You know, when I said, “I don’t like portable generators…”

“…because only cool people have portable generators worth having…”

…That wasn’t a bleg.

:) But I’ll take it. Guess what just showed up at the maildrop…

An extremely generous long-time reader emailed me right after the post at the link above, saying there was one that had been purchased for a particular purpose but the purpose had passed, and could I possibly find it in my heart to put aside my generatorphobic ways long enough to make a home for this?

Have I said lately that you guys rock?

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Winter is Coming…

And we’re getting into the season where for the first hour or two of the morning a good chore coat feels pretty good.

…so this morning that nice new canvas coat came out of the powershed. Not everything stored in the powershed escapes the attention of rodents, and I’m happy to report that this one survived its only warm season stored there without damage. Soon my seasonal clothes will enjoy the luxury of a nice indoor closet.

But I can’t really say laying out the winter clothes is one of the more joyous annual rituals at the Secret Lair.

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I’m a sucker for a counterculture.

I wasn’t going to say anything here about the NFL kerfuffle, because a) I haven’t watched a football game in decades and b) the whole issue of patriotism is such a mess you’d need to start with “first let me hear your definition of patriotism,” and c) exactly who gives a damn about what-all football players do? I’m told that except for Superbowls the TV doesn’t broadcast the national anthem part of the games anyway, so how did this suddenly get so important?

And yet it matters. I suppose.

Standing for the anthem is the new counterculture

So here’s my secret shame – I sort of sympathize with the kneelers. Not a lot, but some.

When I was a little boy, every morning whichever public school class I happened to be in was supposed to stand up, put our hands over our hearts, and recite the pledge of allegiance. Maybe you remember it. I did that without thinking for a few years, and “without thinking” is precisely the way we were all taught to do it. The words, I promise, carry no meaning whatever to a 7-year-old boy. But when I got old enough to actually analyze the words on any level at all, I became very uncomfortable.

Maybe it was the Heinlein reader in me – at first it was just the logic of the words. Pledging allegiance to a flag – a piece of cloth, a symbol, made no sense to me semantically. At some point I must have looked up the word Allegiance, since it was never defined in any elementary school class I recall. I was signing over not only my conscience but also my fair young body – Viet Nam was ramping up, though I didn’t take notice of the fact till later – to people who, I was assured, were wiser, better educated and informed, and in all ways better able to make important decisions than I was. Even before it came clear to me that virtually all of that was a lie, and that the last phrase – “liberty and justice for all of whom exactly?” – was a cruel joke, I was made very uncomfortable by the pledge of allegiance.

So I began wanting to sit it out. Technically this was usually permitted. But actions have consequences – particularly conspicuous actions like remaining seated while all the other kids stand up, assume the position, and drone out the recitation. At a minimum it was very uncomfortable. If the teacher happened to feel strongly on the matter, and some did, “technically permitted” became effectively forbidden. Then the consequences ran from public shaming to spanking with a paddle. I wasn’t always consistently strong-minded on the issue but I did wonder: If I go ahead and say the words, forced and without conviction, does God or whoever’s keeping score still hold me to it?

All in all, I can’t get excited either way when a bunch of conspicuously non-oppressed millionaire football players do what I at least wished to do at seven years old. I may continue to disagree with their stated reasons for doing it.


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This paragraph encapsulates everything wrong with western civilization. Seriously.

(Right – and so does the website at the link. There’s an infuriating autoplay video ad FRICKIN’ RIGHT ON TOP OF THE INFURIATING AUTOPLAY VIDEO. SO IT’S TWO INFURIATING AUTOPLAYS ONE AFTER THE OTHER. IF THIS WEBSITE DOES NOT MAKE YOU WANT TO SLOWLY PAINFULLY KILL ALL WEB DESIGNERS AND ADVERTISING EXECUTIVES BEFORE YOU EVER EVEN GET TO THE CONTENT YOU’RE DEFINITELY NOT ME. And I’m not even sitting in a gray carpeted cubicle trying to hide what I’m doing from my supervisor. Any more. So be warned.)

Anyway – the content isn’t even that important, it’s about traffic cameras in Baltimore. Seriously, don’t even click on it. I’m only adding the link for verisimilitude. What got me, what in fact mystified and saddened and horrified and angered me and made me completely give up all hope for my culture and my species and made me want to say f*ck it and go out and buy more flour and then just come home and nail my door shut and wait for the cities’ ashes to cool, was this one paragraph

“We have many more requests for speed and red light cameras than we’ll probably ever get to,” he said. “Every neighborhood wants one; every council person wants one.”

This person is either the worst liar since the last politician to open his mouth, or Baltimore is a very sad and crazy place where people actually ask to be robbed and oppressed.

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Situational Awareness Explained



I dunno – maybe this is like the Century Village equivalent of taking Grandma out to the ice flow. Seems harsh, is all.

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Landlady’s chickens will have to wait.

It’s been on-again-off-again rain since daybreak. This afternoon the sky was getting really threatening and I thought I’d better go take care of Landlady’s chickens early while I could do it and stay dry.

Turned out it’s been raining heavily on the high country east of here…

…and when I got to the ridge overlooking the wash crossing near Landlady’s place, I was too late.

That isn’t really much of a flow but it’s deep right there and I won’t risk the Jeep for such a trivial purpose. The chickens have food and water, I fed them this morning. They won’t mind if I wait to collect their eggs.

But I thought that since the flow was just beginning and I had this Nikon point-and-shoot someone recently donated, I’d drive downstream and do something I’ve wanted to do for years, just for you guys… Continue reading

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Very first raptor attack

I guess a chicken farmer gets to know what his chickens’ noises mean. They’ve got “feed me” noises and “I just laid an egg” noises and “it’s apparently just a beautiful morning to make a lot of noise” noises but the only noises that get me out of my chair without thinking are the “something’s trying to kill me” noises.

Usually it means a squabble has gone serious, but this morning at 6:30 it meant something worse. I was sitting right here at the ‘pooter, waiting for my houseguest to come over for coffee on his last morning here. And the girls started gobbling their “Serious Alarm!” noise. I went to that big window I insisted on retrofitting into the bathroom wall two years ago, scanned the chicken yard and didn’t see a single bird. Widened the scan and saw a single bird – a big ol’ hawk perched on the gate.

Sorry, I could go for my camera or save my chickens, but I had to pick one. So no pictures.

It flew off when I ripped open the brand-new back door, which is already paying for itself. No damage done this time. But it’s the first time I have real evidence of raptors’ interest in my stupid loud birds.


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Sanded the second coat of mud first thing this morning. The addition is starting to look like a room in a house! Continue reading

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How about a nice big steaming bowl of…

…dog urine first thing in the morning?

He has had what appeared to be momentary partial blockages in the past week or so, as well as one more spell of bloody urine. Neighbors asked if I had checked his urine for crystals, so this morning I had him pee into a bowl.

At first, right off the bat I thought there was a terrible lot of sediment in the bottom of the bowl but it turned out to be a glob of mud on the outside. There’s nothing obviously wrong but all in all it’s so murky – almost as obnoxious as horse piss, to be honest – I can’t really tell.

I’m starting to think more positively of taking him to a proper townie vet.

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In all his glory…

Yes. We sanded drywall today.

And then we mudded the walls again.

This afternoon we went up the wash and had fun – it turns out my guest is a bit of a rockhound, and this place can make a rockhound happy if he has the right guide.

Tomorrow we sand drywall.

There will not, if I have anything to say about it, be a third coat.

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You need one of these.

I had a bedroom addition full of drywall dust and scraps. I’m about to have lots more dust where that came from.

I needed this…

No problem, Ian’s got a nice one at his cave. I brought it to the Lair last week and learned that, absent brilliant sunlight, it could empty my batteries to the point where the inverter shut down in like 10 minutes. Not good.

Enter this…

…and the problem went away.

I’ve said many times that I don’t like portable generators, and that except in specialized cases where they’re an unavoidable evil I don’t even want a portable generator near me. They’re loud, they’re undependable, they’re … well, they’re loud and undependable. On a job site sometimes they’re inevitable, but I hate them.

If you just need one regardless, don’t waste your money on the cheapest thing at Lowe’s. Save your shekels or sell your daughter into slavery or something and get a Honda. I’m not an all-knowing expert or anything but I did spend a year and a half working in a small engine shop in an area (this one) where there’s lots of broken portable generators. You know the one brand I never once worked on, because not one ever came into the shop needing repair? Honda.

Also, they’re unbelievably quiet.

ETA: I got an overnight email from a proud owner of a Honda EU2000:

What you didn’t mention in your post is that the EU2000 is an inverter generator, which has the same relationship to a normal generator that a Toyota Prius has to a 1980-style gas guzzler. A normal Home Depot-style generator might suck up to a gallon of gas each hour, while (depending on load) an inverter generator might quietly hum along for several hours on that same gallon of gas.

Do the math! Suppose I needed power for an entire month following a hurricane. At a typical $3.00/gallon for (say) 12 hours per day that’s around $36 per day! Times 30 is $1080 per month!

So they’re also economical, which is something I thought might be true but wasn’t sure of so didn’t mention.

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Let us now praise glorious Spam.

Thanks to the generosity of Big Brother, the Secret Lair has something it lacked for several years…

…a staple meat supply.

I’ve always kind of liked Spam (the original kind: Flavored Spam is an abomination unto Joel) but didn’t eat it much because it’s $2.50ish at the dollar store and that’s too much for my budget.

Now new Spam arrives monthly and I could get sick of it if I allowed myself to. This week I’ve had a houseguest who brought actual meat – Bratwurst, ham, steak ohmygod – and as I made my usual breakfast this morning…

…that other meat protein only served to remind me that I really do like Spam. I can get 3 or 4 meals out of a single can, depending on how I slice it.

I’m aware that cements my status as an incurable redneck. I’ll live with the affliction, it comes in handy sometimes.

Speaking of reminders, the temperature this morning reminded me that Winter Is Coming. Right at daybreak it bottomed at 36 degrees, and I hope my houseguest spent a tolerably comfortable night in his travel trailer.

It’ll warm up fast once the sun gets over the ridge, though.

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Sometimes I’m all like…

…I know exactly what I’m doing.


This week it’s probably too late to come to my senses.


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It works!

Scary thing: Build a wall. Do it right. Paint the wall. Give it all the trimmings.

Then cut a big hole in the wall.

Undoubtedly there are contractors and skilled builders who wouldn’t have thought twice about it. I reconsidered the whole project when it came to that one thing.

It took us a while to get the vent pipes cut to the right sizes, (the hot air outlet is concentric to and inside the cold air inlet, which is kind of clever) but then we got to cover the big appalling hole with a pretty vent cover.

Then came the fun part.

It works!

Okay, it’s not entirely complete. It’s built to run on a portable propane bottle with a barbecue regulator and it does that quite well. But just to get it running we ran the hose up through the hole in the floor and connected it directly to the gas valve, and the furnace swiftly got so hot that I became very nervous about that flexible hose so I shut it down. I still need to run it long enough to burn the paint off the firebox so it stops stinking, so I need some pipe and a few fittings. But we ran it through its paces and it does function. The only problem so far is that it takes forever to get the pilot to light with the sparker. Once I get it properly plumbed I’m going to see if it lights more readily with a match.

But it works! It heats the room. Thermostat says on, it’s on. Thermostat says off, it’s off. A person could actually spend a night in this room on a frigid night without needing half a dozen wool blankets and a blasting cap to get him out from under them to go light the woodstove in the morning.

This is shaping up to be a remarkable winter.

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I’m making out like a burglar this week.

Don’t know why I’m doing my own work. The way I’m going I could hire Donald Trump, get him some bigger hands, and put him to work doing my drywall. On my private island.

I’m particularly interested to learn that over a hundred billion people surf the Internet on a regular basis. For one reason or another.

Wonder where they’re all hiding?


Attn: Lucky Winner ,

We are pleased to inform you that one of the best things that can happen to any Internet user is to be rewarded for spending money and time on the Internet. You may not have known that over one hundred billion people daily surf the Internet on regular basis for one reason or other. These Internet users including yourself, pay access fees to various Internet Service Providers (ISP) all over the word who in turn remit surplus funds to the numerous World Wide Internet Technology Companies (WWITC) for the development and advancement of Global Information Technology.

So much money is generated from people like you all over the World for using the Information Superhighway (the Internet) without your being aware the enormous sum that go to the stake holders (WWITC). Without your patronage, this would not have been possible. After we conducted a research on the issue, we concluded that Internet users should be compensated. As a result, we embarked on a worldwide lottery promotion with a sophisticated automated database to randomly select E-mail accounts that frequently surf the Internet. Consequent upon this, your E-mail address was picked for Category “A” Winners.

After the automated computer ballot, your E-mail address emerged as a winner in the category “A” with the following numbers attached
Ref Number: EH 9590 OG 0612,
Batch Number: 563881545-ES/2017

You and other category A winners are therefore to receive a cash prize of $3,000,000.00 (Three Million United States Dollars) from the total payout of One Billion US Dollars earmarked in the lottery for category A winners. Your prize award has been insured with your E-mail address, which qualified you for the lottery and will be transferred to you upon meeting our requirements, statutory obligations, verifications, validations and satisfactory proof of E-mail address ownership.

To file in for the processing of your winning cash prize, you are advised to contact our certified
and accredited claims agent for category “A” winners with the information below:


You are advised to provide him with the following information:

First name:
Last Name:
Telephone/Fax number:
Country Presently Located:
Ref Number:
Batch Number:

NOTE: All winnings must be claimed not later than 14 days, thereafter unclaimed funds would be forfeited after a trio repeated forwarding of this message to you without your response. Remember to quote your reference information in all correspondence.

You are to keep all lotto information confidential, especially your reference numbers and the password of your E-mail address. Since we do not know you, if an impostor hacks your E-mail account ID and claims your money without our knowledge, we shall not be liable. Double claims will not be entertained so be careful. Furthermore, should there be any change of address do inform our agent as soon as possible.

Congratulations!!! And thank you for being a user of the World Wide Web.

Martina Carlos,
Netherlands Lottery Co-ordinator!!

My spammers are getting a bit long-winded, don’t you think?

Ah, well. Back to work.

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Got all the drywall up!

It took. All. Day. But unlike yesterday where we worked all day and actually mounted four sheets of drywall, today we worked all day and drywalled the entire bedroom and closet.

Unfortunately in the course of that I didn’t take any time for pictures.

And right now there are no lights in there, so I can’t do it for this post. Maybe tomorrow. But screw that, you’ve seen a room covered with raw drywall.

Tomorrow morning: The Furnace!

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Sorry, things have been a bit cluttered here…

And today’s not going to be better.

With luck, it’ll be worse.

We got the insulation up in a single afternoon, that was pretty easy with two guys…

But yesterday we didn’t really accomplish as much as hoped. We did get the ceiling in, though. Continue reading

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Received this email yesterday, which I’m convinced is totally legit…

Dear Friend.

Good day and God bless you. I feel quite safe and satisfy dealing with you in this charity project. My name is Mrs.Virginia Dumitru a merchant in Romania. I have been diagnosed with Esophageal cancer. It has defiled all forms of medical treatment, and right now I have only about a few months to live, According to medical experts.

I have decided to give aims to charity organizations, as I want this to be one of the last good deeds I do on earth. So far, I have distributed money to some charity organizations in the U.A.E, Algeria and Malaysia. Now that my health has deteriorated so badly, I cannot do this myself anymore.

The last of my money which no one knows of is the huge cash deposit of TWELVE MILLION DOLLARS $12,000,000, That I have with a finance/Security Company abroad. I will want you to help me collect this deposit and dispatched it to charity organizations.

I have set aside 25% for you and for your time if you want to help me to collect this Funds and also invest this money.


Name: [redacted]

Email: [redacted]

Remain blessed in the name of the Lord.

Yours in Christ,


Ha ha! I will totes “help” the poor lady collect this funds and “dispatched them to charity organizations,” yes sir. I’m off to give all my banking info to an “attorney in the Netherlands!” Nothing bad ever resulted from doing that, I’m quite sure. Then it’s a simple matter of acquiring my private island in the Caribbean – I understand there are some going cheap right now. So long, suckers!

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Sorry, busy day…

A friend of the blog traveled a long distance to help me finish the last part of the construction, arriving on the same day the drywall was delivered, along with some other materials a neighbor had ordered. So it was a busy morning which segued into a busy afternoon. All the insulation is up, and tomorrow we hit the drywall.

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Thank god for bureaucrats…

Without them, how could disaster survivors ever regain their sense of normalcy?

Celso Perez: “We had a lot of trees down in the street and the streets were blocked. We were out here, us and our neighbors, cutting the branches down and trying to open up the streets.”

Later Monday afternoon, as Celso was clearing the tree branches, a car pulled up from Miami-Dade County…

Celso Perez: “And we thought he was here to help us or offer some type of assistance with the trees, maybe he was going to bring us ice or something.”

The code enforcement guy did give Celso something…

Celso Perez: “He said he would have to cite me for having my fence down.”

Also you can’t have all this debris lying about. It could be really dangerous if there should happen to come a hurricane. I’ll have to cite you for that.

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