Missing Cats, Rocket Scientists, and Scrap Metal
Several nights ago Tinkers - our cat of over ten years - took an evening stroll into the desert and never returned. Tina, Snap, and I spent hours looking for him but (honestly – Snap worked hard at it), for good or for ill, we could find no trace of him. The most likely prospect is that the poor old guy wandered too far from the homestead and got nabbed by a coyote or mountain lion. Needless to say Tina is inconsolable, but after speaking to our neighbor Steve I’m a bit more optimistic. Apparently the Black Rock Desert has an odd psychological effect on housecats: feline-appropriate game is plentiful, water isn’t hard to find, and there are millions upon millions of places to hide. It’s apparently not uncommon for them to go ferule without any warning. I’ve seen a couple out in the brush myself. Steve had a cat that vanished into the salt brush for three months and then reappeared as if nothing had ever happened. Tinkers has definitely been exhibiting signs of desert wanderlust lately, so I remain hopeful that he will turn up.
Regardless, I see two things in Tina’s future: a kitten and a coyote skin jacket.
Delta West Ironworks (my father-in-law’s business) has hit some hard times and has had to shut down, at least temporarily. I spent most of last week helping Frank close the place down: loading welding machines onto trucks, dumping literally tons of scrap metal into recycling bins, and trying to figure out if some of the older equipment was worth anything. We worked hard at it but it was difficult going under hot and dirty conditions. Again, although this was not exactly a high point in anyone’s life, I remain optimistic. We’ve salvaged core portion of Frank’s shop, loaded up his two good work trucks, and he continues to work on big money bids even as I write this. The man is very good at what he does, and I think that Frank will be able to move in with another welder/fabricator within the next month.
Now at long last for the good news. I bought this lifted half-ton 1988 Chevy K10 pickup truck for two grand that I freaking love (see below)! It’s got a few typical older truck problems – mainly, some leaky hoses and gaskets – but I’ve already gotten to work on fixing those. No big deal. It has this rocking carpeted bed enclosed by a Reno-manufactured Caravan shell that cries out “Go camping! Go hunting! Go fishing!” I’ve already paid them to make me a butch three-bar rack for the top of it. It’s four wheel drive, gets about 3 gallons to the mile, and charges down pitted dirt roads like they’re the finest of highways. I doubt it could pass even the most lenient of emissions requirements.
What can I say? Man, after all of these years in California, it’s good to feel like an American again!
My work on both Lucha Libre Hero (my next book for Hero Games) and expanding our warehousing operation to include more clients is coming along nicely. We’ve got a couple of sales nibbles that we hope to reel in soon. We’ve got a budget of about two grand for more industrial shelving and I think we will come in well under that, largely thanks to the fine folks at Twin City Surplus in Reno. We expect to be able to comfortably hold around 50 or so pallets worth of books and CDs in the Midian Warehouse. Tina estimates that Hero’s books will take up about 30 pallets, leaving us with about 20 more to fill with other company’s products. I look forward to the challenge of talking enough small publishers into using our warehousing/fulfillment service to have almost no spaces open by next summer when I expand the warehouse by another 1000 square feet.
On a more interesting note - the desert is filled with rocket scientists! All right, they’re rocket science students and a few professors, but there are dozens and dozens of them from around the world in Gerlach right now. The playa floor – the flattest portion of the Black Rock Desert – is apparently an excellent place to test their rocketry experiments from, so they all gather here once a year. While I was having a few beers at Bruno’s with the team from Georgia Tech the other night, about ten students from Japan walked in. I swear Gerlach is the most bizarrely multicultural small desert town in the West. Between the cowboys (and girls), local desert rats, hunters, Burning Man people, bikers, geologists, off-road enthusiasts, and rocket (cars and actual) people, you never know what you will find.