Summer Literature

The internet isn’t entirely kitten photos, Facebook spying, and “journalists” projecting politics though their navel lint. There are damn good writers using the ‘net to sell books. Their stories evade the big publisher’s tragic myopia and deliver awesome to long ignored throngs of readers. It behooves us to buy their stuff. Otherwise they’ll quit writing and become bums or real estate agents; even worse, we’d have to go back to reading whatever dross is pushed by the marketing droids in the big publishing houses (self help vegan cookbooks and sparkly vampires?).

I applaud independent writers’ accomplishments and endlessly appreciate that the universe of e-books gave them the freedom to write for the sheer joy of it. To a certain extent I’m guilty of it too. I love annoying people with my serial involving disco wielding squirrels. I’m sure every word makes an English Professor somewhere weep on his tweed jacket. The world needs satire, irreverence, and a little spark of enthusiasm. (No, the need didn’t go away just because Mark Twain made a living in 1885.)

So here’s a list of folks with writing skillz I’ve personally noted. Please support them by buying their books.

Note: Most of today’s choices are appropriate for a summer’s weekend and appeal to a lowbrow libertarian like me. Not every book has to be Dante’s Inferno and require footnotes. It’s nearly June so set down your priceless illuminated manuscript (which is meant for January) and enjoy a couple of “beach books”:

The Grey Man Series.

In honor of Memorial Day, the entire Grey Man series will be on sale starting Friday, the 26th, ending on the 30th. Get them early for the deeper discount.

This is on my summer reading list.

I haven’t read them yet. Also they’re more likely to be serious Westerns than the satirical bullshit listed below. But how can I pass up a sale like that? Incidentally OldNFO’s Blog was on my links but vanished. I have no idea why. I’ll rectify that shortly.

The Wrongthink Sci-Fi Giveaway. (This was the deal of the century!)

“Over the past few years you’ve probably heard about authors who have been punished by the progressive sci-fi “community” for not toeing the line on various political issues…

…Far from being discouraged by the social justice crybullies, however, these authors have thrived by continuing to focus on writing great stories that connect with readers. And now several of them are teaming up to help spread the word about each other’s books.”

The bad news is I got all these sweet sweet books for free but didn’t post it to my blog in time. The good news is they’re not that expensive. I’d already bought half of them full price anyway and you should too. Where else are you gonna’ get that much entertainment for less than the price of a pizza?

One of the “Wrongthink” authors is Robert Kroese. I’d already discovered him when I read (and bought full price… I love ya’ man!) his three book fantasy series: Dis. My favorite, and the first one I read, was Dis-enchanted:

Read it!

The new series I discovered through his devious Wrongthink marketing (and have since purchased) was the Starship Grifters series. This is the space saga of the pathologically humorous risk taker Rex Nihlo and his overworked robot Sasha who tries to keep them alive.

Read it!

The series has the flavor of Hitchiker’s Guide To The Galaxy and who wouldn’t love that? Incidentally, the naming of a parrot in Kroese’s Aye Robot had me laughing my ass off. Well done sir!

Read it!

Another “Wrongthinker” who’d I’d already read at length is Michael Z Williamson and his Freehold Series. Less humor but more shit getting blown up. Perfect summer reading.

Read it!

Honorable mention for kids:

If you have a kid that is soon to be released from the meat-grinder that is public school, I recommend the two book series Memory Boy by Will Weaver. It’s not humorous but it’s a perfect kid’s post apocalyptic story. It was well received by adults and kids alike at the Curmudgeon Compound. Get your kid some books with a little survivalist flavor before schools turn them into snowflakes.

Honorable Mention For Post Apocalyptic Football:

For post apocalyptic libertarian satire you might want Trulbert!: A Comic Novella About the End of the World As We Know It by Mitch Berg.

Don’t let the serious looking book cover fool you, it’s pure joy on every page. Berg covers the collapse, the market price of rabbit skins for buying cappuccino, and the inevitable Presbyterian uprising. Things really get out of hand when the Vikings square off against the Packers in response to their historic atrocities and it looks like Minneapolis may be destroyed (hint: the beer supply is crucial).

None of these have squirrels… but other than that, they’re great escapist books.

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Another Homestead Project Approaches the Finish Line: Part 2

They scraped my punch-drunk body off the floor and propped me against a post.

“You OK?” Someone tentatively asked. Everyone was cringing and hiding in corners. The mechanic, who’d been beaming over his superb work, was nowhere to be found.

A devil appeared on one shoulder. An angel on the other. A silent internal debate ensued.

“Kill them. Kill them all!” Grinned the devil.

“Really? Is that all you got?” I asked impatiently. What’s the point of having a dark side if he’s a moron?

“OK, fine. How about a tantrum? Scream and shout. Tell ‘em how you earned this money and you’re not gonna’ let them fuck you over like this. Tell them you coulda’ bought new and pushed this old piece of shit in a lake for damn near the same price. Seriously, you’ve earned it!” The devil was worked up. He knows I’m a cheap bastard and none too shy about it. He knows I hate blowing money on this kind of equipment.

I turned to the angel, “And your rebuttal.”

The angel was totally laid back. No uptight seething for this dude. He was wearing sunglasses. Looked like he’d just popped over from his metaphysical beach on some eternal Tahiti. He yawned. As if saving my soul was boring.

“Don’t be a pussy.” Said the angel. And poof… he was gone.

The devil and I looked at each other. “I’d sorta’ expected a more cogent argument.” Mused the devil. I nodded.

“So, you’ve been screwed by this insane bill… how shall we overreact and make a jackass out of ourselves?” He warmed to the well-used sales pitch. I’m a cheapskate and was gripping a huge bill that had caught me by surprise. He’d win this round.

I tuned out and looked at the bill. Holy shit there were a lot of parts replaced. And hours of labor. The fabrication, which is a luxury but one I savor, was only a third of the bill. The rest was parts and repair. Spindles, belts, new blades… Yeah, I needed new blades. I hadn’t asked for ‘em but I’m sure they were shot. He’d just known it was time for a replacement and taken the lead.

“…then after you bitch them out and make a big ugly scene you can stomp around and talk about a payment plan!” The devil concluded.

Only a pussy would act like that, I concluded.

I approached the desk and whipped out my checkbook.

“You fellas did a fine job. Thank you.”

Everyone let out a breath and smiled. I cut a check and handed over an amount that not too many years ago would have left me sleeping in my car. My newly repaired stuff really was nice. It was exactly what I needed. It took two trips to get it home.

Then I drank a beer. It started raining. The testing phase would have to wait.

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Another Homestead Project Approaches the Finish Line: Part 1

Oh, God!

The bill.

I’ve racked up big bar tabs and I’ve had outlandish medical bills and I’ve lived through transmission jobs. I know how life works. I know I squirreled away a little money last month and the universe was going to beat it out of me. We’ve all been there… save a small bit of cash for a rainy day (and maybe a sexy air rifle scope) and you’re fucked.

But still I’d walked right into it… with stars and fabricated bracketry in my eyes I’d let my cynical guard down.

I read the digits.

And shit myself.

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Are You From The Past

My non-phone camera really does make it seem like “I’m from the past”. It reminds me of this:

Also… why in hell would I want a camera that makes phone calls? How does that make more sense than a shoe?

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Another Homestead Project Approaches the Finish Line: Part 0

“The middle spindle was all goobered up…” An earnest young man for whom I have tremendous respect was speaking to me. Unfortunately, it was bubbling past my subconscious. I was looking at the welding work.

“Spectacular!” I ran my hand along the support structure. It was exactly unlike me, understated, adequate but not overbuilt. Subtle even. Was that a tear in my eye?

“Yeah the metal that holds the spindle was all bent and the spindle was shot. I had to hammer it flat, just to get the mount point straight enough to install the new part…. And it wasn’t easy.”

Hmm… this is like those times when my wife is trying to tell me something. There’s a point here. The guy is a damn fine small engine mechanic. He doesn’t tell me shit is hard to do just to brag. There’s a reason… but look at that fabrication!

“You mounted it low. Very good thinking. Looks practically OEM. I like the setup. Better balance. I’ll kill a lot of shit with this baby!”

“Thanks!” The guy practically blushed. In the world of small engine repair, I suspect there’s not a lot of effusive praise to be had. Then again, I’m probably the only guy who’s showed up with a fabrication project in years.

“You should do this on the side. You did great.”

“Aw shucks, thanks. Maybe I’ll take a photo.”

I grabbed a battered old digital camera to take a photo just as he reached for the smart phone which is apparently issued at birth to anyone younger than me. He glanced at my camera as if I were carrying around a hybrid of oil paints and an abacus. I sighed, I still have a 35mm camera and can’t let it go.

“I like how you moved the hitch back. That’ll help a lot.” I pointed to the machine to distract from my cheap ‘pay per minute’ phone.

“Yeah, also on the towed engine there was a bad spring.” He waved at the battered machine. “I couldn’t source a replacement.”

No parts? Those commie bastards!

“I snipped off the end, then bent the coil one more wrap. Seems to work. That took some doing too.”

More warnings. Somewhere in my mind klaxons were going off. But what could it be? The new fabrication was awesome, the beast was shot and needed servicing, the towed rig was shit since the day I got it (used) and it was a miracle he’d got it running again. Everything was puppies and rainbows.

Then he shuffled away and someone else handed me a paper. It was the bill.

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Air Rifle Scope Advice II

You guys are awesome! I hear (through remote channels) that I got many comments with a plethora of useful air rifle scope information. Excellent!

Unfortunately, I’m partially “off grid” right now and also busier than a one legged man in an ass kicking contest. So I can’t respond in more detail (or even read my own damn blog) but I will when I’m back. In the meantime I’m delighted to hear the good news.

I’ve instructed my dog to approve all comments in moderation and post this. I’ll savor your advice when I’m back in civilization. (Or my back at my homestead which is something of the opposite of civilization but has decent broadband and is IMHO better than civilization.) If you posted a comment and wonder why I haven’t replied, it’s not because I’m rude… I’m just on the road.

I can’t wait! I’m gonna’ follow whatever advice I get.  Those squirrels won’t know what hit ’em!

Thanks, y’all!

A.C. (As transcribed by his dog)

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The Squirrels Win Another Round / Need Air Rifle Scope Advice

” I’m going to let you in on a little secret. Every day, once a day, give yourself a present. Don’t plan it. Don’t wait for it. Just let it happen. It could be a new shirt at the men’s store, a catnap in your office chair, or two cups of good, hot black coffee.” Dale Cooper, Twin Peaks, 1990.

I’ve been jonesing for a new air rifle ever since I picked up a battered $25 Chinese air rifle a few years ago. That ham handed beast, when sighted in, did OK. I dropped a few chipmunks who were messing with my pig feed and ventilated many soda cans with it. It was far more fun than any $25 object should be. I wanted more.

I planned to get myself a “real air rifle” for Christmas. Alas, you know how it is. You fret over kid’s stuff, trees, decorations, keeping the pipes thawed, whatever… you never treat yourself. Plus I started to drive yourself nuts trying to make the “best” choice within my given price range (which is cheap). I thought too much about it. Soon my head was swimming with $1000 match grade whatzits and versus $300 super gadgetroids and all the fun was gone. I wanted to drop a C-Note and ploink dastardly squirrels, not train for the Olympics. So I tabled it.

But the idea was still there. In fact, once in March I saw a squirrel going to town on my feeder and reached for my new Christmas air rifle… only to realize I hadn’t actually gone beyond the planning stage.

Last month I was rocketing down the highway when the words of Dale Cooper prompted me. It took the next exit and, in less time than I’ll take to choose between a Big Mac and Chicken McNuggets, picked a Gamo Big Cat in .22 caliber. (I bought mine in person but the link goes to about the same thing in Amazon. Also, I note mine says 950 FPS in big sexy letters on the box, but Amazon says 1200… which just explains why I got confused and didn’t buy one over Christmas. Also if the Gamo Big Cat is the Edsel of air rifles, that’s too bad. If I shoulda’ bought the Shoot-O-Matic X-37 in .177 caliber, it’s already water under the bridge. The die is cast. Etc… Also don’t tell me that a $800 rifle would be better. I know that and will ponder it when/if I’ve got the cash burning a hole in my pocket; which is probably never.)

First impressions? All in all it’s pretty nice for a $100 +/- object. It pumps pretty easy for all that energy it’s storing, it’s not too heavy, and aside from being a bit more “plastic” than I’d like, I can’t see any flaws.

The trigger pull is not great, but did I mention it was a $100 air rifle. Also I’m still not used to the funky “recoil” of an air rifle. I fire it and think “what the hell was that”? It’ll take some getting used to.

There were lots of “suppressed” rifles but I didn’t like their heavy barrels. This one is rather loud. Pros and cons to everything, right? Also the barrel is flouted which is amazingly pointless. I’ll admit it looks cool though.

Also the included 4×32 scope has me chasing my tail. Easy installation and OK sight picture but I’m still not pleased. Then again I’m uptight about optics and no “free in the box” scope is perfect.

As for the overall concept of a .22 “hunting” air rifle? Holy shit is that cool! Air rifles ‘aint the toys from when I was a kid. This bastard hits the target hard. Or at least it hits hard compared to what I was expecting. I did get it for hunting; small game of course (mostly for squirrels who are meddling in the world of mind control or stealing chicken feed). As far as I can tell this little rifle will take out anything smaller than big game. I did go for .22 over .177 and maybe that matters a lot? The box (and we all know they’re truthful right?) tells me it shoots 950 fps with “Platinum ammo”.

I’ve been noodling around with various ammo. I need to test a bunch more to find what the rifle likes. I tried some Gamo Platinum Raptor (which came with it) and I inadvertently bought some Gamo Raptor Real Gold. The latter is plated in real gold, which about the stupidest thing ever… but it caught my eye enough that I bought it. (I thought it was “copper jacketed”.) Both of those are expensive, which ruins the fun of air rifles. Later I bought a huge tin of 500 pellets of Benjamin 14.3 grain hollow point lead and the price was cheap enough that each shot is virtually free. Part of the fun is pellets at a few pennies a shot. As expected, the point of aim changes dramatically when I switch ammo. I think I’ll buy some “sample packs” of pellets once I sort out the scope.

Alas, I have one issue and maybe my readers know something and can help?

I installed the 4×32 scope and started slinging pellets at a measured distance. I picked 60′. It seemed that the rifle was fairly precise. Given time the rifle seems up to being a tack driver (within it’s reasonable range). I also got the scope on target in a few shots. However, the way I hold the stock and my eye position has a huge impact. I’ve never had this issue with regular rifles. Is this the parallax effect? Was I sighting in at the wrong distance? Or is it just a crappy scope? Am I doing something wrong?

Sometimes I’d have it dialed in with several shots in a row near perfect. I’d be like “I’ll hit not just a squirrel’s head but pick the eyebrow hair I’ll split… I’m awesome!” Then I’d shift and the sight picture would go all wonky and I’d be “I’ve turned into Mr. Magoo. Why?” What’s causing the “Mr. Magoo” effect? Is it me, a shitty scope, or something I’m doing wrong?

If the solution is a new scope I’m open for recommendations. Keeping in mind this isn’t a “freezer filler and zombie defense” I’d like to keep any new scope in the $50-$75 range. For a big game rifle that’s unreasonable, but hopefully an air rifle in .22 doesn’t need a $900 Swarovski?

If I don’t get that scope figured out, I lose and the squirrels win!

I could use some air rifle scope advice. I defer to those who know more than me… which may be everyone. E-mail me advice or just drop it in the comments. Thanks,


P.S. Heed the valuable life advice of Dale Cooper:

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The Young Scholar

Ol Remus at the Woodpile Report puts up classic paintings from time to time. They really brighten my day. This particular image stood out among his many fine examples. When it flowed beneath the incoming tide of newer posts I missed it:

Apparently it was painted by John Peel in 1871, which is to say I know nothing about it. As seen from our world where art seems to favor “making a goddamn statement upside your head”, it’s almost whimsical. (Link is here.)

I’m glad there are folks out there keeping things classy. It gives me room to fume about the AMC Gremlin and obsess over activist squirrels. Click over to the Woodpile Report and tell him thanks for the art.

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I Have Gone Down The Rabbit Hole With Cover Bands

My mower broke and while stacking wood I took out my arms. (No worries, I’ll heal.)

So I was bored and looking for the webpage where some dude makes an AK out of a shovel (I swear I saw that somewhere)… when I found this. One string? I’m speechless:

And then 22 strings? What black magic is afoot here!?!

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When In Doubt: Play Banjo

Dr. Mingo had a shitty day. We’ve all been there.

In order to cheer him up I present a Eurythmics cover in banjo. Nothin’ makes a day better than banjo.

I like Sweet Dreams but I have to admit it has the world’s most depressing lyrics. So I decided to add an instrumental version of one of my favorites: Enter The Sandman by Metallica. (To be honest, I’m more of a heavy metal fan than Dr. Mingo. But what the hell, it’s banjo y’all!)

Hat tip to Flares into Darkness.

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