Sunday, February 5, 2023

I am still here

Today has been a very low energy day. The lymph nodes beneath my jaw are enlarged so I may be fighting something off.

The snow is melting fast. The weather-guessers are predicting that six of the next seven days will have highs above freezing. This might be a good time to frost seed the pasture. I have some creeping-alfalfa seed I want to spread.


We have a relatively small fireplace insert in our living-room. Unlike the massive, outdoor boilers that many of my neighbors have, it is fussy about the size of the wood it likes.

I have the starting procedure nailed. A couple of split pieces of ash, a wax impregnated fire-starter between the split-ash and then a double-handful of "small-wood" laid across the split-ash where the flames of the wax fire starter will lick them.

---A moment of silence while my fellow 'tards chuckle about ERJ's "small wood". Its OK. I am secure in my masculinity. I would be chortling if our positions were reversed---

Where was I?

Oh, the small wood.

Pieces between 3/4" and 1-1/2" diameter work best. Sumac rocks but any wood will do as long as it is dry. Since the rack that holds the ash-splits is not very deep, the small-wood only needs to be 4"-to-8" long to span from one to the other.

---Let me hold your beer while you laugh. Laughter is good for the soul and the digestion---

The thing is that I need a lot of pieces although that is not much weight.

Fortunately, I have scads of Box Elder that volunteered all around the property and it very happily puts out stems of that diameter with great abandon. In Europe it would be considered a copse. I take my loppers and behead the stem where it splits into many stems and then work my way down the stick cutting it to the desired length.

The current plan is to dump the sticks into a large dog "crate" in one of the barns. The crate will be up on a pallet and the welded-wire sides should allow the air to flow through it with ease. Between the short stick-length, the diagonally cut ends and the awesome airflow, I should have an abundance of dried small-wood for next year.

Saturday, February 4, 2023

Breaking news

The Communist China balloon off the east coast was shot down by order of Biden before it could pass over Delaware and spot the classified documents used to mulch the rhododendrons landscaping the Biden estate.

Biden is reported to have said "They can't get them that easily. They have to pay just like everybody else."

Random observations

Funny, I don't remember Commie balloons floating over the US before "Anything for a Buck" Biden got into the Inflation business.


Democratic National Committee moves first 2024 Prez Primary to South Carolina citing that South Carolina "looks more like America" than Iowa or New Hampshire.

Compared to the US population, South Carolina has 2X more African-Americans and less than 40% of the Hispanics in terms of percentages. Advantage: Kamala Harris.

Dems must be mathematically impaired: Disrespecting the fastest growing segment of the United States to the advantage of the segment that aborts their children at 3X the national average.

Eagles and Lead

Eaton Rapids was in the news because some local luminary claimed that nearly all of the eagles he had examined had been poisoned by lead.

A quick search on his name reveals that he is in his VERY early 20s and is not a veterinary doctor nor is he credited with a Ph.D.

Furthermore, he works at a wildlife rehabilitation facility where sick animals are brought for "therapy" with the intention of reintroducing them to the wild. One might suppose that the animals brought to the facility are not representative of the larger population.

Zooming back a little bit, it appears that many environmentalists want to enact California's restrictions on lead-based ammunition to all 57 states. They point to studies involving hundreds of raptors showing high levels of lead. The facts that they choose to present make a compelling case for the elimination of lead.

But what are they not telling us?

The study implies that many of the raptors that were assayed as having high lead levels were collected in California where lead ammo has been prohibited since 2013. If the raptors from California had significantly lower lead levels then the article would have trumpeted that information from the treetops.

And yet they still want to prohibit lead-based ammo...even though its on-the-ground effectiveness is still more theoretical than proven.

When non-toxic shot for waterfowl was first proposed, the "science" claimed that ducks and geese had functional gizzards. That organ processes food by grinding grains and hard foods with grit. The scientists of the day claimed that waterfowl picked up lead "shot" when collecting grit and the shot would be ground to very fine powder in the gizzard.

Lead is a relatively inert metal. It has been used to line coffins, for instance. It was only by increasing the surface area by two orders of magnitude, via grinding, that enough toxic Pb ions could be leached from the material consumed by the waterfowl to pose a health risk.

Raptors do not eat grain. They do not have functional gizzards. The shot (and bullet fragments) are not reduced in size through the digestive system. So where does the lead come from?

Furthermore, if lead in animal corpses is such a risk, why does it not seem to impact crows and buzzards? Or, for that matter, possums and coyotes. We don't seem to have a crisis in the population of any of those critters.

Just to add to the confusion, maybe mammals trap toxic metals in their livers and maybe large raptors preferentially eat the livers of carrion. Looking back at Greek mythology, Prometheus's punishment for giving humanity fire was to be bound to a rock and to have his liver eaten by an eagle.

Those Greeks were not stupid. They did not pull "...eagle eating his liver..." out of their nethermost.


Time is a funny thing.

One of my younger brothers was a firefighter. They were on a call that involved a woman in her seventies driving an Olds Delta 88 into an immovable structure. The front end of the body crumpled and the dash collapsed downward and trapped her.

My brother had enough gray whiskers to be running the crew that was tasked with extricating her. It did not go well.

One of the complications was there was also a team of EMTs who ran some large-bore needles into her arms and hooked up bags of Ringers with blood pressure cuffs around them. The assumption was that she may have severed arteries in her legs and the pressure of the dash had pinched them shut. That meant that once she was sprung loose, they had to quickly survey for red fluid and if they saw any to crack up the pressure to the cuffs, forcing the volume extender into her system so she would not bleed-out between hither-and-yon ambulance.

So my brother's team was dancing on a very congested dance floor with the EMTs.

Plan A failed

Plan A is to put blocks or chocks beneath the front door hinge pillar and to snip the windshield side-posts with the Jaws of Life. The body opens like a clam and the dash is lifted up off the old girl's legs. Except it didn't work in this case. For whatever reason the dash did not lift up, as was the case in maybe 25% of the extrications. No worries. Little Bro had a Plan B lined up.

Plan B failed

Plan B was to assist the upward lifting of the hinge-pillar with porta-powers or pancake hydraulic cylinders.

I forget why Plan B did not work but it may have had something to do with not being able to get enough space to wedge the necessary equipment in place.

Plan C

Plan C was radical. It involved running the seat as far rearward as possible and cutting three-of-four legs (front-center leg not being accessible) holding up the seat track with the Jaws of Life. Then dumping the seat back full rearward and yanking the old girl out of the grips of the Delta 88 like yanking a carrot out of damp compost.

Plan C worked.

The Battalion Chief hit his stop-watch. It was the practice of this middle-sized, mid-Western town to have an observer documenting events, both for potential litigation but also to document potential best-practices. It was the BC's job to over-ride the team-lead if he was going down a rabbit hole, if he was spinning his wheels or if the scope of the task grew beyond the resources that were originally given that task.

"Hey, Buckwheat, wanna guess how long it took your team to execute the extrication?" the Battalion Chief asked Little Bro.

My brother was drenched with sweat and shaking from the adrenaline rush. "I dunno. Maybe 90 minutes...75 at the quickest."

"Bad guess" the Battalion Chief said. "Seventeen minutes and short-change."

The first 5k

I bailed out. The windchill is predicted to be -5 F at the start of the run.

Mrs ERJ and I went to the gym last night and I attempted a "virtual 5k" on a treadmill.

Like my little brother's Plan A, it did not fare so well. I made it 1.8 miles before I hit-the-silk. It was just not my day. The pace was on-track for a 42 minute 5k but I just did not have the stamina or the motivation.

I enjoy running outside. I can speed up or slow-down without having to push buttons or worry about being pitched out the manure-spreader end of the machine. I am entertained by the changing scenery around me.

Treadmills in a gym....not so much.

The good news is that my leg was not holding me back. It was my ability to move oxygen from the air to my bloodstream.

People who do not make plans with allowances for failures are planning to fail.

Or something like that.

Friday, February 3, 2023

Fake News Friday: University gives same exam to all students

Pythagorean Theorem

To "privileged students": Derive the Pythagorean theorem from first principles. Make notes in the margins in period-correct Greek.

To students with only one-degree of intersectionality: Write a five-hundred (500) word essay titled "What color is the Pythagorean Theorem and how does that make me feel"

To students with more than one-degree of intersectionality: Circle one (1) shape in the picture shown below that is a triangle

A look into Shannon's thinking

If I were a better writer than I am, I would be able to smoothly work the following thought processes into the story and it would be totally understandable and believable.

But I have limits in my writing ability and the M-W-F format makes it difficult to stitch together a coherent gestalt of how Shannon thinks and where she is going.

BUT: As a blogger I can toss in 'splainer pieces like this one.

Why don't vice cops arrest the drug dealers on the corner?

Primarily because their replacements are stacked five-deep behind them and the stree-corner will be vacant for about 27 minutes before the guy you whisked down to the station is replaced.

The vice cop will invest at least two hours of his life and $1200 in administrative costs to put a 27 minute air-bubble in the drug pipeline and the two-bit drug dealer gets a hot meal out of the deal to-boot.

The vice cop might drag him down to the station to squeeze him for information. Or if the cop is forced to do it by the dealer committing some other crime in front of him.

If Ce'Diff got whacked, she would be replaced in a couple of days by a clone that was at least as vile and as repulsive.

Convergent evolution

The idea of "convergent evolution" is that the species that exist in nearly identical habitats will look very similar even if they habitats are 8000 miles apart and the genetic base of those species were totally different.

Every "High desert" has the equivalent of kangaroo-mice, pack-rats, rattlesnakes and red-tailed hawks. It does not matter if it is in Nevada, Australia, or Iran. Life-forms evolve and bend to most optimally harvest moisture and calories while avoiding potentially lethal environmental challenges. Consequently, the habitat ends up being inhabited by remarkably similar looking "chess pieces".

A thoughtful person might step back a few paces and ask "Was there an ecological niche for Ce'Diff in the business world in 1990?" and for the most part the answer is a resounding "NO!".

The reason is that the system that makes Ce'Diff inevitable is wasteful of human time and capital. Businesses that tolerated Ce'Diff in 1985 would last about as long as a company that was trying to peddle NASA priced toilet seats across from a Menards outlet.

In the core of Shannon's heart, she is a banker. She knows at a cellular level that there MUST be some vast, hidden subsidies that keep the Ce'Diff system in place. Find the engine that moves those subsidies and throw a handful of grit into the gearbox and she will do a thousand times more damage to the system than throwing battery acid into Ce'Diff's face.