Saturday, May 28, 2022



Mrs ERJ has many super-powers. Foremost among them the ability to be fully invested in the person they are with.

We were talking at 9:05 yesterday morning when she said, "Gotta run. I am getting a call" and then she went dark. I got a text at 8:57 PM "Baby is here. Both mother and baby are beautiful".

Amen, amen, I say to you, you will weep and mourn, while the world rejoices; you will grieve, but your grief will become joy.

When a woman is in labor, she is in anguish because her hour has arrived; but when she has given birth to a child, she no longer remembers the pain because of her joy that a child has been born into the world.

So you also are now in anguish. But I will see you again, and your hearts will rejoice, and no one will take your joy away from you.  John 16:20-22

As long as we are on the topic of super-powers 

Maybe we need more "toxic masculinity", not less

2800 feet yesterday

The branch I intended to graft to broke off when I pulled it closer to do the grafting. I grafted two other branches that were lower. I like to graft above where deer are likely to browse but sometimes I have to make exceptions.
 400 feet to graft a persimmon. This was significantly easier than the mulberries the day before. For one thing, I did not need to traverse the ruts left by the tractor when moving bales of hay across muddy ground nor did I have soft garden soil to deal with. Also, nobody drove up the driveway with a Duramax while I was grafting.

800 feet round-trip from vehicle to visit mom and feed her lunch and back to vehicle. I was on my feet for about 90 minute of the two hour visit.

1600 feet to visit Walmart and buy a tick- collar for Zeus.

The most difficult part of the entire adventure was getting back into the vehicle in the Walmart parking lot. There was a parking place close to the door but the person who parked next to it crowded the line. So I also crowded the line. I was next to the cart corral so I wasn't too worried about pissing off any other drivers. What I did not anticipate was the difficulty of snaking my walking cast back up into the vehicle when I was only able to partially open the door.

Note to self: Don't do that again.

I got home and took a three hour nap.

Signal Intel

A picture of my primary defense weapon
OldNFO and Lawdog briefly touched on Signal-Intel on their most recent pod-cast.

Signal or electronic intelligence has strengths and it has weaknesses. From the standpoint of the people collecting the intelligence its strengths are that it can be done remotely with little physical risk and it is cheap, cheap, cheap.

The downsides from the standpoint of the people collecting information is that it is completely blind to people who do not participate on the internet and whose friends do not participate on the internet. It is also vulnerable to filter-clogging, that is, being overwhelmed with key-word hits and images that are decoys (chaff). Enough hits trigger a human look-see and humans are not cheap, not cheap, not cheap.

Another weakness of automated signal intelligence is that it is blind to context, sarcasm, body language and tone. Human Resources types tell us that less than 20% of the information in face-to-face communication is captured by a transcript.

Given the likelihood of "Red Flag Laws" I expect my blog will get noticed. I hate to disappoint visitors.

Phenology report

Peak Black Locust bloom here.

I had the privilege of traveling by automobile from Denver, CO to Phoenix, AZ in late May of 1985. Iris and Black Locust were blooming in Michigan. Iris and Black Locust were blooming in St. Johns, Arizona, elevation 5680 feet and 34.5 degrees North vs our 900 feet elevation and 42.5 degrees North

Administrative note: Blogging will be a little bit lighter than usual for these last few days of May.

Friday, May 27, 2022

Shrinking your "kit"

How many of us have taken a walk in a park ten miles outside an urban area and seen other hikers fearfully clutching their water bottles? More to the point, they are only fifty yards from the trail-head and they appear to be "Dudes".

I know it sounds like I am slagging on them, but they just don't know any better. Likely, they haven't spent much time outdoors and have little idea of how much distress their bodies can endure under the conditions of 80 degrees F and modest activity levels.

That is one of the beauties of being active. With enough activity, we learn to auto-calibrate. How much water for modest activity like walking at 80F? For me about a half-liter (16.9 oz) an hour will do and 0.7 liters (24 oz) is living high-on-the-hog.

Another example of the amazing, shrinking kit involves hunting with a muzzle-loader.

Front-stuffers attract kit like picnics attract ants and flies. As a young man in my 40s, I carried a small fishing tackle box out to the deer stand filled with 4 ounces of 777, assorted projectiles, a hundred primers, ball-starters..... You get the picture.

By the end of the season I would go out with my smoke-pole, five primers, a single speed-loader and a ball-starter. The ramrod rode on the weapon. I was lighter on my feet and moved more quietly.

The most I ever shot my muzzle-loader was twice in one trip. I had a buck tag and a doe tag and I filled both of them in one morning.

21 minute run-time

This guy is a hard-core backpacker. He claims to have hiked about 10,000 miles in his life. Much of what he says will contradict deeply held beliefs (One-is-none, and two-is-one). I still think he is worth listening to.

Three take-aways for me were "Confront your fears", "Large see-through zippable plastic bags are your friend" and "Multi-use items are preferable to single-purpose items"

Confront your fears

Take small "risks" to stretch your comfort zone. Like the folks clutching a Nalgene in each hand. Maybe drink your fill before setting off on that one-hour hike and only carry ONE Nalgene.

If you are out hiking maybe you consider taking that Buckmark instead of the Glock 10mm. Most things you will need to shoot will never know the difference...feral dogs, porcupines, sneks and muggers. If stoked-up crack-fiends or mama bears are on the menu then you might need to up-gun but other than that do you need the extra weight?

Large, see-through, zippable plastic bags

Every container adds weight. The lightest container is a plastic bag. Clear containers allow you to see what is inside without opening so you can stash more gear in each container and still be efficient when you need to find it. A clear bag allows you to manipulate items (spread them around) without having to open it.

Multi-use items

A single, long sleeve shirt with buttons is insect protection and sun protection and can keep you warm when it is cold and can open up when you are hot.

Special purpose items keep sporting goods stores in business and factories running. In most cases they are not absolutely necessary "in the bush". Those sour-doughs in the 1890s made do with primitive, heavy kit and still were able to walk to the Klondike.

Wring it out

The pivotal message is that shrinking your kit is not a mental exercise.

You have to wring it out in the field.

Industrial Fiction: Repair float

The try-out started with very little fan-fare.

The first set of cubbies were rolled to the line at 9:16 AM. Ganzer had already gone through them. He had set up an overhead, point light source to highlight any defects.

He did not find any. He was working ahead to get a sense of how the tryout might run.

It took the operators a little bit of getting used to to figure out the optimum place to stand when pulling the panels. Operators never like changes. It takes them out of autopilot.

The alarms were never totally consistent and seemed to come in streaks so nobody got excited when twenty, and then thirty minutes went by without an alarm.

Then one hour, then a second hour.

And then the streak ended. Three panels in quick succession were scarred. The operator went down to the station to sign the bad-boy sheet and the Quality inspector pointed out where the defects were. Ganzer was also there. He had missed the defects and wanted to sharpen his game.

Walking back to the station, the operator confided to Ganzer “I think I nicked the panels with my ring”. The panels that had been scarred were ones that had been installed “backwards”. The operator put on a pair of gloves to cover her rings and she generated no more defects.

Snodgrass stayed four hours into second shift. The operators on second shift were just as unhappy with the new, more complicated way of pulling the skins as the first shift had been.

By the end of the shift, the operators had the hang of the optimal place to stand when pulling the skins. They still were not happy about having to pay attention to the skins every time they walked up to the rack but they were very happy to not get called down to the quality station and having to answer alarms.

One sunny day does not make it summertime. Two good shifts proves nothing. The proof of the pudding would be whether Hyperopia could maintain the quality they were currently shipping.

Nobody was happier than the Plant Manager. The end of the quarter was in three weeks. If he burned unlimited repair over-time, he could have the “repair float” down to normal levels. The units did not register as revenue until after they were loaded off the shipping dock and into the back of a truck.

He would gladly take a beating for exceeding guidelines on repair over-time as long as he could ship the volume he was expected to.

Product in the repair float is money left on the table.

Thursday, May 26, 2022


"What in tarnation do you think you are doing?!?" Kubota bellowed.*

In Mrs ERJ's absence Kubota appointed himself my keeper.

I knew I was in trouble when I heard the Duramax come up the driveway, but I can only sprint just so fast with the walker. Add that to the 100 feet of sod, the soft dirt of the garden and the snarled mess of 14 gauge wire between me and safety, I knew I would just have to take my ass-chewing like a man.

"I am grafting" I told him.

It did nothing to calm him down.

The good news

The first mulberry I was going to graft

Good looking tree, right? Unfortunately you are looking at the hazelnut behind the dead mulberry.

Blurb Silk Hope mulberries
 I could not see that it was dead from the house. Oh well, I had three Silk Hope scion that I wanted to get grafted today. (thanks Lucky in Kentucky).

Mulberry wood is soft and easy to work. The bark can be filled with latex and the Genus demands high temperatures to knit together, but I have lots of heat to work with this late in May.

The potato patch. The soil is too wet to hoe.

Well, I just happened to know that I had several mulberry seedlings growing in the asparagus patch on the other side of the potato patch. Onward, ho!

Not my best work but not my worst.

I opted to use black, EPDM #33 rubber bands because they have lots of UV resistance. The stripped-off shoot you see is on the rootstock. The latent buds at the base of the shoot emit growth regulators that prevent the rootstock from aborting the area damaged by my surgery and promote healing.

I had pre-wrapped most of the scion in the house and followed up with wrapping the graft up to the pre-wrap with parafilm when I was in the field.

I was this close ===><=== to being done when Kubota pulled up the drive.


I told him I would behave. And then, under my breath, added "for the rest of today."

* Those might not have been his EXACT words.

Attribute versus Variable data

I was able to inspect this "T" bud (the green shoot) today and trim the host-branch back to just short of the growing bud. That is a task I was not able to do yesterday.


It is convenient to separate types of data into two very broad categories:

  • Attribute data
  • Variable data

Of the two, variable data is much more valuable for problem solving.

Attribute data

Attribute data is binary, yes/no information.

  • Pregnant/not pregnant
  • Pulse/no pulse
  • Edible/not edible
  • Minor/adult

Variable data

Variable data is continuous.

  • 3.14159/3.14160
  • 98.6F/101.5F
  • 2678fps/2702fps
  • 6574.0/6574.9

Good attitude

People continue to comment on my "good attitude". In part, it is due to my using variable data wherever possible.

So far, every day has given me a gift of things I could do that I was not able to do the day before. Sometimes it is small, maybe just another half-inch in how far I can swing a limb. Other days it is huge, like being able to put weight on my left leg.

Attribute data has its uses. It is fast and decisive. That makes attribute easy-to-use for triggers.

But in general, if you have a problem you are grappling with, tracking variable data is far more robust than using attribute data.

When does attribute data become variable data?

This is not a trivial question. Precision costs money and ever finer increments cost exponentially more. So how much precision is enough?

That is dictated by the problem. If I want to raise cattle for the market a scale that measures in 25 pound increments might be precise enough for me to evaluate different types of cattle feed. If I am going to be competing in long-range target shooting, I might need a scale capable of measuring to the 1/20th of a grain. That is a difference of 3,500,000 in precision.

Mathematicians to the rescue

Mathematicians tell us that data starts behaving more like variable data than attribute data when the precision is sufficient to separate the data into seven or more "bins".

And you thought Microsoft Excel used seven as the default number of bins for histograms because it looked nice. Nope. The 957 Math Ph.Ds who work for Microsoft agreed that seven was the right number for mathy reasons.

Minor/Adult, 6574.0/6574.9 days old

I don't comment on mass-shootings unless I feel I have something unique to add. Since I have no first-hand knowledge of any shootings to-date, I don't comment.

 Violent crime is a problem, not just mass casualty events. A disproportionate number of them involve young men who recently turned 18. A VERY large percentage of the time these individuals were already known to local law enforcement officials.

Unfortunately, the current way of looking at "young people" is attribute data. They are either considered minors or adults and there is a fire-wall between the two categories.

Many school districts in the United States separate students, based on age, into Pre-elementary, Elementary, Intermediate, Middle and High School. They do this based on expert's advice that these age groups have different cognitive abilities, different needs and present different educational challenges.

Throw in folks over age 80 and you have the seven categories that turn it into variable data.

But how would it be useful?

This is just a stake in the ground, a starting point for discussion, but what if any minor, Elementary or above who committed a homicide had that stay on his permanent record and followed him into adulthood?

What if any minor who was Intermediate or above who committed armed robbery or aggravated assault had that stay on his permanent record.

Or any minor who is Middle or above who Breaks-and-Enters has that stay with his record.

I am not married to this-crime-but-not-that sticking. I am married to a sliding scale that selectively softens the impenetrable firewall that allows people who are documented as being violent to walk unfettered among us.

"27 Things To Buy Now!!!"

You would think that a guy with all kinds of time on his hands would love to watch pod-casts. In my case, you would be wrong. I crave information density. I like the thrill of the hunt. I love searching for and finding dense nuggets of information.

So when I heard about a Doug Casey pod-cast where he was going to reveal "The 27 things to buy now" I went hunting for the list (in text form) on the internet.

I did not find it but I did find a list of "27 Things To Buy..." compiled by somebody who wants to tell you how we can all grow rich by selling glass-beads back-and-forth to each other. That is, retail arbitrage.

His list has value as thought-starters and for entertainment purposes.

His list is presented with blue highlighting. My comments (his suggestions after being bent by the prism in my head) follow in standard font.


Joe's comments: Avoid gem stones. A function of money is infinite divisibility. Gem stones' value falls off a cliff if they are cut into smaller stones. Very thin market for jewelry. You might get ten cents on the dollar if you are a distressed seller. One ounce silver rounds or wearable Southwestern style silver are better choices.

Fashion sunglasses

Wrap-around, tinted Z-87 rated safety glasses (that is, ballistic eye-wear). Buy dozens of pairs. You only have two eyes.

Shoes and socks

Boots, trail-running shoes, sandals and calf-length athletic socks with high percentage of synthetic fiber for toughness and quick drying.

Sleepwear and underwear

Basic laundry products

Lingerie and shapewear

Compression shorts. Chafing is debilitating.

Activewear, women's leggings, sports bras

Is there any other kind of wear? Good point on leggings, gaiters and wind-pants.

Add fanny-packs, pocketed aprons and other ways to free up hands while carrying around necessities. Double your productivity by never moving from one place to another without also carrying something that needs moving.


I recently talked with a woman who gave all of her elementary aged kids smartwatches because they can communicate during chaotic events like school shootings. This was before the mess in Texas. The smartwatches can also transmit GPS location in case the designated rally-point is out-of-reach.

My conversation with this lady was one of the high-points of my day. A very sharp lady (and her husband, too).

Video games

Load games on your smart-phone. Game systems are not portable nor as multi-use as a phone.

Phone accessories

Power-packs, phone chargers including solar ones, headphones.

USB charging dock

Surge protectors. Uninterupted Power Supply for critical equipment.

Security cameras

Security cameras and monitors. Can be inexpensive "back up cameras" like the ones that can be retrofit on vehicles.

Unmanned Flying Vehicles, aka Drones

Retailers love UFVs because they crash and break which ensures more sales. I want to say this is a good idea BUT I have reservations that these systems will be operative when you really need them.

Kid's toys

Lots of traditional, education toys/games like Scrabble, chess board and Legos.

Kid's formal wear

(Sound of ERJ puking) Camo for Kids.

Pet clothes and toys

Many working breeds of dogs have strong "ball drive" and are rewarded by letting them mouth a ball or their "Kong". Pet clothes (which can be as simple as a tube-sock with the toe cut off) are useful for small, short-haired dogs in cold climates. Coyotes need fiber in their diet, too.

Pet care supplies

Brushes, collars-and-harnesses, worming meds, powdered sulfur to make ointments...

Beauty products

Moisturizers or facial creams with SPF. Chap-stick. Toothbrushes.

Grooming and skin-care products (mens)

Nail clippers. Work gloves to protect against blisters. Bars of soap.

Candles and essential oils

Lavender, chamomile, orange, sandalwood, clary sage, lemon and jasmine might help with stress and help you sleep. It is a try-it-and-see proposition.

Fitness tracker

Bathroom scales or a leather punch to add more holes to your belt.

Indoor fitness equipment


Shaker bottles and personal blender

Dishes, bowls and cups that are easy to hand-wash and resistant to breaking.

Healthcare equipment

If not you, then somebody in your "family" with extra room to store a wheelchair, walker. Throw in an oxi-pulsometer, a couple of good thermometers and an array of bandages and disinfectants. Sippy-cups, urinals, a bed-pan, slippery-sheets, gait-belts can also be handy.

Halloween items

Specialty watches

Self-winding watch

Keto products


Vaporizers and E-cigarettes

Bulk tobacco and smoke emitting munitions for tactical maneuver

Industrial Fiction: Baseball Bats

Snodgrass ran through what he found out at the next morning’s meeting at the standup.

When he was done, Paula excused herself and made a phone call. “Hey, something came up” she said to the party on the other end. “I am going to miss our meeting.”

“Who was that?” Snodgrass asked. “Your next meeting?"

“Nope. That was the Plant Manager. I have a standing, 10 AM meeting with him. We are going to be busy.”

Looking over at Matthias, Paula informed him “You don’t get Snodgrass today.”

He nodded his understanding.

Then she made another call. Snodgrass could hear the fellow on the other end boom, “Hello Paula. Whatchya need?”

“Hey Barker. Got a few minutes? I need your expertise” Paula said.

It appeared that Barker had as much time as Paula needed.

Paula led Snodgrass to a mezzanine or suspended floor in the middle of the factory. Exiting the elevator, she wended her way through the crowded office toward one of the back corners.

Barker was a large man confined to a wheel-chair. His voice was a deep, rumbling bass.

“What is up?” he asked.

Paula looked over at Snodgrass and said “Tell him what you found out. Barker is in Material and is going to work some miracles for us.”

Snodgrass faithfully repeated what he found out.

Then Paula said, “I have funds for Engineering tryouts. I want to do a one-week tryout where the suppliers pack jelly-side-to-jelly side and we reverse the direction of the cubbies so the new product is sequenced last.

Barker winced. “Appearance side-to-appearance side is doable, but I am not sure about changing the direction the cubbies flow through the system.”

“Why is that?” Paula asked.

“We will have to pay premium shipping. Hyperopia Corp packs the soft-skins into a dense-pack cubby that cycles between their factory and Crowe Industries. At Crowe Industries they pack the three models they make, in sequence and add the ones from Hyperopia” Barker said.

“Why did we do it that way?” Snodgrass asked.

“Couple of reasons” Barker said. “Crowe is a very large supplier to the plant and they sequence a lot of things. We have trucks arriving from Crowe every half hour. The other reason is that we expected the new product to be about 20% of our volume and it wouldn’t make any sense to ship cubbies ¾ full from Crowe to Hyperopia. The new product being 50% of the volume caught everybody off balance.”

“Explain the premium shipping” Paula commanded.

“If we ship from Crowe to Hyperopia and then to the plant, we will have to hire special, expedited shipping trucks to move the cubbies” Barker said.

“How much money to do that for a week?” Paula asked.

Barker estimated the additional shipping cost.

“And to run the Engineering tryout?” Paula asked.

“We are going to get a lot of push-back from Crowe” Barker said. “I am really not sure what it will cost.”

Based on Barker’s estimate of the increased shipping cost Paula had enough budget to run the tryout for two weeks. The plant was running out of places to store defective product waiting for repair. If she spent the money well and got some relief on the problem, she was sure her try-out budget would be made-whole.

“Do it” Paula said.

Barker started working the phone as Paula and Snodgrass sat in his office.

First Barker called Hyperopia. “Hey George, Barker here. I gotta couple of questions for you.”

“Stevens (Paula’s last name) wants to run an engineering tryout where we have you do the sequencing of the skins. Do you have room for that?”

“No...not the way Crowe is doing it. They would sequence their parts into the racks that now get shipped to our line but then ship those racks to you and you would put your parts into the open cubbies. They don’t touch your parts. You don’t touch theirs.”

“Cool. Lots of room” Barker said.

“Another thing Stevens wants to do is have the appearance side of the skins for the odd job sequence numbers facing to the left and the even job sequence numbers to the right.”

“Yup, clips-to-clips and appearance-to-appearance. Still need to have them oriented up-down like they will be built so it probably makes sense to put bar-code labels on both ends” Barker said.

“How soon can you get back to me on when you can pull the trigger?” Barker asked.

Hanging up, Barker said his contact would have double bar-codes by 6 AM the next morning and they could support the other changes any time after that. Then, as an after-thought Barker commented, “It makes the timing better for them. Because they will be closer to the line they will have more time between when they get the build orders and when they have to pack them for shipment out of the plant.

It occurred to Snodgrass that Hyperopia’s gain was going to be Crowe’s loss.

The phone call with the representative from Crowe did not go so well.

“Hey, Bernie, I am putting you on speaker phone because I have an intern here in the office” Barker said. He pointed at Snodgrass to let him know that he was asking him to play along. He did not mention that Paula was also listening in.

“Hey, as you know we have been struggling with the skins. They are really killing us. Stevens wants to run an Engineering Tryout that she thinks will help.”

Bernie snorted. He didn’t seem to think too much of Engineering Tryouts. “I am telling ya, Hyperopia is a piece-of-shit supplier. You should have given us the business.”

Snodgrass shot a quick glance in Paula’s direction. It was water off a duck’s back.

“So what does she want us to do?” Bernie asked.

“She wants to ship empty cubbies to your factory, just like we do now. You will load your parts, in sequence, into the appropriate cubbies and then you will ship the racks to Hyperopia to load their parts.”

“The other thing that she wants to do is to have you put bar-codes on both ends of the part and load them into the cubbies with odd numbed unit-sequence-numbers with the appearance surface to the left and even numbers with the appearance surface to the right.”

“You cannot afford it” Bernie said dismissively.

“Stevens want to run the tryout for a week” Barker continued as if he hadn’t heard.

“I said, you cannot afford it” Bernie repeated.

“Why not?” Barker asked.

“Bunch of reasons. We are going to have to pay premium shipping. We wont have enough time to build the skins because we will have less time between the data drop and when we have to ship them.”

“Tell Stevens to stop dreaming and stick to something she knows something about” Bernie concluded.

Snodgrass watched Paula’s left eyebrow rise approximately 1/8th of in inch. He filed that away in his memory. It is good to know the signs of when your boss is getting pissed.

“We pay the shipping and we will make arrangements of expedited shipping” Barker said.

“Funny, Hyperopia seems to be able to build skins under the exact conditions you are complaining about.”

“So I need a ball-park estimate of how much it is going to cost to run the tryout on a per-piece basis. I need something I can carry back to Stevens so she can do her planning” Barker said.

“Tell her it will be $10 a skin. No, scratch that. That is too round of a number. Tell her it will be $12.53 more a skin. That should make her run back to her office.

Barker heaved a sigh that showed he carried the weight of the world on his shoulders. “I was hoping it wouldn’t come to this.”

“You remember that Intern who is sitting in on this call?” Barker asked.

“Yeah, what about him?” Bernie asked.

“I have never seen anybody who could write P-R-Rs (Problem Reporting and Resolution) more quickly or with such detail. His P-R-Rs are bulletproof” Barker said.

There was a pause from the other end of the phone. “He doesn’t have anything he could write us up for” Bernie declared.

Barker was shaking his head. Snodgrass could actually hear his jowls clacking.

“I am looking at the draft of his P-R-R right now” Barker said.

Of course there was no such draft.

“He wants to ding you for fifteen defects per hour and two hours of repair time at $120 per hour” Barker said.

“Bullshit!!!” Bernie shot back. “It doesn’t take that long to repair our skins.”

“I agree” Barker said. “He is dinging you for the Hyperopia skins.”

“The hell he is. Tell him he needs to file that against Hyperopia” Bernie demanded.

Sorrow filled Barker’s voice. “I would, but every sequencer contract we let requires that the person filling the cubbies inspect every part. If you shipped it, it is your defect and you need to write your own P-R-R against Hyperopia and you need proof they are shipping the defects to you.”

“You know your own assemblers snag those panels. You can’t make that stick. Bernie said.

Paula wrote something on a slip of paper and slipped it across the table to Barker. He quickly read it.

“You can say that, but we had Ganzer checking product before our production operators touched it. The latest data is that you are shipping 27 defects an hour since we count every snag as a separate defect.” Barker said.

“So, what is it going to be. Are you going to play ball or am I going to stick the bat up your ass and break it off?”