Care packages – “Aren’t we fancy!” edition

Landlady came up this morning with care packages!

Longtime Reader CH sent something that caused one of my sins to be remembered…

…a whole bunch of .44 Magnum brass, which reminded me that in the Fall I moved all my reloading stuff to that new bench I built early last year and then never set it up. Need to look for a plastic shelving unit at the hardware because that’s what held me up – and this new ammo crisis and the advent of Spring will hopefully get me off my lazy ass and get reloading again. I stopped when I racked up my shoulder but that was years ago and only inertia stops me now.

I think Terrapod sent this…

…and you might be thinking, as I did for a moment, “Why is somebody sending me one shock absorber?” But that enclosed sticker clued me in to what it is, and believe it or not…

…yeah. I could maybe kinda sorta use that. In fact it might the last element in fixing what was for a while an alarming case of death wobble on pavement, which rarely bugs me because the Jeep so rarely sees pavement, but still. That was almost telepathic.

The same package contained a whole set of combination wrenches and some other stuff…

…most of which will also end up permanently in the Jeep, seriously upgrading its complement of tools which have always been a little ad hoc and occasionally embarrassing.

Thanks, guys!

And then I got a completely unexpected package from Ian. Check this out and marvel in frustrated envy…

That, friends and virtual neighbors, is not only a copy of his new book but the fanciest, most limited of limited editions of his new book. I got paid, and pretty handsomely, for being one of its text editors and so of course I possess digital copies of both the text and the galley proofs but a copy of the actual book was not in the agreement; this is just generosity on his part. I’m reluctant to even take it out of its shrink wrap, though of course I’m going to. And then I’ll sew together a nice cover to protect it from the desert dust.

Here’s something I didn’t know about until just now: Look at the attention to detail here…

That’s the included “from the library of” sticker, a nice but mundane touch until you look at the engraving; not only fancy scrollwork but also both sides of – what else – a MAS-36. I wonder who he got to do that?

Thanks, all! Out of the blue, this turned into a significant day.

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You can’t see it in the photo, of course, but…

We’re really wind-testing the panel rack improvements today.

We’re not getting gusts quite of the magnitude that wrecked it last month, and it’s very substantially stronger now so I know intellectually that there’s nothing to worry about. But on such matters I tend to be a worrier, so I prowled around it looking for creaky bits this afternoon. Didn’t find any.

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Wanna really piss off some neighbors?

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Bon Appétit, I guess…

I went back to where I dumped that rotted-rat-infested water, with a mind to toss the carcasses farther downhill with a shovel and then pick up the bucket.

…and there was nothing left of the rats but a tuft of fur.

It’s true that a dead body doesn’t last long when left alone in the desert. I have some experience with that. But I do not have any notion of what sort of scavenger would have found these particular bodies enticing.

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I can’t believe I missed doing this before…

Our grave national crisis needs a theme song, don’t you think?

I’ve been a Weird Al fan since I truly don’t remember when but I do have one problem with his videos: Most of the time he’s parodying some forgotten band’s schtick but since I’ve never been much of a pop music consumer I have no idea what the band or the original song is.

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How to enjoy the Coronavirus Apocalypse

I don’t know why everybody says self-quarantine is boring.

Simple steps can make it quite enjoyable.

First, be born a neurotic introvert misfit loner.

Second, spend most of a long life being miserable in various cities, constantly chafing under conditions everybody else seems to think are just fine.

Third, give up on the wisdom everybody has been telling you for decades and deliberately head out to be a penniless desert recluse. What could possibly go wrong?

Then just do that for a couple of decades. Takes a while to get it right.


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Last couple of times I’ve been in Landlady’s barn I’ve detected a hint of corruption, as when a rat picks an inconvenient place to die.

Found out what it was this morning. Somebody – I won’t mention any names but he might be identified by an unorthodox number of intact limbs – by complete happenstance left a bucket under a leaky spot in the roof over the very wet and rather mild winter. Said bucket filled with water. Said water attracted several rats.

That right there would normally be a good thing, as anything short of bubonic plague that kills rats is normally a good thing. Except somebody didn’t realize the situation had ensued until this morning, when he innocently poured out the bucket. Ever see a packrat swelled to the size of a gopher? The smell was – memorable. I’ll spare you the pictures.

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Look what a neighbor gave me!

She reads the blog and knew about Torso Boy’s digestive system oopsie…

It seems Wal-Mart’s chicken breast shortage was temporary, so she gave me a few to tide TB over (hopefully) until I can restock. So whether or not he’s happy about it, he’s back on his bland boiled chicken and rice diet.

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What sports commentators do…

…when all sporting events have been cancelled…

He’s got a bunch of these.

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My favorite folder

I was just putting away my going-to-town stuff, and it occurred to me I don’t think I ever mentioned my alltime favorite folder…

Nothing fancy, just a Griptillian I’ve had since sometime in 2002. Bought it in a sporting goods shop in Oakland California, and it was my everyday knife until mid-2008 when I started carrying fixed blades. It’s still my go-to knife for when I dress like a real person.

By my standards it was absurdly expensive – it’s the most or second-most expensive knife I ever bought but time has validated the expense: It hasn’t worn out, it has worn in. That sliding bar makes it what would have been called a gravity knife when I was a kid; you pull the bar back and give the blade a flick, and you don’t need the stud. Locks up nice and tight – as tight now as the first time I opened it – and the action has gotten nothing but smoother over the years though like any folder or automatic it doesn’t much like sand. We’ve got lots of sand here and anyway I carry so much other stuff on my belt that it didn’t make sense to keep using a folder every day.

Anyway, if you’re looking for a folder and can drop a little over a hundred bucks for something you’ll probably use for the rest of your life, I can recommend this one. I gather they’re still made and still popular.

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Quick TB Update…

Yeah, just a pancreatitis flare-up, and probably my fault: In hindsight tossing him the skins off those chicken thighs I brought home on Friday was not as cool as he thought it was at the moment.

Yesterday he was sleepy most of the day, though he perked right up at the mention of a Jeep ride and he was getting up to drink and going out to pee pretty normally throughout. Had a good night, a very light breakfast of canned food (I’ll see if I can score more chicken breast today but not hopeful) and a much more pooplike morning poop.

Three people hit the tip jar and not in trivial ways, and though I appreciate that beyond words I also feel a little bad about it because he would have had to be much sicker than he ever got before I was going to take him to a vet, and I hope you don’t think I was soliciting funds on false premises. Actually I hope you know I wasn’t soliciting funds at all.

In about an hour I have to go to the big town about 50 miles away for my prosthetist appointment, so pray for us sinners. More later.

Going for a ride? Wanna go with!

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Torso Boy’s sick again.

Kept us both up all night shitting liquid. I doubt it’s his diet this time, though I do note that he just came off his bland boiled chicken & rice less than a week ago when I ran out of chicken to boil*.

He’ll be fasting today, and then we’ll see if he eats kibble. Last October I was in a position to do the “$500 for a blood test, please” veterinarian but not this time – but I wonder what would happen if I crushed up one of these little Loperamide Hydrochloride pills and fed it to him? They’ve been known to dry my ass right up.

*Ironically that would make TB an indirect victim of the Kung Flu panic, since he’s been eating out of those 10-pound bags of frozen chicken breast parts no longer to be found at Wal-Mart.

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Hoarder does not live by toilet paper alone.

The well water here is super hard, and anything immersed in it eventually becomes encrusted in calcium. It really does a number on the working bits of a toilet, as I long ago learned to my great inconvenience. Even when everybody isn’t freaking out about the plague du jour I can’t just hop in the car and head down to the local hardware any time I want. So if I know I’m going to have problems with a particular part, no matter how far in the future that trouble is likely to pop up, it really behooves me to have a Plan B handy.

When the toilet started leaking recently I was very pleased with myself that I could just amble out to the powershed, bring in my spares, and replace all the leaky bits, no problem. It wasn’t always so, but I do learn.

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D&L’s notion of stocking up for self-quarantine…

D&L wanted to go to town this morning, which is not on the usual weekly schedule, because they wanted to stock up on alfalfa pellets for their horses. They’ve been transitioning from hay bales to pellets because their white horse Bud is old and having trouble chewing and not at all because Neighbor D has had two TIAs in less than a year and can’t toss hay bales like he could before.


Getting them loaded is simplicity itself, but…

Unloading is a tad more strenuous. Still way easier than hay bales for a couple of old men, though.

I’ve heard about runs on guns and ammo around the country, and thought I’d report on doings in my little corner of paradise. There’s only one place to buy ammo in the whole little town nearest where I live, and no retail gun outlet at all (which always perplexes me. I guess people just grow used to driving longish distances for lumber and long guns.) Anyway, I was in there (the local drug store) last week and everything in the ammo case was fully stocked, but this morning their stock was showing a bit of strain…

But nothing like some of the impassioned descriptions I’ve read about on the Innertubes.

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“Why Won’t At-Risk Boomers Panic About the Wuhan Virus?”

“In Aesop’s fable about “The Boy Who Cried Wolf,” the moral of the story isn’t that the townsfolk should have believed the boy. The moral is that the boy shouldn’t have destroyed his credibility by falsely screaming wolf time and again.”

A dose of skepticism may not be the safest course. But given the current credibility of the news industry, it’s not irrational.

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Huh. Maybe I really should play the lottery…

I mean, what are the chances?

Exactly the same count, three Thursdays running.

I mean, it makes sense that Thursday will average a higher count. I currently split chicken chores with the neighbor who actually owns most of the chickens; she does it mon-wed and normally collects and counts in the morning. I normally count in the afternoon, so from Wednesday to Thursday is more like 30 hours. So, yeah. But exactly 16 eggs?

If there are eleven eggs tomorrow I’ll start to worry a bit. Maybe the chickens are plotting something? Chickens normally can’t plot how to safely cross a room. Or so they want us to think

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I recognize the mud, but what’s all this white stuff?

It started raining right around dark, and apparently rained on and off all night. Then we got this stuff, whatever it is…

It’s been the wettest winter I can recall, but so mild there’s been relatively little snow. And it was so nice all month as to tempt me to hubris. Hah! Tempt, but not persuade. So the woodstove was ready for the weather this morning. And the next several days are supposed to be more of the same but colder, so I guess I’ll bring in more wood for the first time in literally weeks. There’s nothing weird about March lulling you into hope and then crushing your dreams.

I just got a call from Neighbor L, who’s scheduled to go with me to the big town about 50 miles away for my prothesis appointment on Monday. But she just heard that that town got its first reported case of Kung Flu and now she wants assurances that a) the office will even be open, and b) every surface in it is covered with antibiotic substances so thickly that no microscopic lifeform can possibly survive there. And I understand her concerns; they’re both well over 70 and Neighbor D is health-compromised to say the least. So I’ll call at 9 and get that information.

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So are we all hermits now?

It’s a fairly unpleasant day here at the Gulch, cool with lots of wind and spitting rain. So I’m staying in and declaring it baking day; just got the bread out of the oven and in between bread duties I’m sitting around watching YouTube videos. And based on the evidence of those videos and a text from Big Brother, I get the impression that everybody in the whole country is staying home and binge-watching Netflix for the duration.

Of course when I go a week barely talking to a soul, that’s just a regular week. Not sure how long the wheels are going to stay on if everybody does that, but depending on where you come down on the question of how dangerous the new virus is it might be the smart thing in the long run. Really don’t know, and like I said “self-quarantine” doesn’t really call for much of a lifestyle change on my part.

What are you guys doing about this?

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Okay, I had to take it off.

I haven’t had my morning walkie in more than a week. I can walk to the water tank and back but that’s about as much as I can stand. Day before yesterday I was on my feet for hours working in D’s woodshop and was practically sweating by the end just from discomfort.

I love the new foot. It’s not just as good as what it replaces, it’s better. The overall length is excellent. But the socket is…frustrating, because I want to be able to tell the prosthetist exactly what’s wrong with it and I’m not sure I can. It’s almost right – but it’s pressing on something almighty sensitive on the back of my stump. And it’s a challenge finding a combination of stump socks that makes it fit exactly between a little too loose and a little too tight.

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Oops, I did it again.

So yesterday I finished sanding that toolbox D and I put together and started looking for a place in the powershed to store it. Problem is the toolshed is small and at the moment awfully cluttered – that’s the next task, weather permitting, and it’s becoming an annual affair.

Anyway, I ended up putting some hooks in the ceiling and hanging it there, and while I had gone to the trouble of moving stuff around enough to open a ladder in there I figured I should go ahead and do a rearrangement of the lighting I’ve wanted to do for – well, for years now but never got around to because it’s not that big a deal and I only thought about it at odd times when I was doing other things like servicing the batteries, which rearranging the powershed lights would make easier.

And I know I turned the lights off when I left yesterday. I’d have put money on it. But last night I was sitting at the Official TUAK Desk watching a movie, and the voltmeter right above my eyes showed the voltage lower than it should have been. Not a lot lower, a tenth or so. And that should have been all the sign I needed that I’d done it again.

But I didn’t act on it, and they were on all night. Not a big deal in light of the newly-expanded battery capacity but still at least a venal sin, especially in light of the protracted gloomy period we’re forecast to be on the cusp of. I keep saying I’m going to get one of those timer switches. But then I’m good about not leaving the powershed light on for years, and I figure, nah.

And then I do it again.

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