Wednesday, March 21, 2018

A picture of the four-footer the Captain pulled out of the river Monday

Like all good pictures of whoppers, the last foot is not in the frame.

Installment 2.2

Denice was bone-tired when she pulled off the freeway.  She pulled into the motel’s parking lot and parked beneath the single, functioning light, then walked into the office.  The sign indicated there were vacancies.

A middle-aged east-Indian woman was sitting behind the counter.  Her name tag read ‘Kumari Desai’.

Denice look at the name tag and arched her eyebrow.  “Not Patel?”

The woman winked and said, “Cousins.”

While Kumari was filling out the paperwork, Denice commented on her bracelets.  “I am always envious of Indian women’s jewelry.  It looks like real gold.”

Kumari said, “It looks like real gold because it is.”

“Don’t you feel a little bit exposed wearing that much gold?  Most people put their good jewelry in a safe and wear fakes.”  Denice said.

Kumari said, “That is because most people do not come from a monsoon culture.  Monsoon cultures must adapt to floods, droughts, plagues and war.  I can walk out this door and move across the continent and start over because I am wearing my bank account. Well, that and because we have family and skills in the hospitality industry.”

Denice said, “Wow.  Those bracelets must have cost a fortune.  Did your husband give you that?”

Kumari laughed.  “No, these bracelets are dowry and wedding gifts.  That is the intention of dowry, you know.  It is insurance against hard times.  It is a sad father who has many daughters because he will die a pauper.”

In the morning Denice made a To Do list on paper.  Denice found she thought better with a pencil in her hand.  Besides, nobody had yet found a way to hack a pad of paper.  Denice had been writing out ‘bullets’ on an index card.  She put them into priority and crossed out the ones that were redundant.  Then she copied the list onto a new card and tossed the working card into the trash.

Upon a moment’s reflection, she pulled the card out of the trash and put it into her pocket.  She had the germ of an idea.

Tuesday, March 20, 2018

Fishing and teaching an old dog new tricks

I went fishing with the Captain yesterday.  He is an old river rat from WAY back.  I did not catch anything but the Captain caught a four footer.  Pictures to follow later.

I was surprised when I could show him something he had not seen before.  Since it was new to him, I thought I would put it on the blog in case it is new to any of you.

Speedy Improved Clinch Knots
I am using a cord from a pair of hearing protection to make the "fish line" more visible.
This is the trick.  After passing the end of the line through the lure's tie-on, place the end and the "incoming" parallel to each other and between your thumb and fore-finger and spin the line by moving your fore-finger on one direction and your thumb in the other.

You can see how my fore-finger moved to the left while my thumb is to the right.

The lure spins if it is hanging freely.

Then complete the usual Improved Clinch knot.  This would be an unimproved Clinch  knot if you tightened it.

Passing the end of the line through the loop parallel to the twisted-pair makes it an Improved Clinch knot.  As always, you can click on any of the pictures to embiggen.
Spit on the loose knot before tightening.  That lubricates the line so it can slide freely and not kink up.  Spitting on the lure is also considered good luck.

Installment 2.1

Denice Delarosa put the ten year old Chevy work truck into gear as she called Dino.  Dino had been her first mentor back before they used the word mentor.

She had been an Ag Economics Ph.D fresh out of Purdue and he was a grizzled, old-school ag extension agent.  He showed her how the world really worked.

Denice was, by anybody’s standards, a homely woman.  As a young woman it would have been charitable to call her plain.  The years had not improved her looks.  Nobody ever accused her of sleeping her way to the top of the Cali “Department of Food Security” which was new-speak for the old Agriculture department.

Prime Minister Bona-Brown had called an emergency meeting in the aftermath of the Los Angeles warehouse catastrophe.  Six hours after the event it was already known that the casualty count would be in the thousands.  The entire San Diego-Los Angeles megalopolis was on lock-down.

The event was attributed to a rogue element in the military.  An entire chain of command from private-to-senior officer was disarmed and placed into detention while they were being debriefed.

The big news for Denice was that the department head who oversaw SD-LA had experienced a stroke while being debriefed.  Denice suspected that the debriefing had been “pharmaceutically enhanced”.  Regardless, Cindy Barbilla was not going to be capable of performing her job.

Bona-Brown had appointed Denice as the department head for SD-LA, starting immediately.

Even in the best of times Bona-Brown’s cabinet was a tumultuous echo-chamber.  Bona-Brown believed, like FDR, Stalin and Hussein, that chaos was easier to manage than a calcified bureaucracy.  Chaos was also a convenient smoke-screen for destroying potential rivals.

It is a long drive from Sacramento to LA and she was going to need to eat.  She might as well eat with Dino.  She was going to need advice.
They ate on the front porch.  Dino was one generation removed from the islands between Greece and Turkey.  Except for the lack of good soil, those islands were an agricultural paradise.  They had also been stepping stones for conquest between Europe-and-Asia, in both directions, for three thousand years.  Dino’s cynicism ran to the very marrow of his bones.

They were eating pita bread, hummas, cucumbers and figs.  The olive oil, lemons, cucumbers and figs were from Dino’s yard. 

Outside Dino’s porch a band of shrieking youngsters were playing soccer with a nearly empty, plastic jug.  To give it weight, one of the kids had put about a handful of damp sand into it.  The game was more interesting than if they had a standard ball.  The trajectory of the jug was nearly impossible to predict.  Kids were kicking at the jug, missing and either falling on their butts or kicking their opponents.  Few of the players seemed to have mastered the art of kicking the jug.

Denice quickly outlined her concerns.  She had no connections in SD-LA.  The situation was in chaos.  Bona-Brown’s Cali Bureau of Investigation was extremely political and all information they shared was highly suspect.

Dino seemed to want to go down memory lane.  He asked, “Do you remember the first thing I told you to do when you started at the department?”

“Yah, you had me buy donuts.” Denice said.  “What does that have to do with anything?” she asked.

“Where did I have you take them?” Dino continued.

Denise thought for a second, “You had me take them to the building maintenance crib.  Why?”

Dino said, “There was a reason I told you to take the donuts there.  What do you think it was.”

Denise said…”Well, I guess it was because electricians and plumbers don’t play political games.  They just tell you what is on their mind.  It is a way of getting information.”

Dino said, “That is almost right.  Never make the mistake of thinking people don’t play political games.  It is part of being the human animal.  Electricians and plumbers will tell you what is on their mind if they trust you more than anybody else in the hierarchy.  The other point is that the maintenance crib was an information node.  Skilled trades are the elite of the building support.  Custodians will think well of you when the electrician fixing the fan in their work-space vouches for you.”

“What happens to a plant in a hot-house when it cannot get sun?” Dino asked.

“It gets tall and spindly.  Sometimes it falls over and dies.  It certainly dies when you transplant it into the sun.” Denice said.

“Exactly!” Dino said.  “Think of organizations as being ecosystems but instead of energy flows there are information flows.  If you don’t develop your own sources all of your information will be fifth hand and won’t be worth a shit.  The problem of the hot-house flower, you starting at the department and you starting at SD-LA are the same.  The only thing that is different is scale.”

“So where am I going to find the maintenance crib for SD-LA?” Denice asked.

Dino said, “You are a smart girl.  I could guess and they would probably be damned good guesses but it will work better for you if they are your own guesses, even if you make a few bad guesses.”

“You know,” Dino said, “I had one more thought.  All of your administrators will belong to Bona-Brown.  You need your own ‘cabinet’.  So you might want to think about finding five or six personal assistants who will be loyal to you.  Remember, it is all about the information flow.”

Denice decided to keep the truck.  It was plain, white work truck with a 60 gallon auxiliary fuel tank in back of the cab.  The ‘Department of Food Security” logo on the doors would be easy enough to paint over.  Transferring the asset from one department to the other should not be a big deal.  Besides, it had a V8 and air conditioning.

Monday, March 19, 2018

Donald Trump is the reincarnation of Samuel Langhorne Clemens

I have pretty much made up my mind to run for president. What the country wants is a candidate who cannot be injured by investigation of his/her past history, so that the enemies of the party will be unable to rake up anything against him that nobody ever heard of before. If you know the worst about a candidate to begin with, every attempt to spring things on him will be checkmated. 

Now I am going to enter the field with an open record. I am going to own up in advance to all the wickedness I have done, and if any congressional committee is disposed to prowl around my biography in the hope of discovering any dark and deadly deed that I have secreted, why—let it prowl.

In the first place, I admit that I treed a rheumatic grandfather of mine in the winter of 1850 1970 He was old and inexpert in climbing trees, but with the heartless brutality that is characteristic of me, I ran him out of the front door in his nightshirt at the point of a shotgun and caused him to bowl up a maple tree in Central Park, where he remained all night, while I emptied shot into his legs. 

I did this because he snored. I will do it again if I ever have another grandfather. I am as inhuman now as I was in 1850 1970. I candidly acknowledge that I ran away at the Battle of Gettysburg Kent, Ohio. My friends have tried to smooth over this fact by asserting that I did so for the purpose of imitating Washington, who went into the woods at Valley Forge for the purpose of saying his prayers. It was a miserable subterfuge. 

I struck out in a straight line for the Tropic of Cancer, because I was scared. I wanted my country saved, but I preferred to have somebody else save it. I entertain that preference yet. If the bubble reputation can be obtained only at the cannon’s mouth, I am willing to go there for it, provided the cannon is empty. If it is loaded, my immortal and inflexible purpose is to get over the fence and go home. My invariable practice in war has been to bring out of every fight two-thirds more men than when I went in. This seems to me to be Napoleonic in its grandeur.

My financial views are of the most decided character, but they are not likely, perhaps, to increase my popularity with the advocates of inflation. I do not insist upon the special supremacy of rag money or hard money. The great fundamental principle of my life is to take any kind I can get.

The rumor that I buried a dead aunt under my grapevine was correct. The vine needed fertilizing, my aunt had to be buried, and I dedicated her to this high purpose. Does that unfit me for the presidency? The Constitution of our country does not say so. No other citizen was ever considered unworthy of this office because he enriched his grapevines with his dead relatives. Why should I be selected as the first victim of an absurd prejudice?

I admit also that I am not a friend of the poor man. I regard the poor man, in his present condition, as so much wasted raw material. Cut up and properly canned, he might be made useful to fatten the natives of the cannibal islands and to improve our export trade with that region. I shall recommend legislation upon the subject in my first message. My campaign cry will be, “Desiccate the poor workingman; stuff him into sausages.”

These are about the worst parts of my record. On them I come before the country. If my country don’t want me, I will go back again. But I recommend myself as a safe man—a man who starts from the basis of total depravity and proposes to be fiendish to the last.

Dog pictures for Belladonna

Tadpoles...shouldn't there be tadpoles????  Or minnows?

Belladonna is a bit under the weather.  It sounds like Norovirus.

I am posting some pictures of her dog to cheer her up.

FEMA Trailers for Squirrels

Behold; the ubiquitous, five gallon, poly bucket in a soothing shade of green.

I used a 2-1/2" hole saw for the entrance.  Squirrels can chew the hole larger if they want it to be larger.  The reason for tipping the buckets upside-down is that the lids are not very resistant to UV light.  Flipping them over exposes the pigmented, thicker material of the bucket to the sun and puts the thin, less pigmented lids in the shade.

Holes are drilled in the sides near the bottom to reattach the bail.  I used a 1/4" bit and had to rebend the bails a little bit to make them pop in.  The holes for the bail should be an inch closer to the entrance than the center-line.  Reason to be explained in a later slide.

If you look closely you can see that the ridge that runs around the bottom of the bucket was skived out in a couple of places.  You do NOT want the water to drain toward the entrance hole.

The easiest way to drill the holes for the climbing cleat is to position it on the outside and drill the pilot holes through the cleat and through the bucket.  The top of the cleat was positioned about 3/4 inch from the bottom of the hole.

Here is the cleat after attaching it with pole barn screws.  The weight of the cleat has a tendency to tilt the bucket so water and snow melt drains down the side with the hole.  Biasing the bail holes toward the entrance side cause that side to tip up and water drains off the back.

Nesting material.

The bottom was attached with baling twine.  It would have been faster to use 14 gauge wire.  When using twine, loosely tie the first three positions so you can open the lid enough to run the twine through the last set of holes.  Then seat the lid and retighten all four ties.

Drainage holes.

This is a typical squirrel installation.  The squirrel can access the hole by way of the trunk.  The bail is tied to an unseen branch.  This tree happens to be a Black Locust.  All entrances were positioned so they were facing east-northeast so they in the lee of the prevailing winds.

Here is another squirrel installation.  This is snuggled between three branches on a Black Walnut.  The downside of this installation is that a raccoon might chew through the bottom to get at the nest.
This is a raptor or woodpecker installation.  Flickers and other woodpeckers favor 2.5" diameter nesting holes while small raptors prefer 3" diameter.  When nesting cavities are rare they can probably squeeze through the smaller holes.
There really is not much to these FEMA trailers for squirrels.  They are simple enough to bang them out in 10 minutes a piece if you have the materials and tools handy.