My god, that’s shameless.

:) Have you seen this?

Remember those republicans who went on and on for seven years about how Obamacare would doom the republic and lead to socialized “single payer” medicine and all the puppies would die, so we should all run out and vote republicans into office immediately so they could save the day, because they were all, singlemindedly, determined, to a man and woman, to the repeal of O’care and the restoration of truth, justice, and the American Way? I mean, they just couldn’t sleep at night, they were so passionate about the repeal of O’care.

And then they got into office – pretty much every office – and when people said, “Okay, now repeal Obamacare,” they all looked nervously around and muttered, “But, the law is the law.” Because now that they were in power, they couldn’t think of a single thing they wanted to change.

Yeah, those guys. Guess what they’re running on for the mid-terms?

Dig that crazy ominous narrator. Why, a fellow could almost get the idea that repubs think this is important. Unless he’d been awake at any point in the past couple of months.

This is just sad. This is a great country, and it deserves a far better class of dysfunctional kleptocratic losers to rule it than it currently has. We should start a pre-election draft in north Korea, or maybe Turkmenistan. Possibly the Saudis have some princes they could do without for a while.

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Augh, this hermit business is hard.

Okay, so a week ago last Friday we had this truly absurd flash flood. And among the other damage it did…


It wrapped a big uprooted tree around my little cottonwood, then a mat of smaller plants, all of which served as a proper matrix for tons of dirt and stones. You couldn’t tell the poor tree even had a trunk.

That was nine days ago and I don’t know if the accumulated mess was harming the cottonwood but there wasn’t anything practical I could do while everything was so wet. Thankfully that’s the last time the wash ran, so things have dried out for the most part.

I went in with that little cordless chainsaw to see if I could rescue the tree. Continue reading

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Best laid plans…

Yesterday turned out to be a miserable day for painting. I started early, thankfully, and got the wall above the new addition flashed and painted…

…but the rain attacked before the paint was fully dry. And then every time I went outside with a paintbrush it started raining again. This went on till I finally gave up around three. As soon as I finished washing the paintbrush – in the rain – the clouds disappeared.

I got a little cutting done, but I’d hoped to finish the whole north side of the cabin.

Now today is baking day…

…and after I’m done with that I really need to break out the paint and roller. Beautiful day out.

And I don’t feel like painting at all.

Instead I’m going to do something fun.

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That idea about tying the ladder to the handle?

That worked perfectly.


So did the idea of the handle, he said, buffing his fingernails on his shirt. With that handle firmly bolted to the Lair I can get down off the addition’s roof without even spiking my blood pressure.

Yes, I also finally got flashing up on that, by far the wettest side. Only took eight years, no point rushing into these things. Now I have to go tend Ghost, and I’ll come back and paint that lower corner green with a brush from the ladder.

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Huh. I never saw that coming.

I knew Donald Trump was an insufferable lump of buffoonery with a mouth on one end and (undoubtedly) an anus on the other. I figured he was preferable to Hillary in the same way being stuck with a boor is preferable to being stung by a scorpion.

But I never thought he would find ways to make Barack Obama look good in hindsight. I believed that would require talent beyond even Trump’s impressive ability to disappoint. It appears I was wrong.

Sessions said that the Justice Department was reviewing Obama-era policies that set limits on its ability to subpoena journalists.

“We respect the important role that the press plays, and will give them respect, but it is not unlimited,” said Sessions. “They cannot place lives at risk with impunity. We must balance the press’s role with protecting our national security, and the lives of those that serve in the intelligence community, the armed forces, and all law-abiding Americans.”

The article goes on to emphasize that Obama did it too, of course. But this turbulent Attorney General is finding ways to demonstrate that I have hot buttons other than gun control, and he’s gleefully pushing them one by one.

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Advice needed from someone familiar with Internet scams…

I got the following email at the address…

Dear CEO,
(If you are not the person who is in charge of this, please forward this to your CEO, because this is urgent. If this email affects you, we are very sorry, please ignore this email. Thanks)
We are a Network Service Company which is the domain name registration center in China.
We received an application from Huadu Ltd on July 31, 2017. They want to register ” joelsgulch ” as their Internet Keyword and ” joelsgulch .cn “、” joelsgulch ” 、” joelsgulch “、” joelsgulch ” 、” joelsgulch .asia ” domain names, they are in China and Asia domain names. But after checking it, we find ” joelsgulch ” conflicts with your company. In order to deal with this matter better, so we send you email and confirm whether this company is your distributor or business partner in China or not?

Best Regards,
Jim | Service Manager
Domain Registry Asia (Head Office) (etc)

…and maybe it’s really just a robomail from the-place-where-they-do-domain-name-registrations-in-China, but also maybe it’s some sort of scam. I’m not going to respond in any case but I always feel like such an idiot when I can’t spot the scam.

So help an old guy out. What’s the scam here?

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That could have gone worse…

So I met TC’s son this morning – he showed up a few hours before I expected, and that’s good because thunder is booming like maybe it means it this afternoon – a very friendly and polite young man. He showed up with an acquaintance from the state where TC actually lived, who had already bought that little Kubota backhoe. So we got the big trailer hitched to his truck – I gathered they’re planning to fix the rat-chewed connector in town – and got the backhoe loaded and chained down. I spoke to TC’s son on behalf of a neighbor who’d like to buy TC’s batteries, which will otherwise sit there and deteriorate uselessly.

I basically ran down the list of items we needed to talk about in light of the change of ownership, then was mentally signing off as property caretaker when TC’s son noted that I’d been getting automatic checks from TC’s bank in the amount of $50 a month but that would stop since social security had frozen the bank account*, and so it might be a couple of months before he could make other financial arrangements but would I mind staying on as caretaker?

Well no, I didn’t mind at all – in fact I rather minded TC dying out from under me, a fact I hope I phrased more diplomatically than that. Either way, no problem. Then he slipped me some cash to pre-pay the next couple of months while he works things out.

TC died without a current will so some things, like the batteries my neighbor wants to buy, will at least officially need to wait till the lawyers are done chewing on the upholstery and shitting in the corners. And eventually the property will be sold, and then there’ll be a whole new set of owners. But till then, the matter could have gone worse for Ol’ Caretaker Joel.

Funny aside: I was just loading TC’s little tractor into the trailer when an old Suburban drove up, and out came two other neighbors I know. They were all smiles and ‘how ya doin,’ but they were also both armed and mentioned they hadn’t actually relaxed until they saw “Joel’s rig.” Because mostly they wanted to know who the hell were those guys in that unfamiliar truck who appeared to be stealing TC’s tractor and trailer.

:) That’s my neighborhood.

*and does anybody know what that’s all about? Maybe this account was being administered by SS? I don’t know how these things work at all.

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I’m a lot less fearful with something to grip.

I mentioned this to Neighbor D, who laughed in my face. But I’m a firm believer in the old aphorism, “If it’s a stupid idea that works, it’s not a stupid idea.”

Plus it’s my cabin, and I can bolt a completely incongruous handle on it if I want to.

I’ve had incidents in which I got up on the roof with no problem, but lacking the peer pressure to act brave it took me quite a while to work up the nerve to get back down. This would be one of those incidents, because I noticed the first time I was up here that there’s a great place to brace the ladder but nothing to hang onto while transitioning. And I had this old handle lying around, and a couple of right-sized lag bolts. So now it’s there, and in the fullness of time I’ll paint it green and it’ll be much less conspicuous. One day after I’m gone people will look the place over, point, and say, “WTF?” But now you know why it’s there.

No painting today. I’m not feeling it, plus there are lots of little things to do. S&L are gone till tomorrow evening which means more Ghost-related back-and-forth, there’s the aforementioned stranger visit, and little chores that have gone begging. In spare moments I’ve been wiring the inside of the addition; it wasn’t really on the schedule that way but it turned out I couldn’t get along well without my exterior outlet and that involved the only significant run of new wire, so it made sense to just go ahead and do that. (By the way, to the person who sent me that salvaged Romex? Perfect.) The 120v wiring is negligible, really. The 12v lighting will take most of a day, and the first part is climbing under the cabin to lay out a bunch of conduit. Not really looking forward to that part.

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On meeting strangers…

If all goes well and the washes don’t run I’ll meet one today.

A bit over a week ago I got word that my friend (well, friendly acquaintance) occasional neighbor and source of my last paying monthly caretaking gig TC had passed away after a long bout with cancer. Today his son is coming to the Gulch to look over the property and make decisions about its disposition. If all goes well we’ll repair the wiring on TC’s large, rat-chewed trailer so he can haul away that cute little Kubota backhoe while it’s still of any value.

I can go months without having to actually interact with anyone I haven’t known for years, and even when I was in practice I was honestly no good at it. So the prospect of this visit has loomed a bit in the three or four days I’ve known about it, and now’s the time. On rising this morning I found myself pawing through my pants drawer looking for my least-patched pair of BDUs, which is kind of ridiculous given that the visit might involve crawling through mud under a trailer. And in a way, the worse impression I make the better part of me will like it – my not very deeply buried inner misanthropist wishes all these people would go away and leave me alone.

The weather could possibly intervene, of course. It hasn’t actually rained here in three days but it threatens every afternoon. The washes and gullies are saturated and it wouldn’t take much rain to close the roads right off.

Anyway. That’s happening today. What could possibly go wrong? Part of me’s treating it like a job interview, and part is all…

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South side done…

Wanted to get that done early, since most of the day the sun really beats on the south side. That Hardie-board on the south wall of the main cabin has worked out so well it occurred to me I ought to get some and redo the addition’s south side with it.

Then I laughed right out loud.

I’m going to put it off as long as possible, of course, but soon I’ll have to do high work. The west side will be easy, the only hard part being the transition from roof back to ladder. The east and north sides will all be ladder work. With a paint pole. What could possibly go wrong. Last time I borrowed Neighbor S’s scaffold, but I also needed that for hanging the high siding. Seems like overkill just for swinging a roller for a few minutes.

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Wow, that’s dark.

Seen all in a block like that, three inches from your nose like I’ve been looking at it all morning, it’s a bit startling. Quite a lot closer to what I was originally going for, once it’s all done the cabin will blend with its surroundings better with this new shade. But I could have lightened it up a shade or two, I think, without the fall of the republic.

I bought three gallons Monday and used an entire one on that one wall and trimming the drip edge and windows on the north and south walls. That raw plywood really sucks down the paint. I doubt I’ll have enough for the whole cabin, but the worst should be over. Won’t take long to get a first coat on the rest but I’m sick of painting for now. If we don’t get a storm I’ll probably get a wild hair and paint some more in the afternoon. If we do, I’ll get up early and hit it in the morning. No big hurry, but I did want to get that one big first coat out of the way.



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Total failure. Abject, absolute failure. “Look at the size of the failure on that guy” failure.

Here we are, at the scene of the crime. Continue reading

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Expedition involving 100 feet of rope, Pt. 1

Old Uncle Joel is, as regular readers know well, not exactly a dedicated hiker. In fact any plan that involves my ancient rucksack is bound to be undertaken only under protest. But I do own an ancient rucksack, and sometimes I have to drag it out.

I have to go to the top of the backstop cliff, which is a fair hike. Also I have to do it 3 or 4 times in all. So let’s just make sure the gear actually works before we start, shall we?

I certainly could be wrong but the way I figure it, I’ll need to use the whole length of the come-along numerous times. So I need something to take up the tension on the rope while I’m resetting it. To that end I’m bringing along a stout tie-down strap…

…and I’ve also tied loops in the uppermost rope every six-ish feet, so I can go hand-over-hand with the tie-down and come-along straps.

If the tank rack/target stand just pops neatly onto its legs without a lot of drama, well and good. But you know the chances of that.

I’m off to play young adventurous guy.

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“Give me fifty shotgun shells and a hundred feet of rope.”

Sweartagod to this day I can’t speak the phrase “a hundred feet of rope” without recalling what a self-righteous little piece of shit Don McLean was when he was young*. Sure could play a guitar, though.

Five string, too.

But what brings all that to mind is that I think I have a plan to get the target stand back on its feet. But it requires a literal hundred feet of rope. And also a come-along. I had the come-along, but not the rope.

Now I do. :)


And tomorrow we’ll see if my brilliant plan works.

I promise not to lynch anybody.

*and yet he’s one of my all-time favorite artists. This song pretty much sums up my life up till around the turn of the century, when everything fell apart despite all my efforts. And I sang it by heart many years before everything fell apart.

At his peak this guy could fill a theater without a backup band. Damn he could pick a guitar, and he had some things to say. I still think he was a self-righeous little prick back then, but I loved him anyway.

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Learn something new every day…

I had this really scary notion of how hard it would be to put a new external outlet on the Lair’s addition. But thanks to commenters, it turned out quite simple…

It’s not flush but who cares? It’ll be sealed far better than the old one ever was.

And now I paint.

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“Are we missing any neighbors we care about?”

Busy and very expensive morning. I went to town for the regular Monday morning water run and came back with paint, a bunch of electrical stuff, and a new battery for the Jeep*. Thanks so much for the contributions, “timely” is hardly an adequate word.

There was nothing to do but drive the Jeep to D&L’s place, then remove the battery there. So I did that. On the way, I got a further tour of the immense damage Friday’s big flash flood did. Basically every plain at every bend of the wash was inundated at least briefly. There’s snags and debris everywhere. Including some that would require explanation even on the south side of Chicago…

“Is that bones? Are there really bones in the middle of the frickin’ road?”

Yes. Yes, there are.

I’m guessing cow, but who knows?

*Private to the man from Tennessee: and also whiskey.

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Care Packages!

Big Brother, long on the road, decided to make up for lost time with a veritable shower of care packages… Continue reading

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Standard Weather Irony Rules Apply

So day before yesterday all hell broke loose around here, just as Landlady was about an hour out from her first visit in three weeks. We got her in yesterday morning, with a big adventurous Jeep ride through the Gulch’s back door. She mentioned that people actually pay money to do things like the Gulch’s back door.

It wasn’t a total waste, I guess. There were some visits with freshly-stranded neighbors, some oohing and aahing and photo ops with the main road’s new Gigantic Hole, she got to see the Lair as a two-room cabin and at least the aftermath of the memorable flood that stranded her in town. There were care packages, always welcome. And then it was clouding up and for a person with a job to go to on Monday there was really only one thing to do. We got her and Dharma loaded up and back to her car, parked at the county road, and waved them goodbye till next time.

And the clouds got dark, and it thundered. And it sprinkled a little. And then the afternoon storm said, “Naw. Not feeling it today.”

The desert has a mean sense of humor.

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How you know you’re not a city boy no more.

I’ve waited for today to put together an Amazon order, because today was care package-heavy and I was going to feel really stupid if I spent money for something somebody already sent me. Right? Hey. I fully own that I’m a jackass.

Anyway, I’m pretty sure major battles between world powers have been fought with less agonizing and second thoughts than I put into an Amazon order. It’s almost physically painful for me to spend money on-line, because once upon a time I did it far too casually. But I had it down to three items: A holster, a magazine pouch and some 12V LED bulbs for the new bedroom. And I was under budget, so I said to myself, “Self, you can have one fun thing*.”

And that sounded so funny I had to sit back and rethink why. Occurred to me that once upon a time, I’d have considered “holster, magazine pouch” to be on the list of Fun Things. And now they’re just tools. Kinda took the fun out of it, somewhere along the way.

*One of the Larry Correia spin-off paperbacks, if you must know. And it bummed me to learn that an actual New MHI Book was released only four days ago, but much as I’ve been jonesing for some new Correia I’m damned if I’m paying full fare for a hardcover copy.

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Damage Assessment 2

Okay, so the morning needed an early start because in our last exciting episode we left Landlady in a fleabag motel in the town nearest the Gulch. This had to change -if only because she had a car full of care packages.

Before I could go get her at the county road I had to find a route to her house. Here’s where the morning got off to an exciting – I’ll go so far as terrifying – start.

Okay, these are just crappy phonecam pix so play along. Picture this: You’re barreling down a steep incline you’ve driven a million times before. At the bottom of the grade there’s a sharp left turn, a blind corner and be careful of that thick tree on the other side of the road. But no problem; you know the turn, you know the grade, you know the tree. The only hazard to watch out for is passing cows.

You weren’t expecting that giant sinkhole where the road used to be, though, were you? Here’s the hole from the other, clearer side… Continue reading

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