The Fortress of Attitude, back in business

I’ve been held up by my re-injured shoulder and inclement weather in the form of spring gales. The shoulder still hurts but today was the first really pretty day we’ve had in a couple of weeks, so I needed to get this finished.

Somebody suggested ditching the ramp and replacing it with a landing stage, and that sounded like an idea. So I made one.

Then I asked four hens who wanted to go for a Jeep ride, and I got takers. Starting to think moving Seymour to the Big Chickenhouse was a mistake; one of these has been pecked bloody on her neck. I’ve rarely had success with them once that’s happened to them. Hopefully moving her here will work, since I don’t have anyplace else to put her.

Seymour’s in trouble, I’m afraid. And I was so pleased with him. :(

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Private to somebody who emailed me…

John, for some reason my replies keep bouncing. Do you have an alternate email address I can try?

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I need help with something, if you’re interested…

I’ve put off writing this post, because (believe it or not) I really hate blegs. But I’m running into an issue there’s no local way out of.

A bit more than two years ago, a Generous Reader turned me on to these things…

They’re called Gelsocks, and they’re the cat’s pajamas for making an old prosthetic leg fit well again. I’m quite thoroughly addicted to them. But they have two problems: They’re expensive, and they’re not at all durable.

This is what most of mine look like now…

That’s not even the most extreme example. Some are falling to pieces.

These things are literally to me the difference between mobility and spending my days sitting in a chair and re-reading old books. When I didn’t have these, the dogs didn’t get their walkies. I’m totally serious. The difference they’ve made is revolutionary. And now they’re worn out.

Trouble is, they’re not sold on Amazon. And as I’ve mentioned, they’re expensive. Like 35-45 bucks a pop. So I’m not asking for anybody to send me a dozen – though that would solve the problem neatly for another couple of years. I’m asking a dozen people to go to some trouble to track down one or two. And I can only give hints as to how you’d go about that. (I’ve never bought one of these. Didn’t know they existed until a couple of readers sent me some. So if anyone has better ideas than those below, please do share them in comments.)

They’re at least allegedly available on line. Here’s one purported source. It’s a different brand than the ones I’m used to, but it’s the same thing.

The big dog in prosthetic and orthotic stuff is Hanger Inc. They’ve got branches and clinics everywhere. If the one near you doesn’t stock gelsocks they can probably be persuaded to get them. Warning: They may look at you strangely if you show them cash. Medical people are weird about cash deals, I dunno.

Here’s more information about the product:

100_1598 The ones I have now that work best are 5-ply, 14-inch.

To contact me, go up to the tab marked Send Joel Stuff. Email me at the address there, and I’ll send you my maildrop address.

Nobody owes me anything, and this is asking a lot. But you’d be doing a big favor for an old guy who’s kind of getting into a spot.

ETA: I have it on good authority (Coloradohermit told me) that if you order two from the source hightecrebel linked to in comments, it’s free shipping. Otherwise they’ll soak you for an extra $8. Just saying.

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Sometimes the song in my head doesn’t let me down.

In the seventies the three greatest voices in country music were Linda Ronstadt, Emmylou Harris and Dolly Parton, in any order you like. They all worked together often and any time you get two or more of them on a recording it’s gonna be a keeper. This morning I woke up with this song stuck in my head for – as usual – no apparent reason. I must have an interesting dream life.

Haven’t heard it or even thought about it since I don’t know when, but I remember loving it. YouTube to the rescue, of course. I’d forgotten that the arrangement is such old-fashioned Bluegrass, and not a particularly outstanding example of old-fashioned Bluegrass at that. But then, it’s a very old-fashioned song. And hey, it’s Ronstadt and Harris.

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Hm. Obama’s Watergate? That would be fun…

I haven’t been following the Trump/antitrump shenanigans with any serious attention for the same reason I don’t know the latest news in the French election. But it’s becoming pretty damned unavoidable even for your friendly neighborhood desert hermit. And wouldn’t it be delicious if Wikileaks finally started making a real difference?

Wikileaks Destroys Obama – Reveals His History Of Wiretapping Friends and Rivals

It would be a lovely irony if the guy with “the most transparent administration in history” tore down his own ‘legacy’ while trying to preserve it by pulling a Richard Nixon.



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A chicken on your shoulder can be funny or even heartwarming, but…

…when it jumps up there and then immediately takes a gigantic dump…

…it’s neither.

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Dogs and cats, explained


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Okay, that didn’t work…

Upon cleaning out the yard at the Fortress of Attitude I learned that the coop needed a new ramp.

The old ramp was improvised from a piece of an old doorframe, wrapped with baling twine. It worked (better than expected) for five years, but under the accumulated straw it had rotted almost clean away.

Okay, so casting around I found an 8-foot 2X6 that developed a twist before I ever got it off the truck. Useless for construction lumber, it’s been holding down a tarp since before the siding job two years ago. I cut a notch in the end for the bracket and screwed it on the coop. It’ll work fine, except I had the same problem as always: What to use for traction on little scaly chicken feet?

Hm. Well, there was a hundred feet of rope that went up the steep slope behind the cabin. I call it my back door, but it’s cheap rope that’s been out in the weather for two years or so and I don’t trust it anymore. That would work, I think…

So LB and I went up the long way during the morning walky and untied the rope from the tree at the top of the slope. I need to replace that pretty soon.

Then I commenced to wrap it around the ramp…where it quickly became clear that 100′ isn’t as long as I imagined it to be…

That’s how far you get, wrapped tightly around a 2X6. Between a third and a fourth of what’s needed. Curses. I have more rope, but not nearly enough.

Hm. Maybe I can bug Neighbor D, see if he’s got some plywood scraps I can cut into traction slats. I believe that’s the traditional way to handle this.

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Remember, Citizens: It is a federal crime to shout “help, rape,” during your comprehensive physical screening*…

U.S. Airport Pat-Downs Are About to Get More Invasive

While few have noticed, U.S. airport security workers long had the option of using five different types of physical pat-downs at the screening line. Now those options have been eliminated and replaced with a single universal approach. This time, you will notice.

The new physical touching—for those selected to have a pat-down—will be be what the federal agency officially describes as a more “comprehensive” physical screening, according to a Transportation Security Administration spokesman.

Denver International Airport, for example, notified employees and flight crews on Thursday that the “more rigorous” searches “will be more thorough and may involve an officer making more intimate contact than before.”


*It actually is.

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Government regulation causes Salmonella in eggs

I just made that up, but it could as easily be true as not, given the confusion about the regulations surrounding commercially-produced eggs.

This is a good, brief article on the subject:

Why Americans Refrigerate Eggs

Hint: Because government. Government-free eggs don’t need refrigeration unless you plan to keep them for months.

I further submit that government has proven more generally dangerous to public life than any disease that an egg might give us. Salmonella is curable; government, not so much.

Truer words never spoken.


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And the winner of the “Embarrassing Ways to Die” competition …the envelope, please…

This guy!

Lonely Japanese man who amassed a SIX-TON pile of dirty magazines died when it collapsed on top of him… and his body wasn’t found for six months

Now that’s lonely and pathetic.

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Oh, man, that shoulder is singing soprano today…

I overdid it with the spading fork day before yesterday. Didn’t hurt at all at the time, but I sure didn’t sleep well last night. (What is it with torn rotator cuffs, that they mostly bother you when you’re horizontal?

Also, just because Uncle Murphy is a sadistic prick, my nonexistent left foot has chosen last night and this morning to cause me excruciating pain from time to time at unpredictable intervals. So I’m going to mostly spend today pacing furiously, shouting at the ceiling and making LB very uncomfortable. Yup. That’s the plan for today.

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The closest I’ve come to a winter holster…

Every winter for the past few years I’ve fiddled with a holster on a separate belt, for wearing over my coat. This year, with the help of a belt gifted by longtime reader MJR, I finally sort of got it right.

Still hate the holster, but it turns out I don’t really use it much anyway.

The holster is, um, “vintage,” and might actually be worth a buck on ebay. It’s a Bucheimer, which I never heard of, apparently made in 1962 for 4″ medium frame .38s. Holsters have improved since 1962, from the evidence. Landlady’s late husband T picked it up somewhere, or I assume he did – it was in with some gun junk he used to store in his powershed and happens to fit the Tracker fairly well. But it’s so tight in the pocket and floppy on the belt it’s more-or-less impossible to draw with one hand. That might have something to do with my carrying a .44 in a holster made for a .38. Or not, I dunno. I’m actually thinking of drilling it for a leg lanyard, but probably won’t.

“Probably won’t” because in truth I don’t use it that often. The gun goes on my belt when my pants go on my ass, and short of doing this total ordnance swap every time I put a coat on or off, which would be annoying and/or rather silly, it turns out that in practice I just wear the gun under the coat most of the time.

So the belt and empty holster spend the winter hanging from the wall, then head out to the powershed in spring with the rest of the winter gear.

Guess I’m just not all that tactical anymore.

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I begin to believe it might be vaguely possible that the NYT isn’t totally in favor of DJT.

Dig this crazy bit of ironic hyperbole…

First as a candidate, and now as president, Donald Trump has drawn fire for promising the moon and stars without giving the slightest hint of how he intended to obtain them. In fact, as Tuesday night’s speech to Congress demonstrated so clearly, the president is actually a master of the art of diminished expectations.

On Tuesday night, we are told, he looked sober and presidential, when all he actually did was read a speech from a Teleprompter …

Y’know, I wasn’t in favor of Trump as prez and I’m still not in favor of Trump as prez, but I can’t help but remember somebody else who was famous for the presidential ease with which he read promises of the moon and stars from a Teleprompter…

I am absolutely certain that generations from now, we will be able to look back and tell our children that this was the moment when we began to provide care for the sick and good jobs to the jobless; this was the moment when the rise of the oceans began to slow and our planet began to heal; this was the moment when we ended a war and secured our nation and restored our image as the last, best hope on Earth.

Not only did none of those promises come true but in most cases the opposite happened. And as I recall, NYT was all about that guy.

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When Cap’n Joel retired from piracy he sank his earnings into a chicken farm…

…only to learn that chickens just aren’t crew the way parrots are…


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Tip jar acknowledgements…

In the past couple of weeks two people hit the tip jar, and I tried to acknowledge them privately but both my emails bounced. Maybe it’s a problem on my end, maybe it’s a coincidence, don’t know, but I don’t want you to think you’re not appreciated. Right now everything’s going into the “make the eye doctor richer” fund, for my next trip to the big town in three weeks. Yay.

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Got the chicken yard dug down to dirt level…

Finally got a day without much wind. A little chilly but I worked up a pretty good sweat anyway. I just wanted a moratorium on the airborne chicken shit.

The old straw – soaked, compacted and at best half-rotted – was well over the level of the concrete blocks that hold the fencing. I lost count of how many times I filled the wheelbarrow with it, but we’re down to dirt now. Don’t really want to clean out every little bit, it’s like a sourdough starter, but I can’t let it build up this thick again. The chickens do a lot of scratching, but clearly they aren’t capable of keeping it churned up enough to fully compost. In fairness, the guy who wrote the book on that used sawmill chips and wasn’t in favor of straw. I use straw because it’s available. Not many sawmills around here.

Don’t know if the debris will ever be useful, but it’s there.

Now I’ve got some other work to do in there but the heavy sweating is mercifully over. Since it’s the first of the month I’m going to eat a late lunch and then go off to Battery Day.

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More lives saved through gun violence!


Stolen from Peter’s place.

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I could be having more fun than I do…

Boy, it’s one of those mornings not fit for man nor beast. Not all that cold, high thirties, but the wind, my god, the wind will just knock you down and freeze you to the ground. I ain’t stepping one foot out this door any more than it takes to keep LB from peeing in a corner or chickens from starving. And it’s supposed to rain, because that will put a cherry on top of all that miserableness. Swell.

Looking around my kitchen corner, I notice a trend. I’ve mentioned before that in terms of my ability to feed myself I’m basically that guy…

And sometimes people send me stuff in care packages that turn me on to things that have been available locally all along, except I didn’t know they existed. First time that happened, Big Brother sent me a jar of this stuff…

…which I had never heard of in my life, even though I must have looked at it a hundred times since it’s right next to the peanut butter in the dollar store. You know how well peanut butter and chocolate go together? Yeah, me too. Now I’m pretty much addicted.

Then last month a guest left me with a bottle of orange sauce, which is when I discovered for the first time that Orange Chicken isn’t just for Chinese restaurants.

And guess what they sell in the little food market in the town nearest where I live. Go ahead, guess…

Unfortunately whoever whipped up the recipe for the Panda Express stuff really likes vinegar, to the point where it’s not really the same at all. But you get the idea. I don’t know what I don’t know, and when it comes to feeding myself it holds me back. I could be having a lot more fun than I do if I just worked a little harder at it.

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Things you only see in small towns…


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