Down With Power Audiobook!

L. Neil Smith's
Number 812, March 8, 2015

This isn't brain science here,
folks; it isn't rocket surgery.

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Japanese Pond Turtle—rescued in the nick of time!

The Norseman's Diaries: Close Call / Light at the End of the Tunnel
by Jeff Fullerton

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Attribute to L. Neil Smith's The Libertarian Enterprise

I want my Global Warming!

That could be my next Norseman's Diary entry I thought earlier this week. I was not planning to do another one for a while on the grounds that I'd really like to write about something else and the readership might get tired of hearing about the winter blues. But the weather continues to insist on being so damned newsworthy!

And the situation was getting interesting again.
As Al Gore must surely be running low on copies of Inconvenient Truth to burn—my supply of 28" logs was getting alarmingly low. As in maybe enough wood to get through another night or two. I still had a fair amount of dry wood left but rather not burn through that in the event I need something to restart the fire—or to help green wood catch better.

I want my global warming. Even more than I ever wanted MTV!

Monday 23 Feb

Monday was a wild day—in a positive sense.
Firewood arrived as I was getting ready to leave. Original game plan was to leave the check in my truck but that was not necessary. But then I was running late and wanted it get the pile tarped so I called in and asked if if was slow could I come in a little later and the charge was ok with me coming in at 1 instead of 11. Was good opportunity to do stuff in the greenhouse and with bright sun it was very nice inside. Caught up a few other things as well.

Checking email I got a heads up from UPS that the Woodlander's order was shipping. That was a bit of a surprise! I had attempted to order from them last week but thought the order did not process because of a problem with the CVN on the credit card—but apparently it did. But then I noted the UPS message; it was addressed to "Larry Fullerton". Feared it might be a repeat of the Brown Widow spiders from Glades Herp or the Camellias from a nursery in Maryland that were accidentally shipped to me due to a wrong name being selected for a shipping label. I got in touch with them right away! But it was my order and going to my address and the contents: Aspidistra eliatior, Kleim's Hardy Gardenia and the ginger—Alpina japonica were exactly what I ordered. Slated for delivery midweek. Would have to be vigilant—though these plants are semi hardy and can take a little cold.

Reloaded again that night when I got home. The house was cooler downstairs but still 70 upstairs. Bruce left coal and a post hole digger, may try to roll the big logs by the driveway.

Though I was loosing ground a little it was not as bad as when highs were in the single digits and subzero lows! And having plenty of wood on hand and coal helps a lot too. Way better off than had I not gotten my wood!

Tuesday 24 Feb

Went down to minus 9 overnight. Down to 62 in the living room. It should get better today after it goes up a good bit higher—20s as opposed to 14 F like yesterday. Thought about trying to moving the log before work. But have to defer that plan as it is growing late.

Also had a really close call with the Japanese Pond Turtle trio in the garage. While checking on them in the morning rush yesterday I decided to remove the remaining Dollar Sunfish and forgot to close the lid. Thought that I might not have done it on the way to work but hoped and prayed they would be ok over the day as it was not that cold with highs in the upper 20s.

Got home last night to find the furnace burned down to coals and and reloaded. Did not loose ground this time. But when I checked the garage the lid on the cooler was open and the turts were starting to freeze up. A lid of soft ice on the water and partial freezing around the sides of the containers. Some of the water was turning slushy. Got them just in the nick of time. The turts still responding to external stimuli looked ok. The male even put his head up through the floating chunks after I broke the ice with my fingers. Was not too worried. I've had a few similar near mishaps with the native woodies and spotts through the years. These turts probably colonized Japan during a glacial maximum when the islands were connected to mainland Asia and the climate much colder.

Still a good thing I got to them when I did. And March is just about here. There is light at the end of the tunnel! The turts are thawing out in the cellar. May just keep them there another few days before the move to the greenhouse. The first of March is Sunday. Will probably move them Monday when I'm off again.

Was nice to be off that day because the package from Woodlanders made it to the UPS terminal in New Stanton. Will have to keep a vigil so it does not freeze like the orchid last year or my turts just nearly did!

Wednesday Feb 25: 11:57 PM

Things were going much better in the morning as the house fully recovered the previous day to the set temperature of 68 and remained stable thru the night.

Nice day in the greenhouse too. Like I've not had in a good while. Was back and forth to the house keeping a watchful eye for UPS. Which never came. Tracked the package and it said unable to deliver on the account of emergency conditions. Probably missed the driver when I was inside one of the buildings and he decided it was too dangerous and went on with his route.

Trying to get in touch with the terminal at New Stanton was a cluster. I don't even want to go into detail about that because it was making me crazy jumping thru hoops to talk to a live human and the place was closing for the day very shortly.

Finally got someone who was able to put a hold on the package so it wouldn't go out again and I could pick it up the next day after my appointment for a biometric screening. You know—that goose stepping Lifestyle Returns—or whatever it's called this year—they make us do for insurance coverage at work. More hoops.

Was a pretty good day here weather wise. Much warmer than predicted and ditto for tomorrow. I think the latest installment of Norseman's Hell ran into some resistance in the way of clear skies and higher sun angle which blunted the blow and cut down the intensity and duration of the arctic blast. March is almost here.

Before leaving the greenhouse I measured the Waterland setup and some other things. Preparation for for renovations. Hopefully the coming day would be even better—though I had no complaints about the bygone one other then the problem with the plant delivery.

Thursday Feb 27 02:27 PM

An early start for me with the alarm set for 7. Usually I'm awake by then and don't need an alarm for 11A shift but this was an 8:15 appointment and I didn't want to oversleep and miss it. Felt mild going out the door—probably upper 20s or low 30s but after the hell we've been thru as in Norseman's—it feels balmy. Nice to see the rhododendron leaves not rolled up for a change which is always a welcome indicator of warmer conditions. As is the furnace was idling. Didn't check it until after I got back late morning and it still had a fair amount of wood in it. I had loaded it late around 2 or 3 in the morning.

Made it to the appointment with time to spare. But my screening did not go so well. A C+ as opposed to a B—last time. My cholesterol is high and my glucose borderline. And I fasted this time all day yesterday from a late breakfast on.

Oh well—at least I don't smoke. That's the cardinal sin. I noticed the Tobacco Free facility signs posted by the cigarette nazis as I went in.

Picked up the plants at the UPS terminal.
When I got home I took the box to the greenhouse to open it there.
The plants were all fine—didn't expect problems unless they had gotten exposed to really frigid conditions. These are all fairly hardy warm temperate / subtropicals routinely grown outdoors in the Southland. Where they would be getting some pretty hard exposure to cold right now and would probably loose some foliage but regrow later in the season.

Noticed it was quite a pleasure to be in the greenhouse. Even without the sun which was in hiding that day. It was 33 degrees and snowing outside. According to the phone it was even colder in Mt Pleasant—25—but I'm not sure that was up to date. Was about to turn frigid again for a couple days and then it gets back to a more seasonable conditions on Sunday and then cooler early in the week—but at least the frigid BS looks done for. Our first 50 degree day that was around the beginning of March now pushed back to the 4th. Checked also Kyoto and 50 degree days are becoming the norm. Was thinking maybe I should go ahead and move the Ishigame to the greenhouse while the weather was still relatively mild—rather than play one more round of Russian Roulette with them & Norseman's Hell in the garage for the next two days. Waking up two days early won't hurt. The ones a little farther south are probably up already and even at the latitude of Kyoto & Nagoya they are probably stirring about in the creeks and the males getting amorous. The male was moving in icy water just like the native wood turtles do—when I rescued the trio the other night.

After my last trip to the greenhouse I decided not to move the turts yet on the grounds that it is not a good idea to leave animals unintended in a new setup and I'll be around most of the day tomorrow but working 11 to 11 on the weekend. And the setup is not yet finalized. The sticking point is the filtration system.

So it will probably be the first mild days in March that I'm off. In the end I opted to leave the turts in situ until then.

Well, the last blast of Norseman's Hell is coming!
(Or at least I thought it was then.)

It was already bearing down when I went out to load the furnace for the night. The rhododendron leaves were rolled tight again and my fingers froze while chucking wood up on the pad. Put in four shovels of coal plus a few big chunks. Have enough to get thru the next two nights and then I can probably make it on wood. If it will warm up some more I can subsist on the slash laying around and cut up some logs.

Friday Feb 27

Lost a little ground overnight with the low down in the single digits. Dropped two degrees from the set 68 in the living room. Still 71 upstairs. This is something I can live with for two days. It will probably be pretty decent in the Greenhouse because of the sun.

And it was.
Very nice day in the greenhouse between the brightness and warmth and the plant life in contrast to the snow covered ground and cold outside.

Noticed this week it is quite a pleasure to go out there this time of year. Even without the sun which is in hiding today. It's currently 33 degrees and snowing. According to the phone it's colder in Mt Pleasant—25—but I'm not sure I believe that is up to date. Going to get frigid again for a couple days and then it gets back to a more seasonable 41 on Sunday and then cools down a little—but at least the frigid BS looks done for. Our first 50 degree day that was around the beginning of March now pushed back to the 4th. Checked also the Kyoto forecast and 50 degree days are becoming the norm. Thinking maybe I should just go ahead and move the Ishigame to the greenhouse while the weather is still relatively mild—rather than play one more round of Russian Roulette with them & Norseman's Hell in the garage. Waking up two days early won't hurt. The ones a little farther south are probably up already and even at the ones near Kyoto & Nagoya are probably stirring about in the creeks and the males getting amorous. My male was moving in icy water just like the native wood turtles do—when I rescued the trio the other night.

Sunday March 1

The back of Norseman's Hell is finally broken here. Still yucky with the first day of March coming in like a lion. But it is broken.

I'm now at least able to keep up. And start laying the groundwork to get ahead of the next one.

Ended up holding off on moving the turts. Between leaving them unattended in a new setup while at work I opted to wait until my next days off. They are safe where they are and will keep until then. A gradual wake up is probably better anyways.

Messaged Zimmerman's Fish yesterday. Going to get a dozen more Fundulus escambiae and a half dozen Bantam Sunfish. The Tricolor Shiners they're not sure of yet but I hope to at least get some of those. The spare tank is a no go. They decided not to get rid of the one I want. But it will still be worth a trip to pick up the fish so I can see the ponds and indoor setups. Need some good ideas on the latter in particular to see what I can learn new.

One more day of work and then two off. Number one problem now that the frigid conditions are gone is snow. Hoping to be able to get out of here without shoveling and then back in again tonite. Then I hope it will change over to rain and let natural processes rid my driveway of the accumulation.

Next two days I'll be focused on getting the turts into the greenhouse. I think I'll go it slow with the setup. Might just get a canister filter which will take up less space and then build a living wall / waterfall to run the output over. I used canister filters before when I had turtle tubs in the basement. They work pretty good.

Monday 2 March 4:12 PM.

Not so bad. Was able to make it in last night without shoveling. Maybe an inch or so of snow.

Today was the establishment of a milestone in the husbandry routine for the Japanese Pond Turtles. Time to wake them up and start the breeding season.
Didn't check the temp when I was in the greenhouse when I was up there but it was probably in the 70s because it felt pretty good in there with the sun shining. Which when I checked the forecast again earlier when it disappeared late morning—it was not supposed to be. "mostly cloudy" it still said—and I was a bit frustrated and bummed out.

But the sun came back again.
Decided it was now or never for the JPTs still holding in the basement. But had to feed the turts indoors first. Did the young JPTs, Euro Ponds and Chinese Box Turtles before going to move the JPT trio to the greenhouse. Moved them away from the door into the garage so I could get that open and then raised the outside door and carried the containers out and up to the west door of the greenhouse and set them down so I could get the tote and a remaining piece of Attic Dek to use a support base. It was nice to see the snow in retreat when I looked at the new Gulf Coast Box pens under construction. Time to draw up serious plans for fashioning the lids because it will soon be wake up time for the breeding pair as well as time that the little ones can go outside.

The new design incorporates two pens—a bigger one for the full grown ones and a smaller normal sized pen for the juveniles which can probably be divided to separate different age classes.

The interior of the greenhouse was also a welcome site going in!
To save time—since I need to go back out while there is still daylight—I will tell the story in better detail later. The three JPT breeders made it into their tubs and are doing fine so far. The Attic Dek panel is too wide to put down onto the Waterland Tub as originally planned but rests nicely on top so a design change is in the works.

Tuesday 3 March 2:16 PM

Yesterday was the golden day. Not so golden today with the sun in hiding. But not too bad as even at 28 degrees this AM the furnace which I filled up some time around midnight was just puffing idly and still was when I looked a minute ago. Cloudy and pushing 40 right now. Not bad for early March in Greater Appalachia and better than the original forecast of a few days ago. And better than Wisconsin! But YET ANOTHER cold snap is coming with one more zero degree low! And then I flipped when I went to pull up the long range and saw a minus 9!
COME ON!!!!!!! I growled. Numbers in that range are now about as welcome as an ambulance calling into a busy ER with no beds! Then I realized I had accidentally swiped the screen over to the one for Wisconsin Rapids.

Still not good.
Our forecast is to go down to 18 tonite, zero the next night and 13 the night after with highs in the 20s at least. Then a rebound to highs in the 40s for several days and 50s after that. Looking at the forecast for Ishigame Land and it looks surprisingly cool—not much warmer than what it will be here next week. More reassurance for my turts which are now in a similar temperature regime in the greenhouse. Have to go check them out again and see what else I can get done.

The move a couple days ago turned out to be good timing. They are probably as safe there as they would be in their natural habitat in the wild. Even if the power goes—it would take a while for the water in the greenhouse to freeze. Between the jugs, barrels and the in ground pond and the ground itself—there is a lot of thermal mass.
Pray not-because it would be hell on some of the cold sensitive plants however!

Wednesday 4 March

How quickly things can change.
A storm is moving across the upper south. So far Pennsylvania is in the warmer sector and we are getting rain. Lots of it. The silver lining in it is that the rain is dissolving all the remaining snow and ice that the sun did not melt the previous stretch of sunny days. The not so good aspect is flooding. With the frozen ground there is no where else for the water to go except into the waterways. Luckily there has not been a tremendous amount of snowfall and accumulation this winter—or else people along the rivers would be in really serious trouble.

The drive home from work could be interesting depending on when the switch from rain back to snow happens. Hopefully later rather than sooner. That will happen when the storm passes to the east. Washington and the other mid Atlantic metropolitan centers are in the crosshairs. They will likely be hammered with massive amounts. Snowfall in the 4 to 8 range projected for here.

Thursday 5 March 12:28 AM

Holy Shit of Shitful!

The light at the end of the tunnel is still there but the home stretch is getting rough! Rain changed over to snow much earlier than hoped for and what is normally a 30 minute trip turned into a two hour struggle worthy of the Epic of Gilgamesh! Left one hour early and got home about midnight. Even the main roads were horrible and almost didn't make it taking the course of least resistance from Latrobe to Greensburg to New Stanton to Mount Pleasant and then down 119 and back up 982 to my home township. It doesn't get much more roundabout than that!

So glad to be home safe and sound.
Even if I had to walk in from the church down on the highway. Was hoping to get at least to the Cemetery but three inches of snow made Greenlick Road impassible. Turned back right before the curve at the bottom and was lucky to get back to the church. And was even spinning there to get to a place at the edge of the lot to park.

Snow was ankle deep the whole way home. And lots of slush in my lane which has me worried. Thought about trying to shovel it away before it freezes up but just don't have the energy this late. Furnace was puffing away and I had to bring my devices and mail in so I'm taking a little break before I go back out to load her up real good. There is still time before the temperature starts to drop.

2:38 AM

Very heavy wet snow here.
After spending a while looking at Apalachicola Kings offered by Snakes At Sunset and some new plant catalogs I reluctantly trudged back out into it to feed the fire for the night before the drowsiness overwhelmed me. Not too bad yet as far as temps go. Would be nice of I can keep ahead of it but will be happy to just keep my head above water for the next few days until it abates. Hopefully for a very long time.

Put in 3 logs from the dry stockpile and 3 more from the new pile which may have to be replaced one more time to get me through. And some smaller ones on top plus a little coal. The remaining. bag is probably enough to get me through this cold snap. Already have a plan for the coming winter. Going to try to set up delivery of my big logs for April and the smaller pieces for late spring and get additional loads like I'm doing thru the summer to get everything in place by late Fall.

Nice that I work 8 hours next two days—3 to 11s and can load up the furnace later in the afternoon and not leave it as long as on a 12 hour shift. And good thing as it will get really cold. Down around zero by Friday morning.

Many more things to talk about but dead tired.
At least I'm home and morning is payday!

10:29 AM
A bit snowpocalyptic looking this morning.
21 degrees outside. House still holding at 68 downstairs. 72 in my bedroom.

One of the power lines weighted down with snow and bobbing in the wind is somewhat worrisome. Hope that will fall off soon. Going to have to get out and start shoveling but really don't want to be underneath that swaying wire if it should come down while I'm out there! Luckily I am working 3 to 11. Will probably leave in a few hours to wait for the fire to burn down good so I can get it fully loaded with fresh wood and coal late in the day as possible so it will last until I get home and keep the house from slipping downward. That might happen anyways despite all efforts with it going down to zero tonite. But the light is still there. By the weekend it rebounds into the 40s for highs. And a long stretch of 50s and 60s next couple weeks!

If I can just survive tonite and the next one.

Now to get moving. Breakfast will be spartan as I went through almost everything except of course eggs and shopping on the way home was the last thing I wanted to do knowing I was probably going to have to trek in from the outside. Did that once and it took two trips to move groceries in a backpack from the church to my place.
French toast looks like the ticket. Then check the fire and visit the greenhouse plus shoveling out, feeding turts and doing bills and loading up the furnace before departure—maybe not all in that order.

Friday 6 March 10:58 AM

Latest complaints from Wisconsin—Ray was flipping out again over his weather.
Speaking of flipping a I'm about ready to also. After finishing a more detailed account of yesterday starting when I got in last night—I tried sending it to my friend in Proxmire Country and it got hung up taking forever to go out so I tried shutting down and rebooting and lost everything. Right now I want to dash this iPad against a wall like I once cave-manned a laptop when it crashed on me!

And apparently it did not save in the outbox so here's a recap.

Was taking way too long to dig out because of the wet, heavy nature of the snow and I had a lot of other business to do on the way to work and time was running out. Called in and things were slow so they put me on call until 5pm which gave a little extra time to visit the bank and grab a bite to eat and other things. Decided to let the shoveling go and finish it later when I got home or next day after it warmed up.

Ended up working only 4 hours that day going in at 7P. Called after leaving the Allstate office at 4ish and they were still slow and didn't need me so I went home to shovel out some more. That took a couple hours and was better than waiting another day. The roads were still bad when I got going and I was 15 minutes late. Did shopping on the way home—another good thing I was dug out—or in that case; dug back in—since even from the cemetery it would be a drag to carry groceries up that late on top of reloading the furnace for the night.

Got all that done by 2 AM. It was 3 degrees outside and 66 in the living room. The firebox was burned down to coals and a few remnants of logs which were pushed to the back before reloading with a mix of seasoned and new wood. Put coal on top of that. Still have enough in the bag for another night which will get me thru the last night of Norseman's Hell before the warming trend begins. The furnace was idling so the problem is with my structure not the heating system. The solution is obviously more insulation and sealing the remaining leaks—or some of the global warming that Mr Gore has been promising us! Low 60s is probably the thermal balance that can be maintained when the weather is this frigid. Probably zero or lower last night.

Was back up to 10 degrees when I last checked this morning. 63 in the living room, 69 upstairs. I have survived and will probably survive the next night which promises to be less severe.

The sun has returned and the greenhouse will be nice this afternoon. Will try to spend time there before heading out for work. Off the weekend. Thinking of a trip to RK to put something down on a Rubbermaid. Hope to get two in place by late spring. Talked to Zimmerman's. They have the Tricolor Shiners. Would like to visit their place in Ohio and see the ponds but Brian might not want to hold fish that long until they are thawed out. Might just opt to have them shipped and visit later. Also thinking the same for Zett's Fish Hatchery. Need to get the freshwater mussels which are the essential spawning host for the Rosy Bitterlings—for when they go outside and Drifting PA is called "Drifting" for a reason I'm sure! June would be a much nicer time to visit there! The roads probably look like the flats above Kecksburg right now and if lucky the snow will be gone by the end of April.

1:42 PM

It's coming to an end!
40 degrees on my back porch.
Funny thing thing it's still saying 20 degrees in Mt Pleasant. (Later Ray suggests it might be reflected heat off the house—but that is a shade temperature).
The greenhouse was glorious. Like another spring day in Florida.
And the roads were still bad! At least I was able to get to work on time plus pay another bill on the way!

Saturday 7 March 1:23 AM

One more frigid night ahead. Loaded up good. Should be ok because it won't be as cold as last night and I seem to have gained ground. At 67 downstairs and I did a kind of half assed job throwing in a few logs on the way out this afternoon.

Have to run my numbers in the morning and see what I'm good for. Thinking about going to Rural King and putting a down payment on a stock tank and getting my chicken feed and scratch there if its cheaper than TSC. And some more of the store brand jeans while I'm at it. Need to look into mini chicken coops too for the broody hens so I can separate them from the rest of the flock to hatch and raise their chicks.

10:00 AM

Saturday at last! And start of the long awaited warming trend.
Was down to the low teens last night and the house and I survived. House slipped slightly but will recover. As stated before—a little global warming is a good thing. Happiness is a warmer planet. But the headlines and realtime experience are suggesting a more depressing trend. From the Ice Age Now site of the dissenting climate expert Robert Felix there are numerous posts of stories like this: [Link]


And Treehadists are still at it! [Link]

And there are stories like that all across the nation and around the world. Greater Appalachia has actually gotten off easy this year in comparison to places north and south. Cities in New England have been literally buried under feet of snow and people are fighting over parking spaces and the issue of people trying to block others from taking spots they have laboriously shoveled out. The media silence is deafening in regard to DC getting clobbered and the federal government taking the day off. Maybe it's like Obama's last State of the Union or the clear day like Neil said: when you can see Bulgaria; but who wants to look?

I checked the long range local forecast going into April and the are projecting many days 8 to 10 degrees below normal. Yet the Treehadists are still grabbing at straws to blame man made greenhouse gases citing above normal temps in the West while the East is locked in the frigid grip of the polar vortex. It's warmer in Alaska than Pennsylvania. But that's not really unprecedented. I remember the same thing back in the late 70s and early 80s during the last bout with frigid winters the likes of this and the previous one.

As for this one—it looks like I survived. Outside things are looking good. Sunny and 40 by late morning and the greenhouse ought to be nice. I will go there before heading off to shop for supplies this afternoon. It will be like springtime in Florida! And some 50 and maybe 60 degree days in the near future. Hoping this is the last Norseman's Hell piece for a while.

Still March is a tricky and treacherous month. And sometimes frosts and freezes happen as late as May. And we had snowflakes mixed with rain in August of 1982! During the previous short term cooling episode in my teenage and early adult years we also had cooler, drought prone summers. That might be the next sign.

Stay tuned!

End Notes

Climate change. Of course it's always changing. All the time. But one thing that never changes is the way the central planners are forever looking at the short term trends and trying to interpret them as a mandate for drastic action. In the 1970s during the last cooling trend—it was "global cooling" and the blame was being laid on particulate pollution from heavy industry. And the solution was of course government control of all human activity. Some three decades later it became global warming from man made CO2 emissions—but otherwise the solution was the same. Then it got cold. Really cold! So the moniker became "Climate Change" and the grab bag of excuses to grab power and explain away the failed models is so big I can't keep up with it all anymore!

Never know what you might get in the mail. Brown Widows are a cousin to the infamous Black Widow spiders. Guess I'm lucky it wasn't a Black Mamba. A Gaboon Viper might have cool though!

When I realized I had missed the last State of the Union Address a few weeks ago I could not help but think of Neil's Lever Action essay: On A Clear Day You can See Bulgaria: But Who Want's to Look?

FINALLY!!!! Made it to the Rural King store after many weeks of putting it off—late in the day because I wanted to spend valuable daylight hours in the greenhouse! Quite place to say the least, it was everything I expected it to be the last time when I checked it out on the recommendation of my mentor "Bruce The Historian" and still is. The $9.99 store brand jeans are right there where you come in the door, plus they got nice Cowboy boots and a wide selection of other duds for good prices. And all manner of farm related dry goods and hardware. Felt like a kid in a candy store. Even the little chicken peeps are in!

First thing I put down some money on a 300 Gallon Rubbermaid—the best all around stock tank or aquaculture vessel you can get. Then got my jeans and chicken feed and looked over the small chicken coops. Not bad for the price but not sure if they can hold up to raccoons and other varmints? They did have a 10,000 watt gasoline generator I will have to compare to the ones I've been pricing at Lowe's and a local hardware store in town.

As I said—it was like being a kid in a candy store!

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