Tuesday, April 13, 2021

Fine Art Tuesday

Today's artist is Melik Brown of Lansing.

He lives in Mom's neighborhood.

I was walking the dog when I saw him open his garage door. I saw an easel. I asked if he was an artist.

It was his father's easel. He showed me some of his father's paintings. Sadly, most of his work had been lost in a house-fire.

Then Melik told me he took photographs. He added that he would paint but he lacked his father's ability to render the picture in his head onto the canvas.

His father started painting while deployed in Vietnam. One of the surviving pictures is a self-portrait of his father standing behind a table of jack-fruit at an open air market.

Melik grew up on Oscoda, Michigan when it was home of Wurtsmith Airforce Base.

So, as a favor to a home-town guy, I present a sampler of his work.

These images and many others are available HERE.

The best way to contact him to purchase high-quality images is to shoot him a text at (five-one-seven) two-eight-five four-two-two-four

This is my favorite. NEVER give up.


Keeping my eye on the ball


Average number of deaths-per-day of 65-to-infinity aged Michigan residents by specific causes of death Source


Michigan has approximately 1.7 million residents age 65 and older.

I pulled the cause-of-death data for that age group for years 2015-through-2019, inclusive. That is, the five most recent years NOT impacted by Covid-19.

Here is the tabular form of the data.


"Ischemic" is related to an inadequate supply of blood to a body part, usually created by a blockage like a clot.

In some cases the data is lumped together since I did not think readers care about which particular region of the heart got nuked by a clot. Risks and prevention are the same regardless of region.

In other cases I tabulated the non-aggregated causes. An example would be the Malignant neoplasts (cancer) of specific organs since risk profiles for various organs can vary significantly by specific lifestyle choices.

One item that made me chuckle was the Cause of Death listed as "Accidental drowning and submersion" although in retrospect Intentional... shows up as a suicide or homicide.

Monday, April 12, 2021

When Cynicism is your Armor

Cynicism has blind spots.

For one thing, cynics believe that every human is a rational-being solely motivated by their own best interest. There is ample evidence that the native human operating system is emotional and rationality is frosting smeared over the top. Sometimes a thick layer. Sometimes thin. Usually non-existent.

Those times when the typical human ventures forth into rationality, it is to justify some bone-headed decision that popped out of their emotion-driven operating system. Hence the origin of the word "rationalize".

Cynicism as body armor
Comments on body armor at the 7:20 mark

It calls to mind something Clint Smith (an icon in the shooting world) said about body armor. "It isn't going to protect you from somebody who does not know where to shoot you or somebody who is a lousy shot....say, roughly 95% of the people who carry handguns"

Cynicism is not going to protect you from people when their brains are stuck in their native operating system (emotion) nor will it protect you from stupid people. Consequently, cynicism is an "armor" that will leave you unprotected at least 95% of the time.

Cynicism as your master's gloves

Furthermore, the pet-rocks that own prime-time TV are gifted at engaging cynicism and stoking it to outrage. Rage is emotion. Rage supplies an neuro-chemical "high". It is addictive.

Moving otherwise rational people back into emotion driven thought processes allows our would-be masters to manipulate us like a liquid.

As a general rule, if somebody is attempting to manipulate you, it is rarely to help you make a decision that will be in your, best, long-term benefit. Rather, they are manipulating you to maximize their advantage.

Cynicism has its uses but don't let the tool be your master or those who know how to wield it will be your master.

Cynicism as a thief

Finally, cynicism robs you of the joy of meeting people who are windows to God's goodness.

There are good people out there. There are also people operating on a logic system that might be opaque to you. Some of us bank on Karma. Others have sworn sacred oaths to "professionalism".

Life can suck. Don't let cynicism suck the joy out of it.

Prince Not-Harry


Remnant: Missed Steaks were made

Frank Sudak cursed at his dog Prince. Prince was a sixty-five pound dog of uncertain ancestry. Folks looking at him guessed Chow and Husky and maybe a bit of Lab.

Frank had picked him up because he saw a bit of Blue Heeler in him. Frank was 72 and chasing those beeves around his forty acres was getting to be a pain. Maybe Prince did have a bit of Heeler in him but there were so many other breeds mixed in that he never was much of a cattle dog.

Frank loved his dog but he could be a pain. A deer could not pass a quarter-mile upwind of the house without Prince giving him a piece of his mind. But this time it was different. Prince was mad. Really, really mad.

Frank aimed a good-natured cuff at Prince, a blow which he easily avoided. Prince kept at his barking.

That is when Frank realized that Prince wasn’t barking at a window that was on the upwind side of the house. Prince had not smelled something that lit him up. He heard it.

Frank cracked the curtain and looked out the window.

“Son-of-a-BITCH!” Frank cursed. There was just enough moonlight to see a pickup truck in his pasture and people running around. Then he saw an arm raised up level and heard the “Pop” of a handgun. Then “Pop, pop, pop, pop...” as the mama cow ran off.

Then the figures ran toward the milling, frantic herd because the cow he had (presmably) shot didn’t fall and started shooting at the milling mass.

The truck was on the far side of the pasture. They had driven up the two-track and cut their way in. Frank hoped they had gotten a hell of a jolt from the fence. Frank had been called a cheap, old, bastard more than once but there were some things he did not economize on. His fence energizer was one of them.

Frank figured they were three hundred yards out. He pulled off his sherpa lined jacket and folded it into quarters and laid it across the hood of his 1978 F-150.

The Japanese Arisaka rifle was ludicrously long. His grandpa purchased it at the hardware store when there were barrels full of WWII weapons priced slightly higher than the price of tomato stakes. Grandpappy picked one with a decent bore.

His daddy passed it on to his brother John because John LOVED firearms. John glass bedded the action and added a Timney trigger (which completely destroyed the collectors value of the weapon) and added a rear peep-sight. He also handloaded up a couple hundred rounds of ammo with modern, 120 grain softpoints.

Frank inherited the weapon when John died of cancer. He kept it behind the kitchen door in case a pack of wild dogs decided to harry his herd of cows.

It seemed like an eternity before Frank could find the front sight and get it lined up on one of the men in the field.

The results were a foregone conclusion. One combatant was using a steady-rest and could take a red-squirrel out of the top of a seventy-foot tall Black Walnut with an open-sighted .22.

The other side played video games and believed that holding a plastic framed, semi-auto pistol sideways while firing imbued the rounds with target-seeking capabilities.

Frank was in no hurry to go down-range to assess the damages. He called his buddy, Old Willy. Willy was in his mid-80s.

“What the hell are you shooting at over there?” Willy asked. Even through the tough times the cell phone towers received priorities on power.

“I had a ‘spot of bother’ over here” Frank said. “I could use a hand in an hour or so.”

“’Spot of bother’?” Willy asked.

“You will see when you get here” Frank said.

They used the front-end loader to help hoist the two, obese twenty-something year old men into the cab of the truck.

Willy was not squeamish about dead bodies. He had worked in the morgue of a large hospital in his youth.

Willy drove the truck a couple of miles to the nearest major intersection. He parked it on the shoulder fifty feet from the intersection. He rolled up the windows and locked the doors. Taking a can of spray-paint, Willy wrote the word “THEIVES” on the side of the truck that faced traffic that came from Lansing.

Frank picked him up in the F-150 and both men went home.

In the morning, Frank found one of his animals dead and two mortally wounded. It was with a heavy heart that he “put them down”. The indiscriminate shooting of the bad-guys had also shattered his picture window. Once again, he called Willy. Using the front-end loader on the tractor, they gutted the animals and then hung them from the closest trees large enough to hold their weight. The high for the day would be in the mid-sixties and lows were in the forties.

That is when Frank called the Mayor. “I got some meat for you. What can you gimme for it?”

Sunday, April 11, 2021

No worries. It identifies as "Essential Medical Equipment"


Life is getting interesting around here

Things can change in a hurry.

Mrs ERJ's sister and her husband had some recent health issues. For the sake of privacy and simplicity, both have vertigo and need somebody to assist them, do the laundry and shopping and such.

So, as soon as Mrs ERJ is cleared from Kubota's Covid-induced isolation, she will be winging off to an un-named state for a month.


Kubota was sure he was cured. He got nose-swabbed again Friday and ...... NOPE. Still has it.

I get my second Moderna shot Tuesday and don't expect to be worth much on Wednesday.

Grafting schedule is light this year. I am doing some small, fussy things but nothing in the twenty-to-five-hundred range like other years. One apple seedling got topped with Kerr to give me a back-up tree in case my main tree croaks. Kerr is a niche player but it fills that niche very, very well.

M-26 fruit

I topped out another super-coldhardy variety called Trailman. Kerr always produced five times as much fruit as Trailman. Just for giggles I grafted in a couple of twigs of a rootstock called M-26. According to the USDA-GRIN site, M-26 almost has edible fruit with 14% sugar and reasonable size.

M-26 is horribly susceptible to fireblight and collar rot but is resistant to winter cold and as a late-bloomer should be able to avoid some spring frosts. Trailman tips the scale at 17% sugar and is considered moderately resistant to fireblight and I have no information about collar rot. Trailman is a very early bloomer and survived actual, measured -50 F.

They might not ever "get together" due to the differences in bloom time but the possibility entertains me.