Just to be contrary…

When I was a kid we moved a lot. I eventually sort-of graduated from the twelfth public school in which I was ever enrolled, so I was always the new kid. You could say I was a bit maladjusted. You could also say an atomic bomb is a bit loud.

Being socially isolated, I read a lot. Which ironically meant I tended to do poorly in school and was also better educated, in a spotty sort of way, than most of my “schoolmates.” For example, I made it a point to never wear green on St. Patrick’s day – because I knew where the tradition came from. Which virtually none of my “schoolmates” did.

In fact, just to be a prick (and even though I couldn’t possibly have cared less about religion, or about Irish history for that matter) I occasionally found some way of wearing orange. All the times I did that, nobody ever got the joke. Not once.


Posted in Uncategorized | 9 Comments

Oh, this is going to take forever…

It’s a sad day when you find yourself cursing a mercifully warm winter…

…but I have to move my woodshed, which should by all rights be nearly empty. Instead I used about 3/10s of the contents. Don’t seem right.

I keep telling myself it only means less work this coming autumn when it’s time to fill the thing again. But right now that’s poor comfort.

Got about this far along when I decided I’m doing this all wrong. Wherever I move the wood to, it’s just going to be a new rat nest and I’ll just have to move it all again when I set the woodshed back up. So why am I wasting all this effort being neat? The thing to do is to just pile up the present contents outside the woodshed, tear the shed down and decide its new permanent place, then go ahead and set it up there and refill it. Won’t be much extra work now and it’ll save loads of extra work later.

It’s probably going to have to be on the wrong side of the drainage ditch, but if need be I can always knock together another bridge. I thought for a while of putting a long overhang on the side of the new bedroom addition for a permanent woodshed, but there are pretty good termite-related arguments for not doing that even though it would look better. The hoopshed design is cheap and has worked out well for the past four years.

Posted in Uncategorized | 4 Comments

Flash! Stephen Colbert does a bit that’s actually funny.

He should pick on his fellow mutants more often.

Posted in Uncategorized | 3 Comments

And the sign over the bread line read, “Honk if you love Socialism…”

…but there were no cars, because there was no fuel.

Venezuela has a bread shortage. The government has decided bakers are the problem.

In a press release, the National Superintendent for the Defense of Socioeconomic Rights[*] said it had charged four people and temporarily seized two bakeries as the socialist administration accused bakers of being part of a broad “economic war” aimed at destabilizing the country.

Yup. The honchos in the Venezuelan government were embarrassed by bread lines. So, in a brilliant example of historical illiteracy – dovetailing nicely with their economic illiteracy – they arrested a bunch of bakers.

Yeah. We need more government controls here.

Also I’m reminded I need to buy more flour when I’m in the big town next week…

*Dig this: The National Superintendent for the Defense of Socioeconomic Rights is apparently responsible for arresting people who get caught exercising what, in a sane society, would be their socioeconomic rights. Must be socialism.

Posted in Uncategorized | 3 Comments

Gelsock Bleg Update II

I have just received a communique by carrier pigeon that five gelsocks arrived today, and that the maildrop might well tip over and capsize under sheer reader awesomeness, the way poor Guam did under the weight of 8000 marines and their equipment, causing many deaths.

21, people, and with that we declare victory over all our enemies, real and imagined. You guys are a blessing. May you never really know how important these things are to my ability to walk around.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

‘Hey, I’ve watched a James Bond movie*. I know what silenced guns sound like.’

Okay, as far as I know she didn’t actually say that. But you just know that’s what she’s thinking.

From the deepest depth of the U.S. Senate, I bring you…the sort of woman who is the reason men are occasionally still tempted to say things like, “Listen, Toots…”

Kirsten Gillibrand: How will the police solve gun crimes if people are allowed to use silencers?

*The biggest beef I have with gun-fact inaccuracy in movies is the way somebody can blaze away indoors with an automatic shotgun or something equally appalling and nobody around him even winces at the eardrum-destroying noise.

I’m sorry, what? You’ll have to speak up. Yes, I do have permanent tinnitus and severe hearing loss. Why do you ask? Oh! Yeah, it’s because when I was young I was immortal and stupid.

Also, I have used suppressors on centerfire pistols and one submachine gun. They’re not even particularly quiet, and I wouldn’t care to fire one indoors without (what’s left of my) hearing protection.

A single-shot break-open .22 with a good suppressor and subsonic ammo, however, can be as quiet as a pellet gun. Which isn’t silent, either.

Posted in Uncategorized | 7 Comments

Gelsock Bleg Update

That’s encouraging. I got a text from a person at my maildrop, informing me of seven packages “that appear to be stump socks.” I asked the person to open the packages and ascertain the contents, which turned out to be sixteen gelsocks.

From emails that went back and forth there might be a couple more in transit, but sixteen is already a huge help; if I can rotate them over an 18 or 20-day cycle (not every single one I already have is completely trashed, just most of them) they’ll last a good deal longer. Also I think despite what the care label says, these things wear out a lot faster around washing machines. So I’ll avoid those this time around.

Thanks, guys! Due to [stuff we don’t share about other people on blogs] Landlady won’t be around for another couple of weeks, so we should be able to wrap up this whole sordid bleg issue around the first of April.

Posted in Uncategorized | 5 Comments

Float at 10:43

And in the interest of full disclosure it’s still not stable at 14.3 but it clearly will be pretty quick. That’s with the ‘pooter left on all morning and a high haze in the sky. With all the advantages, the batteries would have been topped off by or before 10 even though I left everything inside the cabin except the coffee grinder on till bedtime at 9:30*.

Last Autumn when Neighbor S helped me wire up the new/old solar panels he remarked, “Boy, you sure have a lot of power for two little batteries.” It seems that wasn’t an overstatement.

The only argument I have left for NOT running a bigger battery bank is that it would cost too much to replace when it inevitably fails. Which returns me to something several commenters have suggested, and that BB and I were actually kind of arguing about yesterday, which is that maybe I really should run a backup battery bank. It’s the only part of the system lacking total redundancy, and it appears I have the generating power for it. At least on favorable days, I do. And he made the point that I could always shut off the back-up when I needed the generating power elsewhere.

Not going to worry about it right now, the summer will be busy enough without planning big changes to the power system. But it’s something to ponder.

*and a sidebar matter – it’s one thing to be careful about your electrical loads, but I’ve maybe gotten a bit neurotic about it and I really truly don’t need any more neuroses than I already had. I spent the whole evening with the computer on even when I wasn’t using it, every light in the cabin turned on including the four ceiling CFLs I never use, and all damned evening I kept twitching and forcing myself to stay in my chair and NOT get up and turn all that shit off. Practically went to bed early just so I could stop. Yeah, I’m a freak.

Posted in Uncategorized | 4 Comments

Lawmakers gotta lawmake

or, “just in case you thought republicans were your friends…”

You could soon have to share your genetic screen results with your boss

A bill that would strip genetic privacy protections from workplace “wellness” programs, allowing companies to require employees to undergo genetic testing or risk paying stiff penalties, was approved in the US by a House committee on Wednesday.

All 22 Republicans supported passage of HR 1313, known as the Preserving Employee Wellness Programs Act.

See, that’s the problem with legislators. They want people to think they’re smart, and they’re told that smart people read books. But that’s too much like work, so they order their minions to watch films for them instead. And some up-and-coming hotshot on the staff saw Gattaca and thought the cars looked cool, and the next thing we know…

Posted in Uncategorized | 3 Comments

The day the peanut butter jar goes empty…

…is a very happy day around the Secret Lair. :)


Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment

Then again, sometimes more is more.

I contemplated ways to put a serious evening-long load on my new/old battery bank, and found myself instead re-writing the lyrics to Junkfood Junky to the new title Lightswitch Nazi. (In the day I spend like a sailor, just as wasteful as I can be/But at night I’m a lightswitch nazi, good lord have pity on me)

Point being, my old two-battery bank actually fit my usage habits pretty well, except for gloomy times mostly during winter when I was forced to economize further. I guess tonight I’ll go around and turn on every light in the cabin and leave them on till bedtime, then see what the morning voltage is and how long it takes to recharge. I’ll have to force my inner nazi to sit down and shut up while I’m doing that, because damn. Last January when I spent a week in Landlady’s house in the city, I went around turning off unused lights in what was probably a fairly annoying fashion. It’s a standard line with me: Nothing will turn you into a lightswitch nazi faster than living off grid. I’ve been doing it for ten years so excuuuuse me.

But what surprises me is not so much that I’ve got more voltage margin to play with, that’s perfectly logical. More battery cell plate acreage, more storage capacity. But why is my battery bank recharging more quickly than before? Those two things do not go together. It’s not just more capacity, the whole system is working better in every way.

It led me to wonder if maybe one of those two Interstates wasn’t quietly going south. So I dragged out one of the two pieces of indispensable test gear I do have…

And checked the specific gravity in all cells of the batteries I pulled day before yesterday. And it’s all perfect. There’s nothing wrong with those batteries.

I’m a little confused. Gratified, but confused. Maybe I just haven’t allowed for the longer days.

Posted in Uncategorized | 7 Comments

Nothing to say and nothing to hear and nothing to see…

Which pretty much sums up where I am, blog-wise, the past couple of days. I took a little vaca from the Internet yesterday and went rock-wandering.
I still have a pile of junk in my yard, stuff that probably isn’t going to go back into the powershed because if it only serves as a mouse toilet and I forgot it was even in there I must examine the possibility that I don’t need it after all.

Here’s something funny, in a ‘not funny at all’ kind of way. ‘Member when you had a career, Joel? Well, this is all that’s left of it. It fits in a tchotchke bag from the 1993 Detroit auto show, and it’s covered in mouse turds. In the sad final stage of my disintegrating career, which I spent fending off homelessness by grabbing whatever freelance crumbs I could find, I lugged this thing around to a series of increasingly frustrating and humiliating interviews with people who were decorating their bicycles with neon decals while I was clawing my way out of dealership back shops. Finally I gave up and got a job in a cubicle farm until I could shake the California dust off my feet.

The highlights of my professional life make a paltry pile I should have pitched out long ago. Once upon a time I was very proud of some of these, each the work of months and in one case years. Now I can barely recall the circumstances. And I can barely believe I really put so much of myself into something so ephemeral and so unrewarding. Now these are bound for a landfill, which is where I should have consigned them a decade ago.

I’m gonna take LB for his walkie now. I’m still a little depressed, should never have tugged open the knot on that bag.

Hey, kids! This is what your grandparents thought was cool. So don’t let them give you any guff.

Posted in Uncategorized | 10 Comments

We like that…

Every morning I come down the ladder, deal with LB’s insecurity issues, then take a hightech composition book down off the shelf and record certain bits of data, including indicated battery voltage.

This morning’s voltage reading was…anomalous…

Not a surprise, of course. A normal reading, which this time of year would have been 12.0 to 12.1, would have been an unpleasant surprise.

I also expect the system to hit float around 10, which is normal for a sunny day. All it means is that I didn’t do anything profligate with electricity last night, because I wanted to see if the morning reading and the daily charge-up time went as expected.

It’s logical that they should, A is A, but sometimes it turns out A isn’t really A because I don’t know as much about what I’m doing as I think I do. Logic based on ignorance rarely works out well. So before I install a disco ball or an electric furnace or something, let’s check our premises.

The next question will be – should I happen to go nuts with the electricity overnight or during a gloomy spell, can my oddbit solar panel collection recharge the batteries in a reasonable day? I plan to approach the answer to that question in a gingerly but determined fashion. I’ll just keep telling myself it doesn’t really matter – I originally thought these batteries were junk anyway so if I dig myself into a hole I can always reinstall the Interstates.

Posted in Uncategorized | 3 Comments

This is the sort of job I can put off for YEARS.

You might recall that back in December a neighbor invited me to haul off these four oldish 6-volt batteries.

I was certain they were no good, and only picked them up to be neighborly. I figured sometime I’d find some salvager who’d be willing to give me a few bucks for them. But they’re Trojan T-105’s, which have a very good rep in solar power systems. And they took a charge just fine, and tested fine, and held their charge fine for, like, months. I really didn’t want to go to the trouble of replacing my two 3-year-old known-good batteries with four maybes, but months passed and I couldn’t find anything wrong with them. Believe me, I tried.

With the weather having turned so beautiful and warm I was just completely out of excuses. It wouldn’t cost anything but some effort and a few new cables to check them out. There was one problem, though… Continue reading

Posted in Uncategorized | 13 Comments

Really? You guys still put up with that?

Well then, don’t forget to…whatever you’re supposed to do.


I could never keep it straight, myself.

Posted in Uncategorized | 8 Comments

I really hate cattle.

I got caught with my pants down. Hate when that happens. Stumbling along up the hill on my beaten path with the morning sun in my eyes, the coffee tank only half full, I heard the drumming of hooves. Cattle, stupid as they are, were at least more awake than I was and I was practically in the middle of a herd of the damned things.

Can’t even say I didn’t see it coming. It’s practically the middle of March, and a warm March at that. A few cattle have wandered into our neck of the boonies, it was inevitable and indeed possibly overdue that the cattlemen would drive a whole herd into my yard.

And yup; there’s a half-grown calf. Cow with a calf like that is ready to be bred. And that’s the problem, of course. Cows don’t scare me. Cows, stupid as they are, have sense enough to run. But the purpose of these herdings is to make spring calves. And to make a baby cow you need a mama cow and a daddy cow. The daddy cows do not run. At least, it’s not their first choice. Being caught afoot with a daddy cow is a problem.

Here’s something I thought was really cool: Last January I had a houseguest, a friend of the blog. And he brought a gift of condiments and booze and ammo, the hermit’s friends. But he brought a second gift – more ammo – from another friend of the blog who wasn’t such a traveler. And this ammo, quite out of the blue, was Russian hardball practice ammo for the Makarov. I’m back to carrying the Mak since messing up my shoulder again several days ago, and as usual the magazines are loaded with expensive Hornady Super Explody 2000 rounds it would be a sin to expend as mere noisemakers. Now I will reload my belt mag with some of the last of that hardball, which I can expend for non-lifesaving purposes without shedding too many tears.

It doesn’t always work: The cattle are more impressed by Little Bear than they are by gunfire, and bulls aren’t usually impressed by either. Of course it would only be in an extreme case of the better-tried-by-twelve-than-carried-by-six variety that I would ever shoot a bull. Heaven forbid. In this state I’d get in less trouble burning down the county courthouse than harming a bull in ‘open range’ country, even on my own porch. They quite literally have more legal rights than I do. But sometimes they’ll move faster to avoid the annoying noise, and I swear that if I die of a goring the bull that does it will have some new holes in him, too.

You know what actually works better than a gun? I can’t really defend this, but I swear it’s true…

Don’t ask me to explain it. Maybe it’s just that they know what a big stick can do, but can’t see the threat in a gun. But a cow or bull who’d normally debate your right of passage will run like their fur’s on fire at the sight of a spear. I came up with this last June, and while walking with a long leash in one hand and a spear-headed walking stick in the other is kind of a pain in the ass, I’m gonna dust it off and start bringing it on walkies again. Because it actually works.

Posted in Uncategorized | 6 Comments

It’s official. Irony itself has jumped the shark and been declared obsolete.



The American people and Members have a right to know the full impact of this legislation before any vote in Committee or by the whole House.

Apparently self-awareness is also on its deathbed.

Posted in Uncategorized | 4 Comments

I’ve been baking my own bread for six or seven years, and still think I need to take a bread-baking course.

Because I still make boneheaded mistakes, and keep making the same mistakes for months.

Couldn’t figure out why my bread kept falling. Turned out I was just overproofing it, using up the little yeast beasts before the loaves even went in the oven. Sometimes less is more.


Posted in Uncategorized | 6 Comments

Article titles that once required tinfoil headgear…

How to Tell if the CIA is Hacking Your Smart TV

Reality is making life very difficult for parodists, I would imagine…


Posted in Uncategorized | 8 Comments

Is this evidence that there are aliens among us?


We need a serious discussion about who’s been birthing the other half.

Posted in Uncategorized | 6 Comments