Ladies and gentlemen, the former President of the United States.

Ah, the good ol’ days, huh, Bill?

😀 And then the very next comment goes all “Okay, yeah, but at least he wasn’t Trump.”

And people really do occasionally wonder out loud why I can’t take politics or politicians seriously.

I’m so glad I don’t Twit. I’d have killed myself by now.

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But first, a word from our lord and savior…

The Gospel of Browning. From the Book of Armaments, Chapter 3, verses 9 to 21:


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…and that’s why smart people don’t make pets of their chickens.

Has this ever happened to you, Mr. and Mrs. America?

Well, be bothered no more! Yes, whenever your chicken does some unspeakable thing no self-respecting dog or cat would ever consider…

just remember these four words that will make it all go away. Ready? Repeat after us: “I’m Doing It Wrong!”

That’s right, Mr. and Mrs. Backyard Chicken farmer! It’s not the chicken’s fault! You’ve been doing it wrong all along! Our years of research and study have conclusively proven that Chickens Are Not Household Pets!

Absolutely! In fact, modern science has shown that chickens are actually barnyard fowl: Large omnivorous semi-flightless birds which properly live in flocks outdoors!

I know, it’s difficult to believe. These people found it to be so, as well. But once they had attended the patented TUAK three-day Chicken Deprogramming Classtm available at limited locations for a short time only for the low low introductory price of $50,000/day offer void wherever common sense is sold see package insert for details, they were able to correct all their misconceptions about the proper human/chicken relationship and resume happy, healthy, relatively normal lives.

No thanks needed, Citizen. That’s why we’re here.

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Ha HA – (sigh) Oh, dear…

My morning was off to a grouchy start – nothing at all important…


And then I found this and it cheered me right up.


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Can intelligent life exist in the absence of trees?

Many many years ago while explaining his intention to move to more tropical climes than our native Michigan, Big Brother said, “Intelligent life can’t exist below the freezing point of water.” I’ve never entirely agreed: I personally believe it can, but perhaps it would rationally choose not to.

But this morning while randomly surfing around waiting for the coffee to kick in, I came upon a picture that reminded me of something suggesting that maybe the presence of liquid water isn’t the only criterion for Intelligent Life habitat…

I spent my youth on or east of I-75, so I was used to having trees and water around. It might be frozen water and leafless trees sometimes, but still. Trees and water.

When I was a young man, circumstance drove me west. I went to trade school in Oklahoma, which seemed to me to be pretty darned West: There were cattle ranches and Indians and bowlegged illiterate guys with Skoal cans and goat-roper hats. Little did I know.

For my sins, a post-school employment opportunity landed me in the Texas panhandle. Imagine pulling back a motel room curtain one bright Sunday morning and finding yourself on the set of High Plains Drifter.

I used to joke that the only good thing about it was that you could tell what next week’s weather would be just by looking out at the horizon. With time I grew to love it – it turns out I’m just that kind of guy – but even after all these years I do recall what a shock it was at first.

And it turns out that the people who lived there, among all their other – many – traits that would twist a SJW’s knickers, were absolutely addicted to fireworks, and the sparkier the better. Since the entire landscape consisted of dry grass and tumbleweed, a less appropriate pastime cannot be imagined. And on the evening of my first July 4 in the Panhandle…

Grass Fire, Vegetation Fire, Flames, Wildfire, Generic
I looked out the back window of my trailer (yes) and to my untrained eye it appeared that some idiot had set the whole rodeo ground on fire.

It turns out that July 4 is always a big night for the local fire departments of the Texas panhandle. It’s just sort of a … thing there.

Funny, what memories a simple random picture can bring back. :) I kind of got into bottle rockets myself, back then. And yes, I’ve stomped out my share of infant grassfires.

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Cute, Pt. 2: Stockpiles

Since I built the porch, of course nothing’s entirely square or entirely straight. On the insert I built this morning, every single piece had to be a slightly different size. I anticipated that and just made everything too big. And that’s what I’ve done here: I measured all the apertures to be filled, then cut all the balusters a standard size that’s just a little too big for the biggest of those apertures. That’ll make assembling these things more time-consuming than it would be for a real carpenter, since every single part gets custom fitted. But since the mistakes are small and everything will fit, it won’t look comically bad. At least the first one doesn’t.

And I’ve got a heckuva start on next winter’s tinder.

Now if you’ll excuse me I’m going to sit out on the porch, drink tea and sand balusters while watching a video on a tablet computer. :) Do I know how to live, or what?

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Cute, Pt. 1: or, “This is why porch railings are made in factories.”

Okay: I farted around yesterday and finally just declared it baking day, which it really needed to be anyway. But this morning I hopped out of bed and immediately got the heavy stuff out of storage, because today I was going to work on “cute.”

The first thing I needed was some fairly regular and not-too-unsightly balusters, with nothing to work with but a whole bunch of 2X4 scraps. The original plan was to get some factory-turned railings for this – that plan lasted exactly as long as it took to look up the price of factory-turned railings.

Anyway, I ripped a couple of 2X4s to slightly less than 1.5 inches wide, then turned the blade angle and ripped angles in the resulting pieces. Then I sort of rounded the squared-off point with a sanding block.

The revised original plan was to make them long enough to just screw them to the front of the top and bottom horizontal railing. Unfortunately the top railings didn’t come out of the saw with enough vertical square surface for that to work, and that’s when things got a little complicated. The revised revised plan is to make inserts for each of those open spaces, screwing and gluing the balusters to strips of plywood…


…and then screwing the plywood to the top and bottom railings.

And thar ’tis, and that right there took two solid hours. Of course that included some fiddling and experimentation, so the next five pieces won’t take as long each but I’m still not even going to try to finish them in one day. Today I’m just going to make the remaining 20 balusters required.

They’re not perfectly regular, of course. I’m no finish carpenter, much less a cabinetmaker, and you don’t have to look close to see some glaring imperfections. But I kind of like it. The current plan is to paint everything but the balusters the reddish trim color, and paint the balusters house-green.


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Brilliant nonsense

Every morning I wake up with a song in my head, sometimes clearly based on something I’d heard the day before and sometimes (usually) apropos of nothing I can imagine. Makes me wonder about what a rich dream life I must have. I hope it’s fun.

This morning, almost exactly at 5:30, I woke up smiling to this delightful phrase I don’t believe I’d thought of in years – “One long staircase just going up and one even longer coming down, and one more going nowhere just for show…”

It’s really the only thing I remember from that depressing movie…

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Meathead: Trump supported by “state-run media” – like Alex Jones

This is hilarious…

Rob Reiner made a couple of really good movies 30-40 years ago. If he’d stuck to that I’d be kind of fond of him. But as a lefty gasbag he’s comically over the top. Here he’s got the Morning Joe cast bewailing the way Trump’s mastery over the “state-run media” like Breitbart and Alex Jones have made their job of getting the truth out so very much harder. They’re eating it up!

Apparently Reiner’s been making the rounds with this shtick.

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This really can’t be repeated too often.

“[T]here is no constitutional right to be protected by the state against being murdered by criminals or madmen.”

The police do not exist to protect you. It isn’t their job. That “protect and serve”? That’s the state, society as a whole, the system.

And that is why we remain adamant on the right to keep and bear arms.

The police do not protect you; they protect the state. An officer might choose to help, but are you willing to bet your life on that? Even assuming an officer happened to be there in your time of need.

There’s only one person always present where you are, who happens to have a vested interest in your life.


No creature on this planet is, or should be, without the right of self-defense. The most successful species are the ones that possess effective means. No more perverted or anti-life sentiment was ever spoken than “You don’t need weapons, you should depend on others to defend you.”

No one who has your best interest at heart would ever demand that you remain helpless.

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“Portable” is kind of a state of mind.

Finished what I originally wanted to do around one this afternoon and put all the tools away. That means dragging a lot of things, light and heavy, to the powershed.

One of these days – not this year, that’s for damned sure – I’m going to find myself wanting to replace or at least sincerely upgrade the powershed. I built it in 2012 out of the pieces of a much older shed some neighbors had used for a pantry, just because that was the year I first got a proper power system and I needed a roof over the charge controller, inverter and batteries. At first it was my pantry – what with the rodents that was always problematic – and just sort of fit my tools and a little seasonal clothing storage around that. Last autumn I was able to move the pantry and all the clothing out, which freed up a lot of room for tools and spares. The powershed works great for that, and I gave it a new floor last autumn, but to be honest the Lair is looking so much better that now I’m starting to think the powershed is a little shabby for the neighborhood. :)

But I digress. There’s room in there for all the tools, which I do try to keep out of the weather.

Anyway, I thought I was done working until I’d had a cup, wrote a blog post, ate a late lunch and had a walk around. Then I saw some tweaks that needed doing, and decided I didn’t feel like quitting after all.

Amusingly, just a few minutes after I set that piece of 4X4 under the middle of that one railing, I came inside to an email from a longtime faithful reader who said, “Dude, that one side railing is too long. You need a support there.” Yeah, I saw that.

Anyway, that meant dragging all the tools back out in the sun. I worked while I barbecued some pork for supper and breakfast, which helped me keep track of time – a pound of pork roast take 45 minutes in 15-minute segments, turning it each time the kitchen timer dings*. Keeps me honest.

Just fiddling, mostly, but it used up the last of my want-to. And then I was faced with that most terrible of decisions…

“Carry it inside, or cover it and shove it under the addition?” I’m just going to want it again tomorrow, or in a day or two. Big Brother even sent me a custom cover for the thing, because it’s just so nice. And it does weigh about 60 pounds, which is a value of “portable” that seems more portable at the beginning of the day than at the end.

But it is indeed so nice. It’s apparently not set up for high altitude – as we discussed not long ago – so I don’t get the full benefit of all that built-in niceness but it’s still one damned fine little generator, and this is coming from a guy who learned to hate small generators in my first few years here. And I know enough about small engines to know how to keep it nice. Step one: Don’t leave them out in the weather.

I used that nice custom cover to keep it from getting dusty while it spent most of the winter emptied and carefully mothballed – indoors.

*Try it with crack sauce for marinade, which I guarantee would convert a vegan.

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Sometimes you just gotta say “F*ck it, I’m working anyway.”

I kind of pulled something in my back on Monday morning, couldn’t even say when or how but it started hurting a bit while I loaded water bottles into the back of D&L’s truck. Figured I’d give it a day to go away.

Didn’t go away. Got worse. Last couple of nights I could barely sleep. Grumped through my chicken chores and other unavoidables, but otherwise wasn’t getting any work done.

Finally came Friday, and I’m like “F*ck this.” So I went to work. Didn’t work hard, didn’t set any records, but there was a thing I wanted to get done and I wasn’t going to stop till it got done.

And all the time I was doing it, my shoulder and arm didn’t bother me at all. Forgot all about it, in fact, till I came inside and sat back down half an hour ago. Now it’s kind of hurting. A little, not half as bad as it hurt when I got up this morning.


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First steps toward “cute”

Cut the tops of the posts off even and attached the bottom parts of the railings, that’s prosaic enough. The posts will get top caps, which I already have, and the end one on the corner of the porch stays tall for a light and/or hummingbird feeder.

The top railings are where things get a little more fancy than joel-normal…

I borrowed Neighbor S’s table saw, and I’m using it and a sanding block to round off the tops of the 2X4s. I’ve tried it on a piece of scrap, and it works fine.

Once I’ve got those done, I’ll see if I can rip some shorter lengths of 2X4 for balusters. Turned posts would cost way too much since I’m gonna need like 25 of them. If I can rip straight pieces I can taper them top and bottom and sand them round on the front, but I’ll just screw them to the fronts of the top and bottom railings. Time-consuming but not complicated, and I’ve got time.

Unfortunately in cutting the corners off that first (longest) top railing I managed to ram a big splinter into the pad of my left index finger, of course breaking off the end inside. I had to come inside to cut it out – it looks like I’ve got it all but it sure doesn’t feel that way. Figures.

That’s why I prefer wearing gloves when dealing with old lumber, which is mostly the only kind I get. But gloves and power saws are bad medicine.

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I have nothing funny to say today.

I have reached the point in my current painful dilemma where 5:30 rolled around and only LB’s bladder problems got me out of bed at all. Somehow got my shoulder blade out of whack on Monday, it is now Friday and if anything it’s worse. My arm is weak and tingly, my back spasms every time the Jeep jounces, and I have accomplished next to nothing all week. I am a grouchy old man.

Today I am going to get something done on the porch railing, I swear it. Might not be a lot.

Here’s a video with an allegedly funny chicken.

Yeah, I know. But that’s as funny as chickens get. Don’t blame me, Youtube said it was funny. Far as I can tell it’s just standing there.

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I’ll just go ahead and start the salacious rumor…

…that David Hogg swatted his own house.

Yeah, I know. It’s mean and unmutual and I totally can’t back it up. But really – que bono? Who swats an empty house?

I’ve got nothing to actually blog about this morning and need to go out and do something at least a little useful while it’s still fairly cool. Later, I think.

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That would totally be Little Bear.

I saw this at Wendy McElroy’s place and had to laugh…

…Because LB thinks leather bones are the best things on earth. Give him one and he’ll just sit there and have it for a few minutes before crouching to the wall and consuming every little bit in a single session.

Those seem rather overpriced, though. Maybe they’re Artisanal Organic leather bones.

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I am a man of constant sorrow…

Okay, maybe not. But lately I’m a man of constant aggravation.

I pulled something in my back Monday, feels like my left shoulder blade isn’t right and it’s causing pain like a nerve pinch all through my arm. Hard to want to get anything done – that’s the shoulder whose rotator cuff wasn’t ruined. Haven’t done a lick of work since.

The Jeep needs a new brake switch – it has stuck off and on for years, but yesterday it stuck after morning chicken chores and drained the battery.

Drained the battery so far down before I noticed, in fact, that the ECU RAM lost power and the calibration tables dumped all their data. I could recharge and desulfate the battery overnight with the Battery Minder (PBUI) but – on a 17-year-old engine as neglected as this one – that didn’t mean the engine would want to run this morning. It’ll sort itself out with a few more cycles, but it was a pain.

Ironically, of course this became a sudden problem only after I looked to notice that both tail lamps were burned out. Which they probably had been for months. So – Hermit Life Hack – guess how I’m going to keep it from happening again?

Speaking of problems, guess what I saw as I nursed the barely-running Jeep through the sand this morning?

Dammit dammit dammit…I even called it. Didn’t I say that was going to happen, Landlady?

Of course I expected there’d be some contributing external factor – a flood, or perhaps a puff of wind. Yesterday it just fell over. Should have taken my own prediction more seriously.

“Easiest holes I ever dug,” I said at the time. And they were, too. Nothing but ash and silt all the way down. After digging deep and pouring enough concrete to hold any target stand solid in any decent soil, these still weren’t very stable. I said to Landlady last time I saw her that I might need to lean them backward against braces driven into the talus slope. Guess I should have taken that more seriously.

At least I have the material to do it. And if I need to do the other one, well, Landlady rather pointedly suggested I use these 20-foot lengths of iron well pipe she wants off her plaza.

And I think I’ll take a commenter’s suggestion, take that plywood off and replace it with chicken wire. I don’t happen to have any chicken wire at present, but something will turn up. Stock fencing might work, too. I’ve got lots of old stock fencing.


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Sigh. A Plan B for well water is not hard to find…

…in fact sometimes the problem is to avoid it.

There’s an old well at the cattle watering station beside the wash. Due to some geological oddity I don’t understand, it’s shallow enough to pump with a windmill. I dipped it one time and the surface is only about 50 feet down. Unlike the aquifer water, though, it’s really not drinkable. Lots of bad stuff in it.

So when the cattlemen set things back up three years ago they dug a new deep well on the ridge above the station. Solar powered, it ran all the time the sun was up whether the tank needed filling or not. The excess, which was virtually everything, poured out on the ground. I complained about it but nobody wanted to hear about my complaints.

Last year the manager of the cattle operation quit, calling us all a bunch of ungrateful deplorables. Which we are. The new guy has proven a little easier to get along with. At least he doesn’t leave dead cattle laying around, or cut fences, or threaten every dog he sees to every owner’s face. Or pour water out on the ground.

No, he didn’t rig the well to only run when the tank needs it. But he did run a pipe from the tank overflow to the old shallow well. I doubt it fixes anything, but at least I don’t have to look at all that water pouring out on the ground every day.

A cow must have bumped the pipe or something, because this morning…

Oh, well. I went in and plugged it back into the well, because why not? I don’t know if that water is finding its way back to the aquifer, but it can’t be as bad as just pumping it out onto the ground.

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Walter Williams brings the wisdom on gun control

Guns and Past Vs. Present Americans:
Inconvenient facts about the history of gun violence and gun control.

The logic of the argument for those calling for stricter gun control laws, in the wake of recent school shootings, is that something has happened to guns. Guns have behaved more poorly and become evil. Guns themselves are the problem. The job for those of us who are 65 or older is to relay the fact that guns were more available and less controlled in years past, when there was far less mayhem. Something else is the problem.

Guns haven’t changed. People have changed.

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LB stamp of approval

For obvious reasons, LB has problems with the heat. But he’s also unhappy being outdoors by himself – he stopped wanting to go outside the very day Ghost moved away – and so for the past couple of years his idea of a good day is napping indoors.

Summer late afternoons and evenings it’s much cooler outdoors than in, though frankly most summers I don’t care to sit outdoors either because of all the flying bugs. But it’s so dry the bugs aren’t a problem and the new porch is high enough to be in the breeze, so I’ve spent the last three evenings till after dark reading on the porch. Yesterday I invited LB to join me.

He was dubious at first. He has gotten to that age where he likes what he’s used to, and he wasn’t at all sure he approved of this new-fangled contraption. At one point I went inside to get something and he immediately got up and wanted indoors.

But I came back out and sat back down, and he lightened up and enjoyed his evening.

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