Political truism for the day…


Found this on Oleg Volk’s Livejournal page, which I ended up on while following a rabbit hole involving Leslie Fish, deserts, alternate coffee sources, and misremembered song lyrics.

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Sometimes having too much time on your hands can be good.

I did something computer-related! I must be smart!


Uh – this is my ‘pooter…


…and this is the assorted junk that’s always attached to my ‘pooter.


And most of the time I forget it’s even there because it’s poked into various cubbies and orifi in the Official TUAK Desk. Which is not currently present. Among the detritus currently scattered on my friends’ kitchen island is two 1TB Seagate external hard drives. One of them I purchased a couple of years ago, and one was a gift from a Generous Reader, and neither of them has worked properly since the first moment I plugged them into a MacBook. Their read/write status instantly went to Read Only, and that was apparently that. I didn’t give it much thought – truth is I was delighted they still worked at all. You didn’t used to be able to just swap hardware between a PC and a Mac. Continue reading

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Hey! Rain!

I honestly didn’t know that happened here.


Big fat drops of hot water, more or less instantly evaporating on contact. Don’t expect it to ease the heat much, but no doubt it will convert the dry heat to humid heat.

I got a text earlier from Neighbor L, saying there was quite a rainstorm at the Gulch. The south wash apparently ran briefly. I’d have enjoyed checking the new porch roof for leaks at the root, and the new gutter for function. But if this year proceeds as it has there will probably be lots of Monsoon in which to do that.

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No, seriously, quail are evil.

And if they don’t stay outside Torso Boy’s fence, he’s gonna…


…well, he’s gonna keep chasing them…


…while they contemptuously fly away.

Because he refuses to believe quail can fly. Which only proves they’re evil, I guess.

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This is not how it’s done, Lady.

I went outside for a few minutes and came back to find a new Grand Proposal in my inbox…


Who does this? I know the blog is a sick-but-not-dead communication form and so if a would-be freelancing writer of ‘the psychic powers of cats’-type articles can’t get her schlock published in the big clickbait sites she might get the notion that trolling the internet’s answer to Flea Bottom is an…idea, and so could conceivably end up at TUAK. I get that. But have you heard of this thing called market research, lady? That means more than just “here’s a blog. Get the contact address and send a form letter.” Since she didn’t bother to learn the editor’s name (which is right there on the email address as well as the IRL, so not exactly hidden) she certainly wouldn’t consider it necessary to scan the blog to see if her content might possibly be in any way relevant or appropriate.

And I’m just saying, lady, that given the level of professionalism you have demonstrated this morning I fully understand why Buzzfeed might have rejected your “10 ways the earthworms in your yard are crying out for help” proposal. Just saying.

This is the most exciting thing that will happen to me today. God, I’m so bored.

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Torso Boy wishes the world to know…

…that quail are a treasonous danger to the republic, possibly a covert fifth column working for the rabbit (or maybe sparrow, he’s not entirely clear in his messaging) plot to take over the American economy and sap the purity of our precious bodily fluids.


Whatever – they’re dangerous. And allegedly delicious. And jeez, they really are everywhere around here. I think they’re fun to watch, running around with their enormous families of tiny baby quail but he is convinced that they’re a menace to the yard. So be warned, I guess.

No, other than that there’s nothing to report. Sorry. At the dawn of my sixth full day on site I am as bored as a still-sane man can be.

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Fake News (based on reality)

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Another Torso Boy prediction bites the dust…

I suggested early on that TB might be unhappy about coming home by the end of our stay here, because once upon a halcyon time he had a fenced yard in which he could safely cavort to his stunted little heart’s content.

Hah! I neglected to consider that the yard was in Wyoming.


It’s a hair after noon, the temperature is comfortably in three figures…


And the precious little snowflake is refusing to leave the air-conditioned interior unless forced outside by hydraulic pressure.

This may be my fault – like all things – because I think he hurt his paws on the asphalt and gravel our first full day here. The leashed walkies taking in the neighborhood may not have been the best possible idea.

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I really do try not to get weird about this…

As regular readers know, trips to any city are not common with me, and not really all that welcome*. And on those occasions when such visits are unavoidable I find myself acting like I’m visiting a completely foreign country – and in a sense I am. Thing is, when I used to visit actually foreign countries on business, one of my main concerns was to not let my complete lack of people skills lead me into some sort of really embarrassing international incident. I was not always successful**.

Anyway. I just returned from my second expedition into the world of middle class city folk. Yes, unattended I visited a Trader Joe’s.

And you know what? I like to make a big deal about eating cheap, but I have forgotten that when I actually do have to buy food from a store I’m generally paying a lot more than you…


And generally for a lot less.

Since I’m unusually (and serendipititously – you know how I’m always going on about synchronicity?) okay for cash at present, and since I’m separated from my usual enormous pantry of long-term food, I have decided to eat like a regular American to the extent that it’s possible and convenient. I even bought another loaf of bread this morning, though to be honest it was really only because I forgot to pack bread bags (and now I have two, and there’s a perfectly good oven right here, so soon I’ll be able to eat good bread again.) So this morning I set out on a more extensive expedition, later in the morning when the stores would be open. And … it was weird. I’ve always enjoyed Trader Joe’s, a chain I first encountered in California many years ago and which my then-wife had to drag me into because I thought it was hippy-dippy vegan bullshit – and it does kind of pose like that a bit, I mean the word Organic appears a lot, but that’s only a pose and actually there’s really good middle-class packaged food for (relatively) really good prices and it appears that hasn’t changed a whole lot. So I went in with my shopping list, and it was very clean and very friendly and nice but I’ve been a very long time in the boonies and it really does feel like a foreign country. One I’m not especially anxious to move back to. By week after next I’m going to be howling for the desert, is all I’m saying.

But the thing with the bicycle isn’t going to be the big honking deal I was afraid it would be, once my ass stops aching.

ETA: And I think I’m not the only one missing home…



*except for showers. Showers are awesome.

**I never actually started a war. But there really are places I would not be welcome to return. I was young.

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I have no doubt this would change your life.

I give you CForce: It’s Chuck Norris’ water – it empowers you.

No, seriously. We found a bottle of this during a fuel stop on the way to the city.


I was in the very process of throwing the bottle away this morning when I thought, ‘wait, this deserves a moment.’ And yes, there’s actually a web site.

CForce Water comes from a sustainable aquifer deep under Chuck’s Lone Wolf Ranch in Navasota, TX.

Though I wasn’t the person drinking this water I do care about the welfare of the person who was, and so was relieved to learn that this is tap water from Norris’ ranch and not, you know, his … water.

But still. Should I be happy I’m not afflicted with a b-list movie star’s ego and hubris? Or upset that I can’t make a zillion bux just bottling filtered Gulch water and calling it … oh, I’d have to work on a proper name…

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High tech, low tech…middle tech?

This is a house full of no doubt typical household gadgets, some of which seem weird and almost sinister to an old man who’s spent the past dozen years deliberately lowering his tech expectations to what’s supported by his dependably available infrastructure.

Remember a couple of months ago when I needed a strong cell signal for software updates and I sort of forgot that laptop computers are portable? It’s a little like that.

I was making lunch and wanted some tunes. Before they left, my friends introduced me to their ‘robot overlord…’


…and showed me how it could play any music I wanted, which seems to be the main function to which they put it.

Full disclosure: They were barely out of the driveway before I unplugged it. That goddam thing is creepy – I stopped thinking getting computers to do stuff by just talking to the air was a good idea before I was out of my teens. So anyway, I was going to be spending some quality time in the kitchen and wanted some tunes, right? And I dug around in my goodie bag, and…


…and I had a chuckle at myself because for a long time I thought of these gadgets as high-tech. But at least I’m reasonably convinced this one doesn’t spy on me.

Didn’t wash dishes yesterday, so by the end of lunch there was getting to be a fair pile needing attention. Naturally this kitchen has all the amenities…


And this is hardly new. I more than once owned a house and every one had a dishwasher, I don’t quite that much play the backward curmudgeon. But of course the Lair doesn’t have one, which means I barely recall how to work one. And they’re so noisy. Sudsy water doesn’t make me uncomfortable.


Speaking of noise, I think that may be my biggest complaint about cities: I’m in a middle-class suburb right now, not exactly the Smoldering City, but everything is so noisy. You can hear people noises all around all the time, seldom voices but construction and maintenance banging, big trucks, the constant surf noise of traffic…or you can stay inside and listen to the air conditioning.

I know. You get used to it. But I’m used to silence, and it has brought me to a peaceful frame of mind after many years of always being on edge all the damn time. In the desert if something really bugs you it usually really is okay to just shoot it. 🙂

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A quick morning expedition…

Okay, I spent yesterday hiding from the sun and the heat, slowly unpacking and de-stressing and generally evaluating what I’ve gotten myself into. By noon two things were clear: It was too damned hot to do anything outdoors beyond the stark minimum, and if I had to stay in this house 24/7 for three weeks I would be painting the walls in bodily fluids long before the end.

I live in the high desert at about 6000 ft and sure, between Spring and Monsoon it gets hot. But this is down in the valley where for reasons I never satisfactorily understood they chose to put this city, and it’s hot. Being desert it does cool off a bit when the sun goes down: Being low desert with all that burden of atmosphere it does not do so to the extent to which I’m acclimated.

The friends for whom I’m house-sitting left a bicycle with a lock and a grocery basket, and there’s plenty of shopping not very far away. The closest, fortunately, is a smallish Wally World a mile and a half away, and even though I haven’t ridden a bicycle in 10 years and that wasn’t a great success I knew I could do a 3 mile round trip on pavement for staple supplies without problem as long as I wasn’t prostrated by the heat. That meant first thing in the morning, and the WW was both the most practical first stop and the best choice for a test destination. Almost certain to be open early – as far as I know they basically never close, but I’ve lived alone for a long time and don’t know everything I need to.

Everything went perfectly well and I was home before seven, sweat-soaked but victorious. A few small caveats: I learned something else my torn rotator cuff doesn’t like to do, and Torso Boy freaked all the way out in my absence and pissed all over the floor. But fortunately the lion’s share of the floor is tiled and he had the decency to avoid the carpeted rooms, and also one advantage of a small dog is a small bladder, so that was a simple fix*.

Now I’ve showered and changed – I should check the water heater capacity because I truly may just move into the shower for the duration – and I’m looking around and wondering how to spend this day more profitably than I spent yesterday.


* He’s kind of stressed out, though, and it doesn’t help that I think the hot asphalt and all this gravel hurt his paws yesterday. I let him out first thing this morning, making the mistake of using the front door because it’s closest to our bedroom. He immediately saw a man walking two large dogs, bayed (yipped) his absurdly ineffectual challenge and got so worked up that in hindsight I don’t actually think he took advantage of his morning pee before I left.

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This is what I get for inheriting dogs from women…


Laddie fell head over cliché for my host of the female persuasion, who just left for the airport. He is now rushing from door to door, crying piteously. Less secure feelings than mine would be hurt. 🙂

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Wow. I love the future!

My hosts’ house has a little room not unlike the little room in the Secret Lair, except cleaner and containing within it yet another even smaller room with glass walls and a tiled and drained floor!


The purpose of this room-within-a-room is so luxurious and decadent that when our new Socialist Democrat Overlords come to power it will surely and righteously be forbidden to all plebes with low Social Credit scores. You wouldn’t even believe it if I told you.

But it certainly feels good.

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Where I’m sitting at this moment…

…is not where I would choose to be. But some necessary business arose, serendipitously at the exact time I was already going to a city where it could be done. Talk more about it later.

In any case I have arrived in the Big City.


Torso Boy seemed to enjoy the ride. I wondered about that, because of course his history with long car rides has not really been very happy for him. But he is taking in the adventure.

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Highest recorded water pressure…

Yesterday evening I turned off the well pump, the tank level showing 2000 gallons. This morning I looked at the resting water pressure…


…and it’s indicating 19 psi, the highest I’ve ever seen. Probably I could get it a hair higher if I filled the tank to the cupola. As I’ve mentioned before, for some reason the indicated pressure is higher in the morning than the evening. Increased density, maybe? Doesn’t really matter.

This is mostly private to BB, I don’t know if anybody else is really that interested…

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A Century-old Tragedy…

I remember reading about this rifle when it was found and thinking, “There but for the grace of god…”

137-year-old Winchester rifle found in Nevada has new home

BAKER, Nev. — A 137-year-old rifle found five years ago leaning against a juniper tree in Great Basin National Park in Nevada is now part of an exhibit dedicated to the “Forgotten Winchester” at the park visitor center near the Utah border.

The weathered Winchester Model 1873 is in a case designed to capture the way it looked when park archaeologist Eva Jensen stumbled across it on a rocky outcrop above Strawberry Creek during an archaeological survey.

Based on its condition, experts believe the weapon might have been abandoned in the forest more than a century ago.

I have a rule: Unless you’re right in your own yard, NEVER lean ANYTHING against a juniper “just for a few minutes” while you go off to do something else. Every rock and bush looks like every other rock and bush, and every patch of dirt looks like every other patch of dirt, and your chances of ever seeing that bit of kit again are reduced with every step you take away from it. Seriously, when I first heard about this rifle I really felt for the guy who lost it. Could happen to anybody who hasn’t developed that rule.

H/T

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Torso Boy the Intrepid

Laddie was feeling butthurt this morning. He’d had his breakfast and his little walkie around the yard, but now Uncle Joel was suiting up to go away and he didn’t feel like being left alone. He planted himself between me and the door and put on his Oppressed Minority face.

I don’t normally take him with me because … well, frankly, he’s a townie dog I don’t dare leave off the leash and it’s a pain in the ass. On the other hand I do worry about him becoming a fat couch potato old before his time. And I was only planning to go up to the pump house to get the model number of the well pump charge controller. I can stay on the beaten path for that; easy to watch for dog-eating snakes.

So I asked him if he wanted another walkie, which was patently what he wanted (I speak dog) and he launched into his approving little dance. I hitched him up and we took the easy way up to the top of the ridge. He was so clearly having a good time that I decided a curated tour of a milder part of the boonies couldn’t hurt much.

Sorry about the snapshot quality, I didn’t even think about the sun angle at the time.

Anyway, he had fun and it’s something I really need to work into our schedule together. In the next few weeks it shouldn’t be much of a problem: My friends say they have a fenced yard, which is what he was used to for most of his life, and he might end up not wanting to come back home.

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Turned the well pump on today…

I dipped the tank this morning and we’re down to about 1100 gallons. The tank capacity is 2400, so we’re below 50%. If I weren’t going away for three weeks I’d have left the experiment running longer, but we do have some results…


The resting pressure is a little more than 1 PSI lower now than it was when I installed the gauge almost exactly a month ago…


Which, since the gauge is so absurdly big, is noticeable if you pay any attention at all.

Later in the summer I’ll let the tank go lower, but I don’t want to leave it less than half full for the better part of a month lest it really go empty on me.

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Congratulations to Ian and Headstamp Publishing!


They passed $800,000 before the end! What a great start for the book and the future of the company! Well done!

The book is due to be available for retail sale in October, I believe.

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