All Along the Watchtower…

(This went extremely long. Sorry.)

Go read Claire’s latest think piece…

The role of the Outlaw in the betterment of society

I’ve been sitting here contemplating it – Claire’s riffing off another writer who’s riffing off Dylan’s All Along the Watchtower, which I think of as a Hendrix song and so never really gave it any thought. He’s Hendrix, shit, you can’t understand half of what he’s saying. I went through a period in my teens when I affected to take Hendrix seriously but that was mostly just to offend my father; let’s face it, he couldn’t sing, only had one trick with a guitar, and wasn’t anybody’s idea of a role model. I may not get any obituary at all when I’m gone, but I’m working hard to ensure that if I ever do it does not contain the phrase “choked to death on his own vomit.” Point is, All Along the Watchtower never made any sense to me, I always thought of it as atmospheric word salad, and now that I have contemplated it I still do.

But Continue reading

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getcherself to a Wendy’s, quick!

“On second thought let’s not go to Camelot. It is a silly place.”

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Attention veterinarians and retired doctors: Employment boom ahead!

Huh. Looks like before long lots of lucky Americans will be just like me.

Obama health plan hit by double-digit premium hikes

This is an AP story and the writer is contorting with all his skill and might not to sound like a Trump infomercial, but…

Premiums will go up sharply next year under President Barack Obama’s health care law, and many consumers will be down to just one insurer, the administration confirmed Monday.

Moreover, about 1 in 5 consumers will have plans only from a single insurer to pick from, after major national carriers such as UnitedHealth Group, Humana and Aetna scaled back their roles.

I think that as he looks back on the ‘legacy’ of his eight years of Unlimited Cosmic Power, Obama will decide that actually having the new health care regime named after him was, in the long run, his biggest mistake. In an otherwise brilliant career utterly devoid of mistakes.

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Most of us do look better with clothes on.

But a Rhode Island man will probably keep that self-evident fact to himself next time

“To all yoga pant wearers, I struggle with my own physicality as I age,” wrote Alan Sorrentino, 63, in the letter published by the Barrington Times last week. “I don’t want to struggle with yours.”

The letter, which said adult women wearing yoga pants in public was comparable to men wearing Speedos to the grocery store, went viral. The backlash was immediate, passionate, and international.

And included a parade past his house, a lot of very personal publicity, and vandalism and threats. Have you ever noticed that the people who take themselves most seriously are always the ones who’d be better off maintaining a deprecating sense of humor?

Personally I would look dreadful in yoga pants. As do most people. But my right to show my ass in public outweighs your right to request that I not do so – in some place other than Sanity Land.

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…so it doesn’t work at all.

I followed this breathless article about advances made by DARPA and a whole bunch of other people who shouldn’t be in the energy business, throwing other people’s money at a breakthrough in the development of a gadget to make those big, expensive, inefficient solar panels obsolete, right?

Forget solar panels, optical ‘rectenna’ converts light directly to electricity

As you can imagine this is a topic likely to grab my attention over the first cuppa. And of course it goes on about the potentials

“We could ultimately make solar cells that are twice as efficient at a cost that is ten times lower, and that is to me an opportunity to change the world in a very big way” said Baratunde Cola, an associate professor in the George W. Woodruff School of Mechanical Engineering at Georgia Tech. “As a robust, high-temperature detector, these rectennas could be a completely disruptive technology if we can get to one percent efficiency. If we can get to higher efficiencies, we could apply it to energy conversion technologies and solar energy capture.”

Wait. If you can get to one percent efficiency? Also this…

The devices operated at a range of temperatures from 5 to 77 degrees Celsius.

Which, unless I’m doing the conversion all wrong which is totally possible, means in real-people terms a temperature range of 41 to 170 degrees Fahrenheit. Which is also not a real-world temperature range.

According to the article, people have been beating their heads against this theoretically superior gadget for more than 40 years. As to efficiency,

As of December 2014, the world record for solar cell efficiency at 46% was achieved by using multi-junction concentrator solar cells, developed from collaboration efforts of Soitec, CEA-Leti, France together with Fraunhofer ISE, Germany.[4]

Yes, Mr. and Mrs. America! Your federal government: Once again spending megawads of money on technology that completely misses the boat. The efficiency of standard-design solar panels, which you can actually buy, has improved by great leaps in the past decade as the price continues to plummet, which is why panel arrays have become so much more common while tracking mounts have gone completely out of style.

I believe, working from memory, that the efficiency of a standard solar panel is holding at about 20% at present, which is more than enough for practical use. The wholesale price is down to $0.75/watt and falling. That’s a drop of 25% in the real-market price in the last five years. Those nefarious Chinese.

Now if only our masters would stop insisting on plugging them all into an increasingly antiquated and vulnerable grid…

Also, if someone really wants to spend money, what we out here in off-grid land really need is a breakthrough in batteries. And I don’t mean lithium ion.

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Sorry guys. Learning new lessons, and everything takes too long.

I cannot go back to one-handed hunting and pecking, and even using a mouse left-handed means abandoning muscle memory set over decades. This morning’s challenge: Dish washing. Should be exciting. And by exciting, I mean painful.

Yesterday I swallowed my pride and took my laundry over to S&L’s; they have a washing machine and L has actually been after me to bring her my laundry since she moved in fulltime. Landlady and Ian were up this weekend, and I actually asked him to come over and help me sort out my drinking water: I’ve been drinking up my reserve water, which is stored in 5-gallon jugs which are too heavy for daily use, so I pour half into an empty 3-gallon jug which is a two-handed operation. Gad, what a pain.

Must say, though, that I’m beginning to believe it’s nothing all that serious. The mobility of the shoulder is improving daily without jabs of really serious pain, and if I’m a good boy about that damned sling I may get through this in measurable time. But there are some things – like typing, you just can’t do wearing a sling.

Anyway, that’s the big news in this old hermit’s life right now, but I’ll try not to make it the only blogging topic.

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Yeah, it’s that kind of day so far. More later, maybe?

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Evening Update

MY day, spent being poked, prodded and twisted (prodded in the eyeballs, no less) has yielded nothing but good news, although I left town kind of wishing I’d taken the time to shop for a left-handed holster.

First the current news, as far as anybody can tell the shoulder damage is just a bunch of bad bruising. Nothing broken, torn or dislocated, and in fact (although extending my right arm is still largely impossible) I’m getting a little mobility back and the pain has backed off substantially. I’m the proud owner of a new sling, which I’m supposed to use. And really did for a few hours this afternoon but it’s impossible to work in it.

Second, the best possible news on my eyes is that nothing is worse…and that’s exactly the news I received after lengthy and expensive testing that took up all the morning. In fact even though my visual field test results for the right eye continue to slowly deteriorate (that eye was pretty much trashed by glaucoma before I ever went to a doctor) I still have corrected 20/20 in the left and 20/25 in the right – which I never came close to before all that terrifying surgery. I’ve been very faithful with the glaucoma meds and the interocular pressure remains on the high side of acceptable. He has stopped talking about boring holes in my eyeballs with frickin’ laser beams.

That scary situation from a year and a half ago hasn’t cleared up – I still have spells when everything goes out of focus and I have to blink and shake my head to clear my vision – but shows no sign of deteriorating. I’m still supposed to be on guard against detached retinas, but there’s no sign that it’s happening. Just no sign that it’s less likely than it was in May ’15. So when you get older, things break down. I have begun to look upon strapping young men, with their bulging muscles and empty heads, with just a bit more kneejerk hostility that was previously my wont.

And speaking of those guys…If you see this in the parking lot of a Wal-Mart…

…you might be in a redneck town.

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Morning Update

Okay, after a bad day and a worse night I’m actually feeling a little better – at least I dragged my arm to the typing position without actually whimpering. Though it seems I still need the help of the left hand to get it to the mouse.

Went to bed around nine – after most studiously and trepidatiously climbing the ladder – and to my pleasant surprise went straight to sleep for over two hours. Then the pain woke me and kept me up for several hours, but I did finally fall back to sleep around 3ish when the pain eased off.

Right now getting stuff done is being more an exercise in “how do I do this with only my left arm” rather than OOOOWWWWW, which is a big improvement. Guess the swelling went down a little.

So I’m dressed – except for tying my bootlaces, which I haven’t quite figured out yet – and getting ready to meet D&L for my trip to the big town. They have more recent experience with doctors and hospitals than I do and may have some advice as to how to approach this. I am of course reluctant to go to an emergency room and beg free stuff (and expose myself, frankly, to all those sick people) but have no money for doctors. Just got an email from Landlady telling of an icepack in her freezer, which at the moment seems a very long way away. Tried it yesterday with a frozen one-pound pork roast. :) Didn’t really work very well. :(

So anyway that’s where it stands. I’m feeling much better than at last report, but at last report suicide wasn’t out of the question so I’m not exactly feeling well. Also I’ll be gone most of the day.

Later, and thanks for all the concern. That actually was pleasant to read, while figuring out how to put on a shirt.

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Oh, I’m typing this very carefully…

Switching from keyboard to mouse is basically impossible; I can lift my right arm with my left arm but the right arm won’t lift itself. Hurts too much to try yard, but it’s like there’s no strength there.

Yeah, took another sudden fall. My right foot slid on gravel and I went right over, landed hard on my right shoulder. I think I undid all the last year’s healing and more besides. Hurt so bad at first it was nauseating, I whined all the way home, and now it really doesn’t seem to be getting fundamentally any better; I really messed something up this time.

I can move my forearm from the elbow without pain, but moving from the shoulder is very difficult and painful. Not sure where I’m going to sleep tonight, right now the loft is looking like a very bad idea.

Good news, sort of: I’m supposed to go tomorrow to the big town about 50 miles away for an eye doctor appointment. So I have a few hundred dollars saved up, maybe I can bribe a vet to poke around and tell me what I did to my shoulder.

Man, it really hurts. just typing is exhausting.

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First frosty morning…


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I think I hurt myself laughing…

Go look. Won’t take a second.

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…so instead I’ll build something for the chickens.

The babies are growing up. All 13 survivors are apparently female, to the regret of Landlady who was hoping for one accidental cock bird. Things seem to go better, at least with small flocks, on those rare occasions when the hens have a cock who doesn’t push them around and act like an asshole all the time. In my admittedly limited experience so far that’s about one cock in twelve. Seymour, for example, actually does break up fights and call them together when tidbits are in the offing, and he puts himself between them and scary things. The hens really do seem happier and marginally less neurotic when the flock has a rooster.

But whatever, hopefully it won’t be long before they start feeling the urge to lay practice eggs. And I hung on to some scrap for making their nesting boxes, and today seemed a good day to do it.

And I was very pleased with the way it was knocking together until right at the end, when I realized I had cut a piece of OSB to serve as a slanting roof, to keep the hens from sitting on top and crapping into the boxes…

…and then I forgot what it was for and cut it up for dividers. So I found a piece of one-by that will keep them from sitting on the roof but I’m not sure it’s wide enough. We’ll see, I may have to go looking for a wider piece of scrap. But other than that, and the fact that I need to bring some straw from the Fortress of Attitude to give them the right idea, it’s ready for cradle duty.

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“It comes from a very ancient democracy, you see.”

I’m going to try an impossible stunt here on TUAK, just to see if I can. Not only sickened by the subject but sick of it, I’m going to stop talking about the election.

I will attempt to finish out this election season by not saying anything more about the two appalling lead candidates, one of which will certainly (barring divine or SMOD intervention) harm us all by becoming President of the United States. (wail!) I will not even mention the other funnier-because-harmless candidates.

This will be difficult. I may not succeed. But at least until I pop a blood vessel I will leave the topic with a quote that’s been making the rounds from our poet laureate, Douglas Adams…

“…On its world, the people are people. The leaders are lizards. The people hate the lizards and the lizards rule the people.”
“Odd,” said Arthur, “I thought you said it was a democracy.”
“I did,” said Ford. “It is.”
“So,” said Arthur, hoping he wasn’t sounding ridiculously obtuse, “why don’t people get rid of the lizards?”
“It honestly doesn’t occur to them,” said Ford. “They’ve all got the vote, so they all pretty much assume that the government they’ve voted in more or less approximates to the government they want.”
“You mean they actually vote for the lizards?”
“Oh yes,” said Ford with a shrug, “of course.”
“But,” said Arthur, going for the big one again, “why?”
“Because if they didn’t vote for a lizard,” said Ford, “the wrong lizard might get in.

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And Commenter Ben wins this week’s…

TUAK “Why didn’t you think of that, Joel?” Prize…

That’s the only entrance I can identify, and it’s definitely the one the mice were using. I’ll give it a week and check to see if they’ve moved back in; the plastic and duct tape approach was always a forlorn hope and anyway it wouldn’t have helped in summer.

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Ol’ Heartless Joel evicts some squatters…

"That's right, we're nesting and we're proud! We're pirating your wi-fi signal, too. Whatcha gonna do about it?

“That’s right, we’re nesting and we’re proud! We’re pirating your wi-fi signal, too. Whatcha gonna do about it?

Okay, so part of prepping for winter is doing something about the mice I happen to know are living in my summer oven. I have plastic and duct tape to hopefully keep them out through the cold months but first I’ve got to evict the ones already there.

In a world absolutely packed with quiet places a mouse can breed and sleep unmolested, I do not understand why they find this little RV oven so attractive…

…but they do, and they have since the first week I brought it to the Lair. That happened too late in the summer to get a lot of use out of it but as a proof of concept (bake bread without also baking the cabin’s inhabitants) it works great. Except for the inevitable mouse nest in the firebox.

I’ve hauled the nest makings out half a dozen times, but they only seem to take it as encouragement. This time I want to evict the mice themselves, clean out the oven and wrap it for winter…

…but how to make sure all the mice are out? There’s a double wall in back, and they’re using that space as a Monster Shelter. I want to lock them out, not in.

I knew there were two mice in there, because I saw two mice. These little guys weren’t even bothering with sneaky. Finally I decided they’d probably object to a bath, so I put the oven on the ground and sprayed the inside with my hose. That worked, except it turns out there were four damp runaways, not two.

They’re getting in and out through that little slot at the rear. If I duct tape over it, maybe they’ll go elsewhere rather than just chewing through the plastic and the tape.

Or (sigh) maybe this whole thing is pointless. They’re such filthy creatures, and I don’t really want my bread flavored with vaporized mouse piss.

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Yeah, 0kay. I heard bits of this on the radio. But if Claire posted it, I guess that makes it Freedomista Mainstream.

Right. F’ing. Here.

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Well – no wonder chickens are so unpleasant all the time…

Yow, lady, that must have hurt.

Look what came out of the south end of one of my hens…

Compared to a more typical one – probably laid by the same bird, given how few are laying right now…


Probably quite a relief to get it out of there, but the doing couldn’t have been pleasant. I really don’t know how they do that.

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How the mighty have fallen: There goes Obama’s title as America’s Greatest Gun Salesman.

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Wait. Leonardo DiCaprio had credibility on “climate change” once? But now he doesn’t?

What, did he intone “the science is settled” into a microphone better than anyone else? But now that it turns out he’s only another fame-and-money-grubbing creep like all the others, oopsie, we should stop taking him seriously?

Anthony, some of us never took him seriously.

At a press conference in London, the Bruno Manser Funds offered DiCaprio an ultimatum: either he renounce his connections to the “politically exposed persons” at the center of the multi-billion dollar 1MDB Malaysian corruption scandal now being investigated by the U.S. Justice Department and return corrupt money he allegedly received or resign from the position he was given by UN secretary general Ban Ki-moon in 2014.

“If DiCaprio is unwilling to come clean, we ask him to step down as UN Messenger for Peace for climate change, because he simply lacks the credibility for such an important role,” said Lukas Straumann, director of the Switzerland-based charity, which has a particular focus on deforestation in Malaysia.

As the linked article concludes,

Maybe somebody could also get him to stop lecturing us about the evils of CO2 production while flying private jets all over the world.

Well, but how else could we all know how important he – and by extension, the ginned-up “crisis” he’s gassing about – is?

Also, advice for future husbands: If you protest “But I know how it ends! The ship sinks and everybody dies!” to a wife who already thinks you’re a philistine, your evening is not off to a good start.

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