it performance art and sold tickets they could make a fortune.

But not with the jazz hands. Because that’s just creepy.

Posted in Uncategorized | 6 Comments

Private to the bot that advertises the Online Book Club…

Much as I appreciate receiving spam for products I would have found at least momentarily interesting if you hadn’t spammed me – because that’s extremely rare – was it really necessary to hit me with 20 at once?

Uncle Joel: Sorting through spam so you don’t have to since 2008.

Posted in Uncategorized | 7 Comments

Oh, how many federal agencies would this thing piss off?

It’s really cool, largely for that one reason.

The rocket would be a big hit at any TRA launch I ever attended, though the method of ignition would never ever be allowed. Oh dear god never. Not even at the BALLS launch.

Torches. Some sort of appallingly large fire source. And then that … thing comes spinning out of the smoke. So very cool.

Posted in Uncategorized | 6 Comments

Ted Cruz – ‘Stand for Liberty!’ – and not, apparently, for irony.

‘Stand for liberty!’ presidential candidate demands of captive audience.

The choice of venue was all I needed to know. Liberty University is famously run by Jerry Falwell whose notion of ‘liberty’ has never been similar to mine. He stands for the liberty to attend mandatory convocations and mouth worship-words exactly as he prescribes. The ‘or else’ part would only have come had he succeeded in winning political power*. That Ted Cruz is snuggling up to the Christian Ayatollah is not as attractive as Cruz might believe.

Of course mine is – as usual – not a universally-held opinion. I was doing a lot of back-and-forth in the Jeep yesterday afternoon when Mark Levin was on the radio, and he waxed so orgasmic over Cruz’s speech I feared my instrument panel might become sticky. He pointed out the huge, enthusiastic audience but oddly failed to mention one important aspect of its presence…

Ted Cruz announced his presidential campaign at Liberty University this morning in front of a captive audience of nearly 10,000 students—none of whom had any choice in whether to attend.

From another source, it seems a few members of the captive audience didn’t take it lying down.

“Of course, you want it to appear as if you have a large audience,” said Eli McGowan, who organized the not-so-subtle protest. “We felt like if we didn’t wear shirts showing our true political preference then the media might think we all supported Cruz.”

“They make you come. If you don’t come, you get punished,” said Ana Delgado, a sophomore, who said students face a $10 fine for not showing up at convocation. Delgado wasn’t among those wearing Paul gear. She is undecided about who she’ll support in 2016, but she didn’t like being forced to be part of Cruz’s announcement.

Freedom, it seems, is just another word for what slogan’s on your t-shirt. In that regard things haven’t changed much from when I was that age. :)

*Claire points out that all this would be more accurate and relevant if Falwell were still alive. Oops. But I still hate him.

Posted in Uncategorized | 14 Comments

Why is driving a privilege? Is walking a right?

I have long said that people who sneer at CCW holders because gun-carrying shouldn’t require a license – a position with which I agree wholeheartedly, just not the sneering – should look in their own wallets. If they have a driver’s license in there, they should maybe turn down the contempt a notch or two because they’re not being consistent.

In a local conversation I dragged that argument out and got it thrown back in my face: Driving, I was told, is a privilege because virtually all roads essentially belong to the government and the government gets to decide who uses them.

So then, I asked, is it a privilege to be permitted to walk on a right-of-way? Yes indeed, said this person. In fact there’s a widespread precedent: Try hiking on a freeway shoulder and see how far you get before the cops come by.

And you know, he had me there.

I want more people to carry guns. Effective ability for self defense is an absolute right, and I don’t believe it should be licensed – at all. The only halfway-good argument for licensing handgun carry is to document having satisfied a training requirement, which was always the argument I heard for driver’s licenses. Would I want to share the road with a world full of completely untrained drivers, because driving is considered an absolute right? I really wouldn’t. True, untrained gun carriers are not as dangerous as untrained drivers, because a holstered handgun never hurt anybody. But nobody ever argued that gun carriers should not seek training – only that it shouldn’t be a prerequisite for exercise of the right because then it isn’t a right – it’s a privilege granted by law. Like driving.

Curiously, in the conversation above the topic of training never came up. My companion said driving is a privilege because of the matter of road use: The boss’s roads, the boss’s rules. I’d never thought of it that way, but if you accept the premise the argument makes sense. I’m not sure I accept the premise, but can’t coherently argue against it.

And – my point, at last – it seems to put a stick in the spokes of my old argument equating carry licenses with driving licenses*.

*Full disclosure: I don’t have a driver’s license either. And no, I’ve never been busted for DUI or any equivalent. I have, however, been busted for driving without a license.

Posted in Uncategorized | 14 Comments

And that, Uncle Joel, is why we should tie down our traps.

trap1Though it might have been meant as a joke, the guy who said, “Build a better mousetrap and the world will beat a path to your door” wrought better than he knew. I always hated those finger-stingers above, so hard to set and harder to set down.

Now there’s a bewildering variety of traps available, but the best I’ve found for the price is still a variation on the original…
These usually give me a quick, clean kill. Usually. I keep half a dozen going around the various hidey places outside the Lair. Under the Jeep’s hood I tie them down – I tie down all the rat traps – because sometimes they go away I know not where. Only two places always get two traps, the Jeep and the powershed. I usually don’t tie down the ones in the shed, but my first thought when I went to check traps this morning was that I should have: The one on the floor was missing.

I came in further, peering around the dim room, and found it – or rather the rear half of it – under one of my food shelves. And it wiggled every time I moved, like it was trying to get further away from me. But it had gone as far under as it could. It seemed unhappy.

I went out to the Jeep and got my work gloves, because sometimes mice bite. Then I pulled the trap out from under the shelf against the frantic scrabblings of the luckiest deermouse in the desert.

The particular brand I had in there, same design but a different brand than the one above, has an inexplicable plastic tube around the killing bar which doesn’t quite go all the way to the ends. That leaves a little space where the bar doesn’t meet the base, and that’s where the completely uninjured mouse had its rear leg caught. I’ve found feet in rat traps before – the rats will pull them right off rather than stay – but this little thing wasn’t quite that strong.

Zelda will be outraged to hear that I let it go, I know. In fact none of the neighbors whose opinions on the matter I know would be so (squeamish? Soft-hearted?) Truth is I don’t have a thing against the mice, I think they’re cute. But I can’t have them wrecking my stuff, so I kill a couple a day, most days. It’s just the way it has to be. But this one caught a break.

Posted in Uncategorized | 7 Comments

That didn’t work so well…

Heh: Went back to check on that stock tank today…
0321151441Cistern is near empty.
0321151444Ground is saturated all around it.
0321151442Plumbing to the stock tank works, though. This is simple as can be: The stock tank is just a bit downhill from the cistern so it gets water any time water is available. There’s a valve with a float, like a toilet tank valve on steroids, to keep the level where you want it. It’s under that mesh so the cattle can’t screw with it.
0321151443But it only works when the cistern level is higher than this. Which it no longer is.

I suppose next they’ll either recoat the inside of the cistern or maybe drop in a plastic tank and plumb it to the outlet pipe. Dunno. Looks as though they left the generator to run out of fuel last night; I see no sign that anybody was around there today.

Posted in Uncategorized | 3 Comments

So we’ve established that nothing whatsoever can embarrass the delegates of the United Nations…


UNITED NATIONS — About 1,200 middle school children trudged through the latest snow storm to the United Nations General Assembly on Friday evening to hear hip hop singer and producer Pharrell Williams talk about climate change.

The U.N. sponsored the event, along the U.N. Foundation and MixRadio, to celebrate International Day of Happiness, established by the world organization in 2012. It transformed a normally conflict-focused, staid venue into a dramatically “happy” environment with a clear message: The next generation needs to pay attention to climate change.

I truly don’t know which is more appalling: That this event occurred, that adults actually wanted children to watch them allowing the event to occur, or that it had something to do with something called an ‘International Day of Happiness,’ about which I wish to know nothing more, thank you very much.


Posted in Uncategorized | 7 Comments