I’ll just go ahead and start the salacious rumor…

…that David Hogg swatted his own house.

Yeah, I know. It’s mean and unmutual and I totally can’t back it up. But really – que bono? Who swats an empty house?

I’ve got nothing to actually blog about this morning and need to go out and do something at least a little useful while it’s still fairly cool. Later, I think.

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That would totally be Little Bear.

I saw this at Wendy McElroy’s place and had to laugh…

…Because LB thinks leather bones are the best things on earth. Give him one and he’ll just sit there and have it for a few minutes before crouching to the wall and consuming every little bit in a single session.

Those seem rather overpriced, though. Maybe they’re Artisanal Organic leather bones.

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I am a man of constant sorrow…

Okay, maybe not. But lately I’m a man of constant aggravation.

I pulled something in my back Monday, feels like my left shoulder blade isn’t right and it’s causing pain like a nerve pinch all through my arm. Hard to want to get anything done – that’s the shoulder whose rotator cuff wasn’t ruined. Haven’t done a lick of work since.

The Jeep needs a new brake switch – it has stuck off and on for years, but yesterday it stuck after morning chicken chores and drained the battery.

Drained the battery so far down before I noticed, in fact, that the ECU RAM lost power and the calibration tables dumped all their data. I could recharge and desulfate the battery overnight with the Battery Minder (PBUI) but – on a 17-year-old engine as neglected as this one – that didn’t mean the engine would want to run this morning. It’ll sort itself out with a few more cycles, but it was a pain.

Ironically, of course this became a sudden problem only after I looked to notice that both tail lamps were burned out. Which they probably had been for months. So – Hermit Life Hack – guess how I’m going to keep it from happening again?

Speaking of problems, guess what I saw as I nursed the barely-running Jeep through the sand this morning?

Dammit dammit dammit…I even called it. Didn’t I say that was going to happen, Landlady?

Of course I expected there’d be some contributing external factor – a flood, or perhaps a puff of wind. Yesterday it just fell over. Should have taken my own prediction more seriously.

“Easiest holes I ever dug,” I said at the time. And they were, too. Nothing but ash and silt all the way down. After digging deep and pouring enough concrete to hold any target stand solid in any decent soil, these still weren’t very stable. I said to Landlady last time I saw her that I might need to lean them backward against braces driven into the talus slope. Guess I should have taken that more seriously.

At least I have the material to do it. And if I need to do the other one, well, Landlady rather pointedly suggested I use these 20-foot lengths of iron well pipe she wants off her plaza.

And I think I’ll take a commenter’s suggestion, take that plywood off and replace it with chicken wire. I don’t happen to have any chicken wire at present, but something will turn up. Stock fencing might work, too. I’ve got lots of old stock fencing.


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Sigh. A Plan B for well water is not hard to find…

…in fact sometimes the problem is to avoid it.

There’s an old well at the cattle watering station beside the wash. Due to some geological oddity I don’t understand, it’s shallow enough to pump with a windmill. I dipped it one time and the surface is only about 50 feet down. Unlike the aquifer water, though, it’s really not drinkable. Lots of bad stuff in it.

So when the cattlemen set things back up three years ago they dug a new deep well on the ridge above the station. Solar powered, it ran all the time the sun was up whether the tank needed filling or not. The excess, which was virtually everything, poured out on the ground. I complained about it but nobody wanted to hear about my complaints.

Last year the manager of the cattle operation quit, calling us all a bunch of ungrateful deplorables. Which we are. The new guy has proven a little easier to get along with. At least he doesn’t leave dead cattle laying around, or cut fences, or threaten every dog he sees to every owner’s face. Or pour water out on the ground.

No, he didn’t rig the well to only run when the tank needs it. But he did run a pipe from the tank overflow to the old shallow well. I doubt it fixes anything, but at least I don’t have to look at all that water pouring out on the ground every day.

A cow must have bumped the pipe or something, because this morning…

Oh, well. I went in and plugged it back into the well, because why not? I don’t know if that water is finding its way back to the aquifer, but it can’t be as bad as just pumping it out onto the ground.

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Walter Williams brings the wisdom on gun control

Guns and Past Vs. Present Americans:
Inconvenient facts about the history of gun violence and gun control.

The logic of the argument for those calling for stricter gun control laws, in the wake of recent school shootings, is that something has happened to guns. Guns have behaved more poorly and become evil. Guns themselves are the problem. The job for those of us who are 65 or older is to relay the fact that guns were more available and less controlled in years past, when there was far less mayhem. Something else is the problem.

Guns haven’t changed. People have changed.

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LB stamp of approval

For obvious reasons, LB has problems with the heat. But he’s also unhappy being outdoors by himself – he stopped wanting to go outside the very day Ghost moved away – and so for the past couple of years his idea of a good day is napping indoors.

Summer late afternoons and evenings it’s much cooler outdoors than in, though frankly most summers I don’t care to sit outdoors either because of all the flying bugs. But it’s so dry the bugs aren’t a problem and the new porch is high enough to be in the breeze, so I’ve spent the last three evenings till after dark reading on the porch. Yesterday I invited LB to join me.

He was dubious at first. He has gotten to that age where he likes what he’s used to, and he wasn’t at all sure he approved of this new-fangled contraption. At one point I went inside to get something and he immediately got up and wanted indoors.

But I came back out and sat back down, and he lightened up and enjoyed his evening.

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Bigoted gun bloggers mock indigenous FBI agent practicing his cultural traditions

Much vile right wing hatred has been spewed toward the Brave Agent of our beloved Federal Bureau of Investigation, recently recorded giving praise to the memory of J. Edgar Hoover in spirited dance.

Some have gone so far as to mock the Stalwart Protector’s taste in retention holsters, thus displaying their ignorance and contempt and attempting to belittle the cultural traditions of a Selfless Paladin of the Greater Good.

But we the staff and management of TUAK, here at the Secret Lair, are not so endarkened as to sneer at the ethnomusicological belief systems, repertoire, techniques, style and culture of our breakdancing overlords.

Indeed, it is a little known fact that the gundance is an ancient and honored tradition among worldwide peoples. Behold:

Our founder performs the traditional summer solstice gundance.

Our founder performs the traditional summer solstice gundance.

A local feminist troupe practices the well-known interpretive dance, "Death to Japanese Imperialism!"

A local feminist troupe practices the well-known interpretive dance, “Death to Japanese Imperialism!”

The world-famous AR-15 Chickendance.

The world-famous AR-15 Chickendance.

Of course the Dance of the Owen Gun needs no explanation.

Of course the Dance of the Owen Gun needs no explanation.

We could go on at greater and even more distressing length. Don’t make us do that.

As you see, the gundance is an ancient and honorable tradition among many widespread cultures, certainly not least of which is the Federal Law Enforcement Community whose very motto is “We’re the only ones professional enough to carry a gun.”

I hope this will serve as a reminder to the less enlightened that bigotry against others harms the bigot more than his victim. Unless his victim starts firing wildly into crowds of dancers. But even then it will only be a matter of quiet administrative discipline, if the shooter is an Only One. Because that’s diversity, and Diversity Is Strength.

Thank you.

h/t to BB and Claire

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“How did I use seventeen gallons…”

“Oh – wait. One of those is new. I used fourteen gallons of water last week. Still – that’s a lot.” Goes inside and kicks dog. “Dammit, Little Bear!”

LB and I have suddenly started sucking down the water. Guess that’s a good thing. And now I’m off to town.

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That’s better.

Fixed the catwalk and stairs this morning.

The stairs are ugly but in good repair. I already knew the catwalk was held together with inertia and old memories, so it needed a complete rebuild. Since it was only to be half as big as before, I had plenty of material.

Then this afternoon I knocked together a side table out of parts left over. Not permanent but it’ll do while I’m working on “cute.” Cute is going to be a little time-consuming, but structurally the porch is done now. And I like it!

Ironically, though, this time of year it loses every vestige of shade right at the time when a guy is most likely to want to go outside and sit for a while. I’ve a feeling I’ll have a whole roof planned and maybe even parts collected by this time next year. But starting in July when the sun starts to dip a bit, the shadow will get a little longer and the porch will get a little better every day.

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“The good people of California may sleep safely in their beds, for rough men stand ready in the night to visit violence on those who would try to obey their laws.”

Or something like that. Or maybe “This is what happens when you register your guns.”

California Farmer Charged With 12 Felonies After Trying To Register His Guns

Bakersfield, CA – A member of a prominent farming family was charged with a dozen weapons-related felonies, after he attempted to comply with California’s state-mandated gun registration laws.

According to court documents, Jeffrey Scott Kirschenmann’s home was raided in April, after he attempted to register an AR-15 using the state of California’s website, KGET reported.

It’s not immediately clear what the illegal modification was, but the rifle was presumably not in compliance with the recent bans.

Ah, California. How I don’t miss thee.

h/t to Claire.

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Summer’s first hot day

The outdoor temp briefly touched 100o yesterday afternoon. With not much wind, the cabin was stifling. The new porch promptly taught me what I knew all along, that having a sittin’ porch was just going to make me immediately jones for a roof for the sittin’ porch. But it was kinda nice from 7 to dark, when the sun went behind the juniper and things seriously cooled down outside. Takes longer for the indoors to catch up, but the ceiling fans help. Good thing I’ve got enough power to run them when the sun’s not high. :) Day to day, the cabin becomes more houselike.

On the subject of hard hats, behold:

I actually found one gathering dust in the workshop of Landlady’s barn. And I wore it all day Friday while slinging heavy timbers around. As you can see from the one place where I managed to crease it (which, yes, would have been a crease in my head) it is bright pink. Precisely why Landlady owns a bright pink hardhat is a mystery to me – I’ve never seen her wear it. Of course upon borrowing it (without authorization, I confess) I promptly painting it green. But even with roughing up the plastic and a coat of primer, every little scratch will reveal the essential pinkness of its nature.

It worked well, though, and was far more comfortable than expected. I never worked in a field that required them, and the few real hardhats and helmets I ever briefly put on made me want to take them right back off. An industrial hardhat has a great suspension system that sort of clamps itself to your head so you don’t need a chinstrap, but they’re heavy and I guess you just have to get used to them. This is just light plastic: A falling I-beam would sail right through it on its way to your brainstem, but it works fine for carpentry.

I think I’m confirmed in wanting my own. Not pink.

Or, maybe more practically, one of these which I might actually wear regularly. Not sure how much of a hit that would take, but it might be just the thing for the occasional annoying tree branch that sneaks up on me. Since I could actually afford to buy one of those, I’m going to give it a try.

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“With this new hard hat,” he said, “my head will be safe.”

2,000 years later…

It was, in his defense, a very bad day for everybody.

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Comfy shirt day

Oh, I’m moving slow this morning. It’s quarter to eight and I haven’t even had breakfast. Didn’t even wake up till almost six, and only Little Bear and a conscience got me out of bed.

I had a lot of plans for today, and there are still a few things that need doing before the porch is in a comfortable-to-live-with state. Example…

Before the stairs can be stabilized and leveled, the remaining catwalk has to be positioned right. But it is truly rotten underneath, it started to come apart just with the short distance I towed it yesterday. So the most important task for today is to turn it over and rebuild it. I’ve got lots of other old weathered 2X4s to work with, I guess. I doubt I’m even going to look at railings today.

I shamefacedly confess I didn’t even get all the tools put away last night. The generator and other power tools, yeah. But the chopsaw is bolted to the table, and I wimped out with the excuse that it’s so dry there was no chance of dew – no conceivable hope of rain. Still, that’s bad practice for which I kicked myself this morning.

While things cooled off in the evening I did fill in the pier trenches and haul off the excess dirt, removing the things I spent so much time stumbling and tripping over yesterday afternoon. But that was my last spasm of energy, and I came in feeling like I’d found my bridge too far. There’s a lot of yard cleanup yet to do, and I doubt it’ll get done today.

I’m still pretty sore. So no, I think I’m going to declare this Comfy Shirt Day, an ancient and venerable tradition I just made up, in which you get to wear your very favorite shirt because (barring emergency, of course, this is the boonies) there’ll be no activity that might tear or otherwise ruin it.


I just used up the last of my bread on breakfast, so this needs to be baking day. That’s my excuse, and I’m sticking to it.

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Tired now.

porchIf I’d had one more eight-footer I could have done a thing. As it is I’ll cut them all to just over banister length and put those redwood caps on them, then paint them red. Three will still serve well enough as columns for the eventual roof, I’ll just need to find a not-very-ugly way to extend them.

Tomorrow I need to firm up the catwalk and stairs, then I’ll get to work on the railings. Think I’ll need to borrow Neighbor S’s table saw, since the plan calls for ripping some 2X4s.

The plywood floor is strictly temporary but it really should last for years: It’s pieced in but I’m not completely unhappy with the way it came out. Next time I’m in town I’ll see if I can score a quart or two of gray floor paint. The whole thing is constructed so I can replace it with pressure-treated 2X4s or 2X6s should I ever gather enough.

I do believe that’s the longest single day of work I’ve put in since last summer’s framing party. I’ve got sunburn on my suntan.

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Poor, long-suffering Little Bear…

Okay, so I’ve been working all morning, making slow but steady progress when I run into a problem: All the supports are straight, all the joists are level but it turns out nothing is particularly square to the building. Finally I lay out plywood both as an aid to getting the joists in line and because I need to use the front door. It’s noon, I’m getting really hungry and Little Bear – out of whom I have not heard a single peep all morning – probably needs a piss break.

So I wrestle the stairs more or less into place, go inside, ask LB if he wants to go outside and pee. He agrees that would be a fine idea. I open the door, he sees…

…looks at me as if to say, “I knew it, the feared day has come. Daddy has gone completely off his nut.” Turns right around and slouches back to his bed. We can talk, he seems to say, when I have regained my senses. If I do.

I was finally able to coax him out onto the new temporary porch floor and down the stairs, but it was clearly against his better judgement – and I had to go first.

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Does this qualify as dumbing down?

caption 2

It is a little-known fact that Piper Kerr’s propensity for wearing a kilt on an icefield was not his only peculiarity.

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Adventures in ennui and materialism

So this morning D&L and I got together early for a flying trip to the big town about 50 miles away. There were at first literally only two stops: Drop L off at Wally World while D and I ran through Lowe’s, then back on the road home. Objective: Home by noon. We almost made, it, too.

But D got seduced by the gun shop of a sporting goods store, and since we were already in that strip mall I ran into a Petsmart to get LB a box of biscuits.

The trip couldn’t possibly have come at a better time, because yesterday afternoon I realized that while I have a whole bunch of 4X4 pieces, only four of the necessary six are long enough. I was so sure I had everything I needed to make a relatively cute porch with railing, then learned with a shock I didn’t even have the minimum needed to hold the whole thing up! But it’s okay now.

The original purpose of the trip, believe it or not, was to score a couple of water bottles. D also wanted to buy a spare, but in my case I’ve learned with some shock as I go into the hot season that with LB sucking down his share I literally don’t have enough 3-gallon bottles to get through a week. I can do it with my 5-gallon reserve bottle (which I also want to supplement this summer because that’s not enough reserve) but not with the more easily-toted 3-gals. He always drank well water before now, and I really hadn’t noticed how much water LB drinks when it gets into the 90’s.

We tore the town apart, and found a single bottle in a little roadside general store where D had found one before. I don’t know if they’re going out of style or what: They used to sell these at Lowe’s. So anyway, since there was just the one available D&L kindly let me buy it. Store clerk said it had just come in: They’d ordered five and got one, and it’s dusty like it got forgotten in the corner of a warehouse somewhere.

The “cute” nature of the Lair’s new porch is getting more notional and improvised every day, but I haven’t completely forgotten it. I do have a plan for prettying up the railings, and look!

Cheap caps for the 4X4 uprights! That’s kinda cute. Right?

Also, at Lowe’s I found some cheap lamps so I can finally cover up the bare bulbs in the bedroom and closet.

Guess I’m still nesting in there, because I brought in the ladder and connected the closet lamp before I’d even had lunch. Looks pretty good! At least by comparison with a bare bulb.

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Work slower, not stupider, Joel.

Okay, so I confess I’ve developed something of a reluctance to begin the porch project because it seemed to me that once committed I had to ride the thing to completion in a single session. The very first step was pulling the stairs and catwalk away from the cabin, and that eliminates the front door as a method of egress for anybody not certified as a Chinese acrobat. Yes, I’m aware the Lair now possesses a back door, but I’m not sure that LB is. And LB is … well, he’s entering the “old dog” phase of his life, where he likes what he’s used to and resists what he’s not used to with all his considerable strength and obstinacy. He’s also borderline incontinent, so…

Anyway – mental conflict ensued. Also, let’s face it: I’m neither Bob Villa nor young Clark Kent, and just setting the piers might well take all the energy I’m willing to put into a day’s work. Doing the whole thing in a single session seemed necessary, but not all that realistic.

As with so many things lately, my solution involved cutting something apart with a reciprocating saw. Continue reading

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Yeah, I know. I should just ignore him.

But in my world a target that’s both loathsome and easy to hit is going to draw a lot of fire.

Hogg tweeted:

Remeber a time when there wasn’t a school shooting every week? I don’t because I wasn’t alive.
— David Hogg (@davidhogg111) May 27, 2018

Kris Paronto, who is a former Army Ranger, slammed Hogg for the tweet:

I remember, it was before your generation started shooting up the schools David, even though we still had guns. Thank you for confirming..again…that it’s not the gun, it’s person, and in particular you & your peers millennial culture. @davidhogg111 #whenhoggsaysstupidshit #2A pic.twitter.com/NPf8Qsoqtt
— Kris Paronto (@KrisParonto) May 27, 2018

(all misspellings and other bad deeds are in the original text.)

It’s true, you know. I’m so old I remember Ted Nugent before he’d never done drugs, and in those days we had a lot of unpleasantness in public schools. A lot. But none of it ever involved guns – at least not at the actual schools – even though we had access to guns. Lots more guns, actually, than I imagine the average urban or suburban kid does in the 21st century.

But nobody’s supposed to wonder about that, because…


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Because screw you, portion monitor.


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