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A confession

… and some more miscellany.

The confession

The astute among you who’ve followed my links to Joel Simon’s blog, The Ultimate Answer to Kings, have noticed, shall we say, a few similarities between Joel’s life and mine.

I think it’s time to reveal the secret.

No, I am not Joel Simon. I have more hair and I’d look just awful in that beard, not to mention that Jayne Cobb cunning hat.

But I am the neighbor Joel refers to as W. or Uncle W. — and I suspect his attempt to turn me into a person of the male persuasion for literary purposes has fooled very few readers.

So there you have it. Yes, Joel is the hermit neighbor who lives in the next trailer down the ridge. It’s nice having a crotchety old one-legged hermit for a neighbor. They leave you alone, which is good. Except when you don’t want to be left alone. Which is also good.

Joel is very much like his fictional character Shadow, from stories like this one. And he and Shadow are both more suited to being desert rats than I.

So that’s that. Joel, you can now quit your unconvincing attempts to hide my identity.

… and the miscellany for today

  • Awwwwww. This is so sweeeeeeeet.
  • On the other hand, this isn’t sweet at all. It’s crude. In the oily sense. Yet it’s strange how something so terrible can look beautiful when captured at the right moment, in the right light.
  • And if you’re interested in a good site for following oil spill news — with speculation, but speculation by very knowledgeable people — The Oil Drum is a good place to start. The link goes to a current article that supports the viewpoint (that we’ve been hearing increasingly) that the well structure itself is compromised and the leak will keep getting worse. But no Alex Jonesy stuff this time.
  • Oh, just what we need! “A Fannie and Freddie for Food.” Government-grocery store partnerships, all across this great land! That’ll ensure that we all have full bellies and healthy nutrition, won’t it? Ya sure, you betcha. (And really, while I knew I lived in an actual desert, I had no idea that living 10+ miles from the nearest grocery store put me in a “food desert.” Geez, should I just curl up and die, or what? You poor folks who live above the arctic circle somewhere or in rural Wyoming just ought to shoot yourselves before you starve to death, I guess.)


  1. Joel
    Joel June 17, 2010 1:32 pm

    I am not like Shadow. Very much.

  2. Claire
    Claire June 17, 2010 1:36 pm

    Geez, Joel, you posted your denial before I even finished spell-checking my blog entry. That’s suspiciously politicianlike behavior.

    Who was it who said, “Don’t believe anything until it’s been officially denied”?

    Readers will draw their own conclusions. And based on your photo alone, I think they’ll all side with me.

  3. Joel
    Joel June 17, 2010 1:48 pm

    That’s suspiciously politicianlike behavior.


  4. Tim Osman
    Tim Osman June 17, 2010 2:00 pm

    This makes me so curious. You knew each other for years – did he move there just to be close to you?

    And I don’t remember him having only one leg…

  5. Joel
    Joel June 17, 2010 2:04 pm

    Now that Claire let the cat out of the bag, I plan to write a post that describes just how I ended up here. Claire is to blame, very directly, but I didn’t move here to be close to her because she was in the Pacific Northwest at the time and there seemed little likelihood that she’d move to the desert.

  6. Claire
    Claire June 17, 2010 2:35 pm

    Yep, we knew each other for years online. In fact, when I first “met” Joel at what is now The Mental Militia discussion forums, I kept noticing, “This guy thinks exactly like me — only better.” He was always responding to some post precisely as I was about to, but more cleverly. And in fewer words.

    But he’s right; he sure didn’t move here to be near me. Aside from the fact that I wasn’t anywhere near the place when he got here, when we actually did meet up in person, we didn’t particularly like each other. Long story. Not until I got here last year did I decide, slowly, that he was the best of neighbors.

    And yep, one leg. Not me. I have two. And no beard.

  7. Claire
    Claire June 17, 2010 2:37 pm

    “That’s suspiciously politicianlike behavior.”


    Oh. Okay. That was sort of a low blow, wasn’t it?

  8. parabarbarian
    parabarbarian June 17, 2010 5:47 pm

    I used to hang out at the mental militia I think I met Joel Simon sometime back in ’04 or ’05. Artificial leg. M1A. Working on a novel. Called himself
    John DeWitt as I recall.

  9. Tim Osman
    Tim Osman June 17, 2010 7:42 pm

    I met him too at a TCF meetup, but I didn’t even notice the leg. How oblivious am I?

  10. Ellendra
    Ellendra June 17, 2010 8:23 pm

    I think my land is more than a mile’s drive from the nearest paved road, I’d have to check to see how far it is to the grocery store.

    You can tell they’re urbanites if they think having a rural neighborhood more than a mile from the store is a “problem”.

  11. Jac
    Jac June 18, 2010 12:44 pm

    Wait, what…? I really am slow; he fooled me. Maybe I just don’t pay enough attention…

  12. Jim B.
    Jim B. June 19, 2010 11:42 am

    Why not just get a piece of land and Tumbleweed house it? You’ll only have to pay taxes on just the land itself. You don’t have to buy the plans, the most you’d actually need to, maybe, get the book. You can figure out the rest. It’s basically a glorified shed with the inside decked out for habitation. That’s why many people criticized the price of plans.

  13. George Potter
    George Potter June 19, 2010 2:37 pm

    As I said over at Joel’s, I pretty muched twigged to it over a movie reference. 😛

  14. Claire
    Claire June 20, 2010 8:52 am

    Jim B., I agree the Tumbleweed option can be great — especially for people who don’t like to stay put. And if the only object is to avoid high property taxes, any sort of wheeled dwelling seems a good bet.

    But after 10 years in a studio cabin and one in a friend’s fifth-wheel, it’s my time to have a little more space (particularly since I work out of my home and enjoy other activities like art that can take up a lot of space).

    I expect people are often surprised at the cost of the Tumbleweed option, too. In my case, by the time I’d built the wheeled house, bought land, and provided water, power, fencing, driveway, etc. I would have spent far more than I would on the older 1400-square-foot house (for me, a mansion!) I’ve got my eye on. There are SO many inexpensive older houses around right now.

    Thanks for the notion, though. FWIW, I’ve been making notes and gathering links for another “living in small spaces” article, which I hope to get around to sometime soon.

  15. Claire
    Claire June 20, 2010 8:54 am

    LOL, George, I guessed you might be one who’d figure it out. And I’m not to surprised in your case that The Clue had to do with movies.

  16. Jim B.
    Jim B. June 20, 2010 4:43 pm

    Well, I thought that maybe you wouldn’t have to go whole hog on the quality that Jay Shafer spent on his homes. After all, unless one’s do a good amount of upkeep, like most homeowners, I suspect that even a Tumbleweed would degrade pretty quickly, so why spend so much?

  17. Claire
    Claire June 21, 2010 5:47 am

    You’re right, Jim B. Something like a Tumbleweed could be built for a lot less than Shafer’s prices. But if you’re going to live in that small a space, you do need lots of storage, which is likely to be either elegant and expensive or cheap and clunky (and therefore maddeningly annoying). Besides, unless you’re just going to drive the thing into an RV park and hook up, it’s the infrastructure costs to develop a piece of owned land that’ll really bite you.

    Above all, though, I just feel that my time of living in very, very small spaces wants to be at an end. It’s been an interesting and a good time. But if I can get a 1400-square foot house so cheap … why not? Yes, I do worry about the cost heat and electricity in the larger space. And the taxes aren’t pretty, for sure. But it’s a tradeoff …

  18. Joe in NH
    Joe in NH June 21, 2010 6:49 am

    Food deserts sounds more like “government subsidy” of processed, adulterated, pre-packaged, pre-prepared and “consumer grade” foodstuffs – and more particularly the financial subsidy of those who provide it.

    It’s a way of buying compliance. Expouse high motivations, but do it for the control.

    It will not be so much a partnership, but a “purchase order” with stocking decisionmaking by store managers sacrificed to the mantle of uniformity and paid for with tax dollars. After all, we can’t have the loose cannons of “local tastes” override the minimum mandated government standards for food consumption, can we? What if the local taste goes to unhealthy fried foods and gravy on biscuits for breakfast (i.e. Mississippi with the highest rates per capita of obesity)

    This cannot be allowed to happen. The stores will be mandated to sell “healthy” and will be suitably compensated for the loss of profit that this will bring – and in turn will be under control and direction by those who “know better.”

    And while we will gain in our collective health, we will lose in our culinary variation, and lose in exercising the muscle of our individual and collective will.

    Control the food and you control your dog’s response. “Here doggie, sit up and I’ll give you a little treat!”

    Gosh there is so many people who know better about so many things. With what you put in your mouth being but one of them. It’s like don’t even try to make your own decision anymore – you will be wrong.

    Joe in NH

  19. Claire
    Claire June 21, 2010 7:38 am

    “And while we will gain in our collective health, we will lose in our culinary variation, and lose in exercising the muscle of our individual and collective will.”

    I think your worries are spot on, Joe. In fact, it’ll be worse than that.

    First off, we won’t gain in collective health. It’s becoming painfully obvious over the last couple of decades of increasing overweight and degenerative diseases, that what the fedgov defines as “healthy” isn’t (e.g. a diet heavy-heavy in grains and low in fat; or highly processed foods that meet some political criteria to get a favorable health label).

    Even scarier, if the government ever does manage to take control of nationwide food distribution and sales via subsidies and regulation, it’ll have no problem cutting off supply to selected geographic areas when it decides to, or cutting off distribution of certain types of food.

    Not to mention that, even in the best of times, government control = short supply + high prices + product going to the politically favored.

    Can’t think of a single good thing about this whole plan, can you?

  20. Ellendra
    Ellendra June 22, 2010 8:29 pm

    I can’t think of anything good about this plan, but I can think of a possible work-around for rural folks. What if one farmer volunteered a corner of his garage for a food co-op, for bulk food orders once a month? Not a complete grocery store, but possibly enough to no longer be a “food desert”?

    For even more sparsely populated areas, a mobile co-op might work.

  21. Hela Vasale
    Hela Vasale July 17, 2010 4:36 pm

    I love these tiny houses and I am seriously thinking of one for myself in the future. Living small is a great idea.

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