Sunday, February 23, 2020

Bernie blasts Dems contenders in Nevada

Your current cable package
Your cable package after you rent the movie "Three Dacha Bernie"

"Sure, Jazzamine, the trailer looks great, but my grandma told me that downloading the movie corrupts your cable package and requires new hardware and a total software reboot."

Saturday, February 22, 2020

Usnea lichens

All images from Sharnoff Photos
One thing leads to another which leads to a third.

The discussion about the Woodland Caribou led to a reader sending me information about lichens.

Most of us who know anything about lichens think about the silver-dollar sized patches of pastel mush pasted to rocks and the bark of old trees.

Some scholars suggest that the manna in the dessert that fed the wandering Israelites may have been lichens delivered by the hand of God.

Not all lichens are two-dimensional. Some of them resemble Spanish Moss and represent a fine example of convergent evolution...or God reusing something that worked elsewhere. Take your pick. The most notable genus of lichens that do so are Usnea.

Some authors contend that Usnea is the favored browse of cervids in early winter on days when the wind is not blowing...that would be hunting season in most places.





There are dozens of species of Usnea and many of them happily grow on the leeward sides of the Great Lakes and at elevation in the Appalachian Mountains.

They are also found in great abundance in the Pacific Northwest wherever it gets foggy. Dried Usnea sells for about $20 a pound on eBay. How do I know this? I went looking. You cannot buy a package of lichen seeds. Lichens are symbiotic relationships between a species of fungi and a species of algae. Propagation is very much a hit and mostly miss affair as both organisms need to show up at the same place at the same time.

The easiest way to propagate lichens is to strategically place some crumbles (or in the case of Usnea, tie some strands) from an existing specimen in the place you want new ones. In my case, I think it would be very cool to reintroduce Usnea to my area on the lower branches of Pin Oak and Swamp White Oak. Both species grow where fog accumulates (low areas) and both species are notoriously poor at pruning their lower, dead limbs. Thus, a ready made, long lasting scaffold for Usnea to colonize.

Imagine that, lichens hanging from trees where a happy caribou does not even need to paw the snow away!

Wolf Lichens
Not all lichens are edible.

For example, Letharia species are rich in a toxin, vulpinic acid, that has been used to poison wolves and coyotes.



Note the yellow color. In this case, yellow is poison.

We bought a truck!

A screen grab of some of the vehicles currently offered at Stewart Allen Motors.

Stewart Allen Motors is a used vehicle dealer in Dundee, Michigan who specializes in "work trucks".

They started selling vehicles about fifteen years ago. Like everybody else, they had a little bit of this and a little bit of that on their lot.

Over the years, they decided they liked the kind of customers who buy work vehicles. Everybody we met at SAM was laid back. Their attitude was that you either buy the vehicle or you don't. Make an offer. The listed price is just a starting point.

If you don't buy the vehicle, somebody else will.

Folks who buy work trucks aren't buying a trophy girlfriend. We are looking for reliability and low maintenance. A few blemishes and dents are OK as long as minimum dollars will go maximum miles.

The advantage from SAM's standpoint is that customers are quick decision makers. They don't try to beat the price down $100 for every paint scratch or ding.

So our new family member is a 2013 Silverado with about 130k miles. Very good tires. Former fleet vehicle for ATT out of northern Ohio.

The electrical gremlin was due to a couple of wires in the cap that were pinched. Either one was intermittently grounding or the other was intermittently energizing. Electrical tape and a re-route fixed the problem.

I don't claim to have made a fabulous deal on the truck. I wasn't trying to get a great deal but I did offer 15% less than they were asking. 

So if your needs are simple, if you are looking for a work truck and live in northern Ohio, northeast Indiana or southern Michigan...check out the Stewart Allen Motors website.

Will Covid-19 be inflationary or deflationary?


Looking at the Covid-19 response from small-town, Michigan, I am forced to speculate on the effects Covid-19 will have on inflation.

The glib answer "It will be both inflationary and deflationary" is probably the right answer because there will be three different "states".

Before the wave hits, Covid-19 will be highly inflationary. Want face masks? Put in a bid. Want them badly enough and have enough money in your checking account and you will win the bid.

In the middle of the wave, Covid-19 will be highly deflationary. People will be in quarantine and unable to spend money. Factories will be shut down and won't need coal, or people to sweep the floors. Prices will be in free-fall as the market is unable to discover prices due to lack of bidders.

This is a classic case of deflation: Money is sucked out of an economy by banks, bond-holders and property owners expecting the contractually defined rents while those properties are no longer able to create value by combining resources like labor, parts and intellectual property. No longer able to create value, the economy is unable to suck money in to service debts and rents.

After the wave Covid-19 is likely to be mostly inflationary. Goverment responses will have been to print money. For example, they will inject money into industries that were unable to pay their rent through the crisis so they could stay afloat. Due to hits to key personnel, some/many enterprises will fail and will stop producing goods and services. More dollars chasing fewer goods is the classic recipe for inflation.

Some types of goods are likely to get cheaper. You will find fabulous deals on condos in Sun City and on Florida properties next to golf courses.

In other cases, it may become impossible to find certain kinds of goods although it is far too soon to predict what those goods might be.

Friday, February 21, 2020

Woodstoves, 2020 and the EPA

New Environmental Protection Agency rules for woodstoves took effect January 1, 2020. The new rules cut the amount of permissible smoke in half.

Dealers can sell out their old, non-compliant stock until May 15.

If you have been thinking about a woodstove or fireplace insert, there might be some screaming deals out there.

The new stoves are likely to be more expensive as many of them rely on catalytic converters to meet the more stringent goals.

Not every manufacturer found it necessary to add catalytic converters.  For instance, Drolet seems to have figured out how to inject and mix air in some clever way to negate the need for a platinum/palladium/rhodium catalyst.


Ice ballerinas

On March 2, 1986 the future Mrs ERJ and I went canoeing on the Red Cedar river. We had been dating each other exclusively for about three months.

The temperature was about 31F.

The four days before our adventure, there had been a heavy rain.

Then, as the river fell, the night-time lows were in the high-teens with day-time highs approaching the freezing mark.

Every root, stick and grass stem looked like upside-down wine flutes or ballerinas. In some places, the roots had multiple flutes: Champagne flutes at the top, white wine tulip in the middle and a stout brandy snifter near the bottom.

A skin of ice froze on the surface near the end of the chilly nights. Then, during the warmth of the day, the river dropped and the horizontal plane drooped everywhere except where it was anchored to a root, stem or vertical plane.

It was like a fairy tale.

The end of the story had some kind of moral, although I am still trying to puzzle it out.

On the way back up-river, we ran into rapids just above the Kellogg Center. We tried to paddle our way up them twice.  Our third effort involved backing up so we could build up speed crossing a deep, still pond before hitting the rapids.

We ALMOST made it. We were paddling like dervishes when my paddle disassembled itself and the ferrule that joined the two haves of the kayak-type paddle went spinning into the drink.

Rapids are shallow. Everybody knows that. We were dead in the water until I retrieved the ferrule that joined the two halves of my paddle.

I rolled up my pant legs and waded into the rapids to find the missing piece.

As expected, it was not quite knee deep.

And there it was, the bright, shiny, turned 6061-T6 aluminum ferrule, whirled and whelmed by the current. Caught by a rock, then, after wiggling in the current, breaking free and making another short dart until caught by the next rock.

I gave chase.

If you make a critical study of the fluid dynamics of rapids and pools and study the natural sorting of aggregate along the bottom, you learn that at the tail-end of the rapids where the high velocity current jets into the deep pool, there is a sharp shelf comprised of spherical, greased, egg-sized gravel.

The first thing I heard as my head popped back into the air was the silvery tinkle of the future Mrs ERJ laughing. LAUGHING!  She thought it was funny.

Mallards air-braking (fiction)


Milo, Gimp and the others on the Wallace Road firing positions heard the convoy before they saw it.

Shading the binos to avoid alerting the hostiles with reflection from the lenses, Gimp studied the trucks coming their way.

“Looks like a tank in front” Gimp called out loudly enough for everybody to hear. “Then three flatbeds behind that.”

Studying a bit more, Gimp announced “It looks like there is about forty feet between each vehicle.

“Jimmy and Gabe, you take out the driver and the person riding shotgun in the tank.’ Gimp said.

Jimmy and Gabe had AR-10s, semi-automatic rifles that fired the NATO 7.62X51mm round. They both had full magazines of armor piercing rounds.

“After you take out the people in the cab, knock out the goons in the box” Gimp said.

Then he called out six more names, three on the north side of the span over westbound I-96 and three who were in line with the median.

“OK, one last time” Gimp said. “I start the party. When I start shooting, everybody else service their designated target. If you get a confirmed, hard kill, then start shooting the goons in the back of the dump-truck.” Gimp said.

He got six “Roger, wilcos” in reply.

“What do you want the rest of us to do?” Milo asked.

“Well, if you don’t mind, what do you think of jumping in those trucks after they stop rolling and driving them a half mile up the road.” Gimp said.

Milo cocked an eyebrow signifying a desire for more information.

“I want the next convoy coming up the road to see those trucks before they get to the bridge. Maybe they won’t be looking for ambush here.” Gimp said.

Gimp told the men to lower their heads.

Gimp got down, prone. People look for “heads” up high. They don’t look for heads below guardrails and mostly obscured by the post.

Gimp fired when the lead truck was about sixty yards out. He wanted a quick hard kill on all the trucks in the hope that they would not have the presence of mind to work the radio.

It was the proverbial shooting fish in a barrel. Even though the trucks were moving, they were moving straight toward the shooters. The shooters were above the targets and the shots hit slightly high, but not enough to make a material difference.

Gimp drilled the expanse of steel plate that covered the windshield of the “tank” focusing on where he imagined the driver to be. Then, as he saw Jimmy’s fire punching holes in the steel plate, he switched to the driver of the rearmost vehicle. If both of those vehicles were incapacitated, then the other two would be trapped.

The ambushers were lucky. The driver of the lead vehicle lived long enough to mash on the brakes. The truck immediately behind him plowed into the back of it and left the road. The third truck slew violently sideways, started to roll, righted and then stalled. The last truck ran into the median before puttering to a stop.

Milo and the rest of the crew dashed down the embankment to the level of the free way.

Milo had his handgun in his right hand as he ripped the driver’s door of the “tank” open.

The driver would have flopped out except for his seat-belt. Multiple, tumbling .30 caliber bullets make a mess of meat.

Milo disengaged the buckle of the seat belt and raked the driver out.

He saw the passenger yanked out the other door. Milo waved the helper back. It only took one person to drive.

Three more men quickly volunteered to drive the three flat-beds.

As they got the convoy moving west, Milo got a call on the radio.

“We heard shots. Is everything OK?” came the disembodied voice across the radio.

Thinking quickly, Milo lied “Hello no! Everything is not OK. We just ran into a bunch of broken glass and had a bunch of blow-outs. We are moving good tires to get two running vehicles and will leave the two non-runners at...” Milo looked at a passing mile marker “near mile marker 124.”

Looking in his rear-view mirror, Milo could see that he had gone far enough down the road. The next convoy would catch a glimpse of the vehicles before dropping down into the West Branch valley and then see them again when they were two hundred yards east of the Wallace Road overpass.

Then they would be mallards air-braking and dropping into a spread of decoys. Easy meat.

As an afterthought, Milo ripped the hot cable from the battery post. The last thing he wanted was for a transponder to tell Livingston County that all four vehicles were stationary. Better they should have no information and have suspicions than to have good information.

As Milo jogged past the trucks heading back toward the Wallace Road overpass, he noticed that the three flatbeds were carrying four water-cubes each.

He wondered how long it would be before then convoy was missed on the other end and a second convoy loaded and sent their way.

Thursday, February 20, 2020

Wait a second. Quarantines are 40 days...

Quarantine originally meant that an incoming ship sat out in the harbor for forty days to ensure any plague announced itself or symptomatic sailors either perished or recovered to the point of not being infectious.

The quarantine for Covid-19 has been 14 days, not 40.

This magic number, 14, is being fiercely debated in the academic world. One example HERE.

"While the World Health Organization (WHO) estimates the incubation period of COVID-19 could be up to 14 days, this upper limit was actually observed for a small proportion of cases of SARS."

"In the context of an accelerating COVID-19 epidemic and growing uncertainty, a higher upper limit (possibly 21 days) for the incubation period seems reasonable and warranted in the interest of adequately protecting the public."

"One study from China reported an upper limit of 24 days for the COVID-19 incubation period, but the WHO commented that this "can reflect a double exposure" or "outliers," and that the "outlying observation" of 24 days "needs to be taken seriously" but in the "context of all of the other studies."

Note that the 14 day number is based on a small number of patients with different corona virus (SARS vs. Covid-19)

In a different paper, it was claimed that

The first section of the new paper focuses on how long coronaviruses can survive on inanimate surfaces, such as tables and door handles. The authors show that, depending on the material and the conditions, human coronaviruses can remain infectious from 2 hours to 9 days.
At temperatures of around 4°C or 39.2oF, certain versions of the coronavirus could remain viable for up to 28 days.
For giggles, lets consider a high-midrange of the 2 hours-to-9 day range. Pulling a number out of my rectum, let's say seven days for the shady side of the door knob or the bottom of a seat bun. Then add any number you want. Personally, I vote for the 24 days because the speculative dismissal 'could have been double exposure' is a slender reed to justify the risk to billions of potential, down-stream patients.

So, 7+24 give 31 or more than twice the quarantine that is currently being bandied about as bullet-proof. And once you sucked it up and accept 31 days as a defensible duration, why not eliminate all doubt and go the full 40?
28 second recap of Quarantine to-date

I would love to be wrong but the entire response has been a Keystone Cops cartoon.

Little bits

Belladonna has been sick for four days. She missed work. She missed school. The upside is that much of her school-work is available on-line.

I have been getting lessons on axons, ganglia and neurotransmitters.  And no, GI Joe is not an axon figure.

Boy Scouts
I regret that they are going bankrupt but it is probably simply recognition of a reality.

Bankruptcy is better called "reorganization". It frees up viable resources and buries the non-viable.

Scouting has many great things going for it but there is nothing to stop other organizations from copying those things. Merit badges, for instance. Camping. Oath, motto...

Scouting's failure is nothing more and nothing less than thinking that "My group of humans is not vulnerable to sin." Due diligence was not followed. "Hey, old Fred couldn't be doing that. I know him. It is just not possible."

Heads will be bent in sorrow. A few tears will be shed. The parts that are worth salvaging will be salvaged and people will move on. And we will keep making that mistake over, and over, and over again. "...not my party..." or "...not my church..." or "...not my family..."

Callousing box
This is a pretty simple set-up. If used for rooting, the cuttings should be placed in the dark (like black plastic bag) as blue light inhibits rooting in many species.
A callousing box is a heated box used by horticulturists to knit grafts together or to push cuttings into throwing roots.

Commonly grafted species like apples and pears callous easily, consequently they are easy to graft. Callous is undifferentiated tissue that covers and heals wounds in a plant.

"Difficult to graft" species are often difficult to graft because they are fussier about the temperature and will not produce enough callous at cooler temperatures.
Just a little bit warmer.  The setup is simple. It is a translucent storage tub purchased from Walmart. It is on top of a 1" piece of foam insulation. I have a dark Tee shirt in the bottom and a heat lamp shining through the top. I modulate the temperature with the newspaper. The temperature in the basement is 53F.

Most species callous most profusely at temperatures between 80F and 85F. Mother Nature does not produce those temperatures on command. One way to get difficult species to knit together is to create a warm space for them...like a callousing box.

With regard to rooting, many plants that root from cuttings must first produce a ball of callous. After enough callous is produced, some of the cells get a clue and strike out as roots.

Callous is the equivalent of Stem-cells for plants.

I intend to graft some pears to some unrooted quince cuttings. The quince will be the roots. Then I will simultaneously heal the grafts and, hopefully, convince the quince to throw roots.

Running
I am an on-again, mostly off-again runner.

Covid-19 convinced me to start running, again.

We will see how long that lasts.

"Everybody" says to run every-other day. I am slowly accepting that as a +55 year old in my particular body I might need to run one day and have a two "off" days for my recovery period.

An alternative might be to keep the one-day recovery and alternate short and long runs.

I hesitate to even call it running. I am going SOOOO slow.

Cards
Mrs ERJ mailed the last of the cards I was on the hook for. A surprising number of people showed up for Dad's funeral back in December. I was given a list of names and a stack of cards. I flew through them but somehow could not finish that last card.

In retrospect, it was because I would have to admit that Dad was no longer in this mortal realm.

Yesterday, Mrs ERJ gave me a nudge. "Cousin Tish needs her card."

After finishing it, Mrs ERJ told me where she had hidden my keys.  No, just kidding.

Lichens

It is interesting that Woodland Caribou used to inhabit Michigan's Upper Peninsula. They ate lichens. After being expatriated, they were replaced by Whitetail deer. The deer are an asymptomatic host for a brain-worm that is nearly always fatal for moose and caribou.

Procrastinating
I gotta bad case of it, right now.

Covid19
I had breakfast with a small businessman. He called a supplier yesterday to place an order. The supplier informed him that he was supposed to ration parts. Headquarters had been informed that China had set up roadblocks and have testing truck drivers for fever for the last week. If they did, they parked the truck on the street and the driver was popped into quarantine.

Gangs showed up at night and stole the trucks from beside the roads. The police were too busy enforcing quarantine to deal with hijackings.

Rabbits
Rabbits are enjoying the branches I pruned out of the apple trees. They prefer the bark.

When plans meet reality (fiction)


Wade Hawk called back to Chernovsky “Something weird is going on.”

Wade Hawk and Mike Danek had just come back from plugging up the drain-tiles on the West Branch and Doan Creek. Work had gone much faster than expected. Wade, confronted with the physical limitations of being over seventy-five years old, made some executive decisions.

One advantage of being a little older is that you know people. Wade called in some favors and paid hard, cash money to get the work done. In this case hard, cash money meant silver.

Wade and Mike had no sooner settled in back home when they got the call to man the fighting positions that protected Kate’s Store.

Wade grumbled. He lived a quarter-mile from the store but the new fighting position was a mile-and-a-quarter north of his home. He grabbed the backpack he took east to plug the drain-tiles. He threw in a few snacks and a couple 2 liter bottles of water. He assumed it was a false alarm and would be back home in a few hours.

Walking out the door, he picked up his .270 Winchester. Everybody else was toting .30 caliber rifles but those arms brought Wade no joy. Wade was old-school, he would dance with the one that brung him.

Sure-as-shit, early the second day a group of armored vehicles made their way up Gunn Road, heading directly toward Kate’s store. The lead vehicle was a dump truck with a deep box. Wade could see the barrel of a belt-fed weapon protruding above the high sides of the box.

The dump truck was followed by what looked like a prison transport van.

The last vehicle was a flat-bed truck.

Steel plate covered the windshields and side windows of the vehicles. The plates were painted primer gray. To Wade’s surprise, there were no viewing slots cut in the windshields. Looking through his scope, he saw pods mounted on the roofs of the trucks. His best guess was that they were web cams.

Wade made a tactical decision. As the lead truck approached the second blast zone, Wade had his demo expert fire the southern but not the northern charges. Wade’s team would know soon enough how well the trucks’ backup cameras worked.

Wade had no need for glory. He let the other shooters do the shooting. His job was to “run” the operation, not pull the trigger.

Countless hours and endless bottles of beer had been used up discussing the best way to incapacitate improvised, armored vehicles. The consensus was that the side windows were the weak point.

Windshields are sloped for aerodynamic reasons. Sloped armor was one of the reasons for the Soviet T-34’s incredible survivability under fire. Side windows, are a whole ‘nother kettle of fish. They have very little tilt and are easier to penetrate.

Take out the driver and the vehicle is dead-in-the-water. Everything else can be dealt with at the ambushers’ leisure.

The flurry of armor-piercing, .30 caliber bullets made Swiss cheese of the driver’s side windows of all three vehicles. If three shots was probably sufficient, then thirty was ten times better.

It was not just the projectiles bouncing around the cabs of the trucks like peas in a whistle, but the slug of material that the projectiles punched out of the armor.

Wade knew that there would be no need to blow the second set of explosives when the brake lights on the trailing vehicle went off and it idled into the vehicle ahead of it.

That is when the script left the rails.

The fighters who poured out of the prisoner transport van did something they had never done before, they fought back.

In the previous Livingston County raid, the fighters surrendered en masse as soon as the vehicles were disabled.

Not only did the fighters not surrender, but they mounted a spirited counter-attack.

Wade cursed and dropped his radio. Picking up his trusty .270, he started prick-punching hostiles from 400 yards out. He had chosen his position based on the ability to see the entire battle, not optimum shooting range. His men who were closer were not able to see the Livingston County fighters closing with them. Wade could.

There were no un-wounded survivors from the Livingston County side. That was unusual in the extreme.

Wade Hawk called back to Chernovsky “Something weird is going on.”

“What’s that?” Chernovsky asked. Things were going pretty well on his end.

“I am at the roadblock north of Kate’s store.” Wade said.

Wade thought all the extra words were a waste of time. Chernovsky SHOULD know where Wade was. Chernovsky put him there. But Gimp said everybody should be repeatedly redundantly repeated in their radio transmissions and Chernovsky agreed. Wade would play the game.

“I copy” Chernovsky said “message from Wade Hawk at Kate’s store roadblock.”

Wade rolled his eyes.

“We just took out a raid heading south toward Kate’s store.” Wade said.

Wade could not see Chernovsky nodding his head.

“They fought back.” Wade said.

“That is sort of their job.” Chernovsky said in a dismissive way.

“Mebbe so” Wade said. “But we took two causalities and out of maybe twenty hostiles we took mebbe three prisoners, and they were all severely wounded. I am not sure they are going to make it.”

“Let me repeat, hostiles fought to the last man standing” Wade Hawk said.

Chernvosky frowned. “Please repeat.”

“We got the drop on them. Everything worked better than expected. They fought back even when it was clear they had lost.” Wade said.

“Copy that” Chernovsky said. “Hostiles fought back much harder than expected.”

Looking over at his small support staff Chernovsky said “Probably an elite fighting force.”

Even so, the fighting will of the Livingston County forces was far in excess of what they had ever seen before. It did not bode well. Chernovsky might have dismissed the report if it had come from somebody else, but he knew Wade had seen the elephant and was not inclined to exagerate.

Wednesday, February 19, 2020

A nugget of wisdom from Kentucky

Don't date nymphomanics. I had a friend that was a trumpet major. He thought it would be a grand adventure to play in the clown band at DisneyWorld. He had to play the same 10 minute set every hour for an 8 hour shift dressed in a clown outfit. He didn't last the summer. Dating nymphomanics is a similar commitment.   -Source

Outstanding post over at Sarah Hoyt's blog regarding epidemics

An OUTSTANDING post over at Sarah Hoyt's blog from a nurse who recently lived through an outbreak of Norovirus.

Her take-aways:
  • Any outbreak will probably hit caregivers hardest, because they will have already been exposed by the time they realize that this is something unusual.
  • We were lucky – we were associated with a sister facility that could share staff with us if we offered bonuses. In a large outbreak, this isn’t possible.
  • Norovirus sucks. It can be shed before a patient has any symptoms. Even after staff no longer had symptoms, they had to wait 72 to report to duty, because of how long virus could be shed. It hasn’t been clarified how long novel corona virus will be shed before or after symptoms.
  • Norovirus sucks. Although the most common method of contamination is fecal (touching something contaminated and then touching the mouth, or eating something contaminated), aerosolized emesis (vomit) can cause Norovirus to act like an airborne or droplet contagion. From infection patterns on the Diamond Princess, it appears that the novel corona virus can cause airborne contamination. This is bad. Please don’t run and buy all the N95 respirators and filters – leave some for health care.
  • Having supplies in advance (and a bedroom with an ensuite bathroom) allowed me to do in-home quarantine. This isn’t possible in a large outbreak, because the supplies are needed by the medical facilities.
  • Taking care of an outbreak uses So. Many. Supplies. Disposable gowns. Disposable masks. Disposable face shields. Disposable gloves. Bleach wipes. Steri-wipes for equipment that cannot be bleached. Disposable plates and flatware. Disposable bottles and cups. Gelatin cups not needing refrigeration. Sleeves of soda crackers. Juice cups. Applesauce cups. Trash bags, laundry bags, so much extra linen, hot water, and laundry soap. More bleach.
  • The holiday brought food, guests, and outings. All potential sources of contamination. The ultimate primary source of contamination was never truly pinpointed. It was narrowed down to three possibilities—one of them was the hospital kitchen, but norovirus was not found on any surface there.
  • The staff member who went home sick first? Went to Jamaica on the planned vacation, because she was symptom free by then. Had a family member get sick on the plane. Had four extended family members sick at the all-inclusive resort. Mentioned that “they must have had it there, too, ‘cause lots of people were sick there.” Oy, vey. Really. I don’t care what your plans were. Don’t share the horrible stuff.
  • Over the next six months, we had multiple staff resignations. Exhausted staff still work, but may be lost to caregiving professions entirely after they have time to take stock. The night CNA I was with now works in a factory.
  • Long-term care centers, dormitories, casinos, and cruise ships are frequently the centers of outbreaks, because people have communal dining areas, and share hallways, and may share bathing spaces.

Particulate matter in the air of Wohan, China

Air Quality, PM10 (soot), in Wohan, China 2006-to-2008. Source, Table 5
The median PM10 in February is 130 micrograms per cubic meter in Wohan, China. PM10 are particles that are less than 10 micrometers in diameter.

PM10 is soot/smoke and is a decent indicator of local industrial activity because it is mostly a byproduct of burning coal. That is why it goes up in the winter, increased use of coal for space heating. Particulates drop out so it is more LOCAL than some other measures.

PM10 and its bratty sister PM2.5 are also important because they are damaging to lungs. Historically high PM numbers may predispose lungs to pneumonia from other causes...like Covid-19.

PM10 in Wohan since Jan 20. Starting Feb 5 PM10 has been around 30 micrograms per m^3, or 25% of expected. 30 micrograms per m^3 is about what is seen in Los Angeles. The low occurred on Feb 14 at 16.9 micrograms. Source
The take-home of the chart shown above is that Wohan is still shut-down. Some factories might be open but they are running, barely, on skeleton crews.

Same data for Beijing, China as the chart immediately above. Odd periodicity.

Setting up the ambush (fiction)

Jade circles represent burnt out hulks of small towns. Thar-be-Dragons is no-mans land. Green areas are flooded.
The teams that blew the bridges over Doan Creek and the West Branch had to make many decisions. Which bridges? In what order? Simultaneous or sequential.

A crew of workers can quickly fall into a rhythm or it can stumble along for months.

Milo had experience with new crews. He started them off slow. He talked them through their roles.

The sentries figured out that they had to be a full half-mile away from the trucks to have any hope of hearing infiltrators.

The slow pace had an advantage. The kicker pump had no problem keeping the water cubes full.

Milo had his own problems. The hydro-drill could handle fist-sized rocks but not rocks the size of basket balls. Several times, Milo had to restart a hole. One time he tried three times and still was not able to reach the required depth. The team double-charged the shallow bore-hole to compensate for the non-optimal position.

People who build seawalls have a little bit of experience with explosives.

On the drive out, Milo and Gimp decided to set all of the explosives to destroy the bridges crossing the West Branch first and to use timers to blow them simultaneously, or nearly so.

 If they could only achieve one defensive line, then the West Branch was the best choice because Wallace Road crossed over the freeway four-hundred yards west of the spans, giving defenders elevated shooting positions at a perfect distance from the bridge.

Using timers to blow the bridges at the same time seemed less likely to arouse interest which might interfere with their operation.

That was not much of an issue on the less occupied south end of their operations but the northern fringe was completely un-pacified. The roads were impassible and kidnappings were a real and constant threat.

Fortunately, Tomanica had anticipated the need and Milo had thirty fully charged car batteries in the back of his truck to energize detonators.

A second truck followed them in case of break-downs and to carry extra gear and team members.

Slow is smooth. Smooth becomes fast.

The team started with the bridges closest to I-96. They set the charges to blow at 2:00AM
Howell city limits ten miles east of the fire positions on Wallace Road guarding West Branch.

After blowing the bridges crossing the West Branch (less the spans that carried the freeway), they drove west to Doan Creek and blew the the spans crossing it, including the ones carrying I-96.

Then moving south from the freeway they set charges for the other bridges. They set the timers for 7:00 AM

They knocked out 17 of the 18 bridges on the list.

One road over Doan Creek was left unmined. Columbia Hwy was a modest and unprepposessing dirt road where it crossed Doan Creek. From that bridge, it ran due west and straight into Capiche.

By daybreak, Milo, Gimp and twelve Capiche fighters were in two firing positions on the west side of overpass carrying Wallace Road. They took the precaution of burning the tall grass alongside the freeway from Wallace Road east. The fire moved very slowly in the dew drenched grass. Capiche was ready to repel any Livingston County forces as they would ever be.

There were two more fire-teams positioned north and east of the spans that used to carry I-96 over Doan Creek. They did not have the benefit of elevation.

*

There were only three places in the twelve-mile Livingston County line where liquid water was readily available. The Grand River at mile markers 91 and 98 and Bishop Pond at mile 101.

Chernovsky had snipers set up before dawn to ventilate any men venturing away from the line to collect water.

Three of the roving quick-reaction battle-groups left the line shortly after breakfast. They headed south, into the heart of Capiche.

Chernovsky had little doubt where they were going. In retrospect, Kate’s predictions seemed all too obvious.

In the absence of the ubiquitous motors of 2020, sounds travel a long way. The deep “boom” that seemed to resonate forever carried the eight miles as various sections of roadbed were detonated.

The staccato of distant, small arms fire came from the same direction.

Away from the battles, civilians continued to harvest corn and dig potatoes. Regardless of the outcome, winter and hungry times were coming.

Chernovsky and Benicio were in frequent communication on the radio. They tag-teamed the Livingston County line. They would set up a pattern to fool the quick reaction forces. Then they would pressure the line far from where the quick reaction forces were, would briefly engage and then disappear like fog.

There were hardly any casualties. Yet.

*

By eleven in the morning, more of the Livingston County forces were trying to reach the river.

After killing a dozen, thirst-crazed soldiers, they Livingston County forces got smarter. They crept up the median, shielded from Capiche on one side and Benicio's forces on the other.

Chernovsky asked for, and got, volunteers. They inserted into the median a couple of miles west of the end of the line and belly crawled their way to the river.

Chernovsky gave them strick orders "Shoot the buckets after they fill them."

The high velocity bullets hit the water-filled buckets and split them from top to bottom, rendering them both unusable and unfixable.

People dipping water from the Grand River at mile marker 98 were harder to hit but Chernovsky still had snipers set up to shoot any buckets that were exposed. They didn't get nearly as many as the western team but they were able to destroy a few of them.

*

Scouts brought word to Chernovsky that Livingston County forces were digging holes in the ditches lining I-96 where cattails were standing.  "Do you want us to start sniping them?"

Chernovsky leaned back. "Nope. If they want it that bad, they can have it." Chernovsky knew from painful, first-hand experience when naive digestive systems are exposed to dirty...very dirty...water.

Tuesday, February 18, 2020

Working People for Bernie




I was going to leave the Working People for... alone but could not pass this one up.

Dundee, Part II: The Accelerated Dragon

When we arrived in Dundee, the vehicle we were interested in was in the shop for an electrical glitch. The owner of the business said it would be ready for a test drive in about a half-hour, if I cared to wait.

Heck, we had already spent two hours in our vehicle driving to Dundee. Mrs ERJ said she would relish the opportunity to stretch her legs.

So we set about exploring downtown Dundee.

We didn't get far.

There is a "game" store in Dundee that is called The Accelerated Dragon. Pushing the door open revealed a large, brightly lit, open room populated by uncluttered tables. The first table had several chess games on it.

Matthew

The gentleman was sitting toward the back of the room welcomed us as entered. Matthew is the owner of The Accelerated Dragon.

He is also an unabashed science junkie.

He sees the role of The Accelerated Dragon as being similar to the coffee houses of the 17th and 18th centuries. That is, to provide a venue where people can find other, like-minded folks and establish a sense of community in a face-to-face environment.

Mrs ERJ asked him "What kinds of games do you have?"

Matthew replied "I have a little bit of everything...everything but Magic games."

Mrs ERJ asked, "Why no Magic games?"

Matthew said "Because the 'battles' become an arms-race and they escalate to where it is not skill-based. Folks become obsessed and can buy 'heroes' so the winner is not the most skilled but the one with the deepest pockets."

"That is not what I want this space to be about" he concluded.

The weekly schedule. The photo is tilted because of the glare from the natural lighting.

Winners from the previous week's tournaments are recognized. Matthew cautioned me to never bet money against Istanbul in Scrabble.
The shelves are color-coded. Some games are multi-day affairs which appeal to a certain client. Other games typically last for a few hours.

Obligatory pictures of some of the games on his shelves.




A high-end chess set
Matthew was genuinely saddened that I am not a "game" guy. He said I simply had not run across the right game. I felt for him. I bought a set of gaming dice. Every stats weenie ought to have sets of dies.

A trip to Dundee, Part I: Pulmunary Function


I will be the first to admit I don't get out much.

Shopping for a new vehicle has been good for me. It has taken me further afield than normal.

Yesterday's safari took us to the town of Dundee, Michigan which is close to Toledo.

Pulmonary function
While driving there, Mrs ERJ kept me entertained with a running commentary. Who needs a radio?

One of the more interesting topics involved pulmonary (lung) function.

The topic is timely because the Covid-19 virus kills primarily by pneumonia and corona virus seems to hit folks over fifty particularly hard. (This is when I raise my hand. I am over fifty)

One
The first bit of advice was to take all steps necessary to improve the quality of the air you breath. If you smoke: STOP. Dip. Switch to cigars. Eat brownies. Do what you have to do but stop sucking that sh!t into your lungs.

Improve indoors air quality. Vacuum frequently. Change air filters religiously (Christmas and Easter, anyway).

Two
The second bit of advice was surprising: Breathing exercises.

From what I deduce based on Mrs ERJ's commentary, our breathing habits are a bit like our walking stride. We have a natural proclivity based on our body-type but we can change it through conscious effort.

Mrs ERJ sometimes tells a story about her mother. M-i-L ERJ was raised in the Deep South and was raised to be a lady. Ladies do NOT pant like dogs. Their bellies never distend while in public. Nor do they perspire. The conditioning was so deep that she was the despair of the respiratory therapists who worked with her after an operation. By that time, M-i-L couldn't breath deeply and that may have contributed to her premature demise.

There are Breathing Exercises that make breathing deeply and getting air to the lower parts of your lung feel more natural. The exercises do increase lung capacity as tissues stretch.

Three
The cardio-vascular system is joined at the hip, so to speak, to the pulmonary system.

Nearly anything you do to increase cardio-vascular fitness will automatically help lung function.

"Cardio" exercise automatically provides breathing exercise. It is almost impossible to do cardio without being forced to breath deeply as our VO2 demand goes up.

Four
Lose weight, especially if you have a beer-belly.

When you are breathing you are lifting the mass of the tissue that is padding your ribs.

When you are fat, that beer belly doesn't just extend upward, it intrudes upward and can vastly diminish the physical ability of your diaphragm to move downward and pull air into your lungs.

Nearly everything you do to improve your cardio-vascular function will help you lose weight.

Five
Eat foods rich in anti-oxidants, rich in vitamins A and D or are vividly colored.  Mrs ERJ said Skittles do not qualify.

I know, it sucks. Broccoli, sweet potatoes, carrots, berries, chicken. Think positively: If you cover half the plate with those kinds of foods you will probably lose weight.

The good news for me is that red wine is on the "good" list and elderberries are near the top. Elderberry bushes qualify as a "weed" in these parts. You can't kill the darned things. I may have to start harvesting them.

Summary
The reason Covid-19 monkey-hammers folks over fifty* may be related to the fact that we gain weight and lose fitness as we age. We hurt more, and longer after exercising. We heal more slowly.

It is a case of move-or-die. The thing is, we have to move now because building fitness is like planting a garden. We till the soil, plant the seeds and pull the weeds so we can have a harvest six months from now.

*the other main reason is that we are more likely to accumulate other health issues as we age. Issues like diabetes, hepatitis, renal impairment and so on.  Many of the Covid-19 deaths had these kinds of secondary factors.

A dry run (fiction)

Borders are fluid
The forces from Livingston County had bad intelligence. Their entire model anticipated the greatest threat from the north and east. That is, from Benicio.

Chernovsky, Gimp and Tomanica took several hours to “glass” the back-side of the Livingston County lines.

The readings of military history that Wilder had been feeding Chernovsky gave him an appreciation of the advantages of assymetry.

His natural inclination was to attack-in-force but that would have caused the Livingston County forces to adapt. In the long run, it would result in high Capiche losses and ultimately made victory less certain.

The Livingston County forces had a fire-base about every two-tenths of a mile. That meant that forces trying to penetrate the line were never more than 200 yards from a fire-base.

Every fifth fire-base had two supply trucks and clearly functioned as the base-camp for the half-mile to either side. Every tenth camp had a quick-reaction force. There were also three quick-reaction forces that were not attached to any point on the line and they roved.

Each fire-bases had about twenty-five fighters with the remaining fighters being shared by base-camps and quick-reaction forces.

Counting noses and looking at the supply trucks, Chernovsky asked Tomanica and Gimp “If we cut them off, how long do you think they can hold out using the supplies on those trucks?”

Chernovsky had already made his own calculations and wanted a reality check.

Both Gimp and Tomanica guess “About three days.”
275 gallon water cube

Chernovsky nodded. “I see two water-cubes on each supply truck.” referring to the 275 gallon IBC cubes riding immediately behind the truck cabs.

“Doing some quick math, at three hundred fighters to the mile, that is about four gallons of potable water per person. Depending on the weather and discipline….how long will that last?”

Looking at the fighters with critical eyes, Tomanica answered first. “If they were careful, maybe four days. Otherwise, two days at best.”

Gimp nodded his agreement.

“Ok, here is my plan. See if you can poke any holes in it…” Chernovsky said. He had recent experience with thirst and wanted to make use of it.

Shortly before sunset, flurries of shots rang out from the Capiche side of the Livingston County line.

It caught them off-guard. Other than a few half-hearted probes from Benicio, there had been almost no resistance. Richards expected that to change tomorrow when he sent his three roving quick-reaction teams into Capiche to rampage.

Most of the shot seemed to miss. It made fighters dive for cover. The shooting went on for about fifteen minutes. It seemed to ebb-and-flow up and down the line.

A moderately competent rifleman, firing a off-the-rack rifle can hit an eight inch paper plate 9-out-of-10 times. There are a couple of qualifiers. The shots must not be hurried and the odds improve when the shooter is firing from the prone position or with the aid of a steady rest.

Chernovsky's chosen shooters were significantly better than "moderately competent" and the rifles were the best available. Sleeping bags were unrolled on the ground to provide comfortable positions from which to fire prone.

A few minutes into the desultory firing from the Capiche side of the line, shots hit the window glass of some of the vehicles. Even before the boom of the shot that shattered the glass died out, a second shot followed that hit one of the water cubes close to the bottom.

Compared to hitting a paper plate at two hundred yards, hitting the bottom half of a 40" cube at distances that varied from 200 yards to 440 yards was a walk in the park.

A few more minutes of firing and a second bullet punched a hole near the top of each cube.

The Livingston County response to the firing was hampered by the fact that they were shooting into the setting sun. The draconian restrictions on ammo expenditure did not help them, either.

By the time the sun had finally set, every water cube had two holes in them, one high and one low and were slowly weeping away their precious contents.

A hole that is 0.3” in diameter isn’t very big, but night is almost fourteen hours long in late October. There was very little water left in the cubes in the morning when the troops first noticed the puddles next to the supply trucks.

Monday, February 17, 2020

A letter of appreciation to Mr Mark Zuckerberg


It was reported in the news that Mr Zuckerberg threw up his hands and said something to the effect "All you guys want to do is criticize. I cannot decide what speech is hateful and should be forbidden and which is protected under the Bill of Rights. If you want me to censor my corner of the internet you have to legislate what is, and isn't permissible."

The conservative slice of the internet went nuts. "OMG, it is all over now."

I think the conservatives are looking at it all wrong.

Me and Zuck
First, I want everybody to know that me and Zuck are not best-buds. We don't socialize. We move in different circles.

I am not fond of his products nor do I think the market valuation of his companys' products are sustainable.

But I commend him on his business acumen and his focus.

Optimistically, there is a 1e-4 -to- 1e-05 chance that Mr Zuckerburg will be informed of this letter.

Mortality and Morbidity of Hate Speech
One must conclude that Hate Speech sports a M&M rate much higher than suicide based on the number of minutes devoted to it on the major news networks.

Such a high degree of virulence demands the highest level of scrutiny and our very best "best science".

That would be the Food and Drug Administration.

In 2018, the 19,000 paid employees of the FDA approved 59 new drugs for various uses. That equates to 322 man-years per drug.

We could expect similar levels of productivity for the banning of words.

Given that there are at least 200 slang words for the tallywhacker, anaconda, pocket rocket, it will take almost four years to eradicate the irresponsible use of those euphemisms.

There are at least as many slang words in common usage for the female counterpart of the chicken, ol' blue, sparky.

Transparency
The insidious thing about the PC pressure for Facebook and others to censor free speech is the lack of transparency. My buddy Zuck cannot win. Somebody will always swoon.

By handing the responsibility to Congress to legislate and thence to the Executive branch to execute, transparency will be served and decisions can be challenged in court.

The censoring of a given word, "Slinky" for instance, can be challenged by those who would be economically damaged by the carte blanch striking of all posts, essays, articles and ads that mention "Slinky", for instance.

Mr Zuckerberg, recognizing that he had been given a no-win task dumped the mess back into the laps of the grandstanding camera hogs. He made them "own" it.

Zuck, you done good.

A good plan executed quickly (fiction)


Mark Richards, for all of his character deficiencies, was a meticulous and focused planner.

The tanks, trucks and personnel transports exited from the depots at precise times, +/- twenty seconds. They proceeded at exactly twenty-five miles per hour to the integration points and they “zippered” together with a minimum of drama.

From there, the sixty battle-groups proceeded west on I-96 at the same twenty-five miles per hour.

It took two weeks to convince Torvaldsen that the provacations were lone-wolf attacks. While the diplomatic corps were working the issues with Milford/Highland, Richards was putting together a case to strip Rife and Patrick of nearly all of their forces for his invasion.

His plan was simple. Cut Benicio off from his food base by building a fortified line south and west of Delta Township. Then, send raiders out into the agricultural areas to force Benicio’s hand. He would be forced to cross the fortified line to save his farmers.

I-96 very tidily defined the southern and western edges of Delta Township. As a divided highway with service roads, it provided an near-ideal environment for razor wire and fire-teams spaced every three-hundred yards.

Richards did not trust the fire-teams to repel a serious attack. They were under-equipt, under-trained and unmotivated. But the fire-teams would simultaneously slow down the attack and announce it.

Richards had roving reinforcements, armor, positioned on the service roads to reinforce the fire-teams.

The attack force left at eight in the morning. Richards did not know what tore up Derious’s force, but Richards wanted to encounter it in the daylight. That, and he was bringing almost three-thousand soldiers to Derious’s two-hundred.

Part of Richards’ plan, the one he presented to Torvaldsen, was that he would break Benicio’s back and then send the “extra” troops back. Doctrine stated that the offense needed a three-to-one numerical advantage to succeed. Benicio had a thousand fighters. To send less than three thousand was to plan to fail.

Richards’ plan stripped the cupboard bare. Of course he would send the extra troops back after he no longer needed them.

Yeah, right. (sarcasm font)

The fire-teams were sequenced. The ones with the farthest to go were in front. The ones who were penciled in to secure the line closest to Livingston County were at the rear.

As they approached Benicio’s territory, the majority of the vehicles moved over to the east-bound lanes. The only trucks that stayed in the west-bound lanes were the concertina wire laying trucks. Again, the ones in front were tasked with driving up to specific mile-markers before starting their wire drop.

It has often been observed that God has extra guardian angels assigned to drunks, fools and young children. On this day in late October, he also smiled benevolently on the Livingston County force.

Every man-jack and nearly every able-bodied person over the age of ten in Capiche were harvesting potatoes, apples and ear corn. By 2010 standards, the corn was too moist to harvest but many cribs had been built where ear-corn would be under a roof and drying breezes could infiltrate and complete the drying. Unlike the previous year when much of the corn had been harvested when snow lay thigh-deep in the fields and much had been rendered unfit for human consumption by mold, Capiche vowed to get every ear, every kernel into the barn in good condition.

Benicio’s forces were twarted by other factors. Richards anticiopated resistance from that direction and was prepared to suppress it. Initial efforts were scattered and disorganized.

Two hours after Benicio had been informed of the invasion, Richards was dug-in from mile-marker 92-to-104 with a fire-team every two-tenths of a mile. Preliminary reports indicated that Richards had scouts positioned out ten miles from the ends of the mainline to forestall flanking maneuvers. Livingston County drones filled the air.

*

Discussion around the Capiche planning sand-table was acrimonious.

Predictably, the people who had been the most certain that Livingston County was not a threat remembered events differently. Many of their sentences started with “I told you….”

Rick Salazar had advised Chernovsky to let the loud-mouths spout...for about forty minutes. Everybody was stressed. Nearly everybody had to vent before they could buckle down and get to work.

The total idiots would thoroughly discredit themselves. At that point, Chernovsky could take control of the table.

Taking their lead from Chernovsky, nobody wasted any energy arguing with those who claimed to have 20/20 eyesight.

“I have a few questions.” Chernovsky gained everybody’s attention.

“What will it take to accelerate our original plan to cut transportation between here and Livingston County?” Chernovsky asked.

One of the braver gad-flies, emboldened by the liquid lunch he braced himself with before the meeting challenged Chernovsky. “This invasion throws those plans into the toilet. You guys fucked up and the old plan isn’t going to save you.”

Chernovsky looked at the man whose face was flushed and who was breathing heavily.

“It was a good plan a month ago. It is a good plan now” Chernovsky said mildly. “The only thing that changed was the timing. But I think we all know that regardless of when they attacked, we would not have been ready. That is why I am asking what it will take to speed up the plan, to get the timing back into alignment with the reality of today's battlefield.”

The delivery was so matter-of-fact and practical that everybody else around the table accepted it as a done-deal.

Tomanica spoke up first. “We need a crew to pre-assemble demolitions. I need Milo and his truck. I also need about fifty gallons of gasoline for fuel and an ass-load of black coffee.”

Chernovsky looked at Milo.

“The hole drilling process is still the bottleneck. I can speed that up if I make trombones with three different lengths. I can hook them up on their own run of hose and turn them on-and-off with quarter-turn ball valves.”

Milo put a piece of lined paper on the table. “This is what I need to make the three trombones. My biggest problem is getting fire-hose.”

Chernovsky looked over at Rick Salazar. “Do you have anybody who can go to Paul Seraph. I bet they have fire-hose in some of the old school houses.”

Rick said “I am on it.”

“This is like magic.” Chernovsky said. “The key to making magic work is to have the audience looking someplace else.”

“Our jobs, tonight, is to have the dickheads from Livingston County looking everywhere but at Doan Creek and the West Branch of the Red Cedar river.

Sunday, February 16, 2020

Where is Indonesia?

Number of Covid-19 cases, by country, as reported in Wikipedia Feb 16, 2020.

As expected from the virus' origin in China, distribution is roughly related to proximity to China, economic ties to China and percent of population that is ethnic Chinese.

Population that claims to be ethnic Chinese
Comparing the two lists, the one country that stands out as having many citizens of Chinese ethnicity and is in close proximity to China but has yet to report any Covid-19 cases is Indonesia.

Why is that an issue?
There are two scenarios.

One has authorities on the existing cases like hobos on ham sandwiches. They are all over it. And they are not reporting for political reasons. That is the more desirable of the two scenarios.

The other scenario, the less savory one, is that the authorities are oblivious to the eight or more people infected with Covid-19, wandering around Jakarta infecting hundreds or thousands of other people.

Why did I pick eight out of my rectal region? Because there are 22 reported cases in Malaysia and Malaysia is equidistant from China and has three times the number of ethnic Chinese. At this point, one would expect the number of cases in Indonesia to be approximately 1/3 the number in Malaysia. Reported numbers lags actual cases, particularly when an epidemic is in the growth stages.

Another anomaly is Venezuela. They have many ethnic Chinese even though they are far from mainland China. Given the state of that country, consider what a goat festival that would create. The resulting diaspora of potentially infected Venezuelans could bring Central and South America to its knees.

The fickle finger of fate in epidemiology
Those streaks of apathy, or poor or ignorant or oppositional populations are what make epidemics "interesting". They are the Wedgie Stewarts of the Seven Cows story.

The one patient who deliberately infects as many others as possible.

The people who have substance abuse issues or work in "the sex industry" or are marginalized (sometimes by their own choice)...they are the joker in the deck.

Why do I characterize them as streaks rather than pockets of apathy? Because pockets are contained while streaks can reach out and touch any one of us.

Adventures in buying a new truck

To cut to the chase, no, I do not have a new truck.

The truck we looked at Saturday is a good example in the frustration.

I found a vehicle that fell within the basket of age, miles and price.

We drove to Grand Rapids, an eighty minute drive.

The woman selling the truck was waiting for us in a running vehicle. Clearly, she did not live where the truck was parked.

She admitted that she did not own the truck. It was her husband's. I didn't think any more about it. Her voice had slight traces of eastern European around the edges.

The truck was super clean. Very little rust.

It also had six inches of snow on it and it did not want to start.

Oil was newly changed and over filled.

I took it for a drive. The steering was heavy and the steering wheel was positioned 90 degrees from factory setting.

I was not able to verify the mileage because the DIC (get your mind out of the gutter, it means Driver Information Center) would not stop scrolling error messages.

The price was about $1400 less than Kelly Blue Book.

I told the woman I was interested.

I got back home AND....various VIN checkers told me the VIN was invalid.

I asked the woman to take a picture of the VIN. An hour later she sent me a crappy, almost unreadable picture. Fortunately, I have several sets of young, confident eyes.

That VIN checked out. The vehicle had been totaled out in 2019.

So...maybe there was a reason for all of the air-bag codes.

I called the lady back and said "Thanks, but no thanks."

She suggested that maybe I could have it for a lower price.

Again, "Thanks but no thanks."

I felt a huge sense of relief. The "unavailability" of her husband bothered me.

Was he in prison? Deported? On Deployment? Had they split up? Was she a cleaning lady who worked for a senile, old woman and selling a vehicle that REALLY was not hers?

The hunt continues.

A few pictures of the NSAID shelves at Walmart






Photos of the shelves that hold NSAID like ibuprofen, aspirin, acetaminaphen and naproxin.

Picture taken at 8:00 AM Sunday, Feb 16 in Lansing, Michigan.

I don't know what the stocking rotation is but I did not expect to see the shelves this picked-over.


Acetaminophen (Tylenol) was one of the high-runners.
Naproxen was the other high-runner. Ibuprofen and aspirin still available in large amounts.
This kind of post is more of a curiosity than hard data. It could be the start of hoarding. It could be hiccups in Just-in-Time inventory. It could be a sign of a brutal flu season or of a third-shift shelf stocker calling in sick.