You know…

I keep saying I’m not going to post on this sort of thing any more. I’m decreasingly inclined to even read about it, and hope for the day when I lose the impulse entirely. It’s a process.

But sometimes…


Uh huh. Look, pal – you can do whatever you want to yourself. Others may have an opinion, may have concerns, but in the end it’s really nobody’s business but your own. Sure, do as you will. But when you angle for a position of power over other people, then start issuing idiotic edicts and commandments that you expect those people to obey at the risk of fines and imprisonment, enforced at the point of a gun – well, then you and your oddities become everybody’s problem. And everybody’s business.

And even if you get what I take to be your way in the end, and we all end up groaning under the weight of your new people’s paradise – do you really expect you’re going to be on top of the heap? Because … read a history book, dude.

Just saying.



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Ramshot True Blue and Enforcer powder review

My goodness, it’s good to be back in the saddle. Regular readers know I went out of the reloading business almost four years ago when I took a fall and wrecked my (other) shoulder. I wish I could say the rotator cuffs have fully healed – they haven’t and apparently won’t, but I’ve reached a tolerable new normal and at least I can shoot again although my full-power long gun days are apparently done. Intermediate caliber carbines are okay.

But we’re here to talk about pistols. Just before I took my last tumble I got two free pounds of powder from Wideners with the agreement that I’d put their link on my sidebar and review the powders. They … got the first and a mention. Since they stopped bugging me about the reviews a long time ago I assume they’re not speaking to me anymore and I can’t say I blame them. But in the interest of catching up on an old obligation and for the benefit of anyone who cares, here’s an old reloader’s impressions of Ramshot True Blue and Enforcer powders for the .44. Continue reading

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Sorry, Terrapod. I tried. But…

This passive cell signal booster does nothing.

It took hours before my notional signal strengthened enough to enable Airdrop so that I could even get this pic on the Official TUAK ‘Pooter. We’ve had some variable weather, I have 3 posts pending the hour/day when I can download photos, and have for parts of two days. This morning I tore out bookshelves to relocate the indoor antenna directly behind the hotspot, ended up waving the antenna around within an inch of the phone to see if it had any effect on the indicated signal at all – and it really just doesn’t.

It’s capricious as hell. Some days I have two bars on the indicator and no problem sending texts and emails, dealing with photos and posting on the blog. Other times it’s like this morning and most of yesterday. You never know, but it has become clear that the antenna isn’t affecting the average.

Maybe in a location where the signal isn’t quite as weak as it is down in the Lair’s hollow, it would show some measurable effect. But here, I can’t get it to do anything.

Interesting experiment, though, and I appreciate the effort you went to in building and shipping it.

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Starboard Battery…

Torso Boy has taken it upon himself to protect my blind side from marauding cattle.

And let it be said that he’s doing a hell of a job.

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AC or DC? I don’t always know which is best.

It’s kind of a problem for me that you can buy AC and DC lightbulbs with the same socket size and design. Often Chinese-made, they sometimes don’t even have identifying markings which means if you store them carelessly – and of course how could that ever be a problem around here – bad things can happen. Screw a bulb meant for 120 volts into a DC12 socket and it just won’t work. Reverse the process and after a very brief popping noise the bulb will never work again. But all of that can be avoided with the use of a marking pen and separate storage spaces. There’s one application that has perplexed and annoyed me for months…

For personal reasons, this happens to be my favorite lamp. There’s nothing special about it but it’s the single possession I’ve managed to keep with me literally since high school. I got a gas money gig doing yard work and hauling trash for a little old lady – we’ll pause in a moment of silence for the dignity of my lifetime career arc – and among boxes of other stuff she was throwing away this really cool (I thought, and kind of still do) old brass lamp with nothing wrong with it except it needed re-wiring. Even oafish late-teenage me could re-wire a lamp without danger.

So I kept it. It stayed with Big Brother – who happened to need a bedside lamp, which I didn’t – for a year or two until I left the state. And somehow, through more moves than I could remember if I cared to try and after literally abandoning much baggage on numerous occasions when my life situation became unsuited to owning more than a car’s trunk full of possessions, this thing stuck with me. I’ve inadvertently crushed a lot of lampshades, but never quite managed to lose the lamp. And at this late stage of my life, I guess that makes it special.

It only just this moment struck me that there’s a certain irony to one of my favorite personal possessions being my earliest recorded scrounging score. I like to think I’ve grown since my teens – but maybe not so much.

Anyway – all of the above is a digression I didn’t sit down intending to write. What I meant to write is that some five years ago I re-wired the lamp for use directly connected to the Lair’s retrofitted 12-volt DC circuit. It was an effort to save a little battery juice and also keep a lamp useful in that corner of the cabin on occasions when the inverter wasn’t available.

And it worked fine in that capacity until a few months ago when the bulb started flickering annoyingly. I brought a replacement out of storage – and it didn’t work at all. I tried another bulb – nothing. I screwed one of those new-but-apparently-faulty bulbs into one of the bedroom sockets – worked fine.

Huh. Now I had a mystery. Maybe it was just that the lamp’s socket was old and not making contact? I replaced the socket. Nothing.

I still assumed the problem was these Chinese LED bulbs. BB recently sent me a new supply of 12-volt DC LED bulbs. I tried one of those. Nope. They simply didn’t work in the lion lamp, though they worked fine in the bedroom lighting.

It’s still a mystery – I never did figure it out. But whatever – I needed that lamp to work, it’s right over my desk. So yesterday I sacrificed a light-duty extension cord and re-wired it for AC. Screwed in a bog-normal hardware store LED bulb. Plugged it in.

With improvements in the Lair’s electrical system the question isn’t as relevant as it used to be but after all these years I’m hardwired to ask it: What was the effect on the power draw?

Basically a rounding error. The battery bank is still smaller than standard but no longer a running joke.

So after something like five years my (antique?*) lamp has gone back to being something you can just plug in anywhere.

*I got to wondering about this in an idle moment and looked up the definition. And it seems the answer is no. Vintage, certainly, though not in original condition. But probably a few decades from antique.

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Only the second day this year in triple digits…

…I keep trying to cheer myself up by phrasing it that way. It hasn’t missed triple digits by much any afternoon for the past week.

Nice evening breeze, though.

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And that’s why I always keep expensive ant poison.

We have a big black ant here, very industrious, very hostile, and for some reason they like to build their nests on packed-down driveways.

They’re not fire ants by any means but their bite – and they do bite – gives you a painful welt that will itch for a week. And they will climb you till they find something tender to bite, if you take my meaning.

They are not welcome near the Lair, and the local hardware sells a granular concoction that is sure genocidal death to a nest in hours.

Picture taken just before I left on a dump run with D&L:

Just after I returned 2.5 hours later:

Yeah, they think that stuff is delicious food – and the nest mouth was already littered with dead ants.

Screwest thou not with Uncle Joel.

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“This is starting to feel like a bad idea.”

So said Neighbor D, 15 minutes into trying to straighten out the corral partition in their horse run.

We hadn’t anticipated how deeply the sections had sunk into the clay over the years…

Which, once we had laboriously dug one out, made reconnecting it to its neighbor kind of problematic…

And it was all more work in the hot sun than two old men wanted to do for more than a few minutes at a time.

So in the end we tried cheating…

…and that didn’t do a lot of good either. Finally decided that the only way to do it right would be to tear it out and do it again – and that was also more work than the problem was worth. In the end we agreed it wasn’t that much of a problem in the first place.

On the way home, I ran into the neighborhood’s answer to a traffic jam!

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Water heater progress report…

Got it back together yesterday after the Monday morning water run, this time (so far; it fooled me the first time) leak-free.

Max temperature with good overhead sun, no glass cover:

Capacity at max temperature:

…barely one’o’those. Which is just enough for dish washing or a minimal shower with max sun. So I’m going to be ordering more black hose, which I gather is available on Amazon. Big Brother donated the 100′ currently up there.

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“Uncle Joel, it’s too hot in here. “

Normally TB isn’t interested in joining me on the porch in the evening but even his ‘new things are bad’ extremism has limits. So this evening he’s joining me in the breeze, and for the first time seeming to enjoy it. June has finally had its way with him. 🙂

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Hey, remember this target stand?

Well, I spent this afternoon cooking up some real .44 Magnum loads for the Model 69. And when you shoot at that particular target inside 20 yards or so with 200 gr. lead bullets that have a lot of powder behind them…

Well, the frame never quite fell over backward. But I kept expecting it to. If I hadn’t wrecked my shoulder to the point where I’ll probably never pop another cap on a real .30 cal rifle … I’d be making the ground stands more substantial.

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Oops. What are the chances?

I’ve been sticking PVC bits together for a fat 40 years in all temperatures, awkward places and positions, and it always works. Say what you will about PVC as plumbing material, it has its faults, but ease of sticking the pieces together without leaking is not among them.

So naturally under perfect workbench conditions, mine sprung a real geyser of a leak. And it’s the ONE fitting for which I don’t have multiple spares. What are the chances? Uncle Murphy just had to get one lick in. It’s so irritating I’m seriously thinking about biking to town today rather than waiting for tomorrow morning’s water run.

But I probably won’t. As for data, well, I did use the thing for shower water yesterday but I didn’t get to mix it with as much cold water as expected…

…because the water never got all that hot. This might have been because the sunlight was never all that bright…

It’s that time of year, and we’re downwind of a grass fire somewhere. But still, I hoped for more. And temperature retention overnight was predictably nil. That might change when the glass cover goes on … but I doubt it.

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New Water Heater #2: That went … well.

I was just about to make lunch and call it an afternoon when it occurred to me that I probably did have the fitting I was lacking – just not in the bag of PVC fittings where it belonged. I had a small leak in the yard spigot over the winter and bought a new one plus the fitting I needed to cement it to the PVC coming out of the ground – but then the leak mysteriously went away and I never got around to it. But it meant I had everything I needed for completion except brackets to hold the pipe to the wall. And I really wanted to see how well this contraption worked. So…

I brought a couple of wrenches and the pipe up the ladder. Carefully went over every hose fitting for tightness. Connected the pipe to the hose. Fiddled about until all was ready, opened the new … thing … to pressure. Waited. And in much less time than anticipated…

The water that first hit the bucket was almost scalding, it had picked up that much heat from the black hose that had been in the sun for some hours. Temperature quickly settled down to no more than tepid, as expected, but I’ll bet in less than an hour I get some seriously hot water out of it. Then I want to know how much, but it’s surely going to be more than a bucket-full.

I went around to climb the ladder to check for leaks in the box, and found myself in a shower…

I had forgotten about that join. I bought a 25′ hose to run water up to the box, but found this morning that it was just that much too short. So I added my newest yard hose to the length, most of which is now in the box. But when going around tightening things I forgot all about that unplanned connection, which I hadn’t even snugged…

Anyway. No drips, probably hot water for this evening’s shower. 🙂

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New water heater almost done…

To fend off any questions about why I’m doing it this way, consider that my water heater for most of the past fourteen years has been this…

…so I’m not hard to please when it comes to a better source of hot water. I’ve been aware for virtually all that time that I’m throwing away a great power source. Anybody who leaves a garden hose out in the sun can’t be unaware of it. But I never roused myself to do something organized about it until this Spring when Neighbor S wanted to get rid of this. A real, built-for-the-purpose heat exchanger box. Even comes with a big thick heavy sheet of glass.

Right away the scope of the project became daunting: For one thing, where was I supposed to get enough pipe to make use of all that space? If I mounted it in the logical place, which is that spare bit of racking on my solar panel ground mount, I’d have to rebuild one whole side of the thing to take the weight. Then there’s all that re-plumbing and insulation on the cabin: So much crawling around under low floor joists. My heart sank. I couldn’t even be sure any of this would work, and one freezing incident could undo an awful lot of work and expense. Maybe this was just a bad idea.

But Big Brother sent me 2 50’* black hoses, and I got to thinking maybe this should be more of an incremental thing, starting with a pilot project.

It turns out there’s space on the powershed for the box. What about wind? Well, I can fasten it down to the roof almost as easily as I can to the panel rack but right now I’m living in hope that the weight of the water will hold it down against anything but a direct dust devil attack.

Rather than spending days digging up the yard to permanently plumb it into the system, I temporarily ran a new hose up the side of the shed and into the box. As for the outlet…

…BB included an old and rather peculiar fitting for interfacing a hose with a threaded pipe, and that gave me the idea to run PVC across the roof and down the wall over the workbench…

…to a simple faucet.

No big plumbing deal until I see whether and how well this will even work. If it gives good hot water but not enough, no problem: Add more hose. Going outdoors to fill a bucket is still less time and effort than serially boiling pans of water.

I’m stuck on one fitting to mount the faucet, and a couple of brackets of the right size to hold the pipe against the wall. I’ll get that Monday. Other than that, this thing is ready to rock. And we’ll see how well it works.

ETA: BB texted to correct me on a point of information: He sent 2 50-foot hoses, not one.

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Torso Boy! Gung Ho, Uncle Joel!

He was really open for business early this morning. It’s like quarter past five and I haven’t had my coffee yet but I’m wandering around getting dressed – and no sooner do I put the revolver on my belt than he runs to the door…

…stump of a tail wagging madly, ready for action. Usually he’s only intent on making sure breakfast happens ASAP but he seemed sure I was going to go off and leave him early in the morning like I did yesterday. Guessing he decided that preempting that if possible trumped breakfast…

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I guess you can get away with going cheap…

…if you do it early enough.

I don’t know anything about quality optics in general, or binoculars in particular. In fact I rarely give the subject much thought, but it came up this morning. I was futzing around in Landlady’s barn when I came upon a dusty binocular case somebody had forgotten there…

I took the case home to clean it and the glasses inside it, then later in the morning TB and I dropped them off at Landlady’s house while I checked the mousetraps. Maybe she has use for it, maybe not but gathering dirt in the barn isn’t a good look. It got me to thinking about my own “good” binoculars – if you happen to be an optics snob, carefully swallow any food or drink before looking below…

Yup – Bushnell. That’s the price point in which Uncle Joel has always swum, even back when he was a budding young Tactical Tad. I bought these in a K-Mart sometime in the mid-seventies. The case and strap long ago fell apart but the glasses still work well enough I never gave serious thought to upgrading. I suppose if I were a real hunter I might have wanted something more imposing, especially since my unaided eyes have never been much. But the only times I’ve been bugged by a desire to upgrade my kit was when my needs demanded better performance – otherwise it’s been my lifelong habit to go cheap and use it up. Pushing fifty years and these never quite got used up.

Now that I’ve dragged them out of the cabinet, though, I’m thinking about making a new case and putting them in the Jeep. I don’t actually use them much at the cabin but the freebie mini-binocs in the Jeep get used a fair bit and these are better.

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Playing around this morning…

My new target stand is in a part of the wash farther from my neighbors, where the walls are high and gunfire noise doesn’t carry quite so far. It’s a little higher than the sand so out of danger during the more usual sort of water run – but not at all safe from the sort of extraordinary floods we had 2 and 3 years ago. So the glorious clarity of hindsight tells me I need to go back with a drill and rope to secure it to a tree. I love cordless tools. 🙂

Had to trim away a couple of little bushes, but…

Click for bigger but boy, we’re really asking a lot of the phone’s lens resolution.

…I can get a clear shot at it to well over 100 yards, down on the surface of the wash. It’s there, just to the right of that tree.

Farther than that if I go a little higher…

So now I can play with my rifle on more than ‘that rock over there’ whenever I want, hopefully without bothering neighbors.

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I made a thing!

Ian, bless his heart, gave me the gift of a nice metallic target to do with as I will. What I will is a semi-portable target stand I can place way deep in a canyon area of the wash where I can shoot my rifle any time I want without having to clear schedules with a certain neighbor. Or get yelled at*.

I finished the frame yesterday afternoon, and hung the target just now. Kinda like the way it came out…

It might seem strange to need yet another target in the wash – after all this has been right in my yard for around 13 years…

…and I have full access to this…

But there are noise issues there, which translate to scheduling issues in the interest of not alienating neighbors.

Landlady, who brought up my care packages last weekend, wanted to know why I didn’t just set up Ian’s new targets. After all he said I could…

And they’re ubercool to say the least and I may very well borrow at least that Mozambique from time to time. None of those things existed back in the Pleistocene Era when I competed. But leave them in the wash to be exciting new finds for tourists and scroungers? I think not. And Monsoon is coming, and anything in the wash is in danger of washing downstream never to be found again like my (sob) storebought shooting bench. So no – whatever goes into the wash and isn’t driven into the earth and cemented in place** has to be at least semi-expendable. And those are not.

Ergo, Uncle Joel needed his very own sorta portable metallic rifle target – but wow, AR500 is expensive. So it was really nice of Ian to just gift me this one out of the blue.

*While I don’t deny that the neighbor situation complicates my life, don’t take any of this as a complaint. Having a shooter as a close neighbor is probably inconvenient as hell if you don’t happen to cherish the sound of gunfire and value your quiet. More so if your idea of fun is spending a lot of time with a goofy, spooky horse like Coaltrain who shies at sharp noises. My neighbors also have rights and I’m intent on not becoming the problem here.

**And even then it’s not safe…

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Up on the roof first thing in the morning…

Uncle Joel is afraid of heights. Always has been and it’s not easing with age. But some things are simpler than others, and fortunately for me one of those things is working on the new addition’s nice flat roof. Also, getting up there is no big trick.

But that doesn’t mean I won’t put it off as long as feasible, just because it’s still the top of a roof and I’m afraid of heights. To get past my limitations, I resolve to hit it first thing in the morning – after first coffee but before breakfast – to get it done and out of my life. Also, I approach all scary or distasteful jobs with a sort of ritual of meticulous preparation.

In this particular case, I had to mount the outdoor antenna of Terrapod’s (prototype) passive cell signal booster (Yes, I owe you a care package post. I’ve been lazy…)

…as high as possible on the Lair’s wall, and that meant climbing on to the bedroom’s roof. Scary but doable even for me. Continue reading

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You should be ashamed for being here, you haters!

I was just climbing a ladder to do something scary (see next post) when I got a text from Big Brother…

We had breakfast at a [breakfast place] this morning but couldn’t access your blog on their WiFi. I guess TUAK is considered too subversive? You should be proud!

He included a screenshot…

Click to Embiggen

TUAK is blocked for hate/discrimination. Yup, we’re in that world now.

I don’t know toward whom I have expressed hate*, or against whom I have discriminated**, but it doesn’t have to be overt. I can guess what the problem is here…

Good morning. My name is Joel, and I’m an old white guy. I admit that I am powerless over my inherent racism and privilege, and that my life has become unmanageable. I seek a power greater than myself, like maybe BLM or Antifa or the Workers World Party, to restore me to sanity. I have made a decision to turn my will and life over to the care of that power, and have made a searching and fearless moral inventory of myself and my despicable racism and privilege. Et Cetera.

It’s a process. See you in the gulag, or if we’re lucky just at our next struggle session.

*Okay, maybe the ATF…

**In hindsight I suppose this was unnecessarily snarky. But not because she’s black

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