Monday, November 18, 2019

Planning ahead

American Persimmons (mix of K-6 and Lena)and Asian Pears

Korean Giant Asian pear nominally pollinated with Chojuro Asian pear

K-6, 90 Chromosome American Persimmon. Nominally pollinated with Szukis
I am heading out to where I hunt. I will step these into the ground where I want deer to show up fifteen years from now.

Pears on the high ground. Persimmons under the multi-stem, soft maple that need to be culled.

Planting this way is a low percentage operation. The seeds and my time are cheap. Even if I only net five trees, I will have a good time and it will be five more mast trees than I have now.

The Shrewd King 18.1: Bait

Sheldon was absolutely wiped out.

He was looking forward to racking out more than anything he could remember.

The conquest of the Amish had been ridiculously simple. Amish are pacifists. They offered his troops places to sleep and food to eat.

In a few days, they would figure out those niceties were not optional, but for now it was a blessed relief.

Sheldon and his troops had been up since 8:00 AM the previous morning. Some of them tried to get some sleep before the convoy left Howell but most of them, Sheldon included, had been too jittery to sleep.

Sheldon had been resentful of the battle-group that went to Eaton Rapids. He thought it should have been his battle-group. It was a sign of disrespect that his group had been given the easier, less lucrative target. His guys were at least as good as the pansies who had been sent to Eaton Rapids.

But for now, he had no envy. Word from Wendy, the sultry vixen on the other end of the radio, was that they were struggling with controlling the area between Lansing and Eaton Rapids. In fact, Mr Heavy had thrown troops into the battle on the side of Eaton Rapids and the red forces were struggling.

Sheldon’s eyelids were slowly closing, in spite of his earnest efforts to keep them open, when….

Wendy called. “Homebase to Sheldon. Homebase to Sheldon. Do you copy?”

“Sheldon copies. What’s up?” When he was tired, comms protocol went out the window. They could kiss his rosy red ass if they expected him to repeat everything twice.

“We have been interrogating prisoners and learned of another target. Derious expects you to secure current area of operation and attack the new target.” Wendy said.

Sheldon thought all kinds of uncharitable things about Wendy and Derious. It is all so very easy when you are sitting in a radio room.

“What is the target?” Sheldon asked, wearily.

“Mr Heavy has a fuel and weapons dump in the northwest corner of Delta Township. Most of Mr Heavy’s troops are committed to fighting in Eaton Rapids.” Wendy said.

That caused Sheldon to perk up.

“I am skosh on fuel.” Sheldon said.

Wendy’s voice dripped with condescending arrogance, “Derious knows that. Drain the fuel from two of the buses and put it into the other vehicles. Leave two squads to secure the area and get your ass moving.”

Sheldon was pissed. “Just what is worth dropping everything and driving thirty miles into Mr Heavy’s home territory.

If anything, Wendy’s voice became even more dismissive. “A hundred barrels of gasoline and diesel, 7.62mm ammo and 107mm rockets and launchers.”

“You gotta hustle. Mr Heavy’s forces are south of there and it will be like taking candy from a baby, if you don’t screw the pooch.” Wendy said.

Just a half an hour ago he had been resentful of his competitor who had been given the mission of taking down Eaton Rapids. Now it looked like his competitor had thrown a turd into the punchbowl and that Sheldon’s group could outshine him...if he got their asses in gear.

He started shouting at them.


Chernovsky had not wanted to leave any of the forces in Amish land.

Tomanica made the point that those forces would become suspicious if they were ordered to do anything that stupid.

Chernovsky reluctantly agreed that it was better to pull most of the forces and nearly all of the mobile assets out of Amish land. Three-quarters of a loaf is better than no loaf. His comfort with with the plan solidified as the munitions team refined their plan.


Forty minutes later, Sheldon radioed back, “We are ready to start moving. Can you give us location and directions.”

Wendy complied. “Location is 8626 West Saginaw Hwy. Take M-100 north to M-43. Turn east and go exactly three miles. Your target is the Fairhaven Senior Apartment complex.”

“Senior Apartments?” Sheldon said. He knew his mind was not turning as fast as it usually did, but that did not make sense.

“Mr Heavy’s people used the underground parking for storage. It has two entrances on the south end. Recon the area to confirm reports. If reports are accurate, load materials with emphasis on 7.62mm ammo and fuel. Then return to rally point to support forces in Eaton Rapids.” Wendy said.

Like hell, he was going to throw his people into Eaton Rapids. He would make sure they took their sweet time loading those trucks. The worse his competitor looked, the better he would look when he showed up, loaded to the gills with fuel and ammo with no losses.

“Copy that.” Sheldon said. “Proceed to 8646 West Saginaw Hwy” he said as he scribbled down the address “three miles east of corner M-100 and M-43. Entrance to underground warehouse on south side of….Fairhaven Senior Apartments.”

Wendy replied “Correct. Contact me when you reach the objective.” and hung up. Hyena smiled at her. She had gotten carried away by the drama of the moment and had forgotten him. She had been much, much happier when she had been reading the script.

Sunday, November 17, 2019

Trolling as it applies to deer hunting

Trolling is usually considered a fishing method.

The fisherman dangles a baited line into the water and allows the wind, current or motor to move him across the water. The bait, natural or artificial, moves in front of predators poised to ambush prey. The predator responds as their nature dictates. They bite and are reeled in.

Belladonna has a friend who might be just a wee bit competitive.

Last night she posted a picture of the deer she harvested.

Bella bided her time.

This morning at 10:20 Bella posted another picture

She informed her friend that she had gone out hunting again this morning and then posted this picture.

She never SAID that she harvested this deer. She just let her friend make the natural assumption.

Then, a half hour later, after giving the information time to ferment, she confessed that it was a deer at the meat locker where we had dropped off her deer.

Unfortunately (not), the friend had just disseminated the photo to about 1400 of her closest friends confiding that "her" friend had killed this deer.

Well played, Bella, well played.

Interesting Bible readings scheduled for today

First reading, Old Testament Malachi 3:19,20
Lo, the day is coming, blazing like an oven,
 when all the proud and all evildoers will be stubble,
 and the day that is coming will set them on fire,
 leaving them neither root nor branch,
 says the LORD of hosts.
 But for you who fear my name, there will arise
 the sun of justice with its healing rays.

Second reading, New Testament 2 Thess 3:7-12
Brothers and sisters:
You know how one must imitate us.
For we did not act in a disorderly way among you,
nor did we eat food received free from anyone.
On the contrary, in toil and drudgery, night and day
we worked, so as not to burden any of you.
Not that we do not have the right.
Rather, we wanted to present ourselves as a model for you,
so that you might imitate us.
In fact, when we were with you,
we instructed you that if anyone was unwilling to work,
neither should that one eat.
We hear that some are conducting themselves among you in a
disorderly way,
by not keeping busy but minding the business of others.
Such people we instruct and urge in the Lord Jesus Christ to work quietly
and to eat their own food.

Third reading, New Testament Luke 21:5-19
While some people were speaking about
how the temple was adorned with costly stones and votive offerings,
Jesus said, "All that you see here--
the days will come when there will not be left
a stone upon another stone that will not be thrown down."

Then they asked him,
"Teacher, when will this happen?
And what sign will there be when all these things are about to happen?"
He answered,
"See that you not be deceived,
for many will come in my name, saying,
'I am he,' and 'The time has come.'
Do not follow them!
When you hear of wars and insurrections,
do not be terrified; for such things must happen first,
but it will not immediately be the end."
Then he said to them,
"Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom.
There will be powerful earthquakes, famines, and plagues
from place to place;
and awesome sights and mighty signs will come from the sky.

"Before all this happens, however,
they will seize and persecute you,
they will hand you over to the synagogues and to prisons,
and they will have you led before kings and governors
because of my name.
It will lead to your giving testimony.
Remember, you are not to prepare your defense beforehand,
for I myself shall give you a wisdom in speaking
that all your adversaries will be powerless to resist or refute.
You will even be handed over by parents, brothers, relatives, and friends,
and they will put some of you to death.
You will be hated by all because of my name,
but not a hair on your head will be destroyed.
By your perseverance you will secure your lives."

To me, these readings speak to our times.

I must admit I struggle with the idea of not preparing a defense beforehand. The context suggests VERBAL defense, so maybe I will be OK as I add to my collection of framing hammers and other kinetic energy weapons.

Saturday, November 16, 2019

The Shrewd King: Twisting in the wind and unexpected romance

Gimp didn’t want to move Quinn. Quinn was not that uncomfortable and there was no point in moving him until they had a truck to load him into.

Chatter on the tactical channels had increased until Chernovsky barked at his forces to shut-up. Chatter can be pieced together and provide the enemy with intelligence.

Even across the radio, Chernovsky’s presence was intimidating.

Quinn asked for his rifle. Gimp needed a set of eyes looking west. Since Quinn was already elevated by virtue of his position on the roadbed, he was a natural. Gimp’s major concern was that Quinn might start hallucinating. Gimp agreed to give Quinn his rifle if he drank a bottle of water. Quinn didn’t see the connection but was more than willing to drink a half liter of water if it meant he could hold his rifle.

That rifle had saved his skin more than once.

Then, Gimp floated from position-to-position. He would share a few words with each fighter to keep them alert. As the morning progressed, he shifted his men’s positions as the shadows moved. They had no problems staying in the shade.

Every half-hour or so, Gimp bumped into the radio net and asked about progress on getting a ride for Quinn to medical care. Apparently there were wheels moving within wheels moving within wheels.

Gimp was invariably asked if Quinn’s condition had become urgent. Gimp replied “No, but fixing his ankle isn’t going to get any easier by waiting longer.”

Just about when Gimp thought Quinn was going to need a refresh on the pain pills, he heard Quinn firing multiple shots with his rifle.

Spinning around, fearing that Quinn had gone-around-the-bend, he saw that Quinn was in prone position and firing parallel to the road grade. Following where the shots were likely going, he saw three men dressed in vivid, urban clothing.

Without over-analyzing, Gimp lifted his M-4 (which had been slung in front of him on a tactical sling) to his shoulder and started shooting as well.

Little before lunch Milo pulled up to the corner of M-99 and I-96 where Quinn and his squad were waiting. He was driving a F-150 with a manual transmission, a gassifier in the back and was pulling an empty car-hauler trailer.

Nyssa was riding shotgun. Literally. She was on the passenger seat and was cradling a shotgun with a 20” barrel. In addition to Nyssa’s other talents, she could shoot almost as well with her left eye as with her right eye.

They wedged Quinn in between them.

As they were driving Quinn to town, Milo apologized for being so late. He told Quinn he had been delivering electricians, apprentices, ladders, wire and empty barrels to a site in the northwest corner of Delta Township.

Milo did not tell Quinn that nobody told him that Quinn needed a pick-up until a half hour ago. While the electricians were pulling wire and everybody and their dog were filling barrels, they had Milo driving through the underground parking, out into the street and then back though again to leave “tire polish” on the drives.

Somebody, somewhere, had made the decision that having a perfect trap was more important than a wounded fighter on a hot day when flies were trying to lay eggs on his leg.

Nyssa, for her part, never stopped scanning.


Taking advantage of the lack of adult supervision, Nyssa and Milo’s dogs Chelsea and Sunny dug out their backyard kennel.

They had been restless the last few days and Nyssa had been keeping an eye on them. They were old enough to be coming into heat for the first time.

The events of the late night and morning swept all thoughts of the dogs out of Milo and Nyssa’s minds.

Reveling in their new-found freedom, the two young bitches started sniffing around the bushes behind the house. They were both Beagle-Britany Spaniel crosses and relied primarily on their noses to understand the world.

Chelsey and Sunny were not the only dogs in the neighborhood with a good nose.

One of the neighbor dogs was a Lab-cross. His mother had been a “working” Lab and Davidson, Kelly’s Bluetick hound was its father.

The Lab-cross was rangier and more athletic looking than the typical Lab and by some quirk of genetics, his coat was wiry and had more loft than the typical Labrador Retriever coat. Who knows, maybe there was a dash of Airedale in Davidson's bloodline.

Mother Nature decided to take an interest. The first pups out of Nyssa and Milo’s dogs were not going to be Border Collie and Jack Russel Terrier crosses. Nope. They were going to be half-hound and half bird-dog.

What is the difference between a JW and a SJW?

The JW knocks on your front door and leaves literature.

The SJW files a lawsuit in the Ninth District Court demanding that you remove your front door and serves you with subpoenas.

Friday, November 15, 2019

Presented without comment

The Shrewd King 17.5: Getting coordinated

Tim patched together a texting conference between himself, Wade, Chernovsky, Tomanica, Janelle with several people on Benicio’s end. Gimp was still "in the field" and not available.

They used “blind man” encryption, one of the simplest form of encryption. The first letter of the string was either the letter “U” or “K”. A person skilled at touch-typing sent the message, but their right index finger was on either “U” or “K” rather than “J” and their left index fingers were on “R” or “G” rather than “F”.

The message looks like jibberish. For example “Hello Timmy” becomes “uy3oo9 58jj6”

The receiving end decodes the text by having a person skilled at touch typing putting their right index finger on “M” or “H” respectively and reproducing the typed message.


Yes. They came from the east. Half continued west to other targets. Invaders destroyed. Hunting down stragglers.



You have intel?


How many fighters in four combat groups?



It is military dogma that defensive forces that have had time to dig in requires a three-to-one force advantage favor of the offense if they are to have a reasonable chance of success in dislodging them.

Capiche would need three-hundred fighters to push the hostiles out of Amish Lands and had only fifty. They also had limited ability to logistically support those troops outside of Capiche.

We have a problem.


Give us a few minutes to talk it over.

Five minutes later


Our munitions experts wants to know if you have any parking ramps or buildings with underground parking.


A minute later



How big?


How are they arranged



Where located?


Perfect for a honey-pot trap.

Do you have contact with the forces in Amix land?


Can you order them to a honey-pot?





Weapons or ammo? The prisoners were only carrying one magazine and the trucks with SAWs (Squad Automatic Weapon, i.e. light machineguns) only had 200 rounds.




Barrels filled with water and topped with a bit of gas or diesel?


Let me ask my experts.
A minute later

Do you have any explosives?


We have people who can make that enough.

...a minute later…

Will need lots of wire, 12V batteries and air-bags from vehicles.

Sending people. They will explain.

Thursday, November 14, 2019

I had a good experience at a cell phone store

I went to the Verizon store the other day.

I look forward to dealing with Verizon the way I look forward to getting a root-canal or doing my income taxes.

After reaching the front of the line, the young man whose badge identified him as "Mason, Customer Service" asked me why I was at the store.

I told them I wanted to activate a phone.

He beckoned me over to a table in the corner.

"If you have a minute" I said as I looked at the line waiting to be served "I want to tell you the backstory."

"Don't worry about them." Mason said. "It is your turn. Tell me your story."

I laid out my tale of woe. The son looking for a job. Mrs ERJ traveling. The need for a phone to bridge the gap before my replacement phone showed up. My unhappiness at having to pay $40 to have the cheap flip-phone activated for three days service and my displeasure at having to pay another $40 activation fee for the new one.

I also told him I was unhappy about having to drive into Lansing (40 mile round trip) to have my phone activated. For some reason the Verizon site coughed up a hair-ball when I tried to activated it on-line. It said I needed to have my plan examined by a service expert.

"No problem." Mason said. "I am here to take care of you. Don't worry about paying for activation of this phone."

Looking through the notes in my file he told me he thought the reason the web-site required that I come in was that two of the numbers on my plan were eligible for "free" phones.

Fifteen minutes later, Mason had the phone running. He called it. He texted it. He sent a text. He made a phone call. He did a upload/download data test to WIFI. He handed it over, said "Sign here" and wished me a good day, no cost.

I asked him if there was anyway I could put in a good word for him. He said that I might get an email survey in the next few days.

I did not get a survey but still want to put in a good word for Mason Shapiro. So, if you need to deal with the Verizon store by the Lansing Mall, and they give you a choice...ask for Mason Shapiro.

PS: Mason, I hope your daughter had a happy birthday.

"I have a plan for that..."

It is a rare politician who does not have a strong, pro-urban bias. That is where the votes are.

When they promise to make life "better" for us, they invariably have a picture in their head of some utopian city.

I want the name of that city.

Is it Los Angeles? Does Elizabeth Warren want to turn every place Americans live into LA?

Maybe San Francisco? Pandering to the environmental zealots usually entails moving humans into high-density feed-lots and returning the remaining 99% of the land area into pristine wilderness.

Chicago? Detroit? New Orleans? Vibrant diversity at its finest and models of prudent fiscal management.

Shanghai? Havana? Caracas?

Soviet Leningrad? Boston?

Maybe Washington D.C.? If D.C. it begs the question, who pays? Washington D.C. funds itself via a protection racket. "Pay us money and maybe nothing bad happens to your business, family, home or health. Maybe." In a zero-sum-game it is impossible for every city to be like Washington D.C.

NYC? Does anybody believe that New York City could rebuild its infrastructure if left on its own? If not, they how can everybody else be expected to clone that infrastructure. Much of that infrastructure was put into place when most of America's wealth funneled through NYC and they skimmed it.

Part of what triggered this post is that I was in sleepy, little East Lansing a couple of nights ago. Parking lots that were crumbling asphalt three years ago are now seven story parking ramps. If they could not afford to maintain asphalt/gravel then how can they afford to maintain multi-story structures?

Two story buildings were replaced with eight story buildings. The only way that makes sense is "free money" and captive markets courtesy of Student Loans.

Bernie and Liz, tell me, which city?

Michigan Firearm season for deer starts tomorrow

We are watching mom and dad today.

Belladonna is coming back from Grand Rapids tonight. Then we are going to our super-secret hunting place to spend the night.

God willing, the furnace will work. I have a CO detector because you never know.

Mrs ERJ is back from Miami and will cover for me on Friday when we are also scheduled for M&D.

The weather is expected to be colder than usual and posting will be light.

For Wirecutter

Wirecutter over at Knuckledraggin is struggling with his blog host. His blog was down most of the weekend and has been up-and-down like a yo-yo ever since.

The Shrewd King: 17.4: Breaking eggs, making omlettes

Quinn was floating on a cloud of opioids. From experience, he knew he was going to be hurting later after the adrenaline rush was over and the pain pills wore off. But for now, nothing hurt.

“How are we doing, battle wise?” Quinn asked.

“Holding our own. Maybe a little better.” Gimp said. As far as the radio chatter went, they were doing a lot better than holding their own, but the ambulance wasn’t coming any time soon and he didn’t want Quinn to get wound up.

“That’s good.” Quinn said.

“Don’t you need to be somewhere else?” Quinn asked, after a bit.

“Nope. This is where I need to be.” Gimp said.

The rest of Quinn’s squad was deployed in a perimeter a hundred yards out. They had seen the mushroom cloud and felt the blast. They assumed both Gimp and Quinn were dead.

Moving forward in short bounds, they found only two survivors of the blast: Quinn and Gimp.

Quinn’s body had rolled down the embankment and lodged against a bush. Gimp was tending to him.

Jason radioed in “Man down. Still alive. Send help when avaiable.

Gimp loosened the tourniquet after five minutes and the wound was a seeper. Exterior bleeding always looks worse than it is and interior bleeding rarely looks as dire as it is.

Gimp hoped that all of Quinn’s leaks were of the external variety.

Two fighters and Mr Spagnolo moved the mortar and the remaining ammo to within the perimeter Jason set up.

Seeing who was wounded, Mr Spagnolo enlisted other neighbors who found blankets and pillows for Quinn. A few of the neighbors stiffened up the line. They only had shotguns, but Quinn was one of them.

Perhaps they intuitively sensed that Quinn was smack-dab in the center of the hostile go-to-hell rally point.


Miguel and Scoundrel moved through the woods like twin ghosts. Miguel had a stick to twist rabbits out of holes. It was more of a prop than a tool...but, hey, you never knew.

The first camp he visited promised to keep an eye out for groups of fighting age men drifting through the area.

Walking into the second camp, he noticed two men who did not fit in. They were too young, too nervous and they were both clutching semi-automatic rifles. They were also talking loudly, as if their hearing had been damaged.

Shit! Shit! Shit!

Bluffing, Manuel looked around until he saw the oldest man who looked like he was part of the group. Manuel walked up and said “Hello, Uncle. Here is the food you sent me for” as he plunked his backpack down on the ground.

The word “food” clearly got the man’s attention. He looked inside and saw the cans of honest-to-God, pre-Ebola, Dinty Moore beef stew and hunks of bread. “Thank-you kindly, nephew.” the old man said without missing a beat. “I am glad you made it here before lunch. We have guests.”

One handgun against two semi-automatic rifles is not good odds. Especially since Manuel’s handgun was a Ruger 22/45, a firearm not known for its stopping power.

Manuel did not make eye contact with the strangers because nobody else was.

The food was quickly divvied up by the twenty people in the camp.

Hoping to get out-of-sight, Manuel asked “Uncle, I was out hunting all night and could use a nap. Is there a tent I can use?”

“Uncle” grunted and pointed at a tent that was furthest away from the smudge fire.

An hour later, “Uncle” kicked the bottom of Manuel’s foot to wake him. “You can go, now. Those guys fell asleep.”

“Here is the deal, Uncle. Those are the guys who invaded us.” Manuel said.

“I figured that.” Uncle said.

“I am authorized to promise you five silver dollars a head if you give us information leading to their capture.” Manuel said.

“Well, there they are.” Uncle said with a glimmer of humor.

“Thing is, I am not sure that I can handle them myself. You won’t get anything if they get away.” Manuel said.

“How good a shape do they have to be in?” Uncle asked. “Do you reduce the award if they are a bent up a little bit?”

“Not at all.” Manuel said in a low voice. “As long as they do not join up with their forces, that is the only requirement.”

“Wait here.” Uncle said.

Uncle came back two minutes later. He held a bloody hammer in his right hand. “How much of them do you need? A hand? Their thumbs? Their heads?” Uncle asked.

Miguel choked back the taste of retching. “Just let me look at them and confirm they won’t be rejoining their forces.” Miguel said.

A few minutes later, looking at them, Miguel said, “Most people wouldn’t have thought of hitting them in the head with a hammer.”

The human skull is remarkably resilient but Uncle had crushed theirs as if they were robin nests.

“Yeah, well, I am a carpenter by trade. I couldn’t see taking off without taking at least one of my DOTIC framing hammer. Never know when you might find work." Uncle said.

“Things settle down, come over to Capiche and I will put in a good word for you.” Manuel said. Uncle was clearly a guy who stepped-up and got things done.

Wednesday, November 13, 2019

The MSU Surplus Store

Kubota and I swung by the Michigan State University Surplus Store yesterday after his doctor's appointment.

I saw something intriguing.

The paper sign is the reason for this photo. They charge $2.20 a pound for the cases.
The round buckets weigh 40 pounds and are mostly 9mm with a little bit of 40 S&W and .45 ACP a few .223. A pound of 9mm cases is roughly 110 brass cases. The weight of the cases varies by brand and the primers add a bit of weight as well.

In very round numbers, 40 pounds of 9mm brass is about 4400 cases and run about $2 a hundred.

The square buckets weigh about 55 pounds and are mostly .223 with a sprinkling of pistol cartridges. A pound of .223 Rem cases is roughly 70 brass cases. In very round numbers, 55 pounds of .223 Rem brass is about 3800 cases and run about $3 a hundred. All the .223 brass I looked at was F-C.


One of the novelties of posting stories on the blog is that I get feedback.

I am soliciting your input regarding characters who merit following. Who, in your estimation, is likely to have a story that will interest you? It could be their back story. It could be their story going forward.

You don't have to find this post to make a comment. Just sometime in the next two weeks write "I want to hear     fill in name  's story."


The Shrewd King 17.3: Just another walk in the woods

Wendy Peffercorn, Derious’s girlfriend, had the shakes as Hyena slowly carressed her knee.

She had watched Hyena work on Derious. Hyena wrote sonatas with synchopated rhythms of pain, promise of reprieve, more pain, hope and anguish. Hyena was the breaker of souls.

Benicio directed Wendy to broadcast that the command-and-control center had issues with the antenna due to a large explosion and that it would be on-and-off-line until it was fixed. That would assure the hostile troops that nothing was amiss.

In fact, the explosion of the fuel truck had occurred several hundred yards from the safe-house, just the other side of the freeway.

“Requesting status update.” Wendy broadcast to the troops who bypassed Capiche for targets that were farther west. She was not able to keep the quaver of fear out of her voice.

If the fighters west of Capiche noticed, they didn’t say anything. They were dog tired.

“Objectives achieved. No resistance encountered. Loading trucks.” the fighter said.

“Objective achieved. No resistance. Loading trucks. Copy that.” Wendy said.

“Continue loading trucks. Contact me before starting back.” Wendy said. Looking over at Hyena she added “We may direct you to stay put and hit another target in the morning. Copy?”

“Copy that.” the weary voice on the other end said. “These people aren’t much of a threat and a full night’s sleep would be appreciated.”

“I will pass that on.” Wendy said. One of Benicio’s people was recording the entire exchange.

When Derious regained consciousness, Hyena would verify the information he extracted in the last session. Derious was a congenital liar. The stories would never totally match but with enough repetitions they could get a fix on what was probably true.


“Tie their hands with coat hanger wire or fence wire.” Donnie said. Four feet of bare, steel, 14 gauge wire, snugged-up enough to cut deeply into the flesh, is virtually impossible for a prisoner to worm his way out of, especially if the loose ends are cut short so there is nothing to grab a hold of.

Then Donnie had the prisoners wired back-to-back by their hands and made them sit on the ground. None of them were looking very peppy. Donnie didn’t know it, but some of them were bleeding out, internally.

Once the prisoners were under control, he radioed in that he several runners that had gotten away and would keep Tim appraised of the situation.

After a moment of thought, he turned to Miguel and asked, “Are there any refugee camps around here?”

Miguel said “Yeah. Most of them are on the other side of the river, though.”

“What do you think the odds are that some of them will end up over there?” Donnie asked.

“Pretty good. That is where everybody who is down-and-out ends up.” Miguel said. “If I were one of them, I would drift back to where I came from, hoping to link up with a unit and evacuate.

“Would you be ‘OK’ going over there and telling them to be on the lookout for the gomers who got away?” Donnie asked.

Thinking about the massacred refugees, Miguel said “I think somebody should tell them. These guys are armed and dangerous.”

“Hang on a sec” Donnie said.

He radioed C-n-C. “I gotta guy who volunteered to hit up the refugee camps on the other side of the river in case our runners show up over there. Any chance we can offer them some money for the information?”

Wade Hawk picked up the mic. “Do you think they can get across the river?” Wade hated spending money.

“Hell yeah. It is ankle-deep in places. They can walk across and barely get their shoelaces wet.” Donnie replied. Shit, get more than three miles from the river and they didn’t know a thing about it.

Wade conferred with Chernovsky. Chernovsky shot from the hip.

Wade radioed back “Tell them we will pay five silver dollars for information about hostiles IF we are able to capture them.”

Donnie looked up at Miguel. “Did you hear that?”

“Yes sir! Five silver dollars for the person who gives us information that leads to the arrest of a gomer.” Miguel said.

Donnie looked at Miguel, critically. “I hate to tell you this, but you better lose the rifle and backpack. Otherwise, you look just like a regular kid.”

“I will do you one better, boss.” Miguel said. “I wanna swing by camp and pick up some rations to put in a bag. The refugees will hear me a lot better if I show up with food.”

“The other thing is, can I take Scoundrel?” Scoundrel was the camp dog.

“Why would you wanna do that?” Donnie asked.

“How many soldiers do you see walking through the woods with a curr?” Miguel asked.

“Point taken. Take the damned dog with you.” Donnie agreed.

Donnie gave Miguel one more look-over. “Pull out your shirt-tails. You ain’t a soldier any more. Plus, you wanna make sure nobody sees you are carrying a pistol.”

Miguel shot him a quick smile. In another lifetime, Miguel would have been a world-class poacher. He had just been ordered to do what he did best.

Tuesday, November 12, 2019

...after midnight...

I was driving Kubota back from a doctor's appointment today.

Out-of-the-blue he told me his friend "Dee" got shot.

I asked "Is he OK?"

I was informed that Dee was dead.

Kubota shared details with very little tickling.

Dee and a buddy were in downtown Lansing, sometime after midnight.

A couple of women were arguing.

Dee and his friend attempted to separate the women.

Men affiliated with one of the women objected to Dee and friend butting-in.

One of the men "brandished".

Dee was packing.

The brandisher popped a shot off at Dee.
Dee returned fire and nicked the brandisher.

One of the brandisher's friends shot Dee nine times.

End of Dee's life on this valley of tears.

I could not tell how shook up Kubota was. He said Dee was a righteous dude. Dee has/had a daughter.

Nothing good happens after midnight "downtown".


The good news is that my new smartphone showed up in the mail today.

The bad news is the difficulty in hooking up to Verizon. It is the same model as the one I gave to Kubota.

Verizon refuses to hook up my new phone unless I "update my plan" even though it is EXACTLY the same set of phone models from a week ago.

It also grinds me that Verizon charged me $40 to hook up the flip-phone that I have been using to bridge the  last few days.

I will drop Kubota off at school tomorrow and then wait until the Verizon store opens near the mall. I expect getting this one activated will take groveling and another $40 even though I have the SIM card and tried my darnest to get it to go.

PS: Big shout-out to Ed Bonderenka for telling me about Samsung S5 phones. Thanks!

The Shrewd King 17.2: Reversals

Donnie’s mortar had been sighted in for exactly 440 yards at the Waverly Road bridge. Rather than screw around with changes in elevation to dial in a new range, it was easier to use the laser range-finder and set up the mortar exactly 440 yards from Pete’s store. Quite by accident, the new firing point was also thirty feet higher in elevation than the target, exactly like Waverly Road.

Five round collapsed two-and-a-half exteriors walls and the entire second floor and inventory pancaked onto the hostiles beneath.

Donnie directed his troops, “Any resistance; shoot them twice. If they try to surrender, have them crawl on their hands and knees to the road.”

By virtue of the fact that the survivors outnumbered Donnie’s fighters, several were able to make a successful run for the brush.


Gimp had a tourniquet on Quinn’s left leg. His ankle was shattered pulp. He would be lucky to avoid amputation.

Quinn was groaning and thrashing in pain.

“Here. Chew these.” Gimp said to Quinn. "It will help with the pain." It was two of the counterfeit Vicodins that came from the Duckworth hoard.

“I don’t need those.” Quinn said.

“Sure you do, GIMP” Mr Sullivan told Quinn. “Trust me. I have been there.”


The commandos had trained several times for this mission. They had practiced on a house that they assumed had a similar interior lay-out. The house was a common-as-dirt tract-house with a single interior floor plan. But it had been built seventy years ago and subsequent owners may have modified the interior.

Operating in their favor was the fact that the house had been a rental for most of those seventy years and neither tenants nor landlords were likely to sink any money into extensive renovations.

The commandos moved in from the north and the east, using the cover that was available. Nobody inside the house had thought install exterior cameras, a fact that the lead commando had confirmed with binoculars from a safe distance.

Most of the squad stacked up along the side of the house, keeping heads low so a casual glance out of a window would not reveal their presence. Four of the squad had grenade launchers and they used them to pump stun-grenades through the windows of the enemy’s command-and-control center. Each grenade launcher had two windows to service.

The battering ram breached the door.

There were two people in the command-and-control center and both were incapacitated by the grenades. Their hands were zip-tied behind their backs and each had one commando watching them.

The attack had been completely unexpected.

“Sir. Mission complete. Three subjects have been captured and the radio gear is still functional.


Benicio walked into the room where the prisoners were secured.

A large smile slowly spread across his face. “Ahhh! Derious. I had word that you had gotten back with your girlfriend. It would seem the rumors were true.”

The fact that Derious had parked his fancy SUV in front of his girl-friend's house was his biggest mistake. Derious had a weakness for flashy rides, including the one he had driven into Capiche during his failed invasion in May.

Derious, seeing his former boss, attempted to lunge to his feet.

Benicio smoothly drew his handgun and shot Derious in his left knee.

Derious collapsed with a howl.

“Did you know that there are 230 joints in the human body?” Benicio asked. “I asked a doctor.”

“Cooperate, and I won’t have to hurt you. Resist and you lose another joint.” Benicio said.

Derious spat at Benicio.

Benicio shot Derious in the left ankle. Derious spasmed in pain.

“Good! I was wondering about that.” Benicio said. “I was worried that if I shot you in the knee that you would not be able to feel pain below it. Each foot has 33 joints and I would not want to waste them.”

Derious pissed his pants.

“I should have guessed this attack was yours. It smells like you.” Benicio said.

“I am in a bit of a rush. It is my hope that you will answer a few questions, like where did you come from and where did the other half of your forces go?” Benicio said.

Derious said “Fuck you.” He knew he was a dead man.

Benicio sighed a tired, long suffering sigh.

“While I could do this myself, and I would enjoy it, I have people who are better at this than I am and I have other things to do.” Benicio said.

Then he beckoned to a man who had been standing in the hallway.

Some men are born to play the piano. Some compose symphonies. Others write sonnets.

Hyena, the man who had been standing in the hall wrote symphonies of pain. He played joints and bones and nerve endings the way a concert pianist plays a Steinway.

That is when Derious finished soiling his trousers. His girlfriend started vomiting.

“Let me know when you have the information. Go easy on the girl. We want her to be able to use the radio when you are done.” Benicio said as he left the room near the corner of Miller and M-99.

Monday, November 11, 2019

Canadian student gets it. Refuses to abet theft of valor

Canadian student suspended from school for "hate speech" after refusing to wear a "rainbow" poppy as directed by a teacher.  -Link

The student explained that red poppies honor the blood and sacrifice made by millions of Commonwealth soldiers and that she would not be able to look the veterans in her family in the eye if she dishonored them by equating their sacrifices with the inconveniences brought about by choosing a gay lifestyle.

The British Empire suffered a million dead and two million wounded during WWI, the war that spawned the poem On Flander's Field and indelibly associated the sacrifices of soldiers and RED poppies.

There is undoubtedly more to the story but the administration, nominally adults, had non-existent de-escalation skills.

How can snowflakes believe in SCIENCE when they don't believe in math?

Suppose a snowflake saw a problem that really bothered her. Let's name our snowflake "Greta", just for fun.

Greta is shown a knob she can spin. If she spins it one way, the problem gets worse. If she spins it the other way, the immediate problem improves.

One problem (or consequence) and one action? Simple. In the small table shown above, one spin in the negative direction should reduce the error to zero.

Excel is our friend.

But wait, there were side-effects or unexpected consequences.

Total error defined as sqrt of sum-of-squares of individual errors. Total error before Greta's fix was 1.0 and now it is 1.29
Greta's fix, to spin the one knob a turn in the negative direction made the total error greater than it was. The fact that there WERE other consequences was originally masked because they were in an acceptable range so nobody noticed them.

Suppose it were snowing outside an Greta had nothing better to do than work on finding the ideal "Correction vector" for this system.*

She would find that the mathematical, scientific optimum for this problem is 130 turns of the first knob in the negative direction, 89 turns of the second knob in the positive direction and 46 turns of the third knob in the positive direction.

She is able to beat the error down to 1% of the original value, but at what cost?

It also begs the question, how sensitive is the solution to minor changes in the sensitivity matrix. What if there were minor measurement errors or what if the system becomes increasingly less responsive as larger inputs are jammed into it (insulin resistance, being one example)?

The two cells that are pink were originally 0.96 and 0.75 respectively. That is, they were each changed by 0.01 which is not a very large amount.
What do you suppose that does to Greta's Correction Vector?

The first knob must now be turned 531 turns in the negative direction, the second knob must now be turned 384 turns in the positive direction and the third knob must be turned 170 turns in the positive direction.

And the original error of "1.0" can only be reduced to 11% of its original value.

Is this example real?

I believe it is descriptive more often than people realize. If you have the passing thought that you are looking at a "rob Peter to pay Paul" situation, then you are probably looking at this kind of situation.

Consider psychotropic drugs. If they manipulate the same neuro-chemical pathways they will have the same side-effects or consequences. The unwary medical practitioner will find themselves prescribing second drug to counteract the effects of another drug, only to find the therapeutic benefit expected from the first drug is nullified by the second. Dosages increase as the patient teeter-totters from one unhappy state to the other, over-and-over again.

The example of the two psychotropic drugs is an example of a singlular or near-singular system.

And at what cost? The example does not assign a cost (or penalty) to spinning the knob. Greta could be learning to code or lifting weights or reloading ammo in the basement instead of spinning knobs.

*I cheated and used the Excel Solver add-in.

The Shrewd King 17.1: Nothing brightens up a day like a goose in the caboose

Sam sent one more mortar round downrange and it impacted just outside the west bus.

“Send three more, exactly like that.” Quinn sent back.

Sam had three more in the round before the first of the three hit.

Quinn assessed where they landed.

“Give me fifteen more yards to the right and send the rest.” Quinn directed.

Gimp put his hand on Sam’s shoulder after he sent the ninth round. “I don’t want to shoot us dry.” Gimp said, contradicting Quinn’s orders for the first and last time.

“I wanna come up and assess damage.” Gimp radioed to Quinn.

Gimp followed the path he had seen Quinn disappear down earlier that morning.

Rounding the east end of the Shorty's Bar, Gimp saw Quinn.

“Whaddwe got?” Gimp asked.

The buses were battered but upright. Not a window remained. Very scattered gun fire was being returned in the direction of Jason.

Quinn did not know how anybody could have survived the mortar barrage. The blasts had shaken his ribcage like an terrier shakes a rat.

The tanker truck was unscathed. Unlike Kate's store, the force of the explosions were not contained by a structure. Furthermore, the ether-based explosive was not as energetic as the gasoline based explosive in Kate's store. Janelle chose for-sure detonation over maximum energy.

“If nine rounds didn’t hurt it, then another five won’t make a difference.” Gimp told Quinn.

They pulled back out-of-sight to confer with Chernovsky.

“I think we can capture the fuel tanker.” Quinn told Chernovsky.

“What is your confidence level?” Chernovsky asked as the return fire from the hostiles started to pick up.

“About fifty percent.” Quinn said.

“What is your confidence level that you can destroy the tanker?” Chernovsky asked.
RPG-7 is that actual launcher. This one has a round inserted into it and is ready to rock-and-roll
Quinn looked over at Gimp. He had brought along the RPB-7 launcher.

“I estimate we have a +90% chance of destroying the tanker.” Quinn said.

“Destroy the tanker.” Chernovsky directed without hesitation.

“With all due respect, is it wise to strand a couple hundred, mechanized fighters in our neighborhood?” Quinn asked.

“If they get back home, they will bring two-thousand next time. Now stop arguing and destroy the tanker.” Chernovsky cut him off.

Gimp started to arm the RPG launcher.

“Gimme that fucker. That is my job.” Quinn said.

“My launcher. My job.” Gimp said.

“Look. We cannot hit the tank from this side. Somebody’s gotta sneak around back to hit it in the ass. I am more mobile than you and I know the lay of the land, Gimp.” Quinn said to drive the point home.

Gimp did not argue. It would likely be a suicide mission for him to sneak around back and he might not be able to make a kill shot before the gomers got him.

Gimp pointed at two levers. “This one down. This one forward. The grenade needs twenty yards to arm. Gets hard to hit from more than three hundred yards.”

“Sweet spot about a hundred yards?” Quinn asked.

“Sweet spot is about a hundred-and-fifty yards.” Gimp said, “Unless you are fireproof.”

Quinn's stalk in red

Quinn hefted the grenade launcher and slid the spare round into his back-pack. Flashing Gimp a big smile, he said, “Been great workin’ with ya.” Quinn crabbed over to stream-bed to the east of the bar and simply disappeared into the dense brush.

Gimp picked up the occasional flash of sun on the launcher tube but Quinn was invisible.

Gimp called back to the mortar crew. “Quinn is going in. He needs coverage. I want fighters firing from three spread positions. Take your time. Fire when you have a target before you shoot.”

“Last I saw, Quinn was seventy yards east of the tanker and will fire at it from the freeway road-grade, somewhere behind it.” Gimp said. “If you think you might be firing with him in the background, make damned sure you target has a solid backstop.”

The early morning sun threw long shadows. It was impossible to see Quinn as he flitted from shadow-to-shadow. It was easier for Gimp to see where Quinn had been because the bent-over grass was not shiny with dew.

Gimp moved over to the brush Quinn had disappeared. Gimp wanted to maximize the width of the sector the hostiles were taking fire from. Many of the hostiles had figured out that most of the fire was coming along the axis of M-99. So much for having fighters spread out.

The hostiles managed to put cover between them and Jason and were returning fire.

Oblivious to Gimp on their left flank, they were completely exposed to him.

It was a textbook example of servicing targets.

Gimp started with the hostile shooters who were farthest from Quinn’s fighters and started dumping them with double-taps. Working back-to-front, he was able to neutralize several fighters without alerting the hostiles who were farther forward.

One of the hostiles, either because he had more tactical awareness than his fellows or because he noticed the lack of fire from his rear, turned...and saw Quinn climbing into position to take a shot at the tanker car.

Shouting, the alert hostile got the attention of his fighting-effective team-mates. They turned and started firing at Quinn.

Gimp cursed and started single-tapping as fast as he could pull the trigger with the alert fighter being his first target.

Out of the corner of his eye, he saw Quinn twitch, then tumble. Miraculously, he retained his grip on the RPG launcher.

Then, to his amazement, Quinn assumed the classic, Marine Corps sitting position as calmly as if he were sitting at Larry Tomanica’s shooting range.

Gimp’s bolt locked back. Not looking at the firearm, Gimp dumped the empty magazine and slammed a fresh one home. Gimp could not help but watch Quinn as he launched the grenade at the tanker from a range of 200 yards.

Quinn’s shot hit low-center of the tank. The explosion was not like the movies. The tank ruptured. Liquid gasoline spilled on the pavement and some gouted up, into the air.

It was not like the movies until the rolling fog-bank of gasoline vapor encountered one of the still-lit cigarette butts smoldering where it had been flung.

Then the world turned bright white. Then yellow. Then orange and red.

For the first time in his life, Gimp had something in common with the Mona Lisa. He had no eyebrows.

Sunday, November 10, 2019

Latest Scientific poll from Michigan

A scientific poll was conducted in Michigan this weekend.

The two newcomers to the race are the leaders in the Democratic Presidential primary in Michigan: Hanson Windows and Seamless Gutters.

Septic EPA, the public relations firm that conducted the study refused to release details of their methodology but two extra podiums are already being planned for the next debate.

In case you wondered about the kind of thinker who fears a salt weapons

Saturday, November 9, 2019

Not much to report

I moved the cattle water. I moved it from "out back" to where I can fill it with a hose. Because of the grade, the hose will naturally drain if I unscrew it in the middle. 

Anybody know the difference between a "pooch" and a "hose"? You can unscrew the hose.

I stay with mom and dad  tonight and will do all the usual elder-care things. Dad fell yesterday but landed on his dupa. Little harm done. We celebrated his 94th birthday last week.

I promised Mrs ERJ that I would eat at least one helping of fruits or vegetables a day. I am comfortably ahead on that promise.

Friday, November 8, 2019

Little pieces

I cooked a Hubbard Squash last night.

Hubbard Squash was a great favorite of my maternal grandmother. Not only are they huge and capable of feeding a large number of people, but they taste good.

I think part of the attraction was that her branch of the family settled in Hubbardston, Michigan after fleeing the Irish Potato Famine.

After splitting the squash in two and scooping out the seeds, it put the halves on a large cookie sheet and baked in the oven at 300F for 80 minutes.

Overcome by sloth, I turned off the oven and went to bed.

This morning, I was stunned to find that the edible parts had separated from the rind upon cooling. The rind shown in the image was not scraped. There was a small amount of edible material adhering but at least 95% of the good stuff lifted away.


Dad's bath day
Today was Dad's bath day. That was one of the reasons I stayed in Michigan. Dad does not do well with change.

Including the laundry, it took two hours.

Pruning trees
I started pruning trees. One of my goals is to prune the White Pine upwind of the house. They were originally planted as a wind-break but the lower limbs died and are now a fire hazard.

That is going much faster than expected. I am not done but I made a good start.

Fed the cows
I took a round-bale out to Sprite's cows. They were happy to see me.

Grocery shopping
I reloaded the outside freezer with frozen pizza. Kubota had friends over last night and they wiped me out.

Don't tell Mrs ERJ, but I picked up a half-gallon of ice-cream. Living large.

Gratuitous soft-mast picture
I still have some late raspberries hanging on.

The Shrewd King 16.5

Donnie had a couple of his guys start the harassment of Pete’s store. They shot at windows and then moved and then shot again five minutes later. They weren’t taking any chances. They were shooting from behind solid features anywhere from 150-to-300 yards out.

Quinn packed up his mortar and ammo. The ammo went into the trailer behind the electric bike. The ammo was not heavy but it was extremely awkward even with the 6” impact fuses removed.

The mortar was not a joy to carry either. It came with legs, chains, base-plate and tube. The upside was that none of them were as heavy as “real” mortars because the short range ammo did not generate high pressures when fired. Still, they were awkward in the extreme.

Quinn picked up three volunteers at the M-99 mortar installation. Quinn pressed the two older volunteers into driving the electric bikes; Quinn’s and the bike assigned to the deceased M-99 crew. They were delighted. The fighter who had been driving Quinn’s bike was not as happy.

The third volunteer was Gimp. He was carrying a weapon Quinn had only seen in video games in movies. “Is that what I think it is?” Quinn asked.

“It is if you think it is an RPG-7, a rocket propelled grenade launcher.” Gimp said agreeably.

“Where did you get that?” Quinn asked.

“You know those two SUVs that raided us in May?” Gimp said. “I found the second vehicle. It had a few goodies in the trunk that I helped myself to.”

As Quinn’s forces were passing through the breached roadblock, Gimp asked “Do you mind if I make a suggestion?”

It was a tactful way of deferring to Quinn’s leadership and reassuring the fighters that Quinn was still in charge.

“What?” Quinn asked.

“Can we roll the logs back into place and jam wedges under them? That will slow down anybody who tries to approach us from the rear.”

It added ten minutes to the trip but Quinn could see the benefit of not being attacked from their six. It would be quite a surprise for any vehicle flying up M-99 with their lights off.

The crew inch-wormed their way north on M-99 then east on Holt Road then north on Gilbert road. The bikes had a most-efficient speed that was significantly faster than the fighters could hike. So they bounded ahead to the point fighter and then parked until the drag caught up.

The bikes could not travel the entire distance because the fighters had to cut cross-country for the last leg of the trip. The old geezers did more than their share, though. They helped hump some of the mortar shells that last leg.
Arrow indicates direction of insertion. M is mortar crew location. J is where Jason positions later. Q is where Quinn observes. TT is Tanker Truck.

Sam walked out to the middle lane of M-99 and used the laser range finder which indicated a range of 370 yards to the target.

The crew set up the mortar at 75 degrees. Quinn volunteered to “spot” the rounds and report back via radio. There was some degree of risk as there was a chance that the first round could obliterate the spotter if it were far enough out.

Gimp observed.

The eastern horizon was just starting to get a rosy glow as Quinn eased into the position he selected to spot from. It was to his advantage that he was familiar with the area. This was the first area he had plied with Dysen’s cookies.

If any of the neighbors noticed him sneaking through their trailer park, none of them bothered to mention it.

Chernovsky wanted all forces to attack at “Deer-thirty”. His thinking was that the hostiles would have been up for 24 hours by then and would not have fast reactions. It would be easy to get inside of, and stay ahead of their O-O-D-A loop.

Quinn reported back that the two buses had sandwiched the fuel truck and that some of the occupants of the buses had deployed in the surrounding area.

“It would be nice if we could sweep them all into one pile before we mortared the shit out of them.” Quinn said. Not good radio discipline, but heck, he was tired too.

Gimp suggested to Jason that he move a hundred yards closer to the target and rapid fire a couple of magazines at every feature that looked like it might conceal a hostile, and then haul ass back to the mortar. It was Gimp’s experience that rats scurry back to their comfort zone rather than attack.

That suited Jason just fine.

Before Jason left, Gimp asked “Is there was any way to not fuze the first few rounds? I want to use the first few shots as dummy, spotter rounds so the gomers aren’t tipped off.”

That is when Jason realized he needed to give Gimp a two minute, crash course on firing the Capiche-standard mortar.

The nose cone locked onto the round with a quarter-turn, clockwise bayonet style attachment. Then, to arm the fuze, the six-inch long impact probe also needed to be turned an additional quarter-turn clockwise so the paint stripes lined up.

Sam said, “No problems. We got this.”

Gimp radioed Quinn and told him about the change in plans. Quinn would radio when he wanted to start the party. Jason would start shooting. Sam would send the first dummy round down-range when Jason changed out his first magazine.

“You are going to have to look sharp. The first round is a dummy and it won’t go off.”

Quinn had a command radio. He had an over-ride set that allowed chatter on Chernovsky’s channel to cut in. When the first reports from Steve’s store came in that they were initiating attack, Quinn dropped the over-ride and radioed Gimp and Jason. “Start the party.”

The incoming gunfire from the northwest had a galvanizing effect on the hostiles. Cigarettes were tossed down. There was a mad scramble back to the bus. Many of the hostiles were not even carrying firearms.

They started shooting back at the first lull in Jason’s firing. Quinn heard the muted “Thump” of the mortar launching a round. Quinn began a slow, silent count to fifteen. Right on cue he heard the thump of the round striking the ground. But damned if he could see where it landed.

Searching with his binos in the direction he heard the impact, he finally picked up where the round had landed in the salmon-melon colored light of the rising sun. The first round Sam had fired was the pink, practice round.

“Add fifty, traverse one hundred to the right and send one more. Then prepare to fire for effect.” Quinn said.

Thursday, November 7, 2019

Mrs ERJ went to Miami

Mrs ERJ flew to Miami to visit with Southern Belle, our oldest daughter.

I am keeping the home fires burning.

The original plan was for both of us to go but various domestic obligations popped up.

Mrs ERJ does not mind traveling. I dislike it. So I stayed and she went.

Posting pictures of firearms on the internet

Mossbert 5000, fully-automatic pump shotgun with custom (unregistered) silencer and 15" round magazine, SN F-U90097E.
Apparently, Big Tech has the ability to read the serial numbers on these weapons  and has been loading them into a database. Some people actually list the serial number in the text, making it easy.

Just saying, you might want to exercise prudence with what you post on the internet where anybody can see it.

The Shrewd King 16.4: Making plans

The thunder of the detonation rolled across the quiet night sky of Capiche and Eaton Rapids.

Shortly afterwards, Tim reported “The command and control center is secure for the time being.”

Chernovsky consulted with Gimp on the open channel. “Mr Sullivan. We don’t seem to be where we can be most useful. This might be a good time for us to move.”

Gimp replied. “Affirmative. I think I should head up to Pete’s store and the best place for you is the command-and-control center.”

Chernovsky said “Good plan. You are closer to Pete’s store than I am.”

“Tim,” Chernovsky broadcast “I will be off the net for about ten minutes. Inform the team on Canfield to drop back to your position and to bring all of their weapons. Call the team on Bell Hwy and have them position a mile north of you. Also mobilize all of our transportation, starting with Di Carnie. We have chess pieces on the wrong squares.”

Chernovsky gave Janelle a kiss. “It sounds like your surprise in your mom’s store worked. I hope the mortar shells are as awesome.”

“Take care of yourself.” Janelle said. It had been a long time since she had fallen in love. She surprised herself by tearing up. It was rare for her emotions to be so close to the surface.

Chernovsky rode his mountain bike like a madman. He took the roads and paths least likely to be guarded by hostiles. It hardly seemed credible that they would have guards on them but it didn’t take any longer to take the safer paths and more than one game had been lost by a single player making one, careless decision.

North is up. Red bow-ties are Chernovsky forces/observation posts. Red dots are civilian manned observation posts. Stores are identified with black, upper-case letters. M-99 bow-tie X-ed out. Quinn's position immediately west of M-99 and Donnie's immediately east. Hostile reserve forces are farther north than shown on map.
Wade Hawk and Larry Tomanica were in the planning room when Chernovsky came in, sweating like a race horse. They had a crude map spread out on the steel table and magnets in place marking Capiche forces and the reported positions of hostile forces.

It was 3:45 in the morning.

Transmissions from human intel kept flowing into Tim. Tim reported that half of the force had continued southwest on I-69 toward Charlotte.

Chernovsky said “Wake up Seraph. Tell him to call Charlotte and Potterville. Let them know they might get company.”

“Don’t ya think it is a little late for that?” Hawk asked.

“Probably is. Should have done it sooner. But there is a small chance that the invaders got delayed. And wouldn’t YOU want to know?”

As an afterthought, Chernovsky asked Tim to wake up Benicio and bring him up-to-date.

Tomanica, who had been silent and weighing the value of military objectives spoke up. “I think they might be targeting the Amish.”

Chernovsky cursed. “Tim! Do we have any way to get a hold of the Amish?”

Tim said “Not that I know of.”

“Wake up Dmitri. Give him that task. Maybe he knows somebody out that way.” Chernovsky delegated and then instantly displaced that problem with the one that was immediately at-hand. Except, he decided he needed to leave teams in-place along most of Capiche’s western frontier in case the hostiles were planning a pincer play.

Unfortunately, that left his cupboard pretty bare.

The Columbia Hwy Observation Post team could fall back and harry the invaders who had settled into Steve’s store.

M-99 was wide open. The only team that was under-utilized was Quinn’s team but moving Quinn back to M-99 still left hostile assets camped at the I-96/M-99 exit and hostiles in uncontested possession of the Pray Church store and Pete’s store.

Chernovsky asked Tim to get Quinn, Donnie and Gimp on a side channel for a meeting.

Chernovsky laid out the problem and said “I am open to suggestions.”

Gimp spoke up first. “Definitely move the Columbia Road team to overwatch Steve’s store and to harry them with fire to keep them bottled up and out-of-play.”

“Move the team on Vermontville and Gunn to Pray Church store and drop the Canal Road team back to the corner of Vermontville and Canal.”

“Then have Quinn slide over from Smith Road to pin down the team at Pete’s store.” Gimp said.

Chernovsky moved the magnets on the table to align the way Gimp suggested. He studied them in the dim, red light.

“That makes all the sense in the world from a defensive standpoint but ignores the fact that they can reinforce from their reserves at M-99 and I-96, much less the forces west of here. I need a plan with more reach.” Chernovsky announced.

Unfortunately, nobody had anticipated an attack with this level of resources. The only store that was booby-trapped had been Kate’s store. Outside of a siege, five fighters attempting to routing fifty defenders from a fixed position was a good recipe for suicide.

Chernovsky’s admonition reminded them that they probably did not have time to make a siege work.

They continued to look at the table.

Then Quinn piped up. “Donnie, did the raider cut any of the logging chains securing the roadblock?”

“Nope. Manuel dropped him before he had a chance.” Donnie said.

“What if Donnie hands the Waverly Road position over to local forces. I know those guys. They are solid.” Quinn said.

“Then Donnie moves his team to Skinner Cemetery which is within mortar range of Pete’s store. From there, he harries the hostiles until transportation moves half of the M-99 rounds to his position.”

I take my team and swing by the M-99 post. I take all of my mortar rounds and half of the M-99 rounds. We move up to the hostile reserve forces and mortar the shit out of them.” Quinn finished.

“How many mortar rounds would that be?” Chernovsky asked as he considered the proposal.

“We have seven and half of the M-99 supply would add another seven rounds for a total of fourteen.” Quinn said.

“Why should you attack the reserves and not my team?” Donnie asked.

“Because my team has the most experience firing the mortars. Besides, last time I had your back and you had all the fun. Now it is your turn to watch my back.” Quinn said.

Donnie said “Fair enough.”

Chernovsky did not have a lot of options. The crew discussed it for ten minutes and a few minor details were ironed out.

“Can everybody be in position by sunrise?” Chernovsky asked. “I want the attacks to be simultaneous. Confusion is our friend.”

“No sweat, boss.” Quinn said, delighted to be out of garrison duty. “Five guys, five miles, two-hundred fifty pounds of gear. No problem.”

Wednesday, November 6, 2019

"Junk" DNA

One of the curious things about DNA is that very little of it has been linked to heritable traits. Only 2% of human DNA, for instance, is linked to heritable traits. The rest of the DNA has been called "junk" DNA or "non-coding" DNA. Scientists noted that the junk DNA looks "viral".

Scientists long speculated that the "junk" DNA had been inserted into the human genome by some mysterious process. An equal mystery is, why is it still in the human genome? If it caused even a slight evolutionary disadvantage, one would expect those carriers to be long gone.

Sharka Virus
Is there a more perfectly named virus than the virus that causes Plum Pox? SHARKA!

Traditional breeding techniques hit the wall when breeding for Sharka resistance. The virus emerged in the Balkans during WWI and there are no known sources of natural resistance*. How do you breed for resistance when you cannot find any parents with resistance?

Using genetic engineering, scientists at the Agricultural Research Station in West Virginia created a new plum named HoneySweet that is IMMUNE to Plum Pox.

How did they make HoneySweet immune?

They grafted Plum Pox Virus into the plum's DNA using naturally occurring bacteria.
The resistance is due to RNA silencing, which is a natural process in plants that gives them some adaptive protection against viruses. In the silencing process, the introduced PPV coat protein gene induces the plant to break down the coat protein, which prevents virus infection. This is a natural mechanism that plants use not only for virus resistance, but also to regulate many normal cell processes.
It is not much of a jump in logic to assume that the viral DNA we carry around was inserted into our cells by the same kinds of bacteria used by the ARS scientists. Remember, at the cellular and molecular level the numbers are astronomical and even very, very low odds events happen with regularity.

That inserted viral DNA gave us our great^10e6 ancestors resistance to those virus. The organisms competing with our ancestors lacked that resistance and our ancestors prevailed.

The irony is that the plum HoneySweet is failing commercially because consumers are freaked by the thought of eating viral DNA.

I got news for them. 98% of their DNA is "viral" DNA. 98% of the DNA in the free-range chicken they ate today was originally "viral" DNA. Probably ditto for the mesclun and almond salad.

Description of HoneySweet plum from the patent application:

Maturity when described.—Shipping ripe-eating ripe.
Average date of harvest.—Mid August to early September in Kearneysville, W. Va.
Size.—Medium to large; average size is 43 mm transverse diameter at right angles to the suture plane×45 mm transverse diameter in the suture plane×52 mm axial diameter; average weight is 60 grams.
Fibers.—Small, few, tender.
Juice.—Moderate at eating-ripe.
Flavor.—Very good.
Eating quality.—Sweet, excellent; brix of ripe fruit averages 21.5° depending on maturity at harvest.
Color.—Ranging from RHS 6 A to C to RHS151A, depending on stage of ripeness.
Pit cavity.—Color same as flesh color.

*Prunus domestica clutivar Jojo appears to have some resistance to Sharka but even when it is not shows symptoms of Sharka. Strange. Makes a fellow go "Hmmm!"

There are also some varieties that show modest qualitative resistance to Sharka. It may be that they are less attractive to aphids or other vectors than the more susceptible varieties. Example, cv "Vision" showed less Sharka infection (only 25%) when grown in an infected orchard for several years than many other cultivars.