Thursday, July 31, 2014

Faggots: G-Rated, really.

Old NFO posted the following comments under "Burning Brush"

Yep, that's called paying it forward... And you really have to get those faggots tight! The biggest problem I had was a binding that lasted more than a minute before burning through...

I must preface the following comments by acknowledging that I have not actually tried them.

I have been informed by a reliable source that 14 gauge, steel wire does not burn and can be reused.  14 gauge wire is commonly used for temporary electric fences.

The American Boy's Handy Book discusses how to make "hen-coop rustic traps".  At the bottom of the page it discusses how to make "withes".  Picture in your head one of the long, green hanging boughs of a weeping-willow, twisted to make it fibrous and "grippy".  A key point is that the withe is tightened by forcing more sticks beneath them.  I believe the same technique can be applied to faggots.  Weeping willow was specified because it is an extreme example of long, slender, unbranched whips.  Other species can be pressed into service.

Picture from HERE

Another thought is to use a faggot as a "Swedish Candle".  The most common directions for making a Swedish Candle involve taking a two or three foot long log and making three or four cuts about two-thirds the way down the length of the log with a chainsaw. 

Chainsaws are not stealthy and awkward to carry.  Hand loppers are another story.  The flames go up and don't stress the bindings until later in the event.  It would be prudent to make the Swedish Candle assembled from small wood shorter than the log version for reasons of stability.  It might also be smart to bind a three or more lengths of rebar in the faggot to provide stability as the candle burns.

One of the reasons for the high efficiency of Rocket Stoves is that they duct the fire's heat around the cook pot.  Picture from HERE

A third option, one that can be combined with the Swedish Candle, is to use a steel can.  The picture in my head is to wedge the top of the Swedish Candle into the can.  The can not only holds the top together but ducts the heat around the pot and helps pull a draft.

Obama Air

Hat tip to Doug

Burning Brush

Burning brush is one of the less glamorous jobs around the place.  Last winter's ice storms left me with much brush to burn.

Burning brush is a good time to drink a few beers and to think deep thoughts.

The Nearing's book, The Good Life, speaks much of burning wood.  One of their discussions involves the utilization of "small" wood.  They propose binding them into faggots, a rather unfortunate name given the later evolution of the word.

A "faggot" in wood burning lexicon is a tightly bound bundle of slender twigs, such that they are compacted and burn more slowly and evenly than if left in their natural state.  Even the largest of oak trees, once felled, has a prodigious percentage of its biomass in twigs.  As long as the ashes are returned to the forest there is only a modest environmental toll.

A careful reading of The Good Life reveals that the Nearings had a nearly inexhaustible source of free labor.  Young people would pilgrimage to the Nearing's to pad their socialists resume.  They worked for free.  Scott Nearing bragged about feeding them so little that the "excess flesh" melted off of them and they left "more fit" than when they arrived.

Perhaps my home would be more of a show place if more youth would volunteer to work for free.

Then, perhaps, I will bundle faggots to burn as fuel to heat my house.  But today I burned brush gratis;  wood freely given, calories freely returned.

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Urban Dictionary

One of the risks of highlighting a website is that you may find out that you were the last person in the universe to learn about it.  That is a risk I am willing to take.

Sometimes it seems as if young people are speaking a language that only vaguely resembles English.  Not surprisingly, they use this jargon so they can communicate with each other while not revealing information to adults.

Of course, as adults, that is exactly when we most need to be able to decode their messages.

The Urban Dictionary is a useful resource to translate teen  jargon into English.  Be forewarned that many of the terms are highly sexual and/or wickedly cruel.  In fact, those are the very reasons why our kids revert to "code".

The Urban Dictionary uses a wiki approach.  Users define the terms.  Readers rate the definitions.  The most highly rated definitions become the current definition.

A few examples:

scene kid = boy/girl. usually seen wearing neon colors w/ black. leopard and/or zebra print obsessed. hair colored at least 2 different colors and cut at different angles. male scene kids usually try to attain over 500 friends on myspace and post pictures up of themselves making out with other boys. female scene kids just ADORE neon colored eye shadow and wear one thousand layers of eyeliner. hair of both sexes is usually parted to the side.
tool = One who lacks the mental capacity to know he is being used. A fool. A cretin. Characterized by low intelligence and/or self-steem.
"That tool dosen't even know she's just using him"
rachet = A diva, mostly from urban cities and ghettos, that has reason to believe she is every mans eye candy. Unfortunately, she's wrong.

Typical signs to beware of include, but are not limited to:
-owning a Blackberry
-BLARES anything by Drake, 2Chainz, Nicki Minaj, Gucci Mane, Waka Flocka, Lil Wayne, T-Pain, Cali Swag District, or any other garbage entertainment rapper
-rowdily quotes "lyrics" from aforementioned artists
-has a weave reminiscent of a bird's nest after a tempest hit the tree it was in, and is dyed at least thrice
-wears torn leggings/stalkings (mostly of the fishnet variety), unpolished 8" heels (or higher, depending on how God-awful they look), fitted jean jackets (to accent the blubber 'round their arms and stomach), and 4 layers of caked on make-up to go clubbing
-repeatedly use ludicrous terms such as "YOLO", "swag", "boost", "beaking", "doe", "really", "naw", "actually", "twerk", "coaster", "dagga", etc., to make a valid statement when they speak
-have side bangs, despite having incredibly small-ass foreheads to support them
-are commonly overweight
and are mind-numbingly stupid; a safe assumption to make would be saying they're uneducated (as if they could pass the 4th grade)

If spotted, please report to the authorities, notifying them that they are possible smack addicts, or potential, degenerate Chaka Khan look-alikes.
Imagine a woman that wears skinny clothes, bad looking heels & fishnet stalkings, blasts Drake or Waka off her phone, would go out of her way as to cop CD's from these artists, has a bad hairdo, looks immensely disgusting as a human being, and would rather spend her time maintaining her looks, communicating among her folk, and being a jobless, gold-digging bum for the rest of her days, not even bothering to get herself a good shower, a paying career, and a damned effort to earn a diploma.

That, my comrades, is a prime notoriety of a ratchet.

God help us all.
 If that does not paint a picture in your head then nothing will.

Youth Mental Health First Aid Synopsis

I find it useful to condense information down to a 3" by 5" index card.  The card is intended to be a reference tool with memory jogs rather than a comprehensive encyclopedia.

First Aid:  Preserve Life, Prevent further harm, Promote recovery and resilience, Provide comfort to the afflicted. The goal is to provide a womb of empathy until professionals take over or the crisis resolves.

ALGEE:  A hokey acronym but it will grow on you.
  • Assess for suicide or harm:  Ask them straight-up, direct questions.  We cannot cognitively process ideas that we cannot name. 
  • Listen nonjudgmentally: Use your active listening skills. Young people get all torqued up inside and sometimes do really dumb things.  As adults we understand that we cannot undo the past.  The past is what it is.  As a listener accept it and move on.  Avoid treating the person as if "they are a problem to be solved."
  • Give reassurance and information:   Many, maybe even most, people struggle with issues like anxiety, behaviors, moods or substance abuse in their teens. You are not alone.
  • Encourage appropriate professional help: Nearly all (90%) people who experience mental health issues can get significant relief through a combination of drugs and counseling.
  • Encourage self-help and other support strategies:  If you experienced this before, how were you able to deal with it?  What parts worked?
Biggest protective factor:  A adult that the young person is comfortable talking to about sensitive issues.

Based on Median age of onset the four disorders that are most likely to create a first aid crisis in an adolescents are Anxiety disorders, Eating disorders, Substance abuse disorders and Bi-polar disorder.  While ADHD is common it is not likely to precipitate a crisis although it may exhibit comorbidity with other issues.

Suicide hotlines.  Hint, add to contact list on phone:
1-800-799-4889 (for hearing and/or speach impaired)

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Youth Mental Health First Aid

Today I attended an eight hour class titled Youth Mental Health First Aid.  The course was based on material from this source.

There were fourteen students in attendance.  Two of us were guys, the rest were women.  Interesting, to me, is that six of the twelve women were  "mature" African-American women.

I was blessed to be able to sit at a table with three of those "mature adults".

The front two tables were mostly college kids.  There were two people who were still in high school and had involvement in church ministry.  The table behind us had a couple of domestic abuse counselors and the owner of an after-school activities center.


The one topic that really lit up the room was a discussion about bullies.

One of the young ladies opined that the best way to handle bullies is to ignore them.

The more experienced women challenged that statement.

The young lady drew herself up....and dug her hole deeper.  She defended her position based on her vast, first-hand experience with bullying.

She had been the victim of a bully earlier in life.  Her mom advised her to take the high road. The bully eventually grew bored and moved on to another victim. 

At that point, the older women told her that she had simply been lucky.  They went on to describe how "bullying" is a gate-way behavior for a host of other, less savory behaviors.

Xavier discusses some of those behaviors, and how "out-of-bounds" behavior is a test to find compliant victims.  Xavier explains it better than I can.

A short excerpt:


The criminal, once he has observed a potential victim, will send out some test runs to determine if the person is indeed prey, or predator. These tests may be asking for a match, the time, or change. The initial tests all have one thing in common. They violate boundaries, and determine if the selected person will allow their space and generosity to be violated...All of these persons are easily recognized by their inappropriate behavior and boundary violations. Like the fish who fails to recognize the moray eel on the reef, the person who fumbles...has sealed their fate. The ruses are many and varied.

The different perceptions of bullying may have been a cultural thing.  I think the older women were far more worldly.  I think the young lady had been the victim of a puppy playing at being a predator.  The best time to train a dog, though, is while it is young. 

Too bad that puppy learned that there are "freebies".

Monday, July 28, 2014

Women and Bacon

What do women and bacon have in common?

Look good,
Smell great,
and make men's lives worth living.

The B-Side, A Daisy a Day

I am of an age where I remember 45 RPM records and the songs that were on the "B-Side".

Some of those songs were gems that never got picked up and put on radio stations' play list.

This one is my favorite "B-Side" song:

Link to video if you have a lot of bandwidth.  Lyrics below of you don't.

A Daisy a Day

He remembers the first time he met her
He remembered the first thing she said
He remembered the first time he held her
And the night that she came to his bed.

He remembers her sweet way of sayin'
Honey has something gone wrong
He remembered the fun and the teasin'
And the reason he wrote her this song.

I'll give you a daisy a day dear
I'll give you a daisy a day
I'll love you until the rivers run still
And the four winds we know blow away.

They would walk down the street in the evening
And for years I would see them go by
And their love that was more than the clothes that they wore
Could be seen in the gleam in their eyes.

As a kid they would take me for candy
And I'd love to go taggin' along
We'd hold hands while we walked the corner
And the old man would sing her this song.

I'll give you a daisy a day dear
I'll give you a daisy a day
I'll love you until the rivers run still
And the four winds we know blow away.

Now he walks down the street in the evening
And he stops by the old candy store
And I somehow believe he's believin'
He's holdin' her hand like before.

For he feels all her love walkin' with him
And he smiles at the things she might say
Then the old man walks up to the hill top
And gives her a daisy a day.

I'll give you a daisy a day dear
I'll give you a daisy a day
I'll love you until the rivers run still
And the four winds we know blow away...

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Swords and the Knights of Columbus

The 11:00 AM Mass at St Mary, Charlotte, Michigan had a Knights of Columbus honor guard.

Not the St Mary chapter but the swords are nearly identical.
Their regalia was bright and their swords were intriguing.  Demographically, the median age is well north of 60.

Personally, I think the Knights would enjoy a white-hot recruiting season, especially among the under thirty crowd, if they replaced the swords with something like this

or some of these

or these

"But, honey, I had to buy one of these.  The Grand Knight told me I had to!"

We live in perilous times.

Attacks on churches seem to be rising on a world wide basis.  Law enforcement and the judicial system is reactive.  It finds the offenders after-the-fact.  It hands out penalties.  The baseline assumption is that bad guys rationally assess the economic payoffs of a malfeasance before the fact.  Foot patrols and "school resource officers" are more rational in my mind because they have presence before and during the commission, rather than showing up with chalk and crime-scene tape after-the-fact.

And lest one think that protecting one's self from threats in non-Biblical, consider the following.

Deuteronomy, Chapter 20 provides two different "flow charts" for dealing with cities of the enemy.  Cities that are a considerable distance from the homeland are treated one way.  For enemies who are an immediate threat Deut 20:16-18 commands
But in cities of those nations which the Lord, your God is giving you as your heritage, you shall not leave a single soul alive.  You must doom the all - the Hittites, Amorites, Canaanites, Perizzites, Hivites and Jebusites - as the Lord, your God, has commanded you, lest they teach you to make any such abominable offerings as they make to their gods, and you thus sin against the Lord, your God.

It is possible to walk around a snake out in the pasture or woodlot.  It is much harder to "live in harmony" with the snake that crawls into your bed.


The sword was an emblem of the officer, as the officer was typically mounted and thus could rarely use the common foot soldier's weapons to good effect.  As such, the sword became a symbol of virtue, honor,  strength and fortitude. 

In more recent times the handgun was the symbol of the officer.  He no longer rode a horse but was still excessively encumbered with a full battle weapon entering and exiting a jeep or helicopter.

In current times, the foot soldier is often transported in motor vehicles and his weapons have become shorter and handier, to more quickly bring into action when exiting the confines of those vehicles.  The officer's weapon converged to be the same as the common foot soldiers.  They now have the same constraints and one of the lessons of asymmetric warfare is that you do not want to point out high value targets (officers) to snipers and other combatants.

Another factor is that every American who needs corrective eye-wear has it.  Every American can see and recognize their commander's face at +50 yards....which is something of a historical anomaly.  The foot soldier's improved vision means that it is no longer necessary to give the commander a "macro" symbol of his office.

A lot of words to say that the officer of today is far more likely to be carrying a shoulder fired weapon with a 16"-to-20"  barrel than to be carrying a sword.

Bill of Rights

One more thing that tickles my sense of the ridiculous is that the anti crowd would have to trash the first two Amendments in the Bill of Rights to confiscate my "regalia".  Not that it would slow them down very much.


I never sold anything on Craigslist before.  I bought several things.  I also used it to establish market prices for other items.  But I never sold anything on Craigslist.

Last week I place an item up for sale.  The asking price is $650.  I priced it about $100 below the cloud of similar items.  Mostly, I just want it gone. 

I have yet to sell an item through Craigslist.

I have had a dozen emails asking if I would take $300 or $400 dollars, cash money.

I have had three offers of $600, but they insist that I take $100 now and "they will pay me the rest when they get it."  I assume the expect to take possession of the property after they give me the first $100.  I may have been born at night but I was not born last night.

I am down to one viable offer.  The gentleman lives in Lansing, about 20 miles away.  He is in the military and will have enough money after he gets paid August 1.

I looks like God wants this man to have the item I am selling.

Saturday, July 26, 2014

Failure: It tastes like chicken

Old NFO recently wrote an essay puzzling about twenty-somethings who take their own lives.

A common thread in the comments is the perception that young people have been deprived of the opportunity to overcome adversity.  "If it doesn't come easily, then it was not meant to be."

Every kid is a champion.  Every kid gets a medal. 

And then they become an adult.  Welcome to my world.

They encounter failure and it is an unfamiliar taste.

Failure:  It tastes like chicken

Belladonna watched our flock dwindle and it came to a point where she became emotionally  engaged.  "Dad, what is it going to take to save the chickens?"

"Well, Bella, I would love to beef up the chicken run but I need a little bit of help and moral support."

Bella has been quite the gal about town.  She gave the matter some consideration and decided to spend a little bit more time around the house and to help save the chickens.

The ducks adore the little kiddy swimming pool.

This is what the run looked like after our first swing at the ball. It is about 50' by 30'.  It is much larger than it needs to be for 4 chickens and 4 ducks.

Cinder blocks used as latches.  They are not fancy but they will work until I have something better.  Gate is into the run is framed with PVC pipe.

Unfortunately, our chickens are reincarnations of Houdini.  They found many ways to escape the run.  And, one-by-one and two-by-two the chickens continued to disappear.

Black Locust poles.  This was a win-win because these saplings were shading one of our prime blackberry patches.  The tops were thrown back into the patch to recycle the nutrients.

Poles were cut out of the woods.  Fences were extended upward.

South fence extended upward with green, plastic snow fence.  Swim pool ladder (seen on extreme left of photo) are very handy things to have.  They are useful as step ladders.  I also use them as "stiles" to climb over perimeter fences around the pasture.

We lost our last chicken last night.  We are now down to three ducks from twelve chickens and eight ducks.

Feathers, 70 yards from the where the chickens and ducks bedded down.  My best guess is that a coyote was taking them back to the den for the pups to gnaw on and worry.

Belladonna was there with me in the batter's box as we swung at every pitch. We ran the count up to 2-and-2 before whiffing on the chickens.  I intend to buy some more chickens and continue to armor the chicken run.  There is much value in spending time with kids, especially on projects that are learning experiences for both of us.  She is watching me dust off my knees and restart.  No cussing.  No anger (although I am a little pissed at myself).  Just starting over in an adult kind of way.

In the comments section of an earlier essay I pontificated that winners operate with a Decision ===>Consequence loop whereas losers are trapped in a Consequences ===> Decision loop.  I was a loser in the chickens. My decisions and actions were after the consequences and the chickens paid the price.

One of my reasons for continuing to armor the chicken run is that I see it as a simulation in armoring my dwelling against attacks, invasions and burglary. 

My current thinking is that I do not need to build a perimeter fence that will keep out all predators.  I need a perimeter fence that will contain the birds.  They go into the coop at dark of their own free will...unless they have free-range of the yard.  Then, they roost wherever...under the deck, on the steps of the swingset, on the picnic table.  I need to get them into the run before dark and shut the door of the coop after dark.

Being a tech-weenie, I may end up hanging alternating hot-ground chains in the door way on 2 inch centers and using a photo-eye to activate at dusk.  That that remains in the future.

Friday, July 25, 2014

Designated Decoy: Part II

Link back to Designated Decoy: Part I because it makes more sense to read them in order.

I gave some consideration regarding the publication of the first part of this essay.  Some might say that it is foolhardy to give "the bad guys" a play book.  Some would also predict blow-back from security types.

But consider: "The bad guys" already know this stuff.  Even the dumbest jihadist with an RPG knows that dumping a round into a swimming pool will collapse the lung of every swimmer who is more than half in the water.  How do you defend an open swimming pool that is exposed to many positions at higher elevation?  You cannot.  The only viable defense is to fully enclose it.  And even then it is only two mortar rounds away from carnage.

That makes for a memorable pool party!

Every coach knows that a team's play on game-day can be predicted by the attitude shown in practice the week before.  A team that screws off in practice all week long does not magically transform on game-day.  Their play will be sloppy, lackadaisical and distracted. They get their backsides waxed.

So, a Border Patrol that cannot stop a Central American peasant lugging 40 pounds of drugs across the Sonoran desert will not be able to stop a Middle Eastern peasant lugging 40 pounds of munitions, either at the border or climbing up the south flank of Mount Crumpet.

Give Love a Chance

W.C. Fields once remarked that he always kept a flask of whiskey handy in case of snake bite.  And, never one to leave important matters to chance, he also kept a snake.

The Obama crowd has been quoted as saying, "Never let a crisis go to waste."   Do you have any doubts regarding the second part of that quote?  If the Obama family moves into that death trap then you can be sure that he is being sized up for the position of sacrificial martyr.

Life imitates art?

It is ironic that the property in question used to be owned by Joseph Wambaugh.  One of Mr. Wambaugh's novels is titled "Fugitive Nights".  It is a story of a hit man who crosses the border.  He relentlessly pursues his target.  The climax of the story is when the hit man executes the target in an exclusive, gated community near Palm Springs.

The hit man's motives?  Revenge for the casual killing of one of the hit man's associates.

Designated Decoy?

The Nebraska Huskers were playing a late night bowl game out west.  All of the locals were at the Watering Hole.

The game was close and ran late.  Sales of liquid goods were brisk and sustained.

After the game, one of the young bucks announced, "Well, I guess it is about time."

He exited the bar and shuffled through the six inches of light, fluffy snow that had fallen.  He pulled out his keys but they slipped out of his fingers.  He groped around in the snow to find them. He lost his balance and fell on his dupa.

Laughing, he looked up and saw the State Police Cruiser.  The cops were pissed to have missed the game.  They pulled a crap shift and were missing the best entertainment of the year.  One advantage of being a cop, though, is that you can make your own entertainment.

Young man started his truck and then proceeded to brush every flake of snow off of it.  He kept glancing up at the cruiser in the vain hope that they had departed.

Finally, he got in his truck, drove to the exit, came to a full-and-complete stop.  He actuated the turn indicator and let three full blinkity-blinks elapse before turning onto the state road.

The cruiser tucked in behind him.

After following him a mile down the highway, driving 15 mph below the speed limit, the cops ran out of patience.  The turned on their lights and siren.  The young man immediately complied.

The license, registration and insurance took about 20 minutes.  Then he blew into the Breathalyzer.  The needle did not twitch.

The cops were baffled.  They had watched the man exit the bar.  "Do it again!"  They got the same result.

"What the heck?" they asked.

They young man smiled a beatific smile and announced, "Well, dontcha see, I am the designated decoy."

The cops spun around and all they could see was an empty parking lot.

Obama's new digs?

Speculation swirls about Obama's post-Presidency home.  The latest rumor is that it will be this property in Rancho Mirage, California.

Not only is this a grievous breach of operational security, it is an indefensible position.  Literally.

In recent history, United States Presidents have publicly announced personal responsibility for bombing the dwellings of recognized heads-of-state (Muammar Gaddafi), over-throwing recognized heads-of-state and turning them over to their executors (Saddam Hussein), invading foreign countries (Pakistan) to execute/kidnap people of interest (Osama bin Laden).

One might argue that this President did not perform all of those acts.  That matters little to a culture that manages by object lessons.  Saddam Hussein would obliterate entire villages when word of an assassination  plot was uncovered.  Since villages were based around extended families (i.e., nearly everybody was cousined-up) destroying the village would eradicate an entire family's blood line.  This is the end-point that "collective guilt" leads to.  Parenthetical note:  The foundation of the theology of White Privilege is based collective guilt.

Every President, by virtue of the office he/she held, creates many, powerful enemies who take vengeance as a matter of personal honor.  This trend has been accelerating.

An indefensible position

Yellow highlighted areas are regions close enough the circled property to easily threaten it.  The yellow line comes to within 300 yards of the property, close enough for trained rifleman to shoot ground  squirrels with 1955 vintage weapons.

In a word, this property is indefensible.  It is my hope that it is a Designated Decoy or that adequate resources are allocated to secure it.

BFH: Trademark Pending

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Solar Loading and Street Life

Belladonna's bed room is in the corner of the house farthest from HVAC unit.  She is turning into the standard, teenage vampire.  She likes to sleep late.   She loathes the morning sun.

I have little patience and understanding of most aesthetic issues.  I count on Mrs ERJ to keep me out of the ditch.  She is gentle and has no intention of turning me into a fop.  She is my go-to person.

Belladonna actually asked for foam panels to be put over her windows.  She will be cooler in the summer and warmer in the winter.  I consulted with Mrs ERJ and she suggested a few things.

I did not want to completely shut Belladonna off from all circadian rhythms so I left one of the three panes partially open.


Mrs ERJ and I have been walking daily.  We walk around the block.  It is not a full "country" block, that is, it is not a mile on a side.  Nope.  It is a half section, so our walk is only three miles.  We don't make any particular effort to walk at exactly the same time but I think we are pretty regular.  We see the same gentleman slowly driving his 1985 Buick.  We see the mail man working his way down the back-stretch.

And lately we have been seeing a runner.  The first few times we saw him he was wearing ear buds and very into his running.  Lately, we have been having a conversation.

My conversation with the runner has been in 10 second segments, one segment a day.

-He is in his late thirties.
-He used to "fight" when he was in his twenties.
-He runs 5.1 miles most days
-He does not want to become a decrepit, old man.
-He still wants to retain some physical ability, even when he is, 55 (Ouch!)

I got his cell phone number because I have been lacking motivation to do much running.  I don't think it will work out because he is running 8:45 minute miles and I chug along at 10 minute miles.  Still, it would be pleasant to show him that 55 does not always mean decrepit, even if it takes me 7 minutes longer to run five miles.

Long Run

My recent runs have been the same three miles we have been walking.  I decided I needed to get in a few long runs before I try to tag along with the young pup.

Today was a beautiful day for running.  I did all the things I need to do before a run.  I even cheated and spotted a few bottles of electrolyte on the path.  Frankly, I did not do very well.  I am carrying about forty more pounds than is optimum.

I only ran eight of the nine miles.

One upside is that I got to meet some neighbors.

I was allowed to pet the pooches after I assured them I spoke "dog".   I let the horse check me out.  I think I turned him into a buddy-for-life after I fed him a Black Cherry Cliff Bar from my fanny pack.

I did not catch their names but they identified the stretch of road that they lived on.

I love living out in the sticks where folks who live 3 miles away are still neighbors.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Conditions of Residency

Mrs ERJ and I discussed the possibility of a boomerang kid on one of our recent walks. 

We decided that we would use the same Manifesto of Family Rules that was put in place four years ago.  This list evolved over time as various behaviors were demonstrated.  It is not a perfect list...different families will have different tolerance levels for various activities.  This list has the advantage of applying to the kids who are already living here.  Life is easier when everybody must abide by the same set of rules.

To:                              Our Children

From:                         Your Parents

Date:                           Now and future

Regarding:                 Conditions of residence

Rules are required for the orderly running of our household.  You benefit from these rules.  Our house is safe and there is always food in the refrigerator.  You must follow the five rules listed below if you intend to live in our house.

1.)  No illegal drugs may be brought onto our property.  That property includes our vehicles.  You may not be under the influence of illegal drugs (nor drunk on alcohol) while on our property, driving our vehicles or riding in our vehicles.  No, having your drunk friend drive our car is not an acceptable way to avoid this rule.  We refuse to be accessories in activities that can get you killed or thrown in jail. I don't mind if you drink a few beers while you are cutting the grass (assuming you are over 21).  Just replace them when you drink the last one.

2.)  You must go to school or paid work every day.  If you do not have a job you must be looking for work at least 36 hours a week.  Expect to show us evidence of your job search; resume's, job applications, interviews scheduled.  Volunteer work might be considered an acceptable substitute for paid work at our (the parent’s) discretion.

3.)  If you have been diagnosed by a doctor as having “issues” you must attend counseling at least once a week and take your prescriptions as directed by the doctor.  “Medical marijuana” is included under the illegal drugs condition.

4.)  You have a responsibility to either be in our house or to have informed us before 10:30PM with your plans for the evening. We need to know if you plan to stay out all night or if you will need a ride. Use the alarm on your cell phone.  Calling us at 2:30AM is not OK.

5.)  You will respect us.  That means you will abide by the values we demonstrated in front of you for your entire life.  That means no sex-partners in our house unless you are married to them.  That means no abusive language.  That means that you will not invite “friends” that steal things into our house.  You will pick up after yourself and do your own laundry. It also means that you will fill the gas tank of the car occasionally. 

We do not “kick kids out”.   However, we will honor your decision to live elsewhere, a decision you will announce by violating any of these rules.  Because we value a tranquil and peaceful house we (your parents) require a minimum of a week to consider any “re-entry”.  That means that you can violate a rule and it will be a minimum of a week before we will even talk about you moving back in. 

We will not have a “moving back in” discussion unless you can bring a week’s worth of evidence that you are complying with the rules listed above.  That is, the clock will reset if you call us on the phone and bitch us out.  The clock will reset if we hear that you are partying.  The clock will reset if you miss a counselling session.  The clock will reset if you skip school or blow-off days at work. 
Evidence that you are attending a 12 Step Process will be considered an acceptable substitute for weekly counseling if logistical issues prevent you from attending your regularly schedule sessions.

The significant possibility exists that a boomerang kid might be seriously bruised and battered and may not be capable of some of these conditions.  For example, we have a neighbor whose daughter was beaten by her husband to within an inch of death.  Many kinds of healing needed to happen before that woman could even think about going back to work.

Those exceptions will be dealt with if they arise.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Prankin' Chili

One of my brothers told me a story of a pot of chili that was taken up to "deer camp".  They did not harvest a deer, which was a good thing because it was not deer season.  But they rode snowmobiles, ate like pigs and patronized the local watering holes.

There was something in that chili that produced epic amounts of gas.  Not only was the quantity "heroic" but the aromatics had properties that charred the hairs on the inside one's nostrils.

They were the only customers in one of the little bars up there and they were invited to leave.  The waitress was afraid that they would not be able to get the odor out of the curtains before noon the next day.  It takes some doing to get kicked out of a bar in the Upper Peninsula for reasons of aesthetic shortcomings.

My brother did not provide me with any details regarding his motives but he expressed a desire to replicate the effects of that chili.

I was not the author of the original chili.  I suspect that the cook did not perform several soaks on the beans or failed to discard the water.  The flatulence attributed to beans is due to polysaccharides that humans lack enzymes to digest.  Bacteria, however, feast on those complex sugars.  Soaking and draining remove most of those complex sugars.
---End Discloser---

In general, complex sugars are reliable producers of large volumes of gas.  There is nothing notable about the aromatics of the gas produced by complex sugars.

Some readily available sources of complex sugars that can be incorporated into chili recipes include inulin and sorbitol.  In addition to producing gas the biological torrent unleashed by these "foods" also have a purgative effect.

Sulfur containing amino acids are required to create the rich stench that makes eyes water, knees buckle and peel the paint off cinder block walls.  Foods like cabbage, broccoli, garlic and eggs are rich in these sulfur bearing proteins and that is the basis for their reputation as flatulence producers.  Quality, not quantity.

Amino acids that contain sulfur include methionine and cysteine.  Both of these amino acids tend to be hydrophobic so they may be a little bit hard to mix into the chili.

Final cautions

Proceed slowly.

Even though these are FDA approved food products the combination of the two classes (complex sugars and sulfur containing amino acids) are likely to have unpleasant consequences....especially if the young man who is dating your daughter drives a small vehicle with languid ventilation.

The "Smartest" States

It is widely anticipated that the smartest states will make fluency in Braille a mandatory educational goal.

A partial list of the "smartest" states is provided for those of you who do not read smarmy lists created by Ivy League graduates.

1. Vermont
2. Massachusetts
3. Connecticut
4. New Jersey
5. Maine
12. New Hampshire
14. Rhode Island           -Source

It is with great pride that these bastions of "really smart people" will soon pass North Korea in another socialist metric.  They are running out of power.

Picture from HERE

North Korea faded to black in early 1990s. With the collapse of the Soviet Union, which had propped up its old Communist ally with cheap oil, North Korea's creakily inefficient economy collapsed. Power stations rusted into ruin. The lights went out.
North Koreans beyond middle age remember well when they had more electricity (and for that matter food) than their pro-American cousins in South Korea, and that compounds the indignity of sitting in the dark...They cannot read at night (16 hours of darkness during the winter!) They can't watch television.  "We have no culture without electricity."...   Source

Even more than the North Koreans, the NEngs will be able to point with pride that their privation was entirely due to the purity of their ideology.

In a hell-bent campaign to rid itself of any form of dirty, messy “non-renewable” energy, New England has been closing down coal and oil plants for the last decade. In 2000, 18 percent of New England’s electricity came from coal and 22 percent from oil. Today it’s 3 percent coal and 1 percent oil. Meanwhile, natural gas — the fuel that everybody loves until you have to drill for it — has risen from 15 percent to a starkly vulnerable 52 percent  -Source of all remaining quoted material
There’s only one problem. New England doesn’t have the pipelines to bring in the gas. Nor is anyone going to allowed to build it, either....a proposal by Sempra Energy of Houston to expand its existing pipeline from Stony Point, New York, has already met fierce resistance from people who want nothing more to do with fossil fuels and construction is highly unlikely.
Last winter, when record low temperatures hit, there just wasn’t enough gas to go around...(Spot) Prices skyrocketed from $4 per mBTU to an unbelievable $79 per mBTU and electricity prices spiked to ten times their normal level.

No problem, I will just heat with electricity...except

New England is now limping along with 33,000 megawatts of electrical capacity, which barely meets its needs. At one auction last winter, the New England Independent Systems Operator, which manages the grid, came up 145 megawatts short — an almost unheard of occurrence. Yet in the next two years the region will be closing down 1/10th of its capacity in a bid to rid itself of anything that does not win favor with environmentalists.
So the only “clean energy” left in New England these days is hydroelectricity — generated in Canada. The Canadians are indeed developing huge dams in James Bay and are eager to sell to Americans. But that means building transmission lines down from the north and everyone is opposed to that as well.
So what is likely to happen? Another cold winter is certain to bring skyrocketing prices and possible brownouts. New Englanders already pay 45 percent higher electric bills than the rest of the country and that figure can only grow. The first region of the country to industrialize is about the drive away the last of its blue-collar workshops.

 It is a good thing they are so smart! Maybe one of them will invent mittens that supple enough to wear while reading Braille in their cold, dark schools.

Monday, July 21, 2014

Libtards. Too Much Fun

I found a new, for me, humor site.  Just a few pictures to set the mood.

Jobs: Optional (?)

I don't understand.  Mrs ERJ comforts me.  She assures me that the sun will rise every morning whether I understand certain issues...or not.


I came of age in an era when one fought tooth-and-nail to get a good job.  Students studied the job market as intently as their books:  Average starting salaries, average number of job openings per week.

Once grasped, one did not let go.  A job conferred health benefits, the ability to take out loans, a steady paycheck and.a pension.


Today that is changed.

Pensions?  Surely you joke.  Even if your firm offered a defined benefit program it is likely the enterprise will go out of business or they will cunningly flip you over to a cash-equivalent in the eleventh hour.

Healthcare?  Another joke.  Illegal aliens get healthcare.  Unemployed people get healthcare.  You don't need a stinking job to get healthcare.

Credit?  News outlets no longer run stories of dogs getting credit card applications in the mail.  Nor do they run stories of 130 year old Chicago voters getting offers of discount mortgages.  Those stories happen so often that they are no longer newsworthy.

Remaining detached

I am pretty good at remaining detached from this kind of comedic theater except when it impacts my family. 

My oldest daughter taught school in a large southern city.  This summer she enlisted to start a church in a different "an under-served" southern city.  "Under-served" is in quotes because Google street view suggests that there is a church on virtually every corner of this city.

The pastor for this start-up flew in from California.  There is no congregation, yet.  Most of the work has been "visioning", renting a worship space and deep-cleaning it.

Oldest daughter felt so called by God that she quit her job so she can stay in this city and continue to power-wash the walls with Lysol.

She does not really know where she is going to live.  She does not know how she will make her cell phone or car payments nor how she will pay for car insurance or healthcare insurance.

Hair ball

Many of my readers are about my age.  If you are like me you wonder how much more strain our systems can absorb before they sprinkle pieces-parts across the pavement.  Quitting a good job is cause for coughing up a major hair ball.  Especially if you are a "worrier" like me.

But my daughter does not live in my world.  She does not live with my history.  She did not grow up with my family's stories of Depression era wolves scratching at the brown paper bag covering the doorway.

She grew up hearing about Mrs ERJ spending a year in Honduras starting a bilingual school.  She grew up changing oil in cars, rotating tires shooting guns and cutting weeds with a machete.  She was raised to be resourceful, self-reliant and confident.  She speaks fearlessly of living out of her car as she seeks work.


Michigan has a volunteer program where organizations adopt stretches of state highway and pick up trash several times a year.  That is what I was doing Saturday.

Twelve fellow Knights of Columbus showed up and we had a jolly good time.  One of the fellows I was working with shared his experiences with the job market in the upper mid-West.

A subsidiary of his firm attempted to expand one of their operations.  They needed an additional fifty employees.  They put an ad in the paper and had five hundred applicants.

Each applicant was given a simple math test.  A sample question would be, "Your partner tells you he needs a board that is seven feet, six inches long.  You have eight foot long boards in the back of the truck.  How much must you either cut off to make the board your partner asked for?"

Each applicant was given a simple IQ test.  Example: A silhouette of a tool was shown and the applicant was asked to circle the appropriate choice:  Hammer      Screw driver       Adjustable Wrench     C-Clamp

Each applicant was required to submit a hair sample for drug analysis.

Five of the five hundred applicants passed all three tests.  I dare say that 80% of my high school class could have passed all three tests....including the girls.

It gets better.

On the first day of work the police took one of the five successful test takers into custody.  His social security number tripped some outstanding warrants.  He was a person-of-interest in a murder case in another state.  Normally, warrants would not be issued to scoop up a person-of-interest but this person disappeared shortly before his wife was murdered.

A new normal

So maybe my daughter will have little difficulty in finding a job.  Mrs ERJ tells me that there is no longer a stigma associated with quitting a job as long as the employee gives sufficient notice.  Employers cannot offer many perks that reward loyalty.  They see that many of the benefits that used to come with a job are now freely doled out by .GOV  A high turn-over rate is part of everybody's business model.

Maybe she will find a room to rent and maybe the other tenants will be "good" people.

Fathers worry, especially about their daughters.  We raise our children to fly but then we bite our knuckles when they leave the nest.

Mrs ERJ comforts me.  She tells me it will turn out OK.  Our daughter can come back home and lick her wounds if she miscalculated.  I may have to move my reloading bench out of her bedroom but that will be a small price to pay.

Thanks for letting my cry on your shoulder.

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Jubilee and Debt Forgiveness

It appears that many citizens who otherwise have little use for the Bible are latching onto the idea of "Jubilee" or debt forgiveness.  The popular telling of the idea is that all debts will be forgiven, credit scores repaired and those who were in debt will have a fresh start.

This idea is gaining traction because there are so many people who are in debt.  The concepts of Jubilee and debt forgiveness demand close scrutiny because of the number, and energy of the people who would benefit.

Well, what does the Bible say?

Passages that deal specifically with Jubilee and debt forgiveness occur in Leviticus and Deuteronomy:

Leviticus (Jubilee):

You shall treat this fiftieth year as sacred. You shall proclaim liberty in the land for all its inhabitants. It shall be a jubilee for you, when each of you shall return to your own property, each of you to your own family -Lev 25:10  All Bible quotes from NAB
On the basis of the number of years since the last jubilee you shall purchase the land from your neighbor; and so also, on the basis of the number of years of harvest, that person shall sell it to you. When the years are many, the price shall be so much the more; when the years are few, the price shall be so much the less. For it is really the number of harvests that the person sells you. -Lev 25:15-16
Observe my statutes and be careful to keep my ordinances, so that you will dwell securely in the land. The land will yield its fruit and you will eat your fill, and live there securely.  -Lev 25:18-19
The underlying assumption is that NOBODY would sell their land except in the case of dire emergency.  The land (with God's grace) is the source of both daily sustenance and wealth, i.e., live securely.  A man without land was reduced to being a day laborer, dependent on work and charity from his neighbors to feed his family.

It is also notable that the passage captures the time value of money.  It was Divinely mandated that accommodations be made in the price because both parties knew, beforehand, the length of the property transfer. 

One huge disconnect between the modern, pop incarnation of "Jubilee" and the Biblical version is that ancient creditors knew (ahead of time) that all debtors would default in year seven.  Clearly, the creditors making the loans fully expected to be paid in full, even if the duration of the loan was 10, 15 or even 30 years.

One other minor detail is that the property reverts back to the original owner in the Biblical model. The McMansion must go back to the builder or perhaps the farmer or the Indian tribe.  That diploma must be mailed back to the University (or the portion of the diploma with the University's name must be excised and mailed back).  All photos and knick-knacks must be mailed back to Carnival Cruise.  The spiffy new GMC Acadia must be shipped back to General Motors.

Deuteronomy (debt forgiveness):

At the end of every seven-year period you shall have a remission of debts, and this is the manner of the remission. Creditors shall remit all claims on loans made to a neighbor, not pressing the neighbor, one who is kin, because the LORD’s remission has been proclaimed. -Deut 15:1-2
Be careful not to entertain the mean thought, “The seventh year, the year of remission, is near,” so that you would begrudge your kin who is in need and give nothing, and your kin would cry to the LORD against you and you would be held guilty. When you give, give generously and not with a stingy heart; for that, the LORD, your God, will bless you in all your works and undertakings. The land will never lack for needy persons; that is why I command you: “Open your hand freely to your poor and to your needy kin in your land.  -Deut 15: 9-11

The second part of this passage identifies "loans" as charity.  In a small village, good will is more important than treasure.  The effects of compound interest will poison the village if no safety valve exists.

Key Point:  Both the borrower and the lender knew the sunset of the contract ahead of time.  That would undoubtedly color the terms and the scope of any wealth transfers.

The modern economy

Charles Hugh Smith writes that "debt forgiveness" is warm fuzzy language but the hard mathematics demand that somebody ends up eating a shit-sandwich.

Let's play out various scenarios in our proto-village.

Scenario One:

In this scenario the family that loaned out the funds writes down the entire loan.  This family would typically be an older couple who had lived frugally.  In their youthful vigor they sold their excess chickens, lambs and kids rather than consuming them.  They stayed up late at night mending clothing or altering it for use by the next youngest child.  They were diligent stewards of their resources with the intention that they would not be a burden in their old age.

The debtor's "forgiveness" throws the older couple into pauperhood and dependency.

Even if the older couple had any resources after the forgiveness, nobody is stupid enough loan it out as they guaranteed to be robbed of both principal and interest. 

That would lock up the credit market.  Enterprise would lock up.  Shepherds with superior rams would be unable to sell them because other shepherds would be unable to borrow the needed money.  Merchants would not travel to distant (or nearby) towns to purchase goods on the speculation they could resell them at a profit.  Nephews would not be able borrow a few dinari to pay their taxes and would be sold into slavery.

Scenario Two:

In this scenario the village elders "create" money to compensate the older couple.  Let us say that the additional minting of money doubles the money supply.

They pay the older couple with a pile of shiny, copper coins. Or, they could slip the neediest of the debtors just enough shiny, new coins at the start of each month to keep up the pretense of normality.

There are two consequences.  The immediate consequence is that each penny will now only buy half the goods that it used to buy.

The second consequences is that people loaning out money will figure out that they do not need to exercise due-diligence.


Old men have wisdom and resources.  Young men have energy and ego.

The young man must bend his ego to the older man's approval if he wishes to get the material resources in order to bring his dream to reality. The older man may have no desire to impart wisdom to the younger man.  But the necessity of protecting his assets forces the old man to review the younger man's business plan and armor it against foreseeable adversity.  Are the suppliers trustworthy?  Are the assumptions too optimistic?  Are the collections robust?  Are the reserves adequate?  Who will run the business when you are sick or away? Are you paying yourself too much?

Removing the loaner's risk via money creation takes the old man's skin out of the game.  He knows that he will be "made whole" if/when  the fledgling enterprise fails.  That invariably ends up in a misallocation of resources.  All of the actual, material resources that were invested in the business become stranded when it fails.  It is a "For want of a nail" story.

So not only is the purchasing power diluted but resources are removed from the market by intrinsically (but correctable) flawed, hare-brained, get-rich-quick schemes.

The net result is that the old couple's purchasing power will go down the toilet.  Viable businesses will lock up as the price of inputs spike due to the double-whammy of reduced purchasing power and the hibernation of due-diligence.

Families in the peak of the productive years would choose to either consume resources or not over-produce.  They choose this path rather than converting real resources into rapidly depreciating coins.  Less product on the market contributes to rising prices as day laborers must bid on fewer choices.

Within a generation there would be no "excess wealth" for entrepreneurs to leverage into on-going businesses.  Trade would crater.  Inability to pay tribute (taxes) would result in more prudent, neighboring villages to purchase choice properties and the original families would be marginalized.

Scenario three

Peak oil.  Transition to a basket of currencies for the world reserve currency.  Jhiad.  Malthus.  Climate instability. Politics of divisiveness, envy and resentment. UG99.

Perhaps one of the messages embedded with the scripture of "Jubilee" and "debt forgivness" is that we presume Godlike prescience when we loan money over long time horizons.  Humility (and history) suggest that perhaps we should be willing to make loans but to keep them on short time years, absolute maximum.  And that we should loan the money locally where we can serve as stewards, personally protect our assets and maximize our ability to make our neighbors successful.  We have a God-given mission to transfer our hard-won wisdom to the next generation.

I would love to see some other scenarios sketched out in Comments.  The world is in desperate need of some soft landings.