Monday, June 26, 2017

Armoring up trees and hummingbird feeders

The young trees are growing well.  This is a Liberty/G935 that has outgrown its protection; a chicken wire cage.

This Gold Rush/G935 is not doing quite as well but it has also outgrown its protection.  It is just a matter of time before a deer comes along and strips it down to the top of the blue cage.
The same Liberty tree shown above.  I use four foot wide, 2" by 4" welded wire mesh.  I count out fifteen squares for each cage.  That makes a circle that is just a bit smaller than 10" in diameter.  Another detail is that when I cut the wires I alternate: long-short-long-short.  The long stubs are easy to bend by hand to finish the cage.  I typically bend a high, middle and low wire to join the ends.

The cage for the Gold Rush.  About 15 percent of my woodlot is Black Locust.  I do not lack for fence post material even if some of it is picturesquely crookedy.

This is the hummingbird feeder setup.  It is modeled on how campers are supposed to cache their grub in bear country.

It does not stop the ants.

There is an old saying on Wall Street:  Pigs get fat and hogs get slaughtered.  I guess we know which category these ants fell into.
Gratuitous Ammo picture
.303 British on the left.  7.62X54R Russian on the right.  The "R" in 7.62X54R refers to the fact that it has a rim.  These old timers can still get it done, even if the guns that shoot them are getting worn out.  The Canadian Government is in the process of replacing the SMLE .303 rifles issued to the Canadian Rangers with a SAKO design that fires the .308 Win.  The 7.62X54R is still used in light machine guns in the former Soviet Bloc.
Image of the new Canadian Ranger rifle, designated the C-19.

Phones at work

Belladonna told us that her new place of employment has a policy.

The employees must hand in their phones at the beginning of the shift.  The phones are returned at the end of the shift.

It is condition of employment.

The owners pay so much an hour for the employee's time and the owners expect full engagement in the job during each hour.  More accurately, they don't want their customers to be inconvenienced by a distracted employee or to have the customer slowed down by an employee who slipped out of sight ("for just a minute") to play with his/her phone.

Sunday, June 25, 2017

Odd sized batteries

The manual for my digital calipers says it accepts both 357 and 303.

Darned if I could get either one to chamber.

Three Nazi walked into a BAR somewhere in Normandy

I miss jokes.

I remember a time when two men would meet for the first time and trade a few jokes.  It was a way to get the measure of the other man.

I keep hearing about "thinking outside the box".  Folks who enjoyed jokes were training themselves to think outside "the box".  Nobody needed to exhort us to do so.

Sadly, we morphed into a nation of straight-line thinkers incapable of incorporating information that forces a reassessment of our initial impression.  It causes too much psychic pain.  Our brains are no longer flexible.

It fosters laziness because we think we ate the whole meal after taking the first bite.  We no longer scrutinize  political candidates through the entire election cycle.  Employers hire on shallow sets of criteria and quail at releasing unsuitable candidates during their probationary period.

We are overwhelmed by an ocean of data and we cope with our inadequacy by hoping the entire ocean is fairly represented by the first wave that laps up on the beach and caresses our foot.

Although it saves time

In the beginning...    Bible
We the people...    US Constitution
When in the course of human events...    Declaration of Independence
In the name of Allah...  Quaran
Mr. and Mrs. Dursley of number four...   Start of the Harry Potter series
It is hard to miss the improvements...    2000 Physician's Desk Reference
All technical reports...     1954 SAE Hand Book
...some important details get lost.

Loss of empathy
Empathy is fueled, in part, by the sudden realization that "There but for the grace of God goes me."

Empathy seems to be in short supply.  I will not claim that the near extinction of joke telling is responsible but I think they are related.  Many jokes spring from a sharing of the human condition.  "Do you really think I asked for a 10" pianist?"

You don't have to like somebody to have empathy for them.

Can you imagine yourself in Hillary Clinton's shoes?  Ambitious.  Carried down the slippery slope one decision at a time.  Like the different species of tortoises on the Gal├ípagos Islands, she is on one island that is oh-so-close to the island she wants to be on....and there is no path there.

So exercise your mind.  Strengthen your empathy.  Take the time to enjoy a few jokes every day.  (NFO has some listed today)

So, did you hear about the drunk Antifas?  They spent the entire night clubbing.

Saturday, June 24, 2017

Rain, beautiful rain

We got about an inch.

That will make everything "pop".

A couple of differences between irrigation and rain are that irrigation rarely puts on as much water as a good rain and that the rain is more evenly distributed.  You may think you are laying an inch on your garden but you probably are just wetting the surface.  I calibrate my sprinkler setups by putting two or three, five gallon buckets in the pattern and I time how long it takes to put an inch in them.  Often it takes 6-to-8 HOURS when using impulse sprinklers.

Spot watering (as in trickle) will supply water but as Loren noted, that technology tends to create deep, narrow wet spots.  It will keep the trees alive and the trees/bushes will even keep photosynthesizing.  But they rarely push new growth.  Most of the fertility in the soil is in the top couple of inches.  The trees cannot extract those nutrients when 90% of the surface is dry.

At this point, I am not smart enough to inject fertilizer into my irrigation.  Maybe someday.

An unanticipated upside of trickle irrigation
Flushing the line.
It is easy to add more runs.

While repairing the kink reported yesterday, I inserted a "Tee" and added another run to water the filbert bushes.

I used  Figure 8 piece to terminate the run.  This is the same end as shown above and is under pressure.  It is not leaking a drop.
Loren, thanks for the tip you left in the comments!
Tearing up my hummingbird feeders.  I switched them over to a line suspended between a couple of high points....a bit like hanging a grub-bag in bear country.
They ripped the yellow "flowers" off the base of this one and drained it.
Precocious Oak Trees

Acorns.  I don't know if this is a fluke but I intend to keep an eye on this tree.

A broken window in the garage.
You can see the projectile between the two panes of glass.  It penetrated the inside pane and cracked the outer pane.  It looks bigger than .177" and has a flat spot on it.
Heroic dog protecting his owner from a huge snake

Well, kind of.

"And don't come back!"

Raspberries are ripe

Friday, June 23, 2017

A close encounter with an oil-free future

I almost had the privilege of living a post-oil experience today.

Mrs ERJ and I were coming back from my parents home.  We take them dinner on Fridays.

I noticed the gas gauge was low.  Very low.  I took a detour on the way home to hit a gas station.  I rounded a corner and started accelerating up a hill.  There was nothing there.  Then a little sputtering.  Then nothing.

We coasted up over the top of the hill.  Hills in Michigan usually don't amount to much.

Then the fuel sloshed far enough forward for the fuel pump to grab some and make the motor happy.  It was a mile to the gas station.  We made it.

Prices are set by the margin
First of all, I think it is juvenile to dream that "the economy" will go away.  It is just as productive to dream that we will one day wake up in a parallel universe.  Governments can mandate and the economy will bend...but it will not be replaced.

I also believe that we have enough oil for the next thousand years to supply the very highest value end-uses.  That will be things like pharmaceuticals, optical grade plastics, herbicides and insecticides and fiber.
What starts to fall off the table is driving a 3000-to-6000 pound vehicle 20 miles to pick up a bottle of aspirin or a single spool of thread or to work four hours at a minimum wage job.

Mrs ERJ's vision
I asked Mrs ERJ what her vision of a end-of-oil future might look like.  Her insights are worth considering since she just came off a month without her own, personal vehicle.  She pretty much lived this experiment.
Links of interest:  ONE  TWO
Her picture was a return of neighborhood grocery stores.  Her thinking is that it makes more sense to send a fully loaded cargo van to the store every other day than it does to have 2400 people drive to WalKroAlbMeirsons every other day.
Her picture includes neighborhood schools...perhaps even one room schoolhouses in areas where population is less dense.  Why not have all the kids within two miles walk to school (40 minute walk) rather than send a 20,000 pound school bus around half the county to collect them.  A side issue is that the curriculum will have to stabilize.  One "leverage" available to multiple grades in the same room is that older students can help younger students but that cannot happen if the math, science and reading programs change every three-to-five years.

We will go shopping less often.  We will eat soft fruits like strawberries and blueberries and banana less often.  They will be a treat.  Sturdy fruits like apples and no-refrigeration-needed vegetables like cabbage will become more important.  Meat will become a luxury item.  Larger meat animals, like hogs, will become seasonal or slaughtering one will occasion a huge, neighborhood feast similar to Potlatch Culture.

Driving less means we need fewer vehicles.  The Amish often pool their resources and will have one vehicle (typically a full sized van) for eight or ten families.  You can haul a LOT of groceries in one of those.  An even lower cost approach would be to have a standard vehicle and a medium size trailer to pull behind it.

Robert's Rules of Order

Like Potlatch Culture, shared vehicles place a premium on robust, community mechanisms.  Knuckleheads will not disappear if/when oil becomes expensive.  In fact, they will become FAR MORE VISIBLE than they are now.  People will need starch in their backbones.  The takers, resource hogs, manipulators, people with personality disorders cannot be tolerated or the fragile, nascent community ventures will collapse into rubble.  We will no longer be able to afford to subsidize their fantasies.

The issue of mental illness is a very big deal.  If one person in twenty is afflicted with mental illness to the degree where it is incapacitating, then a group of ten families (nominally 20 adults) has a 50% chance of having one of those fruit-loops and a 25% chance of having two of them.

Other stuff
Gardening will become more popular.
Image from HERE
Five acre lawns will be renamed.  They will be called "pastures" or "hay fields".

Everybody will have a bicycle and we will ride them.

The heated and cooled portions of dwellings will be smaller, or at least there will be less square footage per person.  Most of the area in our homes is dedicated to "stuff".  How much of that "stuff" requires climate control?

We will dry our clothes on the line.  We will watch the weather and do laundry only when favorable for line drying.

We will plan more.  We will keep lists.  We will be less spontaneous.  Daffy people will struggle because there are few resources available to support their Plan B.

That is about when we pulled into the driveway.


Chad is one of my neighbors.  He stopped by yesterday.  Somebody stole his kid's dirt bike out of his side yard.

If you see this bike in Eaton Rapids, tell the goof-ball riding it to take it back.  Both of his kids are missing it.

(Bad) Sex Science and Statistics

From Newsweek

Having lots of sex when you get older boosts brain power, scientists have discovered, with people who have regular sexual relations scoring better on verbal, visual and spatial perception tests.
Why sex provides a cognitive boost is not yet known. “We can only speculate whether this is driven by social or physical elements,” lead researcher Hayley Wright, from Coventry University, said in a statement. “But an area we would like to research further is the biological mechanisms that may influence this.”
The problem is that the researchers make two very common mistakes.   They assume correlation equals causality and they assume a direction of causality.

Correlation does not equal causality
Consider this simple "model".  The height of the box labeled "Brain" is boosted by the height of the Making Whoopie!!! box.  Variations in Making Whoopie!!! have a direct and explainable impact on the height of the assembly and if the variation of heights in Making Whoopie!!! are large, then there will be correlation.

A correlation of 0.7 for this model is considered significant in many applications.

Another way that correlation can exist is when the two boxes share an underlying factor.  Suppose that cardio-vascular health impacts the ability to rub two neurons together and is important to physically enable Making Whoopie!!!  Large variation in cardio-vascular health would manifest as correlation between the height of the Brain box and the height of the Making Whoopie!!! box.

A correlation of 0.5 for this model is considered significant in many applications because the effect of the underlying factor is diluted by the natural variation of Brain and the natural variation of Making Whoopie!!! 

Direction of causality
Perhaps being intelligent increases one's odds of Making Whoopie!!!  Compare two couples.  In one couple the primary initiator is attentive to mood and is adept at manipulating the environment (fresh flowers, Rachmaninoff at 60dB, dishes all washed and put away, fresh sheets on the bed, dogs locked up for the night) to increase his/her odds.

The other couple's primary initiator is a clod.  His/her partner is rarely "in the mood".  Go figure.

I wonder if the researchers' answers to the author were tongue-in-cheek.  It may be that the researchers learned that good stories are more important than good science and good statistics when it comes to funding.

Science is too important to leave to scientists (who must seek funding).  Go forth and experiment:
  • Daisies or roses
  • Rachmaninoff, Schubert, Lionel Richie, Dr Hook or the sound of the dishwasher running
  • Chicken, fish or beef
  • Strawberry shortcake or blueberry pie
  • Are dishes or laundry more critical
  • Rubbing feet or back rubs
  • Perfume/cologne or chocolate/bacon

Thursday, June 22, 2017


And for those who enjoy spoofs on commercials, the "Not so Pure Michigan Channel"

Praying for rain, trees dying, hoses kinking...just another day

Hope springs eternal.  Maybe this time we will get some rain.
Another apple tree that does not look healthy.  The stem on the right is dead.
This variety is a fairly new, disease resistant apple named WineCrisp.  It seems like all new releases have "...Crisp" in their name to capitalize on the popularity of HoneyCrisp.

One of the oddities of this apple is that it is being touted as being very cold hardy which seems highly unlikely.

I think the claims originated with the breeders who were concerned that folks would look at the pedigree with Cox Orange Pippin and Starking (Red Delicious) as recent parents.  WineCrisp is a late apple and late apples tend to be less hardy than early apples.  When combined with the fact that the pedigree looks similar to Gala's (an apple with marginal hardiness across much of the mid-West) but in a much later apple, I think the breeders felt compelled to add a note about this apple "the tree appears to be cold-hardy for winter temperatures in Illinois and Indiana."
Record low for Chippewa Falls, Wisconsin is -45 F.

Thus you end up with nurseries in places like Chippewa Falls, Wisconsin selling WineCrisp based on on the original claim that morphing into "WineCrisp is a hardy" apple.  Caveat emptor.

Incidentally, HoneyCrisp IS a hardy apple, capable of handling -35 F when well grown and the fruit load is managed.


Hmmm.  This corner needs a little bit of work.

The hose will kink when it gets warm (soft).  Application of water pressure does not always straighten it out.  This needs some hardware to fix. The compression sleeves are a one-time deal.
For what it is worth department
I was mowing in the serious orchard today.  I saw two young robins.  One was running along the ground like a chipmunk.  The other one was in the stock tank and paddling like heck to stay afloat.  I put him on top of a live trap in the sun to warm up and dry out.

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

The girls are happy!

Mrs ERJ and Belladonna were grounded.

Mrs ERJ's vehicle went Tango Uniform three or four weeks ago.  Belladonna's was down for ten days.  Four drivers and two of our three vehicles were in the shop for an extended period of time. 

It is all good now.  Both vehicles are back on the road and the girls are very happy.

Mrs ERJ's ride
Mrs ERJ's ride would not go into reverse.  The situation rapidly degraded.  In short order it did not want to shift  out of park.

We took the vehicle to Wilder's Automotive in Eaton Rapids.  He charges a half-hour hoist time for diagnostics, which is about $40.  He called us later that day.  He was not able to figure out the problem.  He recommended that we take it to Lansing TransmissionHe did not charge us the half-hour saying, "I am not going to charge you because I was not able to diagnose anything."

Mrs ERJ called Lansing Transmission.  We were able to get it into gear.  We were met by Stacy and Lori who were taking their break.  They fiddled with the minivan and were very encouraging.  They said that there was a position sensor (gear selection)  internal to the transmission and the repair would be between $300 and $500.

The reason it took so long to get the minivan repaired was two-fold.  Transmission shops that are widely heralded as being honorable have more business than they can turn over.  The second issue is that one of the mechanics (Lori) strained her shoulder and she was put on office duty.

This ended up being the main problem.
There is supposed to be a finger on the smaller diameter, center rod.  It is no longer there.  That allowed the rod to retract completely within the sleeve and the sensor (Hall Effect?) could not see the rod.
The bill came out to a bit more than $600.  They ran into another issue.

This motor mount is supposed to incorporate a fluid damping element.  The mount blew out (the vehicle was originally a rental unit from New Jersey, draw your own conclusions).  They replaced this mount which took the cost above the original estimate.

The great news is....way cheaper than a replacement transmission or complete transmission rebuild.

Belladonna's ride
The timing chain ate the timing gear.  The engine is an "interference" engine.  Consequently, the pistons and the valves tried to cohabitate the same space at the same time.

The engine ate itself.

The good news is that it happened 170 yards from our driveway rather than downtown Grand Rapids.

Wilder strongly discouraged rebuilding the engine.   The vehicle (and engine) has 218,000 miles on it. Kelley Blue Book estimated the vehicle's value at $1800.  Rebuilding the engine would require a new head and beau coup repair hours.

He did say that an engine swap would be about $2000.  A quick look on Craigslist suggested that a comparable vehicle would be about $4000.  The smart money would probably not dump $2000 into an "$1800" vehicle but this has been a good car and Bella likes it.  I don't always do the smart thing.

She was grounded for about 10 days while things were being sorted out.

Bella's vehicle is now being powered by an engine with 94,000 miles on it.   I will be tickled if it gets her through college and a year on the job.

We got through it.  The upside is that we communicated better.  One complication is that the S-10 has a grumpy transmission and the girls loath driving it.  I AM the only driver of the S-10.  We had to talk or I might be off on some errand when they needed to be somewhere.

One of Bella's friends loaned her a car so she could get to a couple of job interviews.  Thanks Erika!  The S-10 does not have air conditioning and Bella wanted to be "fresh" for the interviews.   Bella got the job.

Forty year class reunion

Polyester leisure suits.  Synthetics are making a comeback.  They dry quickly and are "sporty".
My forty year class reunion is coming up.

I went to my five year reunion.  I missed all of the rest.
Platform shoes.  Does anybody remember platform shoes?
I am leaning toward going to this one.  Part of what is tipping me in that direction are the health issues two of my brothers experienced.

Carpe diem.

Do any of you readers want to weigh in with an opinion?

Maximilian sunflower seedlings

Maximilian Sunflower seedlings

They were a little bit smaller on May 2.  Post HERE
These roots are part of the reason that this species can handle drought.

60 seedlings.  Armored.  I will move them in the fall.
Shallot seedlings just to try something different.

It takes me about 25 minutes to weed a 65' row of potatoes.  They are much faster to weed when they are all the same size and spacing.
Daylilies.  A scattered plant here-and-there has been blooming over the past week.  This is the first clump where MOST of the plants are blooming.  I am going to call 1425 GDD (B42) the start of daylily blooming.
Plums hiding in a red-leafed plum tree.