Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Complaining about the weather

I am baffled by why every weather site I visit is so slow at animating radar history.

Image from HERE.  This is an animated gif showing the working innards of an SKS.

Every other kind of site is able to spew out video and animated GIFs without a hiccup.  They load lickity-split.  So why do radar animations load so slowly that I might as well be using a 2400 baud rate land-line?

Is it a legal "terms of use" thing?  I imagine that the US weather service is the supplier of most of the radar.  Why can't the sites download a slide for each state every fifteen minutes and then automatically update the GIF in buffer by deleting the oldest slide and slapping the most recent slide on the back of the stack.  Then, instead of downloading a pokey animation, just display the gif.

Geeze, Louis...I can stick my head out the window if it is going to take fifteen minutes for the animation to load.

Incidentally, I will much appreciate any tips for weather related websites that load quickly.

Monday, August 21, 2017

Three seconds of stupid

News out of Russia is that World champion powerlifting Andrey Drachev was killed in a fight.

Apparently the two men had a difference of opinion.  They went outside, removed their shirts and had a fight.

The video was removed from youtube but is available here: http://www.miscopy.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/08/world-europe-champion-powerlifting-andrey-drachev-beat-death-street-russia-cctv.mp4?id=0

First hit happens at four seconds.  Proximal cause of death happens at nine seconds.

Don't let alcohol, pride, women or the razzing of your friends gull you into doing stupid stuff.  Humans are not hard to kill.  The killer could have weighed 80 pounds and had a firearm or a knife.

Don't. Be. Stupid.

Back to School

Big D just picked up Kubota and they are now on their way to school.  This is Kubota's senior year of high school.  The launch went well.

Yesterday's project was pickles.

Picture of this package is here for reference.  I will know what to get next year if Belladonna approves of the pickles.
I am not a bread-and-butter pickle kind of guy.  Give me a big, salty dill pickle spear on a hot day and I am a happy camper.  But B-n-B pickles are candy masquerading as a vegetable.  Not my thing.

But that is beside the point.  Both Bella and Mrs ERJ like B-n-B pickles.  It is what they think that counts.  I picked up this package of pickle mix because it was cheaper than buying the spices individually.  In addition to the usual mustard seeds, this package had bits of hot pepper, cloves and maybe allspice.

It is hard to think of a more luxurious food than a tree ripened peach.  I had to lean forward and slurp as I ate it to avoid dribbling down my front.

Sunday, August 20, 2017

Extinction Burst?

Many of us who identify as "conservatives" were surprised by the vitriol and aggression shown by the far left and major media after the last election.  "Extinction bursts" are one possible explanation for the far-left's and major media's behaviors.

Extinction bursts are not covered by classical conditioning theory but they are well explained in the context of control theory.

A typical example of an extinction burst is when a mother with a four year old attempts to go through the checkout lane without buying her child a candy bar.  The young child often has a tantrum.  Bystanders sometimes criticize the frustrated mother for not "disciplining" her child when, in fact, the mother is attempting to ween the child from "treats" for good behavior.

Since extinction bursts are a "control" problem, it is best explored using examples that are accessible to nearly every adult.

What do you do, as the driver of a vehicle, when your motor starts to sputter and it loses power?  Most likely you push on the gas pedal.  All of your prior conditioning has been pushing harder on the gas pedal makes the vehicle go faster.  What happens when the motor completely stops and you are not at your destination?  If you have any forward motion at all, you probably have the pedal floored.

We grow up conditioned to modulate input to control the amount of output.  When the linkage between the input and the output weakens, we automatically double-down on the input.

That may be why it is so hard to teach people who to drive a manual transmission.  The new driver must overcome all of their prior conditioning.  When letting out the clutch, the way to go faster is to let out the clutch more slowly.  Letting out the clutch too quickly simply stalls the vehicle.


How much of the violence and chaos in the news is evidence of "Extinction Burst"?
This phenomena becomes vexing when trying to follow the news.  It is apparent that the media is not a transparent lens on the universe.

As a simple example consider the Fort Hood shooting of 2009.  The White House spun the story as workplace violence in spite of evidence that the shooter was a radicalized Muslim.  The major media outlets dutifully reported the story as workplace violence.

Then, as a counterpoint, consider the events in Charlottesville, Virginia.  The current White House censured both sides for inciting violent behavior.  The major media outlets EXPLODED in anger and indignation.

One theory that deserves serious consideration is that our brave, new world does not need major media.  We have social media.  We have email.  We have cameras, both video and still, in the pocket of every teenager and most adults.  As major media's motor starts to sputter, they regress from being responsible reporters of facts to tabloids and then from tabloids to propaganda.

Look at the Readers Digest.  Take off those rose tinted glasses.  It is not the Readers Digest of the 1970s anymore.  It morphed into a tabloid pandering to geriatric hypochondriacs.

What is propaganda?  It is paid-for/subsidized content.  And the circus barkers are getting shrill as they see fewer-and-fewer "marks" turning into their tent.

Michigan Eclipse Report: 75% coverage

Blonde thinks title is wardrobe advice.

Saturday, August 19, 2017

A short tutorial on identity politics and the spoils system

One of the enduring mysteries of identity politics and the spoils system is "Why do minor players willingly accept such small slices of the pie?"

This simple exercise in logic might explain that conundrum.  (Hat tip Mrs ERJ)

The Three Pirate Problem
Suppose there are three pirates.  Suppose they looted a ship and had 100 pieces of gold to distribute.

They agree that might-makes-right, so the largest pirate will be the first to propose a way to distribute the loot.  If half, or more, of the pirates agree to the plan then that is what they go with.  If less than half agree to the plan then the largest pirate is thrown overboard and the largest of the two remaining pirates gets to propose his plan.

Assuming that all pirates are greedy, rational and want to live, what plan will be implemented?

Approaching problems from the other direction
This is a problem best solved in reverse.

Suppose that the largest pirate's plan was rejected by the other two.  He would be pitched out of the boat.

Then the second largest pirate would propose that he get all 100 pieces of gold and that the smallest pirate get none.  Since half of the pirates agree with the plan (the second largest pirate is all for it) that is what would go into effect.

The second largest pirate knows this and will not agree to any plan put forth by the largest pirate unless the plan is for the second largest pirate get all 100 pieces of gold.  All he has to do is wait.

The smallest pirate knows that if he does not vote for the largest pirate's plan that he will get nothing.  Therefore, he will vote for the plan even if the spoils are small.

Thinking this through, the largest pirate knows that any amount he offers the second largest pirate will have no material bearing on the outcome.  Therefore he offers the second largest pirate NOTHING.

He also knows that offering the smallest pirate even the most miserly of offers will be superior to what the smallest pirate will get if the second largest pirate is allowed to make a proposal.  So the largest pirate'[s plan is 99 pieces of gold for himself, 0 pieces of gold for the second largest pirate and 1 piece of gold for the smallest pirate.

There!  Do the outcomes seen in the spoils system make any more sense?  Politicians are pirates!

Short post

Belladonna went back to school on Thursday.

Kubota's camping trip exceeded all expectations.  Who knew that raccoons would chew through tents to get to Cheetos?

Kubota has been working on his dirt bike and making progress.  He is showing exceptional stick-to-itiveness and I am impressed.

The new run with the additional elevation is kicking my butt.

I have been enjoying "Life Below Zero" on Netflicks.

Friday, August 18, 2017

All we need is LOVE...and pickles

I suspect this might be a cultivar called 'Madame Galen' although this blossom is prettier than the ones on the internet.
Mrs ERJ and I were walking in town the other day when we stumbled across a trumpet vine growing up the guy wire to a utility pole.

The flowers were beyond stunning, easily three times larger than the species and flat (rather than with petals recurved) so it displayed well.

A six year old kid on a bike commented, "That is my Granny's.  Want me to get her?"

It turns out that the kid, his sister and mom were staying with "Granny" for the duration.  The dad is a SeaBee and had been redeployed from state-side to Guam.

"Granny" grumbled that the Trumpet vines grew like weeds and she was constantly grubbing out shoots and tossing them into the compost pile.

It does not look like much but I am exceptionally gifted at growing weeds.
"Granny" told me to come back and get another if this one died.  The fact that I tucked a $5 bill into "Grampa's" pocket to buy the grandkids ice-cream cones probably did not hurt my Karmic balance.

Always on guard
Protected by Master Lock and Poison Arrow Frogs.
All we need is LOVE

And Pickles
Recently, I learned that Belladonna loves pickles.  Bread-and-butter pickles are her favorite.
This Recipe is the one she asked me to try.

I will let you know if Belladonna approves.
More canning porn

I help a gentleman out by taking on some of the computer "busy-work".   I saw these while walking through the kitchen on the way to the office. You gotta like a boss who cans peaches.  The man has style.

Fake News Friday

This started out as satire and then my sense of responsibility kicked in.  I deleted this installment of Fake News Friday.

The inspiration for this post was that The Daily Mail ran an article about Khalid bin Walid Army (an ISIS splinter group) chainsawed down an innocent acacia tree because some people attributed "luck" to the tree, much as some people pitch pennies into fountains or wish upon shooting stars.

The Khalid bin Walid Army theologians decided that people were coming too close to "praying" to the tree.  Polytheism (acknowledging gods other than Allah) is forbidden by the Koran.  Consequently they took a chainsaw to the tree.  Problem solved.

This "humor" piece was going to imply that many recent migrants to Sweden, Germany, Belgium and France considered Soros, Merkle et al to be other names of Allah.  I was going to say that praying to the Allah of the mullahs and imams resulted in uncles and brothers being blown up at weddings and shot while working in fields.  The "Allahs of Europe" gave immigrants food and shelter and deliver the "infidels" to their service.

After earnest consideration I decided that post was too irresponsible to put on a public blog.

Then, after even more reflection, I decided that the Merkles and Sorros and Löfvens of the world might want to give serious consideration to the "optics" of their actions.  After all, we are talking about people who cut down a TREE, a non-sentient tree, because it might lead pious Muslims into error.
Apologies to Gary Larson.

How much "sloppy" posting on social media would it take to convince The Khalid bin Walid Army (or clones there-of) that recent immigrants do, in fact, consider European princes and tycoons to be Gods?  Let's be honest.  Most of us are not professional writers.  We often transmit messages that we do not intend.

And to consider what would The Khalid bin Walid Army's response be.

Thursday, August 17, 2017

What does 6.8 grains of smokeless powder look like?

Josh's load:  6.8 grains of CFE Pistol
If you look closely you will see at least three "species" of powder.  Manufactures of smokeless powder have the resources to blend several powders of different burn rates to produce a longer, flatter "peak" pressure trace.  Kids DO NOT try this at home.  Not only must the powders be precisely blended, they must not separate during handling.

Adjustments to the running plan

The new running plan is to skip "coffee" on running days.  I will wake up.  Drink my cup of joe.  Do my "necessary" business.  Hydrate with electrolyte and walk out the door.  My thinking is that the microfauna should have depleted the most readily digestible components.  There should not be much for them to work on if I void before taking off on my run.

My plan is to walk to the end of my driveway and then to run five minutes to the left...then return to the end of my driveway.

Run five minutes to the right...then return to the end of my driveway.

Run a wee bit to the right, then make a turn and run about five minutes...then return to the end of my driveway.

There are upsides and downsides.  The major upside is that the furthest I will be from home is ten minutes even if I have to clamp down and stiff-leggit home.  Another upside is that I almost double the "vertical" over running around the block.  I figure I will be climbing (and dropping) 180 feet in the three miles of running compared to the 100 feet I estimated for running around the block.

180 feet of elevation change in three miles in not much if you live in hilly regions, but Michigan is solidly mid-West.  The grades are pushing 10% in places and it is a grind to run them.

The downside is that the run might get boring.  And even this has compensations.  I will be looking at scenery from both sides, now.  And it is amazing how much you miss when you only look at things from one viewpoint.

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Freezing Sweet Corn

Today I assisted Mrs ERJ in freezing sweet corn.

I ran the blanching operation.  The purpose of blanching is to use heat to deactivate the enzymes that would otherwise continue the ripening and spoilage processes of the vegetable you are freezing.

Mrs ERJ put it into quart, freezer bags with other secret ingredients.  The critical secret ingredient is enough water to eliminate air spaces where freezer burn can happen.  Adding water also eliminates air pockets which slow cooling.

Step one:  Wait for the corn to finish blanching.  Five minutes minimum.  The blanched ears go into the kettle of cold water. The starting operation for an industrial process defines the "loafing point".  The loafing point where the operator should be if/when they finish early.  It is good practice to put the loafing point at the bottleneck operation so it always gets "serviced" as soon as it becomes available.

Step two:  When the boiling kettle is empty, move six ears of corn into it taking care to not splash sensitive body parts.

Step three:  Prepare six more ears of corn.  Cut the silk and stem ends off.  Remove husks and silk.  Place ends, husks and silk into yellow tub in upper left corner of photo.

Step four:  The ears of corn that have been cooling in the cooling kettle are now cool enough to process.  Remove ears one at a time.

Step five:  Cut kernels off of ears using knife.  Take your time.  You have lots of corn but only ten fingers.  Throw cobs into yellow tub in upper left corner of photo.

Step six:  When cooling kettle is empty of corn, dump kettle and refill with cold water from hose.  Cold water is cheap.  Electricity for freezers is not.  Return to step one.
General notes.  Turkey fryers are great for semi-production canning.  They can really pump out the BTUs.
If you need to top off the water in the boiling kettle, using the water from the cooling kettle AFTER you pull out the ears will save heating time.

I was able to blanch and remove the kernels from 65 ears of corn in 105 minutes.  That 105 minutes does not include the time to bring the boiling kettle up to heat at the start of the cycle.  We netted 14 quarts of sweet corn kernels from the 65 ears.

Between five and ten minutes could have been saved if I added about a cup of water with each cycle of six ears.  I don't know if it was evaporating or if the cobs were soaking up the water.  I had to add water mid cycle and wait for it to come back up to heat.

Another five or ten minutes could have been saved if I had a more efficient way to cut the kernels off the cob.  I had a fancy gizmo but it was not up to the task, so I reverted back to the knife.

The final "easy" thing that would increase throughput would be to crank up the burner. Given the other inefficiencies in the system, things were fairly well synchronized; until I had to add water or if the ears were exceptionally large.

A minor improvement would be to have cold water "peeing" into the cooling kettle.  It would not be difficult to crack the valve on the hose and figure out an arrangement to hold the dribble over the cooling kettle.

Sticking all the numbers together, it would not be a great trick to process an ear every 90 seconds.

Freezing Green Beans in a few, simple steps

Save seeds from previous year.

Pole beans planted beneath green fencing on right side of photo.
Plant the seeds.


These are purple pole beans.  Purple makes them easier to see.
Ends snapped off and broken in two.  The older, more fiberous ones are cut into one inch pieces.
Blanch for five minutes.  They turn green.
The blanching operation is the bottleneck.  The key to good throughput is to service the blanching operation first and then service the other operations in the five minutes the beans are blanching.

That means dumping the finished beans and water into a colander, returning the hot water back to the blanching pan.  Turning the heat back on.  Adding the new batch of beans to the blanching pan....before moving the blanched beans out of the colander and taking them to the next step...the cooling tray.
Spread out on a cookie sheet to drain excess water and to cool off.

Into freezer bags and into the freezer.  God willing, these will go into Minestrone soup this winter.

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Unforeseen complications

Picture in your head a two liter bottle of Dr Pepper.  Further, picture that it has been sitting in the sun for several hours.  Finally, have a goofy kid vigorously shake the bottle for thirty minutes. 

How would you finish this story?

The garden is in full swing.  We are eating cucumbers, tomatoes, green beans and sweet corn.  We are eating gross-lots of said vegetables.

Vegetables have fiber.  They also have assorted oligosaccharides and higher order alcohols that humans lack enzymes to digest.  Those oligosaccharides and higher order alcohols are a feast for the teeming masses of microfauna that reside in my gut.  They happily live in the constant 98.6 degrees Fahrenheit of my gut and cheerfully metabolize the windfall into biomass, energy, methane and carbon dioxide.

Imagine a fat, old duffer who is getting back into running.  His immediate target is to run for three miles.  Considering ten minute miles to be a decent pace, that means he will be slogging away for, well, about thirty minutes.

Due to unforeseen complications, the running plan will be modified.  Not sure exactly how it will be modified...but something has to change.

Monday, August 14, 2017

ENOUGH! I am a Social Justice Warrior and I will not be bullied...

I love this clip.

Pictures from the middle of August

Looking across the south pasture.  The yellow flowers are Birdsfoot Trefoil
Birdsfoot Trefoil (Lotus corniculatus) comes in two basic types.  One strain is called "Empire-like" and is short.  Empire-like is very tolerant of grazing.  The other strain is called Norcen-like or hay-type.  It is taller than Empire types.  Both self-seed and are self sustaining in the pasture given a little bit of attention.
I still have some white clover blooming.  The giant form of white clover is called "Ladino" clover.  Standard white clover and Ladino clover both combine well with short forage grasses like Kentucky Blue Grass and Perennial Ryegrass.  White clover is extremely persistent as long as you graze the sward down on a regular basis.
This is Red Clover and it seems to combine well with Tall Fescue.  There are some improved cultivars including some that don't have dusty leaves.  Later this year I plan on frost seeding some Medium Red into the parts of the pasture that are mostly Tall Fescue.
Gray Dogwood (Cornus racemosa).
The birds quickly eat the berries.
It is time to start the "Mast Reports".  This is a branch of English Oak (Quercus robur)
Three month old Maximilian Sunflowers.  Maximilian Sunflower is a perennial with good drought tolerance and has been investigated as a perennial "grain" species.  Supposedly, it can produce up to 250 pounds of seeds (tiny sunflower seeds) per acre.  I was impressed that these plants flowered in their first growing season considering how my weed control failed.

1/3 the way there!

From the Daily Mail Online
Now all I have to do is cardio and lift weights!

Sunday, August 13, 2017

Kubota is going camping

Kubota is going camping tomorrow.  He is going with one or two buddies.

They are handling it all.  Menu.  Reservations.  Entertainment.

It is a learning experience to listen to them solve their problems.  The way they go about solving issues is not the way I would attack them.  I suppose it is all good as long as they get a good result and don't hurt themselves or burn down the tent. 

My "help" will be limited to tucking away a few Cliff Bars, a couple of cans of Dinty Moore and some mac-n-cheese into the "kitchen".

Both Kubota and his main buddy are the "babies" of their respective families.  This is another letting-go rite-of-passage.

Saturday, August 12, 2017

Charlottesville, Virginia

First Battle of Bull Run:  Spectators came from Washington D.C. with picnic lunches to enjoy the show.
My prayers are with the demonstrators, counter-demonstrators, the police and their families in Charlottesville, Virginia.

Let us hope that the picture shown above is not later referred to as being from "The First American Civil War".

Stay away from crowds
According to Mental Health by the Numbers, one person in every twenty-five: "...experiences (is diagnosed with) a serious mental illness in a given year that substantially interferes with or limits one or more major life activities."

Professionally, I estimated that one-in-twenty are more than a half bubble off plumb.  Bear in mind that these are people who function well enough (just barely) to hold a job.

The qualifiers, "diagnosed" and "function well enough to hold a job" suggest that the actual percentage is significantly north of 5%.

Also consider that events like "demonstrations" attract the adrenaline junkies.  Expecting "random" sampling at a "demonstration" is as naive as expecting bungee-jumpers to be a representative sample of the US population.

In a crowd of 200 demonstrators you are almost guaranteed to have 20 people who are unable, or totally unwilling to regulate their emotions.

In my humble estimation, going to a "demonstration" as a "counter-demonstrator" is a prudent as going into a honkie-tonk and calling the patrons a bunch of in-bred idiots.  It is not healthy in the long run.

Yes, I know I am perilously close to "blaming the victim."  But would you advise your child (or nephew or a student in the Sociology class you are teaching that they could earn extra credit) to go to a Black Lives Matter demonstration and suggest they call the demonstrators a bunch of n-ggers?  How about going to a La Raza demonstration and hurling slurs at them?

That would be IRRESPONSIBLE.

So why are some parties encouraging young people to counter-demonstrate against alt-Right demonstrations?

Deflation advice

Oldman03 has a very funny post over at 24hourcampfire.

He had to run into town for an imaging procedure.  The protocol for the imaging required that he drink vast amounts of various, foul smelling concoctions.

The procedure took ten minutes and he figured that as long as he was in town he could run some errands.  The only issue was that the foul smelling concoctions made him fart like a motorboat.  Each fart was potent enough to strip paint and knock buzzards out of the sky.  Transacting business became aerobic as he made a dash for the door each time he felt a fart coming on.

Apparently this is not an uncommon procedure.  The winning comment was to pull out your phone as you head to the door.  Most folks don't want to overhear other people's phone conversations so you can have some privacy as you deflate.

Friday, August 11, 2017

Major riots in big cities

So where are all of the huge, urban riots many pundits predicted  for this summer?  After all, Obama was touted as the "Healer in Chief" and the ride was pretty bouncy.  Everybody figured that things would get really sporty with Trump in the saddle.

So far, the biggest Summer 2017 "riot" news is a movie about the 1967 Detroit riots.

  • Did the rules of engagement change for police?
  • Did the Justice Department whispering in the ears of bus companies, hotels and banks and other infrastructure that enabled civil strife?
  • Are the Social Justice Warriors afraid that they will spill their double, soy, latte with extra nutmeg?
  • Is the press choosing to not report the news?
  • Is it not news because riots are old news?
  • Is it being reported through outlets that I am not monitoring?

Granted, violent crime is up in several large cities but homicide is crime at the retail level.  That is, it tends toward one-on-one interactions between folks who know each other.

Inquiring minds want to know.

Fake News Friday

Former president John McCain and VP Dennis Rodman vow to fly to North Korea and defuse the tensions between our great counties.

McCain will sign declarations of intent stating:
  • The United States is on a path to becoming a Socialist Utopia, just like North Korea
  • The United States will give up its war-mongering ways

  • The United States will reduce its use of fossil fuels to match the per-capita usage of North Korea

  • The United States will finance the opening of a take-out pizza place on every corner
  • The United States will let North Korea keep Dennis Rodman