You know what you should probably find an excuse not to do…

…on the first properly hot day of the year?


How about work with iron plate?


Ian showed up on Saturday, …

…which reminded me that I had intended to shorten the chains on the lower three targets. Not that important, but I woke up with that on my mind so…

…now that’s done. And no, I’m not going to shoot at them while the game camera is there.

But the point is, by the time I was ready to re-mount the plates, everything steel was just north of scalding from the sun. Which really made me question my priorities.

Especially since the first chore on the really cool morning was apparently just the most ironic thing I could think to do…

I rinsed out and hung my old canvas chore coat to dry. Yeah, it’s been smeared top to bottom with mud since the Great Split Pipe of December but I hung it in what passes for my mudroom and forgot about it. Then last night I soaked it in a washtub.

So on the hottest day of the year to date I spent the uncomfortably cool part of the day blasting cold water around to finish washing a winter coat, so I’d have time to spend the uncomfortably hot part of the day burning my hands and cheek on hot iron.


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…and so instead I’ll call it, “Lady, please move your ass.”

A fellow could really grow to hate cattle.

A couple of days ago I moved the game camera out to the target stands, where it could look out over the loop in the wash. Might take a while to build a database of interesting animals crossing the sand, but I have time. So far nothing but an old guy in a jeep and a coyote … and of course a bovine camera hog…

Seriously, lady? With the whole desert to choose from you had to stop right there? Because – no offense, I mean no microaggression, but I’m not a bull and I don’t find your ass interesting. Just saying.

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I’ll always wonder what that was about.

TUAK will turn ten years old in December and in that time, though readership has slowly increased it has never showed itself in any danger of getting into Tam or SaysUncle numbers. I’m perfectly happy with that: It started as a sleepy little hobby blog and gradually became a small community of commenters and supporters and lurkers with a larger oort cloud of occasional readers – just like any blog that hangs around for a while, I suppose.

And that’s cool. In fact sometimes it’s more public than I’m entirely comfortable with. I didn’t move to a hollow in a desert out of a desire for large amounts of attention.

So when there’s suddenly a blip in page views because somebody linked something to somebody else, it has a bad habit of spiking my paranoia at first until the anomaly is explained. There was that one time Milo Yiannopoulos tweeted something I said about him and the pageview counter smoked its bearings for just under an hour, which is apparently a typical example of a Twitter attention span. Or the much healthier time Commander Zero linked to those reviews of 40-year-old Mountain House storage food*.

And then there are things like this…

Sometime Sunday evening somebody posted a link to the homepage on BookFace, and since I don’t BookFace I’ll never know what it was about. Not a problem, at all, but I won’t say it didn’t pique my curiosity.

Not curious enough to sign up on Bookface, of course. Or to Twit, for that matter. A hermit needs some standard of privacy, even if he’s not very consistent about it…

*Which was also probably the highest-profile example of a funny but somewhat annoying phenomenon I call the “You know Ian? Cool!” effect. Sweartagod when I get shoveled into Boot Hill I currently want my epitaph to read “Here Lies Joel. He Knew Ian.”

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Liquid Refreshment…

The season being what it is, D&L prefer to spend the mornings with their horses while it’s still and relatively cool, so the Monday water runs have been knocked back a bit. Neighbor D took one look at the gigantic pile of water bottles I was loading into his truck and said, “I’m going first this time.” At the dispenser, that is. Normally I go first so I can do my grocery shopping while he fills his family’s bottles, but today my time at the dispenser was going to pretty much take up all my available time at the store.

Thanks to this weekend’s care packages I can now store just shy of 40 gallons of filtered drinking water! Since LB is – alas – no longer with me he’s no longer partaking, and sloshing and spoiling, so I’m back to averaging a little over a gallon a day in summer. Even without rationing that’s a month’s supply of the good stuff. I gifted one of the new bottles to D&L as thanks for their having let me have the one we found in the big town about 50 miles away a few weeks ago, and loaded all the new ones except one big one in the back of Ian’s cave as reserve. Edward sent a flat 5-gallon container with a spigot that I’m hoping to somehow incorporate into the Lair, which would stop me from having to constantly pick up big heavy bottles every time I need to pour water into a tea kettle.

Also one of those new bottles had an envelope taped to it containing pieces of this strange green paper that I exchanged in town for gasoline and beer! What an intriguing concept.

Thanks, guys.

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If you carry a gun and/or lived in the 19th century, you’re a bigot and should be disappeared.

Social justice warriors are very tolerant and practice peace and love, and that’s why they hate you and want you dead. Because you’re evil.

Wichita Restaurant Sparks Outrage With Pro-Gun Stance



[Owner Paul Cohlmia] said he was surprised by the uproar, especially since the sign has been hanging in the window for 10 to 12 years. He’s the type of guy who has all kinds of friends with all kinds of opinions on issues, he said. And they can always agree to disagree.

Most of the responses on Facebook have been okay, he said.

“But some of it is just flat out telling me I’m a bigot, …

Yeah, he’s probably white, too. Any properly woke citizen would tell the racist pig to die in a fire.

While we’re improving the world, let’s burn some books!

Laura Ingalls Wilder’s name pulled from library award over ‘stereotypical attitudes’ in her popular books



Yeah, this would be low-hanging fruit. Surprised she hasn’t been banned altogether…
Wilder is best known for her “Little House on the Prairie” novels, which the ALSC has stated “includes expressions of stereotypical attitudes inconsistent with ALSC’s core values” based on Wilder’s portrayal of black people and Native Americans.

Uh, yeah. She lived when and where, exactly? My own knowledge of LIW’s work is far from encyclopedic but by coincidence Landlady lent me one of her books just last year. I found her depiction of a harrowing prairie winter – evocative, to say the least. But I’m pretty sure that even then Indians who spoke English at all didn’t really talk-um like that. It took me out of the moment briefly – but, you know, Mark Twain’s characters called black people n*ggers because it was a common word in the 19th century, not because Twain was any more bigoted or evil than anyone else in his period. By all accounts Laura Ingalls Wilder was a perfectly nice old lady and throwing her on a pyre at this late date would seem less than entirely tolerant – if it weren’t the tolerant thing to do. Which, somehow, it is.

Look! Ringside seats for the collapse of western civilization! Who’s bringing the popcorn?

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Too little powder in a large case

I haven’t been shooting a lot in the past year and a half because of that fall I took in October 2016 that tore my rotator cuff and turned me into a lefty. Shortly before that accident I had gone too far with the wrong powder in my quest for light .44 loads and produced hundreds of rounds which were…not quite disastrous in the form of squib loads, but exhibited shall we say unpredictable bullet paths due to extremely uneven powder ignition.

TL:DR version: These loads sprayed unburned powder everywhere and the bullets didn’t hit shit.

It was a pretty good winter for healing, and the shoulder has gradually improved to the point where I can draw and point the Tracker without having to consciously overcome pain. But the process went so long that I’d forgotten all about that unfortunate reloading session until Saturday after lunch when I took the Tracker and a tray of handloads out to the range, and then wondered how I had become such a bad shot…

Maybe after I get the reloading shack cleaned up from what the packrats have undoubtedly done to it during my absence, I should start by pulling a bunch of bullets and trying again.

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That was unusual.

Ian and Landlady were up at the same time, something I didn’t anticipate. And they came bearing not only care packages from TUAK readers but also a gift…

And it wouldn’t have been the first time the three of us had sat around the cabin shooting the shit but it was the 23rd of June and by the evening the inside of the cabin was stifling. Normally we’d have convened at Landlady’s place, but now the Lair actually has a place where three friends can convene in comfort – if rather buggy comfort.

And we toasted LB and ate sausage and cheese and then got just a bit toasted ourselves and shared tales until darkness drove us on our various ways. An unusually social but very pleasant evening.

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If you build it, he will come.

How weird. Only yesterday I wrote, “Now if only we had an Ian.”

Look who showed up in the wash this morning, quite unexpectedly!

And he likes his new target range. And he had a historic old rifle to sight in. Continue reading

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Care Packages!

This will forever be remembered as the Day of the Water Bottles.

Three different people sent me water bottles, in answer to my complaint of a few weeks ago that I couldn’t find any locally and Little Bear started drinking me out of house and home as soon as it got hot.


This stuff all came from Generous Reader Edward, who included some other stuff as well – an Israeli surplus blanket, a couple of FRS radios – which I’ve always kind of wanted, BTW, because once in a while you’re in the boonies with somebody else and maybe these will work better than cell phones in the canyons, I don’t know yet, at least they don’t need line-of-sight to cell towers – and some one-gallon food-grade buckets. At first I was perplexed as to what I would do with one-gallon buckets, but Landlady got all excited. “You know how when you open a FIVE-gallon bucket and a year later you have three pounds of stale stuff? Well…” Makes sense. :) AND what may be the very last can of Trader Joe House Brand coffee, my very favorite variety, which I’ve drunk almost exclusively throughout this century and which Trader Joe recently chose in its infinite wisdom to discontinue. I don’t know whether to drink it or have it bronzed – but I’m going to drink it.

Thanks, guys. Unless somebody actually objects, and since with LB gone I don’t really need eleven water bottles, I’m going to share the wealth a bit. On the last day of May I went to the big town about 50 miles away with D&L – I needed a couple of water bottles and they wanted a couple of water bottles and in the whole town we could only find one, and they let me have it. So I’m going to see if they want one or two of my variety of water bottle styles. The others I’ll fill and put in storage at the back of Ian’s cave, and now I’ll be able to store at least two weeks’ good drinking water supply at a time. You guys are the best.

Bonus care package, which I got myself…

I decided a month or two ago that I would gradually decorate the addition with posters from Forgotten Weapons swag. I say gradually because the posters aren’t cheap and the frames from Amazon are less cheap still, so it’ll kind of be a process. Today the first of those wanted posters arrived – unfortunately the frame was delayed and missed my maildrop dump so I’ll have to wait 2-3 weeks to put it up. But to live off-grid on the economic edge is to learn patience.

Thanks, guys!

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Ian’s new target stand is officially complete! Again.

Now if only we had an Ian.

A scrounger should never say “I don’t have any” until he’s searched behind every shed. I don’t have any chicken wire per se but I did find a roll-end of some stucco backing that had been out in the weather so long the paper was pretty much rotted away. A little clean-up and it’s nice stout wire.

I’ll put some clothespins in the new range box, and try it with paper targets. Seems like a pretty good idea, and considering how little use the poor thing has gotten in the past few years it might well last forever.

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I’ve really got to move that camera…

Several days of leaving the game camera alone, and this is the most exciting thing that passed in front of it.

Lots of cattle, and when the cattle are common it seems nothing else ever is. In that very location I’ve seen bobcats and roadrunners and deer and elk, but not when the cattle are around. Just cattle, rabbits and an occasional coyote.

I’m going to try something completely different.

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Once again Ian’s invincible collection comes through…

You ever read one of those clueless books where the author has a character draw a revolver and click off the safety? And you thought…aw, you know what you thought.

Yeah, Ian’s seen those books too. But in answer to what you muttered to yourself, Ian comes up with four examples of revolvers that actually do have manual safeties without ever leaving his gun room…

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Why do rednecks wear shirts with the sleeves cut off?

My family background is kind of redneck. My own personal upbringing, to the extent that I can tell because nobody ever told me anything when I was a kid, was sort of redneck-once-removed. I myself was a bookish white boy from Detroit but my father came from a shithole Central Michigan farm. And though (gods know) he never talked to me about it, I kind of got the impression he escaped from a shithole Central Michigan farm.

So though there was never a completely rational reason I absorbed certain attitudes about certain things, like to this day I think card games are vaguely sinful but couldn’t begin to tell you why. Then there are informal modes of dress that used to put me off. For example, this guy…

For a while, even though I never paid attention to his act this guy was inescapable on TV and I never liked the looks of him. He pulled off the redneck stereotype too well, and I reacted to it negatively. No logical reason, I just didn’t like it.

So I’m sitting here in the Secret Lair folding work clothes hot off the clothesline, and…

Yeah, I’ve got three or four of them. I even know when it started: A few years ago I tore the sleeve on an old light flannel shirt, hated to get rid of it, and sort of needed a summer gun burqa to throw over a t-shirt for going to town. That’s all I used it for at first, but then the next summer or two it seemed all my t-shirts were, um, shrinking in the wash. Yeah, that’s what was happening. And tight t-shirts are not comfortable in the desert summer heat. So I gradually started wearing that sleeveless shirt instead, and … damned if it wasn’t the most comfortable thing I owned for the weather conditions. There’s a sort of air-flow thing going on you don’t appreciate till you give it a try. I started looking for opportunities to cut the sleeves off old shirts, and once the farmer’s tan modified so I stopped sunburning my shoulders it worked out really well.

That’s not important or anything, I just think it’s funny how your attitude can change. I wouldn’t wear shirts like that, not because they’re redneck – I’m not ashamed of being redneck – but because I thought they were low. Y’know? Like, I’m always trying to plot the precise boundary between redneck and white trash, and making sure I don’t stray too far to the wrong side of it.

:) I just gradually decided that that line isn’t how you dress when you’re all by yourself in the middle of the frickin’ desert.

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Well that didn’t take long at all.

It’s supposed to get hot today, and I wanted to get the work in the sand out of the way before it did.

But first I had to finish laundry – my work clothes have piled up in the past week and a half or so and I left them to soak in the tubs overnight.

Then I could load the generator, saw, drill and assorted hand tools into the back of the Jeep and head out to the wash.

I hauled the target stand the rest of the way out of the holes, stuck a shovel in the first one to dig it out deeper, and immediately offended one of the local residents.

We’ve got like four varieties of toad out here, this is the most common. Except that there are no frogs I wouldn’t be able to tell the difference between this and a frog. It didn’t appreciate having a shovel dropped on it, though, and I learned that they can excrete poison like those South American toads you hear about. Not sure that its back being all wet shows up in this picture, though.

Here’s something else I never saw before…

This chunk of sandstone fell off the cliff a very long time ago. I walked near it to take a picture of the target stand and noticed it was covered with ants, which seemed odd…

These ants dug their galleries in the layers in the stone. I never saw that before – not sure what it does for temperature control but it ought to be worlds better than having your nest flooded every time it rains.

Anyway, the target stand. I was there to repair the target stand: I dug the mounting holes deeper, dropped the stand in, then just drilled and mounted back braces. The whole thing leans slightly back on the braces now. Filled in the holes for all the good that will do, cut off the extra and I was done. It’s quite a lot firmer than it was.

Since I can now use my full-power tools away from the cabin inverter, it went really fast and didn’t wear me out.

Now I need something to clip targets to. Chicken wire would probably be perfect but I don’t have any. I have some wire mesh but I’m saving that for concrete work this summer: I need a pad for the back stairs and another for the bedroom furnace propane bottles (Did I mention I have one of those double RV regulators now? I’ve got everything to install it except the little individual bottle hoses and they’re not expensive, I can get’em locally.) so I don’t want to use that up. Maybe some stock fencing? I’ve got a lot of old stock fencing.

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My “aww” moment for the morning…

Saw this at Wendy McElroy’s place, and kind of took it as a sign


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It’s been a very mild June so far, but that’s over now…

Supposed to get into low three figures today and tomorrow. Yesterday was well into the nineties. It was nice to sit out on the porch in the evening rather than swelter in the cabin. Even though there wasn’t much evening breeze to cool things off I just opened all the windows and let the ceiling fans work while I sat out with the tablet ‘pooter and the bugs.

Sort of took a day yesterday. I needed a domestic day anyway…

…and my back is still killing me though since it’s not getting better there’s no point sitting around being miserable. I can be just as miserable while I work. I’ve been painting off-and-on for more than two months and I’m nowhere near done, really ought to get back to it today before the paint coagulates in the cans but I woke up this morning thinking there’s something else I need to tackle first. Remember this?

Yeah. That’s just embarrassing and I need to go fix it. I let it lay there because it happened right in the middle of the porch project, and it mocks and humiliates me every time I drive by.

Two ways have been discussed to get it to stay confidently vertical in the crappy ground I have to work with: I can brace it from behind on the talus and sort of have a quad mount – that’s clunky but simple and ought to work. Or I can break up the concrete plugs, drive pipes deep into the ground and (after cutting the feet off the angle iron) slide the angle iron down into the pipes. That sounds more elegant and effective, I have a pipe that would work, and I figure if I cut the pipe to lengths and then smash one end of each piece flat I can drive them into the ground with a sledge without the pipe filling with silt. I like that plan a lot.

UNFORTUNATELY my now-chronic back pain thinks it’s the stupidest idea it ever heard of. It’ll be three weeks in Monday since something quietly went sprong in my back, the pain comes and goes but the condition is not improving, and there’s no way I’m effectively swinging a sledge any time soon. I’ll be days physically recovering from one grave digging and that’s not nearly so concussive. It just won’t work.

So…I’m back to this.

I’ve still got a bunch of angle iron left from cutting up that fuel tank stand. I’ll take the plywood off the target stand to lighten it up, then get it more or less vertical, brace it from behind, drill and bolt the braces to the stand, then cut off the excess. I don’t like that solution as well but it’s something I can probably accomplish as opposed to a better plan I can’t do.

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Well, the good news is I’m going to be very rich…

Recently received the following email, with exciting news…

Hello and good day.

My name is Edward, and I am contacting you for partnership by
reason of the significance of your Nationality, which concerns
claim/transfer of Approximately 21 Million US D0llars ia a fixed
deposit account left by a deceased Boss and Friend for onward
sharing between you and I in a ratio to be agreed.

Kindly get back to me as soon as you receive this email for
complete details as time is of the essence giving that we have
less than 2 month period to achieve this.



Can’t wait! So jazzed. I understand there will be some small enabling fees, but after that nothing can possibly go wrong.

Seriously, I’ve heard that people actually fall for this shit. They also say you can’t con an honest man…

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Moving on…

Neighbor D really didn’t want to drive his backhoe all the way to Boot Hill anymore, but the shovel-and-tamping-bar method of digging a scavenger-proof grave big enough to hold LB was threatening to put me in traction so he relented yesterday morning and we got it finished with a minimum of further fuss.

I’ve permanently added him to the sidebar…

…and in the fullness of time he’ll have a stone like all the other major pets…

Only unless Landlady talks me out of it LB’s will read

Little Bear
Jeep Hog and Babe Magnet
Cats loved him, Coyotes feared him

(Yeah. We’ve got our own genuine and increasingly weird graveyard)

And then I’ll get on with life.

I’ve spent the past few days learning just how much room a dog half the size of a bull calf takes up in the life of a desert hermit in a tiny cabin. I keep tripping over how the things I do involved him – damned near everything did – and to be brutally honest not all the changes are for the worse. When the time comes, and it probably won’t be long, I’ll probably get another dog. I think I’ll find that on balance I prefer to have a dog around. But I’ll aim toward a smaller and hopefully less maintenance-intensive dog.

Which doesn’t mean I didn’t love LB, because I sure did. But it does seem, upon reflection, that life had become all about taking care of LB.

Thanks very much for all the comments and offers of support. I do appreciate you guys. We’ll be getting back to our regularly-scheduled program before long.

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I’ve lost Little Bear.

If it seems like I haven’t been around much except for spacefiller posts it’s because I’ve been dealing with bad things. Just before the weekend LB’s bladder infection came roaring back and he suddenly became very sick. He stopped eating three nights ago and sort of went in and out of coma, fading away. He passed away overnight.

He was my very first dog. I’d cared for other dogs before he came along, but never raised one from a puppy and you could say that in him were all my sins remembered – I didn’t know what I was doing, and maybe his life would have been a little more ordered if I had. But all in all he seemed to have a happy life.

I’ve got to load him up for his last Jeep ride now. Boot Hill is hard clay and I worked on it off and on all yesterday but I blew out my back, so it’s been hard going. But we’re getting there. I’ll put him in Landlady’s barn where it’s cool and probably get him buried this afternoon.

Sorry, I’m not in a very good mood and I have a lot of work to do. Anyway, regular readers knew LB from when he was a puppy, so he probably doesn’t need eulogizing here.

Later, maybe.

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Bother. Stupid bird.

I’ve been tied up with stuff for the past few days, stuff I’m not prepared to talk about here just yet. But by way of actual progress I am still hoping to finish the cabin trim this week. So look who decided to interfere…

I’d have been absolutely delighted to host that bird and her offspring, say starting next week. But noooo…

Now what am I supposed to do?

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