First step toward a commercial WWSD AR-15

This has taken a really long time.

(ED NOTE: Regular readers might be wondering why I seem to be endorsing a rifle product, especially one involving a fancy AR-15. How would the old cedar rat even know about it, right? Well – I’m friends with Ian McCollum. And when Ian gets excited about something, all his friends are going to hear all about it. In detail. With working models and free ammo. So I’ve been following this with interest from the beginning. ‘Nuff said.)

Ian and Karl’s What Would Stoner Do Project back in 2017 got a lot of attention at the time but ran into a roadblock on its journey to fame and fortune when it turned out that the lower receiver they chose wasn’t being manufactured and wasn’t going to be. Continue reading

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Junk on the bunk for a rare trip…

…to the biggish town about 35 miles away. Which meant I had to actually dress like a townie…

…which is not the problem it was years ago when I lived on 30 bucks a week and wore rags. At the end of last winter I finally retired my winter jeans, which were mostly patches, in favor of new. So this time I didn’t even have to change pants. Shirt and belt gear were something else, but no big deal. Just doesn’t happen very often, and so it tends to put me into a ‘junk on the bunk’ mood… Continue reading

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The town that ran out of eggs…


I just got back from the Monday morning water run, along with other liquid refreshments…

…and since the hens are taking their annual winter sabbatical I intended to pick up two dozen eggs to supplement the usual supply. But…

It’s not even a surprise: They do this from time to time. But given that this is 2020 I really don’t know whether to blame this on “wow that’s a crappy store,” my usual complaint, or the new shiny “welcome to 2020.”

Soon to be 2021, now with more overt socialism.

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Uncle Joel cuts tile sometimes…

Inexpertly, but you do what you can.

Having achieved hot running water in Ian’s Cave, it’s time for the next step in the all-important Let’s Have a Shower in the Gulch project.

As that wall is anything but flat, the choice of tiles was kind of unfortunate. But they have the greatest qualification possible for the job, being free, and grout will cover if not entirely hide a multitude of sins. And getting some time on the tile saw was fun after several years. We’re hoping that was the most complex part.

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Hermits in the Mist

Stayed in bed late again this morning because when I first woke up it was cold outside the blankets and the bedroom furnace was working to keep up. So I did the manly thing; rolled over and went back to sleep for two hours.

When the outside gets good and cold overnight, that’s a sign the clouds have gone away. Without a cloud cover the high desert can get very cold indeed overnight. Suspicion was confirmed when the sky lightened enough to see it; the clouds had rolled away and I wouldn’t have to worry about my batteries today.

Then half an hour later…

Low clouds rolled in: Low enough to qualify as fog. And right now it’s thick enough to get you lost, if you weren’t paying attention.

But I think it’s superficial and will burn right off when the sun gets over the local horizon. Should be a sunny, and possibly a busy and unusually social day. I have to make rosemary bread, early enough that I can revert to Plan B if the oven won’t light.

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I had one of those adventures going to chicken chores this morning – one of those mornings when you really wish your Jeep had windshield wipers and you end up driving with a hand out the window holding a broom so you can de-opaque the windshield every hundred feet or so. Now that I’m back I expect the snow to suddenly stop, just to give Murphy a giggle. But it’s still coming down hard.

I didn’t see snow in the forecast, but will admit I didn’t pay that much attention. Lots of it right now. If I’d gone to chicken chores two hours earlier like I should have there’d have been no trouble but I bet it wouldn’t last. And predictably lost the bet.

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A warm, happy Thanksgiving at the Secret Lair…

I don’t do holidays, as you know. But not all my neighbors agree and so sometimes the holidays kind of reach out and do me.

That came out wrong.

Or did it?

(ahem) Anyway – This year I’ve got one set of full-time neighbors gone to the city to visit family and another set that have taken the pandemic thing very seriously and so are ‘social distancing’ more sincerely than usually. So no invitations this year: I’m on my own in the desert physically but – happily – not in spirit.

Check this out… Continue reading

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Ol’ Pet Semetary Joel

Laddie’s marker may be delayed due to literacy difficulties beyond our control, but Landlady bought three markers and that meant I needed to get to work on the other two…

I have a form I built to cast standard pedestals. Unfortunately…

…I didn’t take into consideration the possibility that the markers might be some non-standard size. So on these two I have to put up with a tiny bit of overhang on the sides.


…a little caulk and paint and this morning these were ready for planting in our increasingly … er, colorful … and so far mostly pet-centric Boot Hill.

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On the other hand, running yourself out of ammo is a sin.

The problem with scattering targets around an area you walk through regularly is that you’ll be tempted to shoot at them.

Of course that’s also the reason I scattered the targets, so mostly it’s just important to carry practice ammo. You know, the kind you can reload yourself when the store shelves are empty – not that anybody around here sells .44 Special anyway.

Oh, I have lots. I got caught with my pants down on certain calibers the last time this happened seven or eight years ago and I try to only repeat the fun mistakes. When I got this much better pistol over a year ago, I took advantage of an opportunity to stock up. Still…

My supply of storebought is finite. I thought this particular box had more left. Shouldn’t have given in to the temptation of plinking with it.

The L-frame isn’t what you’d choose for gunfighting, but it’s hell on wheels for versatility. If I just do my part and remember to carry the right ammo.

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Deliberately running yourself out of flour…

…is just a very counterintuitive thing to do. But I gotta do it.

Because I did something I honestly didn’t think it possible to do: I hoarded too much flour. Okay, there’s no such thing as “too much” if doomsday has arrived and there never will be another bag of flour at another store ever ever ever, but for normal storage in the boonies “almost enough” turns out to be too much. Because… Continue reading

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Visiting a target in the wash…

Mid-summer seems like a long time gone: I just looked up when I put this thing out here and it was only five months ago.

It serves more of a useful purpose than you might think, because (reasons related to neighbors and noise) I now do most of my own pistol and rifle practice down here in a deep part of the wash instead of Ian’s range. I put this up on a raised area above most of the water flow, but it’s not safe from a real flood. So I tied it down – but it was only after I started tying target stands to trees that I really paid attention to the effect of bullet frags…

…which are hell on tie-down ropes. I could go to chain and just stop worrying about it but chain is expensive and I hoard what bits of it I have. Still, I think in this case I need to do the same thing I did to the target frames I made at Ian’s range – run a chain stub from the stand to keep the rope (or 550 cord, which I’ve entirely switched over to now) entirely away from the frame. Then I should only have to worry about wild shots cutting the cords.

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Hopefully this will keep the target stands at home…

People keep inadvertently shooting through the ropes that secure the target stands in case of flood. I just fixed them, and this morning found the rope that actually anchors the whole thing shot through.

So I used up about 60 feet of that new 550 cord… Continue reading

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The Jeep parts clown show comes to a clownish end.

Today I finally got the final part I need to finally fix the Jeep’s rear window, the gas struts that allow the window to finally stay up without a wooden prop…

I’ve had the hinges and the bottom gasket for a long time. But the plastic bracket that glues to the window and holds the gasket got lost in the mail – so long that I gave up on it and bought a second one, adding substantially to the cost and duration of the project.

But it finally came, and I figured out how everything went together, and then all that was left was ordering some gas struts. They take about 30 seconds each to install so I never even unloaded the package from the Jeep; just cut open the box and stuck the struts on.

Along with the expected box holding the struts, I got a second package…

…the part that has been wandering around – or sitting around – lost for the past two months. (insert angry-face emoji here)

So in about fifteen years when the current one gets brittle from UV exposure and breaks apart like the old one did, I have a spare.

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What’s wrong with this picture?


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Proof that Uncle Joel isn’t superstitious…

On this date:

…I broke out a power saw.

Landlady told me last month she wanted to do a big (probably multiple) dump run this coming weekend. I remembered that, and have slowly made various preps for it over the past 3 weeks. But this morning while hauling firewood to her house I was forcibly reminded of something Dr. Freud had caused me to completely forget…

There’s been this big folding picnic table rotting beside her barn for over a decade, which we couldn’t get rid of because it was just too honkin’ heavy and I couldn’t figure out how to separate its two main surfaces. I promised LL I’d cut it apart with my big new Sawzall so we could get it into the Jeep trailer … and then forgot all about it. And this was the very last day I could make good the promise before the dump run, so it’s a good thing I remembered.

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Uncle Joel’s adventures in macramé

It was such a dry summer the ranchers gave up on the poor ‘grass’ and brought in their cattle halfway through, so I haven’t had much use for my cow spear in several months. I have occasionally eyed it as a walking stick lately, but it’s really too slender for a comfortable walking stick.

For quite a while I’ve had a notion as to what I should do about that last thing, and yesterday while idly gazing at a length of 550 cord I keep in my pocket I decided to try it.

Ended up stripping off 2/3 of my lately-useless clothesline to make it happen*, and…

…now it’s thicker.

Given that I’ve never been into playing with knots I was kind of pleased with how this came out. Except I need to research a better way to finish the wrap – you can see at the bottom it ends pretty clumsily.

*which just goes to show how cheap I can be, since in my storage shed there’s a 400 yard roll of the stuff brand new. But I didn’t really think it would work and it’s a sin to waste 550 cord.

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First empty…

With overnight temps in the low 20’s, I was unsurprised to be greeted this morning with the first empty propane bottle on the bedroom regulator.

The first of many, alas, because as long as money permits I’m going to treat the bedroom heater as a regular feature, rather than an emergency measure.

I’ve done that virtually from the start of the bedroom addition three years ago and seem unlikely to change unless driven to by finances. The setting goes to 50o at bedtime and up to 60 or 65 during the day and evening. I can obviously get along nicely with less but the older you get, the colder cold seems to get.

One (in hindsight) obvious thing I should have done before drywalling the bedroom…

…would have been a 12-volt duct fan through the wall behind the stovepipe, centered just to the left of that hat hook. I have 12 volt wiring in that wall and it would have been simplicity itself to vent air hot from the stovepipe directly into the bedroom. But hindsight is always gloriously more clear than foresight, and now I’d have to tear out too much drywall to get to the wiring. Ain’t gonna happen. But I think about it every time I note how poorly the woodstove helps in heating the bedroom. It would have eventually paid for itself in saved propane.

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I wouldn’t dare take money from anyone stupid enough to invest in my business model.

Ever since the blog moved to, suggesting to anyone who doesn’t bother to look that there may be some sort of business at that address, I have occasionally received the most hilarious spam.

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Well, well. Look what I found.

This is how exciting Uncle Joel’s life can be: I found a screw!

Found it rolling around on the Jeep’s driver seat when I thought it was gone for good. This screw and its mate have been a problem for me for over a year, because they kept threatening to fall out of my sheath.

When I lost this one I had to go through one of my bags’o’parts to find replacements, also from a knife sheath. And this time I did what I’d promised to do but never got around to back when the problem first arose; I broke out the red Locktite and will probably/hopefully not have the problem again. And anyway, having found the prodigal I have a spare set again.

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Another underwhelming ‘storm’…

Woke to a light wet snow…

Lit the fire only briefly to get the inside temp into the mid-sixties, since there doesn’t appear much chance of morning sun. But it’s barely freezing outside and supposed to get into the forties.

It’s so wet I daresay there’s not an inch of snow sticking, and it won’t last. Still coming down at the moment, though.

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