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Practice video

Came into the office early this morning to make a quick installation video for our new Truckeee forend for the Benelli M4 shotgun, all in one take.

We’ve been meaning to make some high quality installation videos for years now, but we are always allowing the perfect to be the enemy of the good. We are reluctant to do anything until we have the sound and the lighting right, and we also want to set up a little studio. So nothing ever gets done.

But we are sending this prototype assembly to a guy in the Navy this week and I needed to make an installation video to show him how to install it. No time to make everything perfect. But as you can see, this is on a personal YouTube account of mine and is not ordinarily visible if you don’t have the URL. It’s too crappy and amateurish for our official channel.

More than a year ago we purchased a video editing workstation, lavaliere mic, headphones, Sony Movie Studio 13, etc (we already had a camera), and all this stuff has been sitting in a corner of the warehouse gathering dust. In fact, when I fired up the software this morning to edit the video I had to register the software for the first time.

As with so many things, making videos in-house is a matter of just doing it. I think we can nail the lighting and sound without too much of a problem, so we need to just start shooting stuff. Editing is easy (ironically, over ten years ago I started making innovative (for the time) hiking and shooting videos, but for whatever reason I stopped doing it. Each video was substantially better than the previous one). I’d like to think this first effort has maybe broken the dam, at least a little. It’s no big deal to grab the camera and shoot footage, let’s see what we can do with this.


It was about 14 degrees (F) when I left the house this morning at 6:15, which I think is as cold as it ever gets in Reno. That’s pretty cold if you are from SoCal or Florida, but compared to much of the rest of the country it’s not very cold at all.

So that’s all right then.

Last weekend’s snow is gone from most of the city, but our front lawn is on the north side of the house, so the snow lingers there, with a nightly accretion of coyote and quail tracks. It’s really wonderful.

BTW, one of the first things I learned about dealing with the cold: we have a big chain link gate at the entrance to our office parking lot that we share with two other businesses, and since I’m always the first one to arrive in the morning it’s my job to unlock the padlock that secures the gate. The first really cold morning we experienced after moving here I couldn’t open the lock, no matter what. It was frozen. So I had to park the car outside and walk around the building to get in.

Later in the day (after we finally got the gate open) I asked one of the other building tenants about this and she said it’s a common problem, all you have to do is hold the lock in your bare hand for about 45 seconds and it warms enough that it can be unlocked. And sure enough, it works just as she said, and that’s what I’ve been doing about a third of the mornings for the last three winters.

Bad Harvest forum shut down

The Bad Harvest forum was closed at noon PST today. The reasons why I shut it down were detailed in my announcement from 1 January.

Bad Harvest sticker

During the forum’s final month, I looked in from time to time to see whether anyone was going to accept my advice and start a new forum, and to check for spam and other vandalism. No one started a new forum; instead most of them bleated angrily about my decision to shut down Bad Harvest, though a few conceded they understood my reasoning. Apparently most members migrated to Redspinoff, which had been set up last summer.

I can’t imagine why people got so upset about my decision, especially since the Bad Harvest forum admittedly had many deficiencies, and it is not at all difficult to set up a better one, especially if you are smarter and more capable than almost everyone else on the planet, as most Bad Harvest posters insisted they were (my original farewell message, posted on the site, explained in some detail how to do it; a wasted effort on my part, obviously).

As I said, there were a few who knew where I was coming from. This trenchant bit of emoticon theater was posted anonymously about mid-month (long-time redboarders will recognize the archetypal emotes; everyone else will probably be a little confused):

And sure enough, a great deal of the traffic of the final month of Bad Harvest was dedicated to discussing how the Jews must have got to me. That was the only rational explanation, apparently. Those dirty Jews. They win again.

Well, to set the record straight, no Jews were involved in my decision.

The death of context

The Bad Harvest forum lasted as long as it did because I assumed that no matter how outrageous the content was it didn’t really reflect on me because I wasn’t posting the content, other people were. I never claimed to agree with what was posted there, and I assumed no editorial control. I just hosted and maintained the site.

Since about three or four years ago, that has no longer been a defensible argument. Intolerance is on the upswing in our popular culture, and if we encounter an idea of which we don’t approve the only acceptable reaction is to work to suppress it. Not refute it, but silence it. You sure as fuck don’t host a website where objectionable ideas are freely exchanged.

It’s easy to imagine the eventual interview with some witless paragon of the Fourth Estate:

Cathy Newman: You claim you have nothing to do with the opinions expressed on your web forum?

Me: No, I don’t, I simply host the forum.

Cathy Newman: So what you’re saying is racists and anti-semites should have free forums?

Me: Well, I think if you are hosting a “free speech” forum, you shouldn’t tell people what they can and cannot say, as long as they are not being defamatory or otherwise breaking the law.

Cathy Newman: So what you’re saying is only racists and anti-semites practice free speech?

Me: Eh? Anyone can practice free speech. It’s a free speech forum.

Cathy Newman: Do your customers, especially agencies of the US Federal government, know that you support racists and anti-semites?

Me: I don’t support them, I simply let them say what they want.

Cathy Newman: So what you’re saying is we are lobsters?

Me: Is there someone else there I can talk to?

Channel 4 interview with Mitch Barrie

There’s no explaining it. We are also living in a world where context, which used to be vitally important for complete understanding of any utterance, now means nothing at all.

Remember, the Bad Harvest forum was probably illegal in some English-speaking jurisdictions outside the US. Certainly people have gone to jail in several European countries simply for questioning whether or not the Holocaust happened, or even how severe it really was. Probably the same fate awaits “climate deniers” in the future.

Simply being offensive is a crime in Britain, at least in Scotland:

Luckily for Count Dankula, he was merely fined £800 and didn’t have to go to jail. But even an £800 fine is more than I care to risk for the sake of a gang of anonymous emotionally stunted shut-ins who would never lift a finger for me (or anyone else, as far as I can tell; they hate everyone, except Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin).

Wailing and gnashing of teeth

What’s most odd about the reaction to the shutdown is how so many of these people believed I was in some way obligated to give them a place to post their nonsense, in perpetuity. Now keep in mind, in the ten-year history of the Bad Harvest forum, not one person ever offered to help pay for it. I had a couple (2) offers to assist with moderation, but that’s it. Many, many people had all kinds of fabulous suggestions for making it a better forum, but again, no one ever offered to help code any of these fabulous ideas.

And then they lost their shit because I suggested my livelihood might be put at risk by hosting their racist drivel. Of course, none of them had anything to lose if some nasty person or future atrocity was traced back to the Bad Harvest forum. Only I did. I accepted 100% of the downside for hosting the forum, and they enjoyed 100% of the upside. And I was a bad guy because I decided that was a lousy deal. And once I decided to pull the plug, there was literally nowhere else they could go (aside from Redspinoff). I had silenced them. And silencing a free people is wrong, wrong, wrongity, wrong!

As you can see, a lot of the people on Bad Harvest were little children; or at least they had the emotional development of little children.

Keep in mind, nearly everyone on the redboards is completely anonymous. I never was because back when I got started on-line, on USENET in the 1990s, there was no anonymity. Everyone’s IP address was visible and everyone included their full name and e-mail address in their posts. Why not? Why would you post something you didn’t wish to have your name on?

What’s that word they have for someone who won’t sign his name under his opinions?

But I’m digressing. Anyway, once again I was confronted by the phenomenon I experienced back in 2016 of people who would never think of inconveniencing themselves in the slightest over an issue, not just asking but demanding that I accept huge risks on their behalf. I’m frankly baffled by this. Personally, I am simply not capable of the thought process behind such an attitude. It’s alien to me. And I keep running into it.

The end of the Bad Harvest forum

Bad Harvest sticker

The Bad Harvest forum will be shut down at the end of January 2019 after over a decade of continuous operation. The Bad Harvest forum emotes will be available here for a while.

Why is the Forum Shutting Down?

Before saying anything or committing any act, you should always ask yourself Why? Why do I need to say that? Why do I need to do that? I confess it’s not that easy to do that consistently; but at the very least the thoughtful person will ask after the fact: Why did I say that? Why did I do that?

I believe there is widespread misunderstanding as to why I set up the Bad Harvest forum in the first place, and what I mean by “free speech.” The Bad Harvest forum was inaugurated at a time of global financial collapse as well as a decline in the redboards due to heavy-handed moderation. My idea was to establish a truly unmoderated forum so users could post whatever they wanted, under registered monikers or anonymously, without having to worry about being edited by drama queen forum administrators and their helpers, as was common at the time. This was what was meant by “free speech;” freedom from oppressive moderation, not the freedom to post “NIGGER!” and “KIKE!” all day long.

In 2008, people were much freer than they are today to post brainless racist drivel on-line; so giving racists a soapbox of their own was never my primary objective. Things are different now; online speech is much less free for people with hateful or even unfashionable views, it is far more regulated; and while I agree that’s regrettable in what is supposed to be a free society, it’s not really my problem.

Also, as recently as a decade ago the redboards were far more civil than they are today. Oh, by 2008 the shut-ins had chased off most of the women (at least a third of the FuckedCompany forum membership must have been female back in the day), but back then discussion topics ranged a bit farther than partisan politics, how the Jews control our lives, and how black people ruin everything. Not so anymore. The Bad Harvest forum no longer has any substantial appeal for anyone who isn’t a virulent racist, antisemite or misogynist, or all of the above. It certainly has nothing to offer me and so I often wondered why I bother with it.

There are other more serious considerations as well. When Robert Gregory Bowers shot up a Pittsburgh synagogue in November of last year, a great deal of attention was directed at the on-line platforms he used before the shooting. “Hate speech” remains legal in the US, but it has already been outlawed in much of the rest of the world, and there is little doubt in my mind the Bad Harvest forum would be considered a “hate site” by most of the media should they ever see it. Given that I am not even sympathetic to the racism, antisemitism and misogyny that make up the bulk of the Bad Harvest forum content, I became, quite reasonably, alarmed at the thought of what might happen to me and my business should my site fall under widespread scrutiny in the wake of the next inevitable maniac atrocity.

I’d been thinking about the fate of the Bad Harvest forum throughout the autumn of 2018, but the reaction to the Pittsburgh synagogue shooting settled things for me.

This New Year’s Day I find myself reading Henry David Thoreau, who “went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately.” I, too, would like to live more deliberately in the future, to possibly “front only the essential facts of life . . . and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived.” I don’t see where hosting a message board like today’s Bad Harvest forum fits in that. It’s all actual and potential downsides with no upside at all.

California fires = bad air in Reno

The smoke from the fires is making the air in Reno almost unbreathable. I didn’t go out at all this weekend.

Most of the smoke this last week has been from the Yosemite fire, but now the Carr Fire in Shasta County is contributing. I have whined in this space in previous years about how California fires make the Reno air smoky.

This is what Peavine Peak normally looks like from our house:


This weekend it was invisible. So was Downtown, for that matter.

I am closer to the mountain here at the office:


This morning I can barely see it.

Saturday and Sunday I saw the lovely Blood Moon setting; but this morning we also had a Blood Sun rising.

We’ve had our own fires. The Martin Fire was the largest fire in the country this month, at 435,569 acres, or 680 square miles, but it was far enough away from us that we didn’t see any smoke; and far enough away from everyone else that it didn’t make the news outside Nevada. There was a small fire right here in Hidden Valley on Thursday, and the Perry Fire is burning south of Pyramid Lake where Ingrid and I went shooting a month or two ago.

The images from the Carr Fire, like those from last October’s and December’s fires, are pretty alarming. It’s hard to imagine a fire just charging through built up areas like that. I’ve been wondering what you really need for that to happen. What kind of surrounding forest and brush does it take? I look around and I’m pretty sure we are safe here. We don’t have chaparral here on the eastern and northern sides of the valley, our hillsides are covered with grass. The grass burns readily, the hills east of Sparks seem to burn annually, but I don’t think the fires get hot enough to rage into the neighborhoods. I think perhaps the mustangs, widely regarded as pests, reduce the fire risk by keeping the grass cropped.

Last Thursday’s fire in Hidden Valley, which I don’t think was even given a name, just left a big black patch on a grassy hill. The homes less than 100 feet below the fire are newer ones, with tile roofs and stucco walls. Unless surrounded by heavy trees and brush, which they aren’t because they are so new, such buildings seem to be invulnerable to a nearby grass fire. While my own home is older, and the homes below mine on the hill are older yet, with lots of mature trees and other plantings, the homes above us are newer, clad in tile and stucco and with very few trees or shrubbery. I don’t see a fire getting much traction here, aside from burning up the hillside, which would be sad, but the annual east Sparks examples show that the burned areas grow right back the next year. The fires might even rejuvenate them.

The hills to the south and west are a different story: they are heavily forested, and fires are a real scary threat there. I wouldn’t want to live in the Galena Creek area, for example, as beautiful as it is (and we did look at homes down there).

Releasing the bunnies

Today was the day, just this morning. It was supposed to happen yesterday, but Ingrid said she got too emotional.

We released them in a low hedge near our house in the front yard. The first thing one of them did was run through the hedge and right into Bella, who was standing by watching the whole operation. The bunny ran away from Bella into the side yard, which was a bad place to go as there’s not much cover back there. Luckily, within a few minutes Bella managed to flush that bunny out again and sort of herded it back to the hedge.

Bella is such a sweet, gentle soul. She hates jackrabbits, though. HATES THEM. Dunno why.

So while I hung around for a few minutes before going to work the bunnies explored the hedge and a couple of them would venture out away from the hedge a bit before scooting back. They already seem very comfortable moving around in the fringes of the hedge, they aren’t acting as scared and skittish as they did when they were caged.

They don’t seem much afraid of us. Of course, they won’t let us get very close to them, but they don’t skedaddle on sight like some of the other bunnies in the yard do. They are also very tolerant of Bella, allowing her to come up pretty close. This, of course, worries me. Their most dangerous predators will be coyotes, so I hope they know the difference between my dog and a coyote (Bella sure does, she loves other dogs, but LOSES HER SHIT over coyotes, which of course look just like dogs to me, so I guess animals know the score).

I’ve been getting photo, video and text updates from Ingrid, who is hanging around the front yard this morning, keeping an eye on the bunnies. We left them with water, some carrots (there is plenty for them to eat in the yard, bunnies mostly eat grass), plus a little bunny house I made for them out of pine. Several other bunnies have appeared in the front yard. I hope they help our babies in some way, maybe showing them the ropes.

If they survive the next 48 hours, I think they will do all right.

I hope the other bunnies help our little guys out. I’ve been observing our neighborhood bunnies very carefully, and while cottontails do congregate in small, loose-knit groups, there is nothing like the fairly structured organization I have observed with my own eyes in Europe, and read about in Watership Down . Dunno whether that is good or bad for my babies. On the one hand, it probably means they won’t get much assistance from other bunnies; but then they would probably be regarded as outsiders by a more formal grouping.

Jackrabbits are highly solitary by contrast. Just saw a young one in the yard today, the second I have seen (there’s an adult jackrabbit I see about twice a month). A cottontail was following him around.

Bunny update

Yesterday I went to the feed store and bought a cage, some pine bedding, a water feeder and some kitten formula for the bunnies. They are still very frightened, and huddle in a tea box when I am around, though I can tell they are playing around in the cage when I am away because there are pine shavings all over the floor around the cage and the kitten formula and water dish are empty (but filled with pine shavings).

Last night I gave them more water and kitten formula and this morning it was the same thing, a mess of pine shavings everywhere and the formula and water was gone. The bunnies were huddled together in their tea box.

Ingrid put some bird seed and bunny alfalfa pellets in the cage yesterday, just in case, and this morning I inspected one of the bunny pellets and found little teeth marks. So they are certainly able to eat normal food. In fact, I think they are less than a week from being big enough to release.

I found an informative bunny care document on-line, though every other paragraph basically said YOU SHOULDN’T ATTEMPT TO REHAB BABY BUNNIES ANYWAY AND ONLY EXPERIENCED REHABBERS SHOULD ATTEMPT IT (with links to a directory of rehabbers), so it seemed a little like a big ad. Also, I gathered that most of the advice was for bunnies much smaller than ours, bunnies that had to be fed with a syringe and whose eyes weren’t yet open; my bunnies are much bigger than that, even though they are smaller than tennis balls. But there was a lot of information about bunnies.

For example, what I assumed was a call of distress (since my god it really sounds like one, it’s really kind of horrible) is actually vocalization mom and baby bunnies use to find each other in the dark. So now I wonder whether the blood-curdling scream we heard the other night coming from outside was not the fourth bunny being eaten, but maybe it was just calling for its mom. Maybe he detected his mom in the area and let out a yell. Or maybe so many hours had gone by that he thought it was time to start yelling for mom. I don’t know. But 30 seconds after we heard that one of our own bunnies made the same noise, with no one touching him. So I guess he heard the outside bunny screaming and was simply answering and hoping their mom would come for them too.

The website said the best thing to do is leave the bunnies near the nest and the mom bunny will come back in the night, and while that sounds good to me their nest was in a raised planter, and I have no reason t believe the mom is returning to it. It’s very dangerous for small animals in our yard on account of the motherfucking hawk we have, the one that ate my dove babies, so I don’t want to let them go until I am pretty sure they can take care of themselves.

Ingrid will attempt to handle them some more today, she likes that. I don’t see anything wrong with that, I hope it calms them down. Bella is of course very curious about them and likes to sniff around the cage. I am sure she wouldn’t want to hurt them, but I am concerned about the bunnies becoming too familiar with the dog, as their biggest threat once they are outside will be coyotes (and dogs), in addition to the fucking hawk that killed my baby mourning doves.

Bunny news

Yesterday Bella flushed some very small baby bunnies from the entrance to their burrow in a planter near the front door of the house. Ingrid says there were four babies, and while one ran into the yard, the other three ran towards the door where Ingrid picked them up. There’s no question of returning them to their mother, and they are too small to live for very long outside (in fact, we are pretty sure we heard the fourth one get swooped up by an owl or a coyote or maybe even a skunk last night, those babies can really make a very loud noise).

So now we have baby cottontails to take care of:


We only want to keep them long enough for them to get big enough to release. Right now they are terribly frightened, it’s heartbreaking, but then I suppose living in fear is the natural state for rabbits.

This morning Ingrid will call some wildlife rescue people for advice. We just need to feed them and keep them warm and safe, I reckon.

Return to Black Rock

Spent Saturday night at Black Rock again. It was windy.


It really is an amazing place. We’re going to spend a lot more time there, exploring.


On the way out Sunday we discovered a hot spring by the side of the road:


We also stumbled upon Guru Road:


Almost everyone you know who has been to Black Rock was there for Burning Man. Now while I have never been to Burning Man, I am beyond certain Black Rock is a far more lovely and inviting place when there aren’t 70,000 people with you on the playa.

Okay, so he wasn’t such a great Governor, but . . .

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