Time to get busy…

Sometimes the problem with living in the boonies is that the logistics of doing something is harder than actually doing something. Example…


One thing I was absolutely determined to get done this season was at least one good coat of fresh paint for the Lair, which is starting to look faded and neglected. But social anxiety kicks in: It takes so long to get paint mixed, can I get [the neighbors I catch rides to town with] to wait that long? My inner skinflint complains: It costs so much, can I do that and also buy socks for my prosthesis?


Well yes I can, especially since a Generous Reader recently took some of that burden from me. And my neighbor wanted to go get her hair done, which meant I waited for her to finish. Problem solved.

Now I just have to gear up for the first big chore of the season. And I’m motivated, because the Lair is my darlin’ and I hate to see it looking neglected.

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Beware of the attractive menace…

I know better than to do this. But I confess it’s not the first time I’ve done it…


“I’ll go back and finish cleaning up after lunch.” Uh huh. So there the old antifreeze sat, totally forgotten.

Tobie had probably been smelling it all day and all night and really wanted to check it out. So first thing this morning we came outside and he made a beeline for it. And absolutely ignored my commands to get away from it; happily I could physically drag him away. Don’t be like me. That stuff will kill dogs.

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New Jeep Radiator…

Got a new radiator Friday, and installed it this morning.


This one went considerably faster than the first one did, since (unexpected benefit) in the interim the Jeep got a whole new trans cooler and so the bottom tank on the radiator isn’t even connected to anything.

The leak turned out not to be much…


As I thought, a solder seal on the core broke but it was a small leak. Seemed pretty cataclysmic last Monday when the consequences announced themselves but it had obviously been leaking a little for a long time. Funny I never smelled it.

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I’m proud of my boy!

Tobie seems to have achieved total snake aversion all on his own! Last time he seemed to be getting it, but that was a long time ago. Last year I don’t think he encountered any snakes at all.

But this morning he rounded the corner of the powershed and then for some reason teleported to as far on the other side of the yard as his long lead permitted, and strained for more. The reason…


A smallish bullsnake that came out from under the powershed to warm up. Harmless to the point of benevolence and very welcome to hang around the (mouse infested) shed all it likes as far as I’m concerned. But Tobie has decided that “no legs bad.” And that’s a decision I’ve devoutly wished him to make, since rattlesnake bites are a leading cause of dog injury and death around here. I can’t exactly rush him to the nearest vet.

When we got back from our walkie he refused to even enter the yard till I went first and proved the snake was gone. That might be taking the snake aversion thing a little far, but better that than heedlessness.

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My stupid redneck water heater…

Okay, so I went through the same thing this time last year so it didn’t come as a surprise…


Continue reading

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Pavlov had his dog, and I have mine…

I’m a creature of habit and of course so is my dog. First thing in the morning we have our immediate schedule – somebody needs to go outside and take care of necessities – and then I do my usual stuff which involves making breakfast, straightening up the bedroom, sometimes laundry. Tobie has designated one very specific activity in my morning schedule as his trigger for “bring my toy to Uncle Joel and try to get a game going.”


He does this every single morning – I shouldn’t jinx it by saying so; now he’ll stop – and I don’t mind because it only lasts a few pre-coffee minutes before he loses interest in the toy and moves to the “give me a treat” part of the festivities, after which I may get back to making breakfast.

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Arex Delta Gen 2, 500-round review


I’ve spent more time than usual out at the range lately, playing with my new toy.


It made like it was going to disappoint me, with a stovepipe in the very first magazine. Might have been because I was shooting off a rest sighting it in, but then the next day I got two FTFs in a hundred rounds. The Arex was a Guntube flavor of the week 2-3 years ago, and a few reviewers warned that a new gun might need a break-in of 200 rounds or so. It seems they were right, because that was the last trouble I had with it. It’s a little random where it throws brass, but other than that the only thing I can find to complain about is a rather heavier trigger break than I’m used to. But considering what I’m transitioning from, I’m not sure that’s really a valid issue. And I’m getting used to it.

Early on I sent away for a quicky CC holster which – due to my failure to note the difference between Delta M and Delta L – required some attention from a Dremel. But since I don’t usually carry concealed I really wanted a more comfortable drop holster for every day. Thanks to a hint from Generous Reader MM, I now have one.

So this is my new every-day rig…


In my financial bracket I’ve never been one to collect guns, or swap favorites every few months. Now I have up-to-date weapons that’ll probably hold me for the rest of my active life.

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Dammit. Jeep broke again.

I went to town to get my new holster, which came in this morning. Quick trip in and out, that was the plan. About a mile and a half from the Lair the temperature gauge pegged.


From where the steam was shooting out, looks like I shook the radiator core loose. AGAIN.

Happy I had my bike with me. I left the bike at the top of the ridge; I’ll go back with a couple of gallons of water after the Jeep’s had time to cool off, then limp it home. Order a new radiator later in the week, next time I’m in town. Pisses me off; the damned thing is barely more than five years old.

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More Spring Flowers

Found a couple of flowering prickly pears over near SurvivalDave’s place.


None of them around the Lair are flowering at all. Guess I’m not living right.

But I was clearing out some rocks in my yard this morning when I saw this on the other side of a little hillock hiding them from sight…


This is my favorite non-cactus desert flower. No idea what it’s called…


…but there’s normally only one or two that grow there. This year there’s a small field of them. Hope they spread further. I think they’re pretty.

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Hardly worth the trouble…

When it comes to dealing with wildlife, this place has gotten kinda boring. I can only guess that so many people live here now that all the interesting animals have gone elsewhere. Nothing around but coyotes lately. I set my game camera at the same place for the past month and I only get the occasional coyote-on-a-mission passing through, and only at night.

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Practicality is not the point.

People climb mountains “because it’s there.”

People build entirely impractical firearms “because it’s not there yet.”

(trigger warning: Brandon Herrera was dropped on his head as a baby and is now incapable of completing a sentence that does not contain the word f*ck.)

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Random Gulchy Moments…

My favorite cacti are blooming!

I love the shade of these flowers but the plants are pure evil. The spikes are not only very sharp, they’re hooked as if they don’t want to stop causing you pain when you get too close.


Also they’re really well camouflaged when not in bloom. These two are close together and I marked them with white rocks several years ago so I could find them when I wanted to.

Speaking of evil: The temperature of the beast!


In Spring I monitor the temperature in Ian’s bathroom, because its shower is so precious to me but I hate the cold. This morning it kind of warned me off.

And finally…


After decades of eating out of cans and bulk buckets, I’ve lately caught myself preparing dishes like a normal person. Roast chicken and fancy rice with greens, yet. And chili sauce. Not sure how much of this I’m allowed to do and still call myself a cedar rat.

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Sorry, been away from the keyboard…

Haven’t really been sleeping well the past several nights. Nothing wrong, it just comes and goes. Also I went to the big town about 50 miles away yesterday and that seems to have used up my supply of wanna-do for today as well. Basically I’ve just been sitting around reading a really bad scifi novel when I should be working. Here are funny pictures instead.

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Spring Flowers

Not actually much in the way of Spring flowers so far this May. I’ve lost hope for the yucca this year, and I’m not sure if the cactus are going to do anything. The cliff roses are coming along nicely, though…

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The sort of toggle switch my own grandfather would have understood…

Okay, so I got my principal iPhone working. Yay, me. But all of a sudden the bluetooth earpiece I habitually wear wasn’t telling me when I had a new text. And that’s the main reason I wear the damned thing.

I communicate with neighbors with texts. Which my earpiece keeps me honest about. In particular, Neighbor L is having trouble because her husband, Neighbor D, is back in the city many many miles away for (serious infection-related issues leading up to) more major surgery that wouldn’t have been necessary if the first round of surgery hadn’t been screwed up. And frankly he’s not in the kind of shape where you would expect him to shrug off more major surgery. I’m worried. I expect she’s basically frantic, and I’m trying to be supportive. So I’m trying to pay attention to texts. And my goddam phone suddenly isn’t telling me when they arrive.

I went over the software settings again and again. There was no reason why I shouldn’t get blasted with a trumpet call in my left ear whenever I got a new text. But it wasn’t happening.

Finally I checked the tiny little toggle switch on the side of the phone. The only such switch on the whole gadget. No reason it should have been set to silence – maybe it somehow got switched when I put the surrounding armor back on? I didn’t know, but I’d checked everything else. So I arbitrarily set it to its opposite setting. Did I just turn it on, or off? I didn’t really know.

Just got a text from her, and was startled by the fanfare in my left ear. Yup – that was the problem all along.

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Me so techie…

Sometimes I get so annoyed I actually exert myself to fix a techie problem myself. Also, for like the first time since I started using Apple products, iTunes was of some value to me. It took half the afternoon, but I managed to restore my iPhone without resort to paid professionals.

For whatever reason, my old phone has deprecated almost to the point of unusable and it was getting on my nerves. Then my trip to the Big Town about 50 miles away to get my #1 phone fixed got pushed back to next week, and I didn’t want to put up with the situation that long if I could help it. So I went back into the Apple swamp, and this time I (slowly and painfully) figured out what they were trying to tell me. It took a while before I trusted enough to push the button – after all, a simple update is what got me into this situation – and then progress was so slow I thought at one point it had all locked up again. But there was success at the end.

I still want to take the phone to the repairman, because software updates won’t fix that cracked screen I’ve been living with since December. But except for that the new(ish) iPhone is working again.

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A gift in the mail!

Friend of the Blog Commander Zero sent me a gift! A tactical gift, of course…

This is a really nice flashlight, (as far as I know) up to date with the latest fashion.

Ol’ Boomer Joel has continual trouble wrapping his mind around the concept of flashlight fashion, but really has long since abandoned any hope of keeping up. When I moved here I was more into the “tactical” thing than I am now, but my idea of a good flashlight was an LED Maglight with fresh batteries. I only gradually became aware that flashlights not only have fashion, there’s a veritable flashlight subculture driving it. Okay, everybody needs a hobby. And it’s all for the better. I may think some of the bells and whistles are a bit silly but this really is a very nice light, and it has one twist I didn’t see coming…


Separate but directly rechargeable batteries! This is new to me but seems a splendid idea: no need for a charger, you stick the cable right into the battery itself.

This is fun! A newfangled gadget I can actually deal with. On the brightest setting it’s at least as eyeball-melting as the one on my rifle, and I don’t have to deal with maintaining a CR123 supply. Thanks, CZ!

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Took me a second…

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Desperate times call for desperate measures, even if you’re a dog.

Maybe especially if you are.

I went to bed at the usual time. It was raining off and on and Tobie was unusually unsettled. Usually by my bedtime he’s long since checked out. I didn’t hear thunder at first, my ears are for crap, but there’s nothing wrong with his and he didn’t think it was a good time for Condition White. In fact…


…as the thunderstorm got close enough that even I noticed it, he clearly didn’t think it was a good time to be separated at all. This – you’d have to know him – was positively strange behavior. Tobie does not sleep in the bedroom. Not ever. He’ll come in to keep me company when I’m reading or something but even as a puppy he always seemed to regard the bedroom as off limits for sleeping. Last night – well – I guess one interpretation I could put on it is “I’ll protect you, Uncle Joel.”

Or it was the other way around, who knows. He’s certainly not saying.

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Learning to shoot all over again…

I have to stop and remember, while using the new Arex, just how obsolescent old school my pistols have been, and for how long they’ve been that way. I swapped my worn-out 1911 for a big-bore revolver 12-13 years ago. My concealed carry pistol is a Makarov. It’s not like I’ve never fired a polymer 9, I’m not quite that much of a fossil. But I’ve never owned one. And the differences involve rather more of a learning curve than I expected.

For one thing, I think I want my manual safety back. According to my crappy trigger pull gauge…


The Arex trigger breaks between 7 1/2 and 8 pounds. Which makes me nostalgic for my S&W, which has an awesome trigger. I get why pistol manufacturers tend toward really hard triggers in guns without manual safeties but this seems excessive. So I’m having to re-learn trigger control. Breaks nice and crisp for a striker gun, though, I’ll give it that.

I’ve got about 200 rounds through the Arex now, and yesterday cleaned it for the first time…


…and holy mackerel, how are you supposed to clean powder residue out from between all those little stampings? I never had a gun with anything like that.

And I quickly learned that, like revolvers and specialized screwdrivers, high-cap nines also require an essential tool that damned well ought to come with the gun…


Because loading double-stack single-feed magazines is literally a pain after a while. Glad I was able to find a loading tool in town – the local drug store sells the damndest things.

Happily, I retrofitted my m69 with a red dot going on two years ago so at least I don’t have to learn that from scratch.

Finally: A neighbor who attended my birthday party last Saturday sent me the following picture – photographic evidence if anybody needed it that Joel and Gun Jesus are not, in fact, the same person…

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