Wednesday, January 23, 2019

Old news: Patriots beat Chiefs

Borrowed from TimeBomb2000

Climate is what you expect. Weather is what you get.

-18 Fahrenheit on Monday. A high of 42 and wet today. Back down to a low of 5 Fahrenheit on Friday.

That counts as a "test winter" event for my part of the world.

I was walking around on Monday and many of the fruit trees looked dehydrated. Their bark looked shriveled. That is a good thing. Extreme cold damages trees when ice crystals form in the buds and they puncture cell walls. Dehydration of the parts above ground is correlated to better cold resistance.

They will be heading into Thursday and Friday all juiced up from the rain. That may be harder on some of them than the minus 18.

Seven Fat Cows 2.0: Rick and Kate's kids

Rick and Kate had six kids. Three of them were biologically theirs and three of them were foster kids.

The girls

Gabriella was Rick and Kate’s biological daughter and their oldest child. Gabby taught high school English in a suburb of Memphis, Tennessee.

Gabby was married to Guillermo (Bill). Bill drove a delivery truck. Gabby and Bill were both physical fitness nuts.

Gabby was organized and could be a bit “directive”.

They had no children but they did have a Jack Russel cross (with a beagle?) named Sam.

Janelle was removed from her mother when Janelle was seven. Janelle had been in-and-out of her mother’s house several times until her mother tested HIV positive. Then the courts placed Janelle into the foster care system where she bounced around until she was ten. That is when she landed in Rick and Kate’s house.

Janelle was into body art: Piercings, tats...the works. The image she projected was completely the opposite of her personality. It was many years before Kate figured out that the body art was Janelle’s armor. She looked tough so bullies picked on other people.

Janelle spent the last year of high school taking on-line classes and then after graduation she drifted west. First to Grand Rapids, then to Chicago, then Denver, then Seattle.

Janelle kept in touch with Rick and Kate but was usually pretty thin with details about exactly what she was doing for work and housing. Kate figured that Janelle’s situation changed so fast that she didn’t know where her next dollar was coming from.

Janelle was willing to work but could be “moody” and was not trustful of others.

Nyssa entered Rick and Kate’s house as an eight year old.

Nyssa’s mother had moved up to Michigan with her brood of feral children and promptly Over-dosed.

If anybody knew anything about Nyssa’s mother’s history they kept their mouths shut.

The brood was broken up because their poor behaviors reinforced each other.

In one of those circumstances that make predicting human behavior so aggravating,  Nyssa not only thrived with Rick and Kate, she excelled. That is not to imply that life didn’t get exciting with Nyssa around.

Nyssa was working on her Master’s in Nursing at a university affiliated with a very large, urban hospital.

The boys
Luke was born two years after Gabriella. He had gotten his growth late in life and that shaped him.

Luke had cultivated the fine art of invisibility. Luke worked third shift in a warehouse.

If Luke had a social life, he did not share it with his parents.

Mark was the middle boy and was Rick and Kate’s youngest biological children. Where Luke was quiet Mark was brash.

Everybody knew when Mark entered a room.

Mark joined the Coast Guard after high school and had been stationed in New England. He met a girl and got married. She already had a kid and together they made two more in quick succession.

Mark sold cars in New England and was financially doing quiet well.

Bro’ham entered Rick and Kate’s home as a foster kid at age 13.

Bro’ham was a big city kid with a chip on his shoulder and life had been a daily struggle with him in the house. That was part of the reason why they got out of foster care.

Bro’ham walked out of one of his high school classes at age seventeen. When Rick said that going to school was a condition for living in their house, Bro’ham walked out of the house and they had not seen him since.

The last information they had on Bro’ham was three years ago when one of the locals had seen and talked to him outside a Detroit Tigers game.

All six kids could prepare a meal all the way from digging the potatoes out of the ground and killing the chicken to setting a fancy table to torching the crème brule to washing the dishes. Shooting a scoped .22 rifle offhand they could hit a soup can at fifty yards as often as not. They knew how to pick a decent camping site and set up a tent and start a fire in the rain. They had all changed oil in an engine and changed a flat tire.

Tuesday, January 22, 2019

Toxic masculinity

Mrs ERJ is away. She is visiting a friend from college days. Back then, they discovered they were dating the same boy, a boy who claimed to be dating them exclusively. They sought each other out and had a long talk. They dumped the boy and have been friends and allies ever since.

That leaves me at home. Alone.

Maybe not alone. The dogs are with me.

Just think of all that male energy! Two hundred pounds of German Shepherd, a Boston Terrier and two hundred pounds of me.

Toxic masculinity
Unfettered by the benevolent bonds of the fairer sex we revel in our toxic masculinity like dogs rolling in a stinky carcass.

I leave the toilet seat up.

I sneer at healthy foods. Baked beans replete with onions and garlic and spicy, pork sausage ladled over white potatoes. Not a green vegetable in sight. TWO --- count them --- TWO bottles of strong IPA to wash it down.

Dessert was pecans and dark chocolate.

Such foods would normally result in Mrs ERJ suggesting that I sleep in the living room as the oligosaccharides from the beans and sulfurous contributions from the onions and garlic combine in my lower bowel to produce the biological equivalent of phosgene or mustard gas.

The irony is that I will probably spend the night on the couch in the living room anyway.

Dogs make good company, even if it is just the sound of their breathing.

Travel Fashion advice from ERJ

The ideal garments for travel should be simple, comfortable, wrinkle resistant and a provide a broad foundation for accessorizing. The classic black dress can be worn to casual events or accessorized to go to black tie events. All colors and textures harmonize with black be it scarf, sash or bling.

Level IIIa vest from Safe Life

Seven Fat Cows 1.9: Rambling Wreck

Kelly was spreading peanut butter on a couple of slices of bread when he announced to Di, who was in the other room painting, “Do you want this buggy to be any particular color?”

Di asked, “What color is it now?”

“Kind of a dingy blue.” Kelly said back. They had an open floor plan and Di’s “studio” was separated from the kitchen by a half wall.

“Yellow.” Di said. “Yellow with black racing stripes.”

“Yellow like a school bus or taxi cab?” Kelly asked.

“Nope.” Di said. “Yellow like a Camaro.”

“Why yellow?” Kelly asked. He really wasn’t surprised that she had chosen a bright color. It was a reflection of her extrovertedness and her enthusiasm for life.

“My first bicycle was yellow.” Di said. “Actually it was my second bicycle...but it was the first NEW bicycle I ever had.”

“Or you could just buy me a Camaro.” she added, slyly.

Kelly snorted. Low-slung sports cars are not a good choice for dirt roads that are given to chatter bumps and massive potholes.

“Yellow it is.” Kelly said.

He made a call to his nephew, Josh and Josh agreed to take on the project after hours. He agreed to pay extra for Josh to do the body work, filling in the dents and such.

Then he loaded the cab and box onto the truck and drove them over to Josh’s shop.

“Yellow?” was all Josh said. “Must be for Aunt Di, am I right?”

Kelly nodded his head in the affirmative. Di was a favorite aunt in the clan.

Josh said it would be ready in a week.

While waiting for the body work to be done, Kelly sprayed the inside of the box frame with “wax” to slow down the corrosion from the inside. Then he jigged up the cut ends and welded them together after taking multiple measurements to ensure everything was true and square. After welding he added a couple of 12 gauge, galvanized steel plates, top and bottom, to each side rail. The plates were eight inches long and two inches wide.

Not only was the sheet metal bright yellow but Josh had enhanced it with bold, black racing stripes. The front of the racing stripe was a fist and the back segued into a vicious looking yellow jacket. Josh had also foamed and formed the front to look like the front of Santa's sleigh.

“Nice graphics.” Kelly said. “What made you think of that?”

Josh shrugged. He was an artist. “I have catalogs. The yellow jacket is a version of Georgia Tech’s mascot but nobody around here will know that. The fist...well, I though you might be driving it sometime.”

“I guess the Georgia Tech mascot is appropriate. This really will be a ‘rambling wreck.’ “ Kelly said.

By the time Kelly had the buggy all assembled Di had brought the horses back from New Jersey and had spent some quality time bonding with them.

One thing Di did not tell Kelly was how much she had spent on tack and horse care equipment. Di had a fun money account for projects and the folks at the adoption center had been very thorough in walking her through what she needed to care for her two, new babies.

Di was also pleased that the center had taken pains to ensure that the two boys (geldings) got along. Horses are like humans and have distinct preferences for who they enjoy hanging around with.

Kelly dragged the buggy out of the barn with his tractor.

If Di was disappointed that it was a wagon rather than a buggy she did not let it show.

“Oh! WOW!” she said.

Kelly could see every imperfection but Di seemed dazzled.

“It BEAUTIFUL!” she gushed.

A couple of months later Kelly was driving to Vermontville and saw an Amish buggy clipping along between fifteen and twenty miles per hour. That was three times faster than either horse could pull the yellow wagon.

Slow runners are eaten. Slow runners don’t catch dinner. Slow runners do not get to mate with prime females. It is deeply embedded within the “Y” chromosome to not be slow.

Kelly bought a “real” buggy shortly after that. Much to his surprise Di continued to drive the wagon more than the “real” buggy. She really did like it.  It was yellow.

Monday, January 21, 2019

Logging with horses in Sweden

About ten minutes long.

I eyeball the wagon as holding a bit more than a cord, a cord being 8' by 4' by 4'. A cord of spruce is 4000 pounds. A cord of green aspen is 4500 pounds.

Things look a bit sporty at 3:10-3:20 with an almost full wagon, going uphill churning their way through lumbering trash.

The horses are not very tall but they are thick through the hindquarters.

How much can draft animals pull?

Approximate force required in pounds per square inch to pull a moldboard plow at 2 mph in normal conditions are:
sandy soil 2.5 PSI
corn stubble 3 PSI
wheat stubble 4 PSI
blue grass sod 6 PSI
clover sod 7 PSI
clay soil 8 PSI
prairie sod 15 PSI
virgin soil 15 PSI
gumbo 20 PSI   (Source)

One of my coffee drinking buddies tells me that they used a two-mule team to pull a single bottom, 14" plow six inches deep and used three mules to pull two 14" bottom plows.

Figuring clay soil and the two mule team, 14" * 6" * 8 PSI = 672 pounds pulling force or 330 pounds on the draw-bar per mule. And the mules would do that all day long.

Figuring clay soil and the three mule team, 2*14" * 6" * 8 PSI = 1344 pounds pulling force or 450 pounds per mule.

Another source claims draft horses can pull six times their weight when it is a carriage (pavement). It must be clear that this is not the tension they are putting on the draw-bar but the weight of the carriage.

A third source claims three-to-five times a draft horse's weight is a ball-park figure but highly dependent on surface and how fast you want to pull. Again, this is not the tension in the drawbar but the weight of the wagon + passengers + freight.

Stage coaches weighed about 2500 pounds and could carry nine people inside + six on top and freight. A more typical load might be six inside, two driving and fifty pounds of freight per passenger. At a buck-fifty per person, that is 2500 + 1200 in passengers + 400 in freight for a gross of 4100lbs.  Teams of four or six horses would pull them at five miles per hour and get changed out every four-to-six hours. The roads were terrible.

If you can believe what you read on the internet, a horse bred for pulling can cart 1X-to-4X it weight provided it is pulling a smooth rolling cart along graded dirt roads or across dry, cut hay-fields. It can pull them at walking speed for as long as you want to sit on the seat and drive them.

One consideration is that hayfield and firewood cartage involves rest periods for loading and the return trip is deadhead, i.e., no payload.

That is a tremendous multiplier. A horse might easily pack 20% of its weight and can pull 2X. That is ten times as much payload!

Greatest invention since the wheel. Oh! Wait a minute.....

Seven Fat Cows 1.8: Buggy Part II

Kelly backed the frame-on-wheels into the smaller of his two barns.

Then he closed the door, except for a crack and fired up his salamander heater. He figured it would be an hour before everything was warmed up enough to work on.

Then he went inside and warmed up his fingers around a mug of coffee. He would be peeing like a race horse all day long but that was the price of getting a lot done in cold weather.

Hopping on the internet he learned that Standardbred horses weigh between 900 pounds and 1200 pounds. He also learned that it was common for them to be productive up past twenty years of age.

Then he hit a bunch of sites to find plans and dimensions for Amish buggies. It came as little surprise that there is very little information on the Amish on the internet. He figured he would just have to wing it. If it was a failure, then he would learn from it and make another.

The first thing he did was to loosen the bolts holding the box and cab. They were so rusty he had to grind a few of them off. Then he used his chainfall to lift them off the frame. He parked them off to the side for the time being.

Going back out to the barn with his yoyo he marked up where he was going to make his cuts. Then he jacked up the frame one corner at a time and slid blocks beneath the frame in four places. He had to slide some boards between the frame and the block to ensure that slight compression existed between the supports and the frame.

Because he wanted clean cuts and wished to avoid having to do extensive grinding to clean up the cuts, he C-clamped guides, flats of steel with straight sides, to the frame. Then he powered up his plasma arc cutter and made his cuts. Kelly was particularly attentive when the pieces he was cutting out of the center were getting close to dropping free. The last thing he wanted was to drop a piece of metal on his toes.

Looking inside the frame from the cut ends over Kelly decided he would never have a better opportunity to clean out the insides. He filled the pressure washer with soapy water and attached his longest wand. The jet of water blew out mud, sand and rust.

Kelly wasn’t going to get any more done on the frame until the water drained out and the inside of the frame was dry. He pulled the blocks out from beneath the cut ends so water could drain out. He left the salamander running and turned on a floor fan to ensure there was some air moving through the frame.

It was time for lunch.

Sunday, January 20, 2019

Democrats' rush to the left

When Designing an Experiment there are three "classic" mistakes.

One is to not extract all of the information that is embedded within the results.  You paid the money to run the experiment but didn't cash the paycheck.

The second is attempting to extract more information than is actually embedded within the results. That is why the experimenter is required to present a hypothesis a priori rather than look at the results afterward to find a peg-hole he can jam the data through.

The third defect is to so dislike the results that one creates a parallel universe and magically find a palatable cause-effect relationship.

Ossified-Cortex beat a tired Democrat with the appeal of day-old dog vomit. The Democrat, whose name everybody has already forgotten, took his constituency for granted. She went out and worked. Her people rang doorbells and pushed, pushed, pushed.

Faced with the message that candidates who WORK will WIN, they naturally came to the conclusion that the United States is screaming for a system where rewards are decoupled from work.

The irony, it burns

William Devane is inescapable.

He is the spokesperson for Rosland Capital, a seller of precious metals and his ads carpet bomb Fox News, among others.

William's dad, Joseph was FDR's chauffeur.  FDR is the guy who made it illegal for Americans to hold gold.

Is Amazon-dot-Com really a bank?

If it looks like a duck, walks like a duck and quacks like a duck...sure glad I didn't step in that dog ****

You laugh at me. You say, Amazon sells stuff. They can't be a bank.

Retail revenues are growing at about 3% a year. It won't be too long before Amazon is the lilypad that covers the entire pond. Then where will the growth come from?  Amazon's market capitalization is based on the expectation of stellar growth from now until eternity.

Also, Amazon is more of a portal for a universe of vendors than a retailer. They make their money handling the money. Isn't that what banks do?

Besides, there was a time when banks handed out toasters. Now the bank has somebody else deliver it to your door.

Saturday, January 19, 2019

Crepitation Contest

From the golden age of radio. Fifteen minutes.

Thundersprakes and flutter-blasts and sins of delivering substance when style is the coin of the realm.

Never trust a fart!

New California Warning

New tattoo required on all sexually active residents of California.

Roe v. Wade

Yesterday was the anniversary of Roe v. Wade.

My deepest and most heartfelt thank-you to those mothers who carried their babies to full term even when it was inconvenient, or embarrassing or negatively impacted your schooling or career.

I also thank the legions of foster parents, parents by adoption and the social workers who facilitate them.

To frame the magnitude of the raw numbers of abortions:

Number of babies born into slavery in the United States between 1778 and 1865: 7.9 million*

Number of babies aborted in the United States 1973-2019: 61 million (source)

Number of black babies aborted in the United States 1973-2019: 18.3 million (source)

*Number of slaves born based on US Census data and an assumed life expectancy of 40 years.  Four million of those born into slavery lived to see freedom.

Friday, January 18, 2019

For Nancy

Seven Fat Cows 1.8: The buggy

Kelly went over to Zane’s salvage yard to see what was available. He had a half-backed plan to salvage the running gear from an automobile and use it beneath Di’s buggy.

OK, it was more than a half-baked idea but he was still flexible on what vehicle he was going to strip the undercarriage from.

Zane invited Kelly in for coffee. It was a blisteringly cold morning and Kelly was a valued customer.

The neighborhood’s view of Zane was complicated.

One neighbor hated Zane like poison. Zane was dragging a piece of farm equipment to his yard when the neighbor’s dog gave chase. After nipping at Zane’s rear wheel for fifty yards it turned away from the truck right into the spinning disks.

Zane never even slowed down. He was playing his radio loudly and had never even noticed the dog. The neighbor was sure that Zane swerved to hit his dog because what dog would be stupid enough to turn in front of a piece of equipment that sliced it up like balony.

Other neighbors looked down on Zane. They automatically equate “salvage” with garbage. They worried about automotive fluids leaking out and polluting ground water. They worried about resale value. They worried about his yard becoming an eyesore.

They did not realize the effort Zane put into draining the vehicles. Heck, it was to his advantage. He had not purchased gasoline in years and his oil burner loved transmission fluid.

Most of the neighbors who disapproved of Zane had moved into the neighborhood recently. Those neighbors who had been there more than ten years had figured out that Zane was way smarter, both in book learning and human nature, than anybody would have guessed.

Zane was always ready to lend a hand cleaning up a yard or a barn. He had pulled more than one young man out of a ditch. Why not, he had a wrecker.

“Whatchya looking for today?” Zane asked. “It must be a pretty hot project because it is colder than a congressman’s heart out there.”

“Gunna make Di a buggy.” Kelly grunted. “She is gunna get a horse and she wants a buggy.”

“That could be OK.” Zane agreed. “You got a picture in your head?”

“I was thinking of more a wagon than a buggy.” Kelly said. “I see a lot of trailers made from the back end of pickup trucks. I was thinking of keeping the frame and all four wheels. Maybe hook up to the horse with something like a tow-bar.”

Zane nodded his head sagely as the words painted a picture in his head. “What kind of horse is she getting. A big one?”

Kelly shook his head “No. Its gonna be a retired trotter. I don’t know how big they are but I am guessing a thousand pounds.”

Zane offered the opinion “A full sized frame might be more than that size horse could handle.”

“Thats why I was thinking the frame from a small truck.” Kelly said.

“Naw, you want to stick with a full sized truck. The front suspension goes with the frame and you don’t have a bunch of stuff sticking way up. You won’t have to dick around with McPherson struts and figuring out how to get structure up to them.” Zane said.

“But then we are back to the frame being too big.” Kelly said.

“Did you ever think about shortening the wheelbase by cutting two or three feet out of the middle and welding it back together?” Zane asked. “Mr Pepper used to do that to convert mil-surplus trucks to semis ‘back in the day’.”

After finishing the coffee, the men walked out into the salvage yard. Zane started the tractor with the forks mounted on the front and tipped over a few trucks so Kelly could look them over.

“You know,” Zane said “if it were me I would dump the engine, tranny and gas tank, doors and front-end sheet metal. You might as well keep the cab because you can’t beat the hydraulic brakes that are already installed. All you gotta do is figure out how to mount the cab. You are probably gonna have to raise it up to get over the rails.”

Kelly said, “Di will probably like that, having a cab to keep her out of the weather and being up a little higher.”

Kelly and Zane dickered a little while. It was more a matter of form than serious bargaining. After agreeing to a price, Kelly drove his truck over to his new project. He started the generator and then plugged in the air compressor after it had warmed up. Then he got busy with his impact wrench.

He had to stop a few times to warm up but he was able to drag the carcass back to his place later that afternoon.

Thursday, January 17, 2019

Be Prepared: Marry a Girl Scout

Mrs ERJ gives me free rein over the outside. Her only condition is that I not cut down HER clump of paper birch.

As a girl scout she learned about the use of birch bark to start fires. Little known fact, the Genus name "Betula" is Greek is the same root as bituminus or coal tar. To give one more hint, kerosene was once known as coal oil.

You never know when you might need to start a fire.

Her other condition was that it be planted outside a window so she could admire it...and so she would notice if it contracted Poulan disease.

Our clump doen't contain three stems. Nope. I am an under-achiever. We only have two stems.

One of the stems is growing just fine. I think it is a seedling of Whitespire Senior. When the variety "Whitespire" came out it was pitched as being an exotic Asian species that was magically immune to the Bronze Birch Borer. Sadly, the Bronze Birch Bore does not restrict its damage to birch trees cast from bronze. Its tastes are nearly universal.

Genetic studies revealed that Whitespire birch was, in fact, common-as-dirt Gray Birch (Betula populifolia). Things being what they were, the name "Whitespire" was assigned by the studbook in the sky to Betula platyphylla and the selection of Gray Birch formerly known as Whitespire was looking for a new name because we cannot confuse people, can we? The best they could do was "Whitespire Senior".

Alas, the other white barked birch is not Whitespire Senior. I have no clue regarding the species but I can attest it does not do as well in our front yard as the Whitespire Senior seedling.

Regardless, both specimens look enough like Paperbark Birch to keep Mrs ERJ happy. It is not likely that she will count the chromosomes tell the difference.

Head fakes
When researching birch trees, lo these many years age, I learned that there are several birch species that are relatively Bronze Birch Borer resistant.

I trolled them by the ever wise and lovely Mrs ERJ and she always shook her head "No!".

The problem was that they did not look like the Paperbark Birch of her youth.

Fast forward twenty years...
Different individuals of River Birch exhibit different degrees of peeling bark. Most of the ones used for landscaping were selected for LOTS of peeling bark. Mrs ERJ tells me this does not meet her requirements for what proper birch trees should look like.

I was looking at River Birch (Betula nigra) trees with the intent of stealing seeds. Yeah, I am that kind of guy. Don't leave your catkins unattended at night.

One of my 2019-20 projects is to plant trees in some wetlands that have been denuded of their ash trees.

River Birch is not known to be native to Michigan but it is found in northwestern Indiana. River Birch is one of those "relatively resistant to BBB" species. It is also tolerant of wet feet. The RIVER part of River Birch is a hint.

I looked high-and-low. I found many River Birch as it is a popular landscaping tree but nary a catkin.  And then I learn that its seeds ripen in June. It is the only birch that ripens it seeds so early.
No, I am not even going to ask Mrs ERJ if this meets her specifications. One cool thing about Betula lenta is that the twigs smell like Wintergreen.

Then I learned of another birch, Betula lenta, that is considered very resistant to deer. I looked high-and-low and there is no information about how happy it is in wetlands.

Even if there was information, it must be taken with a grain of salt.

It is like my youngest brother who we all assumed like chicken wings.  He was a grown man before we learned that the only reason he ate chicken wings was because that was the only part of the carcass that made it down to his end of the table.

So it is with trees. Sometimes the only place you find them is where they are clinging by their fingernails, having been elbowed aside by corn fields, housing developments and cow pastures from their preferred haunts.

Birch seeds are cheap. They cost about $13 for 10,000. My quandary is whether to buy them and get a quick start or to wait until June and collect them for free. My inclination is to buy them because I am guaranteed a wider genetic base than I will get from the very few clones that are used in landscaping locally.

SoTU renamed to STFU

How Antifa silences Americans
How Democrats silence Americans.

Seven Fat Cows 1.7: Di part II

“So what is your plan to save Western Civilization?” Di asked.

“I don’t know if it is possible to save all of Western Civilization. I will be ticked if we can save our four square mile neighborhood.” Rick said.

“Well, what is your plan to save the neighborhood, then?” Di asked.

“To have a fighting chance we need to be able to go into self-quarantine. We need a self contained economy that isn’t dependent on outside inputs. An economy that doesn’t depend on the grid, doesn’t depend on gasoline or diesel.” Rick said.

“You mean we have to live like the Amish.” Di said.

“Sort of. But most Amish shop at Walmart just like the rest of us. We need to be able to live like the Amish did in 1910. Oh, and we need to be able to defend ourselves, something the Amish refuse to do.” Rick said.

“Count me in if it means horses.” Di said.

Kelly snorted. “Horses are just a way to spend money quickly.” he said.

A pet horse was one of the on-going discussions that had been running between Kelly and Di ever since they had moved out to the country twenty years ago. Kelly was all for Di raising animals that ended up in the freezer but he thought everything else was a waste of money, ESPECIALLY horses.

Rick perked up. “You are interested in horses?”

“Yeah.” Di said. “I am not sure I want to ride them but I think it would be cool to have a buggy.” Di was a tiny woman and it would be a feat for her to mount a standard sized horse without a stool.

Kelly was still skeptical. “See, not only do horses cost thousands of dollars, now you want to buy a fancy rig.”

“You are putting words in my mouth.” Di said. “I bet you could whip up a dandy buggy in your shop. It doesn’t have to look like something you see in the movies. I want something I can take the grandkids for a ride and maybe carry groceries in.”

And then Kate piped up. “We didn’t pay thousands of dollars for my horse, Billy.”

“What did your horse cost.” Kelly asked.

“Billy is a retired trotter. They are called ‘Standardbreds’ and there are several Standardbred rescue organizations. We paid about $400 but we had to drive to New Jersey to pick it up.” Kate said.

“Trotters? Don’t they pull those tiny carts? What are they called?” Di asked.

“Sulkies.” Kate said. “And they are not the least bit skittish because they have been racing in front of crowds thirty weeks a years. Most of the rescue horses are geldings and are eight or ten years old.”

Di clapped. “Count me in if it means horses.” Di said.

Kelly squinted at Di. “You are serious about pulling a cart and not interested in all that ‘dressage’ stuff?” he asked.

“That is what I want. A simple cart and a horse to pull it.” Di affirmed.

“And you would be OK with a cart that I fabricate in the shop?” he asked.

“Yup. Just make it so it doen’t jar the fillings out of my teeth when I hit a pothole and big enough to carry me and the four grandkids.” Di said.

Kelly shook his head. They had never gotten far enough in the discussion for him to have a solid picture in his head of what Di wanted.

“In that case,” Kelly said “we might as well get two of them. They can keep each other company and the hard part of taking care of animals is waking up on cold mornings to take care of them. Don’t see how two of them will be that much more work than just one.”

Wednesday, January 16, 2019

A change in priorities

The Captain dropped off a half cord of firewood today. It was nothing I had asked for.

Since I had nothing better to do I asked him if he could use a hand.

"Why not?" was his reply.

His utility vehicle conveniently carries a half facecord of firewood. Once again I marveled at the Captain's ability to look at the scantest bit of physical evidence and deduce the story leading up to it.

He pointed at old, senile trees and said "There is a 'coon denning in that tree."

Then he would point to the very faintest scratches in the bark beneath the hole that gave the animal access to the hollow trunk.  "Possum don't have claws that will do that." he told me.

We were heading back for the third load when he brought the gator to a screeching halt. "How did that hussy have a calf with me not knowing?" he exclaimed.

Then he scrambled beneath the live, electric fence...the man is sixty-four... and approached the seemingly dead calf.

The calf gave the tiniest wiggle of an ear.  The calf was too chilled to stand.

"Well, Joe. I guess we are done cutting wood for today."

He scooted the UTV back to the barn. Turned off the electric fence. Put the calf into the back of the empty gator. Slowly idled his way back to the barn, slowly enough so mama cow could follow. Put the calf on a pad of dried straw. Fed the calf a half gallon of warmed colostrum while mama watched.

The Captain was concerned because it did not look like mama had bagged up and he was not sure she had milk.

The future is looking much brighter for that calf. That first full belly of milk and warm, dry ground that is out of the wind makes all the difference when you are hours old, 80 pounds and still damp. The weatherman is predicting a low of 19F tonight.

One thing about the Captain. He stays busy. He has a date tonight with his granddaughter. They are going out to eat and then to watch Special Olympics.

Seven Fat Cows 1.7: Di

Rick and Kate were visiting Kelly and his wife Di. They alternated weeks. One week Rick and Kate would host and Kelly and Di brought the libation. The next week Kelly and Di would host. It was a lot cheaper than going out for entertainment.

Di was showing Kate the paintings she had finished since the last visit. Di liked to stay busy.

About a half dozen acrylics were propped up against the wall in the sparsely furnished, wood floored living room. As might be expected of an artist, the house was abundantly supplied with windows. It only took one glance to see that Di favored large splashes of vivid colors...Brilliant blue skies, parrots, lush meadows and gaudy irises, orchids and sunflowers.

Rick and Kelly were in the sunroom sipping a white wine from Chile. Rick was overwhelmed by the task of nation-building. There were just too many pieces.

Kelly was giving Rick a pep talk and trying to coach Rick on the art of recruiting others.

Meanwhile, Kate was being drawn out by Di in the living room. Di wasn’t in-the-loop but she knew something was afoot.

“So Rick thinks the flu that has been in the news might destroy civilization?” Di exclaimed. “Is he nuts?”

Kate shrugged. “That is just the way Rick is. He goes off on these jags. ‘Full immersion’, he calls it.”

“He is super-energetic while he is learning something new and then he kind of mopes when he gets to the end of it. It just seems to be how he learns.” Kate said.

The girls helped themselves to goblets of wine as then joined the boys in the sunroom.

Without preamble Di braced Rick “So what is this about the flu ending civilization? It sounds like a good story.” Her inflection on the word ‘story’ was totally neutral. Her inflection didn’t imply she thought it was bullshit nor did it imply that she bought in.

“I am not sure it is the flu.” Rick said. “The last outbreak of Ebola in Africa is now endemic in four countries and is in fast-smolder mode. The symptoms of this ‘flu’ look a lot like Ebola.”

“Wouldn’t the government tell us it was Ebola?” Di asked.

“Have you looked at the stock market lately? It has been a dead-man walking. The government is doing everything it can to prop it up.” Rick said.

“Have you looked at the trade-wars we have going on? Every one of those trading partners is itching for an excuse to slam the doors on American exports. Active cases of Ebola would be just the thing.” Rick said.

“Nope, I think if it were Ebola...and I am not saying it is, just that it could be...the bureaucracy would do everything in its power to suppress the story in the hope they could contain and extinguish it.” Rick concluded.

Di snorted. “Two people can’t keep a secret. What makes you think a million government employees can?”

Rick shrugged. “Great question. How many people really need to know it is Ebola? Just tell all the people on the hot end that the meds and vaccine are for the flu and tell them to use universal precautions.”

“The list of people in-the-know might be a single lab in Atlanta and a straight chain-of-command up to the President.” Rick said. “Many of those labs are run by ex-military and they run a very tight ship.”

This was a novel concept for Di. She thought that with everybody on social media, everybody knew what everybody else was doing.

“So you think this could be Ebola and it could turn into a total shit-storm?” Di questioned.

“It could. On the other hand it might not be Ebola. Or they could throw an airtight containment ring around the outbreaks and crush the outbreak before it gets legs.” Rick admitted.

“Does Ebola kill people or just make them sick? I really don’t know anything about Ebola.” Di admitted.

“Ebola kills 80% of the people who get it.” Rick said. “It blinds and inflicts brain-damage on a significant portion of the people who survive.”

Looking for a bright side, Di suggested “Maybe in Africa. But what about the US. Don’t we have better immune systems, all those vitamins and protein and stuff?”

“Doesn’t help.” Rick said. “Ebola targets the immune system and the better your immune system the faster it takes over your body. The other thing is that Ebola that kills you by triggering a cytokine storm. Basically, that is a super-immune response that kills your blood vessels by way of collateral damage.

“Is there any good news?” Di asked, barely able to take in the enormity of Ebola.

Rick shrugged. “Some of the evolutionary biologists speculate that Ebola will become less lethal in the future. Killing your host in 14 days limits your ability, as a virus, to spread. Some biologists think that in two human generations Ebola will be just another cold virus or STD as it detunes to optimize spreading.”

“Those same biologists point to syphilis as an example of that happening.” Rick said.

Di said, “Well that isn’t going to do us any good. It isn’t likely any of us will be here forty years from now.”

Tuesday, January 15, 2019

The Nine Fruits of the Holy Spirit

...the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control.  -Galations 5:22,23

Agape, wishing the best possible outcome for the other person regardless of relationship with that person. Note, this includes tough-love.

Original Greek words imply boundless or overflowing. Think of the wine at Cana, 180 gallons for a simple, country wedding feast.

Serenity. Productive relationships free from rancor and strife.

To not be torn apart by conflicting desires.

The endurance to work through friction to achieve a better result.

To allow "noise" to pass around our soul without being disturbed.

In Greek, old wine was called "chrestos" which meant that it was mellow or smooth. Not abrasive.

Kindness is doing a good turn for another without expectation of something in return. 

One who keeps his commitments. One who cleaves to his faith even when times are hard. One who has proven worthy of trust.

To have earned respect.


Gentleness implies deep reserves of strength. A small pony must jerk the sledge to get it moving while a Percheron draft horse can simply lean into the harness and start it moving by virtue of it's inherent strength.

Self control:
To have mastery of one's thoughts, passions and actions. To not take excessive counsel of one's fears.

Those who cannot master their lives become the slaves of others.

Getting to heaven is a bonus.

Seven Fat Cows: Map

You can click on the picture to embiggen

An approximate map of the area of operations for the Seven Fat Cows story.

Light green is mixed agricultural.

Dark gray areas are peat fields/marsh/swamp.

Dappled, dark green are forests or woods.

Tan lines are dirt roads.

Light gray lines are paved roads.

Yellow star is approximate location of where Kelly and his wife live.

Red star is where Tim, the disabled vet lives.

Blue star is where Rick and Kate live.

Purple star is where Dmitri lives.

Approximately 20% of the land area is wooded.

Get out of Garbutt

The standard advice given to young, under-employed men has been "Get out of Garbutt."

Garbutt, New York is the prototypical industrial town that had seen better days.

The people giving the advice were often professionals with swanky, $300K/year jobs. Obviously they were worried about the shortage of truck drivers needed to keep delivering Amazon loot and Ready-to-eat meals to their doorstep.

Billious de Bombastio, Mayor of New York City tweeted:

" the super rich, reform Wall Street, create good jobs with good wages."

"...The answer to economic fear and insecurity is actual re-distribution of wealth"
Of course, the way government makes 'good jobs' is to create make-work positions that produce nothing anybody would willingly spend their own, hard-earned money on. Otherwise those positions would already exist.

The rise of Dyslexia Osmium-Cortex has all elected, Democratic leaders rushing to the left side of the boat.

My advice to anybody with decent income or wealth is to Get out of Garbutt NYC.

Do your research. Florida and Texas might flip to red. Oklahoma looks safe for now and the price of housing is CHEAP.

Seven Fat Cows 1.6: Rule of Threes

Rick kept bumping into the Rule of Threes:

Three seconds of stupid can get you dead
Three minutes without oxygen will get you dead
Three hours of cold and wet can get you dead
Three days without water can get you dead
Three weeks without food can get you dead

He shared with Kate that he felt he was not focusing on the most important things.

Kate, as always, helped Rick stay grounded.

“How long does it take to grow a forest?” she asked.

“Short rotation, coppice...maybe three or four years to grow wood big enough to be worth burning.” Rick replied.

“How long does it take most people to find a five gallon bucket?” Kate asked.

“Maybe a few minutes. Maybe an hour if they have to borrow one or buy one.” Rick replied.

“There you go!” she said.

“But what about the ‘stupid’ part?” Rick asked. “I am not even sure what I can do to help folks with that.”

“’Stupid’ can cover a lot of territory.” Kate mused. “It can be ignorance. It can be trailing the curve during fast moving events. I am sure it can mean other things as well.”

Rick nodded his head in agreement. “Yeah, that is what I am talking about. I need help breaking it down into actions I can take and make a difference on.”

“Does anything pop into your mind for ‘ignorance, just not knowing’?” Kate asked.

Rick said “Hmmm. You know I once spent a summer at a cottage with no TV. They had a set of 1936 Encyclopedias. I am thinking that those books are more applicable to the life we might be living than Wikipedia, for instance.”

“Can you still buy sets of encyclopedias?” Kate wondered.

“I dunno. Pretty to easy to find out. All I have to do is tickle the internet.” Rick replied.

“That still leaves me without a way to address fast moving events.” Rick said with a frown.

“Radios.” Kate said.

“Huh?” Rick said. Sometimes Kate could read his mind and she assumed he could read hers.

“Radios. Those little walkie-talkies you used hunting before everybody got cell phones.” Kate said.

“How far do they have to transmit?” she asked, rhetorically.

“That is the tough thing. Maybe two-and-a-half miles and it won’t be line of sight.” Rick said.

“How did they handle that when you worked maintenance in the factory.” Kate asked. “You weren’t all in the same building.”

“Well, they used GMRS band radios and they had repeaters in each building. At least that is what the electricians told me.” Rick admitted.

“Is there any reason you can’t do something like that?” Kate asked.

“Once again, I will have to do some research. But that is something I am pretty good at.” Rick said. “One thing I know is that if we put in repeaters we will need to have batteries and either solar or wind power to keep them going. That costs money.”

Kate sighed. EVERYTHING cost money. “Work up a plan and a budget.” she said. She would count it as a victory if the money was spent slowly and if the items that were bought performed as advertised.

Monday, January 14, 2019


Mark Jewell, a consultant who specializes in helping salespeople "sell" energy saving devices tells a story about a poultry packing plant in the deep south.

The salesperson had presented his best pitch to the plant management several times. The financials were indisputable. The pay-back was less than two years.

After every sales pitch management agreed that it would make the short-list of capital improvements. Every year the LED lighting project did not make the final cut.

The salesperson shared his frustration with Mr Jewell.

Mr Jewell dispatched one of his ace students to see if he could assist.

While the ace student was touring the plant, there was a hick-up in the line voltage and the Metal-halide lamps powered down. The line stopped.

A man came out of a "hooch" near the end of the production line and pulled out what looked like a gun. He walked over to the line and pointed the gun at the floor. And he stood.

After what seemed like an eternity the man walked back into his office and shortly thereafter the line started back up.

"What was that all about?" the ace asked.

"Oh, that is the Federal inspector." the guide said dismissively.

"What was he doing?" the ace asked.

"Federal standards dictate the level of lighting at final inspection." the guide informed him. "He had a light meter and we can't start until he is happy."

Metal arc lamps have a restart sequence. They don't reach full light output for fifteen or twenty minutes.

The ace asked, "Does this happen very often?"

"Dude, summer in central Mississippi? Happens twenty times every July due to thunderstorms alone." the guide replied.

"What does it cost to shut down the line?" the ace asked.

"We lose $1000 worth of salable product a minute when the line is down." the guide proudly informed the ace.


The next time the sales person visited the plant he made a studied, off-hand comment "I don't understand why you don't buy my product. It costs you over $400,000 a year. It is like you are crashing two Ferraris in the parking lot every year and you don't care."

The guide's head swivelled. "What's that?"

"You lost 400 minutes of production time last July alone because the Federal inspector shut down the line. LEDs have a 0.15 second warm-up time. You could have been shipping those 400 minutes. But it is your business. I just don't understand it." the sales person said.

The guide reversed direction. He bee-lined to the comptroller's office.

"Hey, Sid." the guide said. "Did you know you are crashing two Ferraris in the parking lot every July?"

That is the kind of question that gets attention.

Two weeks later the sales person had a signed purchase order in hand.


It makes me curious. In what ways are Christians and conservatives failing? Are we guilty of flogging a key-hole perspective of the power of Christianity and conservative values?

Liberals are guilty of promising everybody of an equal bite of the candy bar.

Conservatives offer a path where every kid can have their own candy bar.

Why doesn't that message burn through?

Eggs ev'ry morning and fried chicken ev'ry night

Seven Fat Cows 1.5: A lull

Six weeks had gone by since the first tickle and there was no further confirmation. Even Rick was beginning to have doubts. If the hemorrhagic disease was Ebola, the swarm of CDC people were putting the limited supply of vaccine to good effect and were creating air-tight rings around the carriers.

He did not regret the purchases but he would have stretched out the purchases.

Well, that is not entirely true. He had picked up a couple of woodstoves for the cost of scrap metal. Then he had to buy stove pipe. The regular, single walled pipe is dirt cheap and is the pipe of choice for runs that are more than eighteen inches from wall because it transfers a lot of heat from the exhaust into the heated space. The expensive pipe is the pipe that must be used to pass through walls or ceilings and roofs. That is some fancy, expensive hardware.

Rick was not just buying “stuff”, he was installing it. The best place to store a piece of equipment is to install it and tie it in. He improved his fences. He built a large shed to store firewood.

Then he spent the better part of two weeks filling the shed with firewood. He worked four hours a day which is about as much as he could manage and stay safe. It doesn’t pay to run a chainsaw when you are ragged out.

The pies were a big hit. One of the things that Rick did not comprehend was that there were multiple networks that tied the neighborhood together. Some of the ties were family. Some of the ties were church and social organization. Some of the ties were common places of employment. Many of the ties came through children, their clubs and sports teams and school activities.

By the second week the neighbors had “patterned “ his gifting and the next four recipients generally had a box out on the porch to receive the gift. That confirmed in Rick’s mind that one person cannot hope to match intelligence that lives in “the cloud”.

The apple pie project forced Rick to think through the natural extent of his neighborhood. His natural inclination was to keep it to within a half mile of his house which would keep it all to “dirt road” people.

Tim, the disabled vet had different ideas.

“Lookit, Rick. I know you read history. Nations are defined by natural boundaries. There are a few exceptions, Canada and the US come to mind, but other than that defensible, natural barriers are the rational places to put frontiers.” Tim said.

Sitting in Tim’s golf cart, Rick said “Why don’t you show me what you are thinking. I do better with something concrete.”

Tim drove the cart out onto the paved road a mile from Rick’s house. Perched atop a rise Tim said, “We live on a finger of high land that orients northwest-by-southeast. The finger of land is separated from the next finger to the north and south by peat fields and muck bottomed marsh.”

Rick nodded in agreement.

“Those are two of your natural boundaries.” Tim said.

Rick had never thought of those houses on the paved road as being part of "his" neighborhood. For one thing he almost never walked on the busy, paved road. He could see Tim’s thinking. The paved road was a natural conduit for the Golden Horde and the best place to defend it was the knot of homes at the southern edge of the peat field. Anybody attempting to approach them would be exposed and leaving the road ran the risk of getting bogged down in drainage ditches or feather-soft ground.

“OK, I see what you are saying.” Rick said. “What else do you want to show me?”

Driving two miles to the west Tim pointed at a bridge to the south. Then he drove to the north to the next intersection and pointed to where the road crossed peat bog. Then, turning east he went a mile and then turned north. A half mile later the road crossed peat fields and you could tell based on the wallows and sinks in the road.

“What is to stop them from coming cross country along the finger of land? Rick asked.

“Nothing, yet.” Tim admitted. “But roads are the primary lines of drift. Leaving the road is much harder going...takes four times as long, minimum. Gets your shoes wet. More bugs. Ain’t gonna happen unless it is an organized attack with disciplined soldiers.” he finished

"There is one more thing I want you to consider." Tim said. "I almost didn't bring this up but it is something you need to know."

"Your original plan for boundaries puts my house, and Dmitri's, right on the frontier. That might be right comfortable for you but not so much for me. If the push-and-shove of defending this neighborhood happens, then my house is right on the front lines." Tim said.

"But SOMEBODY's house will be on the frontier." Rick said. "Why not somebody who is trained to defend it?"

Tim looked at Rick. It occurred to him that much of what was instinctive to him was opaque to Rick.

"Let's walk this through." Tim said.  "In a set-piece battle the early parts of the contest have a lot of mobility. For one thing, the defenders need to determine if the group pressuring the border is passing through or intent on conquest."

"Once the battle is joined, the defenders need to be able to mount a counter-attack and push the attackers back to a boundary that the defenders can maintain." Tim said.

"There is no terrain that is defensible between my house and yours." Tim said. "You are inviting defeat when you think in terms of arbitrary distances rather than terrain that is inherently defensible."

Rick resigned himself to making a lot more pies.

Sunday, January 13, 2019

Trees for Wetlands

True Blue Sam the Traveling Man recently reposted an essay at my request.

He also posted similar information in the comments on my post regarding Trees for Floodplains

TBS is apologetic for not researching the range maps for my area. I don't think it is that big of a deal. Deciduous trees from southern areas have shown a great deal more site plasticity than anybody ever imagined. Nuttall Oak, for instance, has a northernmost range of Missouri's bootheel. Growers interested in how new shoots are a deep, royal purple report that it grows well into Wisconsin.

When attempting to grow trees north of their historic ranges, it is smart to choose seed sources from the northern part of the range and to plant many seedlings to allow for Darwin to do his thing.

Speaking of Darwin, take a few minutes and read his post about Barberchairs kill.

John, Paul, Ron and Ringo?

I consider it good practice to uniquely identify every magazine I own.

It is a practice I picked up working in the factory. Certain material carriers were more likely to mis-load material into production stations that others. The first step to curing the system was to identify the carriers that were problems and either pull them out of the system or fix them.

The easiest way to mark carriers was to mark the nose of the carrier with a wax pencil or a Sharpie. Pretty soon you would have two or three carriers with four or more marks on the nose and nearly all the other carriers would be pristine.

But we don't always carry a Sharpie or wax pencil. That is the reason for the identifiers.

Magazines can be the weak link in the reliable operation of a firearm. Same-same.

Sure, I could use numbers or letters like 223A but then an observer might assume I had 223 or 308 magazines.  That might be awkward some day.

Mrs ERJ looked at a couple of my magazines and asked, "I suppose you have two more named George and Paul?"

My response was, "Close but not quite. I am naming them after famous authors. I have two more named Ron and Paul."

Saturday, January 12, 2019

Dead languages

I recently read an article suggesting that contracts and other documents written by the legal profession will no longer be in archaic, dead languages. The writer expects this transition sometime in the next ten years.

The writer implied that issues of grammar, tense and gender are too limiting for vast numbers of writers and consumers who no longer make a rigorous study of dead languages in college.

The language the writer was referring to is Standard American English.


Mrs ERJ asked me to look up the benefits and side effects of taking statins.

This is what I found:

The role of blood cholesterol levels in coronary heart disease (CHD) and the true effect of cholesterol-lowering statin drugs are debatable. In particular, whether statins actually decrease cardiac mortality and increase life expectancy is controversial.

Subsequent statin studies have led the United States Food and Drug Administration to issue warnings regarding the increased risk of diabetes and decreased cognition with statin drugs.

...statin trials conducted after 2005 have failed to demonstrate a consistent mortality benefit

The median postponement of death for primary and secondary prevention trials were 3.2 and 4.1 days, respectively.

Researchers found... (a) 72% increase in type 2 diabetes noted in postmenopausal women taking statins.

Statins have not been shown to increase life expectancy in these patients or in others not suffering from clinical evidence of CVD.

As always, be skeptical of what you find on the internet.  I picked these articles because they referenced peer reviewed publication

Think this through
I want you to think through the consequences of telling your doctor that you won't take statins based on your own, independent research.

A note will go into your electronic file stating "Patient refuses treatment." or "Patient not compliant with treatment plan." Those notes will go into your file every time you get counseled on the results of your blood least annually.

If we continue to trudge toward Big Brother medicine, that could become a death sentence if medical care is rationed. You might go to a medical facility and need a procedure to save you life. The care givers might determine that it would be a waste of resources because you are a non-compliant patient.

Consider...just consider...graciously accepting the lowest dose of the cheapest commodity statin ($4/month) and religiously picking up the prescription when it is automatically filled. Nod your head in agreement like a malleable and righteous acolyte.

The nail that sticks up is hammered down.

TSA gropers not paid. No planes fell from the sky.

The two most hated arms of the Federal Government are the IRS and the TSA.

TSA gropers employees have been staging a blue-flu strike and backing up air travel. Travelers are howling and airlines are weeping.

Do you remember traveling before 9/11/2001? For sixty years nobody flew airliners into buildings and except for the occasional tourist demanding a vacation in Cuba there were almost no hijackings.

Then, in the post 9/11 TSA was born. I think it was by anal delivery.


That is a serious question.

Friday, January 11, 2019

Walls don't work

Some of my friends claim that I have too much respect for the study of economics.


But I find that the discipline of economics provides tools and insights that are not available elsewhere.

For example, economics suggests that raising prices nearly always causes a decrease in demand. There are a few, rare exceptions but I will touch on those later.

If the cost to enter the United States increases then the number of migrants to choose that option will decrease by some amount.

That cost might be the cost of renting a boat. That cost might be months spent in a camp with little prospect of making money. That cost might be the cost of digging a tunnel or the cost of a broken leg or blown-out knee from scaling and then jumping off the fence.

Will every migrant be stopped? No, of course not. But neither will fines or jail sentences deter every criminal. Do we hear politicians claiming that traffic tickets, IRS fines and incarcerating felons should be eliminated because they are not 100% effective?

Of course not. The system keeps chugging along because it is a system. Each element contributing to the performance like overlapping shingles.

It is disingenuous to say "Walls don't work."  Walls are ONE part of a system.

Light posting today

Today is a mom-and-dad day and they have no internet.

Then off to Grand Valley to hang out with Belladonna.

It is going to be a LONG day.

Seven Fat Cows 1.4: Apple pies

Not every visit with neighbors went smoothly.

Rick visited one of the larger landowner in the neighborhood, one who actually lived on his property.

Rick had just hit a garage sale next door next door to Carson's house when Rick saw Carson poking around in his back yard. Rick strolled over to say “Howdy.”

The conversation went into the septic tank almost from the get-go.

Rick knew for a fact that Tim, the disabled vet, was short of firewood so Rick asked “What would it take to have a neighbor come over and cut some of the dead wood in your swamp?”

“Why don’t you cut your own?” Carson asked.

“Not for me. For one of our neighbors.” Rick said.

“He can kiss my rosy-red ass.” Carson spat back.

Later, Rick shared the story with Kelly while they sampled some fine, Kentucky sippin’ whiskey. Kelly then told Rick about Davidson, Kelly’s dog.

Davidson is a Bluetick Hound and a hunting fool. Davey got out one evening and treed a coon on Carson’s property. Kelly went over to collect Davey when Carson came boiling out of his house. Kelly kept his cool and tried to explain what happened.

Carson “brandished” by making sure Kelly could see he was packing. Then Carson was in Kelly’s face the whole way off the property, threatening that he would file charges for trespassing.

The threats weren’t idle. Kelly found out there was a bench warrant out for him after a cop stopped him for speeding. In addition to the traffic ticket, Kelly lost a day of work and got popped for $350 in court fees to clear up the matter. Kelly was not a fan of Carson.

Rick was just shaking his head. He was trying to get ready for Armageddon and he was trapped in the meat-space equivalent of a Facebook pissing match. Petty politics and gossip were a big reason he chose to leave corporate American and join the gig economy.

Kelly changed the topic. “I’d like you to do me a favor.” he said.

“Whaddya need?” Rick said.

“I want to borrow one of your .22s...whatever model you have most of.” Kelly said.

Rick frowned. He knew that Kelly had no shortage of firearms.

And then Kelly winked.

There are times when it is not wise to ask questions.

“Sure. No problem.” Rick said.

Later that evening Rick shared what he learned with Kate. He had not anticipated open hostility when approaching neighbors.

Her reply was succinct. “You need a spoonful of sugar.”

“I beg your pardon?” Rick replied.

“Mary Poppins. ‘Just a spoonful of sugar makes the medicine go down.’ “ Kate lilted in her soprano.

“What do you suggest?” Rick asked.

“You could start cleaning out the root cellar. Come April we throw out three-quarters of the apples you put down there. Why don’t you make apple pies and leave them on porches. You can even blame me...tell them that I ‘made you’ do it.” Kate suggested.

That proposal solved a couple of problems and Rick figured it was worth a try. He fiddled around and came up with a cover letter to explain the pies (cleaning out the root cellar) and on his next trip to town he bought a hundred, folding pie boxes.

The next day he figured out how to make four pies at a crack.

Thursday, January 10, 2019

Good fences make good neighbors

I happen to know some senior citizens who own some swamp land. There are trees growing in the swamp. Many of them are ash. Most of the ash died and the wind blew them over after the roots rotted.

The senior citizens have a neighbor who has been very helpful. He is a likeable guy.

The neighbor asked permission to cut the dead ash to heat his home.

The senior citizens know that I have a computer and printer and they asked me to type out the following conditions.

There is a wealth of expertise residing in my readers. Did they miss anything?

The picture in my head is that Dick (not his real name) will cut the logs into manageable lengths and winch them onto a lowboy trailer. I don't see the project taking very long.

Then he will buck to length and split on his own property. 
Conditions around cutting wood at the swamp:

· This permission is only extended to Dick Cissel. Dick may not extend it to anybody else.
· This permission is for a limited time, January 15-to-February 15, 2019
· An adult identified by the owners must be on-site when the cutting and loading is done to ensure safety and the presence of another adult with a cell phone.
· No drinking alcohol before, while cutting or while loading or transporting firewood
· No guns are permitted while wood is being cut and loaded.
· Wood is for personal use and not for resale
· Only windfalls may be harvested. The most dangerous part of cutting wood is felling trees.
· Harvesting of wood is to be done when the ground is frozen so trucks and trailers don’t tear up the ground.
· A meeting with the owners must be held before hand.
· An agreement must be signed that outlines these conditions. Signing agreement means you are willing to abide by the conditions
· Time of chain-sawing must be limited to three hours a day. Tired cutters get sloppy and have accidents.

DPMS Oracle: The red line is between 19.5gr and 20.0gr of H-4895

The Oracle coughed up a hairball at 19.5 grains of H-4895, Rem 71/2 primer 55gr soft-point, 2.25" COAL, no crimp. Forearm was supported with an open palm and trigger arm and wrist were perpendicular to the barrel and as "loose" as practical.

Three-of-five were misfeeds. The weird thing is I think I experienced three separate failure modes.

One was failure-to-feed from the magazine to the chamber with the round wedged diagonally in the receiver.

One left no indent on the primer so I speculate that the trigger did not engage the hammer.

The third was failure to strip the cartridge from the magazine.

I am comfortable saying that if you want to confirm that your "home brew" AR is as "gassed" as a DPMS Oracle then it needs to feed-and-fire five-of-five rounds as above except that they are loaded with 20gr of H-4895.

For a frame of reference, a typical powder load for this powder and a 55gr cup-and-core bullet might vary between 24.5gr-and-26.0gr.

Seven Fat Cows 1.3: Confirmation, sort of

The first partial confirmation came a week later.

There was a small item in the news feed for San Diego that the navy was diverting ships and planes to bases other than San Diego. The reasons given were that the dry-dock was being overhauled and the other maintenance facilities were being audited for pernicious computer viruses that might infect fire-control and avionics systems.

The article had a few “human interest” tag-alongs where dependents shared their feelings now that their partners were being diverted to Bremerton and Pearl. The hardware and humans who moved them were isolated to facilitate cyber-forensics and that had the dependent's knickers in a knot.

Rick was puzzled that two potential breeches showed up at the same time and appeared to be at the same stage of development. It was just a matter of time that one breech would show up. It was a huge statistical anomaly that two had popped up at the same time...or it was not a random fluke. Said another way, statistics suggested that Ebola’s arrival in the US was the result of enemy action and was not an accident.

That got Rick sniffing around Atlanta and DC news feeds. What he found was that it was impossible to hire somebody to install retaining walls and/or security fencing...that they were booked six-to-12 months out. When he called one of the security fencing companies and tickled them to see how busy they were, he learned that they already had substantial deposits for those commitments and he could not cut to the front of the line by waving cash.

He also found that many of the communities in and around the Beltway had very strict zoning restrictions that prevented fencing and the wholesale clearing of vegetation. Curiously, nearly all those communities had put those ordinances into abeyance for the time being.

Rick shared this with Kate, Dmitri, Tim and Kelly.

Kate gave the go-ahead to purchase the items on Rick’s list. Rick sent the kids an email and told them that he had started the count-down to the zombie apocalypse. He said, “Come when I say come. Keep your gas tanks full and warm stuff in the trunk. I don’t know how fast things will get goofy but I want you to be ready because I cannot promise that we will open our doors to you if you dally.”

The girls emailed back. They wanted to know if they could bring a friend when the time came. They also wanted kept up to speed so they could judge for themselves the urgency of the situation.

Rick and Kate talked over the problem of “friends”. They agreed that friends were “OK” as long as they were an asset, i.e. low maintenance and willing to pitch-in and do chores and would cheerfully live in tents or the barn.

After noodling on the issue a bit, Rick started sending out a weekly email update. The first one outline the conditions under which “friends” would be welcome.

Predictably none of the boys responded.

Wednesday, January 9, 2019

A productive day

I cut scrubby trees that were just outside the pasture fence. I toppled the trees over into the pasture. The largest ones were about 5" in diameter.

Then I trimmed the poles and tossed the branches back out of the pasture. I dragged the poles over to the garden and left them.

Back to the reloading bench
I am still trying to find the point where my friend's AR coughs up a hairball. If you recall I had a steel, aftermarket magazine in my friend's rifle and it solidly puked at 20grains of H-4895.

I recognized that my data was compromised so I needed to replicate it with the factory supplied magazine.

I was sure it was 20.0 grains or more so I loaded up five each of 21.5gr, 21.0gr, 20.5gr and 20.0gr. The only failure was that the bolt did not lock when the magazine was empty.

Case prep
I stumbled across a thread on the internet

"Then I want to speed up the trimming of 223. I saw this Lee trimmer that goes in a die body and uses my drill. I have an RCBS power trimmer but this looks even faster."

Well, you know I had to check that out. I find that trimming brass is the most tedious part of reloading.

The trimmer loads in a press.
This is a detail of the cutter/deburring head. It can be powered by a drill motor. Available HERE
I am not sure how the system handles the chips that are generated. Maybe the smart money would be to get a cheap press and mount it horizontally and leave the drill motor running continuously.

You gotta love this guy. It looks like he repurposed one of his wife's slippers to be a chute from his prog reloader to his bin of finished goods.

I am envious of this guy's setup. His tool datums off the shoulders of the formed case which is how the rifle sees it. His case trimming operation starts at 3:26. I think the speed would be pretty easy to mimic with these Lee tools even if they datum off the base of the cartridge. Maybe when I get a few dollars ahead...

A trip to the gym
Mrs ERJ dragged me to the gym.

I am decrepit. I could only do 1/3 the number of push-up I was able to do two years ago. Don't ask about running.

I will be a sore puppy tomorrow and Friday.

Gender fluid naming conventions

97% of Transgender parents name their children "Otto".

The other 3% are named "Manuel".

Seven Fat Cows 1.2: The shopping list

Rick said “I think we can get most of what we need for about five thousand.”

Kate winced.

“We are good on firearms and ammo. In fact, we have more than we need and we should probably feel out our neighbors to see who can be trusted with them.” Rick said.

In addition to the 12 gauge pump shotguns that every rural family had at least one of, Rick had been picking up .22LR semi-automatic rifles and AR clones on sale. Add in 20,000 rounds of .22LR ammo and 5000 5.56mm NATO ammo and "the makings" to reload an additional 10,000 rounds, Rick thought they were more than squared away.

Rick’s rough list had seeds, grain, large griddles, firewood, wire, calves, deep-cycle lead-acid batteries, 3V laser diodes…..

“How long do you think we have before we know?” Kate asked.

“Hard to tell.” Rick admitted. “If it doubles every twenty days and there are twenty patients now then it will take ten doublings, say seven months, to hit twenty thousand patients. That is when people will lose faith in the CDC and the economy will shut down. Then another seven months to hit twenty million. That is when there will be a total, blood-in-the-streets shitstorm.”

Kate said, “I am not opposed to pulling the trigger on this stuff but I will be a lot more comfortable if you can show me some confirmation.”

“Meanwhile, let’s use the time to refine the list and find good prices.” Kate said.

Rick spent the next several days sorting and inventorying their gear. He also scheduled appointments with the eye doctor and dentist for both he and Kate. He knew that he had an old prescription for his glasses and his dentist had been bugging him to get some of his teeth capped before they split. Now seemed like a good time to get that done.

He also visited a few of the neighbors who he knew kept the long view in mind. It wasn't so much that they would completely buy into Rick's hypothesis about Ebola, but they knew that civilization was fragile and there was always something nibbling at the foundation. It might be an EMP event or war or plague or the shredding of shared social bonds, but the cause was not important because the consequences and actions required to mitigate would be nearly identical.

One neighbor was a Romanian born electrician who live a half mile closer to one of the main roads. Another was a disabled vet. The third was a skilled tradesman who had retired in his mid-fifties and dabbled with his hobby farm and hunted and fished.

Dmitri, the electrician took on the problem with the IR sensors. He had experience installing fire alarms and the communication protocols were a walk in the park for him. He would have a working prototype shortly after the mail-order source dropped off the battery carriers, transistors and such.

Tim, the disabled vet and Rick cruised the neighborhood several times on Tim’s utility vehicle and talked through probable “zombie kill zones” and which clusters of dwellings were most defensible and which were write-offs.

Kelly, the tradesman pointed out that the marsh could be augmented by the simple expedient of plugging the drain tile. Or, if it was desirable, damming the drainage ditch. Kelly also took on the task of mapping out who owned the larger tracts of land. If the owners lived in a different state, then the land would be up-for-grabs whether for squatters or for “common use”.

For his part Rick said that he would keep them supplied in food if things shut down. Even if that food was nothing more than cornmeal pancakes. That is when Tim offered the use of his utility vehicle to help in the delivery. A full-on quarantine would have people starving in their homes. A person can take a lot of cold if they have the clothing and the calories..

Other than a couple of chainsaws Rick and Kate had never loaded up on the motorized vehicles that defined rural life for many folks. They did not find it limiting because they fiddled around on a small scale and rented out the land for a neighbor to farm.