Only the second day this year in triple digits…

…I keep trying to cheer myself up by phrasing it that way. It hasn’t missed triple digits by much any afternoon for the past week.

Nice evening breeze, though.

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And that’s why I always keep expensive ant poison.

We have a big black ant here, very industrious, very hostile, and for some reason they like to build their nests on packed-down driveways.

They’re not fire ants by any means but their bite – and they do bite – gives you a painful welt that will itch for a week. And they will climb you till they find something tender to bite, if you take my meaning.

They are not welcome near the Lair, and the local hardware sells a granular concoction that is sure genocidal death to a nest in hours.

Picture taken just before I left on a dump run with D&L:

Just after I returned 2.5 hours later:

Yeah, they think that stuff is delicious food – and the nest mouth was already littered with dead ants.

Screwest thou not with Uncle Joel.

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“This is starting to feel like a bad idea.”

So said Neighbor D, 15 minutes into trying to straighten out the corral partition in their horse run.

We hadn’t anticipated how deeply the sections had sunk into the clay over the years…

Which, once we had laboriously dug one out, made reconnecting it to its neighbor kind of problematic…

And it was all more work in the hot sun than two old men wanted to do for more than a few minutes at a time.

So in the end we tried cheating…

…and that didn’t do a lot of good either. Finally decided that the only way to do it right would be to tear it out and do it again – and that was also more work than the problem was worth. In the end we agreed it wasn’t that much of a problem in the first place.

On the way home, I ran into the neighborhood’s answer to a traffic jam!

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Water heater progress report…

Got it back together yesterday after the Monday morning water run, this time (so far; it fooled me the first time) leak-free.

Max temperature with good overhead sun, no glass cover:

Capacity at max temperature:

…barely one’o’those. Which is just enough for dish washing or a minimal shower with max sun. So I’m going to be ordering more black hose, which I gather is available on Amazon. Big Brother donated the 100′ currently up there.

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“Uncle Joel, it’s too hot in here. “

Normally TB isn’t interested in joining me on the porch in the evening but even his ‘new things are bad’ extremism has limits. So this evening he’s joining me in the breeze, and for the first time seeming to enjoy it. June has finally had its way with him. ?

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Hey, remember this target stand?

Well, I spent this afternoon cooking up some real .44 Magnum loads for the Model 69. And when you shoot at that particular target inside 20 yards or so with 200 gr. lead bullets that have a lot of powder behind them…

Well, the frame never quite fell over backward. But I kept expecting it to. If I hadn’t wrecked my shoulder to the point where I’ll probably never pop another cap on a real .30 cal rifle … I’d be making the ground stands more substantial.

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Oops. What are the chances?

I’ve been sticking PVC bits together for a fat 40 years in all temperatures, awkward places and positions, and it always works. Say what you will about PVC as plumbing material, it has its faults, but ease of sticking the pieces together without leaking is not among them.

So naturally under perfect workbench conditions, mine sprung a real geyser of a leak. And it’s the ONE fitting for which I don’t have multiple spares. What are the chances? Uncle Murphy just had to get one lick in. It’s so irritating I’m seriously thinking about biking to town today rather than waiting for tomorrow morning’s water run.

But I probably won’t. As for data, well, I did use the thing for shower water yesterday but I didn’t get to mix it with as much cold water as expected…

…because the water never got all that hot. This might have been because the sunlight was never all that bright…

It’s that time of year, and we’re downwind of a grass fire somewhere. But still, I hoped for more. And temperature retention overnight was predictably nil. That might change when the glass cover goes on … but I doubt it.

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New Water Heater #2: That went … well.

I was just about to make lunch and call it an afternoon when it occurred to me that I probably did have the fitting I was lacking – just not in the bag of PVC fittings where it belonged. I had a small leak in the yard spigot over the winter and bought a new one plus the fitting I needed to cement it to the PVC coming out of the ground – but then the leak mysteriously went away and I never got around to it. But it meant I had everything I needed for completion except brackets to hold the pipe to the wall. And I really wanted to see how well this contraption worked. So…

I brought a couple of wrenches and the pipe up the ladder. Carefully went over every hose fitting for tightness. Connected the pipe to the hose. Fiddled about until all was ready, opened the new … thing … to pressure. Waited. And in much less time than anticipated…

The water that first hit the bucket was almost scalding, it had picked up that much heat from the black hose that had been in the sun for some hours. Temperature quickly settled down to no more than tepid, as expected, but I’ll bet in less than an hour I get some seriously hot water out of it. Then I want to know how much, but it’s surely going to be more than a bucket-full.

I went around to climb the ladder to check for leaks in the box, and found myself in a shower…

I had forgotten about that join. I bought a 25′ hose to run water up to the box, but found this morning that it was just that much too short. So I added my newest yard hose to the length, most of which is now in the box. But when going around tightening things I forgot all about that unplanned connection, which I hadn’t even snugged…

Anyway. No drips, probably hot water for this evening’s shower. ?

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New water heater almost done…

To fend off any questions about why I’m doing it this way, consider that my water heater for most of the past fourteen years has been this…

…so I’m not hard to please when it comes to a better source of hot water. I’ve been aware for virtually all that time that I’m throwing away a great power source. Anybody who leaves a garden hose out in the sun can’t be unaware of it. But I never roused myself to do something organized about it until this Spring when Neighbor S wanted to get rid of this. A real, built-for-the-purpose heat exchanger box. Even comes with a big thick heavy sheet of glass.

Right away the scope of the project became daunting: For one thing, where was I supposed to get enough pipe to make use of all that space? If I mounted it in the logical place, which is that spare bit of racking on my solar panel ground mount, I’d have to rebuild one whole side of the thing to take the weight. Then there’s all that re-plumbing and insulation on the cabin: So much crawling around under low floor joists. My heart sank. I couldn’t even be sure any of this would work, and one freezing incident could undo an awful lot of work and expense. Maybe this was just a bad idea.

But Big Brother sent me 2 50’* black hoses, and I got to thinking maybe this should be more of an incremental thing, starting with a pilot project.

It turns out there’s space on the powershed for the box. What about wind? Well, I can fasten it down to the roof almost as easily as I can to the panel rack but right now I’m living in hope that the weight of the water will hold it down against anything but a direct dust devil attack.

Rather than spending days digging up the yard to permanently plumb it into the system, I temporarily ran a new hose up the side of the shed and into the box. As for the outlet…

…BB included an old and rather peculiar fitting for interfacing a hose with a threaded pipe, and that gave me the idea to run PVC across the roof and down the wall over the workbench…

…to a simple faucet.

No big plumbing deal until I see whether and how well this will even work. If it gives good hot water but not enough, no problem: Add more hose. Going outdoors to fill a bucket is still less time and effort than serially boiling pans of water.

I’m stuck on one fitting to mount the faucet, and a couple of brackets of the right size to hold the pipe against the wall. I’ll get that Monday. Other than that, this thing is ready to rock. And we’ll see how well it works.

ETA: BB texted to correct me on a point of information: He sent 2 50-foot hoses, not one.

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Torso Boy! Gung Ho, Uncle Joel!

He was really open for business early this morning. It’s like quarter past five and I haven’t had my coffee yet but I’m wandering around getting dressed – and no sooner do I put the revolver on my belt than he runs to the door…

…stump of a tail wagging madly, ready for action. Usually he’s only intent on making sure breakfast happens ASAP but he seemed sure I was going to go off and leave him early in the morning like I did yesterday. Guessing he decided that preempting that if possible trumped breakfast…

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I guess you can get away with going cheap…

…if you do it early enough.

I don’t know anything about quality optics in general, or binoculars in particular. In fact I rarely give the subject much thought, but it came up this morning. I was futzing around in Landlady’s barn when I came upon a dusty binocular case somebody had forgotten there…

I took the case home to clean it and the glasses inside it, then later in the morning TB and I dropped them off at Landlady’s house while I checked the mousetraps. Maybe she has use for it, maybe not but gathering dirt in the barn isn’t a good look. It got me to thinking about my own “good” binoculars – if you happen to be an optics snob, carefully swallow any food or drink before looking below…

Yup – Bushnell. That’s the price point in which Uncle Joel has always swum, even back when he was a budding young Tactical Tad. I bought these in a K-Mart sometime in the mid-seventies. The case and strap long ago fell apart but the glasses still work well enough I never gave serious thought to upgrading. I suppose if I were a real hunter I might have wanted something more imposing, especially since my unaided eyes have never been much. But the only times I’ve been bugged by a desire to upgrade my kit was when my needs demanded better performance – otherwise it’s been my lifelong habit to go cheap and use it up. Pushing fifty years and these never quite got used up.

Now that I’ve dragged them out of the cabinet, though, I’m thinking about making a new case and putting them in the Jeep. I don’t actually use them much at the cabin but the freebie mini-binocs in the Jeep get used a fair bit and these are better.

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Playing around this morning…

My new target stand is in a part of the wash farther from my neighbors, where the walls are high and gunfire noise doesn’t carry quite so far. It’s a little higher than the sand so out of danger during the more usual sort of water run – but not at all safe from the sort of extraordinary floods we had 2 and 3 years ago. So the glorious clarity of hindsight tells me I need to go back with a drill and rope to secure it to a tree. I love cordless tools. ?

Had to trim away a couple of little bushes, but…

Click for bigger but boy, we’re really asking a lot of the phone’s lens resolution.

…I can get a clear shot at it to well over 100 yards, down on the surface of the wash. It’s there, just to the right of that tree.

Farther than that if I go a little higher…

So now I can play with my rifle on more than ‘that rock over there’ whenever I want, hopefully without bothering neighbors.

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I made a thing!

Ian, bless his heart, gave me the gift of a nice metallic target to do with as I will. What I will is a semi-portable target stand I can place way deep in a canyon area of the wash where I can shoot my rifle any time I want without having to clear schedules with a certain neighbor. Or get yelled at*.

I finished the frame yesterday afternoon, and hung the target just now. Kinda like the way it came out…

It might seem strange to need yet another target in the wash – after all this has been right in my yard for around 13 years…

…and I have full access to this…

But there are noise issues there, which translate to scheduling issues in the interest of not alienating neighbors.

Landlady, who brought up my care packages last weekend, wanted to know why I didn’t just set up Ian’s new targets. After all he said I could…

And they’re ubercool to say the least and I may very well borrow at least that Mozambique from time to time. None of those things existed back in the Pleistocene Era when I competed. But leave them in the wash to be exciting new finds for tourists and scroungers? I think not. And Monsoon is coming, and anything in the wash is in danger of washing downstream never to be found again like my (sob) storebought shooting bench. So no – whatever goes into the wash and isn’t driven into the earth and cemented in place** has to be at least semi-expendable. And those are not.

Ergo, Uncle Joel needed his very own sorta portable metallic rifle target – but wow, AR500 is expensive. So it was really nice of Ian to just gift me this one out of the blue.

*While I don’t deny that the neighbor situation complicates my life, don’t take any of this as a complaint. Having a shooter as a close neighbor is probably inconvenient as hell if you don’t happen to cherish the sound of gunfire and value your quiet. More so if your idea of fun is spending a lot of time with a goofy, spooky horse like Coaltrain who shies at sharp noises. My neighbors also have rights and I’m intent on not becoming the problem here.

**And even then it’s not safe…

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Up on the roof first thing in the morning…

Uncle Joel is afraid of heights. Always has been and it’s not easing with age. But some things are simpler than others, and fortunately for me one of those things is working on the new addition’s nice flat roof. Also, getting up there is no big trick.

But that doesn’t mean I won’t put it off as long as feasible, just because it’s still the top of a roof and I’m afraid of heights. To get past my limitations, I resolve to hit it first thing in the morning – after first coffee but before breakfast – to get it done and out of my life. Also, I approach all scary or distasteful jobs with a sort of ritual of meticulous preparation.

In this particular case, I had to mount the outdoor antenna of Terrapod’s (prototype) passive cell signal booster (Yes, I owe you a care package post. I’ve been lazy…)

…as high as possible on the Lair’s wall, and that meant climbing on to the bedroom’s roof. Scary but doable even for me. Continue reading

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You should be ashamed for being here, you haters!

I was just climbing a ladder to do something scary (see next post) when I got a text from Big Brother…

We had breakfast at a [breakfast place] this morning but couldn’t access your blog on their WiFi. I guess TUAK is considered too subversive? You should be proud!

He included a screenshot…

Click to Embiggen

TUAK is blocked for hate/discrimination. Yup, we’re in that world now.

I don’t know toward whom I have expressed hate*, or against whom I have discriminated**, but it doesn’t have to be overt. I can guess what the problem is here…

What can I say? I’m an old white guy. I admit that I am powerless over my inherent racism and privilege, and that my life has become unmanageable. I seek a power greater than myself, like maybe BLM or Antifa or the Workers World Party, to restore me to sanity. I have made a decision to turn my will and life over to the care of that power, and have made a searching and fearless moral inventory of myself and my despicable racism and privilege. Et Cetera.

It’s a process. See you in the gulag, or if we’re lucky just at our next struggle session.

*Okay, maybe the ATF…

**In hindsight I suppose this was unnecessarily snarky. But not because she’s black

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Good to have that done…

I’ve had this dumb trenching and wiring job hanging over me for four days. I was given the excuse of held up by the lack of a junction box. Landlady couldn’t find one at any of the big-box stores she checked, which seems strange to both of us, but she was sure there were a couple of old ones stored in the barn. I looked but didn’t find any – when she got here, she walked right up to them and handed me one. And there went my last excuse.

So this morning before it got good and hot I went out and trenched in the sand fill over Ian’s Cave.

Glued some conduit together and pulled wire – props to Terrapod.

Apropos of nothing in particular, this is one of those jobs where I’m very happy to have finally gotten a tool tote sufficient for all the little tools. I’m constantly finding myself in the sand a hundred yards from the Jeep with my pockets full of wrenches and cutters and drivers and fasteners. Can’t believe it took me this long to make the thing.

Got everything wired up, a circuit simple enough not even I could screw it up. Went down to the powershed, connected it to power, and brought up a small power tool to test the GFI which was the only real reason I wanted a junction box there. A few times in the past I’ve wished I had an electrical outlet up on top of Ian’s place – within a few feet of his inverter I’d end up running 200 feet of extension cord.

But by this point I had been out in the sun going on 3 hours, walking back and forth half a dozen times for forgotten things, stumbling around in the newly-churned sand. I was tired and sunburned and probably getting a little dehydrated, and punchdrunk as hell. And I could not figure out why the blankety-blank outlet wouldn’t work! Power was definitely connected, the connections were good, there’s no way I screwed up such a simple circuit – but the tool wouldn’t run. I’d be embarrassed to admit how long it took me to notice that the GFI was tripped. Finally pushed the little red button and everything worked fine.

Put the cover on the box, dragged all my tools up to the Jeep, and then carefully went down to disconnect power so as not to electrocute any plumbers. With the probable exception of going back to cover up the conduit, I am DONE.

It’s only mid-day but I need a shower and a nap.

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The best advice…

I was reading through some old posts and came upon this fabulous comment…

A long time ago in the military doing boot I was having a very miserable day where nothing was going right. Near the end of the day the platoon corporal sat me down and gave me one of the best pieces of advice I had ever been given. After finding out what my tale of woe was he said “Son if you are looking for sympathy the only place you are going to find it is in the dictionary between shit and syphilis.”

And I flashed back to a very bad day when a nurse paused by my bed and asked why I looked so sad.

“They’re going to cut my leg [back] off,” I sniffed, expecting a lot of sympathy.

And she replied something to the effect of, “You’ll get over it.”

At the time I thought that was the worst thing I’d ever heard. How could she be so unfeeling?

But in fact she was absolutely right. I mean what the hell else was she supposed to say? She was right. I did.

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Sometimes you just need a piece of string.

It’s summer, and my back-and-forthing has become somewhat more frequent and laden. Between the chickens and a little bootleg gardening* I’ve been emptying a bunch of water bottles, and they accumulate in Landlady’s barn till they reach some sort of critical mass that needs to be taken to the Lair for refilling. If I’m in the Jeep that’s no problem. If I’m afoot, it’s inconvenient.

Finally occurred to me that if I daisychain a little 550 cord and stick it in my pocket the problem goes away.

The length of the cord was determined by what was needed to loop together half a dozen bottles and sling them over my shoulder. Works okay…

And of course right away I started finding all sorts of other uses for it. Really don’t know why I haven’t done this all along. It’s like the container of earplugs, or the speedloader of Magnum ammo: I don’t need it every day but sooner or later I eventually need it and in the meantime it doesn’t cost anything to carry it.

*Which so far has come to literally nothing. I begin to suspect the mice got it.

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My New/Hopefully Improved Shower

Regular readers know that last year I spent all of June housesitting for friends in the city. During that time I became corrupted by the pleasures of the flesh: Their house has one hell of a decadently wonderful shower.

I have lived in the boondocks for the better part of 14 years now, and for most of that time there was no infrastructure specific for bathing at all. Okay, Landlady’s house has a big tub and she has said I may use it, but she has had the same problem keeping a water heater going as I do. I find the process of actually filling a bathtub with warm-to-tepid water more trouble than it’s worth. Ergo, there have been a lot of sponge baths at the kitchen sink in my past. It … works. Sort of.

But oh, that shower. I had forgotten.

When I returned I suffered shower withdrawal pains for a month or so and then decided that a little of something was better than a whole lot of nothing. It wasn’t a perfect solution, but it was a shower of sorts.

Better than a sink bath to be sure, though the preparations got kind of elaborate. But there was an added layer of growing hazard…

The bag is suspended with a nylon strap that passes through a stiff plastic pipe that in turn passes through a loop in the plastic bag. And late last summer one end of that loop started to split.

And the split has grown measurably over the past couple of showers. So I’m expected to sit under a heavy blunt object that not only could but inevitably will eventually fall on my head.

Also, I found out yesterday that the UV radiation through the shower window has been having its way with the plastic of the valve…

…as the ears broke right off in my hand, one after the other.

Good timing as it turns out, because (being concerned about that whole ‘the bag will fall on your head’ scenario) about a month ago I decided to try something new and that something finally arrived today.

An electric pump connected via flexible tube to a shower nozzle, and just stuck in a bucket. And we’ll see how well this works. Haven’t tried it as of this writing. I think I’m going to want a longer tube but I can get that locally – might even have some in the powershed – and this really should be a big improvement.

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Chickens is so…

I don’t know. I don’t even know if I can classify this as stupid as such – just inexplicable.

There are something on the order of a dozen laying hens currently living in the Big Chickenhouse. I wish it to be known that I have provided no shortage of nesting boxes for their convenience.

And others, not to mention various quiet padded corners here and there.

So why oh why…

What’s weird is that they’re not even laying particularly at the moment. A discerning eye can see from those threadbare butts that they’re currently in some sort of dysfunctional molt.

So maybe those 3 or 4 hens are just looking for a quiet place to conspire?

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