Laddie’s 3-month update…


I think we’re finally getting happy with each other. Laddie seems to see me primarily as his source of food, cookies, cushiony surfaces, perimeter security, absence of thunder and access to walkies, while his essential function is to promote an orderly environment in which these activities and services can best take place. I’m mostly cool with that, so we get along.

With a database of one, I’m not prepared to offer opinions on the truth of the Corgi Stereotypes. I can say that Torso Boy does not fit them all. Corgis are supposed to be obnoxiously high-energy: Having met Dharma I know obnoxiously high-energy, and he is not like that. His idea of a perfect day is one in which he mostly sleeps, rousing himself only to go outside to pee and patrol his perimeter, then come inside and have a biscuit and a nap. I do believe, though, that in a safely fenced yard he would willingly take more exercise than he does now because he does want to chase every moving thing he sees. In particular he has developed the notion that cottontail rabbits are an existential threat which should be destroyed to the last scrap of fur.

Neither is he obnoxiously loud, though he does bark to draw my attention to dangerous intrusions such as birds in the eaves. And while he could certainly be described as “food-motivated,” oddly he doesn’t really seem to eat all that much. People told me that he was raised on a diet of dry kibble, but the truth is that he doesn’t seem to like dry kibble at all – unless it is threatened by an outside menace like Dharma, at which point he suddenly becomes extremely defensive of it, and his idea of defense is to eat every bit of it right there without coming up for air. So he’s aware that kibble is food, he just doesn’t seem to approve of it most of the time. But he’s a terrible beggar, and appears convinced that dog biscuits are essential to life. So yes on “food-motivated.”

Friendly with other dogs? Nope and noper. He finds Dharma fascinating for some reason possibly having to do with her gender, since he was never properly taught that gender is a mere social construct – but he does not want her in his house. And he can’t stand being near any other dog he’s met so far including Maya the Shih Tzu. In fact yesterday he humiliated me by marking territory in her house.

Pushy and opinionated? Oh god yes. When things are not proceeding according to his orderly framework he is prepared to work unsparingly to set me right. Servants are such fallible creatures.

Happy/goofy? Never. He awards my correct guesses as to his immediate wants with a hopping little dance, and that’s as close to play as I have ever seen him bend so far. Possibly due to his upbringing this is just not a playful dog. I never see that famous uninhibited Corgi grin. He’s very watchful.

And that’s the place where we’ve made progress with each other – at first, understandably, he accepted me as the new person but he didn’t trust me at all and it really showed. He was – and to a point remains – easily alarmed. He’s happy with his own bed during the day but had trouble getting through nights at first and needed a lot of reassurance. When I changed the rule about sleeping on the bed we suddenly made a lot more progress on that front: He purely loves bedtime now and thinks it should begin as soon as the sun goes down. I have learned never to turn down my covers until I’m ready to use the bed because from that moment I’ll get no peace until we’re both in it. I think he mostly just enjoys feeling warm and safe.

When I volunteered in mid-summer to be his Plan B I did it because it seemed like the right thing to do but I didn’t expect anything to come of it. And when it did happen I wasn’t really all that thrilled. I wasn’t ready for another dog so soon after Little Bear died, and I didn’t want an older dog of a breed that couldn’t be expected to defend itself in the desert. I’ve always heard nice things about Corgis but never expected to have one move in, if only because they’re expensive. And I was kind of worried about the “high energy” thing. But that proved mostly a non-issue, and we’re getting along pretty well all told.

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I’ll take “Things I didn’t want to know under any circumstances” for $50, Alex…

What we learn about Dumbledore’s sexuality in ‘Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald’ (SPOILERS)

Thank you! When I woke this morning I merely didn’t care whether I ever saw the Fantastic Beasts sequel. Now I have an opinion.

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You gotta love this kid…

…In the same sense that you might say “you gotta love mice” because it’s so much fun to find ways to drown them…

David Hogg Compares Shootings To Shark Attacks. There’s Just One Problem.

Imagine saying the only way to stop shark attacks is with more sharks.

Brilliant! Why isn’t he in charge?

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Hillary Clinton Receives Large Cash Advance For ‘What Happened 2’ Ahead Of 2020 Presidential Run

😀 Why not stay ahead of events?

What Happened 2 will explore all the reasons Hillary Clinton lost the 2020 race, from Russian hackers and ignorant bigots to extraterrestrials and global warming.

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I built a second bucket trap…

…put it in the barn where mice have been eating the peanut butter out of the traps.


Then just as I was settling down for the evening I thought, “Joel, you idiot. You should have left the water out of the bucket.” So I was very surprised this morning to find that the bucket contents were still liquid. Also there were no dead mice, which was either good or bad news.

The chicken water in their bowl – I’ve given up on the waterers for now – was only slushy, so it must have stayed relatively warm until almost morning. Definitely cold out, but not long enough to freeze everything solid.

My babies are growing up…


Seems like quite a crowd in the Big Chickenhouse right now: The pullets are no longer chicks and they’re milling around a lot more and mingling with the older RIR hens, getting underfoot. They’re clucking rather than cheeping and starting to grow combs. I don’t know if they’ll lay eggs this winter: Sometimes RIR pullets do and sometimes they don’t, and I don’t know what Leghorns do at all. So I have the worst of both worlds: The chickens are going through pellets like it’s their purpose in life and I’m getting 1-2 eggs per day. So we’re buying pellets AND eggs and it might stay that way through the whole winter. But in summer we’ll have so many eggs it’ll become a neighborhood problem. 🙂

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Heh, heh, heh…

I’m starting to like this.


Took a couple of hours to do it but I recorded a genuine 50o indoor/outdoor temperature ratio this morning. A shirtsleeve cabin when it’s in the teens outdoors! That started out unattainable, then became achievable only through really dedicating yourself to stoking the woodstove. Now it would be routine if I cared that much about taking off my sweatshirt.

Disadvantage: It means suiting up like a spaceman to go outdoors, like I had to when I was Mr. Suburban Man. But since that’s literally a First World Problem, it’s not a problem at all and I’m not complaining.

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Pushy Boy

Except for the lack of screaming tantrums it’s a little like living with my ex. Laddie has a very strong sense of duty.

My duty, that is.

I’m only sort of complaining. I used to get annoyed with LB because he’d never tell me when he needed attention: He’d just stare fixedly at my back and shoot “need to pee” rays at me. Laddie is nowhere near that reticent. This morning he decided that was quite enough sitting around reading in the bedroom: Up, you sluggard! It’s time for food and walkies!


He’s a herding dog, all right. And I’m his flock.

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‘You want the cute?’ YOU CAN’T HANDLE THE CUTE!


Click to embiggen.

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In which Uncle Joel uses a plastic straw to kill cute animals more efficiently

Y’all remember when I posted a picture of the new bucket trap’s first confirmed kill…


See something wrong with that picture? I did not, and I was standing right there. I set up the bucket right next to that blue plastic tub deliberately, to give mice two routes to destruction. But when the first mouse rolled off to a watery grave it took a bit of revenge: It caused the bottle to skitter over toward the tub allowing a successor to eat peanut butter without climbing on to the jar. And eat peanut butter somebody did, the very next day.

I had in mind a small modification that would prevent this in future, but needed a trip to town first. Being a decent human being and exemplary steward of Our Blessed Mother Gaia, I of course do not normally possess the evil, vicious, murderous, never-sufficiently-damned Plastic Straw.

Not normally. But I make exceptions for situations where I’ve been out-thought by mice.

Having acquired an evil plastic straw (at a local Subway store, and may I saw there were very few protesters there – and plastic straws right out where any child could have grabbed a handful) I hurried to Landlady’s place to do my evil deed. The presence of the straw was like an insidious voice in my mind: “Innocent wild animals! Kill! Kill!”

Two snips with a pair of scissors…


And voilà!


I wish I could claim to have thought up this clever little hack myself, but I didn’t. An Indian guy on Youtube does it this way. 🙂

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Okay, the Jeep is spending the week away from home…

“The axle definitely, the steering linkage probably, then tell me what you’ve already cost me and we’ll see what we can do about the engine.”

Neighbor L is going to the big town about 50 miles away on Thursday to get her kneecap screwed and wired back together. D wanted to make sure I’d be available to feed horses, and I said sure, no problem.

“I’ll have to walk, though.” That’s when I told him, when we got together to go to town this morning, that I had the part I’d been waiting for and needed to take the Jeep to the shop. Walking to his place is no problem, I used to do it for pleasure, but the round trip is a pretty good hike.

“Can you drive a stick?”

“Sure I can drive a stick. Why?”


Bless his heart, he lent me his Jeep. Not for keepsies or anything, just through Thursday. But it’s that much less walking I need to do.

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CNN Unveils Their New Slogan:

Heh.

“From ‘The worldwide leader in news’ to ‘This is CNN,’ our taglines have always reflected the core essence of who we are as a news organization,” CNN said in a press release. “Our new slogan perfectly sums up our values, integrity, and passion in three words: Orange Man Bad.”

St. Acosta the Martyr could not be reached for comment, shocking everyone.

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Okay, look…

It’s barely mid-November.


The forecast says at least two more mornings in the teens with slowly-rising afternoon temps. This would be perfectly normal weather for late December. Every morning, first thing after taking care of the more urgent needs of dogs, I write the opening temps and voltage in a ledger book. I just pulled the current book off the shelf: November 13, 2016: 36o. November 13, 2017: 43o. I rest my case, Your Honor. This shit ain’t right.

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Okay, now I’m ready…

Neighbor L (of D&L, not S&L) tripped over a dog and broke her knee. She spent all this afternoon in a hospital, and I just came back from feeding their horses. Needless to say I did not take the Jeep to the shop. Good thing, too, because I sort of made a list of the things I needed to do in the next Jeepless week or two and some of them weren’t going to happen without wheels. For example…


Landlady’s place is low on firewood. Normally there’s no urgency about this; She was here last weekend and won’t be back for two weeks. But this is the last day between now and then I’m certain of having a way to haul wood. I also had to figure out how I was going to get the wood to the Jeep, since normally I just back it up to the woodshed but until it’s repaired the Lair is off-limits. So I strapped an old plastic tub to my handcart and brought a couple of loads up the ridge path that way. This afternoon before going to D&L’s I topped off her woodbox and also maxed out the chicken water jugs. Then when I got back to the vicinity of home I pulled out anything I wouldn’t want to leave with strangers…


…including the gear bag which has most of the Jeep tools as well as boonie stuff like ropes, blanket, pads and helmet. Don’t need people pawing through that.

It never really warmed up today; it briefly hit 40 but now it’s back down near freezing in the shade and not a lot better in the sun, plus a really cold wind. Tomorrow and for the rest of the week it’s supposed to be better, which is good because I’ll be on foot a lot.

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Er…I think you’re complying wrong.

He leads up to a serious if rather obvious point, but I guffawed right out loud.

Recently I had occasion to patronize several commercial establishments including an apartment complex. Displayed on the glass entry door of each was the international symbol for “No,” a red circle bisected by a diagonal line. Centered in each was a handgun; Beretta 92FS in the first, 1911A1, possibly a Colt, in the second, and a Glock 19, Gen 4 in the third.

I thought; thank G-d for Smith & Wesson.

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Landlady goes to war against mice…

We’ve been having a mouse crisis at Landlady’s house. It’s quiet, safe and seldom occupied by humans, and rather less than hermetically sealed. So of course the mice love it.

We have traps everywhere, and about twice a week I go around and remove bodies. Lately some Archimedes among them has figured out how to get bait off the snap traps without dying, and so she has been experimenting with different types and styles of trap. Thursday night when she came up it turned cold, and in one night she recorded a record number of kills in various traps including the bucket. No doubt the cold drove in mice that don’t normally actually live inside the house. So she looked for traces of light coming into darkened rooms, and then broke out a can of expanding foam…


That’s the door to the utility closet where the non-functional water heater resides. I agree that it’s not currently needed, but maybe some sort of tape would have been a better choice: We’re going to have a terrible time getting that door open next time we need it. On the other hand, till then there sure won’t be any mice coming through. No drafts, either.


🙂 Yeah, Landlady was loaded for bear Saturday. And it turned really cold overnight…


…and not a single trap caught a single mouse overnight. So maybe all that expanding foam made a difference.

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Probably a small mulie…

Mulie fawns have mighty small hooves, so that’s probably what I was looking at in the dirt behind the Jeep this morning…


But every time I see tiny little hoofprints like that I wonder: Why don’t we have any javelina? I’ve never seen any, I’ve never heard stories of any, and after all this time I have to believe there aren’t any. But why not? I’ve always wondered.

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Testing the Improvements…

Every year the Lair gets a little more winter-friendly. Summer 2017 brought the crowning improvement, of course, in the form of a heavily-insulated bedroom addition with a vented propane space heater and a thermostat! Ah, the humble thermostat, bringer of civilization.

But small incremental improvements go on, and only need winter mornings to show their worth. Here’s one…

I woke up very interested to learn whether I still had running water, or would need to spend mid-day crawling around replacing pipes under the Lair. Again. But this time the new insulation did its job and water continues to pour only on the right things. Last April Big Brother and I installed a 12v ceiling fan in the new bedroom…


…and it was a big help through the hot part of the summer. On high speed it pulls rather more amperage than would be right if I were running it in the dark, when the solar panels are only collecting frost. But on its lowest speed the effect on the batteries is barely measurable.


And with improvements to the battery bank and low-wattage appliances like that new fan and LED lighting and this new ‘pooter, I no longer have to sweat every little millivolt – especially since the very cold morning tells me it’s going to be a very sunny day. So this morning I have the DC fan on in the bedroom and the AC fan on in the main cabin to circulate heat out of the loft, the woodstove has been up to temperature for only an hour or so and at quarter to six in the morning the coat is off and the sweatshirt is getting uncomfortably warm. Shirtsleeve interior temperatures in winter before sunrise used to be a distant dream – now they are achievable reality.

Of course it’s only mid-November and it’ll get colder than this. But not really a lot colder, and so far we’re looking pretty good.

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I wonder how many promoters of “gun free zones” have ever sat out a shooting in one?

The question seems to come up a lot.

Every time some lunatic walks into a “gun free zone” with a gun to kill a bunch of people so he can finally get the attention he deserves from the LA Times, or because he’s pissed with his (imagined) girlfriend, or because the meds the judge mandated make him lose all sense of proportion, or just because the voices tell him to – every time – we gun owners who didn’t do it brace for the inevitable racket about how we’re to blame for clinging to our perverted phallic symbols and that just proves we love gun violence.

Which, for those of us who actually carry and use guns for protection, is an inversion of the truth. We don’t carry guns because we love violence. We carry guns because we don’t.

Here’s an article about a young man, a survivor of the Thousand Oaks bar shooting, who has lost his last chance to be interviewed on CNN or MSNBC because he lived through the experience but drew all the “wrong” conclusions…

I believe this area was a gun free zone, and although there was security, I don’t believe any were armed. I do know that one security officer was killed right when the shooting started.

If just one person was armed, there is a possibility that it could have been stopped then and there. This is why gun free zones are a danger to us all, and if someone had been there armed, those people would still be alive.

By coincidence I was re-reading a classic old Marko Kloos post just last night that summarizes this business far better than I can before my second cup…

When I carry a gun, I don’t do so because I am looking for a fight, but because I’m looking to be left alone. The gun at my side means that I cannot be forced, only persuaded. I don’t carry it because I’m afraid, but because it enables me to be unafraid. It doesn’t limit the actions of those who would interact with me through reason, only the actions of those who would do so by force. It removes force from the equation…and that’s why carrying a gun is a civilized act.

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Elk everywhere lately…

Funny – you can go a year and never see anything more of elk than tracks and scat. And in fact that’s all I ever see of them in person, except that lately there’s lots and lots of both all through my stomping ground. Probably in the fullness of time they’ll head out somewhere else, but right now they’re not shy about being right here. I pulled the mem card out of the game camera this morning, not expecting much because it’s only been three days or so. Instead I had over 1100 images of at least one elk herd just sort of hanging around, no apparent care in the world, at two different times. It’s always evening or the middle of the night, but the first of these was still in full sun and that’s unusual.


That’s just a random 100 frames, it doesn’t matter: I spent nearly an hour going through the card contents and at no point did anybody do anything particularly interesting or amusing. It’s just unusual that they hung around so long so nonchalantly in such numbers.

And they were quite aware of the camera, of course…


…they mostly just didn’t seem to care.

Clearly they don’t need the waterer to the extent that cattle do, I can go days and nights without ever seeing a single ungulate of any kind and of course last winter there was hardly an elk for the camera to find. But right now they seem to have decided that their place is here, and since that’s so why not have a drink?

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Feel kinda sorry for the poor old thing…

Went for a morning walky and came upon the Jeep just shaking off the morning frost out where I’ve been parking it lately…


Don’t dare drive it down the ridge to the Lair until that axle strut is fixed. I hope to get it to the shop outside town tomorrow morning, after which I’ll be completely Jeepless for a week. I need to check if the outside spigot on Landlady’s house works at all: If not I’ll have to make arrangements with Neighbor L for chicken water, since I’m not walking a 5-gallon jug a mile through rough country.

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