Being out of touch, I did not know this…

I did not know that Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School did have an armed police “resource officer” present at the time.

And he stood out in the parking lot and called in the incident*.

But it’s your fault and mine for refusing to disarm and depend on the cops for our defense. Go figure.

*Somewhat in his defense he wasn’t exactly Rambo. He was a 33-year burnout who’d been on site since 2009 and probably hated every one of those kids in detail and by name and should clearly have been pushed out of the department long ago, except he couldn’t be because union. But he was there, and he did do nothing. When the [ETA: Gun-grabbing dick of a] sheriff threw him under the bus, he retired rather than accept “administrative leave.”

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Oh, for heaven’s sake. What is that?

Yesterday I moved the game camera to a view of the wash.

This morning at seven AM, this happened…

I do believe that’s an extremely curious bobcat, but couldn’t swear to it in court. 😀

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Hey! That was simple.

Thanks for the suggestion.


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Curious that this “mass shooting” isn’t all over the news…

Isn’t it exactly what our would-be masters say they’re protecting us from, when they say “civilians” shouldn’t have guns?

But I first saw it at Captain’s Journal*, then had to climb down a rabbit hole to find any actual news report about it at all.

What’s normally a place of worship turned into a crime scene when a man entered Faith City Mission with a handgun.

“They said there was a gun in the building everyone started running all different ways,” said Clay Murdock, a student at Faith City Mission.

Amarillo Police said the initial came in around 8:54 a.m. and indicated there was an armed suspect inside who had 100 to 150 people held hostage in the chapel.

Sergeant Brent Barbee said officers entered the building when they encountered an individual who had a handgun.

“The officers fired shots that struck the man,” said Barbee. “After some additional investigation, they’ve learned that the man that the gun may have taken the firearm away from the original suspect in the call. The man who originally had the gun has been taken into custody.”

So the only person harmed in the incident was shot by police, who showed up late and started shooting without any knowledge of what was going on, gunning down the hero of the scene. Gee, I wonder why that’s been swept under the rug.

In more important news, several busloads of school children were traumatized Tuesday when Florida legislators refused to arbitrarily ban AR-15 rifles and standard capacity magazines. Counselors were on hand with portable safe spaces or some damn thing, I dunno…

*Correction, I first saw it at Claire’s. Then I went down the rabbit hole.

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Hail hail LED

I did it again! Left that damned powershed light on all night.

In the days of 2-battery power storage and CFL lighting, this was a serious and possibly even mortal sin. Now it’s rather more venial, probably worth no more than ten Ohm’s Laws and a trip out to throw the switch. But it’s still annoying.

Every morning, first thing before I turn anything on, I check the battery voltage. As I said this is more a vestigial habit now than a necessity, but I still do it and I still write the reading in my daily ledger…

So when I get a lower-than-expected voltage reading, I start wondering why. During the snow and weather of a few days ago I was getting 12.3 volts which is a solid two tenths lower than it should be, and I should have been more proactive about the cause. All was explained when I saw that I’d left that damned powershed light on. Again. For days.

But that was the closest my oversight came to doing any actual damage. This morning I went outside and turned the thing off, then went back to see what effect if any it had on the readout…

And in a few seconds the reading went right back to what it should have been. So two exterior LEDs, left on from dusk to dawn, barely removed the surface charge from two worn deep cycle batteries*.

Which ain’t bad. Non-dimmable LED lightbulbs becoming hermit-affordable is one of the best things to happen to my little power system.

*The 12-volt lighting is currently on a separate 2-battery bank unconnected to the inverter, just because I didn’t want to throw those batteries away.

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I wish I knew how to make a .gif file…

…because this would be hilarious.

I got a kick out of this – I do believe the Official TUAK Gamecam came within two bull synapses and a bull neuron of being obliterated. I’ve got like 32 frames of this bull strolling by on the trail they use every day, then stopping and giving the camera a long, apparently thoughtful look.

You can tell a bull from a cow in a flash, because...

You can tell a bull from a cow in a flash, because…

...cows have necks.

…cows have necks.

And he's just moseying along, until...

And he’s just moseying along, until…


"What is that thing?"

“What is that thing?”

"Should I break it?"

“Should I break it?”

"Naw. I'm thirsty."

“Naw. I’m thirsty.”

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The next election is always the most crucial in history.

Conservatives love to go on about how liberals/progressives keep beating the same old rhetorical drums, never noticing how worn their own drumheads have become. Case in point…

[#Nevertrump’s] mission is to destroy Trump, reverse the gains made over the past year, and make sure the march to destroy the last vestiges of America as founded starts up again unimpeded – forever. We not only dodged a bullet in 2016 but it was a major shock to the system. 2018 is going to be for all the marbles.

Didn’t voters hand the supposed good guys all the marbles in 2016? What’s been done with them since then? The “good guys” failed to repeal O’care, gave their corporate buddies a huge tax break while apparently failing to notice the existence of whatever ragged remains of the middle class that might still barely hang on, and the current debate is whether to throw gun owners all the way under the bus or only as far as the front wheels. (That’s “compromise,” you know.)

But we’re supposed to believe that the next election will fix everything. The next election will always fix everything, because it’s always the most crucial in history. The bad bums must not be allowed to throw out the good bums, for then the republic will surely fall as they do, er, everything the good bums have been doing all along. But with more enthusiasm!

It doesn’t matter who you vote for, the fix is in before the candidates are chosen. But they’ll keep people clawing at one another, because that’s a game that never seems to get old.

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Patreon! You guys are going to make me work, huh?


When I reach $100 per month, I’ll repair the Jeep’s shock absorbers! Landlady will be very surprised and proud.

I can do that. Can’t honestly say I’ll get right on it, not all at once, since the shocks’ll cost $50 a pop and the driveway currently consists of barely frozen mud.

But I keep my promises. I’ll get on acquiring the parts, anyway. I thank you, LB thanks you, the Jeep’s springs thank you, my kidneys thank you.

TUAK now has 18 patrons, and between you you’ve replaced a long-standing and much-missed paying gig, the loss of which took some adjustment.

What do you think? Should I come up with another goal?

EDIT: TUAK now has 19 patrons. Thanks!

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Damn, that’s pleasant…


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Wind damage at the Big Chickenhouse

The one specific thing I was a little afraid the wind would do, the wind did. When the wind gets strong across Landlady’s ridgetop, it blows directly against the front door of the Big Chickenhouse. The door is cheap pressboard and is only held closed by a bolt latch. It has blown open before – and it blew open sometime yesterday afternoon.

I wasn’t afraid that the chickens would wander outside – in that sense, they pretty much know what’s good for them. They’re afraid of that door. I was afraid something from outside would come inside, and do bad things.

So imagine my concern when I counted heads and could only find six chickens huddling in the farthest corner. Not good – there should have been nine traumatized hens. Hmm.

Fortunately, they had an alternative. Continue reading

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The Secret Lair has died and gone to Michigan…

When I let LB out at 5:30 there was no light – I could tell it had snowed but not how much or whether it was still snowing.

It was still snowing. It is still snowing. Big fluffy bundles of snowflakes.

In fact it’s doing that irritating thing where you sweep off your porch and the snow just fills up the stairs behind you.

The ladies have seen so little snow in their lifetimes they don’t know what to do about it. They’re all in the coop, and they’re never all in the coop. Half of them don’t even sleep in the coop. So they seem to have concluded that Ragnarök has come and it’s just not a good time to be a chicken, dinosaur ancestors or no dinosaur ancestors.

As soon as I’m done here I need to turn the computer off and then go clean off the panels – for all the good that will do. Let them capture what few photons are timidly scurrying about. Otherwise we’re just going to stress-test the batteries until the theoretical sun comes out.

And then I’ll need to clean off the Jeep and go do chicken chores and damage control at Landlady’s, Ian’s and TC’s places. That should be interesting – the Jeep’s transmission has gotten to the point where I can’t use the steep part of the driveway until the transmission fluid warms up the forward clutch seals, which means I have to go through the wash first thing in the mornings – and that means following my tracks in the sand to avoid wandering into the ruts and rocks, and I’ll be pleasantly surprised if I can even see my tracks this morning.

Best get to it! Thanks once again to those who provided that winter gear – it’s not that cold and I’m only gonna make my rounds, but this is the sort of morning where a short simple trip can turn into a long eventful one without warning. So I’ll be bundling up.

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Lots of weather. Winter returns, dammit.

So yesterday we were promised low fifties temps and damaging wind. We got low fifties temp and damaging wind, even down in the hollow…

Afternoon saw me out with my brush saw, clearing a big piece of the juniper grove off the porch. That was in addition to the usual chasing-all-the-trashcans entertainment. I went to Landlady’s in the morning before the wind got bad at the Lair, and even then the wind on the ridgetops was becoming quite unpleasant. There’s talk of 70 mph gusts, which is excessive even for the gulch. Glad I screwed the powershed roof back down. I’ll bundle up later and look for damage.

But the nighttime weather, also predicted, may make finding the damage more difficult than I’d like…

Not a lot of snow, I’ll admit. Little Bear effortlessly melted a patch as his first official act of the day. But this is only the second snow of any real accumulation all winter so far, and I’ve grown accustomed to more civilized behavior in my winter. I may be forced to vote to have it expelled from the club.

That’s not my real complaint, though. My real complaint is the final part of the prophecy of doom…

…which says that winter has returned in the form of extended cold – if not exactly apocalyptic, then not really seasonable for late February. I paid my fare in broken pipes in December, thank you very much – not to mention just replacing the lion’s share of my sewer pipe due to breakage probably related to temperature back at the same time.

On the other hand it is winter and I’m not an idiot. The cabin is snug, the woodbox is was full, and yesterday afternoon I swapped propane bottles on the bedroom’s space heater (pbui). So it can go ahead and be cold if it wants to – not like I get a vote. It’s just not what we better sort of folks have come to expect from our weather, is all I’m saying.

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Congress must disarm all the sane people who didn’t lose their shit and kill a lot of people!

Right, I’m just going to turn the Jeep radio right off for the duration, so I don’t need to hear any more admiring paeans to the clueless schoolchildren currently being bussed around to repeat words placed in their little mouths in protest of congress’s inexplicable failure to punish all the people who haven’t shot up a gun-free zone.

This absurd re-iteration of the same old bullshit makes me so crazy I want to go off my meds, rip the AK and bag’o’mags off the wall and march right down to the…(ahem) actually it just makes me wearily change the channel. Because I’m not a crazy kid, and furthermore I refuse to accept punishment for something somebody else did.

But I am so sick of hearing it. So for the record, no. Your move.

I’m so tired of this hectoring “conversation,” in fact, that I can’t even think of any witty arguments for my own side. So instead, go read this…

A stray dog bit me. I demanded that all my neighbors’ dogs should have their teeth pulled.

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Cows are calving…

I set up the game camera next to a well-used cattle trail last week. Turned out to be a mistake in terms of wildlife, but I got hundreds of pictures of cattle placidly strolling back and forth.

Including these from yesterday…

1651:021718:54F:0000:TUAK1   :1E[140:0076]G[008:0x0006]
1651:021718:54F:0000:TUAK1   :1E[140:0076]G[008:0x0006]
1651:021718:54F:0000:TUAK1   :1E[140:0076]G[008:0x0006]

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Weatherman says we’ve got one nice day, so I must use it for something not nice.

Yesterday actually wasn’t all that bad, but muddy as hell after Thursday and Friday. This afternoon the wind will come up – in fact that’s already started – and it’s supposed to get wet again. Tomorrow is scheduled for cool and epically windy – Tuesday through May is the return of Winter.

So today I dig and smear ABS cement all over everything.

A week or so ago I dug out most of the pipe trench, leaving just enough to stabilize the pipe. So it didn’t take long to finish getting the old pipe out. Back when I built the septic system I scrounged everything I possibly could – here I counted six unions in 26 feet of pipe. Continue reading

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Advice from chicken experts needed.

These are the four ladies I currently have at the Secret Lair. There are nine more just like them, from the same batch, at the Big Chickenhouse at Landlady’s place.

Until Autumn these chickens have been exemplary. They don’t fight, they don’t pluck one another. Some are more bold than others but none are neurotically fearful. They’re beautifully formed, beautifully feathered, and all last summer they laid so many eggs it literally became a neighborhood problem. Until winter these were easily the best chickens we ever had.

This coming Spring they’ll turn 2. They spent their first calendar year just gaining maturity, getting fed for free. 2017 was their first productive year, and I fully expected things to taper off from there. This winter they had their first molt, and between that and the short days I was unsurprised when their production fell right off.

I was surprised after the solstice, when they were all fully feathered again and the days started getting longer, and they pretty much stopped laying eggs entirely.

Those four in the picture above? They haven’t laid a single egg since Feb. 1. The nine at Landlady’s place lay one egg every 2-3 days on average. Yeah, I keep records.

I’m starting to wonder if I should plan to slaughter hens – but I don’t understand how or why this happened. They seem in fine health, there’s certainly nothing wrong with their appetite. They’re not acting unusually neurotic. If I can’t think of something to help them get back in action, they’re all going to the freezer. They’re not pets, and chicken feed ain’t free.

Suggestions? I’m open to experimentation.

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That escalated quickly…

Really didn’t even want to go to town this weekend. I’ve had all the “town” I want to see for a while, to be honest, and I have enough drinking water for another week.

But it’s bad practice not to top off necessities – like water – whenever possible, and anyway my conscience warned me I really needed to pick up my new eyedrop prescription. If I wait more than a week, they’ll send it back and I’ll no longer be greeted with a smile.

So I went.

As of this morning I had one pair of insulated work gloves, and they’re kind of worn, and Thursday they got soaked and mud-impregnated. This late in the season I didn’t want to break in a new pair, even though 2=1 & 1=0. Finally flipped a mental coin: For some reason the only place to buy decent insulated gloves in the little town nearest where we live is the feed store. I figured that if D&L wanted to stop at the feed store, I’d go shopping for gloves. If not, not.

They did. I really should have looked at the price of the pair I picked, because I was suddenly and to my surprise $30 poorer. Nice gloves, though.

I didn’t even want to go in the dollar store. Really just tagged along to be polite and maybe pick up some cheap munchies.

But they had some flour, and I’m about to fill my flour buckets thus wiping out my reserves. So – seven sacks at $2.50/sack = lots of money I hadn’t planned on spending, but now I won’t be haunted by the sight of my empty reserve shelf.

D asked if I had any other stops, to which I replied “No! Get me out of here before I spend again!”

During the trip I saw…

…that the cattle are starting to calf – one of those tiny babies still trailed an umbilical cord – and they’ve released the bulls for an early start on the next generation. I didn’t realize the cows were that far along, no wonder they released them so early.


…sometimes it just doesn’t pay to own a white horse. Bud likes to roll, and really seems to prefer mud.

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Clouds went away overnight…

So the morning turned colder, of course. Not real cold, expect it’ll warm up pretty well once the sun comes up. Hopefully the place will dry out enough it’ll make sense to clean the mud off my boots.

But right now, what with all the moisture, everything and its brother is covered in thick frost.


The past couple of days I’ve been cocooning in the Lair and watching the weather be miserable. Timely, really, since after Wednesday’s adventure I’d normally be inclined to do that anyway. But not having been out and about more than absolutely necessary I hadn’t gone into the powershed. So every morning – yes, even in the gloom, which affected my tentative diagnosis – my battery voltage was down a couple of tenths and I had begun to speculate that maybe one of my second-hand batteries was giving up. Didn’t occur to me to check if I’d left the damned powershed light on again. Which I had.

They’re two exterior 12v LEDs, not very bright but quite frugal. Still, if you leave them on for days your overnight battery voltage will notice the load. I thought for years about putting them on a timer, for the many times I’ve left the powershed with some entirely other project on my mind – the powershed also being where I store my tools and parts – and forgot to flip the damned switch off.

So this morning while I was thinking about it, I put one of these in my Amazon cart…

:) That’ll fix it.

There were actually cooler and cheaper electronic switches listed, but I’m not sure those will work with 12 volts. Sometimes it’s smarter to just keep things analog.

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Okay, yeah, I laughed…

NK bobsled

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Still raining…

The mud is worse this morning than yesterday, if that’s possible. Off-and-on light rain. I’m regaining dormant driving skills and haven’t stuck the Jeep anywhere, though it does occasionally proceed sideways.

This morning I broke out a piece of kit I actually considered discarding, back when I moved the winter clothes into the new closet…

I traded for this rain parka several years ago, in the big wet Monsoon of 2013. Since then the powershed rats have made more use of it than I have, and it could use a patch or two. But it’s still waterproof.

Batteries are holding up well, though of course I’m not abusing them. Sky is predicted to lighten later on anyway, might even get some sun, but I’m still waiting to see it. So far today’s as ugly as yesterday, if not quite as wet.

Good day for baking. :)


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