“We have to regulate every aspect of people’s lives.”

Because otherwise they’ll make wrong choices. Like use plastic straws.

Yeah. Somebody who makes up laws for a living really said that. In Santa Barbara, California. About using plastic straws.


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There were three birds in my woodstove this afternoon…

Two dead and one still alive – and more durable than the others. From the beak I’m guessing it’s some sort of finch?

Sigh – I really need a better chimney cap. I go through this every Spring, but for some reason this year it’s stretching all through the summer. And yeah, those dead ones are dead because I got tired of trying to rescue them. It’s not like they ever appreciate the effort, and the sparrows – the usual victims of my bird-eating stovepipe – are so stupid and freaked out by the time I let them out of the stove that they just bash themselves against all the closed windows – carefully avoiding the ones I open for them – until they die anyway. Since they never live long in the stove, these days I just wait till they stop scritching around in there and shovel out the bodies.

But this one was different – it kept it up all damn day. So this afternoon I looked inside and found an apparently perfectly healthy not-a-sparrow, clearly not planning to keel over and die very soon. He was going to keep scritching and clanging until I let him out of the damned stove.

So I opened the front door and took the screen out of the window…

…resigned myself to an hour of trying to shoo a bird out of my cabin, opened up the stove all the way, reached in to grab it – which of course it wasn’t having any of. It flew out of the stove and, to my complete shock and wonder, straight out the window.

So I guess I should have done that a few hours ago. I’m a bad person.

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Front trim done at last!

And it only took till August!

I finished installing and caulking the trim around that front bedroom window a couple of days ago, and with a quiet sunny day before me there was no reason not to finish painting it and a few other little touch-ups here and there.

I had a laugh at myself this morning, considering that in the past month the Secret Lair has become a stop-off place for neighbors to exclaim over how nice it’s looking. They never used to do that.

There’s not a lot left to do on the structure itself this year. I had intended to turn my attention to sealing, trimming and painting the back door…

But I also intended to have the concrete steps finished before now. And I’m stuck till next weekend earliest. So I’m going to put that aside and move to the two off-building painting jobs. Both the solar panel rack and the woodshed need a good scrape and a coat of paint, and I have just enough green paint left to do a good job of both.

I cleaned up after Phoebe this morning, and finally had a good look at her abandoned nest…

…a messy but deceptively complex little thing. A base of small twigs and shredded juniper bark glued to the lumber with mud: The whole bottom was a layer of mud and that must have been hard. Then she built up a barrier against the open space with bark, baling twine, chicken feathers, shreds from an old poly tarp, whatever. Then at the very top she very finely shredded some white baling twine for a bed for her babies. It’s really small considering I saw her crammed in there with two nestlings one rainy afternoon, but it got the job done. No dead babies.

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Dry run to town…

Well – not precisely dry. Got full marks on liquid refreshment…

That’s all the propane bottles I’ve emptied since sometime in late March, I think. Though the one currently feeding the cookstove might be getting a little low.

But I primarily went to get more concrete for the rear stairs…

…only to find that my Monday concern that the store would run out of concrete was well founded. They had none at all except for some sacks of quick-cure, for which they wanted $10/sack. I told them they could keep it.

I’m going to the big town about fifty miles away next Friday, and maybe I can get what I need there. If not, the back steps will be on hold for quite a while, probably.

This is currently my entire concrete wealth…

…and that ain’t nothing.

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We have a new holiday!

Via Claire, so far it’s only in Illinois. So far.

Elementary schools will need a new curriculum plan to teach kids how this blessed new commemoration can best be celebrated. But I’m sure they won’t find that difficult. They’ve been working on it for ten years.

Sing along! While it’s still voluntary.

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There’s an “incel movement?”

I’m thinking Shakespeare needs a re-write. How about “The first thing we do, let’s kill all the professors.”

Prof says ‘wealth redistribution’ key to ‘sexual fulfillment’

Northeastern Illinois University philosophy professor Tyler Zimmer claims that “wealth redistribution” could boost “sexual fulfillment” in the U.S.

In an op-ed published by Slate last week, Zimmer argues that “a few conservative commentators” are starting to “warm up” to the idea of making a “full-throated case for [wealth] redistribution,” claiming they are motivated by “the rise of the violent ‘incel.’”

The single example of a ‘conservative commentator’ cited in the Slate piece writes for the New York Times, so this recipe might require a pinch or two of salt.

As the incel movement gains traction, some entrepreneurs have attempted to tackle the problem by inventing and manufacturing sex dolls designed for men. Zimmer, however, believes that the incel movement is the result of a “sexual fulfillment” problem in America, which he believes could be easily solved by redistributing wealth among citizens.

“If we think that promoting human flourishing is a worthy political goal, it’s not crazy to think that politics should concern itself with various obstacles to flourishing, among them obstacles to a healthy sex life,” argues Zimmer. “And this is precisely where the redistribution of wealth, not of sex, becomes even more attractive.”

And that first sentence in the first para is what attracted the attention of my funny bone. I came to mock the notion that ‘wealth redistribution’ will get you laid. I stayed to mock the notion of an “incel movement.” There’s a movement?

Okay: For those of you who have mercifully remained ignorant of it, “incel” means Involuntary Celibate. It was presumably coined by someone who thought it sounded better than “loser who can’t attract women because of the vile and repulsive nature of his very being” and is characterized by a sometimes violent hatred of women, whom the “incel” holds to be the clear and obvious source of all his problems. If they weren’t so stuck up they’d have sex with him, the fact that he has the personality of a tapeworm couldn’t possibly be relevant.

That such people exist, there can be no question. But a “movement?” Doesn’t a movement have to be something people would voluntarily join?

I mean – I’m a celibate. But that’s deliberate. I’m a (forgive me) volcel. Yes, it stems from my awkward and neurotic nature, but I don’t blame women for it. Some guys are natural bachelors, and I’m the very stereotype of that. I could have relationships with women, but they invariably ended badly. Finally decided that my path to a peaceful life involved voluntary celibacy. I’m much happier, and so in theory are at least a few women.

Worked for me, but I don’t proselytize. I can picture a “volcel” movement, though I’d predict it would remain rather small. But an “incel” movement? No.

What’s next? A “volleyball target” movement? A “wedgie magnet” movement? Sheesh.

Oh, and…

According to Zimmer, “these social ills could be easily remedied” by “laying hold of a few days’ worth of Jeff Bezos’ ‘earnings.’”

I’ve never tried it, but I’m guessing a lonely loser with a pocketful of stolen money would find ways to remain a lonely loser. Could be wrong. But I doubt it.

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Hey! Guess what!

The Gulch is getting a new Official Dog.

This is Laddie. He’s a 7-year-old Corgi, formerly belonged to Mama Liberty, has only ever been the only dog in the household and sees no need to change. He’s good with people but (based on recent evidence) compulsively tries to herd other dogs out of his life.

That’s all I know about him, but starting in the next few weeks and for the foreseeable future we’re going to learn more.

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Of Bread and Bullets…

With neighbors on both sides, whenever I want to go shooting I feel obligated to either travel way back in the boondocks to do it or get buy-in from the neighbors because of the noise. So – not that I don’t love them all – when I found out that both D&L and S&L were going to be out of pocket for a while…

…as soon as the dough started its second rise I grabbed a rifle and fixings and headed for the range.

Even though I carry a gun every day and use it for defense a lot more often than I did when I was a real person, I actually practice a lot less than I did when I was young, strong, and employed with a weekly ammo budget. Now I have the time, but I don’t have the ammo. Expending two 30-round mags is a rare pleasure – and an unsustainable expense.

But the older I get, the more I embrace the wisdom of Gun Jesus…


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Only one small screw-up…

Wow, couldn’t have picked a more perfect morning to pour a slab. It was even sprinkling a bit at first.

I knew I should have bought seven sacks. Meant to, and I always underestimate how much concrete I need. Always. Really even seven wouldn’t have been sufficient. I had one 80-pound sack left from last year’s construction, so Monday I bought six 60-pound sacks and thought that would be good. I was wrong – again.

Used a little more than half a sack yesterday on LB’s grave marker pedestal but I thought I’d still have plenty. I was very wrong. I brought the 80 and two and a half sixties to the Lair this morning, and halfway through filling the form I had to rush back to Landlady’s place for two more sacks. That leaves me with one, which isn’t enough for the stairs.

The slab came out pretty good, though…

…and I used up just about everything in the wheelbarrow. Neighbor D would have done a neater job of floating the surface around all that rebar, but that’s sort of the story of my life. It’s flat and level.

Didn’t forget the pagan sacrifice.

Didn’t forget the clean-up, either, the only part of any concrete job I enjoy.

I did plan to do the stairs tomorrow or even this afternoon after the slab sets up a bit. But now I can’t. Darn.

And now it’s baking day.

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Youz guyz rock.

Final tally for the ($85 plus shipping) LB Grave Marker Bleg comes to $206.66.

More-or-less in your name I have pledged $100 to the travel fund for Laddy the Highly Intolerant (We have too many L’s here already, so if he does get here and turns out to need an acronym, it’ll probably be LHI.) – should that actually happen.

Which event – update – looks a little more likely every time I correspond with the guy currently keeping him. It’s still up in the air, but during our last correspondence he did speak of bringing a chainsaw to collect juniper burls. He and his partner have a wood crafty sort of business. Anyway, of course I’ll keep you posted.

And now, no more putting it off. I have to go load the Jeep with concrete sacks. Here’s a bad picture of a hummingbird cloud.


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Revealed! The Ghost Gun Menace!

Be afraid. Obey.

Consume. Depend on the Authorities. Marry and reproduce.


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Out all morning doing concrete-related things…


Went to chicken chores early, because I had to put on my Sexton Joel hat. The form I use for pouring pet grave markers is in Landlady’s barn, and so is all my concrete.

It might be months before we get LB’s new gravestone, but I’ll be ready. And anyway it puts me in a concrete state of mind for the morning’s big chore…

For all the past year the back door steps have consisted of a pile of loose concrete blocks, but it’s time to un-redneck the Lair’s back door.

Almost ready to pour the pad now. This evening after it cools off I’ll pack dirt around the form, then I’ll hit the deck running first thing in the morning while it’s still cool. Saturday morning I’ll set the blocks in place and fill them.

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Does every older person go through this?

Sometimes I don’t recognize the world I grew up in. I’m pretty sure it’s the same place – the names are mostly the same, the oceans haven’t moved – but it’s not the same at all. It can hit me in a single sentence, like…

[Jerry] Seinfeld is of course a huge advocate of humor in comedy.

…and as little as ten years ago that would have been a complete nonsense sentence, perhaps a lame attempt to be funny. But in context of course it makes perfect sense, and does not indicate that the comedy part of the world is a better place than it used to be.

Of course I’m so old that when I was a kid, if you looked up “gay” in a dictionary you’d only get…

Gay (adj): Showing or characterized by cheerfulness and lighthearted excitement; merry.

…so I’m just happy all my organs still work and I haven’t broken my hip more than the permitted number of times before death.

But seriously, folks. I’m so old I remember when comedy contained humor. And we liked it that way.

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I have struggled to understand the latest screeching about 3D-printed guns…

But the problem has been explained to me at last, in terms I can understand.

I am appalled that you cannot understand why this plastic gun is a SERIOUS, MAJOR threat to the security of our country and its people.

It is so obvious that I shouldn’t even have to explain it, but I shall, and I’ll try to use small words so that you can understand it.

Someone might melt it down and use it to make a straw.

Ah! Thank you! I am persuaded.

Cody Wilson should go straight to the camps. For the Turtles!

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Isn’t this just straight-up embezzlement?

All these strangers, wanting to give me money. I must be a helluva guy.

But most offers are more convoluted – or maybe just more incoherent – than this one…

Dear day Friend,

My name is Michael Kent I am the personal attorney/sole executor to my late client who shares similar Surname with you.

After the death of my client in an auto crash since the year 2007, the bank contacted me to provide his Next of kin to inherit his fortune totalling Thirty Seven Million United States Dollars (US$37,000,000.00) according to the existing banking policy.

I have written several letters to his country embassy with the intent of locating any of his immediate or extended family who will stand as the next of kin and all my efforts has been to no avail.

I have received official letters from the board of directors of the holding bank in the last few weeks suggesting a likely proceeding for confiscation of his abandoned personal assets in line with existing laws therefore I have been issued a 30 working days ultimatum to provide his next of kin or forfeit the deposit.

>From my professional experience I can use a legal means to re-profile and present you as the next of kin to my deceased client since you share same surname to enable you put a claim to the funds on our behalf.

Please kindly indicate your interest by sending me your direct telephone number to my private email address for verbal communication [redacted]

Yours sincerely,

Barr. Michael Kent

Call me paranoid but I picture this as some sort of DOJ “go directly to jail” phishing trip, like an FBI agent promising to give a 90-IQ jihadi wannabe lots of cool explosives…

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First day on the job…

Sorry, I had a morning post all queued up and then apparently never scheduled it. I was out the door early this morning for my first day on the job.

All I have to do is drive up a road and trim any bushes or trees that hang out over the shoulder to scratch fenders and tear off antennae.

I ended up filling the Jeep trailer three times this morning and nobody mentioned what I was expected to do with the cut-off brush. Probably nobody would have complained about one more pile beside the road – the grader leaves lots – and indeed I did drag the few big heavy branches off behind a tree somewhere inconspicuous. But I drove the big piles of brush into the boonies well away from the road. That added to the job a bit.

All animals are equal, but some are more equal than others. Twas always thus. One of the people in charge of seeing that I got the job pointed specifically to this (I think rather picturesque) old juniper and drew his thumb across his throat.

It no longer impinges on the roadway, but I’ll have to come back with a heavier-duty saw to make the trunk go away.

I had a specific stretch of road in mind to complete this morning but the principal objective was to evaluate the tools and techniques I thought would work. I knew I needed a pair of lopping shears, didn’t like the pair available at the local hardware, and bought a pair of Fiskars online. Now I find I’m not crazy about them either, though they do work. The loppers are sufficient for probably eighty percent of the work, and almost all the rest I could get with the cordless recip saw. But there are two limbs I need to go back to with something heavier, so I think I’m going to go ahead and preemptively pack the generator and the heavy recip saw. The chainsaw is actually in the proposal at a higher rate of pay, for when trees need to go away. I need to get specific direction for that.

All in all, what I have will work. I planned to be out two hours, it really took more like two and a half and it wasn’t a stroll. Most of it is Alligator Juniper and it sees no reason to cooperate – in fact it can retaliate. I should consider long sleeves in future. But in general, I can do this. The max I can currently invoice in a month is fifteen hours, which at $10/hr would be a nice addition to my income.

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“Sickbox” – Meant to put this up this morning, sorry…

I got the flu last December for the first time in a decade, and like always it flattened me out. In one way the timing was fortuitous since I’d only moved into the first floor bedroom two months earlier, and climbing the ladder to and from the loft would have pretty much been impossible. But it also showed me that I’d gotten complacent about “what ifs.” When you live completely alone, you need to plan ahead for bad things, and I really hadn’t. Former Weekender Neighbor L was a huge help, bringing soup and store-bought bread, and during the really sick bit the food didn’t really matter anyway because I couldn’t eat for several days, but still. Better prior planning was definitely indicated.

Hence the “sick box…”

Got to thinking about it yesterday because I wanted to add a couple of cans of that B&M bread to it. Went over everything to make sure it will still be good when I need it.

Couple of lessons learned – Packaged electrolytes would have been smart, I got really dehydrated. Wished at the time I had a fever thermometer, and they’re not expensive so why don’t I? But mostly soup and aspirin, and now bread, on the first floor so I can get to it when I’m sick.

And then I covered it back up with an old towel, so the contents wouldn’t get all dusty during the hopefully long, long time before I need it.

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You guys are awesome. Stop sending money for LB’s grave marker, we’re almost at 200% since the last time I looked.

With your consent, I’ll pledge any surplus to another fund raiser currently taking pledges – gas expenses for the guy who might (if that decision is made, which is still a week or two away) be driving Mama Liberty’s dog, Laddie the Highly Intolerant, from the Great White North to the Gulch. As of the last time I looked, that pledge will put that fund raiser close to the top.


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Gopros are expensive. Dogs are mischievous. Mix and enjoy…

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Little Bear’s Grave Marker Bleg

As you know the pet sematary part of Boot Hill where I buried Little Bear last month …

is … how shall I put this … eccentrically elaborate?

Landlady gets these from a little company called peternity, which unfortunately got its website hacked somehow and so this time she has been forced to back-door the transaction through Etsy. It’s going slowly…

I went to the Etsy page per your instructions, but my friend wants a slightly more customized version of the headstone similar to what I’ve had in the past. What he’s looking for is:

Small marble marker ($85), horizontal orientation
Graphic of a Newfoundland (either full body or head)
Engraving in Copperplate font:

Little Bear
Jeep Hog and Babe Magnet
Cats loved him, Coyotes feared him

So all I know so far about what I’m going to owe Landlady for the thing is that the base price of the marker is $85, and then whatever all the other fees are. Basically I need to come up with something in the neighborhood of $100. I’ll pay it regardless, but if anybody wanted to kick in a little to Paypal to help fit Little Bear into the neighborhood it would be appreciated.

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