Sunday, August 31, 2014

Believe in Miracles

Pigs fly all of the time.  All it takes is sufficient thrust and ample supplies of JP-8

Saturday, August 30, 2014

Mushrooms: Score!

I hit a couple of yard sales this morning.  The prices were in fantasy land.  Cut glass candy bowls for +$20.  $35-to-$65 for a couple of clay jugs.  $800 for an oak dresser (not even quarter-sawn).

After hitting the yard sales I drove to one of the places I flagged using the "Senile" woody biomass method.  I did not have my Audubon field guide with me, so I was winging it from memory.  I found several specimens that tickled a few neurons.

I took them to one of the guys I am trying to curry as a mentor.  He was leisurely smoking a cigarette as I came through the door.  "Whatchya got?" he asked.

I pulled out my samples.

"Hmmm!" he said. "Where did you find them?"

I told him.

I asked him, "What are they?  Are they edible?"

"Well" he said, "they look like they might be some kind of Boletes".

He got up, walked out to his car and checked his oil and said,  "Gotta run.  See ya."

Strangely enough, he did not head into town but went in the direction from which I had just come.

The Polish Neighbor

Not being fully satisfied with the detail of the identification I dropped in on my Polish neighbor.

He asked, "Where did you find them?"

I said, "I will tell you in a minute.  What are they?"

"The big one, it is what you call a Porcini, a King Bolete.  It is the best.  The little is a bolete too.  It is good but not as good.  The King, it cooks up meaty.  The little brown one, slippery."

While talking, my neighbor's wife walked up.  She picked up the King and sniffed it. Her eyes rolled back in her head and she made a sound that vaguely reminded me of the ice-cream shop scene in the movie When Harry met Sally.

Satisfied with the identification, we popped open Google Maps and I pointed out, to within fifty feet, where the Kings and the little browns were located.

His wife was in the kitchen gathering up bags.


I took the two specimens and tucked them in just upwind of my most mature oak trees. It is my hope that some of their spoor will take hold and grow on my property.  It is a long shot but I would love to have mushrooms growing on my property that make the eyes of attractive women roll back in their heads.

Friday, August 29, 2014

Field Expedient Disinfectants


At least four trends are colliding that will amplify the panic and mortality rate of the future epidemics in the United States.  
  • Our borders have become more porous and even the poorest nations have international airports
  • Medical care has been industrialized.  Cost centers have been rationalized and profit centers have been bloated.  The underlying assumption is that civilians will step up and take on roles they have not been trained for.
  • Emerging diseases generate vast amounts of infective material.  Somebody once likened a patient with Ebola to a slug that has been sprinkled with salt.
  • Social media has turned very citizen over the age of 8 into a shrieking tabloid spewin emotional gibbering devoid of useful information.



You get up at 5:30 in the morning.  You drink two cups of coffee and get in your vehicle.  You fight traffic for 65 minutes to get to work.  You are two hours behind from the second you walk through the door.  It is non-stop chaos as you battle your way through the day.  Because you are conscientious you stay over an extra couple of hours to help get the next shift off to a good start.  Your usual 11 hour shift became a 13 hour shift.  You drive home through the light, late evening traffic.  While it was a long day, so far, there has been nothing unusual or special about it.

Once home you crack open an  adult beverage and turn on the last bit of TV news. 

And then you learn that a foreign exchange student at a high school three zip codes away is in an isolation ward at the University hospital.  The student flew in from Accra, Ghana a week ago and has symptoms that are consistent with Ebola.

You decide this might be a good time to hit the local convenience store and buy a spray can or three of disinfectant.

They have no disinfectant left on the shelves.

Since you are already out of the house you decide to drive down to the big-box store to buy a dozen cans of spray.  They are also wiped out.  It looks like a bomb hit the aisles of the pharmacy.  You curse the social media that has generated the panic and has you the last person in-the-know.

What to do?

A couple of pieces of background information.

Liquid disinfectants are severely limited.  Two of the biggest problems are "the particle problem"   and "the contact time" requirement. The two problems are related.

I have had conversations with Doctors of Veterinary medicine and they poured out their heart and soul.  Few people realize that it can take hours for an antiseptic solution to penetrate infected particles.  Particles are found in vomit, fecal materials, clotting blood and other body fluids especially if it has soaked into fabric or bedding.  Hypodermic needles jammed with tissue or clotted blood are also a challenge for solutions to penetrate.

Most commercial products are formulated with detergents to assist in wetting-out and with pH buffers to keep the solution in the "sweet spot" for the active ingredient.  Those enhancements help but do not eliminate "the particle problem".

My vet buddies strongly advocate that cleanliness is next to Godliness.  The best solution to "the particle problem" is to eliminate the particles.  They recommend power-washing surfaces before attempting to sanitize them. Otherwise you are fighting physics.  Then, saturate the surface with your disinfecting solution.  Then spray it some more.  You want it running off.  Wait a bit.  Wipe it off.  Then spray it again.  Disinfecting solution is cheap.  Your health is not.

Caveat:  This essay is focused on killing viruses

A commonly accepted level of efficacy for killing microbes is (5 log 10).  That is, for every million active microbes before treatment, only ten are viable after the treatment.  Another way to visualize the epic nature of a (5 log 10) event:  If the City of Los Angels, California had a (5 log 10) depopulating event, the survivors would be able to very comfortably fit inside a standard sized school bus.

Virus, in general, are not that hard to kill.  They are small and fragile.  Hepatitis is one of the tougher virus to kill.  For that reason it is probably the most common benchmark.  The viral equivalent of the white lab mouse if you will.

Your options


Many people have one of these turkey friers tucked away somewhere.

Oldest and best way.  It should be your first option.  Heat is very robust with respect to "the particle" problem.  Put it in a pot and bring it to a boil.  Boiling means -never- having to say "I'm sorry."   At least for viruses.


Virus are fragile and easily ripped up by Ultraviolet light.  The problems occur when viruses are embedded inside particles or folded up fabric or are in turgid or opaque discharge.

Fortunately, clothing that is hung on  a line will blow in the breeze.  Also the orientation of the sun will change throughout the day thereby exposing many aspects of the clothing and/or bedding to sunlight (UV).  Line drying objects is not a reliable way to get the Five Log reduction but line drying in direct sun for an entire day is a good second step to backstop chemical methods.  It can also help dissipate odors.

Bleach and water


The old stand-by.  One part bleach (standard 5% sodium hypochlorite) and nine or ten parts water.  Cheap, insensitive to temperature and pH.  Tough on skin and delicate clothing, corrosive to metals and both the stock solution and the dilute have a finite shelf life.  A minimum of a ten second contact time for all disinfecting solutions is recommended....and that is for a particle-free environment. 

Field Expedient:  Swimming pool shock chemicals.  To get the same concentration of the hypochlorite ions as commercial bleach one must use 20 ounces of 60% calcium hypochlorite per gallon or 32 ounces of 40% calcium hypochlorite.  If you want to skip the "stock solution" step you can replicate the 10:1 dilution by mixing 2 oz of the 60% calcium hypochlorite powder to a gallon of water or approximately 3 oz of the 40% dry powder.

Iodine and Polyvinylpyrrolidone (PVP) fall into this category.  Pretty much bulletproof but it stains and some people react to iodine.

Hand sanitizer

Typically 60% ethanol.

If you brought your vehicle you brought a disinfectant.

Field expedients:  Booze.  The CDC reports that ethanol's ability to function as a disinfectant "...drops sharply when diluted below 50% concentration, and the optimum bactericidal concentration is 60%–90% solutions in water."  That means that you need at least 100 proof booze (like Wild Turkey 101) if you are keeping it "for medicinal purposes."

Liquid isopropyl (rubbing) alcohol.  70 percent used straight-up out of the bottle.

Windshield washer solvent (typically methanol solution) is  a much weaker killer of microbes than ethanol or isopropyl alcohol but is better than wishful thinking.

Quaternary Ammonium compounds

Lysol and most other spray disinfectants.  Gentle.  Does not stain.  pH sensitive.  Has  a shelf-life issue after being diluted.  This is probably the picture you had in your head when you left for the convenience store.

Field Expedient:   Swimming pool algae control.  The swimming pool product typically has 10X the concentration of the commercial product.

Phenolic compounds

Field Expedients: Many of the "farm supply" disinfectants are compounded to include a phenolic compound.  Typically not as pH sensitive as the QACs and less sensitive to shelf-life issues.  These ag disinfectants are usually very cost effective.

Many mouth washes contain thymol which is a "phenolic" disinfectant.

There is evidence that tannic acid binds to the protein surfaces of viruses and can reduce their viability.  There is little data regarding concentrations required for effectiveness.  Oak leaves, tea leaves, willow bark are some sources of tannin.  Tannins are sensitive to minerals found in hard water, especially iron.


Formaldehyde, glutaraldehyde...these are the big guns.

Field expedient:  Some of the ag sanitizers.  This is the product that the Eaton Rapids Joe family uses.

Wood smoke.

If you can only remember one thing

Your local ag supply store is your best friend.  Commercial disinfectant concentrate (makes +100 gallons at standard dilution) for $23.  A gallon of iodine and a gallon of alcohol for $17 each.
Pray that you never find yourself in a situation where you actually need to use field expedient disinfectants.  But  if/when you do it is a safe bet that the actual situation will resemble a medical emergency in the calving barn or a boarding kennel more than will it resemble an episode from House.  Bring enough "gun".


A few good links



Detailed essay on the vulnerability of specific families of viruses to disinfecting strategies

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Woody Biomass Map

There are three types of mushrooms.

One type of mushrooms form symbiotic relationships with plants that photosynthesize.  This relationship is to their mutual advantage.  This is a very difficult type of mushroom to cultivate, although truffles are being grown on hazelnuts and oak trees in Europe on high-calcium soils.

The second type of mushroom is more antagonistic.  They attack living plant.  They enter through wounds and rot out the plants (trees) from the inside.

The third type of mushrooms are the janitors of the forest and pasture.  They break down dead plant tissues.  These have been the easiest species to domesticate.

Fungi will very happily grow without throwing up fruiting organs (mushrooms) as long as there appears to be "headroom", that is, room to keep expanding.  An assortment of triggers fire as the mass of fungi have fully exploited the resources of the log or mass of vegetation.  Those triggers cause the mass of fungi to shift from expansion to reproduction mode....they start making mushrooms.

In many, many cases the choicest species of mushrooms for edibility eat wood or grow on the roots of trees.

So, anybody with a brain will look for trees.  Not just any trees, but old trees.  Trees that are senile and sending out all of those triggers that coax their mushrooms...both the destroyers and the symbiots, into fruiting.

Here is the map of standing woody biomass courtesy of Woods Hole Research Center.

Link to Image with zoom capability
Appalachia looks like a great place to look for choice mushrooms.

Maple River running East-to-West across center of image.  Picture courtesy of Google Maps

Closer to Eaton Rapids, the Maple River valley looks very promising.  It is also notable that many "sections" have mature woods in their centers, even in hard-core ag areas like northern Clinton County.  I am going to have to buy a plat book and start contacting land owners.


I was telling my coffee drinking buddies about hazelnuts and mushrooms.  I lamented that I wish I had a way to turn my stomping around the woods into a little bit of money.

They asked me if I knew Claude.

Who is Claude?

Claude is a broker or a middleman.  He will buy your mushrooms (among other things) if you have extra.  He will sell you mushrooms if you are short.  Are you a gourmet chef and throwing a party for 300 people?  You call a guy like Claude and the boxes show up via Fed Ex with everything you ordered.  He is even likely to throw in a few extra things like some Puffballs or Oyster mushrooms, trying to drum up some extra business.

Do you need 20 pounds of Madagascar Vanilla picked by chaste, ringtail lemurs?  Claude has it.  Do you need saffron (the real stuff packed in sardine-type tins) or black garlic or truffle oil.  Yup, Claude has it.

Claude's team hustles.  Let them do the leg work so you can focus on braising and glazing,  the slicing, searing, saucing and serving.

Claude's website Elegance Distributors Inc,  phone number 1-800-487-6157 and FAX 1-517-663-8153


Picture lifted from Claude's website

Claude buys and sells the following mushrooms (as seasonally available)
  • Enoki
  • Portobello
  • Crimini
  • Oyster
  • Shiitakes 
  • Baby Button Shiitakes
  • Paddy Straw
  • Matsutake
  • Hedgehogs
  • South American Cepes
  • Chicken of the Woods (picture)
  • Black Trumpets
  • Hen of the Woods (picture)
  • Scaber Stalks
  • Lobster 
  • Yellow Foot
  • Sweet Winter
  • Woodear
  • Morels (of course)
  • Puffballs
  • Pom Poms
  • Chanterelles
  • and Porcinis
I did not get to meet Claude but I talked with one of his workers.  He advised me to concentrate on Chicken of the Woods mushrooms for the next two or three weeks, then to keep my eyes open for Hen of the Woods.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014


I have been harvesting the hazelnuts I scouted out earlier this summer.

I am participating, in a small way, in a hazelnut breeding program run by Tom Molnar at Rutgers University (New Jersey).

The goal is to combine the quality and productivity of the European Hazelnut (Corylus avellana) with the toughness of the wild American Hazelnut (Corylus americana). This approach was tried in the 1920s with moderate success.  Since the 1920s, the quality requirements have increased and there is a much deeper understanding of the risks of cantilevering multiple generations of breeding from a narrow genetic base.

Recent advances in the statistical analysis and visualization of the genetic composition of individual specimens give the breeder the tools to ensure that multiple sources of resistance are stacked in a "released" variety.  But the breeder must first identify those sources of resistance before he can breed them in and check for them.

Hazelnut breeding is still at a very foundational level.  Hazelnut breeders are currently surveying wild populations of American Hazelnuts across a wide swath of it native range to identify and isolate the sources of Eastern Filbert Blight resistance, Big Bud Mite resistance, and resistance to cold damage of catkins (source of the pollen).

By way of illustrating the depths of our ignorance we do not know simple things like:
  • Is the resistance catkins have to cold/dehydration is due to their position within the bush (more shading = less dehydration)?
  • Is it due towaxiness, or some other intrinsic armor against cold and dryness?
  • Or is itdue to the catkins being carried low on the bush and getting covered by drifting snow during test winters?
  • Or is it due to factors we have not even considered?

. We just don't know.
My part in the script is simple.  I find Michigan hazelnut bushes in the wild.  I sweet talk the land owners into letting me harvest the nuts.  I mail the nuts to Tom Molnar.

The specified method of delivery was to package the nuts from each bush individually in their own mesh bag and to include a unique text (GPS) description.  I expect to get grief over using No Nonsense pantyhose for mesh bags.  But hey, a guy has to make do with what he has at hand.

Close up of nuts in bag.
Yeah, I know this stuff is goofy in the extreme.  But I really enjoy being retired and having the freedom to be able to help out some guy in New Jersey.  That is something I simply did not have time to do when I was working.

And prospecting for hazelnuts has its Indiana Jones moments.  I had to work through a little bit of weather.  Walter Mitty has nothing on me.

Old Shoes

Mrs ERJ gave me the nod and told me I could buy another pair of shoes.  The only caveat was that I had to get rid of a pair to make room for the new pair.

One of the activities that gives me joy is to look at physical evidence and to noodle out (like Sherlock Holmes) the whys and wherefores.  The longer an object has been in our possession the more physical evidence it accumulates.  That evidence translates into increased detail and refinement in our deductions.

Here are the pictures of the pair that is being retired.  What do you see?  What can you deduce from what you see?

Shoe on the left is the one I wear on my left foot.  The shoe on the right is the one I wear on my right foot.

Close-up of my right shoe, the one that shows greater wear.
Just for the record, this is what the top of the shoe looks like.

This pair of shoes had nearly equal wear patterns on the left and right uppers.  Most other pairs of my running shoes show the outsides of the left shoe blowing out.

One notable thing about these shoes is that both front and rear of the sole show wear.  Most wear occurs when the shoes is in motion as it comes into contact with the ground.  The shoe/foot skids and slides until it sticks.  That sliding is what wears the soles.

The wear on the right shoe suggests that I run with a mid-foot strike, biased to the front of foot, and that my heel strike is on the outboard edge.  That is not a bad stride, particularly when running on uneven surfaces where shock/impacts might be large and unexpected.

The wear on the top of my shoe suggests that I run with my big-toe raised in an effete pretension, like a hillbilly drinking white lightening with his pinky raised to show "class".

The difference in wear between my left and right shoe is a bit puzzling until you look at where I run.  90% of my running is on country roads...dirt roads.  Anybody with a brain is going to run into on-coming traffic.  Yes, my hearing is just fine, but prudence demands that I run toward on-coming traffic so I can also see on-coming hazards.  In the United States, that means I will be running on the left side of the road.

I am ridiculously proud of this photo.  It is surprisingly difficult to capture the crown of the road in a photo.
Dirt roads tend to be more generously crowned than paved roads.  It is a durability thing.

That means that my right foot is always about a half inch (13mm) uphill of my left foot.  Effectively, it is as if my right leg is a half inch longer and it tends to plow the shoe into contact at the ground strike.

The one exception to my running on the left side of the road is when I am cresting a hill.  I switch sides and run on the right side.  Once I pass the peak I immediately switch back to the left side.

Supporting evidence can sometimes be found in the uppers where the outsides of the left shoe shows more blowing out due to side thrust.  That was not evident in this pair of shoes but it is one more piece of evidence one can look for.

Looking at these shoes you can deduce that the owner runs on rough, dirt roads.  You can deduce that he runs on the left side of the road more than on the right side of the road, suggesting that the wearer of the shoe did not run in Great Britain, Japan or Oz.  You can also deduce that he is a pretentious fellow and that should trim his toenails more often.  Finally, you can deduce that he hates to spend money on new shoes.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014


I asked one of Kubota's buddies if any of the kids in High School wore watches.  He was more than happy to bring me up-to-date on the Eaton Rapids fashion scene.


"Only" $170

The "cool" kids are wearing Nike Sports ($170) watches and Nike Fuelband ($300).  I was sorry I asked.

Eaton Rapids is a town of carpenters and factory workers, electricians, dry-wallers, FedEx delivery guys, cops and firefighters.  Where are these kids getting the scratch to buy $300 watches?

Getting real

I showed Kubota a portfolio of watches that I considered "reasonable" kid watches.  Kubota admitted he has a preference for digital watches.  Good "kid" watches are easy to read, no gimmicks, abuse resistant, less than $35.  Oh, and they will not look dated in five years.

Unfortunately, the kid is brain washed.  It is nothing if it does not have "The Swoosh".

Oh well, it saved me $35...but now I have the hots for a new watch.

Electrolye Recipe

In a gallon (4 liter) jug mix
  • One cup (1/4 liter) by volume granulated sugar  (extended price $0.40)
  • One teaspoon (5 grams) uniodized table salt (extended price $0.01)
  • Two packages of your favorite Kool-aid.  I always use at least one lemonaide because the acidity helps hide the salt. (extended price $0.50)
  • Tap water to fill.  Shake to dissolve solid ingredients. 

I carry this in half liter, screw top pop bottles because they are rugged, leak proof and a darned convenient size. Total cost per half liter is $0.13 compared to $1.25 for commercial product at the party store. My nominal consumption rate is one bottle (0.5l) every three miles (5k).

Each bottle has about 300 mg sodium and 27 grams of carbs.  By comparison Powerade contains 210 mg sodium and 29 grams carbs per half liter while Low Calorie G2 (Gatorade) contains 225 mg sodium and 10 grams carbs.

One criticism I have seen for commercial products is that "They have too much sugar."   Let's look at that claim.  According to the Runner's World Calculator I burned about 430 Calories in my half hour of running.  Drinking 27 grams of carbs replaces about 120 of those Calories, or less than one third of what was burned.  The sugar can cause tooth decay, so sipping is a bad strategy for consuming electrolyte.  Slugging it down at intervals is a better plan.

The Back Story

I went running with Pelé yesterday at 4:00 PM.  We went 3.6 miles: We ran 23 minutes out on the Lansing River Trail and 14 minutes back with a one mile walk down.

The weather was brutal for running, at least by Michigan standards.  85 degrees Fahrenheit and 85% humidity with slight breeze.

Running really twists Pelé up.  Even running short distances puts him into debilitating cramps and the resulting muscle pain lasts for days.  This is a mystery because he is built for running and he has really good form.  He runs straight up, shoulders back so he can breath.  He has a mid-foot strike so he should not be prone to shin-splints.  He runs with economical arm motions, the motion is there but it is nothing over-the-top.

True to form, Pelé was starting to knot up as we neared the turn-around point.  We had a conversation.  Please forgive the grammar.  Runners tend to delete extraneous words when running.  We have more pressing needs for our oxygen.

Me: "Are you hydrated?"
Pelé: "Yup."
Me: "How much did you drink before we ran?":
Pelé: "Two bottles of water."
Me: "When did you drink them?  (gasp, gasp) Before running?"
Pelé: "That would be since I woke up."

The picture became clearer.  Pelé was dehydrated.  I had him drink half of my electrolyte at the turn-around point.  He though a quarter liter of fluid (about 8 oz) was a gross amount of liquid to chug on a run.  Grasshopper has much to learn.
He belongs to the school of thought that liquid should be consumed in tiny sips.  Basically a "wet-the-lips" strategy.  Perhaps that is a valid strategy if you are the prime negotiator at high level truce negotiations and your side will lose if you must pee.  But it is an attempt to "fool" your body into thinking that you met its needs.  Those kinds of games do not fly when you demand real work out of your body.

Pelé was also surprised to find out that his body needs salt in addition to water to replace the salt pushed out in sweat.  He  also did not know that human bodies are very finely tuned to electrolyte balance.  That is, it will not hang onto water if it is not matched by the proper amount of will push the extra water out as urine to maintain the electrolyte balance.

He was able to finish the run.

Monday, August 25, 2014

Scrambled Pancakes (and other delicacies)

I don't list very many blogs on my right sidebar.  I prefer presenting a limited number of quality offerings that span my range of interests.

One of the blogs I list is Home On The Range (aka, mausersandmuffins).  Brigid is a gifted and imaginative cook.  I admire that.

The cooking around the ERJ ranch tends to be a little more basic, although at times it is no less imaginative.

Kubota and his friend were whipping up brunch.  I was grinning like an idiot because it reminded me of those days in the prime of my life....camping with the Boy Scouts.

The menus were vast:

  • Scrambled pancakes
  • Pancakes poached in bacon grease
  • Pancakes tatare
  • Pancakes carbonara
  • Pancake slurpies
  • Pancake lumps
  • Pancakes: Baked Alaska
  • Pancakes with poison berry sprinkles
  • High fiber Pancakes
  • Pancakes with twigs and pine needles
  • Pancake soup 
  • Pancakes al dente
  • Silica augmented Pancakes
And that was just one course.

A few of the lessons Kubota and his friend learned today were

  • Don't drop water into the bacon grease 
  • You cannot flip a pancake until it is at least partially cooked
  • Don't drop pancake batter onto the floor
  • Don't drop eggs anywhere
  • Don't use the liquid from the milk jugs sitting in the recycle area
  • You don't have enough syrup if you start with more pancake batter than pancake syrup
  • Poached pancakes cannot absorb as much syrup as scrambled pancakes
  • You cannot cook pancakes faster by turning up the heat....unless you favor Pancakes: Baked Alaska

Successes are claimed by a thousand fathers.  But we 100% own our failures.  That is why we learn more from our failures than from our successes.

The old Boy Scout motto:  Be Prepared (pack a Girl Scout).

Sunday, August 24, 2014


I have mushrooms popping up underneath my Norway Spruce.  They are big...6" wide and 6" tall.  They have been popping up all summer long.

One of my neighbors is from Poland and very into mushrooms. I took one of these over to him so he could advise me regarding its edibility.  He took one look started shaking his head "No!", slowly backing away.  His wife walked into the room and they had a very short conversation in Polish.  She started shaking her head "No!" and backing up.

But they were not able to tell me the name of the mushroom in English.  I really wanted to know because I have five or ten pounds of them coming up every week.

So I stepped up and keyed it out in from a handbook.

It keys out as Yellow-Orange Fly Agaric

Although it is generally considered poisonous, reports of human deaths resulting from eating the mushroom are extremely rare. After parboiling—which removes the mushroom's psychoactive substances—it is eaten in parts of Europe, Asia, and North America. Amanita muscaria is noted for its hallucinogenic properties, with its main psychoactive constituent being the compound muscimol. The mushroom was used as an intoxicant and entheogen by the peoples of Siberia -from Wikipedia

One of the pictures from Wikipedia

Darn.  Just Darn!

How do you spell Dilemma?  $58 an ounce.

"Craft purposes."  Yeah, right.

Saturday, August 23, 2014

Mrs ERJ is Back!

Yesterday was a banner day for the ERJ household.

Mrs ERJ is back from down south where she was helping a college friend pack up to move.  Everybody is glad to see her.  Even the dogs perked up.

Lessons  from Craigslist

I also sold the ride-on mower yesterday.  The plan was to have Kubota use it to earn an equity stake.  He was to drum up business and mow grass.  He was to use the proceeds of that business to buy a 51% stake in the mower.  Unfortunately Kubota was far more interested in playing video games than in working.

I was able to recover my investment in the mower and that significantly improved my liquidity. 

The lesson I learned from Craigslist is that it is mandatory to have accommodations for texting.  I was surprised at the number of people who sent an email telling me to text them.  I do not have a text-capable phone.  I sent them a return email and never heard back from them.  Something on the order of 80%  of the responders wanted me to engage in texting them.

I suspect a large number of the people are at work and texting can be done secretly.

The next time I need to sell something large I will include a number where I can be reached by texting.  It does not pay to fight the market.

Friday, August 22, 2014

A Politicized Army is an Army that Crumbles

I am listening to National Public Radio.  They were discussing the situation in Iraq and Syria.

In Fight Against ISIS, U.S. Rhetoric Doesn't Match Restrained Response

But Pentagon officials say they don't want that model. They don't want to become the Air Force for Iraq, because they say this fight is different and it is largely due to political missteps by Iraqis American politicians.
Competent Iraqi United States officers were dismissed, because of suspect loyalty. That led to a crumbling of the army in the face of the Islamic State advances.  Link

It is very common to confuse Iraq and Iran.  But this is the first time I ever heard a major news network confuse Iraq and the United States of America.

Yes, I am a Homophobe

I am a homophobe in the purest sense of the word.

Homo sapiens = Humans

Phobe = fear

I have locks on my doors and I use them.  I have pepper spray.  I have other defenses that I choose not to advertise.

I have seen what humans are capable of doing and I "fear" them.

But life goes on. I do what adults do.  I make prudent preparations.  I review my preparations on a periodic basis to evaluate rust, rot and other forces of entropy.  I also review recent calamities to see if humans have found any new ways of taking and destroying.

In the narrower sense of the word

A gay activist would consider me a homophobe because I consider being "gay" to be a choice and not a matter of genetic predestination.    If homosexuality is determined by genetics, then the existence of one gay identical twin demands that the other twin also be gay. I reviewed the identical twin studies out of the US and Australia which looked at many, many thousands of sets of identical twins. Depending on the study, the observed rate of the "other" twin's sexual orientation floats around between 5% and 15% same-sex oriented...not 100% as demanded by the Genetic Predetermination creed.

The Genetic Predetermination theory is critical to efforts to prosecute discrimination.  The thinking is that a person should not suffer discrimination (diminished opportunities) based on factors they have no control over.

But the " control" theory fails  even modest testing.  The NBA discriminates against Kalahari Bushmen since they are underrepresented as players.  The NFL  discriminates against women.  The upper echelon of Google, Microsoft and Apple discriminate against people with IQs below 80.  The flight crew of Air Force One discriminate against people who were born blind.  The list is endless.

My take on gay people is that they chose not to conform to the norms of society.  While their internal narrative may convince them that it was predetermined, the science does not support that contention.  Their choices do not entitle them for special protections.  In fact, their choices are markers, for good or ill, that they reject conforming.  Synonyms for "reject conforming" include: Proud, rebellious, stubborn, intractable, arrogant, individualistic.  Not always traits desired in employees or life partners.

The fact that gay extremists are extremely vocal is not a solid reason to trash the norms of society or to casually discard historical taboos.

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Coffee Consumption Curve

There are many versions of this graphic floating about.

As a retired guy my coffee consumption is a third of what it used to be.  My youngest daughter still refuses to let me meet her boyfriends.

Bachelor Middens

Is pizza sauce a vegetable?

Mrs ERJ is still down south helping her friend pack.

I changed the lock on the front door.  It is not as ominous as it sounds.  The deadbolt had some internal problems.  I bought a new deadbolt at Menards and shuffled the lock sets around.  That is, I put the new deadbolt on a door we do not use and moved the older, exterior door deadbolt around front so it would still open with the same key.  Yeah, I know I can have them re-keyed but the exterior door I took the deadbolt from goes into our master bedroom and keys proliferate.  I want a unique key for that door.


Kubota and I took a drive yesterday.  I was scouting for Ground Nuts and Hog Peanuts.  We were driving down a stretch of Pinch Highway just west of Otto Road.  Kubota said, "This place is creepy.  What are we doing here?"

I told him, "I am scouting out places to dispose of bodies."

He did NOT think that was funny

I bet that stretch of river is filled with deer skeletons.  Probably 95% of them taken out-of-season.  The catfishing potential is enormous.  But is eating catfish considered cannibalism if...well, you know...if not all of the skeletons are deer?


Kubota exhibits the symptoms of rapid onset Vitiligo.  Vitiligo is the loss of skin pigment and occurs in blotches.

I am not worried.  Kubota is "redecorating" his room.  He has been doing the drywall work and now he is painting with white primer. 

He had a friend over and, boys being boys, decided to have a paint roller fight.  They both lost.

I think he is learning a lot and having a blast too boot.  He will be very proud of his room (regardless of the workmanship, in absolute terms) because he will have ownership in it. 

He was a driven man when we were looking at color chips.  I was a little bit mystified in his choice of colors.  But he pulled up a picture of the athletic shoe that was his inspiration on his smart phone.  Why not.  It cannot be any weirder than what interior designers come up with.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Nitrogen Fixing Plants

White Clover

Picture taken in the ERJ yard.  Given our abundant rains this year we have white clover growing everywhere.

"The Land of Milk and Honey" has been interpreted as a land rich in White Clover.  Clover makes milk.  Clover makes honey.  Clover fixes nitrogen and makes it available for the plants that associated with it.

White clover demands moisture as it has shallow roots.  It demands soil that is not acidic.  It demands abundant potassium and weird micronutrients like molybddnum. It demands sunlight which translates to regular grazing.  White clover is a short plant and cannot compete with tall grasses unless they get grazed down on a regular basis. In spite of its demands white clover does the heavy lifting in the pasture.

A common guideline is to attempt to manage your pasture sward so somewhere between 20% and 50% of the canopy is white clover.  A land with pastures between 20% and 50% truly is a land of milk and honey.

The guideline of having 20%-to-50% of the canopy belong to nitrogen fixing plants is also a decent rule for woodlots and orchards as well. I use the word "canopy" to mean the sunlight intercepted by plants.

Secondary Nitrogen Fixing Plants in the sward

Red Clover

Birdsfoot trefoil

Nitrogen Fixing Plants In the woods

Black Locust
Durable wood, good firewood, flowers provide nectar to bees.  Roots tend to throw up suckers all over the place.  Twigs are thorny.

Autumn Olive
Large shrub.  Very drought tolerant.  Edible berries.  Good honey plant.  Considered invasive in many places.

On my wish list

Edible, Nitrogen Fixing Vines that thrive in difficult places.

Ground Nut (Apios americana).  Pictures from Eaton Rapids, Michigan.

Between a road and a pond.  You can see cattails and pond water in upper left corner of photo.
Most Ground Nuts in the north are triploid and don't set seeds.  They were spread by tubers.  Reading between the lines, they were probably spread by native Americans, either as intentional agriculture or as spilled food.

These Ground Nuts were photographed on the property of a family who homeschools.  I printed off some material from the internet and shared the news of their good fortune.  I asked that they share some tubers with me if they dug some up as a homeschool lesson.  Time will tell.

Hog Peanuts (Amphicarpaea bracteata) Pictures from northwest Eaton County, Michigan

I marked out the densest portion of this patch with some surveyor's flags.  I intend to come back after a killing frost and remove a few shovelfuls worth of soil.

These plants are on my parent's property so I am good-to-go for permission.

Additional resources

Link to an article about using Nitrogen Fixing Plants in Permaculture

List of some Nitrogen Fixing Plants from HERE.  Estimates of Nitrogen Fixing capability should be taken with a grain of salt.

Scientific Name                               PLANTS Floristic Area Coppice Potential Nitrogen Fixation Berry/Nut/Seed Product Palatable Browse Animal Palatable Graze Animal Palatable Human
Acacia constricta NA (L48) No Low No Low
Acacia cyclops NA (L48) Yes Medium No Low
Acacia longifolia NA (L48) Yes Medium No Low
Acacia melanoxylon NA (L48), HI Yes Medium No Low
Albizia julibrissin NA (L48) No Medium No Low Low No
Alnus glutinosa NA (L48, CAN) Yes High No Low Low No
Alnus incana NA (L48, AK, CAN, SPM) No Medium No Medium Low No
Alnus incana ssp. rugosa NA (L48, CAN, SPM) Yes Low No Low Low No
Alnus incana ssp. tenuifolia NA (L48, AK, CAN) No Medium No Low Low No
Alnus maritima NA (L48) No Medium No Medium Low No
Alnus rhombifolia NA (L48) No Low No Low Low No
Alnus rubra NA (L48, AK, CAN) No High No Medium
Alnus serrulata NA (L48, CAN) No Medium No Medium Low No
Alnus viridis ssp. crispa NA (L48, AK, CAN, GL, SPM) No Low No Low Low No
Alnus viridis ssp. sinuata NA (L48, AK, CAN) No Low No Low Low No
Amorpha canescens NA (L48, CAN) No Medium No High Low No
Amorpha fruticosa NA (L48, CAN) Yes Medium No Low Low No
Amorpha glabra NA (L48) No Medium No Medium Low No
Andira inermis NA (L48), PR, VI No Medium No Low Low No
Apios americana NA (L48, CAN) No Medium No Medium Medium Yes
Astragalus agrestis NA (L48, CAN) No Medium No Medium Medium No
Astragalus canadensis NA (L48, CAN) No Low No Low Low No
Astragalus cicer NA (L48, AK, CAN) No High No High Medium No
Astragalus curvicarpus NA (L48) No Low No Low Low No
Astragalus filipes NA (L48, CAN) No Medium No Medium Low No
Astragalus lentiginosus NA (L48, CAN) No Medium No Low
Astragalus mollissimus var. mollissimus NA (L48) No Medium No Low
Astragalus purshii NA (L48, CAN) No Medium No Low Low No
Baptisia tinctoria NA (L48, CAN) No Low No Medium Low No
Caesalpinia gilliesii NA (L48), PR No Low Yes

Cajanus cajan NA (L48), HI, PR, VI No Medium Yes High High Yes
Calliandra eriophylla NA (L48) No Low No High High No
Caragana arborescens NA (L48, AK, CAN) Yes Medium No Low Low No
Casuarina cunninghamiana NA (L48), PR No Low No

Casuarina equisetifolia NA (L48), HI, PR, VI No Low No

Casuarina glauca NA (L48), HI Yes Low No

Catalpa speciosa NA (L48, CAN) No Low No Low Low No
Ceanothus americanus NA (L48, CAN) No Low No Medium Low Yes
Ceanothus cordulatus NA (L48) No Low No High Low No
Ceanothus cuneatus NA (L48) No Low No Medium Low No
Ceanothus fresnensis NA (L48) No Low No Medium Low No
Ceanothus greggii NA (L48) No Low No Medium Medium No
Ceanothus integerrimus NA (L48) No Low No High Medium No
Ceanothus megacarpus NA (L48) Yes Low No Low Low No
Ceanothus papillosus NA (L48) Yes Low No Low Low No
Ceanothus prostratus NA (L48) No Low No Low Low No
Ceanothus sanguineus NA (L48, CAN) No Low No Low Low No
Ceanothus velutinus NA (L48, CAN) No Medium No Low Low No
Cercocarpus ledifolius NA (L48) No Low No High Low No
Cercocarpus montanus NA (L48) No Low No High Medium No
Chamaecrista fasciculata NA (L48) No Medium No High Medium No
Comptonia peregrina NA (L48, CAN) No Low No Medium Low No
Crotalaria spectabilis NA (L48), HI, PR No Medium No Low Low No
Cytisus scoparius NA (L48, AK, CAN), HI No High No Low
Dalea candida var. candida NA (L48, CAN) No High No High High No
Dalea formosa NA (L48) No Medium No Medium Medium No
Dalea purpurea var. purpurea NA (L48, CAN) No Low No Medium Medium No
Delonix regia NA (L48), HI, PR, VI No Low No

Desmanthus illinoensis NA (L48) No Low No High High No
Desmanthus virgatus NA (L48), PR, VI No Medium No High High No
Desmodium incanum NA (L48), HI, PR, VI Yes Low Yes High High No
Desmodium paniculatum NA (L48, CAN) No Low No Medium Medium No
Desmodium perplexum NA (L48) No Low No Medium Low No
Desmodium tortuosum NA (L48), HI, PR, VI No Low No Low Low No
Desmodium triflorum NA (L48), HI, PR, VI No Low No Low Low Yes
Dryas drummondii NA (L48, AK, CAN) No Low No Medium Low No
Dryas octopetala NA (L48, AK, CAN, GL) No Medium No Low Low No
Elaeagnus angustifolia NA (L48, CAN) No High No Low Low Yes
Elaeagnus commutata NA (L48, AK, CAN) No Medium No Medium Low Yes
Elaeagnus umbellata NA (L48, CAN), HI No Medium No Medium Low Yes
Gleditsia aquatica NA (L48) No Low No Medium Medium No
Gliricidia sepium NA (L48), PR, VI No High No High High No
Glycine max NA (L48, CAN), PR No Medium No High High Yes
Glycyrrhiza lepidota NA (L48, CAN) No Low No

Gymnocladus dioicus NA (L48, CAN) No Low No Low Low No
Hedysarum alpinum NA (L48, AK, CAN) No Low No High High Yes
Hedysarum boreale NA (L48, AK, CAN) No Medium No High High No
Hedysarum boreale ssp. boreale var. boreale NA (L48, CAN) No Medium No High High No
Hedysarum sulphurescens NA (L48, CAN) No Low No Medium High No
Hippophae rhamnoides NA (CAN) Yes Medium Yes Low Low No
Indigofera hirsuta NA (L48), PR No Medium No Low Low No
Kummerowia stipulacea NA (L48) No Medium No Low High No
Kummerowia striata NA (L48) No Medium No Low High No
Lablab purpureus NA (L48, CAN), HI, PR, VI No Medium Yes High High Yes
Lathyrus hirsutus NA (L48) No High No High High No
Lathyrus japonicus NA (L48, AK, CAN, GL, SPM) No Medium No Low Low No
Lathyrus littoralis NA (L48, CAN) No Medium No

Lathyrus polyphyllus NA (L48) No Medium No

Lathyrus tuberosus NA (L48, CAN) No Medium No Low Low No
Lespedeza capitata NA (L48, CAN) No Medium No Medium Low No
Lespedeza hirta NA (L48, CAN) No Medium No Low Low No
Lespedeza virgata NA (L48) No Medium No Medium Medium No
Leucaena leucocephala NA (L48), VI No High No High High Yes
Leucaena retusa NA (L48) No Low Yes Medium High No
Lonicera maackii NA (L48, CAN) Yes Low No Low Low No
Lotus corniculatus NA (L48, CAN, SPM) No Medium No High High No
Lotus crassifolius NA (L48) No Low No Low Medium No
Lotus glaber NA (L48, CAN)

Lotus tenuis
No Medium No Medium High No
Lotus wrightii NA (L48) No Low No High Medium No
Lupinus albicaulis NA (L48) No High No Low Low No
Lupinus albus NA (L48) No High No Low Low No
Lupinus ×alpestris NA (L48) No Medium No Medium Medium No
Lupinus angustifolius NA (L48, CAN) No High No Low Low No
Lupinus arboreus NA (L48, CAN) No Medium No Low Low No
Lupinus arcticus NA (L48, AK, CAN) No Low No Medium Low Yes
Lupinus argenteus NA (L48, CAN) No Low No Medium Medium No
Lupinus caudatus NA (L48) No Low No Medium Medium No
Lupinus covillei NA (L48) No Low No Medium Medium No
Lupinus elmeri NA (L48) No Medium No Medium Medium No
Lupinus havardii NA (L48) No Low No Medium Medium No
Lupinus latifolius NA (L48) No Low No Medium Medium No
Lupinus lepidus NA (L48, AK, CAN) No Low No Medium Medium No
Lupinus luteolus NA (L48) No Medium No

Lupinus luteus NA (L48) No High No Low Low No
Lupinus nevadensis NA (L48) No Medium No Low Low No
Lupinus nootkatensis NA (L48, AK, CAN) No Low No Low Medium No
Lupinus sericeus NA (L48, CAN) No Low No Medium Medium No
Lupinus sulphureus NA (L48, CAN) No Low No Medium Medium No
Macroptilium atropurpureum NA (L48), HI, PR No Medium No High High No
Medicago lupulina NA (L48, AK, CAN, GL, SPM), HI No Medium No Medium Medium No
Medicago polymorpha NA (L48, AK, CAN), HI No High No Medium High Yes
Medicago sativa NA (L48, AK, CAN), HI, PR, VI No High No High High Yes
Medicago scutellata NA (L48) No Medium No Medium Medium No
Melilotus indicus NA (L48, CAN, GL), HI

Melilotus indica
No Medium No Medium Medium No
Melilotus officinalis NA (L48, AK, CAN, GL, SPM), HI, PR No Medium No Low Medium No
Melilotus alba
No Medium No Medium Medium No
Morella californica NA (L48, CAN) Yes Low No Low Low No
Morella pensylvanica NA (L48, CAN, SPM) No Medium No Low Low No
Morinda citrifolia NA (L48), HI, PR, VI No High Yes

Myrica gale NA (L48, AK, CAN, SPM) No Low No

Oenothera pilosella NA (L48, CAN) No Low No Low Low No
Olneya tesota NA (L48) No Low No Medium Low Yes
Onobrychis viciifolia NA (L48, AK, CAN) No Medium No High High No
Oxytropis lambertii NA (L48, CAN) No Low No

Oxytropis splendens NA (L48, AK, CAN) No Low No Low Medium No
Phragmites australis NA (L48, CAN), HI, PR No Low No Low Low No
Pluchea odorata var. odorata NA (L48), PR, VI No Low No
Medium No
Prosopis glandulosa var. glandulosa NA (L48), VI Yes Low No Medium High Yes
Prosopis pubescens NA (L48) Yes Low No High High Yes
Purshia glandulosa NA (L48) No Low No High High No
Purshia stansburiana NA (L48) Yes Low No High High No
Purshia tridentata NA (L48, CAN) No Low No High Medium No
Robinia neomexicana NA (L48) Yes Low No High High No
Robinia pseudoacacia NA (L48, CAN) Yes Medium No Low Low No
Securigera varia NA (L48, CAN), HI

Coronilla varia
No Medium No High Medium No
Senna marilandica NA (L48) No Medium No High High No
Sesbania grandiflora NA (L48), PR, VI Yes Medium Yes High High Yes
Shepherdia argentea NA (L48, CAN) Yes Medium No Medium Low Yes
Shepherdia canadensis NA (L48, AK, CAN) Yes Medium No Medium Low Yes
Sophora secundiflora NA (L48) Yes Medium No

Trifolium alexandrinum NA (L48) No High No High High No
Trifolium ambiguum NA (L48) No Low No High High No
Trifolium fragiferum NA (L48, CAN) No Medium No High High No
Trifolium hirtum NA (L48) No Low No High High No
Trifolium hybridum NA (L48, AK, CAN, SPM), HI No High No High High No
Trifolium incarnatum NA (L48, CAN), HI No Medium No High High No
Trifolium longipes NA (L48) No Medium No Low Low No
Trifolium macrocephalum NA (L48) No Medium No Medium High No
Trifolium nigrescens NA (L48) No Low No High High No
Trifolium pratense NA (L48, AK, CAN, GL, SPM), HI, PR No Medium No High High No
Trifolium repens NA (L48, AK, CAN, GL, SPM), HI No High No High High No
Trifolium subterraneum NA (L48, CAN), HI No Medium No High High No
Trifolium vesiculosum NA (L48) No High No High High No
Trifolium wormskioldii NA (L48, AK, CAN) No Medium No Medium High No
Vicia americana NA (L48, AK, CAN) No Low No High High No
Vicia benghalensis NA (L48) No Low No

Vicia cracca NA (L48, AK, CAN, GL, SPM), HI No Medium No High High No
Vicia grandiflora NA (L48) No High No High High No
Vicia lutea NA (L48) No High No High High No
Vicia sativa NA (L48, AK, CAN, SPM), HI No Low No Medium Medium Yes
Vicia villosa NA (L48, AK, CAN), HI No Medium No High High No
Vigna radiata NA (L48) No Medium No High High Yes
Vigna unguiculata NA (L48), PR, VI No High No High High Yes
Wisteria frutescens NA (L48) No Medium No High High No