Friday, July 21, 2017

Run #4: 2 Miles

These are handy to ensure you don't cheat on the amount of time you stretch.  An alternative is to say three Hail Marys and one Our Father...thinking about the words as you pray.  That is WHILE stretching, not INSTEAD of stretching.  Three Our Fathers will also work.

Stretching fixed the issue with the cramping calves and hamstrings.  Three times a day with a minute for each muscle groups seems to be the right amount.

I got into some shin pain a quarter mile into the run.  It did not smooth up on its own.

Shin pain usually means I let my stride length get too long.  Long strides means I am heal-striking.  The shin muscles take the shock of the heal strike.

The other reason long strides cause shin pain is because the shin muscles must lift up the toe so it does not drag at mid-position when you pull that leg forward.

Shin pain is nature's way of telling me to shorten my stride.  (I also have shin issues when the sole of my shoe is too stiff.)  I shortened my stride and the shin pain went away.

It looks like I am back on track to run three miles on July 29.

Thursday, July 20, 2017

Repealing Obamacare: A Gordian Knot

The short version is that there is an air-bubble in the siphon and nothing is going to happen.

The longer version is that individuals used to work for the same firm for most of their career or they carried their healthcare policy with them.

They over-paid for healthcare insurance when they were young and healthy.  Or, more likely, their upward wage growth was stunted by the premiums paid to support older, unhealthier employees.

Picture a man who was 45-to-65 when Obamacare vaporized the plan he was in.  Five years later he is having twinges.  Maybe he is pre-diabetic.  Maybe he needs new knees.  Perhaps he has a family history of heart disease.

The fact that Obamacare vaporized his old plan was partially offset by the fact that insurance companies were not allowed to take existing "preconditions" into account when setting rates.

That stipulation, that insurance companies cannot consider preconditions when setting rates, is one of the prime drivers of the Obamacare death spiral.

The issue of preconditions is also what is locking up the repeal or replacement of Obamacare by the Republicans.  It is not possible to roll back the calendar.  The insurance plans those baby-boomers used to pay into are gone, atomized and blown away.  So are the jobs.

The politicians painted themselves into a corner.  That vast tsunami of baby boomers vote!  Even stepping away from the healthcare insurance rodeo, the entire paradigm of working for one employer for 40 years is gone.  For that matter, the paradigm of working is gone for many people.  Automation continues to eliminate jobs.

So there is Billy Babyboomer.  He toiled through his twenties and thirties and forties.  And just as he is about to be on the receiving end of the system:  BAM!  TFB.

The same trajectory as Social Security and Pensions.  Healthcare just hit a little sooner.  It is not politics.  It is math.


I was recently given a lawn tractor.  It is a 1997 model.

It stopped working about five years ago.  The owner parked it behind his garage.

I picked it up today.

There are reasons why people give things away.

The original reason it stopped working was probably electrical.  The owner said, "I was mowing and hit a bump and the mower right now."  Sitting outside in the weather did not do it any good.

The original owner claims to not be "handy".  I was hoping that he gilded the lily so he could convince his wife that he needed a new mower.
The fuel tank is held in place with zip ties.

New fuel line and filter.  The fuel line looked to be original and was as stiff as a broom stick.  Oh, and it was cracked.

Purged the float bowl.  It was full of rust.

New battery.  The cables on the old battery were loose.  I wonder if that was the original problem.

With the new battery installed I can hear relays clicking  but the starter is not kicking in.  The next thing I should check is to see if the engine is frozen up.  No point in pouring more money into this if the motor is trash.  If I can roll the motor over by hand then I need to check the voltage at the starter and work backwards (or forward) from there.

Probably would not hurt to throw the charger on the new battery.

Wednesday, July 19, 2017


Yesterday's hero

Died December 31, 1972 delivering supplies to victims of an earthquake in Managua, Nicaragua.  Note that he was not a native of Nicaragua. He traveled with the supplies to ensure that they were not diverted by corrupt officials.
Management refused to pay him over $20,000 in 1960.

Today's hero
Contract for $126 million.  Yeah, the guy who is sitting.  Not fit to tie Roberto Clemente's shoes.

Running update

My "usual" run is three miles, basically around the block.

Today I was only able to run about one-third of the distance.  My calves and hamstrings were locking up.

I attribute it to not stretching on my day off.  I think I am going to have to stretch three times a day, every day.  Each problem muscle group requires a minute.  Since I am struggling with left-right/hamstrings-calves that is a minimum of four minutes stretching.  In total, I will be spending more time stretching than running.

I guess a gotta do what I gotta do.


Belladonna informs me that she is not a Millenial.  She is Gen Z.

According to Ryan Jenkins these are some of the differences:

How Generation Z Differs from Millennials
  •  More pragmatic.
  • More cautious.
  • More money conscious.
  • More face-to-face.
  • Less noticed.
  • More global.
  • Less educated.
  • More individualistic. 
  • More tech dependent.
  • Less parented.
  • More early-starts.
  • More disruptive.
  • More split-tasking.
  • Less focused.
  • More entrepreneurial.

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Spraying poison ivy in Salamandar's Orchard

I went out to Salamandar's Orchard to spray for poison ivy.

He had recently mowed it and it looked great.

I wonder if he came down with a case of poison ivy because the stuff was everywhere.

This picture is from April and was snapped from almost the same place as the photo above.

I sprayed between the trees. 

This crop will break the branch.  I need to remove about 1/3 off the end of this limb.
Two-thirds of the trees are carrying heavy crops.  My intention is to catalog and label the trees with regard to variety.  The few records that exist tell me that the original planting contained Jerseymac,  Liberty, Empire, Cortland, Jonafree, Golden Delicious, Melrose and Ida Red.  They should be different enough that we can make reasonable guesses.  Of course, the deer don't care what variety they are munching on.  It is more to satisfy curiosity than anything else.

Three-quarters of the top of this apple tree was removed.
This is what it looked like on May 9.
This is what it looked like after it was pruned.
This is what it looked like before it was pruned.
The flattened grass to the right and beyond the sprayer is where a deer had been bedded down.  This is a classic place for a deer to bed.  It has a panoramic view down-wind (to the left) and is on the cusp of a hill where the breezes will diminish biting insect pressure.  Security and comfort.
I took a slightly different way home today.

A seven foot tall Turk's Cap Lily standing in the sun.

Most farmers used to "hog out" swamps and swales to kill off the snakes.  That practice was devastating to plants like Turk's Cap Lily.  TCL has a large bulb that the hogs gobbled right up.  As an ornamental, the TCL cannot hold a candle to most of the modern hybrids, but it lightened my heart to see three of them hanging on in an out-of-the-way low spot.

Kalashnikov's Constant: Clearance is good

The conservative movement is dead on its feet; like a deer shot through the heart, making that last, improbable, ten-second, 200 yard dash.

The population of the US is still growing.

The growth is accumulating in urban areas.

The soil of urban areas are hostile to conservative principles.

QED.  Fellow conservatives:  We are doomed.  Use the next ten seconds and 200 yards with care and forethought.

Urban areas
Urban areas have less clearance.

Clearance, or space between moving parts, is a marvelous thing.  It allows for non-conformity and still allows the "whole" to function.  Compare and contrast a trailer park and a National Forest (outside the campgrounds, please).  Where is the drama?

The only way to survive in crowded places is to restrict the allowable actions.  Consider an elevator.  Even morons know it is not OK to pass gas on an elevator, especially if there is no way to exit.

This analysis also suggests that the liberal-left is doomed, at least those factions that incite violence.  Violence is suicidal in an elevator or life-boat.

Air flow
The common passenger car shrunk from 1975 until 2000.  Not only did it shrink but more functions (including emission controls) were added.  For example, the percentage of vehicles with air conditioning rose from a minority to almost 100% penetration.  More and more crap was crammed into a shrinking space.
1968 Ford Falcon.  You can see the pavement in this picture even though the camera is not pointed straight down.

By the mid-1980s, vehicle fires that originated beneath  the hood during normal operation started to occur.  A typical scenario would read:
XYZ was pulling a trailer on the freeway.  The vehicle was traveling at 70 miles per hour and experienced  a fifteen mile per hour headwind.  After pulling the trailer for two hours the driver exited the freeway and pulled into a restaurant's drive-through window.  While waiting in line, flames erupted from beneath the hood of the vehicle.
Why did these fires start happening?  Usually it was because the exhaust manifold or exhaust pipe was routed close to the power steering system.  More hardware beneath the hood meant that less air could percolate through the engine compartment and carry off heat.  The exhaust system would get cherry red from pulling a trailer against 85 MPH wind resistance.  While driving the ram air was enough to keep the O-rings in the power steering system from cooking-off.

Pulling into the drive-through line meant that there was no ram air.  When the O-ring(s) went Tango-Uniform, the high pressure hydraulic fluid (oil) sprayed the inside of the motor compartment.  The pressure was high enough to atomize the fluid...oh, and remember, the exhaust pipes ran right by the power steering system.

Drop a tool while working on this engine and you will NOT be picking it up off the ground.
This was not a problem in the old days.  In the old days you could throw a handful of change at the bottom of your raised hood and more than half of the coins would trickle through the open spaces in the motor compartment and land on the ground.    The cooling effect of the moving air used to be so abundant that nobody had to think about it. By the mid-eighties only 5% of those coins might find the ground.

Since outlawing drive-through windows was beyond the power of the auto industry, they started creating "Cooling Air Czars".  Cooling Air Czars implemented a "budget based" approach to underhood air.  There was only so much.  Not only was it a zero-sum game, but increasing the number of baffles and deflectors increased the flow resistance thereby decreasing the amount of total air flow available.

Suppose you were an engineer who was responsible for the front axle and the boot on your CV joint kept failing due to heat.  Before the Cooling Air Czar you would simply command that an air deflector be positioned to deflect large amounts of air onto your precious boot.  After the Cooling Air Czar you had to estimate the exact minimum number of liters of air per minute you needed, and then you had to fight for your allocation.  If you were lucky enough to get some flow allocated to your problem you then had to design a deflector that delivered exactly the approved amount.  Life was vastly more complicated.

Interesting, but what does that have to do with personal freedoms?
Urban areas are like the modern engine compartments.  More functions crammed into tighter spaces.  Resources that once seemed unlimited must now be rationed. 

Granted, the market is great at allocating resources but that is not how people whose car caught on fire think.  They want a Czar.  The auto companies did not set up auctions and give each engineer a set number of tokens.  They knighted some guy named Bob or Steve or Woody or George and he made the decisions.

The world population only has one place to "spill" and it is not Siberia.

The population of the US will not go down unless there is an uber-pandemic or nuclear war.  Those people are landing in cities.

The freedoms that conservatives take for granted will be under extreme pressure for geopolitical reasons.

The best we will be able to manage is to follow Ol' Remu's advice and stay away from crowds.

Monday, July 17, 2017


I started running again.

It has been several years.

I managed two miles on Saturday.  It was broken up by walking.

I managed another two miles today. Again it was broken up by walking. 

Today's running was more painful than Saturday's.  My muscles were complaining.

Part of my problem is that my muscle memory is from when I was forty or fifty pounds lighter and running every other day.  Those habits are writing checks my current state of fitness cannot support.

This is not about "bragging".  It is about holding myself accountable.

My hope is that blogging will hold my feet to the fire.  Reporting the distance run on any given day is just that much more motivation.

For the record, my plan is to run every-other-day and I want to be up to three miles at the end of next week.  Keeping my fingers crossed.

Sunday, July 16, 2017

Built like a brick _ _ _ _-house

His and hers?
I understand the owners are willing to sublet the basement for a very attractive price.
Brick outhouses are not very practical unless you have a way to pump them out.

It is reasonable to guess that a brick mason may have lived here once.  It was a way of advertising one's craft.
Eaton Rapids Joe:  Celebrating excellence in local architecture since 2013.

Belladonna's job

Bella is a happy girl.

Her job has a base-pay component and a variable component.

The first week and a half was slow. 

Two days ago she got slammed. The business she is in is not very predictable.  Sometimes random variation results in employees being overloaded.

Two days ago Bella found herself with three times the normal traffic and she acquitted herself like a master.  A sluggard would have been steamrollered.  Not Bella.  She spilled the tasks that were spillable.  She multi-tasked.  She kept the clients happy.  The variable component reflected the magnificent job she did.

Yesterday, management deliberately gave Bella the hot seat.  They saw she could handle it.  In fact, they saw that she wanted to be busy.  Yesterday's variable component was even better than the one from the day before.

Saturday, July 15, 2017

Argentina, Bezos,

What do Argentina and Bezos have in common?

At one time, Argentina had one of the most dynamic economies in the world.  "Crony Capitalism" destroyed that economy.  The name "Crony Capitalism" is a study of irony.  There is virtually no Capitalism in Crony Capitalism.  "It is not what you know, it is who you blow."

As a side note:  The Pope is from Argentina and "Capitalism" leaves a sour taste in his mouth.  One suspects he finds Socialism more appealing.  Perhaps it is more honest.  Crony Capitalism pretends to operate under the banner of merit and enterprise and Socialism is more honest.  Sadly, Pope Francis never had much exposure to Capitalism-sans-Crony.

Business owners across America recently learned that, the business that has been putting hundreds of thousands of them out of business, has been receiving a subsidy from the US Government of about $1.50 for every package delivered via USPS.

Imagine you are a hardware store on Main Street in Eaton Rapids.  You pay your taxes.  You know many of the customers who come into your store are touching and feeling and checking screw sizes...and then run home and order it from Amazon because it is cheaper.

So how would you feel after you learned that the taxes you have been paying are being used to subsidize your competitor; to put you out of business?

That  is Crony Capitalism.

Apologists might claim that firms like Amazon are the inevitable wave of the future.  That inefficient brick-and-mortar stores need to just suck-it-up and accept reality.

OK, if they are so "inevitable" then they should have no problem paying their own way, right?  If their "business model" is so incredibly robust then they should still thrive if/when the subsidies are removed.

The take-home quote
What matters most for widespread prosperity is that the political and economic institutions be fair and inclusive.
 The Government picking winners and losers is not fair and inclusive.


Perhaps it is an over-generalization, but it is often said that women crave love and men crave respect.

Like many generalizations, there is some truth to the statement.

I was recently a member of a men's group.  Frankly, I was not a very good fit.

Most of the men had children.  Most of their children were in grade school.  The oldest child in most of those families was teetering on the cusp of adolescence.

I have four children and my youngest child is eighteen.  I tried to articulate some of the challenges they might encounter, to throw a few bouys on the reefs so to speak.  The reception was consistently dismissive.  The more clearly I attempted to articulate the shoals I had personally encountered the less veiled the dismissiveness.

"No, people are not like that. That does not happen.  I work in an office and ....blah, blah, blah." with a grand wave of the hand.

Some learn by watching.  Some learn by listening.  The rest of us have to pee on the electric fence for ourselves.

The thing is that these men are choosing to drive with their headlights turned off.  That would be sad but not tragic if it were just them.  But they are choosing to careen down the highway of life  with their family in the back seat.  It is a choice they are making for their families.

What this episode did was to reacquaint me with how it feels to not be heard, to be "dismissed".

As somebody who is proud of their ability to observe, to be "dismissed" is to be called a liar, or blind or stupid or of no consequence.  It is the opposite of respect.

This may be an occupational hazard of being retired.

There is a tremendous amount of "dismissing" going on from both sides of the aisle.  Both conservatives and progressives are guilty.

For my part, I need to slow down and ask, "Why do you have that opinion?"  When I hear a story when my initial reaction is to call "Bullshit!" there are undoubtedly circumstances that came into play that I am not aware of.  I cannot expound on circumstances where I was blind, but I can talk about a situation where my "narrative" was dismissed based on the listener's assumptions.

I was talking about one of my Eaton Rapids buddies.  He is over eighty years old and his teeth are rotting, splintered and falling out of his head.  He visited a dentist and was told that it would cost more than $500 to pull even the first tooth.  I checked out this story and found out that my buddy was being given a discount.  A preliminary check-up after a long-term hiatus from dental care typically costs $700-to-$800 due to standards-of-care "requiring" full X-rays.

When I was sharing this story, the person said, "He doesn't want to fix the problem. He must want to keep his teeth."

I explained that he only has $700 a month in income.

The person said, "That is just an excuse.  Lansing has a free dental care clinic twice a month on Thursdays.  All he has to do is get on the internet to find out when and where to go.  The only logical conclusion is that he really does not want to address the problem with his teeth."

OK, I get that some people have anxiety about going to the dentist.  But what this person did not comprehend is that my friend cannot afford a phone, much less access to the internet.

"But he could go to the library" you protest.  Right!  He could go to the library to log onto something (the internet) he has only heard of, to look for something (subsidized dental care) he has no reason to believe exists.  

Perhaps that is not as big a deal in the city.  There are far more person-to-person interactions.  People who are not literate can survive in the city because there are plenty of people around them who will gladly fill that function.  I think it must be the same for folks who are not computer savvy.

My "story" was dismissed as bullshit because the listener could not picture somebody surviving on $700 a month who was not totally plugged into the welfare system.

A sub-conversation involved his diet.  There was a bit of blaming the victim.  "Yes." I said.  "He eats a lot of donuts. Donuts are soft and inexpensive.  It is not like he is going to be chewing beef jerky or paninis given his budget and teeth."

I cannot change other people, but I can vow to be a better and less judgemental listener.

You have my permission, nay encouragement, to bust my chops when I am "dismissive".

Class reunions

I wimped out.

Mrs ERJ was very surprised that I even thought about going.  "Social" events are not my thing. Going to a party where I don't know anybody (hell, it has been forty years) and "mingling" is pretty close to my idea of hell.

I like conversations with one or two people.  That is delightful. 

Crowds:  No thank-you.

There is nothing personal about the people involved.  It is me.  I own it.

The worst part is that Mrs ERJ might hear stories about me that I cannot even remember happening. 

Pears, dew drops and biting flies

Many of my pear trees are carrying a good crop this year.  Pears, unlike apples, are not photogenic when they are on the tree.  The fruit tends to blend in with the leaves.

Corn leaves with dew condensing on the hairs like so many little shish kebob

First corn tassel peeking through.
Glorious weather predicted over the next few days.  I think I sweet-talked Mrs ERJ into going canoeing today.

Some Centennial apple-crabs showing color.
Fly trap update
This is the preliminary set-up.  Cups suspended on Tee posts separated by approximately 30 feet.  Cups have a plastic bag over them.  they were installed yesterday about 4:00 pm.  The plastic bags are smeared with a product called Tanglefoot.  Cattle supply the population of biting flies.

Yellow cup, zero deer flies

Blue cup, one deer fly.  It is on the crease of the bag near the top of the photo.

Red cup, one deer fly.  It is near the bottom of the photo.

Pink cup with black "ears", zero deer flies.
It was necessary to make the experiment simpler.  The original experiment was too much effort to get off the ground in the time I had left before "deer fly season" was over.  Some data is better than no data.

Friday, July 14, 2017

Swamp White Oak

A controlled burn got away from the crew.

This Swamp White Oak must have been hollow.

The draft entered here and burned out the tree.  Later, a windstorm knocked over the shell.
The crown is still green in places
But most of it is gone.

I climbed atop the snapped of top and saw where a raccoon had been feasting.

I was not aware that raccoons caught and ate possum.  I learn something new every day.

This is a much younger Swamp White Oak.  It is about 1.3" in diameter at three feet of height.
What is notable is that it is setting acorns.  Oak trees do not need to be ancient to produce acorns.
There is literature that claims that some clones of Swamp White Oak produce seedlings capable of setting acorns at four years of age.

Random wildflower picture
I don't know the name of this wildflower.  It is about 9" tall and grows in partial shade.
Shawnee Blackberries.  The canes are not fully hardy here and I usually don't get a crop.  But the berries and huge and delicious when I do.  Shawnee was bred in Arkansas and is a thorny cultivar.

Fake News Friday?

According to "sources close to the Pope":
"Some who profess themselves to be Catholic...evince "enormous differences" with Pope Francis...promote an ecumenism of conflict...most dangerous prospect for this strange ecumenism is an xenophobic and Islamophobic vision that wants walls and purifying deportations." Source

"The article states this world view is not averse to physical conflicts, and even often compares modern wars to the “heroic conquests” of biblical figures such as Gideon and David." Source

I have to shake my head.  Anybody who wants their nation to maintain their national sovereignty and control immigration are "Xenophobes".  Furthermore, I cannot call myself a Catholic (a Christian) unless I vow carte blanche support for Islam.

Up is down.  Black is white.

Next I will be castigated when I question the wisdom of inviting people with TB, Hepatitis, Cholera, share food at my family table without asking them to wash their hands or covering their mouths.  When did common precautions become "____phobic"?

Thursday, July 13, 2017

Rain, lightening, flowers and funerals

We got some rain yesterday.  This is what the radar looked like at mid morning.

This is what the precipitation looked like by mid afternoon.  The Wisconsin-Illinois line got hammered picking up 8" of rain in a very short time.  I suspect frequent commentor "Loren" will not be watering his garden this week.

My rain buckets substantiated the radar based estimate of 1.5 inches. They frequently differ by 50%.

We had more rain overnight and the radar estimate stands at three inches in the last 24 hours.  More rain is predicted today.

We need it and it comes at a great time for the corn farmers.  For them it is a million dollar rain.  The soil was dry and IF it comes down slowly enough it can sponge up five-to-seven inches of rain.
Lightening strike map for 2013, 2014, 2015 and 2016.  Relatively speaking, Michigan does not get a lot of lightening strikes.  The lightening belt is "C" shaped and starts in Pittsburgh, extends west to Omaha, then south to Wichata Falls, then east along the Gulf Coast (half on land, half in the water), across Florida and then northeast along the Gulf Stream.  A good post about lightening HERE

Gratuitous garden pictures
Flowers on the red beans

Flowers on the Great Northern Beans

A shoot on a chestnut tree extending five hours after it rained.  The terminal bud "broke" and it started growing again.

Mrs ERJ and I will be attending an out-of-town funeral.  Blogging will be light.