Thursday, October 18, 2018

Touch a name on the wall


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


From the dog house to feasting in the Hall of Heroes

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

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

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

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



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

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

Property tax rates in Eaton and Ingham counties (Michigan)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

It is a little bit frosty this morning.

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

Cold work, that.

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

Zeke and Cletus in Waltucky

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Raymond had been practicing the spiel.

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

She rearranged her notes three times before addressing Raymond.

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

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

"Is that your final answer?" RAymond asked.

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

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

"What?" Professor Yee exclaimed.

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

"What?" Professor Yee squawked again.

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

Outrage competed for disbelief on Professor Yee's face.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Wednesday, October 17, 2018

The high point of the week

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

Magazine release.

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

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

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


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

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

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

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