Wednesday, February 21, 2018

Sophie's Choice

Sophie's Choice is a movie released in 1982 and went a  long way toward cementing Meryl Streep's reputation as an actress with a wide range of ability.

The following is extracted from the screen play.  Changes were made to improve the readability:

"My father was a Professor of Law at the University of Krakow.  He believed in that human perfection was a possibility.  I was married to a disciple of my father."

"My father was working for weeks on the speech he called: 
"Poland's Jewish Problem"

"Ordinarily I typed those speeches and I didn't hear the words, their meaning, but this time I came upon a word that I have never heard before."

" 'The solution to Poland's Jewish Problem' he concluded 'was vernichtung'. Extermination."

"One day I was at Mass and I had a premonition.  I ran out of the church and went to the University.  The gate was locked.  There were many Germans there and I saw the professors.  They were being loaded into a truck and this one part of the canvas cover had moved away and I saw my father's face and the face of my husband behind him."

"The Nazi pulled away and I never saw those faces again.  They took them to Sachsenhausen and shot them the next day."

"Later, I was arrested.  My children were sent with me to Auschwitz."

This is historically accurate.  Intellectuals were among the first groups exterminated by both the Nazi and the Bolsheviks.  Both groups saw intellectuals as competition and as nuclei for future opposition.  Sophie's father and husband were both summarily executed even though they were in agreement with Nazi objectives.

This movie should be required watching for college students who are enchanted with Socialism, Totalitarianism and who think they will be allowed to "run the show" in the new world order.

Tuesday, February 20, 2018

Road trip

Apologies for the late posts today.

I went on a road trip with Onondaga.
IBC: Intermediate, Bulk Container.  275 gallons

We went to Bob's Gun Shop in Hastings.  We poked around Middleville  looking, unsuccessfully, for used, food-grade IBCs.  Then to Grand Rapids to look at vehicles at a repo lot.

Then Onondaga wanted to eat at one of his favorite restaurants "just a little ways up M-37".  The restaurant was in Clare, Michigan.

Then we drove back downstate.

Elapsed time: eight hours.

After that I had a couple of naps to catch up on.

Still raining

Eaton Rapids is just below Lansing at the north edge of the red, 6" region.
Six inches of rain in the last twenty-four hours and it is still raining.

The rain melted all of our snow, which probably amounted to another couple of inches worth of water.

The cricks are full and still rising.

Monday, February 19, 2018

Etymology of the word "frick"


Clearing Blackberry scrub

Before.  A tangle of thorny blackberries.  This plot consists of Illini Hardy thorny and Triple Crown not-thorny.

After.  We left the thornless ones and a persimmon tree.  I plan to plant some chestnut trees in this strip over the next few years.

Kubota and I shed clothes as we worked.  We got warm. These "Tee" posts were well placed to act as coat racks.
There were two jobs:  Cutter and Stuffer.  Kubota liked cutting better than stuffing which was fine by me.  Chippers can be dangerous if your attention wanders.  Both of us ended up with dozens of scratches and thorn pokes.

Pit Bulls

This morning I learned that one of our sometimes coffee drinking guys had been chewed up by a pit bull.

Ralph works as a framing carpenter and business is slow now.  He was on the front porch enjoying a cigarette when he heard a woman screaming.  He was wearing flip-flops.  They were found in the yard.

He placed himself between the woman and the dog.  At some point he flung his cell phone at the dog and it butt-dialed.

The pit bull ripped the meat off both of his forearms.  Tendons and nerves were severed.  He lost the use of two of his fingers.  The guys were not sure if they were bitten off, amputated or due to nerve damage.

It seems likely that Ralph will never be able to throw hammers at nails for a livelihood.

The woman suffered broken bones and a severely lacerated scalp and face.

Black Locust Inventory

A list of numbers rarely tells a compelling story.

Professional foresters use sampling techniques to estimate the age and species composition of forests.

My "forest" is small enough that I can take a census.  Accurate measurement is the first step toward being able to manage anything.

Accurate is a relative term.  You don't use a micrometer to measure a pile of manure.  You don't use a yardstick to measure turbine blades. I used a cloth measuring tape to measure the circumference of the trees at approximately chest height.  I rounded down to the nearest inch and tried to not measure anything less than three inches in diameter.

Circumference of stem on horizontal axis broken into "cohorts" binned by 5" increments.  Blue line is the number of stems in each cohort.  The red line is an estimate of the cubic feet of wood in each cohort. 

Based on these measurements, the greatest amount of wood, by volume, is in the first flush of suckers that arose around the mother trees.  The volume was crudely estimated by multiplying the cross-section at 48" by twenty feet.  Twenty feet was chosen as that is the height where most of the stems bushed-out.  Clearly,  more wood could be collected from the larger trees if more effort were expended.

The largest number of stems is in the smallest circumference recorded which is not surprising.  Then there is a large step down and then fairly linear decrease in each cohort.  The reason that there is a large step down at the start is that the 3.5"-to-5" diameter is ideal for posts and suitable for burning without splitting.

Black Locust (Robinia pseudoacacia) posts make outstanding fence posts due to the rot resistance of the heartwood.  The tree also fixes nitrogen and the flowers are a prime nectar source for bees.  Other than that, the tree is weedy---it suckers, thrives in poor soils, is thorny and is difficult to eradicate--- and usually displays poor "form".  I consider Black Locust to be one of my social peers.

Factoid of the day
The heartwood of Black Locust fluoresces under ultraviolet light.

And here is a short monograph on Black Locust lumber and its properties.

Sunday, February 18, 2018

Fake news is not new

Thou shall not bear false witness  Exodus circa 1500 BC
Why would there be a commandment against this activity unless it were a problem?

If you remove from your midst oppression,
false accusation and malicious speech;
If you bestow your bread on the hungry
and satisfy the afflicted;
Then light shall rise for you in the darkness...  Isaiah circa 800 BC
Still a problem seven hundred years later

...ships: even though they are so large and driven by fierce winds, they are steered by a very small rudder wherever the pilot’s inclination wishes. In the same way the tongue is a small member and yet has great pretensions. 

Consider how small a fire can set a huge forest ablaze. The tongue is also a fire. It exists among our members as a world of malice, defiling the whole body and setting the entire course of our lives on fire, itself set on fire by Gehenna.  

For every kind of beast and bird, of reptile and sea creature, can be tamed and has been tamed by the human species, but no human being can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison. With it we bless the Lord and Father, and with it we curse human beings who are made in the likeness of God. From the same mouth come blessing and cursing. This need not be so, my brothers. Does a spring gush forth from the same opening both pure and brackish water?  James circa 100 AD

Still a problem after Christ.

My guess is that "Fake News" is part of the human condition.

Orchard notes for 2018 growing season

This is a histogram of when I expect the fruit on my apple and pear trees to ripen.  Each count is a tree.

This is a good time of year to take inventories for the upcoming growing season.

This is an approximate inventory of the "serious" orchard south of the old barn:

15 Quince: asst cultivars
5 Enterprise apples
5 Shenandoah pears
3 Chojuro Asian pears
3 Liberty apples
3 Goldrush apples
3 Novaspy apples
3 Crimson Crisp apples
2 Korean Giant Asian pears
1 Shinko Asian pear
1 NY 65707-19
1 Spigold apple
1 Winecrisp apple
1 Jonafree apple
1 Keepsake seedling apple
1 Schlarbaum chestnut

The entries that are shaded are changes for 2018.  I am flipping one pear from Atlantic Queen to Chojuro and grafting a couple of apples to Spigold and an obsolete variety called NY 65707-19.

I made a conscious decision to bias toward later ripening varieties so I can store them in a root cellar or even the garage.  That gives me a great deal more operational flexibility.  Later ripening fruit tend to hang on the tree without degrading, unlike fruit that ripens when the weather is warmer.  That gives me a longer picking window.

Saturday, February 17, 2018


Feet.  You can click on the pictures to embiggen.
The temperature dropped from mid 40s to mid-20s yesterday.   Zeus looked like he was covered with rock candy when he came in.  He must have been carrying ten pounds of icicles on his belly.  He did not seem the least bit uncomfortable, a testament to the insulating ability of a German Shepherd's fur.

Belladonna gave him a bath before he melted.

That apple did not fall too far from the tree

I need another bench because I am running out of room.

Kubota and I are both loath to expend excessive amounts of energy.

We can also be described as passive-aggressive.

Kubota keeps leaving his footware just inside the doorway.  He does so in spite of my admonitions and in spite of Mrs ERJ's purchase of multiple trays for wet footware and cubbies for dry footwear

The first time I tripped and kicked one of his sandals beneath the bench was an accident. Well, maybe it was.  It was so long ago that I am no longer sure.

Now it is a habit.  I automatically kick one of the sandals or shoes beneath the bench.  Or, if the offending footware are boots, one of them gets "accidentally" kicked down the stairs into the basement.

So if you see a kid walking around Eaton Rapids wearing mis-matched footwear, he just might be my kid.

Giving a sucker an even break

I planned to graft on the sucker that is in the foreground of this picture, the one that sprouts up from the base of the tree.

The rabbits girdled it during our recent deep snow when other food was not available.

It is possible to save suckers if the bark is not chewed back to bare wood.  Typically, the corky outer bark and some of the inner bark has been chewed away but there are still continuous runs of the delicate cambium, the growing part.

That cambium is vulnerable to drying out and newsprint is a reasonable substitute for the corky outer bark.  It breaths even as it protects from dehydration and further rabbit damage.

I have a better than 50% chance of saving this sucker.

I guess it depends on what "Everything" means?

CNN commented that the Republican Memo was a nothing burger because....

"...everything..." meant "everything but..."

This was swallowed by CNN viewers and readers because the alternative was too horrible for them to contemplate.

So "sex" is not sex.  "Is" is not is.  And "everything" is not everything.

Is that clear?

Friday, February 16, 2018

Celebration, Ceremony and Closure

Vangelis "Hymne" 2:20s long

The ERJ family attended a funeral today.

It occurred to me that we are likely to attend twice as many funerals as weddings, the other event that brings families together.

I am  not much of a "ceremony" person but I see the value in weddings and funerals.  They are passageways to The Next Thing and should be a big deal.

Please pray for MR SAM as they stitch their lives back together.

Oh, and there were no wardrobe failures.

Thursday, February 15, 2018

Self Actualized

Maslow's Hierarchy is a motivational theory that contends that individuals are motivated to achieve the lowest level that the individual has not yet achieved.  By way of example, the person who is gasping for breath is not motivated by the pursuit of creativity.  Their actions are dedicated to getting more oxygen in their lungs.

The Marine recruiting slogan of "Be All You Can Be" is an appeal to the desire to be at the pinnacle of the motivational pyramid.

Small Business Owners
As a group, I believe that the owners of small businesses are among the most "self actualized" people on earth.

The small business owner never knows what skill-set will be called upon on any random day.  It might be running a marathon when a piece of equipment is broken, it might be first-aid skills or counseling or being a mechanic.  It can be accounting or tax law or conflict resolution.  Taking inventory or juggling production schedules or performing chemistry calculations.

At this point the small business owner would raise an eyebrow and say, "I am not motivated by those things.  I do them to survive."

Granted.  However, you need a tolerance, if not desire, for the exhilaration of outrunning the tiger.  It helps to be an adrenaline junkie but is not absolutely necessary. 

I wonder how much of regulator's animus toward business owners is motivated by envy.

Surely they went to college and penned the usual drivel in their yearbooks about "...becoming self actualized..."  And there they sit in their anonymous cubicle, in an anonymous building in a boring city and answering to a no-nothing boss.

How could they not be envious?  How could they not be angry at themselves for not having the guts to start their own business? 

The answer:  Replace the envy with self-righteousness and a feeling of moral superiority.  That will smother the envy.  You bet.  Squash those business owners.

Note:  One of my coffee drinking buddies used to milk cows.  He got out of the business after a regulator wrote him up for having two, 40W fluorescent tubes beside the mirror behind the worker washbasin rather than a 100W incandescent bulb on the ceiling twelve feet above the wash basin.


Wednesday, February 14, 2018

A "dad" selfie

Daughter's response: "LMAO. WRONG DIRECTION!!!"

Easy enough to fix

Photo credit:  Mrs ERJ

These guys should be hired as consultants

From the Washington Times:
He is the world’s most persistent illegal immigrant: One Mexican managed to get deported 44 times in 15 years — which means he also managed to sneak back across the border at least that many times.

The runner-up was ousted 40 times from 2001 to 2015. No. 3, 4 and 5 on the list were deported 35, 34 and 31 times, respectively, according to data provided to The Washington Times by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement.
Did anybody think to hire these guys as consultants?  They qualify as experts in leaky borders.

Ash Wednesday

Living large:  Oatmeal with raisins and dried Montmorency cherries

It is becoming increasingly apparent that the idea of "sin" has been jettisoned by many of the younger generation.

After much pondering, I think it is because they suffer from stunted intellects and malnourished spiritual lives.  They are addicted to approval and are too intellectually lazy to grapple with the tension that no person is perfect and no person is purely evil.  We are all mosaics in shades of gray.

I am not sure what the answer is.  But I do know that it is not found in capitulation to existentialism.

Tuesday, February 13, 2018

Mardi Gras, 2018

I will be spending Mardi Gras with my mom and dad to give my sisters a break.

Dad is having dizzy spells and is more comfortable to have a "young" person (like me) around in case he falls.  My mom has osteoporosis and is not the steadiest of walkers.

Dad is a worrier.  He worries that one of them might fall in the night and the other might not hear them, especially since dad wears hearing aids and takes them out to sleep.

They both have pendants that can call for help but they are loath to push the button.  The last time dad fell it took him a couple of hours of crabbing backwards and resting until he could find a piece of furniture stable enough to help him get upright.

I will pick up a six pack of adult beverage on the way over.  I expect to only drink a couple of them.  It would not do for me to be the one who falls and needs help regaining his feet. 

Updates on broken stuff

The dryer is working thanks to a new heating element.

The little dog is acting like a puppy thanks to the change in dog food and "wetting" it with bouillon and then extra access to water.  The bouillon is salty. 

The hot water heater is still hobbling along.  The lower heating element is cemented into place with hard water deposits.

The satellite dish went on the fritz.  Kubota had been "fixing" it by knocking the snow from the dish with a ten foot long piece of pipe.  One of his swings disconnected the ground wire.  It is now "sort of working" because Kubota used that same piece of pipe to push the bare end of the ground wire so it touches the cast aluminum housing of the control box.  I will go up on a ladder after some of the snow melts and secure it with a screw.

Monday, February 12, 2018

Why would anybody move from Norway to the United States?

Maybe to get great, close-out prices on winter footwear in Miami.

Icicles and park benches

It was $2.06 on the other side of town.
Stumps.  Makes me think of cone-heads.

Getting dressed up

We are going to an event later this week that demands a higher degree of dressiness than is my habit.

Protests that black and plaid go with everything were not heeded.  Mrs ERJ is fretting about how to dress me.

She is getting much advice from my sisters and sisters-in-law.  I am curious: How is it that they know so much about duct tape, zip-ties and restraints?

Mrs ERJ does not do this very often.  The smart thing to do is to go with the flow.

Winter-time lull


Slogging through the depths of winter here in mid-Michigan.  Going outside and taking pictures of what is growing is a non-starter.

So in lieu of actual content I am posting this piece played by Angel Romero.

Sunday, February 11, 2018

Are you fey?

Icon by unknown artist
When the poor man died, he was carried away by angels to the bosom of Abraham. The rich man also died and was buried, and from the netherworld, where he was in torment, he raised his eyes and saw Abraham far off and Lazarus at his side. And he cried out, ‘Father Abraham, have pity on me. Send Lazarus to dip the tip of his finger in water and cool my tongue, for I am suffering torment in these flames.’
Abraham replied, ‘My child, remember that you received what was good during your lifetime while Lazarus likewise received what was bad; but now he is comforted here, whereas you are tormented. Moreover, between us and you a great chasm is established to prevent anyone from crossing who might wish to go from our side to yours or from your side to ours.’
He said, ‘Then I beg you, father, send him to my father’s house, for I have five brothers, so that he may warn them, lest they too come to this place of torment.’
But Abraham replied, ‘They have Moses and the prophets. Let them listen to them.’
He said, ‘Oh no, father Abraham, but if someone from the dead goes to them, they will repent.’
Then Abraham said, ‘If they will not listen to Moses and the prophets, neither will they be persuaded if someone should rise from the dead.’”  -Luke 16:22-31  NAB
 Fey: Otherworldly, visionary, able to peer through the veil or receive messages from the dead.

Abraham did not say "I cannot."  He said "...they will not be persuaded...".  Essentially Abraham said, "Why should I bother?"

A quick survey of family members suggests that women are more likely to be "fey" then men.  Perhaps it is because they are more attuned to people and personalities.

People with less noise in their heads seemed more likely to be fey.  That may be because they will listen and be persuaded.

I am curious if any of my readers consider themselves "fey".

A couple of blogs that might be worth looking at...

A couple of blogs that are outside the usual ERJ venue.

An Accidental Icon

Lyn Slater was an unknown University Professor in Social work when she was standing in line to attend a fashion show when she became an accidental icon.  In her own words:

...I was having trouble finding a fashion blog or magazine that offered an urban, modern, intellectual aesthetic but also spoke to women who live what I call “interesting but ordinary lives” in cities. Women (like me) who are not famous or celebrities but are smart, creative, fashion forward, fit, thoughtful, engaged, related and most importantly clear and comfortable with who they are..

A papaprazzi covering the event "mistook" her for a celebrity based on the verve of her wardrobe and the panache with which she carried herself.  It was a photographic feeding frenzy.

Gifted with an audience Lyn decided to use her voice.  The accidental icon:

  • Does not consume garments, she lives her life in them and dresses honestly.
  • Has original style without being eccentric.
  • Chooses garments and experiences that allow her to be the self she is and the self that is always becoming.
  • Is somber, seductive and romantic.
  • Has the strength not to be part of a group even while she is delightedly part of a group(s).
  • Is able to express uncertainties, fears and contradictions
  • Has a life that is lived in neighborhoods, workplaces and with families and friends.
  • Walks the fine line between rebellion and convention because she has to
  • Has integrity in that she can embrace opposing tension
  • Is becoming increasingly experimental.
  • Relishes the fully lived life
  • Is interested in meaning and memory.
  • Occupies cultural space with confidence.
  • Repudiates invisibility.
  • Has unfinished business
  • Open to serendipity, she can let go and follow where chance leads her. A huge fan of accidental occurrences’ and making something of them, she believes in fate (like a professor becoming a fashion icon).
The AnarchAngel
NOTE:  I received several emails informing me that this is a scam.  I am leaving it up as a flag and as a personal reminder to check things out more carefully in the future.
It helps to first read an essay from one of the author's earlier blogs.

Two-and-a-half years later the family is battered by the slow moving hurricane called Cancer.  Cancer sucks, but it sucks even worse if you have few financial resources.  Gritty narrative with minimal amounts of self-pity.

Added:  Read the comments before donating...

Friday, February 9, 2018

Never try to catch a falling knife

Not even the FANGs of Wallstreet are holding up.

At the time if this writing Facebook is down 10% for the week. Apple is down 4.8%, Netflix is down 10% and Google is down 9.4%.

A good rule of thumb when hunting is to shoot at your target as long as it is in range and the background is safe.  Then to retire to the lodge for a cup of coffee.  Tracking the game too soon often results in the animal being pushed out of its deathbed and becoming unfindable.

This is the time for a calm cup of coffee and keeping your wallet in your pocket.  Time is your friend.  The patient person will let "survivor bias" work in their favor.

Faith Map

Texas is interesting because you can see "sink marks" where there are urban areas.

I wonder why Northern New England, Northern Appalachia and Florida are faith deserts.

From a statistical standpoint, I wonder if the average size of the congregation makes a different.  I recently drove on Indiana Hwy 66 north of Louisville and there was a church every mile.  The churches were small.  That might foster "ownership".

John Wesley suggested that the optimum size for a church is 150.  I wonder if that means families.  The tension is ownership/investment vs. resources.  There are only so many great preachers to go around and large churches can support many ministries.

Another hypothesis is that "less religious" areas are more likely to zone church facilities into "church ghettos" where they are mostly out-of-sight.  You cannot miss these churches on Indiana Highway 66.  Some of them are only 40 feet away from the pavement.

As a person with a nodding acquaintance with statistics, my antenna go up any time the data segregates along an unexpected cleavage plane.  It is very odd that the data so closely matches the Florida/Alabama line and then halfway across the Florida/Georgia line.  I wonder if it was due to differences in polling techniques.