I don’t know where Qatar is.

I only vaguely know where Syria is, and somebody apparently just declared war in my name over there. I don’t know where Eritrea is, or South Sudan or Djibouti, though the Jeep radio tells me “we’ll” probably be killing people for humanitarian purposes over there very soon.

I simply don’t care that Robert Mueller is investigating Trump for collusion about something, or obstruction of justice over something, or because he tweeted something, or not at all. I don’t accept that it’s vitally important for me to be outraged that “the Russians” may or may not have hacked some files relevant to the 2016 election, but that I must utterly ignore the established fact that the Democratic Party definitely rigged their primary. Y’know what? I didn’t vote. I don’t care. Do what you will. The real tragedy of that election is that both of those utter assclowns couldn’t lose it.

Some guy drove a van through a crowd outside a mosque that spends a certain amount of time in the news even without vans and crowds and it’s either the worst terrorist act in British history, or a regrettable but inevitable Isolated Incident, or What Those Bloody Wogs Deserve, depending on who grabbed the microphone, and … Okay, I’m a bad person but I really don’t care.

Apparently Megyn Kelly had Alex Jones’s love child on broadcast television last night. I may have made that up. Why should I be different? The important thing is that some parents who were bereaved of their children several years ago didn’t like it because it distracts attention from … something, I dunno.

Somebody (finally?) emptied a rifle at a gaggle of congress denizens at play last week, and people are actually arguing over whether it was terrorism or attempted justifiable homicide. Okay, I’ll confess that was mildly interesting, even though it took days for the highly-trained journalists on the story to agree on what sort of rifle it was. Which was my only question.

A couple of days ago somebody said in a comment, …

This taking everything with a grain of salt is exhausting and I’m not sure it isn’t intentional. Eventually people will just give up trying to understand the facts and swallow the line like a big ass Bass.

Alternately, they’ll just begin to ignore the news or treat it as seriously as a Dilbert strip. “There is no truth in Pravda and no news in Izvestia” said the Russians, who understood these things long before we began to catch on.

Which is a long-winded introduction to a much better screed on the topic by Claire

I was raised to politics at my mother’s knee. In the seventh grade I recall selecting a political assignment from a term project list and not only making up a booklet full of diagrams and photos about How Our System of Government Works. I actually found pictures of all the cabinet secretaries and knew all their names and histories. Coulda told you where the Secretary of Agriculture was born, even.

Mom was so proud.

I also knew the names of the leaders of Thailand, Germany, France, Laos, Indonesia, England, Ireland, Hungary, Yugoslavia, Russia (of course; everybody knew that one), and probably Lower Slobovia and Elbonia, too. (And Elbonia didn’t even exist yet!)

And look how much freer the world is because I Informed Myself and Did My Civic Duty!

Now? Pffffft. I wish I couldn’t tell you the name of the president of the U.S.

I used to sneer at that huge percentage of polled people who couldn’t name the vice president. Now I envy them.

Most of them may have genuine apathy. I’m merely post-caring. A recovering carer.

Plenty of people will tell us we’re not doing our duty as citizens, that we’re betraying future generations or the American System or some damn thing if we don’t swallow every hook that comes along. But it’s time to admit the truth: “The system,” if there ever really was one, has betrayed us. As usual, Claire is right. In taking it and its eternally fake news seriously, we’re just acting like a bunch of gullible putzes. It’s time to shrug. To the best of our individual ability and circumstance, it’s time for that belly laugh.

But – weak chuckle – for those of us who remain political junkies in spite of our wiser inner voices, it’s kind of a … process.

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Back and forth…







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Uh, lessee, 27 plus 18…

is 45! I think that’s a record!

As longtime readers know, the official coffee of TUAK is…

Trader Joe’s House Blend. Whole bean, of course, because come on. If I were a real coffee snob I’d insist on roasting my own green beans, but you can’t even pretend to brush the fringe of coffee snobdom if you don’t grind it at point of use. It’s a principal reason the Lair has electricity*.

As you may suspect, the Secret Lair is a long, long way from the nearest Trader Joe’s. I don’t actually know the location of the nearest Trader Joe’s. Landlady trucks this stuff in for me, because she’s just that awesome. In return I dig her trenches and kill her snakes.

But like all essential commodities it is consumable, and consumables inevitably get consumed. So since there’s no way to prevent consumption short of going without coffee (HA!) it’s incumbent on me to track the rate of consumption. I do that with all sorts of things: Flour, matches, cooking oil, paper towels…when I open a package, I note the date.

My coffee consumption has gone down in the past couple of years; these days too much upsets my stomach, which kind of defeats the purpose. But I still love my coffee enough to keep a rotating stock of the good stuff and a Plan B stock of the not-so-good stuff in sealed cans which, please god, will remain sealed until after my own expiration date.

At present, 45 days per can without rationing.

* Yes of course there’s a Plan B. :)

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Must be June…

Just before Monsoon. We really need that Monsoon breeze…

Because until we get it the only good thing about the afternoon indoor temperature is that it’s a helluva lot cooler than the afternoon outdoor temperature. This is the high desert so in twelve hours it’ll be unpleasantly cool – but it won’t stay that way long once the sun comes up. I tend to try and get any real work I need to do done in the morning, because afternoons are spent pursuing shade-seeky behavior.

Good news is that the prickly pears are blooming…


Bad news is that nobody has collected all the damned prickly pears and transformed them into nice cool refrigerated brandy.

Remembering what happened four years ago, this is my season of maximum water consumption.

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Multitasking, desert hermit style

Okay: I got everything set up before the 8 o’clock Ghost walkie. Then we ran home and tackled the two projects that needed to be done this morning before it gets hot: Bread and stucco.

Yes, I know those things don’t go together. This morning they do, because yesterday I was lazy. So I got the dough kneaded and rising, then brought the kitchen timer outside where the wheelbarrow and mortar were waiting.

Worked for half an hour till the timer dinged. Peeled off my gloves, washed my hands, got the dough going on its second rise…

…reset the timer and ran outside to finish stuccoing the piers*.

And I just finished cleaning tools when the timer dinged, and it was time to run inside and start the oven.

And I slid the bread into the oven just at 10, which means it’ll come out of the oven and onto the cooling rack just in time to run over to S&L’s for the 11 o’clock walky.


BTW: If you hate the brand of nitrile gloves they sell at the hardware – and I really do, they tear constantly – get on Amazon and buy yourself a box of these.

Far superior. No, nobody paid me to say that.

*Yeah, it’s silly. But they really did look like shit. I could just slap a coat of paint on them and forget it, and normally I would. The problem is that once I get the floor done it’ll be time for the framing, which is when Neighbor D will be here, and Neighbor D is a perfectionist. He’s a polite perfectionist, he won’t say anything, but he’ll know. So stucco.

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“C’mon, buddy. Uncle Ghost has us on a heavy schedule.”

Little Bear will quietly let me sleep as long as I like in the morning, but as soon as I come down the ladder he has certain expectations involving fulsome praise and epic belly rubs. Lately, not entirely to his displeasure, he has instead been latched to a leash and hurried out for a cold morning Jeep ride to S&L’s where we rush to rescue Ghost from the pressure in his geriatric bladder.

And that works. At six walkies a day beginning before the sun clears the ridge, we haven’t had an accident in two days. So I’ve over there at 5, 8, 11, 2, 4:30(ish, because that’s dinnertime for many insistent animals) and 7. That works, but it’s a strain on the schedule and the fuel supply.

You might ask why I don’t just drag his protesting ass to the Lair. First, he has decided that he REALLY doesn’t want to come. Because he can’t jump anymore, I have to pick him up to get him in the Jeep. Ever try to pick up a heavy dog that’s willing to bite you to prevent it? Second, why would I want an incontinent dog in a 200 sq. ft. microcabin with steep stairs he can barely climb? If I had a fenced kennel with lots of shade I’d consider it. But the only available such structures are full of chickens, so no.

He has relaxed to the schedule now, which helps. He likes what he’s used to, so now that he knows what to expect he can hold it till I get there and he gets with the program when I arrive. He’s even a bit more cheerful about it now than he was for the first few days. So it’s working, but I have to fit everything else in between those hard-scheduled chores. And that’s not working perfectly great. Yesterday afternoon was hot and still and I went into a sort of surfing fugue at the ‘pooter instead of doing my chores, so now I’m in the red a bit on my download limit and a lot on my chores. So there won’t be seven posts today.

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“as pointless as asking why a chicken does something”

I’ve been looking at this picture off and on all day.

Now: Part of me says somebody took an unusually complaisant chicken and set her on a couple of drowsy puppies, then snapped the pic before something went wrong. Actually that’s most likely.

But what if the chicken really is trying to mother the puppies? Hey, chickens are weird. A broody hen will try to mother any chicks she encounters, is it so impossible she might try it with puppies? And say that’s the case: Is it just a brainless chicken thing? Instinct not hitting on all cylinders? Or is there purpose?

I mean, Mama Click raised her own personal monster, right?

And whatever her purpose, there’s no doubt she was doing it on purpose. She used to go out and kill rabbits for him, dragged them into the trailer, laid them (rather tenderly) before him. To this day he loves to eat rabbits, and any living thing that tried to harm Click would have had to go through Little Bear first. Good luck with that. She’s the only cat we had that didn’t die of violence.

So…a chicken that raises her own guard dogs? Maybe?

Nah. Cats aren’t the smartest creatures alive but the stupidest cat in history is frickin’ Einstein compared to the smartest chicken. Somebody posed them. Or it’s just a weird chicken fluke.

I think.

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On November 26, 2010, …

…the United States had officially spent exactly as long heroically liberating Afghanistan from itself as the Soviets had spent barbarously enslaving it. And with roughly the same effect, though in the Soviets’ defense they finally mustered the sense to give it up as a bad idea.

Well, this is America, and we do things bigger! Six and a half years after beating the hell out of the record of those evil, benighted Soviets, the government is still benevolently making the rubble jump over there. And now Our Dear Leader Trump has decided that what Afghanistan needs most is more American cannon fodder.

Oh, but this time it’s different.

Mattis has repeatedly stressed that increasing the number of U.S. troops in Afghanistan would take place within a broader, long-term strategy for stabilizing Afghanistan.

So you see this time everything will go great.

Couldn’t Trump just do a deal with them or something? Sell weapons to all sides? Isn’t that what he’s good at?

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Guess this is more of that “fake news” we’ve heard so much about.

Shannon Watts says this never happens, and I believe her. After all, she’s on the Internet.

Hero homeowner holds escaped Georgia inmates at gunpoint until arrests

Tennessee Highway Patrol spokesman Lt. Bill Miller said late Thursday that the homeowner caught Donnie Rowe and Ricky Dubose trying to steal his vehicle.

Miller says the escaped Georgia inmates had crashed a car while being chased by law enforcement and fled on foot into woods along Interstate 24 near the rural community of Christiana.

Miller says something alerted the homeowner that people were outside his home and he saw the men trying to steal his vehicle. The trooper says the homeowner held the two at gunpoint with a neighbor he called until the Rutherford County Sheriff’s Department could get there to arrest them.

They were lucky. I was thinking about these two characters just yesterday and concluded that if they were running around here rather than Tennessee and I encountered them, it would scare me so bad I’d just keep shooting until they changed shape or caught fire. Not because I’m macho. Because I’m not.

But it’s all just fake news. No good ever comes of a good guy with a gun (and without a badge), I’m told.

So the real explanation was probably in who was doing all the high-fives:

Gov. Nathan Deal released a statement, “Rest assured, justice will be served. My sincere thanks to our local, state and federal law enforcement officers who assisted in the manhunt. Because of their tireless efforts, the public is safe.”

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Sigh. Bits are falling off my ride.

None of them have worked for a while anyway…

I think it’s broke.

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That’s not acceptable…

One of the odder skills I never expected to need, growing up, was crap connoisseur.

For example: Do you know how to tell dog crap from coyote crap? I’m almost embarrassed to admit that I do.

This, for example, is coyote crap.

Never mind how I can tell. More important than what is where, which is more than halfway up my driveway from the wash. This is the closest coyote sign to the Lair I’ve seen – by far – since I built it. Except, you know, for the actual coyote I shot in my yard some years ago.

Suggests that interest in my chickens is beginning to overwhelm somebody’s common sense.

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That’s a career opportunity I’m gonna have to pass on.

Evergreen State Is Launching a Masters in Social Justice Program, With Guaranteed Jobs for Graduates

“Teacher candidates here are immersed in social justice, informed by our conceptual framework,” reads the official page. “You will tackle questions of policy and politics head-on, from the local to national level. You will strive to enact equity pedagogies and environments which support the learning of all children.”

Uh huh.

Our courteous and well-trained faculty stands ready to help with your every pedagogical need.

Our courteous and well-trained faculty stands ready to help with your every pedagogical need.

I can see the course reviews now: “I did okay on Resisting the Cisnormative Heteroppressive Imperialist White Supremacist Capitalist Patriarchy, but got poor grades on my baseball bat follow-through.”

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Y’know, I don’t really mind cleaning chicken crap out of the chicken waterer…

Well…no, that’s not an accurate statement. Better to say I’m resigned to it. I only protest as a matter of form.

But why do I have to clean rat crap out of it? Why can’t four adult chickens, each two or three times the size of a rat and armed with sharp beaks and claws, defend their own stuff?

These are the questions that haunt me.

Yeah, you keep saying that.

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This is kind of fun!

I keep two open cans, opening a fresh one whenever one of the two is emptied. No matter that it’s always a bowlful of warm slop, at least you never quite know what the new one’s going to taste like. And really, it’s always quite tasty.

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I’m getting a minor taste of what it must be like…

…to be a senile parent’s sole caregiver while trying to make a living and also just generally keep the wheels on. I jumped out of the sack at 5 and LB and I were at S&L’s by 5:15 to give Ghost his first walkie of the day. It’s 10:30 as I write this line and when I’m done posting LB and I will head out for the third walkie of the day. I’m testing the theory that if I walk Ghost every three hours minimum I won’t have to swab any piss off any floors. It’s only a theory.

Between walkies I measured for the bedroom floor’s eighteen stringers, then spent a couple of hours scavenging and cutting 2X6s to make the stringers. Fed the chickens, checked on Landlady’s, TC’s and SurvivalDave’s properties, watered some plants, and now I’m looking at the mess that is my kitchen. Yesterday (between walkies) I hand-washed laundry, which took about two really quite relaxing hours. Tomorrow I’ll probably bake bread – timed to fall as neatly as possible between walkies.

I was chiding myself this morning for grousing about it – and for the fact that I’m probably being more patient with this dog than I would be with an adult human relative. But that’s just my own unreasonable expectations. I had the same problem with my daughter: When she was an infant she couldn’t try my patience because I didn’t expect anything of her. But when she became a toddler I became a much less good dad – because as soon as she could walk and talk I started expecting her to carry her weight, and never quite accepted that that wasn’t going to happen. So I probably wouldn’t make a very good Alzheimer’s caregiver, but I can put up with a deaf, lame, stubbornly stupid, incontinent dog pretty much until I run out of gasoline to go lead him out for walkies.

Speaking of which, I just remembered that I have to gas up the Jeep before I leave, so I’d better leave. Later.

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Teach your children well


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Guns for we but not for thee.

That didn’t take long at all.

Barry Loudermilk wants concealed carry for lawmakers in DC after Scalise shooting

One Republican lawmaker believes that concealed carry reciprocity for members of Congress should be considered as part of possible security upgrades after House Majority Whip Steve Scalise, R-La., was shot at practice for the congressional charity baseball game early Wednesday morning.

Under Rep. Barry Loudermilk’s proposal, members who are allowed to conceal carry a weapon in their home state would be able to in Washington.

I seem to recall a certain level of pants-shitting horror at a recent suggestion that DC residents be permitted to beg for a license to exercise their rights. But they’re just little people, not all ethereal and special like lawmakers.

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Huh. That explains why I meet so few people…

I wonder how long this carnage has been going on out there?

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I’m growing to love this saw…

This morning’s mission was to take down the siding on the west side of the cabin, something I was extremely reluctant to do. Not because I’m sentimental about it – though I find I am, a little – but because I originally planned to take it down only after the bedroom was enclosed. Doing it so early in the process seemed certain to invoke the true onset of Monsoon. But it was in the way: I can’t put up the hangers for the addition’s floor joists until I can get to the cabin’s foundation timber. Which was covered in siding.

Then this morning it occurred to me: Who’s really going to die if I just cut the bottom few inches off the siding and sheathing? The sheathing’s headed for the burn barrel anyway, it should have been replaced two years ago. And I have a perfectly good sawzall, whose principal purpose is wrecking. Why be afraid to use it?

When Big Brother first sent me this last year, it looked like a waste of money because the battery life was so poor. But the addition of a bigger battery alleviated that problem a bit, and I swear these batteries are getting better as time goes by. The saw going dead in the middle of a cut isn’t the problem it was at first*.

Won’t get a lot done this morning: I’ve got one ear cocked toward the phone because my roofing is due to be delivered today, plus I need to run over to S&L’s every 2 or 3 hours to let Ghost ease his geriatric bladder.

But some work is happening.

* Though I do have to say, that 4ah battery takes several hours to recharge, and only several minutes to drain.

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How’s that gun control working out for you, congressmen?

Steve Scalise, aides shot in Virginia

Rep. Ron DeSantis, R-Fla., told Fox News he left just before the shooting. As he walked to his car, a man asked DeSantis if it was Republicans or Democrats practicing. About 3 minutes later, at around 7:15 a.m., the shooting began, DeSantis said. It reportedly lasted about 10 minutes.

Rep. Brad Wenstrup, R-Ohio, told Fox News he “felt like I was in Iraq, but without my weapon.” Sen. Jeff Flake said the congressional group were “sitting ducks.”

“Without the Capitol Hill police it would have been a massacre,” Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., told Fox News, describing the scene as “sort of a killing field.”

Of course this is “developing,” so all of the above will turn out to be inaccurate – especially the part about a congressman courageously giving first aid to a minion.

Good thing they had the best armed security taxpayer money can buy, unlike everybody else in the region whom their laws have disarmed and left helpless. Wouldn’t want a massacre of congressmen. That would be really bad.

If this turns out to be a leftwing #resistance thing, the news could get very entertaining for the next few days.

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