Joel’s little first world problem…

On this morning, September 25 2018, I opened the last can of Trader Joe’s House Blend Coffee that the Secret Lair will ever see.

This is one of the two sent me by Generous Readers and I was more inclined to save it for six months or a year. But it’s already five months past its Best By date (which means something with dark oily roasts, because they really do have a limited shelf life.) Also it turns out it wasn’t properly sealed from the store so it truly is past its prime. Probably I have already drunk the best coffee I’ll ever drink in my whole life. :(

Takes me five weeks or so to empty one of these. I may ritually cremate the can. Still haven’t found a replacement I like as well.

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Augason Farms 48-hour emergency food supply review, Pt. 4: and we’re done here.

My original concept was to live on the contents of this tub exclusively until it was gone, to see what would happen. That would have taken eight long days. I gave up that plan on the afternoon of the second day because of gastric distress: All the creamy stuff was causing me to spend too much quality time with the Ivory Throne, and I do have work to do. So I’m bringing this to an end with a description of the final entrée in the tub.

The third entrée in the Augason Farms tub is good old supercheap macaroni and cheese.

Plus side: It’s actually pretty okay mac&cheese. I’ve had way worse. and there’s more here than four normal people would want to eat in a single meal. (that first picture shows half the available macaroni.) And there’s a ton of cheese powder, which works pretty well.

Minus side: It’s macaroni and cheese. You could buy cases of mac&cheese for what this tub cost. (Okay, I just fact-checked that statement and apparently you can buy a case of mac&cheese for roughly the same price as an Augason Farms tub. Man – you used to could buy a case of the stuff for like $3.) And I got over eating a lot of mac&cheese before I was out of my teens.

The bottom line here, since I’m not going to do this particular test any more, is that the Augason Farms Emergency Food Supply tub would be better than nothing in an actual emergency as long as you hadn’t lost any of your food prep infrastructure. You could never take it on the run with you unless you’re also bringing your stovetop and gas. You should (seriously) stay away from it if you’re lactose intolerant. Pre-packaged long-term storage food is a simple, logical and comforting way to stock food against the chance that supply chains will be cut in some undefinable future crisis. If you want to go that way, Regular Commenter Kentucky has pointed out that there are lots of similar products on the market, lots of information available concerning them, and there are probably better alternatives than this particular product.

The one thing I’m sure we can all agree on is that this is a subject that rates a lot of serious thought. Plenty of preppers out there settle for minimums, or get caught up in tacticool gear or wild scenarios, but shelves of securely stored long-shelf-life food are never a bad idea. The super-secure America with all the answers that I was born in, where the stores are always open and always take your money and always have stuff to buy, seems more an illusion with every passing year. Preparing to tide yourself and your people through an insecure future just makes sense.

Personally I like shelves and shelves of canned and jarred food of the sort I’m used to eating. But I’m an old one-legged guy who has pretty much already bugged the hell out. Barring a housefire I’m not going anywhere, and even then not far. I don’t need portability. I do keep my food stocks in multiple places, one of them pretty much absolutely fireproof. Frankly my need for sealed tubs of “emergency food supply” is limited. But in other scenarios I could see this sort of thing – not necessarily this particular version, with which I’m not especially impressed, but something like it – filling a pretty good niche.

The people nobody should listen to are the ones who pooh-pooh the whole idea of emergency preparation. Alas, those people tend to rise up in one’s own family, and overcoming their objections can involve drama. I’m not sure why, but it does seem common. Just keep telling yourself that nobody ever went wrong by being overprepared for bad things.

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Jesus. What honorable person will ever put himself in this position again?

Second Woman Makes Accusation Against Kavanaugh

Over something that supposedly happened at Yale. Several decades ago. May or may not have happened at all, may or may not have been Kavanaugh, certainly not something that could ever possibly make it to a criminal or even civil court, but hey! If the accusation is “credible,” clearly we should send in the FBfrickin’I.

Deborah Ramirez, who studied sociology and psychology at Yale with Kavanaugh, outlined her accusations to The New Yorker after the left-wing publication contacted her, acting on a tip about a possible incident.

Ramirez said that she was not politically motivated to come forward but that she “works toward human rights, social justice, and social change.”

“In her initial conversations with The New Yorker, she was reluctant to characterize Kavanaugh’s role in the alleged incident with certainty,” The New Yorker reports. “After six days of carefully assessing her memories and consulting with her attorney, Ramirez said that she felt confident enough of her recollections to say that she remembers Kavanaugh had exposed himself at a drunken dormitory party, thrust his penis in her face, and caused her to touch it without her consent as she pushed him away.”

The New Yorker notes that Ramirez’s lawyer, Stanley Garnett, is “a former Democratic district attorney in Boulder.”

And I’m sure we’ll learn that she’s been terribly traumatized by it for all these many horrid years. Oh, the flashbacks! Pay, Kavanaugh! Pay with your very life!

Remember the “false memories” of satanically abused day care kids back in the eighties? People were arrested and dragged through courts for years over that hysteria, as I recall. One guy spent years in jail. Sensible people stopped wanting to work in day care centers. All started by one mentally ill woman who died of alcoholism before the trials ever started.

Bend over, here it comes again. Now it’s going to be impossible for a man of the momentarily-wrong party to work in public life. Or maybe it’ll be impossible to be a man at all for a while, I guess we’ll see.

This sort of senatorial circus was inevitable, of course, the moment the Supreme Court became all about counting chairs – which for all I know may have come before Marbury v. Madison. After the Bork circus – the outcome of which I wasn’t that unhappy about at the time, I’m still not a Bork fan – and then of course the Clarence Thomas debacle, a ritual witch hunt was an inevitable waypoint in the downward trajectory of political appointments. Like when the spoils system got out of hand near the turn of the 20th century, it’ll be come up with something entirely different or despair of ever getting anything done in the capital ever again.

Here’s hoping it takes them a good long while. As long as I can choke down my gag reflex and view this horror show as free entertainment. It’s hard, though. The Supreme Court is far too powerful, and the days when every goofy “progressive” notion that could be shoved through it would be shoved through it were not good days. Gridlock is good.

Hardly a day goes by I don’t thank the theoretical god or gods that I’m a hermit. Good luck out there.

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Augason Farms 48-hour emergency food supply review, Pt. 3: Lactose Intolerance rears its, er, head.

Alas, this isn’t going to go eight days, or anything like eight days. For my sins I spent most of the afternoon fearful of moving too far from a toilet.

My undoing was one of the tub’s principal entrées, Creamy Chicken Rice.


Curiously, this package was also marked “8 portions,” which means the lunch and dinner entrées are consistently twice as big as the breakfasts. Sounds racist.

Let it be said that Augason Farms Creamy Chicken Rice is damned near terrible. Also, “creamy rice” is not a good emergency food for a number of practical reasons. First: When you cook creamy soup you leave the pot open and stir frequently. When you cook rice, you cover the pot and let it simmer for upwards of half an hour. When you cook creamy rice, you leave the pot open and stir constantly for upwards of half an hour while occasionally adding water to keep the whole thing from setting up like plaster. Bad enough on a beautiful stress-free Sunday afternoon. You want to try it during a hurricane or a sharknado or the end of the world as we know it or whatever drove you to pull the seal off the tub?

Second, any Mountain House mix I ever effortlessly rehydrated tastes better than this shit.

Third, as mentioned above, toilet. Lots of toilet. The creamy potato soup had me a bit rumbly yesterday but didn’t set me off. The creamy rice did the trick.

And I’m still not in any mood for supper, which would have been mac and cheese.

We’ll do the mac and cheese tomorrow. But then I think we’ll be drawing our eight-day trial to a close in two and a half days, with a round-up post.

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Augason Farms 48-hour emergency food supply review, Pt. 2: The Adventure Continues.

Okay: So on my very first day, I cheated on my “emergency food only” diet…

…so I didn’t even do the third meal yesterday. I did do lunch, though…

…Creamy potato soup. Once again, as is I suppose going to be the protocol for this whole review, I divided the packet contents into four portions because the tub is for four people and I’m not four people. Continue reading

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Oh, is it going to work now?

Well okay then. I guess I’ll just drop what I’m doing, go back to the Lair, fire up the laptop, download all those photos currently floating around in Data Pergatory somewhere, and write that food review post I tried to write some hours ago except the server was down AGAIN and I couldn’t. Since I emailed all those photos to myself and when the TUAK server is down my email doesn’t work either.

Since I’m getting all this stuff for free I’m not really complaining. Free is good. But I am venting a bit because frustration. Running what amounts to a small business on infrastructure other people are essentially giving you for free isn’t a foolproof business model. But I like it most of the time, because free.

Anyway a post is imminent if the blankety-blank server doesn’t prevent it.

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Augason Farms 48-hour emergency food supply review – the beginning

Okay, so this morning we opened the tub.

And immediately encountered our first snag. The tub bills itself as 48 hours of food for four people, and that’s the way it’s packaged. Not 192 hours of food for one person.

Tub contents are sealed packages of dried food-like substance, quantities as follows:

1 Cheese Powder
2 Elbow Macaroni
1 Creamy Potato Soup
2 Creamy Chicken Rice
1 Maple Brown Sugar Oatmeal
1 Buttermilk Pancakes

The instructions on each packet aren’t conducive to my original plan. Each packet is expected to produce at most a single meal – for four people. So there are two meals of chicken rice, one meal of potato soup, one of pancakes, one of oatmeal, and one of macaroni and cheese. Three group meals a day for two days. Makes sense, unless you live alone and without refrigeration. Not convinced I’ll be able to comfortably eke this out for eight days.

Fortunately I have plastic snack bags. Let’s see what happens if I divide one of these packets into four portions. Since it’s morning, we’ll start with the oatmeal… Continue reading

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Useful/fun care packages, and also announcing a new review series.

Look what Big Brother sent me…

Two tubs of this Augason Farms emergency storage food, promising 48 hours worth of food for four people – or eight days for one person?

We Shall See. Tomorrow morning the tub gets unsealed. I will suffer for my art but I won’t collect scars for it if I don’t have to, so I don’t promise to go the whole eight days if the contents are just inedibly horrible. But if they’re not, Uncle Joel is going on an eight-day diet consisting of nothing but that stuff. Starting tomorrow, since today got off to a very weird start and the weirdness hasn’t actually slacked off much yet. I’m having chicken issues this morning.

Here’s something that will prove very useful and possibly career-saving…

Generous Reader Terrapod sent eight of these adhesive traction strips for the boardwalk below the porch, which recently dumped me on my ass when it was wet and slippery. I stuck one to a stair tread just to see if the adhesive works better than that on my usual skateboard tape…

…and – perhaps unfortunately – it really does. Now I have to get it off somehow because I really wanted it on the boardwalk. Or maybe there’s enough for both, I guess we’ll see. With the skateboard tape I usually just use roofing nails because that adhesive doesn’t work well on weathered 2X4s.

Landlady found a terrific sale on pork at Costco, already sliced into porkchop-like bricks. So we’re officially in winter prep mode!

And also in bedroom-decorating mode, it seems. Last month Ian gave me all four in his set of “Secret Weapons of WWI” posters, and this month I forked over the money for two frames.


I always enjoy Care Package Day. There’s rarely any telling what’s coming out of those boxes in the back of Landlady’s car.

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See, this is why Socialism is good.

Under socialism, no matter how bad things might get due to the machinations of the Looters and Wreckers and External Enemiestm, our beloved masters will still be okay. They’ll do great, in fact. And that’s good, right? Because they’re so selfless and we love them so very very much.

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If the Great Computer in the Sky will allow me to post this…

Yes. It was 5:30 in the blessed AM and I was baking bread.

Why, you ask? What sane person would be doing that at such a time, when all good little boys and girls should be warm in their beds? Well, it had something to do with…

this little shithead, who was apparently wide awake (at 4:30 in the blessed AM) and waiting for me to show the slightest sign of consciousness so he could climb as far onto the bed as possible given his physical abnormalities and share with me the joys of his night terrors or whatever the hell was going on in his tiny dysfunctional brain. He was frantic, whatever the reason.

In his defense, he did have to pee. But don’t we all first thing in the morning, and he doesn’t usually need to wake me at omigod:thirty to deal with the problem.

I dunno – maybe he just had a big drink of water before I closed the bedroom door for the night. We’re still getting used to each other. But this clamor first time I stir in the morning is going to get old. He’s liable to find himself exiled from the bedroom if it becomes a regular thing.

ETA: Okay, so not all bad. 7:45 and the bread’s done and the dishes are washed, and all before breakfast. Good boy, Laddie.


ETA Again: 8:05 and Dharma came to visit. Laddie likes Dharma – actually safe to say Laddie adores Dharma, quite past the point of forgetting that I or any of my wishes exist – but only on neutral ground. In HIS lair, he devotes himself to keeping her away from his stuff, which absolutely includes me.


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(tap tap) This thing on?

Yeah, okay, the host has been having big server problems for some time, obviously. I’m told they’re on it, and also to expect more outages until the issue is resolved. Kind of figured that last bit out for myself and I’m not even a computer guy. Boy, I need to record that big asterisk on this month’s pageview stats.

I actually do have a couple of posts going but they require my turning the laptop on and sitting down to do them and I’m baking bread right now. Also I will get halfway through composing the first one just as the server takes another dump, and that will be time-consuming and frustrating.

So bear with us: we’re not gone, just experiencing technical difficulties.

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Back to the cattle waterer…

…goes the game camera. Left it there for two days, and…

That’s all that happened. I guess I should be happy there were birds this time.

Boy, that place jumped last winter. Now it’s dead as disco. But I know it can’t always be that way, earlier in the week I saw fresh deer tracks. So as long as the cattle stay away or until I need it somewhere else I’m going to leave the camera there, and we’ll see who wanders by thirsty.

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Private to the person…

Who sent that maple syrup some months ago…

Yum. Just saying.

I don’t actually make pancakes very often because it’s a large hassle factor for one guy. Hassle factor is the principal reason for my usual breakfast of Spammo Classico. But sometimes, when you’re in possession of kick-ass syrup, you just gotta.


PS: Laddie (Plate Licker) The Dog also asked me to say thanks.

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That’s sexist.



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Diane Feinstein touched me inappropriately!

There, I said it.

It was sometime back when I was in grammar school, I think. Can’t quite recall. Other people saw it, though. Two people, or maybe four.

But I said it, so it must be true. When’s her trial? No, I won’t testify – you should have the FBI investigate the charge instead.

(snicker) Yeah, that’ll happen. But strangely it’s national news when one political party favored by the press does it to another political party. And those of us they purport to rule just sit back, roll our eyes, and get on with our lives.

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One more coat, I think…

I spent the whole of yesterday morning going to town and schlepping hay with D&L, so never got back to the back door. First thing this morning after chicken chores I gave it a light sanding and a third coat of urethane…

And while I was in painting mode I stirred up what’s left of the green housepaint and hit the woodshed…

…and – after one more good scrape – the solar panel rack.

I’m going to give the door a final coat this afternoon. And after that I will be done painting!

Oh, I like the sound of that. DONE PAINTING! Yeah, it sounds even better loud.

Actually since I still have some of that green paint and it probably won’t survive the winter, a really scrupulous man would give the panel rack one more good thick coat. Maybe I’ll look around and see if I can find such a man.

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The babies are doing well…

…after their first night out of the cage. Actually I suspect they may have overnighted in the cage, since there were two or three in it when I visited this morning. But mostly they’re out and about.

Like any flightless young flock birds they crowd together when they feel threatened, so I was encouraged to see them pretty much spread out when I arrived. They avoid the hens, I’m sure they’ve been pecked at if they get too close, but the hens aren’t terrorizing them.

I’m still filling their feeder with starter crumbles inside the cage, which is still propped slightly open so pullets can get in but hens would have a problem. Probably keep doing that until I’m out of the chick feed, by which time I hope to see them eating pellets out of the main feeder. If not I might have to get a sack of layer crumbles just so they get used to using that feeder. But I doubt it’ll go that long, it never has before.

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There’s another bird in the woodstove…

😀 And it’s fluttering around in there driving Laddie batshit crazy.


ETA: I opened the door, it flew out, and Laddie caught it! Wonder if that’s his first vertebrate kill?

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Free the Chickenhouse Fourteen!

Sorry, guys. The Official TUAK IT Department had a major server crash, they’ve got expensive servers lying everywhere, dramatically holding their knees and groaning and wailing about Worker’s Comp. All these trays and broken champagne flutes everywhere…it’s a mess, but we’re trying to clean it up. I really don’t understand why IT needs so many servers anyway, can’t they get off their asses and go to the fridge themselves? Also – champagne? I don’t even think the BBC does that anymore. We’re going to have such a staff meeting Friday.

The morning got off to a very poor start in more ways than that. I’m afraid I may have given Laddie PTSD flashbacks. At a few minutes past 4 ayem I was jolted awake by phantom pain, hardly the first time that has happened, but it was sudden and sharp and went on for quite a while and I’m afraid I may have vocalized a bit. Indeed I may have emitted high-pitched whimper-like sounds. In, you know, an extremely manly fashion. Normally this has no bad effect but in this case I suddenly found myself with an armful of frantic Corgi desperate for reassurance. He usually wants to be be petted first thing when I start stirring around but this was way beyond that. He flung himself at me, as well as that can be done with a Corgi’s physical shortcomings, obviously terribly unhappy.

It occurred to me at the time that his principal human died in great pain of colon cancer and may well have started more than one morning just that way – and that didn’t end well for Laddie. He wanted me to stop that right now.

Since I was up way before morning light, that settled the question of whether I should go to Landlady’s first thing and open the cage door for the new pullets. Which is just what I did. I figured I’d sneak into the chickenhouse and prop the door slightly open so the pullets could start transitioning to general population while everybody was waking up. Didn’t know for sure if that would avoid trouble but I’ve worked up quite a case of nerves since this procedure has gone very very wrong in the past.

I propped the cage door slightly ajar so the pullets could get in and out but a violent hen would have trouble following one into the cage. Turns out it apparently wasn’t necessary. I did my usual morning visit around seven, and all was going quite well.

In fact one of the pullets was taking a long and luxurious dust bath in the middle of the room, apparently without a care in the world, with a perplexed-looking hen hovering over her.

So far I guess it’s going well.

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Decided to go with varnish…

Exterior urethane, really. Couldn’t decide on a third color for the back door and finally decided I liked it the way it was, except the original varnish was pretty much gone.

So first thing this morning I sanded down the outside surface, which took the door pretty much down to bare wood. Then over the course of the day I hit it with two coats…

…but that surface veneer sucked up so much of the first coat things won’t end there. No way two coats are going to do it. I’ll leave the doorknob off overnight since I don’t need it to lock the door, then give it another two coats tomorrow.

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