Life as a hobby…

Landlady came to the Lair for coffee this morning, as has become our Sunday-before-leaving tradition. Before coming to the door she took a turn around the yard, exclaiming over the new woodshed. I showed her the simple drawing I’d made of the proposed layout for the new bedroom.

“I like coming to your yard,” she [paraphrased]. “Things are always changing.”

I thought about that for a minute. “A lot of the first stuff consisted of mistakes,” I said. “I scrounged too much, made some foolish assumptions, didn’t know what I was doing, didn’t know that I didn’t know what I was doing. A lot of that needed to be fixed.” Continue reading

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Paging Doctor White, Doctor T. H. White…

“Everything Not Compulsory is Forbidden.”

“Everything Not Forbidden is Compulsory.”

It’s supposed to be a scene in a fantasy novel. A cautionary scene, in which Merlyn tries to teach the future king what not to do.

But, as with 1984, our would-be masters at every level insist on seeing it as an instruction manual.

This isn’t from a fantasy novel…

The city had no laws pertaining to residential gardens, which means they were technically not allowed.

According to the city’s laws, if something is not permitted it is prohibited.

“Right now, if there is not something expressly in this code that says that you can have one, you technically can’t,” Blakeman confirmed.

I moved away because things like this kept driving me to teeth-grinding rages. Most other people seemed to take it in stride, and to this day I can’t decide if I was the crazy one.

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There’s always something to learn, I guess…

100_1772So yesterday I hooked up my Battery Minder to the second set of batteries, which basically meant I was using one set of batteries to charge another. What could possibly go wrong? It didn’t even occur to me until after sundown that this might not be my finest idea ever. The Minder has four charge settings: 2, 4 and 8 amps. I had it set for 4. A 4-amp after-dark draw on my little 4-battery bank is not the apocalypse, but it is noticeable. I wouldn’t want to leave it on all night. So around 8 PM I went out and unplugged it. Didn’t matter; the batteries were pretty much full anyway.

So this morning I figured I should finish hooking things up. I switched off the inverter and the circuit breakers to the solar panels, then used up the last of that heavy-gauge wire Big Brother sent me to run a line from the #2 charge controller to the … well, I guess I may as well call it the #2 battery bank. Up to today the only thing they were connected to was the powershed lighting, but now I disconnected the whole 12v circuit from the #1 battery bank and switched it to #2. Everything fine, no unexpected arky-sparky, I turned everything back on and everything works great. Just as hoped expected.


This is a minor problem but I’m very annoyed that it never occurred to me for a moment until I saw it happen: Now I have two separate battery banks, and of course my indoor voltage readout can only be connected to one of them. The one that runs my 12v lighting. Which is absolutely not the one whose voltage concerns me most of the time, because a 12v LED draws hardly anything while all the real draw is coming from the AC system.

I could fix it, but it would mean trenching yet another line between the cabin and the powershed. A much simpler solution would be to switch the cabin 12v lights back to the #1 battery bank. Which really eliminates any practical reason to have the #2 bank at all, but probably this is going to annoy me badly enough to actually do that. Bother.

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CNN wants more ice cream, throws fit.

😀 Have you seen this?

Remember when we were told we should defer to the people reading the news because they were the adults?

So…I’m thinking not so much now.

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Finally got around to making a place for my old batteries…

Yesterday I knocked together a little table for them, moved them back into the powershed, then wired them to my 12-volt lighting.

Right now I’ve got them on my Battery Minder, but in the next day or two I’ll run a little new wire and connect them to the newer charge controller. My 12 volt LEDs pull almost nothing measurable from the batteries over the course of an evening so there’s no practical reason to do any of this except I can’t bear to leave two perfectly good batteries out to be ruined from neglect. Giving them something to do gives me excuse to wire them to a controller.

Also, with this admittedly meaningless action I have officially achieved redundancy in every major part of my power system: I have two each of solar panels arrays, charge controllers, battery banks and inverters. Short of a catastrophic fire that just destroys everything – and let’s plan on giving that a miss, shall we? – no one disaster can take down my power system for very long. Like the lightning strike of two years ago did.

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The things the desert gets up to when I’m not looking…

The morning walky is the single guaranteed big one, rain or shine, so as to allow LB to do his eliminatory chores. We were out in the wash, he had assumed the position, and I was leaning on my spear and looking around for cattle when I saw something shiny on the sand upstream.

So when LB was done with his business we went up the wash instead of down, to see what was flashing in the morning sun…

Definitely not mine. The newest human tracks anywhere near the barrette come from a neighbor’s ATV but they’re a few days old and several feet away. If a lady lost it off the ATV she must have thrown it away, and it hasn’t been here long enough for the wind to bury it. The tracks say a cow walked right over it, like it dropped from the cow. Not suggesting that as a possibility.

You never know. People do weird things. Or not so weird: The only other piece of female human regalia I ever found out here was a bra – but that was at least on a seldom-used road. When I was young that would have made perfect sense.

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You know that old saw that goes, “If you don’t like the weather in [X], just wait a few minutes”?

Yeah, it’s like that here in spring. Yesterday the temperature crashed and it rained off and on all day, so my fingers tingled even through work gloves and except for necessary chicken chores I barely left the cabin dawn to dusk. Happy I got the firewood put away; that stuff represents many hours’ labor cutting up nearly irreplaceable pallets. It shouldn’t be left on the ground, or in the rain. So I could stand at the window and congratulate myself on overcoming the normal urgings of my procrastination gene, if nothing else. But I was still stuck indoors.

seussHated that when I was a kid, and more easily bored. Now I’m not quite so easily bored, but that’ll do it.

A friend asked me one time, in some discussion involving my rather circumscribed life in my stomping ground of roughly four square miles, usually not seeing another person for a week at a time and frequently not for periods substantially longer than that, if I ever got bored.

I think I said no, but of course that would have been a lie. Everybody gets bored with what they’re doing sometimes, but I don’t usually sit and brood on it. I just get up and go do something else. There’s always something that can be done, and I can go out and do it whenever I feel like it.

Except on rainy days. Then there’s nothing rational to do except sit inside. And we do not like it. Not one little bit.

So I turn to my little shelf of solace…

And as you can see it’s rather small and contains quite a few (necessary! since I don’t really know how to do anything) reference books, so books I haven’t read a hundred times before are a blessing beyond price. I’d be Kindle’s biggest fan, if I have the bandwidth.

That’s why I was so happy Big Brother sent me those three Michener books and I really did make it through one of them, a couple of weeks ago. But Hawaii finally defeated me. There are things more boring than sitting at a window on a rainy day, and it turns out early Michener is high on the list of those things.

I went for some Correia, which is always great rainy day reading, but then my eye was caught by a dusty slim volume I hadn’t taken down in quite a while. My one-and-only ‘graphic novel,’ other than the copy of Probability Broach I bought just to be supportive when Big Head Press was kicking off…

V For Vendetta!
The art is arguable; I can’t always tell the characters apart. But the story grabs me even after all these years. It’s ‘way better than the movie. And it took me all the way through the wet afternoon, with a break for cold soggy chicken chores.

Today promises to be brighter, drier and even a bit warmer, so I hope to spend it in more profitable ways. But still; it’s good to have my little shelf of solace with me for a rainy day. :)

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I dunno. Maybe what the world needs is fewer scientists and more plumbers, but…

It seems to me an awful lot of these published research studies point out in great detail things anybody could have told the researchers.

Can’t touch this: The psychological effects of functional intimacy

From the introduction:

“Functional intimacy induces discomfort, making people prefer greater social distance from their interaction partner,” said Fishbach. “Whereas intimacy for relational goals typically increases well-being and deepens social connection, intimacy for functional goals seems to produce discomfort and instead result in social distancing.”

For example, if you are being willingly touched by a romantic partner, you are likely to react positively and enjoy the experience. You are also more likely to socialize, since the intimacy you experience together is a result of your emotional closeness.

On the other hand, if you are being touched by a security guard at the airport, you do not have any sort of emotional connection or history to share.

“Submitting yourself to being ‘intimately groped’ by strangers at airport security is at odds with normal human emotion,” Fishbach said. Therefore, in an act of discomfort, you are more likely to recoil, divert your eyes and experience visibly negative emotions.

The study presents a novel point of view for both service providers and service recipients.

No, it doesn’t. It states the bloody obvious.

Of course I’m one of those people who can’t receive a massage from a stranger, even one I’m pretty sure isn’t going to try to kill me, so I’m probably not in the study’s target audience. But still every time I encounter one of these I can’t help wondering who pretended to be convinced that this is real research, and whose extorted money paid for it.

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Public schools have gotten stupider since my tour of’em…

Via Wendy McElroy comes the story of an entire city school system deciding that, since stupid and stupider was so fun, they’d just firewall the throttle and see what stupidest felt like.

Student Issued 10-Day Suspension For “Liking” Instagram Photo Of An Airsoft Gun


[Redacted], a seventh grader at Edgewood Middle School, was slapped with a 10-day suspension after the school somehow found out the boy liked this photo of an airsoft gun on the social media platform:


On Friday, the school sent an email to parents that said:

Yesterday evening school officials were made aware to an alleged threat of a student bringing a gun to school. We act on any potential threat to student safety swiftly and with the utmost importance. This morning, the alleged threat was addressed and we can assure you that all students at Edgewood Middle School are safe and school will continue as normal. Thank you


Edgewood City Schools Superintendent Russ Fussnecker explained why the school issued a suspension and possible expulsion for Zachary, reports WLWT5:

When you’re dealing with school districts nowadays and there are pictures of guns, regardless of the kind of gun it is, it’s a gun. And there are certain images or words, I can’t determine if that’s playful or real. And until I can get to an investigation, I have to look into it, those students have to be removed.

I’m here for all students. And at the end of the day, and I’ve said it time and time again, parents will forgive us for certain things. They’re not going to forgive us if their kid doesn’t come home. They’re just not. And it’s difficult to even think about it, but it happened 10 minutes up the street almost.

I cannot just turn my head and act as if, well, I think it may have been playful and take the chance that something happens. I can’t take a chance.

My god.

Y’know…for years, I’ve avoided and even discouraged use of the word “sheeple.” But sometimes…

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Okay, I was wrong…

There was only one tier to go, plus a bit.

I am officially done bitching about last winter.

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A guest post…

Naw, everything’s fine. It’s just cool and windy and spitting rain and I’m bored and grouchy. So I’m sitting inside with coffee and a James Michener book that should have been titled Tedium. I’m thinking of switching to some Correia.

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Maybe halfway there…

The weather was taking a turn toward the cold and rainy, but seems to have paused in that endeavor. So I was able to spend part of this afternoon making up for time I lost on the Monday morning water run, and I’m roughly halfway through getting my firewood put back away.

Two full tiers, all neatly stacked. There were four and a half tiers left in the hoopshed but the new shed is a little wider and a lot squarer, so I’ll be surprised if there are four full tiers here. As soon as this is done I can stop cursing last winter for leaving me so much firewood to stack and start blessing last winter for leaving me so little I have to cut in the autumn.

While I was being busy I dragged out my Dremel and one of those vent caps somebody sent me last year and fixed the last of my Jerry cans. These vents aren’t a perfect solution – I’ve been unable to get a non-leaking installation without this stuff – but having gotten them installed and not leaking they certainly solve the glugging problem. The vents on the other two cans have saved me a subjective 14 man-centuries of standing around holding a heavy gas can while it s-l-o-w-l-y glugs its contents into the Jeep, just in the past year. So it’s worth the ugly installation.

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Create a problem. Offer a solution.

#3: Profit!

So the cops are cracking down on a big cigarette smuggling ring.

Cigarette smuggling. Dig it. A crime caused by the absurd taxation laws of one single city, but we’re all supposed to be very happy the feds are saving us from it.

Cigarette smuggling from Virginia to spots in the Northeast has become a major and lucrative crime in recent years. Harrington said a carton of cigarettes costing $50 in Virginia could cost $110 to $120 in New York City because of added taxes and fees.

Sounds like commerce to me.

Illegally trafficked cigarettes now have a higher profit margin than cocaine, heroin, marijuana or guns,” a Virginia State Police official was quoted as saying by the state’s Crime Commission.

Get that? “Illegally trafficked” cigarettes are as bad as cocaine, heroin, or even (gasp) the dreaded marijuana or deadly guns. It’s evil, people! We must beg our protectors to take whatever power they need to save us from the awful scourge of illegally trafficked cigarettes! which they caused.

Commodity smuggling to avoid taxes and tariffs! A great American occupation since ‘way before 1776. I see stories about smuggling in the US and I think maybe the American spirit isn’t totally dead after all.

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Probably the last 40-year-old Mountain House taste test

I’ve got 30 cans of this stuff, immured for decades in Big Brother’s utility room against the Big One, and I sure don’t plan to open them all at once. So I’ll likely be working with two open cans, opening a new one as I empty an old one. They’re already pretty old, obviously, so I’m not saving them for a rainy day: I eat’em for lunch two or three times a week.

And I say this’ll likely be the last such taste test because we’re getting into repetitious territory here. We seem to have established that Mountain House long-term storage food really will last a long time in the can. But with this last example…

…we notice that the words in the review aren’t the only things getting repetitious. It’s all freeze-dried, often loaded with corn starch to thicken up some sort of stew, always loaded with salt and MSG to boost the flavor, and though the individual flavors vary somewhat it’s all pretty much the same. You could eat it every day, but you’re going to get tired of it. Possibly before the end of whatever emergency drove you to start eating it in the first place. More on that later, but first the review… Continue reading

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I’ve figured out what always annoyed me about Star Wars…

In two words, Luke Skywalker.

In over six hours of video Luke Skywalker never once makes a correct decision the first time, constantly whines about how he can’t or won’t do this or that thing that he will certainly end up doing anyway, and whenever he rushes off to do what seems to him the right thing it’s inevitably wrong.

Somehow he wins at the end, but that’s just because the writers are on his side. He doesn’t really have a character arc, just a bunch of things that happen. He’s a whiner at the start, and at the finish. If I were Leia Organa, I’d be distressed to learn we’re related.

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Wow. Listen to your intellectual betters…

ISIS Appreciates the NRA’s Work

In the United States, you can buy semi-automatic weapon without submitting yourself to a background check, so long as you make your purchase at a gun show. Roughly 90 percent of Americans object to this policy. But the National Rifle Association (NRA) — and the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) — like it a lot.

The NRA likes the “gun-show loophole” because the organization is funded by firearms manufacturers who would like to continue making money selling weapons to criminals. (A large majority of the NRA’s members support universal background checks, even as the organization does everything in its power to prevent their enactment.)

Holy crap. We could play Count the Lies, but what’s the point? Every word in it is a lie, with the exception of an occasional “the” and an “a” that ran right out of the first sentence, no doubt from a refusal to be part of the crime against its language. Note the conflation between NRA and ISIS, like we could have expected to see a big ISIS table buy at the NRA annual meeting.

These are moldy old tropes, exposed as lies over and over, repeated here with a little quiver of conviction. You get the idea the writer has actually convinced himself it’s all true, right down to the hapless 90% of Americans at the nonexistent mercy of the evil criminal-arming firearms manufacturers enabled by the foul, never-sufficiently-damned NRA. (shudder)

But now the NRA has gone too far. Why, it has practically joined in partnership with ISIS, which is almost as evil as itself. The shame.

“America is absolutely awash with easily obtainable firearms,” an Al Qaeda spokesman told fellow militants in a video obtained by CNN in 2013. “You can go down to a gun show at the local convention center and come away with a fully automatic assault rifle, without a background check, and most likely without having to show an identification card. So what are you waiting for?”

I’d start by waiting for any of that to be true. When it becomes true, I’ll be interested in going to a lot more gun shows than I do now. But every transparent falsehood present is repeated here completely uncritically. You’d think a writer who’s so passionately devoted to tightening up “America’s lax gun regulations” would have educated himself about them. At least a little. But as in politics, where lawmakers ban gun parts they can’t even define, logical expectations mean no more than truth or fairness in journalism.

I’ve asked it before and I’ll ask it again: If you’re so sure about your position on this, why do you have to lie so outrageously?

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Ten days of celebration! Free beer tomorrow.

Yesterday I spent only a few hours working myself into a pain-wracked mess. Quit before I had to spend a week recovering. Received my reward for that this morning when I finished the woodshed floor in a single non-painful hour.

A really conscientious person would get right to work stacking firewood, and if I run into one I’ll tell him so. But that’s a good way to finish the job of wrecking myself, so I’m gonna take a day. I’m thinking Star Wars film festival.

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Bill Nye has altered the science. Pray he does not alter it further.

Remember when Bill Nye was an inoffensive childrens’ actor? Now it seems he is the arbiter of what is Sciencetm.

‘Bill Nye’ Episode on Netflix Omits Segment Saying Chromosomes Determine Gender

In the original episode [of Bill Nye the Science Guy], titled “Probability,” a young woman told viewers, “I’m a girl. Could have just as easily been a boy, though, because the probability of becoming a girl is always 1 in 2.”

“See, inside each of our cells are these things called chromosomes, and they control whether we become a boy or a girl, ” the young woman continued. “See, there are only two possibilities: XX, a girl, or XY, a boy.”

But in the version of the episode uploaded to Netflix, the segment has been cut entirely. While noncontroversial at the time, the 1996 segment appears to contradict Netflix’s new series “Bill Nye Saves the World.”

The new show endorses a socially liberal understanding of gender, under which gender is defined by self-identification rather than genetics and there are more than just the two traditional genders.

I’m pretty sure he got it more nearly right the first time, but what do I know? I’m just an old mechanic. Bill Nye has a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering, in the course of acquiring which I’m sure he learned loads about genetics and social constructs and shit like that.

What he seems to have forgotten after all these years, though, is that he’s not actually a scientist. He never even played one on TV very convincingly.

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I hate firewood.

That old saw about how it’s the fuel that warms you twice? Bullshit. It’s making me sweat over and over. I hate each and every little rectangular bastard on that pile.

The problem with shale? It’s made of rock.

And the only available bits have calved off eroded ridges – which tend to appear high on the – rather steep – slope.

Have I mentioned that I’m an old stiff one-legged guy? Because I really am. Especially this morning.

Then you lug it out of the gully, pile it into the wheelbarrow…

…and go get more.

I need a minivan full of Mexicans. And a beer. It’s only 9:30 in the morning, I’m only about a third of the way through the new woodshed floor – which is not going to be a masterpiece of masonry art – and I need an old man nap in the shade.

ETA: Okay, yeah, I didn’t make it. I’m only a foot or two from the entrance but I’m out of steam. And shale. Back and stump singing Dixie. Can’t face going back into that gully right now. This was harder than I anticipated, and I’m gonna rack myself up if I keep going. I’m going to have a bite of lunch and then declare it baking day. Finish mañana.

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When you’ve lost Gersh Kuntzman…

…it’s time to go home. Yeah, he’s looking at you, Hillary.

Hey! Remember Gersh Kuntzman? Poor ol’ traumatized Gersh has apparently shaken off his AR15-induced PTSD long enough to notice that there was a presidential election and his girl (woman? person? cisgender person of harridan extraction [1/16 Wicked Witch of the West] who identifies as female?) lost. And so did the DNC, all the MSM, the entire Obama administration, 50% of the supreme court, and roughly 75% of the officially sanctified commentariat. But mostly Hillary.

And Gersh is mad about that. Mad as heck. He may stomp his foot.

Hey, Hillary Clinton, shut the f— up and go away already.

I dunno, it just seemed weird to be reading a Kuntzman article containing a few words here and there with which I don’t entirely disagree. That is all. Carry on.

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