Best friends EVER

Thanks to Landlady, I got my iPhone back fixed! And now I can go back to photographing everything in sight, because the past six weeks or so have taught me that it’s really AirDrop I miss. The iPhone is much much more compatible with the MacBook than the tablet when it comes to transferring pix.

And look what a certain long-haired YouTube celebrity sent me to help keep coyotes and other antifascist parasites at bay!


Because a desert hermit who can’t exactly call 911 to check out that noise in the hedges really can’t have too much AK ammo.

Not that ‘not enough’ was really a problem,…


…but there’s no such thing as ‘too much.’

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TUAK: The Rambling

It’s September 10. Three days ago I spent the afternoon naked due to an unseasonable heat wave. This morning it’s 37o and I’m wrapped in layers and typing through gloves.

I took a picture of the cool digital indoor/outdoor thermometer my brother sent me a few years ago – but then decided naw, they don’t need that. I figured a way to get photos from the tablet to the laptop but you have to really want to do it. The procedure includes but is not necessarily limited to:

1) Take the picture (easy part)
2) Learn or recall the arcane procedure for copying the file to the SD card
3) Remember to actually do that before removing the card from the tablet, which consists of:
a) Turn tablet off
b) Open cardholder cover
c) Pry cardholder out of tablet
d) Desperately search for the SD and SIM cards which took a bad hop under the kitchen counter, because they’re thoughtfully placed on the bottom of the cardholder
e) Insert SD card into adapter
f) Insert adapter into Laptop
g) Open Finder and attempt to find picture files
h) Swear luridly as you discover that you forgot Steps 2 and 3
i) Typist is bored now

While I was going through all that yesterday morning a little ditty started going through my mind. It went something like this…

I want my iPhone back
Gotta have my iPhone back
I miss it oh so much
Can’t live without its touch…

…to the tune of this parody song from 1965, which I haven’t actually heard since sometime in the early ’70’s.

And that got me to thinking about that parody song, which I probably haven’t actually thought of since sometime in the early ’70’s, which caused me to look it up on Youtube because of course it’s there, all old songs are, and I listened to it and decided that it was probably a lot funnier when I was a teenager. Possibly because harmlessly transgressive things tend to be funnier to teenagers but also because the things parodied in the song are ancient even to me. I’m old enough to have heard dead teenager songs on the radio but a little too young to have appreciated them, which is to say I was too young to drive when the fad was current. Say “dead teenager song” to an actual teenager today and you’ll probably get reactions ranging from blank to mildly alarmed.

Type that phrase into a search engine if you have a lot of time on your hands.

Anyway, that excursion into ancient history got me to thinking about cultural references in general, which are often a sore point to me because I made a life of missing (and of course now more than ever miss) pop culture stuff as it went by. I was never socially plugged in at any point in my life, and it shows whenever I watch Deadpool or some other movie that leans heavily on phrases or references to things everybody knows about. What the hell is ‘dubstep,’ anyway?

This oddly sudden cold snap has me thinking of getting my generator out of mothballs a month early for wood cutting, because the woodshed is way more than half empty and we’re overdue for a cold winter. But that’s yet another topic and I’ll stop now. My fingers are tingling.

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Rain! Water from the sky!

When I ran into Neighbor L yesterday morning she said there was a ‘90% chance’ of rain forecast for yesterday. There being not a cloud in the sky visible through all the secondhand smoke I had my doubts. But the day was windy and unsettled and only a moron seriously tries to predict the weather around here, especially during winter and monsoon. So I was surprised but not flabbergasted when, for literally the first time all spring and summer…


…it actually rained! Water fell from the sky before my very eyes.


And not just a sprinkling to settle the dust, either. Look at the drainage ditch! My porch gutter is doing something besides bleaching in the sun!

The serious rain began at about ten minutes to six, so technically it was during the day rather than evening and my stated prediction was false – but I was only going with the safe odds. It’s monsoon and rain has been predicted before. So far only a little thunder and sometimes a brief sprinkle. This is the first real rain since winter. The cattlemen gave up on grazing their herd here early last month, which is one blessing of a drought.

Appears to have rained off and on during the night, too. I’d be interested to hear what the actual rainfall was, except nobody measures that at or near the Gulch. Probably we just finally got lucky and were under one of the small wandering storm cells we normally see watering the horizon.

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I’m officially asking California to stop being so handsy…

…and to keep its second-hand smoke to itself.


I mean I thought they were all into social distancing and stuff.

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And sometimes the Internet can be fun.

This guy is molotov cocktailing wrong – but at least he knows he can convalesce as the nation’s most popular meme for the next week or two – or anyway until the next political murder, which will be any minute now.

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This took two days.

I’m not ignoring you, at least not as much as it seems. It’s just that every time I go near a computer the cell signal falls to nothing. Seriously, most times I can’t even check email lately. And that with hardly a drop of rain.

Anyway, here’s some mule deer at the watering station…


Upload 83 jpegs, make the gif, download the gif, upload the gif … that’s more than my data stream has been capable of for days. There was a lot more on the memory card but this is as much as I dared try.

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Random Gulchy Moments

Yesterday I got a chance to visit the Palace of Food, the Safeway in the biggish town about 35 miles away.


I get such a kick out of that place – nice to be reminded from time to time that quiet people still live prosperously no matter what the news might imply. Portland might be on fire but most people don’t actually give Portland much thought.

For serious food storage I much prefer cans; a freezer full of meat for your bad-time preps only guarantees a power failure. But that doesn’t mean a freezer full of meat isn’t nice, if it’s within your resources. It didn’t used to be within mine.

Speaking of nice…


How’s this for irony: A little over a month ago I bunged up my right shoulder again, quite out of the blue. Unlike in the past I didn’t even do anything to deserve it, I was just hauling on a barrel of chicken pellets and the joint came out of socket. So pain, very ouch and it got me to worrying; maybe this ‘getting old’ business has downsides.

And then cue irony: Only a day or two later I stupidly sliced my left index finger right on the side you don’t realize how much you use until you cut the blessed thing to the bone. Gaping wound, blood everywhere, I no longer had a single fully functional hand. Ended up tying the Jeep driver door open because just opening it hurt so much. Now, I was a mechanic for a long time and used to get cuts and burns and gouges on my hands all the time. Used to joke that the ability to heal quickly was a necessity of the trade. “Don’t bleed on the customer’s car” is one of those unwritten rules they don’t mention at tech school.

In light of the way my skeleton seems to be falling apart I worried that maybe a deep cut like this one would take its time healing or even go bad. Needn’t have worried; two weeks later it’s only another scar. Lately I’ll take my blessings wherever I can find them.

Two days late, but this morning was Battery Day…


One of these days lithium batteries will get good enough/cheap enough for use by non-rich mundanes like myself but in the meantime I really prefer lead/acid: Not in spite of but because they require at least monthly maintenance. There’s no such thing as a maintenance-free battery bank no matter what anybody’s selling, and scheduling a day for topping off reservoirs also gives you a chance to look for loose connections and corrosion and such. There’s no such thing as ‘maintenance-free,’ but without a schedule it’s easy to get lulled into sloth which absolutely will bite you in the ass. In the worst way, at the worst time. Murphy’s Law is a warning, not a council of despair.

Speaking of things going wrong: The cell signal has been really bad lately, and it comes and goes capriciously. I didn’t think I’d be able to load those pics, then suddenly everything was great, and right now I can’t even get a preview. Which means I can hit the Publish button but have no way to know when/whether this will actually be published. Monsoon without the rain; great.

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Eh? Eh?

From the “People throw away the damndest things” department, I give you…


…the closest to “cute” we’ve come so far. 🙂

Excellent timing: The last of the scrounged deck chairs had just about finished falling apart. The old table, knocked together out of scraps two years ago, will likely now complete its journey to the woodshed.

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Like trying to find my way out of a cave…

August wasn’t a banner month for me to begin with, injuries always drop a bomb on my schedule, and the past two weeks have been kind of rough. What happened with Laddie depressed me more and longer than I expected; frankly I’m not normally a very sentimental person. I’ve been sitting around bingewatching old TV shows on a harddrive, and not even kicking myself over wasted time. I’m keeping up with the dailies, you know; there aren’t roaches in the dirty dishes or anything but beyond that I haven’t been much use. Gotta pull myself out of this hole.


This’ll give you some idea of how out of it I’ve been: I installed this new bypass regulator on the kitchen propane weeks ago and kept catching whiffs of propane. To ignore the smell of propane is to break one of those Rules That Must Not Be Broken but I had tested the joints and fittings with soapy water when I put it together and saw no leaks, so I only worried about it on those rare occasions when I was doing something useful outside and caught the scent. Then I forgot it again.

Turns out one of my brand-new hoses was defective and venting expensive dangerous gas, and I found the leak almost by accident. Gotta order another 2-foot hose before I can use both of the big propane bottles that don’t really fit the bedroom regulator very well.


Maybe I’ve just subconsciously decided I’m emotionally done with this summer: I wouldn’t normally give winter preps a thought for at least another month. I like summer and dislike winter – but this summer has turned into a suckfest so one of the voices decided it was time to start gathering firewood. In the course of every day I look out for chances to scrounge old lumber to cut up in the autumn; some seasons it can make quite a pile. This summer not so much but there was still some, and this morning out of the blue I hauled out the chopsaw and cut it to stove lengths.


That naturally got me to thinking about my axe and hatchet, both of which needed edges.

If I don’t get out of my funk pretty quick I’ll find myself fixing the woodshed’s stone floor and pulling pallets apart. Too early in the season for that but I can no longer ignore how poorly written and acted a lot of Babylon 5 dialog really is.

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You’re welcome.

Murphy’s Law of Social Trend Integration clearly states “When Joel joins a fad, the fad burned out days or weeks ago.”

So yesterday I actually bought one of those dumbass masks that have been all the rage for the past few months.


That should put an end to this nonsense. You’re welcome.

Actually I’ve noticed a swiftly waning willingness on the part of the residents of the crappy little town nearest where I live to wear the damned things even though all the signs are still on all the doors. Hard to take the signs seriously when even the people behind the counters are obscenely baring their faces in public.

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Wow, Laddie was a more lovable little bastard than I gave him credit for…

Okay, enter caveats: I have a paper right here showing that his mother and father were as married as dogs ever get so ‘bastard’ is wrong in every sense. And he was a Corgi officially christened “Sweet’n Soft’n Squishy,’ so lovable was pretty much baked into the product. But my experience with Corgis consists rather sparsely of Laddie and a whole bunch of Youtube videos, and by the standards of a Youtube Corgi Laddie was not an unusually lovable Corgi. He was a serious little man most of the time, normally much more concerned with making sure quotidian necessities like meals and walkies happened on (precise) schedule than with being goofy or seeing how far he could get his tongue out of his mouth.

Nevertheless he’s been dead for over a week and I just now almost teared up from recalling that it won’t be necessary to put dog biscuits on the dollar store shopping list. So, pretty lovable.

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Adventures in missing the point…

Alternate title: All I Did was Suggest Improvements.

I don’t need this shit right now – I just got the loveliest email in response to the post below. I get the impression this is a person who pitched something in the past and didn’t like the reply or lack of same but I really don’t know. He/she alludes to something specific but without enough information for me to figure out specifically what. Sorry, you’ll have to click for embiggenment but perhaps someone can lead me to enlightenment…

This person seems to have been offended by a particular post he/she didn’t appreciate, presumably one in which I mocked a spam email. Unfortunately the word “Spam” appears so frequently on TUAK in a completely unrelated context that all I can do is wish I’d gotten around to using tags so I have no way of tracking down what this person is going on about. If anybody knows, please feel free to loan me a clue.

But it’s nice to know he/she cares, I guess.

Allow me to state the official TUAK policy on Things Joel Says. Maybe I should put it in a blurb on the sidebar:

I’m not here to offend anybody and within reason I try not to. But this is my blog, not yours, and only I get to dictate its contents. If you are offended you’re welcome to say so – maybe I’ll even take a lesson but I doubt it – and you’re not required to come here or read the contents. Thank you.

Specific to this incident, here’s an addendum:

I am not required to sell shit for other people and in fact have a policy of not doing so.

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Spammers: Take a lesson from this.

Bloggers: Are you tired of unimaginative, ineffective, cookie-cutter spam ads in your inbox? Do you wish somebody would at least look at your damned blog before gracing you with an incoherent block of cut/n/pasted text half-assedly trying to sell you on the idea of turning your baby into a vehicle for somebody else’s product, for somebody else’s profit?

Well, complain no more! I actually got a spam letter this morning that I’m going to favorably respond to! Not because I endorse the product line necessarily – matter of taste, really – but just because somebody gave the appearance of having done a bare minimum of market research: Somebody read the damned blog and saw that the overall flavor fit with what they were trying to do and that I had (favorably!*) mentioned a similar product, and then sent me a pitch. And before my second coffee (and stuck for a morning post) I decided I mildly agreed.

If I get an automated follow-up spam in a week I’ll know that I overestimated whoever runs this business and fell for a spambot with better than normal grammar and market targeting.

Take note, spammers! I’m actually responding to an intrusion with something other than ridicule:

Being older than 16 I’m not really into slogan t-shirts but that’s a matter of taste and not everyone agrees with mine. So if you like that sort of thing check out Libertas Bella and see what you think.

*I have gotten similar pitches for products just like things I *mocked.*

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Moving on. Again.

Boy, I’ve spent five days in a bad place. Felt nearly normal on Saturday then had a maudlin Sunday and yesterday went into a banging rage over nothing. I was absolutely not ready for human company and no fun at all during the Monday morning water run.

But dealing with my feelings was never my best thing, so it’s time to get some work done. Yesterday I did remember to bring home a sack of concrete, so this morning while it was still somewhat cool I poured Laddie’s headstone pedestal…


…which in the fullness of time will wear one of those cool marble markers Landlady gets for all good dead pets.

I have been somewhat busy throughout, at least sporadically: I haven’t let things go to hell while I was wallowing in self-pity. Borrowed a vacuum cleaner and can honestly report that the Lair hasn’t been this free of dog hair since it was constructed. Sad but true: Shedding was Laddie’s one confirmed superpower. I swear that dog shed his weight in hair daily and I’d be lying if I claimed I’m going to miss that. My quilt even looks like a camo quilt again and not a hair blanket. Still getting used to having the bed to myself, though.

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Okay, let’s talk about this…

First of all, thank you very much for all the comments. I do appreciate it.

For the record I know perfectly well that I did the right thing and what I blame myself for is making him suffer through six endless hours before I nutted up and – did the right thing. And probably I have a lot of dead chickens to thank for crossing the threshold into “yes, he can pull the trigger.” Because I’ll be honest with you – I spent my whole life wondering if I could do that exact thing. So no, I’m not wallowing in self-loathing over shooting Laddie.

But that doesn’t change how grotesque this is. If anybody ever woke up one fine morning and said to himself, “You know what would be great today? If I could shoot a Corgi!” it’s just really important you don’t hire him on your police force.

In my mind and maybe yours there are two basic kinds of purebred dog: Big capable dogs bred for work, and carpet dogs. Corgis … turn out to kind of bridge that gap and maybe that’s what makes them so preternaturally adorable? Or maybe it’s just that trick they do with their eyes. All I know is once Laddie settled in and really decided I was his person, this was his place and he was cool with that, and that took a while … Well. I liked having him around.

Thing is, I would class Laddie’s breed in the very bottom slot on my list of “dogs I’d like to shoot in the head” if I started having that list. And Laddie is the only one I know. So. Grotesque.

But my description of those six hours is if anything understated. I put him through six hours of hell while I contemplated nonsense about how normal people don’t shoot Corgis, there’s got to be some specific rule against it. I’ll just have to carry that, I’m quite sure I’ll never entirely forgive myself for taking so goddam long to shoot him.

The cancer – that was just bad luck. Dogs never get as old as you’d like. I’ll mourn for him, but life goes on. Like Magnus and Fritz and Ghost and Little Bear, Torso Boy has a place in my heart.

But Jesus Christ! Was Murphy on coke or something, to make me shoot my own goddam Corgi?

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Only another ugly memory

It’s been well over twelve hours and I’m still having trouble processing last night. I’m going to write this now before the tequila I’ve lately been drinking starts processing brain cells.

Rather than come up with a long original explanation of what happened last night I’ll just paste a redacted version of an email I sent a friend earlier…

FYI I’m still trying to wrap my mind around this but Laddie stopped being able to breathe last night around eight. I kept waiting for it to stop; he had a couple of spells like that on Wednesday. But this didn’t stop – he kept whooping and gagging, getting more frantic and terrified and exhausted, it just went on and on.

By 2 AM he was just croaking, still at the same rhythm as when it started. He seemed to be getting just enough air to not die, it was torture. And 2 AM is when I led him outside and put him out of his misery.

I could have maybe kept him alive until this morning and [Neighbor L] would have driven us to a vet. That was my plan last night. But it sure wouldn’t have been the kind thing to do, he was really suffering.

Never did sleep; I started digging his grave (next to [Ghost], by the fence) at first light and finished up around 8:30. So that’s done but it’s probably going to be a while before the whole thing is only another ugly memory. Probably best to just spend the weekend by myself.

I don’t recall ever hearing of a dog that got so sick so fast.

So that happened. Talk among yourselves, I guess we’ve disproved my hypothesis about the blog being a block to Murphy.

Am I the only person in history to have shot a Corgi? Because who does that? I typed that, and now I want to throw up.

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Relax, dammit!

Though it might not break 100 today, we’re still sweating here at the Secret Lair.

Torso Boy is not doing well. I don’t believe I’ve ever seen a dog go from apparently perfectly healthy to death’s door so quickly in my life, though I do admit my experience with dogs is limited. He kept me up what seemed like half the night wheezing; sometimes he really seems to have trouble breathing. Other times he’s – not fine, since he’s almost visibly aging in front of me – but not uncheerful. A lot of it right now is that he’s just hot, but just as I type this he’s having a terrible spell and he keeps coming to me as if wondering why I don’t fix it.

Anyway, I’m showing physical signs of stress that haven’t been around in quite a while. I get things wrong with me when I’m under a lot of stress and when I lived in the city they were old familiar friends. Suddenly, listening to my little guy choke and wheeze and cry and there’s not a damned thing I can do to ease him, they’re all back. Too bloody hot and bright to go out for long even if I wanted to so I’m just sort of keeping him company and quietly stressing out.

Obviously you don’t have to move to the desert to suffer the slow death of a dog. Many of you have been here. But right now I’m feeling pretty alone and helpless.

I’m filling the time till evening going through some old thumb drives and found a bunch of stuff I wrote nearer the beginning of my stay here. Some of it was for the blog, some for other things, some just to myself.

This one I wrote in the Spring of 2011, right after the last really cold winter I suffered through while the Lair was still under construction. Today it read like a letter to Future Me. It reminded me of how much better and easier and how much less entirely improvised everything around here has become in the past nine years, and that I should really just count my blessings. And it’s called Relax, Dammit! Continue reading

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In other news…

This is … fabulous.

I’d say this will make Stephen Stills kill himself just so he can roll in his grave – except I’m told that’s him playing the guitar so what the hell do I know.

I’m also told that the reason this godawful video (I haven’t made it more than a minute in so maybe it gets better – but I won’t bet the rent on it) is all over the Intertubes this morning is that it was played as the closer at the ‘virtual’ Democrat convention last night. This means something I find appalling, even by the very low standards to which I hold political apparatchiks…

Despite appearances this wasn’t put together by a bored gay guy alone with a green screen in his basement. Hey, I doubt Stills comes cheap. And then numerous, perhaps many people, presumably adults, decided that playing this … thing at the 2020 Democratic National Convention was a good thing to do: That this was exactly the look required for the political party that seriously intends to rule the United States of America.

I’m going to take a walk and let that sink in. And then maybe shoot myself.

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I had a chapter three but it doesn’t seem important now.

I had my whole tale of woe outlined before I wrote the first word but the ending was weak and has been overcome by other matters already mentioned. Naturally the bad news was immediately followed by the hottest heat wave of the summer right where Monsoon is supposed to be. Torso Boy is lying on the tiles panting and I’m thinking of joining him; probably the coolest place in the cabin. The sun will start going down soon and I’ll take the party to the porch until the fans can cool the inside. But I mention all that just to say I haven’t been running around stirring up blog bait and my original plan for cranking TUAK up seems not worth finishing anymore.

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Addendum to the cancer post below…

The preceding is NOT repeat NOT a bleg. Torso Boy is a cool little guy and if he were two years old rather than pushing ten I’d probably do it. There’s actually a way for poor people to go into hock for pet treatment, and given how close I am to pulling Social Security I’d be seriously tempted by it … but let’s face a fact, TB ain’t a young dog. He’s not a really OLD dog, which pisses me right the hell off. But no.

I’m just saying, I had a vision of generous readers hitting the tip jar to the tune of thousands of dollars – it has happened here, it’s how I got my eye surgery and a good bit of Lair construction – and this is not one of those situations where doing that would really help a lot. So please don’t do that.

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