Sunday, July 5, 2020

It's Livin'

Frequent visitors to this space know that I love that Gus McCrae quote from Lonesome Dove...

"It ain't dyin' I'm talkin' about, it's livin'!"

Another way to think of it is this, which is a philosophical perspective as old as mankind...

"You can't get there from here. Yesterday is gone. Tomorrow is out of reach and will not be what you demand, but rather what it will be. What you do have is today, and today is all you have. Embrace it. Live."

And this...

"You have a finite number of heartbeats but you cannot know the total. You can never get squandered heartbeats back, so waste them at your peril."

At this moment in time the governmedia complex is all in on destroying America in the name of a phantom menace of convenience. That's terrible and it can only lead to horror. But the problem isn't the governmedia complex. And the problem isn't the government of, by, and for the people. That entity hasn't been seen in a very, very long time. The people, including me, abandoned that long ago. No, the problem is with the people.

With all the people, including me. With "we the people." There's an old saying, "you can only con a con artist." What do we think all this free shit is about? It's the opium of the masses. All of these government goods, services, cash, protections, and lovely, sexy, wonderful oppression and victimization. It's all on us. We let that shit happen on our watch, and we knew we were letting it happen.

So here we are, and it sucks. It's going to get much, much worse.

But remember the story of Pandora, who is us. She/we loosed unspeakable ills upon the world, and they will run their course.

We/she opened the pithos. We/she knew better and had plenty of clear, unambiguous warning.

But in the bottom of the pithos, Hope.

So don't be bummed out by this message. We have and will always have hope. We have and will always have the ability to form and hew to the foundational principles we know are right and proper.

So when you look at the impossible task remaining before us, remember that it all starts with what you do today. Don't squander your heartbeats railing against the opium narrative. Embrace today, and do your very best to do the best things for the best reasons.

When you have your own shit suitcased (and you don't -- you're not even close) you can worry about those images and noises emanating from the tee-vee. Until then...

Be well and embrace the blessings of liberty.

Thursday, July 2, 2020

Hard day, long day, good day

Monday yielded an excellent visit with pain management. The doc and I were on the same page from the beginning. He confirmed and reinforced my belief that physical activity and movement are vital to getting better, that fighting through pain is essential, and that the siren song of morpheus is an express train to hell.

The plan we came up with is to target some epidural steroid injections to the symptomatic area as opposed to the area that looks bad on imaging. Nerve/pain mapping shows that the L-5 area needs attention first, followed by L-3.

Long term studies have shown that this approach can be quite efficacious, with 80 percent of people achieving a 50 percent or more reduction in pain over 2-5 years. There are reasons to believe this will work for me, but there are also reasons it might not. The best course forward seems to be targeted injections. If that doesn't work -- and due to hypertrophic foramenal narrowing -- it might not -- then we'll look at surgery. But first things first.

So yesterday I had a 6 a.m. show time for the first injection. And 6 a.m. really meant 5:30 a.m. because of going-through-the-motions phantom menace screening. Which meant wheels in the well NLT 0430. Which meant up and at 'em at 0300 because my B/N had to do all that girl stuff.

So by the time the injection was done it had already been a long day. But it was just beginning.

When we returned we let the kids out of their cell and spent several hours checking cows and exploring. It was a breezy day and a touch on the cool side but there was endless nature stuff on display. It was a lovely and relaxing time. I was a bit wobbly on my pins, but that was expected. I pushed through it.

It's a Horned Lark (Eremophila alpestris) baby. See it?


Cool stuff.

I didn't take enough pics and videos of our simple excursion. Too busy living the moment I guess.

In the evening we shot off a few firecrackers.

Smoke out!

Be well and embrace the blessings of liberty.

Tuesday, June 30, 2020

Homeostatic variability

Everyone -- with a very small but non-zero exception to the rule -- knows that algore was right and our political enemies are perpetrating global warming on us. Temperature is soaring out of control and the ice caps and glaciers are all gone, completely extinct just like the polar bears. It will never snow again. Meteor showers are rampant. We're being murdered by our political enemies who now control the planet and are killing us just cuz, cuz.

Which is a neat trick, because if everybody agrees and we're evenly split as to political enemies, then half of us are wrong.

When you look at actual measurements and other data a very frightening possibility emerges. Since reality doesn't match the global warming narrative -- temps are rising only in doctored computer models, ice caps and glaciers and polar bears (oh my!) still exist, the meteors aren't real, it just keeps snowing...

Maybe we're all wrong.

Occam and reality appear to show overwhelming evidence that the planet's climate is broadly homeostatically variable. That is, climate wobbles back and forth within a normal range, driven by robust feedback mechanisms which are all much more powerful than the collective ape-lizard population. In fact it's fair to say that said population is little more than a skin blemish on the planet.


So atmospheric carbon dioxide is up, as it's always up following a bout of heating. It's a lag indicator. Warming causes carbon dioxide to out-gas from the crust, but it does so gradually and over time. This stuff works according to physical law, not political proclamation. As atmospheric carbon dioxide elevates it has a profound effect on plant biomass. Since every bit of the carbon needed by plants to make cellulose and lignin -- the structural components of leaves and stems and flowers -- comes from atmospheric carbon dioxide, more plants grow and they grow larger, so long as their roots have access to enough water and micronutrients and there is enough sunlight to drive photosynthesis.

These are the conditions we presently enjoy. Conditions are just right for abundant plant growth. Herbivores eat plants and are prey animals. More prey means more predators. More plants and more animals means more food for all living things. Sunlight drives plant growth and the energy stored as hydrocarbon moves up the ever growing pyramid of life. We now live in a golden time.

There are upsides and downsides to living in a golden time. One downside for me is that we now have more thistle to contend with and manage. I mean, seriously, do you think the planet is going to cause growth only in plants approved by a skin blemish? Be serious.

There is a vast difference between the reality of planet Earth and the narrative of the Holy Tee-Vee. It's there for all to see, and it's easy to see once an ape-lizard turns his eyes away from the emperor's absent finery.

It's actually a lot of fun and very satisfying to play the part of the child in HCA's tale, to look at what is and not what everyone insists must be. Being a childlike ape-lizard in this fashion is one of the very best parts of embracing the blessings of liberty. Much better than being childish and demanding that the universe dance to one's tune.

As ever, there are choices.

Be well and embrace the blessings of liberty.

Monday, June 29, 2020

Coming together slowly

It seems like I've got about four or five major efforts ongoing just now. I've got new family stuff, fencing, thistle control, ranch house roof replacement, and medical/nerve pain stuff.

Here's a look at clover blooming on the south side of I-80 where it cuts through the ranch. Bumblebees! Milkweed!

It's all coming together nicely but there never seems to be enough time in the day to make the kind of progress I'd like.

Stock tanks leveled (ish)!

The lack of big progress in any one area is a pain, but it's the price of having many irons in the fire, as they say.

The roof is set to be done today, so that'll be big progress.

Also today I have an appointment for pain management which is supposed to include a nerve conduction test. Then on July 14 an appointment which should resolve (or make progress on resolving) access to neurosurgery.

The family stuff is coming together. As with everything else in the lives of ape-lizards it's a work in progress, but progress is being made.

The major cross fencing job is/has been on hold. Just not enough hours in the day. But that should change once the...

...thistle control progresses a bit more.

Of course daily chores continue as always, and as always, daily chores always reveal one or more items or situations which require a time/effort input to properly resolve (often quite temporarily.

It's true that I often feel I'm spinning my wheels while facing an impossibly long list of tasks. It's a situation which can feel overwhelming if I let it, and sometimes I do. Looked at in scale, context, and perspective, however, it's clear that I'm making very good progress where progress has been lacking for some time.

The situation we face vis-à-vis near- and long-term routine upkeep and maintenance projects is rather interesting and worth touching on.

My Dad was of course the owner of the ranch until his demise. I was the operational manager and my task/responsibility description continually expanded over time. Dad continued to have operational control until he passed, and he was reluctant to delegate  decision making on almost all non-daily tasking, so a lot of things were put on hold for much longer than they should have been. This is a very common thing in family farming and ranching.

Lots of stuff piled up over time and now I'm working away at reducing the pile. It's fair to say that had more upkeep been kept up with ranch operations would be simpler and the to-do lists would not run to so many volumes. But so what? Spending valuable time and effort worrying about what could have been or perhaps should have been will not in any way address what is, so it only makes sense to pass on that kind of speculation and concentrate on doing the job as it exists today, in reality.

Another complicating factor is that when it comes to working with or discussing ranch operations with family members, you just can't fix stupid. I say that in a loving way, but also with a good deal of vexation. The ground truth is that I have years of knowledge and experience seasoned with ongoing learning and formal training. The family members I work with have none of those things, which is fine. However, like almost every other 'merkin on the planet, they know without question and with absolute certainty that if there is anything in the universe they have not fully mastered, it's stuff that's simply not worth knowing. With the Holy Tee-Vee as their guide, they know far, far more about ranching on our particular ranch than I will ever know, and the proof is there for all to see -- I completely reject the teachings of the Holy Tee-Vee.

By Holy Tee-Vee, I mean the zeitgeist of today's simulacrum of America, complete immersion in the sea of media-government information management.

So whenever ranch discussions come up, I nearly always hear word for word repitition of what the Bringers Of Information pronounce on the Holy Tee-Vee. There's no room in that place for reality.

So be it. Crazy people driving themselves crazy, genuflecting in front of the Holy Tee-Vee, knowing in the core of their souls that they cannot be fooled. Emperor's New Clothes? That's just a kid's fairy tale, right? And the Holy Tee-Vee is pronouncing serious, grown-up stuff, right?


In reality we (my family and my fellow Americans and 'merkins) are all dealing with good solid challenges and opportunities to learn and grow. For me in particular I have lots and lots of stuff to keep me out of the death recliner, and that's a very good thing indeed. It'll be interesting to watch and see how many people across the land take the death ride all the way to the end.

As some of us do today when we think of the Good Germans of, oh, 1870 to 1945, history will look back on this time, I fear, and wonder how people could have done what they did.

Sorry about the rant. I didn't intend to do so, but I did.


Be well and embrace the blessings of liberty.

Or not.

Monday, June 22, 2020

In short...

Busy as hell and the going has been hard in a lot of ways.

I'm trying to work with the new blooger interface and it keeps reverting to the old, so if you see a google employee at the riot I'd appreciate it if you'd stomp that motherfiretrucker for me.

Progress on the devil rum front. It's a terribly hard problem and the solution is frightening and involves a lot of work. But it's doable, so there's that. And progress is progress. It's a very good thing.

Be well and embrace the blessings of liberty.

Friday, June 19, 2020

Almost winter

Six months from tomorrow will be the first day of winter. Monday, December 21, 2020. The moment the winter solstice arrives at 3:02 a.m. MST. will be the moment winter begins.

As I write this on June 19 at 7:45 a.m. MDT, winter will arrive in 184 days, 19 hours, and 15 minutes.

On December 21 our planet will have traveled halfway around its orbit and be on the other side of the sun. We'll happily whiz along at an average of 66,600 mph and on the first day of winter we will have chugged nearly 300,000,000 miles on orbit. That's nearly two light seconds! in only half a year! We be smokin'!

But, so, yeah, tomorrow at 3.43 p.m. our time (MDT) summer will begin. The sun will touch it's farthest north apparent point in the sky and begin moving back south immediately. Tomorrow will be the longest day of the year and will also feature the shortest night of the year. Henceforth the days will get shorter and the nights longer.

Until the flip-flop happens On December 21.


On with the show!

Yesterday's job was to seek out, find, and collect data from the Greater Short-Horned Lizard, (Phrynosoma hernandesi). So I was up early and doing ranch work before fun work.

As we were setting off and as I began my search I happened to be shooting some "what a beautiful day" video (plenty more of that to come) when a Horned Lark (Eremophila alpestris) exploded off her nest and did the "chase me I've got a busted wing!" thing. In case you've never heard of this behavior, it's the ground nesting bird's way of trying to lure predators away from their nests and vulnerable young. They flop along the ground and the predator follows. The flopping bird stays just barely out of reach until it decides the threat is far enough away from the nest, when it miraculously recovers from injury and flies away.

Me, I'm a predator. No doubt. I didn't intend to hurt the baby birds, but the mama bird had no way of knowing that, so she did her thing. But I've seen this thing many times before and I learned years ago not to chase the flopping bird. I haven't done that since I was, oh, 55 or 56 I guess. I did want to get some video of the baby larks. The drama unfolds about the 1:00 mark.

We got stuck in and looked for lizards. They weren't very cooperative. Pretty morning though and very enjoyable work.

We kept working and kept getting shut out. Didn't stop being an enjoyable way to spend the morning and provided a great workout.

Wandering up and down the canyon walls on a nice day in late spring is more than a bit magical.

Somebody put a seabed here 150 million years ago. It was below sea level then; today it's at 5,000 feet ASL. Go figure.

By noon we were still shut out. I got a call from a cattle guy and had to decamp for less lizardly work. I was a mile away from the pickup and made it in 13 minutes, gimpy shit and all. Got some American Cliff Swallow (Petrochelidon pyrrhonota) video too.

Brief PSA on drunkenness.

Pretty sound and sight. In my mind anyway...

By the time I'd finished cattle business the Herps were calling it a day. They had caught and gathered data and DNA from seven lizards. While I wasn't there of course!


Last night was a train firetrucking wreck. I had to fight through a lot of pain but finally got to sleep, only to be awakened by the train firetrucking wreck. Well, we'll sleep when we're dead. For some of us death may come at a tragically young age. Which is nothing new. But no less sad for all of that.


Morning and still muzzy from attempted sleep. Beautiful rainy day.

Chuckin' fickens...

Water and the stupidity of smartphone programmers...

Long blathery boolsheet that you should skip...

Butterflies humping in the rain...

Don't be a cricket when the butcher birds are around!

Noisy, mostly crap video. I was trying to sneak up on a Common Nighthawk (Chordeiles minor) sitting on her nest. I did, and she soars at 1:25. I tried to find the eggs but lost my mark and did not find them. The rest of the video is mostly noisy crap.

However, this is what nighthawk eggs in a nighthawk nest look like. At least around here. I found these yesterday about eight miles north of where I shot the video this morning.

Be well and embrace the blessings of liberty.

Wednesday, June 17, 2020

Triumph and disaster

Last evening. Long June sunset shadows. I love June's evening light. I love that I'm alive and sane enough to love June's evening light. Yet another line in my logbook of gratitudes.


If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster
And treat those two impostors just the same...
If, Rudyard Kipling, circa 1895


I'm writing this hours after writing the passage below. Today was a day rife with the appearance of the two impostors. By and large, I treated them just the same. Not perfectly, not exactly. But pretty much the same.

The quality of my day was wonderful. It was a living day. What a blessing!


Here's something I struggle with. So let me describe a bit of the struggle, perhaps with some cogent and useful analysis.
I woke in the night with a lot of nerve pain. Shooting, burning, aching, stabbing, numb, hot, electric, prickly, etc. A real kaleidoscope of yuck.

I knew why. I pushed it too hard yesterday so far as the nerve impingement goes. Specifically, I ran/hiked too hard.

I really struggle with finding the right balance.

On the one hand, "rest" is exactly the wrong thing to do. When I rest and am inactive, in fact when I put in fewer than 10,000 steps (thanks gearfit ii!), I have way more pain and mobility problems than when I'm physically active. In other words, I get all of the pain misery with the bonus gift of feeling like crap physically and not getting anything done. That's a real bummer and the physical and emotional/mental price is too high to pay, at least when there's an alternative.

On the other hand, if I push it too hard I tend to have a lot of pain, and that's no fun. The pain carries a special burden of physical and mental/emotional cargo. So much fear and resentment and selfishness!

And with the pain there's always the siren call of the opiates. Opiates make bearing the pain easier, but there is a huge cost associated with using them. That cost is the thing they do to my mind and soul. They alter my thinking and rearrange my sense of duty. They let the extremely selfish me step forward, and that dude has a very bad and harmful attitude. That dude is ever ready to violate foundational principles in pursuit of egocentric goals. That dude has no use whatever for God. That dude sees other ape-lizards as things to be used rather than full-up equal ape-lizards to be treated according to the dictates of the Golden Rule and Kant's Categorical Imperative. I do not like that dude. That dude is exactly Hitler and Stalin and the rest of the genocidal Lord of the Flies gang. So there are times when I reach for the hydrocodone (generic vicodin I believe). I almost always put it back. When the pain is bad enough, I take one and it helps with the pain. But I know I'm on the bubble for 24 hours or so, and I know that I must work extra hard to stay close to God during that time. The hydrocodone defeats the pain, kinda-sorta, and that's a good thing. But then I must work very hard to keep my mind and heart and soul together. In very many ways it's harder work than just enduring and dealing with the pain.

I'm not talking about addiction, at least not exactly. I've taken exactly four hydrocodone in the last six months. I can understand how and why the stuff is addictive though. When the pain ebbs it's a euphoric feeling. And there's that opiate something that just alters my brain for 24 hours. Alters it in a bad way. In a way that chases me out of the sunlight of the spirit and into a place I don't like and do fear.

I'm afraid I'm not describing my struggle well. That's perhaps not unsurprising considering the fact that I don't understand it very well myself.

In essence, I struggle to find balance in dealing with this pain. I wish there was an always reproducible sweet spot of physical and mental/emotional/spiritual activity which would always yield a perfect or near-perfect outcome. But there isn't. I'm a living, ever changing, mortal being. I exist in a dynamic and kinetic realm where every bit of my life and my place in the world is ever changing. To survive and thrive I must adapt and persevere. I must stick close to God and do my best. I must be willing to suffer and endure, and I must be willing to enjoy and embrace.

It's a struggle. But you have to be alive to struggle. I am alive, and despite my complaining I am utterly in love with my path and my existence. It's hard but it's not too hard, and many of my fellows walk a much harder path yet remain solidly in the sunlight of the spirit. When I truly embrace my existence I walk a path which feels like heaven on earth.


Enough with the struggle already, and on with the show.

Lots of pain in the night and gimping around this morning was pretty crappy. I took NSAID's and acetaminophen and kept on keeping on. Gradually the pain ebbed and I moved better. Not perfectly, but better and with very little pain. This was delightful.

Red and I unintentionally stirred up an interesting and unexpected mini-shitstorm with the cattle.

Treated canada thistle and a brief discussion of plant/ecosystem stuff. My phone cut out unexpectedly due to overheating. I'd placed it on the dash board for 5-10 minutes. The sun is hot!

Long, rambling explanation of my feelings in the moment about larkspur. There are some great images in this video so turn off the sound and enjoy the moving pictures!

Not many things better than reptile hunting with the pros on a brilliant June day!

Those funnel shaped depressions are antlion traps.

Green Racer (Coluber constrictor) showing the milky blue eye of a snake preparing to shed its skin.

Beautiful snake.

Catch and release...

Be well and embrace the blessings of liberty.