Wednesday, March 22, 2017


First the good news:  
My brother is out of surgery.  He was on the table for ten hours.  Adjacent organs and lymph nodes had lesions.  They biopsied the lesions in real-time (!) and they were benign. 

The tumor had attached to a nearby blood vessel, which was not expected.  They did whatever they did, dumped in two bottles of with any color antifreeze and called it GTG.

He is off the table and is recovering.

The bad news:
I did not get to spend the day out in the woods.

The dishwasher stopped working.

This unit tested out bad.  It is a thermal fuse and is supposed to have zero resistance.  It pegged my meter, that is, open circuit.

The part costs $23 and should be delivered by the brown truck of happiness on Saturday.  I ran the screws back into the holes and pushed the dishwasher back into the cubby.  I did not completely reassemble as I need to tear it back apart on Saturday.

That might not fix the dishwasher.  There is probably a reason the thermal fuse went and I did not address that.  I look at it as a $23 lottery ticket that might allow me to put off spending $400 for a few more years.

My day was still better than my brother's but it was not what I planned.

The Confederate flag and Guyland

Fellow blogger, Pawpaw wrote in the comments of a recent post "...As for the battle flag, it should rightfully go on the dust-heap of history."

I respectfully disagree with Mr. Pawpaw.  Here is why.

Young Knuckleheads
Redundant, no?

Mark Twain once quipped that
Teenagers should be stuffed into a barrel and fed through the bunghole.  Upon turning eighteen the decision should be made whether to let them out or to drive in the bung plug.

More recently, author Michael Kimmel makes the case that young men enter a no-mans-land between ages 14 and 26.  He contends that young men's physical (and reproductive) abilities, mental and emotional capabilities and society's expectations are grossly mismatched during that age span.  Many young men go into a state of suspended animation, a parallel reality of video games, trucks, pot, beer, porn and misogyny.  Kimmel calls this parallel reality "Guyland".

So, who is most likely to fall into "Guyland"?  Who is most likely to see the Confederate flag as a cultural icon that represents them?

Probably the 14-to-26 year olds whose ability to verbally process and argue their case is not up to full, adult standards.  They are verbally overwhelmed.

Driven and on the defensive, they dig in and become oppositional.  They refuse to play the enemy's game on the enemy's home turf.

Like a toddler clamping his mouth shut and refusing to eat whirled peas, the Guylandians exercise the only power they have.

Eliminating the flag will not erase the demographic (or their issues)

So my question is, what will they use to replace the Confederate flag?  The demographic will not go away.  There will always be a bottom 33% of the verbal ability population.  There will always be young knuckleheads acting like, well, knuckleheads.

Eric Hoffer wrote about The True Believer in the book of the same name.  He contends that young men are driven to thuggish organizations by their feelings of alienation and powerlessness.  Alone, they are easy prey for lawyers, fast talkers, used car salesmen and other sharpers.  In the dark of night, within a mob of like-minded thugs they are powerful and cause fear.  They crave this respect.

It matters little to the True Believer whether they are busting heads for Communism or NAZI ideals or Nationalism or whatever.  They crave respect.

If you deprive the knuckleheads of the Confederate flag, what will they run to?  You just pissed all over their respect.

At least the Confederate ideals honor individuality and minimize collective actions like the wholesale busting the shop windows of all the people you do not like (Kristallnacht).  The violence you see on the evening news is rarely perpetrated by folks wearing Confederate flags.

I contend that the Confederate flag is a symbol of defiance, and emblem of "You can't make me!" and an icon of a healthy skepticism of "authority."   And be honest here, as mature adults do you REALLY believe that everybody who claims to have your best interest at heart is worthy of unquestioned authority?

I want to think that most of my excesses of youth are behind me.  But even as I leave my youth, and its needs behind me, there are other knuckleheads just entering Guyland.  I might not have a burning need for the Confederate flag but that does not mean that others do not have a need.  Throwing the Confederate flag on the dust-heap of history would be a mistake because all of the other alternative that would fill that vacuum are worse.

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Ladders and Rise/Run

In case you were wondering about the origin of the hoary rule-of-thumb that the rise-over-run for a ladder should be 3:1 or 4:1

A ladder.  The red arrow is the weight of the person climbing the ladder.  Obviously, that person can be anywhere between the bottom rung and the top of the ladder.  The top of the ladder is treated as a roller.  It can only push perpendicular to the ladder.
This is called a free body diagram.  The upper contact point is replaced with a force vector and force vectors are also pencilled in at the bottom.
The critical coefficient of friction is the ratio between the vertical force between the ground and the horizontal force that must resist the sliding of the ladder.  In many engineering applications, a coefficient of friction of 0.15 is assumed for smooth, flat surfaces like sheet steel.
Grinding through the math the critical coefficient of friction equals something like Cos(theta)^2*d/l/(1-sin(theta)*cos(theta)*d/l)  where theta is the inside angle of the ladder and the ground.  The math is included in case anybody wants to check my algebra.

Something interesting happens as the person climbs the ladder;  the critical coefficient of friction goes up.  The downward force stays constant but the horizontal force goes up as the person gets closer to the top.

2.7:1 is slightly iffy.  3.7:1 is safe.  In case you were wondering about the weird numbers, 2.7:1 is 70% and 3.7:1 is 75 degrees.
The heck of it is that the ladder is perfectly safe...until you get way up high and have much potential energy and then....SURPRISE!

The sweet spot for safety is somewhere in the 3:1 and the 4:1 ratio.  Ratios are used because most guys on the job site do not have a protractor to measure the angle but are very good at eyeballing ratios or distance in feet.

Extree parts

My brother will be going into surgery tomorrow.  The doctor intends to remove parts that were identified as "surplus to need".  Or, in the words of Jethro Bodine, "extree parts".

We were told he would be in surgery for about six hours, so it is pretty involved.  Then he will have another two weeks after surgery while all the parts that passed through the Bass-o-matic can heal back together.

My niece put together a prayer schedule.  We are slotted from 8PM until 9PM.  There is already a full complement packing the waiting room so we will not be there.

Other than praying, I intend to spend the day doing the things my brother wishes he could be out doing on a cool, sunny March day.

Any and all prayers will be appreciated.

Guerrilla Gardening



One of my coffee drinking buddies was complaining about folks parking in the handicapped spots.  He is eighty-two years old and has eight stents.  He has a handicapped parking plate.

He complained to the management about the handicapped sign being obscured by the shrubbery.  They did not have the tools to respond.

I overheard the complaint and took care of the issue in the dim light of the early morn.

I was humming a song by BTO while I chopped the shrubbery into submission.  Great fun.

When smart people are really stupid

The same people who think this is art and must be protected as "freedom of expression"

think that flying flags is an act of naked aggression and should be illegal.

Monday, March 20, 2017

Enjoyable "Sudden Fiction" website

Seen while watching my back-trail.

Laurie Boris, competently written, fast reads, hook-at-the-end stories.

Probably not life changing for anybody but a very pleasant distraction.