Saturday, October 20, 2018

Follow-up post on using nets to defend against drones

Reader B pointed out in comments of the last post that weights were needed to ensure the nets had enough elevation and fully deployed.

The picture in my head is of something like a CO2 cartridge that is pre-scored  and holds the compressed net within. The package is shot out of a shotgun with a rifled barrel to impart a spin. At the desired elevation, a chip-and-charge detonate and the sides of the CO2 cartridge unzip to become the weights that spin out the net.

The important thing to notice here is that she draped some of the net weights over her left shoulder. Those weights will have much lower velocity than the weights she is slinging out and will impart a spin.
I suspect the offensive drones have to be fairly low elevation to be effective. Filling the air with nylon chaff or confetti up to 60 meters of elevation is not an impossibility given the right equipment set.

Electric Fence Report

The electric fence was snapping this morning indicating an air-gap jump.

It helped explain Herc's seemingly irrational behavior last night. The line for the dog run is on the pasture side of the house. I suspect it was snapping last night and I did not notice because of the background noises.

Herc certainly noticed. He wanted nothing to do with going out on that line and doing his business. Earlier this fall he had gotten "whacked" by the fence while I was fiddling around in the pasture snipping away vegetation that was leaning on the wire.

Old Pavlov was right.

The short was easy to find as it was snapping more than half the pulses.
Key features to notice: Slug on yellow insulator, barb in close proximity to the post, carbon trace on edge of insulator. Carbon trace increases conductivity and shortens arc gap.

The root cause was a slug that had crawled up the post and partially bridged between the wire and the post.

I tried to fix it by snipping off the barb. For whatever reason, the insulation on the handles of the tin snips was not up to the task and the "poke" convinced me that there was a less painful way to temporarily fix the problem.

Attempts to dislodge the slug were unsuccessful. He was cooked in place.

I rocked the post over to the right so the barb was not as close to the post. That will do for now.

"No Problem"

A certain young man of my acquaintance went to his boss and informed him that he needed to leave work an hour early because he wasn't feeling well.

His boss said, "No problem."

The next week, the young man left early two more times.

Each time his boss said, "No problem."

The third week the young man blew off a scheduled work shift.

On the fourth week, the young man was surprised to learn he wasn't scheduled for any hours. 

When asked, the boss said with a shrug of his shoulders, "You don't work here any more."  There was no emotion if the boss's statement.

Telling me about it, the young man was distraught. "He said it wasn't a problem!"

I had no success explaining to him that a boss saying "No problem." when you ask to leave is his way of telling you that he doesn't find your contribution essential. And that is never a good thing.

"Real life" ain't like high school.

Guess the gender of the cooks

Friday, October 19, 2018

Alinsky's Rules for Radicals

Ridicule is man's most potent weapon
A good tactic is one your people enjoy

 Play in loop mode for maximum effect. I have time. Just do it.

I am sure Hellen Reddy would be awestruck by what 50 years of relentless empowerment of women has wrought: Complete paralysis based on something that might, maybe, have almost happened decades ago. Go ahead. Watch the video again.

Eugene Stoner, on the other hand would not be disappointed.

Do you suppose conservatives can use those rules?

All girls like to feel pretty



$100,000 houses do exist

1080 square feet
1400 square feet
1400 square feet
2200 square feet
1800 square feet
For those who think $100,000 houses are a myth. This is what they look like in Eaton Rapids.

Cletus and Zeke in the library

Cletus and Zeke were chilling in the local library; literally. They were in Kansas City repainting lines in parking lots. It was 97 degrees in the shade and the travel-trailer they were bunking in did not have air conditioning.

Naturally, the library seemed like a fine place to eat.

Mrs Grundy, the librarian heard them swilling Dr Pepper and woofin' down their meal. She ferreted them out in the stacks of romance novels.

"What is THAT!" she queried in a near hysterical voice.

Cletus was struck dumb as she pointed at the drumstick he was ripping meat from.

Zeke came to the rescue. "That is his emotional support chicken." Zeke said.

"If that is his support animal, then what is its name?" Mrs Grundy demanded, quite mesmerized by the unmitigated gall of the two oafs.

"Blue." said Zeke. "Don Blue. Coors Don Blue"

Stub 7.4: Generate options or Issue ultimatums

The next five professors that Raymond and Dirty Dan interviewed could have been clones of Professor Yee. Raymond was starting to despair of finding a prof to lend respectability to the project.

The seventh professor they interviewed was cut from a different bolt of cloth. Literally.

He was not wearing a suit.

He put his vented, Stetson outback hat on the table and touched the breast pocket of his sun-faded, light denim shirt to ensure that his Wiley X ballistic eyewear had not been left in the other room.

He was young and tall, lean and tanned. He had piercing blue eyes and his shirt sleeves were rolled up.

"And you are..." Raymond asked.

"Clark Radcliffe." the man answered with no additional, flowery language.

Raymond looked down at his crib sheet: Cal State, Longbeach.

Raymond hit him with his canned speech.

Clark said, "Sounds like a worthy challenge. There are some issues but nothing we can't work through." He sounded very self assured and that tweaked Raymond a little bit.

"What can you know about our issues?" Raymond pushed a little bit.

Radcliffe looked a bit surprised. "Why, I toured your work-site this morning before the interview. Can't imagine walking cold into something this significant!"

"You paid for a cab to drive over to the work-site?" Raymond asked.

"Oh, heck no. I rode my bike." Clark said.

"You have a motorcycle?" Raymond asked. Raymond like motorcycles.

"Nope, rode my mountain bike." Clark said. "Ain't like I am made of money."

Raymond snuck a quick look at the map. Clark's office was 23 miles from the meeting place, as the crow flew...and he had walked the job-site as well.

"So," Dirty Dan interjected, "what do you see as the main challenges?"

"Do you have prints?" Clark asked. Then, over the next hour he outlined the projects shortcomings and the modifications that would remediate those shortcomings: Venting, additional seismic lock-valves and third-party storage of the processing data for critical connections like swedges."

"There is one other thing, but I hesitate to mention it because it is really big and I am sure you have already considered it." Clark said.

"What is that?" Raymond asked.

"Your system is grossly undersized, especially for buildings that are going to be used for hospitality." Clark said.

Dirty Dan was shaking his head "Yes!" so emphatically Raymond was surprised he could not hear it rattle.

"How do you figure?" Raymond asked.

"Cali's air conditioning standards were designed to take the edge off the heat, not actually make people comfortable. The other issue is that people like it cooler in the evening hours and this system is slaved to solar power. That is not necessarily a bad thing, but you are going to need to double the capacity and install sub-space ice storage if you expect to meet the HVAC standards that the rest of the world has come to expect." Clark said.

Dirty Dan was still shaking his head "Yes."

Raymond looked over at Dirty Dan and asked, "Well, should we hire him?"

Dirty Dan said, "I thought you already had?"

"Why would you think that?" Raymond asked.

"Probably because he was still in the room after three minutes. You threw all those other jokers out in two minutes or less." Dirty Dan said.

Raymond shook his head. "I guess I better send the other Professors home."

Then he had a thought. "Professor Radcliffe, are there any other professors you want on your team? I would expect you to pick somebody you can work with and who will complement your strengths and weaknesses." Raymond asked.

"I think Ana Rouhani is absolutely top-notch in every aspect of project management. She would be a strong addition to any project." Clark said
without reservation. Ana Rouhani was a dumpy, forty-something woman with a reputation for swift and error-free processing of paper work.

"Ok." Raymond said. "She is in. Can you start tomorrow?"

Clark looked at his wristwatch. "Its only four in the afternoon. Why can't we start now?"

As they were walking out, Raymond asked "Why is your attitude so different from most of the other professors?"

Clark said, "My dad told me a long time ago, people will pay you to generate options. They don't pay you to issue ultimatums."

"Was your father a professor?" Raymond asked.

Clark had a hearty laugh. "Heck no. He is a pipefitter for Pacific Gas and Electric."

Thursday, October 18, 2018

Touch a name on the wall

Not selected for its artistic content. The singer's voice breaks up and he moves to a bridge early to cover.

From the dog house to feasting in the Hall of Heroes

This is the time of year that mice migrate into the house.

A couple of nights ago mice took up residence in the wall next to the head of our bed. That would not have been so bad but these mice were reincarnations of Tim Allen intent on remodeling and flipping.

Note to the timid: I refuse to use the word "mouse" singular. To me, it is as nonsensical as speaking about a single molecule of "air".

Not only had these mice chosen that particular wall but they chose to begin power-gnawing approximately 2 feet from the divine Mrs ERJ's head. Mrs ERJ was not pleased.

Four mice have paid for our ladyship's displeasure with their lives. So far, no more gnawing.

It is good to be back feasting at the Table of Heroes.

Property tax rates in Eaton and Ingham counties (Michigan)

Eaton and Ingham counties, Michigan, are divided into 146 property tax divisions. By way of explaining a "division", consider a township with 36 square miles that sends students to three different school districts and has a small town within its boundaries. The property owners of that township would pay any one of four different rates depending on the address of the property.

On a home with a market value of $100,000 a resident of Eaton and/or Ingham county could pay as little as $1335 per year or as much as $3170 per year.

Folks who purchase properties in high tax districts will sometimes justify the purchase by claiming that the only way to "make money" on a house is to purchase one in areas with historically high appreciation rates. That is, a house in areas with many government supplied amenities and commensurate taxes.

It might be instructive to look at what selling price a home-owner must receive to break even under two different tax scenarios.

  • Ten year ownership time horizon
  • 3% of market value of house is spent on maintenance...some will quibble that this should not be included in costs, but many bathroom/kitchen remodels are justified on the basis of increased selling price
  • Property tax goes up at 3% per year
  • The purchasing power of the nominal currency goes down 3% per year
  • One person purchases a $100,000 house in the high tax region
  • The other person purchases a $100,000 house at the mode of the histogram. That is, they purchase a house taxed at the rate of the tallest smoke-stack on the chart, $1550/year.

The person who purchased in the high tax region must achieve a net selling price of $213.4K to recoup the purchasing power of the original $100K investment.

The person who purchased the house in the $1550/year region must acheive a net selling price of $192.7K to recoup the purchasing power of the original $100K investment.

Net difference: $20K in favor of the lower-tax region.

The hook-in-the-worm is that the amenities in the high tax regions will disappear without a reduction in tax rates. This will happen as municipal employees retire and entities must sink funding into pension funds for people who are no longer working for the entity.

At that point, the premium paid for houses in "formerly high amenity but still high tax rate" regions will invert and houses in low tax regions will become much more desirable. That is, those houses will command a premium.

The seller will find that he funded arts, recreational opportunities, diversity festivals for a decade and then gets hammered on the back-end when he tries to cash out.

This will happen within counties and metropolitan regions. This will happen state-to-state. This will happen to broad geographical regions of the country.

1/2" of ice on the dog's water bowl this morning

It is a little bit frosty this morning.

The Boston Terrier is trying to lick his way through the ice to get to the water.

Cold work, that.

The woods are going to look very different after this morning. Lots of leaves will be coming down.  Good for squirrel hunting!!!

Zeke and Cletus in Waltucky

Waltucky. Always the most helpful sales-people. Always.
Cletus had stopped at his favorite store, Waltucky, to buy some new tires for the 1993 Dodge truck.

Cletus adored Waltucky. Chasing jobs from state-to-state, Cletus and Zeke never had a chance to build relationships with local merchants. Waltucky was the one constant in their lives.

The sales people at Waltucky never moved fast but were always patient and as helpful as they could be. Heck, after working a full day Cletus didn't feel like moving that fast himself.

Cletus only had enough scratch for a couple of tires. He had them put on the rear. He picked out the General Grabbers because he had always had good luck with Generals and some of the job sites were on wet gumbo or in deep snow.

Cletus was zoning out in the waiting room while the 'technicians' were changing the tires when Zeke came busting in.

Zeke was hyperventilating about a couple of pretty girls wearing USC jerseys and about nothing else.

Cletus was making child support payments in a couple of different states and was less than ambivalent about girls, no matter how pretty.

Looking over at them, Cletus reminded Zeke of the childhood ditty about coral snakes:

"Red Touch Yellow - Kills a Fellow
Red Touch Black - Venom Lack
Yellow Touches Red - Soon You'll Be Dead
Red Touches Black - Friend of Jack"

"They ain't advertising for guys like you and me. Them flashing lights, thems like flashing cop lights. They is tellin' you its healthier to be elsewhere."

Stub 7.3: Play ball or get the bat...

Professor Deborah Yee was universally regarded as the very best professor in the science of thermodynamics in the territories now controlled by Sedelia. There was not even a close second. All metrics were in agreement. Whether it was US News and World Reports ratings, or number of peer reviewed papers published, numbers of citations or selectivity of grad students accepted; Professor Yee was without peer.

As such, Professor Yee was the first candidate interviewed by Raymond and Dirty Dan.

The chemistry was wrong from the very first second. Professor Yee radiated resentment at having to interview for the position even as she walked into the room.

Raymond cut right to the chase. "Sedelia finds itself in the position of being cut off from essential, industrial commodities. As such, Sedelia needs to find work-arounds. One of those essential, industrial commodities are the halogenated silanes produced by Cali. We are looking for a professional Engineer to perform failure analysis and risk mitigation in the migration to butane, iso-butane and propane as refrigerants."

Raymond had been practicing the spiel.

Professor Yee was tall for an Chinese woman and extraordinarily fussy when out in public.

She rearranged her notes three times before addressing Raymond.

"Mr Rojas. Migration from halogenated silanes to any other class of refrigerants is an absolute impossibility. Halogenated silanes offer unparalleled environmental safety and non-toxicity." Professor Yee announced.

Professor Yee had always found it advantageous to negotiate from a position of solidity.

"Is that your final answer?" RAymond asked.

"Well, of course." Professor Yee declared. "I would not have said it if it wasn't a fact."

"You are dismissed." Raymond said with a casual wave of his hand. "Leave by that door." he said, pointing to a door on the opposite side of the room from the one she had entered by.

"What?" Professor Yee exclaimed.

"You failed the job interview. You were found inadequate. It is time for you to leave so we can interview the next candidate." Raymond said with complete calm and unflappability.

"What?" Professor Yee squawked again.

Raymond sighed a heavy, theatrical sigh and shook his head ponderously from side-to-side. "I assume that you have had some training in math. If you have, then you should realize that the solution changes when the boundary conditions change. The fact that you proved completely incapable of recognizing the facts right in front of your face proves that you lack sufficient mental flexibility, capability if you prefer, to be useful."

Outrage competed for disbelief on Professor Yee's face.

Raymond pointed to the door. "Don't make me call security."

"But how will I get back to my office?" Yee screeched.

"The buses run every twenty minutes. I am sure one will come along shortly." Raymond assured her.

After she had left, Dirty Dan asked "Aren't you worried she will slag you as soon as she gets back to her office?"

Raymond smiled a beatific smile. "I talked Mr Dilip Bhalsad into having buses with non-functioning A/C put into service for the sole purpose of driving by the bus stop outside our building."

"Mr Bhalsad then suggested that we fill the bus with street people who have not bathed in the past two weeks." Raymond said. "The bus drivers have been instructed to take at least two hours to get each professor back to their campus."

"Damn!" Dirty Dan said. "That should really get them steamed. But what is to stop them from trashing you after they get back to their offices?" he asked.

"Oh. I forgot to add. Dilip called their deans and implied that the college's A/C would stop functioning, permanently, if they let their star professors spout off 'irresponsibly'." Raymond added.

"They either play ball or get the bat...well, you know how that ends." Raymond said.

Wednesday, October 17, 2018

The high point of the week

I got to spend a couple of hours with a fellow, mid-Michigan blogger.

I threw myself on his mercy. I told him I knew nothing about AR platform weapons except they were black and bullets came out of the pointy end. I also told him that I was writing a story that involves AR pattern rifles and I didn't want to piss off my readers by saying things that were stupid.

He agreed to the Sisyphean task of trying to make me smarter.

His trust in me was boundless. He let me shoot his daughter's rifle.

He patiently walked me through the purpose of the various doo-dads that festoon the weapon.

Releases bolt so it can strip round from magazine and go into battery.

Apologies for orientation of picture. This is the safety. This is in noisy mode.

Magazine release.

Rear pin in middle of photo. By-golly-I-know-for-a-fact-it-is-in-battery assist at top.

Dust cover upper-left and front pin near center of frame.
We did not even burn through a box of ammo. I fired three at the fifty yard line to see if I was on the paper. The six-O'clock hold was fine for elevation but was four inches to the right at fifty yards.

Not wanting to mess around with Providentia's daughter's sight settings, the remaining shots were fired using Kentucky windage.

This is a ten shot group fired at fifty yards, prone, over a bag of clothing from Goodwill. The rifle is obviously capable of much better accuracy than I am. Perhaps with time and more of Providentia's coaching I will someday be able to put ten in the the target as tightly as the four that are touching.

The shots were probably fired about two seconds apart so it mimicked what I might do while hunting.

For readers who do even less shooting than I do, 2.5" groups at fifty yards or 5" groups at 100 yards from honest "field positions" at real hunting-cadences will kill truckloads of game. No, it will not snipe deer a quarter-mile away, but it will be sufficient for 80% or more of the game animals you will see in eastern forests, brushlands or highway cloverleafs.

Total rounds fired in the 80 minutes of coaching: 13
That may not sound like many but I learned something with every shot and there were still a few rounds left in the box for Providentia to take home.

977 Parts per Million

Another short in the fence

Nine second video of fence shorting across an insulator.

That is a pretty big arc jump. 99% humidity will do that.
My Kill A Watt tells me that the charger is drawing between 9 Watts and 12 Watts.

When a Democrat says "Fix the damned roads!"

You have to laugh when a Communist Democrat makes "Fix the damned roads" the linchpin of their campaign.

A visit to any Communist Democratically run municipality will quickly convince you that additional taxes won't fix roads but will be diverted to fund make-work programs to reward voters.

Those same municipalities already get more $$$ per mile of road than outlying areas, and they still can't get it done.

Zeke and Cletus in Louisville

Zeke and Cletus were packing up after roofing in Louisville for most of August.

They had been working for a two-bit outfit and the shingle elevator had crapped out in the first week. They had spent the next three weeks humping bundles of shingles up the ladder at two in the morning.

They worked until eight on the east sides of the roofs and then eight-until-noon  on the shady side. After noon the shingles got too hot and fragile to stand on.

It had been a hard gig and Zeke had celebrated the end of the job by doing some power-drinking.

"Ya know, Cletus, mixin' drinks is a really bad idea. Ever' time I mix drinks I get hung-over." Zeke said.

"Keep packin' your shit. We got another job to get to up in Indiana." Cletus growled.

"An everybody knows that line about mixin' drinks is an old wive's tale." Cletus said. He had no tolerance for slackers and Zeke was definitely draggin' ass.

"No man. It is a fact!" Zeke said, wincing.

"So what drinks did you mix thats got you so messed up?" Cletus asked.

"Well, I started with a pint of vodka, then I had three shots of bourbon, then a bottle of port, an then...." Zeke ticked off.

Stub 7.2: Pulling together a team

Everything was at a standstill.

Raymond grabbed Dirty Dan and caught a cab to the administration building. He contacted Dilip while en route and suggested that Aaron Ducat, the lawyer, be made available for an emergency planning meeting.

Raymond quickly sketched out his own, short term issues with a lack of air conditioning and then the longer term issues of entertaining paying guests in Sedelia in non-air conditioned facilities.

"And we can't turn a wheel until we get the air conditioning turned on. We cannot turn on the A/C without refrigerant and Cali has us cock-blocked on getting the one, officially approved refrigerant." Raymond said.

"Dan Kelvin" Raymond said, pointing at Dirty Dan, "suggested a plan and I think it is a great starting point but I need help to make it happen."

Raymond then relayed the plan that Dirty Dan had constructed on the way over to the administration building.

Aaron started the ball rolling by observing, "There are no Sedelia laws saying you can't use other types of refrigerants. As a matter of common courtesy you need to inform the people in the building you are using an 'experimental' material and give them the option of moving to a different work area."

"Can you give me an information sheet and some kind of form they can sign showing they were informed and agreed to stay in their current building. It is hot everywhere and I can't imagine any of them will want to leave if there is a chance the A/C might come on." Raymond said.

"No problem." Aaron said.

Dilip said "I can line up some Engineering profs to oversee the experiment but I think you are going to run into some snags. You will see what I mean when you meet the profs."

"What do you mean?" Raymond asked.

"Some of these profs have their entire professional reputation based on using safer, more expensive and more exotic materials." Dilip said. "They are professionally and emotionally invested in the idea that you cannot be too safe. They are going to fight anything they see as 'going backwards'."

"In that case," Raymond said "I would rather have one guy who is working for us rather than a team who will fight against us. As long as it is the right guy."

"I don't suppose you could get four or five of these hot-shot engineering professors over to the complex so I can hold job interviews?" Raymond asked.

"I don't see any issues with that." Dilip said. "These days I can get almost anything I want. It is almost like I am doing something important."

"Oh, there is one other minor detail I need your help on when I do the interviews." Raymond said. "I want you to ...."

Tuesday, October 16, 2018

Kinetic weapons as defense against drones

The Bayou Renaissance Man had a great post on swarm drone offense.

It reminded me of a concept for ICBM defense where the impact projectile was...a silk spider web.

While it seemed ludicrous on the face of it, the math proved otherwise.

An IBCM has a velocity of approximately 6km/second (32k mph or 40,000 fps). The intercept missile must have very close to the same velocity to match orbital arcs and maximize chances of a hit.

Since energy is 1/2 .Times. mass .Times. relative velocity^2, you can see that a single strand of a silk spider web hitting the nose cone of an IBCM would ruin its day. While the strand would vaporize and become incandescent, the momentum transfer would ensure the entire module caving in and going tango-uniform.

One wonders if the best kinetic weapon projectile to launch at drones might be spider webs of stretchy threads like nylon.

#69 nylon thread has a breaking strength of 11 pounds and is very good at managing energy because it is stretchy.

40 grains of #69 thread is 100 feet long. The bullet of the lowly .22LR weighs 40 grains.

Most 5.56X45mm rounds are 55 grains. That thread would be 140 feet long.

The 9mm of Glock and sub-gun fame typically shoots a 115 grain bullet. That thread would be 300 feet long.

Life really starts getting interesting when looking at shotshells. Shotshells are typically loaded with wads that take up a great deal of space. This is due to the blackpowder legacy of shotshells. Smokeless propellants are much more compact and left a great deal of excess room in the package. Thread is less dense than lead.  Shotshells have the potential to hold the extra volume of the nylon payload that comes close to matching the mass of the more traditional, lead, payloads.

A standard 1 1/8 oz 12 gauge shell typically holds 495 grains of payload. That equates to 1200 feet of #69 thread, almost a 1/3 of a mile.

Of course there are technical challenges in delivering the payload to the correct altitude and then deploying.  Rifled choke tubes would be the low-tech way to address that. Spinning the spiderweb would cause it to unfurl. The more slowly it unfurls the higher it goes and the longer it takes to drift down.

Zeke and Cletus in Oregon

"Cletus," Zeke started without preamble "I think I am getting soft."

Zeke and Cletus were in Cletus's '93 Dodge truck motoring east on I-84.  It had been an eventful weekend.

"Why ya thinkin' that?" Cletus asked without much interest.

"I think maybe these west coast, flower-children are rubbin' off on me." Zeke said.

Sparing a quick glance from his driving, a task that needed all of his attention since the tires were bald, the pavement was wet and he was running fifteen over the limit, Cletus asked, "What happened?"

"I got all weepy with no reason at all." Zeke said, hanging his head in shame.

"There I was givin' one of then ant-freaks a tune-up. I was just about to adjust his tappets when, for no reason at all, I got all teary eyed and weepy...just like a woman." Zeke said.

"No, you ain't getting soft." Cletus said dismissively.

"How do you figure that?" Zeke asked.

"The pepper spray did that to me too." Cletus said with a shake of his head.

Zeke and Cletus in Isabella County.

Zeke and Cletus were up in Isabella County putting in guard rail along Interstate 127.

Zeke looked over at the Indian Casino and said, "I heard that Lizzy Warren chick from Massachusetts sez she's Indian."

"Mmmm. Yep. I can believe it." Cletus responded.

"What? You do?" Zeke exclaimed!

"Yep." Cletus said. "Last time I went to the casino for a couple-a beers I walked in with $500 in the pocket. Next morning, I woke up in an abandoned camper out in the swamp. Didn't have a stitch of clothing on me and I had a hellova lump on my head. The worst thing is that I had a used condom sticking out of my ass."

"Sure as shit that is gonna happen again if Lizzy gets to be president." Cletus concluded.

Stub 7.1: Monsoon Season

In mid-September, the vast, sprawling, subtropical high-pressure dome that defines “southern California” weather slipped north from its usual loafing spot above the Arizona-Mexico border and became stationary centered over Utah’s Uintas Mountains.

At the same time, a large, cool high pressure region drifted south out of Manitoba and western Ontario and parked over the Ohio river valley.
As both air masses were nearly identical in size and intensity, they both stalled and started dueling for dominance. The weathermen said you might as well flip a coin and it might take as long as ten days for the weather to sort itself out.

The effect in the Los Angeles basin was to draw hot, saturated air from the Gulf of Mexico and Baja and to drop it into LA. In effect, LA became Houston with even worse air quality.

The effect on the productivity of the crews that Raymond was supervising was instantaneous and profound. Electronics were splashed with salty water as sweat poured down worker’s faces and rivelets of sweat trickled off the ends of their noses. The sweat stung their eyes. It was brutally hard to move, much less work. Paint did not dry nor did plaster base coats.

Even Raymond lost the zip to his step.

He had come in early, hoping that the end of third shift might be a little bit cooler. He was disappointed.

Talking to Javier, “We have air conditioning in these buildings. Why aren’t we running it? Do we need to run power to it?” Raymond asked.

“Naw, its got power. I think the problem is that we don’t have refrigerant. You would have to talk to the HVAC guys to know for sure.” Jave replied.

That led Raymond to the bowels of the building. The third shift HVAC guys verified what Jave had guessed. They had the hardware and it was wired to rock-and-roll. What they did not have was the refrigerant to fill the system. When Raymond asked if there were any work-arounds, a question he had learned to ask whenever he could not see a way through a problem, the HVAC guys got all shifty-eyed and evasive. Finally, the senior guy said, “You need to talk to Dirty Dan to get a good answer to that.”

Raymond was used to nicknames and he vaguely remembered hearing about “Dirty Dan.” That is the kind of nickname that sticks in a man’s memory. But he could not remember what he had heard about him, simply wondering what kind of man would have that kind of handle.

Raymond waited for Dirty Dan in the HVAC crib. It was a little cooler than ambient because it was in one of the sub-basements.

An older gentleman walked in. He was notable for wearing suspenders and for the fact that he was, well, grimy.

“Hello.” Raymond said, “Are you Dan?”

“Call me ‘Dirty Dan’.” he said. “Everybody does.”

“And why is that?” Raymond asked, truly interested.

“Well, probably because I mess around with old gas engines, an hit-n-misses and even a few old diesels. But mostly I mess around with steam engines.” Dirty Dan said. "That soot just doesn't scrub off."

“What can I do for you?” Dirty Dan said. “I take it that you are that Raymond Rojas fella.”

“I am.” Raymond agreed.

“I was running the trap-line to see why we couldn’t turn on the air conditioning. Everybody agrees it is because we don’t have refrigerant.” Raymond said.

“Yup. That’s a fact. It was over $350 a pound before we split from Cali. Now we can’t get it at any price. Cali, you know that is where they make the refrigerant, don’t you?” Dirty Dan informed him.

Suddenly, things dropped into place for Raymond. They were deeply and royally screwed if there were no substitutes for the approved refrigerant.

“What is so special about this refrigerant?” Raymond asked.

“It is the only one that is approved for use with this equipment. It is also the only one approved by the Napa Accords. And, by total coincidence, it happens to be made in northern Cali.” Dirty Dan said with a disgusted shake of his head.

“I don’t suppose there are any work-arounds?” Raymond asked without much hope.

A sparkle came to Dirty Dan’s eye. “There are always work-arounds. It just depends on if you are willing to work hard enough.” Dirty Dan said.

Dirty Dan poured himself a cup of freshly brewed coffee. He asked wordlessly, using gestures, if Raymond wanted a cup. Raymond figured soot was sterile so he agreed. It was good coffee.

“Dirty Dan, if this was your being a top-notch HVAC guy...what would you do?” Raymond asked.

Dirty Dan leaned back in his chair. “Well, if it were me, and if I had a bunch of highly placed friends, I reckon I would have me a horse-race.”

“What do you mean by that?” Raymond asked. “You are going to have to spell things out for me.”

“There used to be a lot of things used for refrigerant: Ammonia for instance. But the technology wasn’t very good and it tended to leak. Fires would start or people would complain about the stink or there might be toxicity issues.” Dirty Dave said.

Then there were all kinds of Freon. Now we use halogenated silanes which are unGodly expensive. Some folks dabbled with using other, much less expensive gases for refrigerant but there is no way to know which would work best with this equipment.” Dirty Dan said.

“What other kinds of gases. Are they expensive?” Ramond asked.

“Nope, they are dirt cheap and easy to come by. Gases like butane and isobutane and propane.” Dirty Dan said. "Compared to the official refrigerant, the 50 pounds you will need for those 15 ton systems will be almost free."

“If it were me, I would pressure test the heck out of the systems on three of the islands and then have a horse race between those three gases.” Dirty Dan opined.

“How would we know which one worked best?” Raymond asked.

“For show, you probably ought to get some professor to run the experiment, but you will know in four hours just by putting your hand to an air duct.” Dirty Dan told him.

Monday, October 15, 2018

R.I.P. Sears

Rest in Peace.

A decade from now people will still be pontificating over the postmortem.

My take on the situation is that Sears was doomed after they were purchased by K-Mart. In a rational world, that would be a non-starter, but in a world fueled by universal access-to-financing the drowning weak-sister can buy the fit athlete and stand on their head.

K-Mart's pathologies were legion. Too many leases in the wrong places. Paying too much for rent. Using point-of-sale information systems in the crudest possible ways. Failure to exploit lean inventory strategies. Failure to keep hot selling merchandise on the shelves.

Sears, on the other hand, had awesome goodwill and a solid customer base. They were sucked dry as a cash-cow to poof up K-Mart and were stuck in legacy locations with decaying demographics.

Sears did not elevate K-Mart. K-Mart dragged Sears down.

Sears teetered on the brink of greatness with Discover and their own credit card. Oh, so close. But no cigar.

For Sale. Fighter planes. Slightly used.

Make offer.

Zeke and Cletus in Florida

Zeke and Cletus went down to Florida after the hurricane.

Zeke was complaining to Cletus as they were heating up a couple cans of Dinty Moore Beef Stew on the Coleman, "I don't know what the problem is, but whenever I see looters they gets all fuzzy looking."

Cletus thought for a minute.

"Try dialing your scope down to 3X next time." he advised.

Acoustical dynamics of hypersonic missiles

Suppose, just for purposes of entertainment, a hunter was beneath the tree on the left side of the picture shown above. Suppose he is shooting at a particularly delicious looking woodchuck on the right side of the picture, depicted by a white ellipse with cross-hairs sketched on it.

Furthermore, suppose there is a couple nearby who is otherwise distracted and some blunt obstacles near the path of the bullet.

Knowing that the sound of gunshots is distracting and sometimes generates more attention than desired, the hunter has a suppressor mounted on his weapon.

Same image posted for convenience.
The bullet will generate a sonic boom if it is moving faster than the speed of sound which is about 1200 feet-per-second. That boom is shaped like a Christmas tree with the point of the tree at the bullet and the widest branches closer to the shooter. The horizontal envelope of the sonic boom for a bullet traveling at about 1.5X the speed of sound is depicted with a dotted, black line.

We have all had the experience of hearing an airplane and then not being able to find the source of the noise. We are looking behind the current location of the plane.
When the boom hits the couple, their first assessment of the source of that noise will be perpendicular to the propagating wave-front. That is, way behind the actual position of the bullet but well in front of the hunter. That apparent source is depicted by the green arrow.

Experience from poachers suggests that observers are very rarely able to identify the position of the first shot. Like on the sporting field, the first infraction only gets people's attention. It is the second infraction that gets flagged.

The smaller, dotted line suggests the wave-front of the echo shortly after the original sonic boom hits the parked van.
The second, well defined wave-front that hits the couple is the echo off of blunt objects on the opposite side of the bullet's path. The apparent source is depicted by the green arrow. In this case, it is worth noting that the two green arrows are in nearly the same direction and the observers might mistake the second crack as "fine-tuning" of the initial estimate.

  1. The origin of the first shot is unlikely to be accurately identified by observers even in the absence of a suppressor.
  2. Location of the origin of subsequent shots will be incorrectly identified by observers when a suppressor is used due to the dynamics of sonic booms.
  3. Location of the origin of subsequent shots will assuredly be incorrectly identified by observers when a suppressor is used when there are blunt, reflective masses in the field-of-play. This is particularly true if the blunt, reflective mass could, conceivably hold the shooter.

Observations about LGBT people as a distinct species

This article discusses the history of how man-on-man sex morphed into a different species of human.

In the article, the author talks about how historically M-o-M sex used to be considered a transient peccadillo like picking one's nose or having extramarital sex with a super-hottie who was throwing herself at you. It was not the total sum of one's self until 150 years ago.

Compressing much of the author's arguments:
  • People who demand that we view them first as LGBTNO-MenO-P rather than ordinary humans are damaged and should be pitied. They are fighting to be viewed as cardboard cutouts rather than as richly varied humans.
  • The payoff for them as "a unique species" is that they are not bound by the same rule-sets that govern the behaviors of the rest of us. Consider a three-year-old throwing a tantrum in the checkout lane at Walmart: Is it in the best interest of that developing child to cave-in to their demands? Of course not. The child wants the candy in-the-moment but caving-in will ultimately stunt their growth.

Stub 7.0: Quotes

Raymond had settled into the Kolache apartment with a minimum of fuss and bother. Except for the cats.

The cats were banned from Margie and Raymond’s bedroom, of course. They objected by peeing on the bottom of the door, confirming Raymond’s opinion of cats.

The other place they were banned was the balcony, a space that Raymond claimed for his “office”. That worked fine for one, monstrous, mostly Siamese tom that refused to stay inside. Attempts to confine him resulted in slashed and bleeding cats.

Eventually, Raymond and Puma found a truce much along the lines of two church elders accidentally meeting in a liquor store forty miles from home. It was the truce of mutual invisibility. It was a truce of equals. Neither one of them liked cats.

Raymond’s mother-in-law, Natalia, joined him on the balcony in the afternoon. Margie was at work. Natalia brought Raymond and iced tea while she brought a cup of hot tea for herself.

Raymond was angrily tapping on a balky laptop. His work was clearly not going well.

“What has your knickers in a knot?” Natalia asked, not unkindly.

Raymond grunted.

Natalia had never had a son, but she had been married and knew a little bit about men.

“Not going well?” Natalia asked.

Raymond pushed the laptop away. “Computers are not really my thing.” he said. “It seems like the deeper I get into this business the more I get stuck with the parts I hate.”

“I just find myself going around and around with these quotes.” Raymond said, shaking his head in disgust. “If I quote too high I won’t every get a job. If I quote too low I will lose my ass. Sorry, money.”

“You know,” Natalia said, “I used to be pretty good with computers. I wouldn’t mind giving your problem a shot.”

Raymond looked over at Natalia in surprise. This was the last thing he expected. She was sitting in a rocker, calmly sipping from her cup. He could see where Margie acquired her ability to radiate serenity.

“I thought you were into beads and making hookas and such.” Raymond said.

“That is what pays the bills today. I used to do scheduling and parts ordering for an oil drilling outfit in Wyoming, back in the day.” Natalia said. “Of course, your work is not much like oil drilling, so I would have to follow you around for a week to learn the work and to be able to decode your chicken scratches.”

“Are you sure you won’t mind?” Raymond asked.

“Frankly, Raymond, I am bored. I want to use my mind. I would consider it a great favor.” Natalia said with conviction.

While surprised by the turn of events, Margie had no desire to argue with her mother, especially if it helped Raymond be less agitated.

Natalia was the soul of decorum in the days she followed Raymond. Raymond would become involved in solving some urgent crisis. Afterward, looking around, he would find her chatting with his workers. At first he was concerned that she was getting in their way but he quickly noticed that his workers kept working while they talked. In fact, Natalia insisted on it. He overheard her tell one of his workers that she was there to learn and she learned three times as much when she could watch them work.

Because of her background in assembly, she quickly discerned that some of Raymond’s employees were much more productive than others. Natalia had an eye for detail. She noticed little things like how often the painters topped off the paint in their trays and how the detailers carried their tape.

After a week, Natalia took over the quoting. Raymond kept an eagle-eye on her at first but he figured out that she knew a heck of a lot more about cost estimating than he ever had the desire to know. She used a program that made each room a “visual”. Hours of wall-prep were based on Raymond’s notes on their composition and how degraded the surface was. She had adjustment factors based on how close the original and the new colors matched.

She wrote some macros to finesse the labor estimates for doorways and windows. Raymond had never heard of a “macro” before. Within a few days Natalia had written drop-down menus where she simply tallied up counts for tall windows, short windows and doorways and multiplied out standard times. Raymond had been calculating, poorly, the feet of trim in each opening.

Natalia still made trips out to the job sites. She was always picking up tidbits of information: How long it took to strip wallpaper, when it made sense to remove cabinets and when it made more sense to leave them in-place and paint around.

Raymond was forced to broach the subject of “loaning her out” as she became too successful.

“Natalia, I want to ask you a question that might piss you off. I want you to hear this in the best possible way.” Raymond started.

Natalia gave him a sharp look. “We are family now. Stop beating around the bush.” she commanded.

“I have a bunch of crews that have spun off from my business. They struggle with quoting. They are hell-on-wheels at slapping paint onto walls, but for most of them, book-work is as much fun as getting teeth pulled.” Raymond started. “Would you be willing to help them by quoting work for them?” Raymond finished, lamely.

“Will it help you?” was all Natalia asked.

“Yes it will. They pay me a small percentage of their gross so their winning more business would put money in my pocket. In OUR pockets.” Raymond said. “The other thing is, I don’t want them to low-ball to buy business and have them crash and burn.”

“I just want you to know that I don’t want to get too busy. In Wyoming I got frazzled when I had to work more than sixty hours a week.” Natalia said.

Raymond felt like he had just scratched off a winning lottery ticket. He knew that she had honed her skills and the program she used so she did all of the quotes for his business in less than four hours a week. She was not going to have any problems keeping up with his franchises for quite a while.

Saturday, October 13, 2018

Cops say the darndest things

Borrowed from 24hourcampfire for your entertainment.

These are actual comments made by 16 Police Officers. The comments were taken off actual police car videos around the country:

1. "You know, stop lights don't come any redder than the one you just went through."

2. "Relax, the handcuffs are tight because they're new. They'll stretch after you wear them a while."

3. "If you take your hands off the car, I'll make your birth certificate a worthless document."

4. "If you run, you'll only go to jail tired."

5. "Can you run faster than 1200 feet per second? Because that's the speed of the bullet that'll be chasing you."

6. "You don't know how fast you were going? I guess that means I can write anything I want to on the ticket, huh?"

7. "Yes, sir, you can talk to the shift supervisor, but I don't think it will help. Oh, did I mention that I'm the shift supervisor?"

8. "Warning!You want a warning? O.K, I'm warning you not to do that again or I'll give you another ticket."

9. "The answer to this last question will determine whether you are drunk or not. Was Mickey Mouse a cat or a dog?"

10. "Fair? You want me to be fair? Listen,fair is a place where you go to ride on rides, eat cotton candy and corn dogs and step in monkey poop."

11. "Yeah, we have a quota. Two more tickets and my wife gets a toaster oven."

12. "In God we trust; all others we run through NCIC." ( National Crime Information Center )

13. "Just how big were those 'two beers' you say you had?"

14. "No sir, we don't have quotas anymore. We used to, but now we're allowed to write as many tickets as we can."

15. "I'm glad to hear that the Chief (of Police) is a personal friend of yours. So you know someone who can post your bail."


16. "You didn't think we give pretty women tickets? You're right; we don't. Sign here."

Fireplug covers

Fireplug covers!

Dogs have a right to express their opinions, too.

Overheard in a fast-food restaurant

"Hey Cletus, I followed you into town this morning. How come you kept slowing down?" Young Man One asked.

"Well, Zeke, I was taking pictures." Cletus answered.

"Didn't know you were into taking pictures." Zeke responded. "Were you taking selfies?"

"Nope. I was taking pictures of Proposal One yard signs with the geo turned on." Cletus said.

"Why would you do that?" Zeke asked, puzzled. "I never figured you for a political type."

"Politics got nothing to do with it. Don't care if Proposal One passes or not. Having geo-tagged pictures makes it easy to keep track of places worth visiting at o-dark-thirty." Cletus said.

Good morning, girls

Sassafras trees

A sugar maple in a grove of oak

The Captain has his cattle in my pasture. He is supplementing the grass with red clover hay. I get the seeds and nutrients. He gets to stretch out his winter hay supply.

One of the keys to making this work is to put the feeders on the patches with the greatest need of additional nutrients. It is helpful to strategically place salt and water so the cattle walk across other patches that need nutrients.

A persimmon branch bent over by the weight of the fruit.

Another sassafras tree.

I was taken with this sculpture in Lansing. The swirl of the water, the flowing of the gown and towel.

If you look closely, you will see the breath of the girl who is closest to the camera.