Thursday, April 30, 2015

Filberts and Springwater

2015 tree nursery
A double row of National Arbor Day Foundation filbert seedlings.  They are a real deal at $39 for fifty seedlings.  I bought 100.
Some of them are starting to leaf out.
I saved the ten largest ones and used them for rootstock.  I potted them up, two to a five gallon pot.  They are now lounging about on the south side of a building.  Filberts are lazy trees.  They like 80 degree F to knit together.  This little microclimate gives me about +20 over ambient.  It is beneath a Honey Locust which will leaf out as it gets a little warmer.
These are grafted to NY 398.
My plan is to eventually set up a stool bed where I can use tie-off layering to produce copies of certain, select cultivars.


This is a good time of year to find springs.

Biologists used to think that pine needles were acidic.  They assumed that pine trees made the soil beneath them sandy.  They assumed that the rain leached the acid out of the needles which then dissolved the iron out of the soil.  The soil become ashy gray as the iron leached out.  It also became progressively sandier.  The soils in those northern forests was called "podzols" by the Russian soil scientists.  Podzol is under-ash in Russian.

More recently, a different mechanism was found to dominate.

In the spring time, the soil is saturated as the top layers can not drain through the deeper layers that are still frozen.  Decay organisms compete so effectively for free oxygen in the warmer, top layers that they rob oxygen from the iron in the Fe+3 state, reducing it to Fe+2.

Fe+3 is "red rust" and not very soluble in water.  Fe+2 is very soluble in water.  The water eventually percolates down to the water table.

That water comes to the surface somewhere.  Sometimes it runs into streams.  Even though the spring water cools down the stream....which normally would increase the water's ability to dissolve oxygen, the Fe+2 gobbles up all of the dissolved oxygen and create a death zone.

The decay microbes can out-compete the Fe+3/Fe+2 for oxygen and the Fe+3/Fe+2 can out-compete fish for oxygen.

ometimes the springs feed into bogs.  Over time, the Fe+2, after exposure to air, creates massive deposits of red Fe+3.  Those deposits were mined and were known as bog iron.  Even though New Jersey has no traditional sources of iron ore, it was a major producer of iron for the first hundred years of our country's history....bog iron.

This time of year is a great time to find "springs".  They are highlighted in red.

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Gunwriter quotes

Rick Bin runs a great website at 24hourcampfire.  They have a thread on Gun Writer quotes on the Ask the Gunwrites forum.

I am sure Rick will like it if a few of you follow this post over to his site.

At the last SHOT show, I was chatting with Ron Spomer and informed him that I was greatly offended.

"Why?" he asked.

"Because I've been on several hunts lately where fellow writers kept telling me I look like you," I said.

Without missing a beat, he replied, "I think they're trying to insult both of us."

"It's not premarital sex if you don't plan on marrying them"

"Bird hunting without a dog is like having sex without a woman."

"If you are looking for sympathy you can always find it in the dictionary between sh-t and syphylis."

"If you shoot someone with a 25 acp, and he finds out about it, he is going to be upset with you"
 "You don't get down from a log, you get down from a goose."

"That stock is so ugly it would abort a lady crocodile."

I like to do all of my hunting before I shoot.

"If God had intended you to shoot one of those ( O/U) He would have stacked your eyes that way..."

Robert Ruark said of the African Buffalo: “He looked at me as though I owed him money. I never saw such malevolence in the eyes of any animal or human being before or since. So I
shot him.”

"That rifle looks like it was put together by a pimp."

"Do not carry a 25 acp, but if you must, do not load it. You may shoot someone and it make him angry and he will do you bodily harm"

"A great many good fellows are comforted by and have a touching faith in tables and charts which optimistically guarantee to reduce caliber killing efficiency to a mathematical formula. There is nothing much wrong with this,as long as it is not taken too seriously and is seen i proper perspective,which is, home entertainment value..."

Masaad Ayoob on the .25acp..." Its a nice thing to have when you can't carry a gun..."

"Elmer (Kieth) just seems to naturally prefer rifles upon which wheels would be most appropriate "

"The internet - home of those who don't know much and aren't afraid to go public."

"The 1911 pistol remains the service pistol of choice in the eyes of those who understand the problem. Back when we audited the FBI academy in 1947, I was told that I ought not to use my pistol in their training program because it was not fair. Maybe the first thing one should demand of his sidearm is that it be unfair."

" is a flat rifle looking for a third dimension."

"Explain 'overkill'. How can something wind up 'overdead'?"
"You can skin a buffalo with a pen knife, but it doesn't say much about the intelligence of the person doing it".

"I was a deer hunter before I became a man." 

"The perfect elk rifle is something that'll throw a cast iron cook stove at 2400 feet per second"

"The best place to shoot a moose is right next to a forklift." 

"Weapons are the tools of power," Jeff Cooper wrote back in 1979. "In the hands of the state, they can be the tools of decency or the tools of oppression, depending on the righteousness of that state. In the hands of criminals, they are the tools of evil. In the hands of the free and decent citizen, they should be the tools of liberty. Weapons compound man's power to achieve whatever purpose he may have. They amplify the capabilities of both the good man and the bad, and to exactly the same degree, having no will of their own. Thus, we must regard them as servants, not masters--and good servants of good men. Without them, man is diminished, and his opportunities to fulfill his destiny are lessened. An unarmed man can only flee from evil, and evil is not overcome by fleeing from it."

Nine-millimeters are all well and good until someone loses an eye.

The 45 ACP is not the ideal cartridge, it is the cartridge chambered in the ideal pistol.

Listening to the spaces between the notes

I have two posts in draft.  I like neither one of them.  They will be deleted.  All 1800 words.

Negativity sucks.  It is like gravity. It is everywhere.  In fact, negativity is worse than gravity because it comes in waves.

Bloggers who are more capable that I have been sucked into it.  Roberta X dropped her comments after she was baited into non-productive dialog.

So I am pulling a mulligan today.  No intellectually stimulating essays on cheating or corruption, or medical billing.

Life is good

The sun is shining.

I took a three mile walk with Mrs ERJ.

I planted acorns in the tree nursery.  Q. accutissima, Q. macrocarpa (Idaho Sweet), Q. rubra, Q. michauxii, and some chestnuts C. mollisima.

I also planted some acorns from the oak tree (Q. robur) Mrs ERJ and I planted the year we were married.  Not surprisingly, we call this our "Wedding Oak".  I know that I have seedlings from this tree on our property but I cannot definitively point at any one tree and say, "That one!"  Mrs ERJ has been steadfast in her desire to have some link back to that tree.  Given the randomness of highway departments and property transfers, it seems like sooner is better than later.

The acorns were in rough shape.  They had dried out during storage.  But some of the 150 (or so) acorns that I planted had small root tips protruding.  I think we are finally going to make this happen.

I marked the rows with pink flags.  They are just north of the row of Bud 118 cuttings.

Mayhaw graft starting to push buds.  Scion wood courtesy of Lucky in Kentucky.

I also grafted a couple of our yard trees with scion wood from our Wedding Oak.

The tree itself is special in no particular way except it is intimately connected to our first year of marriage.  Happy times.  VERY happy times.

Planting seeds fills me with hope and joy.  I wish the same for all of my readers.

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Barn Wood

The peak is the only portion of the old gambrel-roof barn still standing.   I store lumber beneath it.
We lost our gambrel-roof barn to a wind storm several years ago.

Friends and acquaintances, upon hearing about it, would invariably respond, "You are SO LUCKY!  Barn wood is Very Valuable!"  From their envious tones one would assume that my yard was littered with $100 bills.  I was more than willing to share my "good luck".  I just wanted the mess gone.

I made several stacks of "distressed" siding.  The people who assured me that they wanted the wood never picked it up.

I began to have doubts about the universal desirability of barn wood.

That belief, of course, an artifact of the entertainment industry's need to constantly titillate.  The story line varies.  The most common spin is:  Look at these master builders (and master salespeople) turn punky, pooped-on boards into interior paneling and get some chump to spend beaucoup bucks on it.

The evidence that barn wood is of little value is everywhere.  There would be no barns standing if the construction materials were significantly more valuable than the structure.   They would be parted out while they were still standing, structurally sound and safe to work on.

There is no way to sugar coat it.  Clambering about the splinters, the piles of loose boards, the rotted floors, tripping on wires, landing/stepping on protruding spikes is hazardous and exhausting work.  It is not like I am a spry youth of 40 any more.

Valuable wood my rear-end.  People cannot even be bothered to back up to a pile of salvage lumber and load it into their truck.

I now hear the platitudes "You are SO LUCKY blah, blah, blah..." the same way as "You are SO LUCKY your grandma died...her dental work is Very Valuable."


I am done

Hand-hewn barn beams and all, I am subjecting the wood to thermally accelerated reduction to CO2, H2O and ash.

At twenty pounds an armload, three minutes per round-trip and four hours a day I need another 15 days with winds that are favorable.  Those old-timers sure used a lot of wood in those barns.

Types of wood

Those old-timers used many kinds of wood.  Some was locally harvested and left in-the-round.  Some was recycled from other structures.  Some was purchased.  So far, I am very impressed with the durability of tongue-and-groove, Southern Yellow Pine.  The only downside to Southern Yellow Pine that it burns with a black, pitchy smoke.  I am concerned that I might get a visit from my local fire department who would assume that I was burning tires.

Monday, April 27, 2015

Bullet setback

Bullet setback is one of the concerns in reloading modern, high pressure, small case capacity, semi-automatic pistol cartridges.

Image from HERE
The mechanism of the pistol slams the nose of the bullet against a feed ramp, exerting forces that push backwards on the actual bullet.  If that bullet moves in the case, it reduces the free volume of the round.  Same energy in a substantially smaller volume results in much higher pressures.

Revolver cartridges are not subject to this issue.  They do not get slammed by the mechanism.  Also, most revolver cartridges were designed during the black powder era.  Black powder has much lower power density so more volume was required to create a viable round.  The transition to smokeless powder kept the exterior dimensions so there is ample volume within the case.

Ironically, the problem with high power revolver rounds is the bullet walking forward which will lock up the cylinder when the nose of the bullet starts to stick out.


One way to prevent the bullet from moving back in the case is to emboss dimples or grooves in the case.

This is a photo essay on how to modify a commercially available tool to do just that.

Hornady Cam-Lock bullet puller, PN 392165-12 on the left and a 7/16" bolt that was trimmed to length to function as an anvil on the right.  This tool will be modified so it can be used to press cannelures into 40 S&W cases.

This is what the collet-anvil look like when put together.  The anvil is about 0.030" (0.70mm) subflush to the fingers of the collet.  The bolt does not need to be a hardened bolt.  I cut the bolt with a hacksaw and finessed the fit with a 10" file.
The collet was file hard so it needed to be softened.

The tips of the fingers were softened by lifting the collet up on the anvil and heating the tips with a MAPP gas torch.  The anvil serves as a heat sink and keeps the base of the fingers from getting too hot. 
The base of the anvil (head of the bolt) was clamped in a vice and the ends of the fingers were peened with a hammer at the location of the arrows.
Two views of what the case looks like after processing through the ERJ case cannelure tool.

The details need a little bit of polishing to soften the embossments but I am very happy with the results.

Except for filing the anvil to size, the job took less time than writing this blog entry.

Sunday, April 26, 2015

I think he got it right the first time

From the Detroit Free Press

An Ann Arbor Catholic priest has urged his parishioners to arm themselves and attend classes at Christ the King parish to earn a concealed pistol license (CPL).
In a letter sent to Christ the King parishioners recently, the Rev. Edward Fride explained why he believed it was necessary to get concealed pistol licenses because of recent crime in the area. During a Palm Sunday mass last month, Fride announced that the parish would be holding the CPL class.
Please read Rev. Edward Fride's letter, even if you do not read another word on this blog.  It is very well written.

Bishop Boyea weighed in on the topic

The Rev. Edward Fride said he'll abide by the directive of Lansing Bishop Earl Boyea, who oversees the parish, and who said Monday such classes are not appropriate for church property.
"As our Bishop, he is responsible for setting policy for our parishes and he has decided and publicly stated that CPL (concealed pistol license) classes are not appropriate on Church property," Fride wrote on his Facebook page...
I don't expect that there will be much push-back on Father Fride.  Seven of  the Diocese of Lansing's twenty-eight seminarians studying to be priests came from Christ the King parish.  There are ninety-five parishes in the diocese and fully one quarter of the seminarians come from just one of them, Christ the King.  And it is like that year-after-year-after-year.

I know that churches are not like industry.  But in industry, when somebody excels, the bosses make every effort to leverage that success by inculcating those habits/techniques into all of the workers.

Peter's Sword

The design of the short sword stabilized about 300 B.C.  The design was so well conceived (20" blade, 32-to-48 ounces) that it changed little from the Roman Gladius to the US Navy 1841 Naval Cutlass.  This image is of a M1831 French Artilleryman's sword.  Given the realities of metallurgy and economics, Peter's sword was probably shorter (15" blade) and stouter....sort of the Hi-Point pistol of the day.
Peter defended Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane with a sword.  The Bible is silent on the topic of whether Simon Peter packed a sword as his EDC.  Given the times; the robbers (the backstory to The Good Samaritan was all too real), the simmering revolt (the two who were executed at Jesus's side were likely revolutionaries as well as thieves) all prudent travelers carried something.

Jesus rebuked Peter.  Jesus was reconciled to the script that was to follow and would not allow Peter to derail it.

Jesus said, "All those who live by sword shall also die by the sword."  The usual interpretation is to spin that into an injunction against protecting one's self.  I cannot read it that way.  There are no "Shall not.." anywhere in that statement.

More practically, it can be seen as a simple statement of reality.  Those who do violence against others will eventually run into somebody who will stop them with lethal force. 

The bishop said

 "...that CPL (concealed pistol license) classes are not appropriate on Church property,"  (Emphasis is mine)
That is an elegant turn-of-phrase.  "Appropriate" is situational, it depends on circumstances.  What is not appropriate today can be appropriate tomorrow.  And Bishop Boyea did not prohibit practicing Catholics from taking CPL classes.  He merely stated that the classes should not be held on church property as a matter of policy because "it is not appropriate".

And policy can change.

The Good Shepherd

"Pastor" is another way to say "Shepherd".  Let's take a clear look at what was expected of shepherds in the time of Christ.

In the Holy Land, in the time of Christ the following top predators were endemic:
  • Lions
  • Leopards
  • Brown Bears (same species as the North American Grizzly)
  • Wolves 
  • Other Humans
They all loved to eat lamb and mutton.

The shepherd protected his sheep.  He had rocks, a sling and perhaps a short, stout spear.  Defending his flock was up-close and personal and demanded constant vigilance.

I think the Rev. Edward Fride was doing his duty as a Pastor.  He was helping his flock, as Christians, become capable of being "a Good Shepherds" in turn for those under their care.  Good Shepherds, the way that Jesus's immediate audience understood the term.

Dietary Advice

Mrs ERJ takes our diets seriously.  She wants us to last a long time.  Either that, or she is trying to maintain our trade-in value.  I am afraid to ask her which.

She reads magazine articles.  She reads books.  She listens to the radio.  She consults with our family doctor (The Old Curmudgeon).  Most recently, she consulted with a registered dietician.

Image from HERE

It is difficult to avoid the fads, at least in the popular media.  There is stability about some things.  Everybody agrees that Broccoli and Sweet Potatoes are healthy.

The registered dietician was interesting.  She advised that we drink more water and get more sleep.  It is easy to misinterpret "thirst" and "tired" for "hunger".  Most people will eat before they drink because it is far more sensorally pleasing to chow down on chicken wings than to chug a glass of water.  They will also opt to eat before sleeping because eating is usually more social and quicker than sleeping.

The dietician also thinks that nuts are a good food if eaten in moderation.  They are filling and have very little sugar in them.

Another thing about nuts is that they require chewing.  One can inhale nuts but they will pass through undigested...that is, they will not add calories.  If one takes the time to chew them well, then your brain will have the sensation of having eaten much food.


Mrs ERJ was tickled pink when Kubota reported to her that he had eaten nuts for breakfast.  "In fact," he said "I could eat nuts every day for breakfast."

Getting Kubota to eat a healthy breakfast has been a challenge.  For whatever reason, he does not want to eat in the morning.

Image from HERE
Thinking that it will be necessary to stock-up on Kubota's favorite new breakfast food, she asked him what kind of nuts he liked.  "Was it the almonds?  Or was it the sunflower seeds?  Or the pecans?  Or peanut butter?"

"Nope.  It was none of those." Kubota replied.

Puzzled, Mrs ERJ asked him what other kind of nut there was.

"Donuts, of course."  Kubota said.

She blames me for his sense of humor.

Saturday, April 25, 2015

Burning Brush

I was burning brush last night and today.  I am bushed.

The weather was prime for burning.  The breeze was blowing the smoke away from the overgrown field east of me.  There is no chance of an ember landing over there and starting a grass fire.

The humidity was high.  And even if an ember bucked its way upwind, there are enough spears of green grass to make it a s-l-o-w fire.  As it was, the wind took the smoke over at least a hundred yards of closely cropped pasture.  The grass is so green it pulsates.  So green it hurts the eyes.

The wind was also blowing it away from the house.  Hence I had Mrs ERJ's go-ahead for burning.

Technically, I did not have a brush fire.  I had a campfire.

The township requires a permit to have a brush fire but not campfires.

I kept the footprint small.  I have a "burn pit".  It is about 25 feet by 25 feet and is about 4 feet deep.  My campfire was about 4' by 6' and was parked in the south east corner of the pit.

Fire Science

I have it on good authority that brush fires are a good venue for testing the flammability of various, man-made objects.  ERJ cannot condone this testing as it may create air quality issues.  Never-the-less, some of the data is worth sharing.

According to my source(s), the very cheapest furniture explodes into flames as if soaked in kerosene.  The worst offenders are the pieces covered with thin, porous polyolefin fabrics and are padded with very light, open cell, polyethylene foams. 

Most furniture consists of the fabric, a layer of fibrous matting and then closed cell foam resting atop springs or some other foundation.  The matting is required to wick away water vapor since the closed cell foam is impervious to it.  The very cheapest furniture uses open cell foam (which has less material in it so it costs less) and does away with the matting.  These cheap pieces are are engulfed in flames in a matter of seconds.

Black Walnut, the wood

Some of the crazy stuff auto manufactures do.  Story and image found HERE
Somebody is logging out nearly every standing stick of Black Walnut for timber in this part of Michigan.

Five years can go by without seeing a Black Walnut log on a logging truck in this part of Michigan.  Now they are everywhere.

Driving about the countryside I see Black Walnut logs stacked up beside the roads.  Many of them are short  knotty and crooked.  They are not going to get very big pieces of lumber out of those.  Quite the mystery of why anybody would harvest those.

Many other logs are coming out of fence rows between fields.  Sawmills HATE those logs.  They often have staples, nails, fence wire and tree-stand pegs buried in them.

Obviously, somebody has a massive contract to harvest Black Walnut.

Contracts and content

Automotive companies often offer leather upholstery as an upscale option. 

It is pretty normal to jazz up the sales appeal a design that is getting long-in-the-tooth by offering those kinds of options.

The first Toyota Camrys were not highly appointed cars.  Reliable: Yes.  Luxurious: No.
There is also a natural evolution in the marketplace for automobiles  marques to become upwardly mobile.  They become ever more luxurious, and profitable over time.  The executives rationalize it by saying the customer who bought a bare-bones Camry or Accord in 1984 is now far more affluent and has different expectations than where they were fresh out of school.

In fact, it is simpler than that.  The executives are being prudent businessmen.  They are following the money.   There is a butt-load more profit in a $47,000 Camry than there is in a $20,000 Camry.

In the case of leather seats, the corporate go-ahead occurs 24 months before the first leather-seated vehicle hits the showroom floor.  Requests-for-quote are release the next day. 

Ford F-150 leather interior.  The ironic thing is that the leather is covered with vinyl to improve ease of cleaning and to match colors.  Leather is a natural product and the color moves around.  Look at a shelf of baseball mitts to see the range of color.  Leather gives smell and tear resistance.  Leather seats do not "breath".  They can't.  They are really vinyl-on-a-leather substrate seats.
The amount of leather required to make  leather seats a Regular Production Option (with an anticipated penetration of 20%) on a Camry or a Ford F-150 is a non-trivial percentage of the world's leather production.  That heavy a "pull" for a single application makes the supply chain vulnerable to disruptions and can play hob with the prices...and profit margins.  Consequently, requests-for-quotes are released concurrently for hides (usually placed in South America) to secure the logistical pipeline supplying those leather seats.

Hides for cattle that are not yet born

A typical "beeve" is 18-to-20 months old.  The first vehicle hits the dealership in 24 months.  The production run will be for a couple of years....ending 48 months in the future.

Back to Black Walnut

Somebody has a burning need for an incredible amount of Black Walnut lumber and they are not very fussy about the size of the pieces.

Lots of applications for small pieces of lumber here.  A factoid from the furniture trade:  Teak and other top end hardwoods are bleached and then stained to achieve color match.  Image from HERE

My guess is that in a year or two one of the automakers will come out with "real walnut trim" as an RPO on a line of high volume vehicles.  Either that or somebody found an anti-cancer drug in the heartwood of Black Walnut.

My hope is that any Black Walnut accents is complemented with "blued steel" trim.  But that is just me.

Friday, April 24, 2015

Track season update

Sometimes our children surprise us.

Belladonna is going through the "simulated annealing" process in her throwing technique.  Her coach, Mr Baker, told her that she was plateauing out.  He told her that she needed to come across the throwing pit with more speed and energy if she hoped to increase her distances.

She did not stay safe.  She listened.  The speed and energy messed up her timing.  Now she throws wide left.  And she throws wide right.  And she throws line-drives.  It is very frustrating to her.  She used to be as repeatable as a punch-and-die producing coins.  Now she is more like a roulette wheel.

Mason Invitationals

Eaton Rapids was invited to the Mason Invitationals.

So was Belladona's arch nemesis. 

Belladonna stuck with the plan.  She threw wide left.  She threw wide right.  She threw a line drive.  And she threw one pretty good throw. 

Her arch nemesis still beat her by 2 feet but Belladonna is OK with that.  "I'll get her before the end of the year."

Throwing venues

All of the women throwers from Eaton Rapids "PRed" in discus at Mason.

Mason is a "lucky" venue.  Most of the luck is due to the fact that the field drops away from the throwing pit.  My rough eyeball approximation is that the grade is between a 3% and 4% grade.  Given that an optimal discus throw re-enters at a 35-40 degree one can expect a five percent boost to one's throw.

Given that Belladonna has one foot in the canoe and the other on the dock, I would have expected her throws to diminish by 15%.  I was impressed by the fact that her 2015 PR increased by 5 feet.  But then, all of the women Eaton Rapids throwers increased by a similar amount.

Mr Baker

Mr Baker is a good great coach.  He tells us that young women and young men are different.  "Young men," he tells us, "need to throw well to feel good. Young women need to feel good to throw well."

It seems to work.  Eaton Rapids is not a large school.  I expect the class of 2015 to be about 175 students.  In that class are three young ladies who can throw the discus over 105 feet.

While that might be occasion for yawns in California where athletes are a distinct subspecies, or in Texas where the wind blows hard enough to snap logging is pretty exceptional for a blue-collar community in a rust-belt state.

Mr Baker is modest.  He says it is the girls out there throwing, not him.  But there is something to be said for having a physics teacher as a throwing coach.

Thank-you Mr Baker.

Guerrilla Gardening, Raspberries

Guerrilla gardening is the act of committing agriculture on property you do not own, nor are you renting.  In fact, it is land that you have no authorized claim to.  Typically, it is land that is under-utilized:  Little patches and odd corners that are difficult to mow or maintain. Guerrilla gardening is gardening the way our earliest ancestors gardened.  The seeds or plants go into the ground with a prayer of hope...and then they are mostly on their own.

Technically, it is trespassing and a breach of the owner's private property rights.  The only defense the guerrilla gardener has is that our activities are adding value to the property (which few owners object to) and we try to be as deft and light-footed as a flying bird.


I checked out one of the places where I had planted raspberry bushes last year.  My hopes were very low.

I moved the plants later in the season than was optimal.  They had 8-to-10 inches of new growth on them.  We had a dry spell shortly after I moved them.  Then they were buried with weeds after the rain resumed.

I was pleasantly surprised to find half of the plant survived.

I tagged the plants that were alive with a piece of natural binding twine.  It is neutral enough that it does not shout out "Here I am!"  Shovel in ground for size reference.

A close up of the base of the plant showing root suckers.  This plant is happy enough that it is spreading.  That bodes well for the future.
The planting is about 150 feet long and it is beside an old fence.  The property is a large field that was purchased by a speculator and plotted off into lots.  Then the Great Recession hit.  And there it sits.  That speculator got tired of paying property taxes.  He sold the un-sold parcels (nearly all of the original field)  to another speculator who sold it to where I no longer keep track.

I may never pick a single raspberry from this planting.  And that is OK.  It is not my property.  I have no rights to them.

Somebody may come along and spray the plants with herbicide.  That is OK.  It is not my property.

I like to think that somebody will be pleasantly surprised to find this stand of AWESOME "wild" raspberries at some point in the future.  And it is OK if that does not happen.  The birds will enjoy these berries even if no human ever does.

Filling in the holes.
I replanted where the bushes had died.  I will check on them again next year.

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Bible Translations

Today, the guys at coffee got to talking about Bible Translations.

We come from different Traditions.  Two of us identify as Baptists.  Two of us identify as Methodist.  I am the token Roman Catholic.  The last regular considers himself a believer, just-in-case.

The general consensus was that we are doing the Devil's work if we attempt to weaken the belief of any other Christian, regardless of flavor.  In a tree full of monkeys, shaking a monkey off one branch is more likely to result in him plummeting to the ground than having him latch ahold of your branch.

Never-the-less, sometimes people will ask "What Bible should I buy?"  I will not tell you what Bible to buy but I will give you a map.

According to Thom Rainier, the top ten Bible Translations in the United States by copies purchased were:
  1. New International Version (NIV)
  2. The Voice (TV)
  3. King James Version (KJV)
  4. English Standard Version (ESV)
  5. New King James Version (NKJV)
  6. New Living Translation (NLT)
  7. Holman Christian Standard Bible (HCSB)
  8. Reina Valera 1960 (Spanish)
  9. Nueva Version Internacional (Spanish)
  10. New International Reader’s Version (NIRV)
Those sales ranks are the numbers in the ( ) on the chart.  NAB was added because it is a "Catholic" Bible and RSV was thrown in "just because" while Reina Valera and Nueva Version Internacional were not included because they are Spanish translations.

The "X" axis is an attempt to sort those translations that opted for a "word-for-word" approach or a "paraphrase" approach.  The values are ordinal values from a chart at Christian Books. The general consensus among scholars is that a heavily footnoted, word-for-word translation is more suitable for study than a paraphrased translation.  Paraphrasing adds one more set of potential distortions of the message into the equation.

The "Y" axis is an attempt to sort the translations for "readability".  The reason the Spanish translations were not included was because I have no way to compare their readability to the English language Bibles.

The readability rating was developed by taking two widely heard passages, one from the Old Testament and one from the New Testament, pasting them into Microsoft Word, activating the "Reading Statistics" function in Review and harvesting the Flesch-Kincaid Grade Level estimate.  The two chapters that were reviewed were Psalm 23 ("The Lord is my Shepherd, I shall not want...")  And 1 Corinthians, Chapter 13 (Heard at almost every church wedding)


Nobody is likely to find reading ability to be an impediment to understanding the Bible, regardless of the translation chosen.

The top three selling translations are #4, #2 and #3 in reading difficulty of the sample chosen.

The translation with the highest level of difficulty (NLT) requires a reading ability of grade 5.8

That is not to infer that the Bible was written for simpletons or that Christianity is simple to implement.  The sentence "I do." has a Flesch-Kincaid score of 0.0 and it takes a lifetime to fully understand and implement all of the ramifications captured in those two words.


Any one of the translations within the red "pickle" are very similar for readability and content.  Word-for-word translation does not drift as much as paraphrasing because there is far less latitude for interpretation.

The NKJV gives up little to the KJV for "word-for-word" but uses more contemporary words, that is, fewer words that end in ""  Many Christians who grew up with the KJV love it because its unique cadences quickly puts them into a prayerful state.  It is a Pavlov thing.

The Voice is the second most purchased translations of the Bible and it is well outside the pickle.  Read a few selections from it before spending the money. 

And as a bonus end-note:  Paul's Epistles

Chronologically (from Wikipedia)

Seven letters (with consensus dates) considered genuine by most scholars:
The letters thought to be pseudepigraphic by about 80% of scholars:[6]
The letters on which scholars are about evenly divided:[6]

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Charlotte Shoe and Leather Repair: small business report

Charlotte Shoe and Leather Repair (517-543-6988) was purchased by Travis Lyon in December of 2013.   Charlotte Shoe and Leather Repair had been a local business for many decades before Travis bought it and breathed new life into the business.

You are likely to see Sarah when you walk through the door.  Finished repair jobs are in the background.
One of the things that you will notice when you walk into the shop is that it has been de-cluttered.  Much of the repair has been moved to an upper and a lower repair space.  The retail space is much more open and brighter than it was before.

Charlotte Shoe and Leather Repair, like many specialty shops in small towns, sells a myriad of product lines.

They sell high-end leather footwear.  That includes some pretty fancy cowboy boots, Golden Retriever work boots and fleece lined slippers (Hint:  A great gift for Mother's day!)

They sell sunglasses, handbags, leather care products, shoe polish and boot laces and keys.


Two customers came in while I was there.  The first customer owned a horse and he had an issue with a broken harness.  In the space of three minutes, the man explained what he wanted done (take the parts from two harnesses he brought in and stitch them together into one working harness), the modifications were made and stitched together and it was back in the man's hands.  He even had a choice in the color of stitching.

The other customer brought in a shoe with a broken down heel.  Travis talked her out of repairing it.  He said, "I can fix about anything, but I would have to filet out the layers in that shoe, straighten out the bent pieces, glue and/or stitch them together and then un-filet the shoe.  The shoe is simply not worth what I would have to charge you to fix it.

I thought it spoke well of his integrity that he did not try to talk the woman into repairing her shoe just so he could have more revenue.

I asked Travis what he repaired.  He said, almost everything....except for metal.  There are some things he will refer to other craftsmen.  For example, he will perform repairs on gun holsters but he will refer you to Frank's Custom Holsters in Battle Creek, Michigan because they can do it more quickly and he knows you will be very happy with the results.


Leatherworkers have all kinds of neat looking equipment.

This is a lightweight sewing machine that has a lot of reach.  This is the machine that Travis used to repair the customer's harness.  This machine is in the upper repair room.  All remaining equipment is in the lower repair room where most of the "heavy" repair is done.

These grinding wheels generate a lot of dust.  They were moved to the downstairs work area to keep the retail area cleaner.

Much of this old equipment has belt drives.  I believe this sewing machine could stitch through oak planks.
I think this is a grommet press.  The brown bins are for different sizes and styles of grommets.

Another sewing machine.  This one is configured to reach down inside boots and less accessible spaces.


Some repair stock is kept on hand to expedite quick repair.  Custom repair parts (like fancy zippers and buckles) can be ordered.  Obviously, it takes longer to make the repair when the customer specifies custom hardware or soles.

Commonly used soles.
Padding and lining materials

Various types of leathers.  Belts.

Containing costs 

Much of the downstairs work area was spec-ed out by the workers.  The bench and shelves were then designed and built by Ahler Construction, a local construction firm.

The three full-time repair people (and the one or two part-timers) got together and agreed upon a 38" high bench and 1" thick ergo matting.  They also decided to make the bench shallow at 20" to minimize reach and make it easier to see things. They also designed and built the shelving to meet their needs.   Corrected based on reader feedback to read, the work bench and shelves were designed and built by a Ahler Construction, a local construction firm.  All errors were ERJ's.
After using the set-up for a few day, decided where and how-much lighting to install.
I see building this as a major win-win.  They saved money and they got EXACTLY what they wanted.

New guy, new look

Since Travis is "the new guy" I asked him if there were any messages he would like me to broadcast to the people in Eaton County.

He said that he would like people to think about the pounding their feet take.  You are on your feet all day long.  Why not invest in a really good set of footware?  As a farmboy who baled hay, he learned that a quality set of work boots was the difference between needing to ice his feet after work and wanting to go out dancing.

He also wants Eaton County to know that Charlotte Shoe and Leather Repair (517-543-6988) is a retailer for five brands of high-end footwear.  He kept the name from the previous owner and, unfortunately, it does not tell potential customers that they also do retail sales.

He wants Eaton County to know that they fix "stuff".  They have repaired vinyl items, tonneau covers, sports equipment, some upholstery, lots of zippers.  They repair, tweak and customize all types of orthopedic devices.  And they repair shoes.  They are currently at 1500 repair jobs a month and it is increasing.

Three pieces of advice

I like to ask businesspeople "What three pieces of advice would you give a niece or nephew if they came up to you and told you they wanted to start a business?"

1. Luck is the product of hard work.
2. Work until the job is done.  You have a customer waiting for that job.
3. Watch the books.
(and a 4th piece of advice snuck in) Do quality work.  You lose money and customers when they have to bring stuff back.

Previous small business report 
Next small business report

County Government

I marvel at how much was done, and with how little, in bygone days.

I guestimate that the old Eaton County Courthouse has 15,000 square feet of space.  It comfortably served a population of 30,000 inhabitants.  Eaton County population was essentially static between 1870 (25,000 souls) and 1940 (34,000 souls).  That works out to about 0.5 square feet of administrative "burden" for each resident of Eaton County.

This is a snip from Google maps.  It shows part of the Charlotte campus of the county offices.  Based on footprint and number of occupied floors, I get 470,000 square feet of space.  The current population of Eaton County is about 107,000.  That computes out to about 4.5 square feet of space for each resident.

Efficiencies gained by computers have been offset by increased court loads in "family" law, DUI and the fact that we have a higher percentage of feral-citizens.  Activities that were handled within the family, church or smaller community have been bumped up to the county level.  No doubt, "economies of scale" have often been used as a reason for doing so.

It is just one of those things that makes you go, "Hmmm!"