Friday, October 31, 2014

Keynesian Stimulus and Pepto-Bismol

Pele, the young man who helped me dig potatoes the other day received a lesson in Keynesian economics.

Pele is give to bouts of intestinal distress.  It will sneak up on him and then smack him down for weeks at a time.

He tried to be careful, but being a young man he sometime went to parties and maybe have a drink or three.  He tried Over-the-Counter preparations, to little avail.

And then it would start.  It gripped his middle like a vice and shook him like a terrier shakes a rat.  Two weeks later it would spit him out.  Needless to say, this had an impact on his employability

Root cause

I asked him what Over-the-Counter preparations he was taking. 

This is what he took at the start of the episodes to try and get ahead of it.
He took Pepto-Bismol when the first symptoms appeared in an attempt to be proactive.  It goes down easily.  It is sweet and soothing.  It smells nice. And everybody said it is just-the-thing for his symptoms. You can look at the ad..everybody knows..its a no brainer.

Just like the Keynesian cure.

The event invariably escalated.  In a week or two he could only hold down sips of Gatorade or ice water.  Two or three days of those liquids and he would be able to eat bland foods like oatmeal again.

---Disclaimer: I am not a doctor---

I am not a doctor but I have learned the benefits of reading the fine print.  The following text is what showed up in the right sidebar when I googled "Pepto-bismol":

Bismuth subsalicylate
Over-the-counter drug
Consult a doctor if you have a medical concern.
Treats diarrhea, heartburn, nausea, and upset stomach. This medicine contains a salicylate and is related to aspirin.

The plot thickens

Combined Side effects for salicates include:
  • Severe stomach pain   (Check)
  • Bloody vomit or vomit that looks like coffee grounds  (Check)
  • Blood in stools or urine  (Check)
  • Behavior changes along with nausea and vomiting   (Check)
The medicine was the problem.  The actual cure occured after the patient could no longer stomach medicine that "everybody" knows is just-the-thing for the symptoms.

The only real question is whether the medicine is "just-the-thing" to cause the symptoms or to cure them.  Just like Keynesian Stimulus.

Thursday, October 30, 2014


I appreciate the time and place in history where I landed but I do have a few regrets.

I would very much like to have landed in a time and place where the sport of lacrosse was more popular.  More precisely, I would have liked it if a lacrosse craze peaked when I was eight years old.

I have no desire to ever play it.  Way too much running.

But it would have been a heck of a Halloween costume.  Being able to go around and hit people with a stick!  Snagging treats before they landed in the other kid's bag.  It just does not get much better than that.

You know, schools should stop fixating on guns.  They should be on the lookout for kids artfully nibbling their pop-tarts into hockey and lacrosse sticks.

Tool Handles

To my bemused bewilderment I found that I can buy two round-pointed shovels at Menard's for $9.98 while a single replacement shovel handle costs $8.99

I may have to go into the business of selling tool handles.

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Emergency Room: Update

The patient became disgusted with the whole event and checked himself out of the hospital "against medical advice".  My sister is in a dither because the insurance may stick him with the bill.

He went in because he was in pain.  The pain was so great that he could not unclench his teeth.

During the admissions process, one of the nurses noticed some bruises (good for her!) and asked about the cause.  The patient said he fell and tried to elaborate.  He had been carrying a ladder through tall grass and stubbed his toe on a cinder block.  The cinder block did not move.  He fell atop the ladder.

The nurse focused on the software, trying to find the correct radio button to click than on listening to the rest of the story (not good for her!).

The patient could not even go to the toilet without a nurse in attendance.

The most likely diagnoses was either kidney or gall bladder stones.  The imaging was clear but showed no stones. The pain had diminished so the patient figured he had passed both the crisis and the stone.  The patient's blood work was a bit goofy but Gilbert–Meulengracht syndrome runs in the family.

The doctors wanted to do exploratory surgery but the patient has some understanding of the risk of surgery. It is not something to be done simply to satisfy an attending physician's curiosity, especially when the patient is 88 years old.

And his birthday is tomorrow.  And he just wants to be home with his wife.


Yeah, I am writing about Ebola, again.

Excellent article HERE  interview with Steven Hatfill in the Atlantic.  Title of the article is 21 Days.

I will excerpt the passages I think are most interesting, maybe 15% of the article.  It is a good read.  I suggest you pop the link open and read the entire thing.

...aerosol droplet transmission of Ebola virus has been shown in animal studies. “It is therefore irresponsible for government health officials to emphatically state that aerosol transmission does not occur,”  
There was one other Ebola outbreak in the United States, for which the country was well prepared. It happened in 1990...The macaques were evacuated to Fort Detrick by its highly trained Aeromedical Isolation Team....The Fort Detrick team was very experienced, and very practiced. The rapid response unit had worldwide airlift capability designed to safely evacuate and manage contagious patients under high-level containment. They knew exactly how to handle the infected macaques.
When doctors left the isolation unit, they went through an air lock into an anteroom, where they spread their arms and were sprayed down with a glutaraldehyde-based disinfectant. The colorless liquid killed every known life form. ...When they came out, the suits were cut away from them and incinerated on site.
That facility at Fort Detrick was the quintessential Biosafety Level 4 (BSL-4) containment lab. But it was shuttered in 2010, a casualty of budgetary cuts.
An average of 12.7 days after exposure to Ebola virus, sudden-onset flu-like symptoms take the person.


For 4.1 percent of patients... the period between exposure and onset of the first symptoms is longer than 21 days. Around 13 percent of infected people in the current outbreak did not have a documented fever (ERJ note:  one-in-eight)
You could change the airflow around Fort Detrick and bring it back, but you still wouldn’t immediately have the experienced people who have rehearsed protocol for years. Intubation [placing a breathing tube down a dying patient’s throat] is difficult enough. You ever tried to do it in a space suit?
We've known for years now that the skin is a site of viral replication. The Langerhans cells, the antigen-presenting cells in the skin, are major targets for Ebola. What that means is, you're shedding virus from the skin could come up, take a swab, just a cotton swab off the skin, and diagnose [Ebola] with...a positive result from a live virus.
When the SARS epidemic happened, Singapore came very close to being wiped out. People don't realize this. And over there, if you chew gum or spit on the street, they cane you. Singapore had this under control overnight, and all their contact tracings were confined to their house, to the point where they would phone you every hour and you'd better answer the phone or the cops came by to arrest you. And they stopped it. You saw in the U.S. the journalist went out for pizza, this nurse went on a plane. Are you out of your mind? Though in a way this is good, because it shows aerosol and skin shedding in early infection is not occurring.
Sanjay Gupta, who is a neurosurgeon, did probably the best demonstration I've seen on why the CDC protocol failed. He dressed up in the recommended protective equipment and they put chocolate syrup on his hands. As an experienced neurosurgeon, how many times he's donned and doffed this gear? He took off his gear, and, yep, there were chocolate splashes all over his skin. There's a reason we use front-zipping Tyvek suits and not gowns. If an experienced neurosurgeon can't do it, what do you think a poor gal just out of ICU training is going to do?

Digging Potatoes

Pelé is turning into my right-hand man.  We dug 400 pounds of potatoes today.  Spartan Splash upper left corner.  Canela Russet front-and-center.  The yellowish ones are Missaukee.  The Missaukee dug the fastest but had the most scab damage.  The Canela Russet dug the slowest and had the least scab damage.

I LOVE harvesting food.

Picking Pears

Yesterday Mrs ERJ suggested that we go pick pears.  We have five Asian pear trees in our yard.  Four of them still had significant amounts of good fruit hanging.

Mrs ERJ gets all of the credit for organizing, motivating, and most of the picking.  I moved the ladder around and picked a few fruit and offered advice.

In Mrs ERJ's order of preference:

Chojuro: Picture (and description available) from HERE
Olympic (aka, Korean Giant, Dan Bae): Picture (and description available) from HERE
Shinko: Picture (and description available) from HERE

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Emergency rooms

I received many texts last night.  A member of my extended family was in the emergency room.  It may have been as simple as vertigo induced by a virus and dehydration.  Or it may be something more.

My sister is an oncology nurse.  She advised me to stay home.  There were already three family members in attendance.  My sister did a great job keeping the rest of us posted.

I do not like Emergency Rooms

Unfortunately I have enough exposure to emergency rooms to have opinions.  My best estimate is that I have spent 60 hours in emergency rooms in the last five years.  The one I like least is the one attached to the largest hospital in Lansing, the one that is close to downtown.  Perhaps it was the circumstances:  the patient (not me)  was being seen for a "penetrating trauma to the thoracic region 50 mm to the left of his sternum."

The patient I was with received pretty high priority.  There were other patients parked in the hallways.  By appearance (dirty feet) and aroma they were street people.  My guess is that they preferred to sleep on a hospital gurney than to sleep at the mission.  Of course, the mission has a curfew and will not let you in if they detect any kind of substance abuse.  The emergency room does not have those restrictions.  They are obliged to treat you if you complain about serious symptoms.  There is no penalty for lying.

My friends who drive ambulances are beyond angry with these fakers.  One lady has "chest pains" every day.  She gets a high-speed ride to the hospital where it is diagnosed as an anxiety attack.  In the dark humor of EMTs, they tell me that they know the cause of the anxiety before they pick her up.  Her vodka bottle is empty.  The hospital pays for a cab ride home.  She has the cabby stop at the package store...since it is on the way.

My other friends tell me that the busiest day for the ambulance is when "the checks" go out.  The high speed ride into the downtown hospital. A miracle healing passing through the E-room doors. Then across the street to Stober's Bar.  A $500 taxicab ride that exposes the public and the EMT's to the risk of a two-way, high-speed ambulance sortie across the entitled person can get drunk.  Chest pains.  The trip is not optional.  Losing a driver's license is not an inconvenience to these people.

The "system" tolerates this abuse for reasons.
  • At the present time we can afford it.  The number of traffic accidents, fatal and otherwise, is not enough to intrude on our sensibilities.  A robust triage process ensures that legitimate patients receive care quickly.
  •  The cost structure of these services are, for the most part, fixed cost.  Stripping this "clientele" away would speed up service to legitimate patients but would likely not reduce the staffing of E-rooms or pull any ambulances or EKG machines out of service.

We are entering a post-Ebola world.  I doubt that the system will be able to tolerate this abuse much longer. 

The solution?

The real world has limits.  No more chocolate chip cookies after the bag of chocolate chips is empty.

My ambulance driver friends would LOVE a Peter-and-the-Wolf rule.  Two false alarms in a row and then you (address/phone number) are ignored.  That is one more failure than Hungry Howie Pizza allows.

Monday, October 27, 2014

...dogs and other philosophers...

One of the gifts of both Mrs ERJ and I being retired is we can read books aloud to each other.  She reads a couple of pages, then I read a couple of pages.

We are currently working our way through Thomas Hardy's Far from the Madding Crowd.  We knock out a couple of chapters a night.  It is not the easiest book to read aloud.  Many of the sentences are long and stuffed with adjectives.  His turn-of-phrase is often strange to those of us who read mostly short, linear sentences.

One phrase caught my fancy:

George's son had done his work so thoroughly that he was considered too good a workman to live, and was, in fact, taken and tragically shot at twelve o'clock that same day—another instance of the untoward fate which so often attends dogs and other philosophers who follow out a train of reasoning to its logical conclusion, and attempt perfectly consistent conduct in a world made up so largely of compromise.

Does it get any better than "...dogs and other philosophers..."?

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Chekov's Gun

Those of us who enjoy firearms are baffled by the "irrational" fear of guns in those who have little exposure to them.

Their fear of guns is, in fact, completely rational.

Chekov's Gun

Chekov is arguably the greatest author of short stories that Russia ever produced.  My English 101 instructor at Lansing Community College explained "Chekov's gun" thusly:

"Remove everything that has no relevance to the story. If you say in the first chapter that there is a rifle hanging on the wall, in the second or third chapter it absolutely must go off. If it's not going to be fired, it shouldn't be hanging there."

This principle is known to everybody who tells stories, shares jokes or writes blogs. It is not what you say.  It is what you leave out that guides the story. It is similar to the principle of carving a statue of an elephant.  Remove every molecule of marble that is not "elephant" and the elephant that is hiding in the block of marble will be revealed.

The average American spends 34 hours a week watching commercial television and additional time watching movies in theaters.  Even the "news" is as scripted as one of Chekov's short stories. If the intro mentions that there was a  butcher knife in the kitchen you can bet that it will be plunged into somebody before the report ends.

TV/media has become the foundation of the average American's reality.

If the talking-head reports that the Thanksgiving host is a hunter, you can be sure that his gun will go off.  WITH THE SURETY AS IF THE GUNS WERE POSSESSED BY DEMONS!

The simple fact that a gun exists (or, more accurately, that the audience is made aware of its existence)  guarantees that somebody will be shot.  It is in the news.  It is credible.

Sometimes it is even funny

If a bad guy is shot and blood starts leaking out of his mouth, he will die in the next scene.  It does not matter if the hit was a "kidney shot" or severed his femoral artery; death cannot occur until after the bad guy starts drooling blood.  One would think that people who are shot would learn to swallow.  Given the rules of cinematography, the act of swallowing should prolong life at least until the end of the episode.

Political gack

One of the local candidates is banging "The Candidate" because "The Candidate" believes that the pension fund manager ($70B in assets) for the State of Michigan should be paid more than the average public sector employee. 

Campaigns being what they are, the quote was taken out of context and plastered on every stationary, vertical surface.

This is my modest effort to push back.

Again, ironies abound.  The pension fund manager is the only person who stands between public sector employees and a bankrupt pension fund.

Saturday, October 25, 2014

That's the Ticket

Suppose my family showed up on your doorstep with little or no warning.  Suppose there is chaos in the streets.  While you might want to accommodate my family there are certain logistical issues that will force you to say "No." unless I can address them.  You cannot let us in unless I can bring something to the party.  Call it the price of admission or the price of a ticket. (Author's note:  This idea was shamelessly lifted from Alpharubicon)

People understand tickets.  I need a ticket to ride a bus or attend a sporting event.  What might the "ticket" to join your household look like for, say, forty days?


The standard five gallon bucket will hold approximately 24 days worth of food for an active adult.

Based on amino acid values from Feedipedia, and Essential Amino Acid values from WHO, an adult man with a lean body mass of 190 pounds will do OK on 25 pounds of rice, two pounds of lentils (or split peas) and two liters of vegetable oil.  That pencils out to about 2600 Calories per day.

Labels are our friend.  Note that the label does not match what is suggested in the text.
If one assumes that field corn (Zea mays) will be available on-site, then the pilgrim can show up with four pounds of lentils (or split peas) and two liters of vegetable oil and match up those same daily values.  Obviously, four pounds of lentils is much more compact than twenty-five pounds of rice + two pounds of lentils.  This comes into play if you have more than just a couple of pilgrims traveling as forty days will require two buckets per person....especially if you start putting in vitamin pills, salt, pepper, tea bags, etc.  Those items are bulky and reduce the amount of grain you can put in the bucket. 

Some people advise packing the buckets separately with the grains in one set of buckets, high-protein foods in others, culinary aids in a third set of containers and so on.  The up-side to having the contents "kitted" is that the loss of one bucket is not catastrophic.  I know many people who would be inconsolable if the bucket with the caffeine was lost.  Better to have those needful thing in each bucket.

Meds are not stashed in buckets because of shelf life issues.

Also, one can simply count out the number of buckets at about one-per-month.  Yes, I know that there are more than 24 days in a month but there might be other sources of foods trickling in and most of us could stand to lose a few pounds anyway.

Why lentils and/or split peas

They cook quickly. No other reason.

Why forty days?

Quarantines were originally forty days long.  Ships sat in harbor in isolation for forty days to ensure that they were not bringing in exotic diseases that the inhabitants had no immunity to.  Ebola presumably has a maximum of a 21 day incubation period.  Forty days would be two lockdowns. back-to-back.  That, and forty days has a nice Biblical feel to it.

Having a standard kit makes it pretty easy for the outside man to do the math and drop off an appropriate multiple of kits.

Pray always.  Test everything.  Keep what is good.

I did a weekend long trial run on the rice/split pea/soybean oil version of this diet.  My body really complained about the lack of fiber.  My digestive system has become very lazy because I eat 35 grams of fiber in a typical day.  The field fix would be to supplement the diet with as many vegetables/greens as possible and to physically move as much as possible.

You might notice a miss-match between the photographed label and the suggestions in this essay.  The sugar was eliminated and the oil was increased to 30% of calories which is what most people are accustomed to.  One potential side effect of greatly reducing the fats/oils in a diet is that one might find themselves constipated of other compensations are not made.



One reason for protecting my anonymity is so I can share details, intimate details, with my readers that would otherwise not be prudent.

Irene Peters, the wife of Dr. Lawrence J. Peters who formulated The Peter Principle, once said, "Nowadays, if you are not confused you are guilty of not thinking straight."  I choose to interpret this as evidence that I am a straight thinker.

There are times when my ability to synthesize a narrative that stitches observations into a coherent whole fails.  That is what Laurence Gonzales describes as "trying to bend the map."  This failure to synthesize a narrative seems to bother me more than it seems to bother most people.  I attribute it to my nature.  I am a planner, a puzzle-solver and an explainer. 


I have a prescription for a Selective Serotonin Re-uptake Inhibitor.  That is, an anti-depressant.

This essay is not fishing for pity.  It is intended to be a matter-of-fact post, much like a blonde noting that June marks the start of SPF40 season for her.

I start taking it in October.  I wait until if feels like events are "dog piling" on me and then I go "meds compliant".  Some years I wait a bit longer than I should, hoping events sort themselves out.  Those years, I resolve to start taking it Oct 15.  But I don't.

Fortunately, Escitalopram acts much faster than the older SSRIs.  The conventional wisdom is that SSRIs take four-to-six weeks to fully kick in.  The newer releases seem to have significant effect much more quickly.

My brother, the doctor, told me that he attended a patient in the Emergency Room who was so non-functional that he appeared as if he had no bones.  He could not stand or sit.  He flopped on the floor like a distressed octopi and sobbed.  Four days after starting one of the newer SSRIs, the patient came in for a follow-up.  He walked in and joked with the docs.  On the way out, the patient gave my brother a big a big, double thumbs-up.

Shifting gears

It is a bit like shifting gears.  One of the symptoms of my needing to go SSRI compliant is CGSS (Can't Get Stuff Started).  It is a bit like an engine at the top of its RPM band.

The act of up-shifting causes a hiccup.  Then the engine starts pulling strong again.

Going on the SSRI makes me sleepy.  It is a PERFECT day outside but I am too snoozy to do anything, except maybe walk the dogs around the pasture.

My hope is that I will be grubbing around in the dirt digging potatoes like nobody's business in a few days.

Friday, October 24, 2014

Correcting Corrections and Holding Hands

I spent few hours campaigning with "The Candidate" today.

The candidate is extremely personable and really, really likes interacting with people.

His campaign manager is named Ron and Ron is the near-perfect compliment of "The Candidate".  Ron is all about issues and schedules, numbers and percentages.  Ron is a political wonk.  I think he is frozen in liquid Nitrogen between elections.

We have to ask our candidates the hard-ball questions

Most news media is pretty clueless. They lack the attention span to ask questions #2-through-#6.  My belief is that we, the supporters, must be harder on "our" candidates than the general public.  We will have failed if our candidates if they hear a question from the mainstream media that they have not first heard from us.

Any focused discussion regarding re-funding roads and education must include a coherent plan to defund departments that have grown faster than inflation.

The Corrections budget is the fastest growing industry in Michigan. Unless changes are made, at some point  in the near future every adult in the State of Michigan will either be incarcerated or a prison guard. Mathematically, there is no way to control budget growth without addressing Corrections.

I asked Ron, "Does 'The Candidate'  have a plan to address the growth in Corrections budget".

Ron's answer was multifaceted:

Michigan has many laws that are legacy laws.  Science continues to advance and those legacy laws are often not fully supported by our current, best science.  Unfortunately, those laws put many people in prison.  Those laws need to scrutinized.

Just for example...and not to suggest this is any kind of commitment but to provide a graphic illustration:

Is Cannibis a gateway drug that vastly increases the chances of user's graduating to "hard drugs" or might other co-factors be equally or more important?  Do people smoke pot because they are unemployed and have no motivation to stay fully aware?  Might lack of employment be more highly correlated to other crime than smoking pot?

"The Candidate" is all about starting businesses and generating jobs and creating opportunities for personal advancement.  Few things encourage prudent behavior more than having to go to work early the next morning.

One must balance the negative costs of depriving families of parents and the economy of potential workers, the $25K/year  cost of incarceration VERSUS the cost to society of young adults and the most marginalized portions of society smoking a little bit of weed to make life endurable.

Sidebar: This is exquisitely delicious for those with a taste for irony.  The primary beneficiaries of decriminalization of "victimless" crime do not traditionally support "The Candidate's" party.  The party that they traditionally support are also very pro-union and cannot appear to abandon the unions of the Corrections industry.  "The Candidate's" party can cut the Gordian knot because they approach it from the perspective of "What is the best thing for the residents, the tax-payers, of Michigan.

Another facet

One way of bringing intense scrutiny to budgets is to use a "zero based" approach to funding.  "Zero based" legislation might be a robust approach to wiping stupid laws off the books.

And yet another approach

Another approach is to ask, "While incarcerating somebody definitely changes their behavior while they are incarcerated, is it the most effective way to change behaviors in the long run?"

Some people need to be incarcerated for the safety of society.  No argument.

One approach to reducing corrections would be to refine the kinds of felonies that trigger mandatory Three-And-Out legislation.  Really, should joy riding in a golf cart (Grand Theft Auto) be considered the equal of Aggravated Assault/Attempted Murder?

Another approach would be an aggressive parole strategy that uses our best technology to monitor behaviors.  Does the iPhone have a breath-a-lizer app?  If not, it won't be long.

Holding Hands

Some impressions burn deeply.

We had just finished pounding a subdivision and Ron  and "The Candidate" were out front debating strategy, Pelé*, and "The Candidates" parents were about 30 yards behind Ron and "The Candidate" and I was lagging far to the rear as we trudged the three-quarter mile back to the vehicles.

"The Candidate's" parents had driven from a Detroit suburb to pound the pavement with us.  It is a one hour-forty minute commute, one way, when the traffic is favorable.  It had been a long day for them before they knocked on the first door.

I identified with "The Candidate's" dad.  He reminded me of a well worn set of bedroom slippers.  He is infinitely comfortable and quickly establishes rapport. We are both a bit soft, our edges are rounded and the fuzz was worn off of us long ago.  We are both instantly forgettable to the casual observer.

 "The Candidate's" mother reminded me of Mrs ERJ.  I am a connoisseur of adult women.  One quickly assesses from her carriage and complexion, the set of her jaw and the fire in her eye that she had been heart-stoppingly beautiful in her middle years.  Our culture does not condone looking at a woman in her mid-seventies and assessing her as "beautiful".  That is our profound loss.

As we trudged back to the vehicles, "The Candidate's" parents held hands like a couple of besotted eighth grade sweethearts.  They did not know that I was watching, probably would not care if they did know.  They held hands because they love each other and to offer each other comfort, care and support.

Watching "The Candidate's" parents, both in the mid-seventies, walking hand-in-hand like a Norman Rockwell painting was worth the price of admission.  I chalked it off as an afternoon well spent.

* Pelé is looking for a job and nothing callouses a person to rejection like knocking on doors for a political candidate.

The Question

I proposed to the future Mrs ERJ 28 years ago today.  I did not do a very whippy job of it, but Mrs ERJ was able to overlook the shortcomings in the execution.  I think she spotted me a few points based on my lack of practice.

The evening did not go as I had envisioned.

I planned a meal at my house. Then I thought we could go to the mall and just, sort of, accidentally walk by a jewelry store and I could start sounding out her preferences in rings.

My friends at work did not understand my plight.  They had girlfriends that started dragging them through jewelry stores from the third date onward.

The future Mrs ERJ and I generally avoided shopping malls like cats avoid swimming.  She was very curious about WHY I wanted to go to the mall.  I was defenseless against her skill in interrogation.

She thought me backwards rube for ring-shopping before asking the question.

I knew I was on pretty safe ground.  She had, quite by accident, revealed that she knew how this was going to end. That accident happened back in June.  As the man, I was the last to know.

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Cast Bullets

Cast bullets are paradise for dabblers like me.

Much of the "science" of cast bullets is wing-of-bat-eye-of-newt stuff.

One site that has good, solid information is The Los Angeles Silhouette Club.

A few of their choicer pieces of information include:

What do lubes do?  Spoiler: Seal.  Lubing is as much about stopping gas cutting as lubing.

Leading can be caused by bullets that are too hardAnd another article.  Spoiler: One word, obduration.

Alloy/Hardness from LASC, KSI from 1.42*BNH formula.  Applications from SAAMI specs.

Just a couple of key points:

Pressures listed are MINIMUMS.  Bullets cast from air cooled, clipped on wheel weights should work just fine in 45 ACP given decent lube while water quenched wheel weights are not likely to obdurate and seal.

1:30 tin/lead is nearly optimal for nearly all handgun cartridges released before 1900 during the black powder era.

Air cooled wheel weights are just a tad too hard for standard 1900 era, black powder cartridges like .38 Special but about perfect for +P and +P+ loads in those guns.  Given the ubiquitous nature of clip on wheel weights, this may be the single best reason to buy a .357 Magnum handgun; just to be able to shoot +P+, .38 Special cast bullet handloads.

Air cooled wheel weights are also spiffy for early, low intensity smokeless handgun cartridges like .380 ACP ad 45 ACP.

Water quenched wheel weights are good for high intensity, smokeless handgun cartridges like 9mm, 40 S&W, .357 Magnum and .44 Magnum.  When combined with gas checks they are also reputed to be excellent for modern, smokeless cartridges loaded to 30-30 velocities (2200 fps).

Oven Quenched wheel weights can mimic full metal jacket performance.

These guidelines do not eliminate the need for fiddling around, but they should provide good starting points.  Use a bullet is "fat" enough.  Use a bullet with hardness that is appropriate for your load's peak pressure.  Use an effective lube (appropriate for pressure and ambient temperature).  Breathe.  Relax.  Aim.  Sight picture.  Squeeze.  Make a hole in the target.

Zipper Repair Day

Today was zipper repair day.

If I ran the universe my entire wardrobe would be 1/4 zip fleeces and outer coats.  But rather than have the top 1/4 or 1/3 be a "zipper" they would be ties.  Zippers are fragile.

Bill of Material

I used 24", #8, plastic parka zippers.  I hand sewed them in with black, #69 nylon thread.  #69 nylon thread has a typical breaking strength of 11 pounds.

I left the original zipper in place and stitched to the zipper tape of the old zipper.

It went fastest when I kept the maximum thread length to about 18" and I waxed the thread.  The waxing not only made it easier to pull but reduced tangling.  Tangling was a major PITA because I double thread and the thread kept looping and catching on the teeth.

They are pretty ugly when you look close.  Purely by accident, the two coats were both black, as were the replacement zippers and the thread that I used.  So you have to look closely to see the damages.  I am not a perfect tailor but I can do functional repairs.

Both coats are substantially warmer now that I can zip them closed.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014


Today had many little pieces to it.

I picked some persimmons from my best seedling persimmon tree.

Persimmons are not native to Michigan.  A gentleman named Jerry Lehman mailed me about forty seeds about fifteen years ago.  One of those seeds grew into a tree that embodies a fine balance of characteristics:  Good yield, good quality, decent size, ripens early enough, has sufficient winter hardiness.

Today I picked a dozen, half ripe persimmons from that tree and mailed them to Jerry.

I looked around to see if the seedling had thrown any rootsuckers.  Unfortunately it had not.  I have a spot in my yard that kills trees.  I decided it is time to plant an American Persimmon there to see if it will survive.  A sucker which would be genetically identical to my super-seedling was my first choice.

So I dug out the dead tree and planted a seedling persimmon.  I will graft it over to a proven selection in the Spring of 2016 after it has had a year to establish.

I wrapped it with newspaper ads to make it less interesting to rabbits and to minimize chances of sunscald.
Care enough to wrap with the best.  This should keep it warm!
I fiddled with my lead pot.

I added a radiator type clamp to ensure it held together.  I also shimmed the base to bring the bottom of the pot back to horizontal. I have an order placed to buy a sampler pack of tension springs.  I will do nothing more on this project until the springs come in.

Guerrilla Gardening

I am a guerrilla gardener.

My specialty is planting in those neglected spaces that are coming up in pucker-brush: species like Autumn Olive, Gray Dogwood, Wild Black Cherry, Box Elder, Cottonwood, Aspen, Willow and Silver Maple.

Sometimes it is a matter of stepping ripe persimmons into the soft dirt beneath dead ash trees on public property.  Sometimes it is a matter of flinging Black Walnuts, Pecans or Hickory nuts into neglected spaces.  Lighter weight seeds are sometimes made into "snowballs" with clumping kitty litter and a dash of fertilizer before being sent on their way.  Once growing, "my" trees will lurk until the short lived species go Tango Uniform.  I am not in a hurry.

The legality of poking a shovel into the ground and planting nursery stock is much shakier.  For one thing, one is trespassing if one does not have written permission.  For another thing, one is modifying somebody else's property without their permission.  Some people see no difference between yahoos mudbogging and gardeners planting raspberries.

Also, in Michigan it is illegal to plant "un-inspected nursery material" if it is not being replanted on one's own property.  It is an effort to stop the spread of various diseases and bugs.  I could move a plant five feet, from one side of a property line to the other side of a property line....and I would be in violation of the law.

So you will understand if I am a little sketchy on the details, but I have a premonition that a hedge of outstanding blackberries will start growing somewhere within spitting distance of my property.  Who knows, there may even be some really good raspberries plants mixed in.

Where did the money go, Part II

I had a boss (who I will name Jimbo) who married a high maintenance woman.  Like many man, he was proud of the fact that she was needy and he was (one of the few) who could meet those needs.

She came from a very wealthy family.  Jimbo told about how he was impressed by the fact that "Daddy" gave her a 7 series BMW to use as her daily ride.  None of those cheap 3 series Bimmers for her.

They bought a house in one of the Grosse Pointes.  They had five sons.  Mrs Jimbo dabbled at work.  Jimbo paid the bills.

An example of "dabbled at work" is when she opened a yarn store.  She liked fiber arts and spent extraordinary amounts of money on tiny hanks of boutique yarn.  She figured everybody did.  She signed a lease.  Bought yarn to stock it.  And she lost a boat load of money.  No biggy.  She kept the yarn and handed the bill to Jimbo.  Problem solved.

The way Jimbo solved the problem was to visit his friendly, neighborhood bank and refinance his house every time the credit cards hit their max.  That happened every two years.  He would extract $20,000 or $30,000 from his house and zero out their credit card balances.


The credit cards maxed out in a year when the economy hit an air pocket.  That was the year Bill Clinton said, "Its the economy, stupid." and the American public fired George H. Bush.

Jimbo went to the bank.  He was led to a quiet office in back.  The door was closed.  The branch manager said, "Jimbo, I cannot loan you any more money.  Technically, you owe more on the house than the house is worth.  There is no 'equity' to extract."

Jimbo went back home and told his darling bride that there was no more money, that the Jimbo family was going to have to tighten its belt.

She divorced him

Mrs Jimbo did not have a very large circle of friends.  She stuck to her "type" and there simply were not that many non-family people in her socio-economic strata.

In her universe, there was only one possible reason for "there is no more money" :  Jimbo had a girl friend and was going to dump her.

Her lawyer told her that she would be seriously disadvantaged if Jimbo filed first.

She filed.

Jimbo was blindsided.

He asked her, "We are not making it on 100% of my paycheck.  How do you figure that you + the five boys will do better on half of it?"

She was deaf to that argument.

"...not enough money so we have to tighten our belts", to her, was as foreign of a concept as "...we exceed our gravity budget so we need to strap the furniture down."  Money was an inexhaustible force of nature.

The Economy

Is there any doubt that the national story parallels Jimbo's sad story?  The right pocket is being robbed to pay the left.  Expectations are being protected at all costs.  Too many adults are playing at "work" that is a thinly disguised form of consumption.

The policy makers are doubling down.  The  propeller of the ship did not hit an air pocket.  Rather, it is in full-blown cavitation mode.  It is creating air pockets.  And the captain is still calling for "More power!"

The plaintive cry "Where did the money go." is de facto evidence that we have been living beyond our means and disguising the fact through fancy bookkeeping gymnastics.  The money was never there.  It was magic.

Those of you who are reading this at work can run a little experiment.  Hold your hand up so it is backlit by the fluorescent light fixtures.  Shake it vigorously.  See!  You now have ten fingers!  Move things fast enough and you can create the illusion that it doubled.

Divorces bring out the worst in most people.  It makes them vengeful.  They want to hurt, to inflict pain on those they see as the villain.  I see a divorce coming.  It won't be pretty.  Stay away from crowds.  Expect people to be irrational.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

State Budgets: Where does all of the money go?

We could heat our home with all of the political fliers being shoved into our mail box.

Two of the issues revolve around a local initiative to fix roads (a millage) and charges/countercharges regarding mis-management of fuel taxes.  The fuel taxes were diverted to the general fund because the roads "were not that bad".  Now Michigan roads are among the worst in the Nation and it has proven impossible to redirect fuel tax funds to road repair "because people depend on the social programs supported by those funds.  What will they DO???"

Meanwhile, the one-person-in-three who is employed cringes every time their vehicle hits a tire shredding pot-hole on their way to work.  I guess roads that do not destroy one's vehicle are optional if you only use them to go to work rather than for higher social purposes like getting your next forty-ouncer.

To Be or Not To Be?

The local MSM newspaper ran a fluff piece about the MBK (almost like MLK.  Coincidence?) My Brother's Keeper program.  The six goals of the MBK are

The six goals of the Challenge are:
  • Ensuring all children enter school cognitively, physically, socially and emotionally ready
  • Ensuring all children read at grade level by 3rd grade
  • Ensuring all youth graduate from high school
  • Ensuring all youth complete post-secondary education or training
  • Ensuring all youth out of school are employed
  • Ensuring all youth remain safe from violent crime

Official photo pimping My Brother's Keeper

It is racist when a white guy uses the word "brother".  But everybody understands that when the Prez uses "brother" it means "black men only, whites and women need not apply".

What stands out is point number four, ...mandatory post-secondary education or training.  Also notable is that the third graders are to be held accountable for academic performance...but not the high school students.  All they have to do is endure.

The cynical side of me thinks it is a political payoff for college communities.  Historically, they have been huge supporters of government over-reach.  They see it as job security.  Who better to order everybody's lives than "really smart people".

At a more pragmatic level, it is admission of a huge fail at the middle school and high school level.  We are admitting that we had 13 years to prepare these young people for life and we failed.

MAN, I jus don know whethuh I wonna keep on hangin’ in here or jus hang it up.
Dass de thang! Ta keep on puttin’ up wit all dis drama
or jus put a cap in dem fools; fight an squash all this for real.
I wish I culd die, jus go da sleep. Das all!
Den all dis pain an goin’ thoo all dese changes dat go down in life.
I kin see it happenin’, man. Might be allright.
Jus lay down an die, like sleep. Might be like sleep,
Might dream ‘cept who know whut kinda dreams I mite have win I check outta here;
Dats de ketch

While this is an academic parody of Hamlet's To Be or Not To Be  speech it is a fairly accurate representation of how inner city high schools students write.  In fact, based on what I have seen on Facebook, this passage is kind.  The material seen on Facebook replaces most of the punctuation with Fuk....whatever that is.

Eight grade

Graduating from eight grade meant something when that was the highest level of education most people attained.

===>HERE<=== is an example of an eight grade graduation exam from 1912.  It is from Bullitt County, Kentucky.  I know a few people from Kentucky and they are not handicapped by elitist, snobby attitudes.  They are just folks doing what needs to be done.  They would be the first to tell you that a 1912 exam from Bullitt County would not be about impressing people, it would be about certifying that the carrier of an eight grade diploma could function in 1912 society.

It is my opinion

It is my opinion that education is color blind until about forth or fifth grade.  And then certain minorities not only stall-out, but they regress because being academically successful is "acting white" and is considered a betrayal of their race.

It is my opinion that most schools are successful until the end of third grade.  And some schools are populated with a higher percentage of students who strive to fail.  What else can account for fourth graders in the school district reading at 3.8 grade level and 10th graders in the same district reading at 3.3 grade level...and that does not even count the ones who already dropped out.

Non-inner city schools should not be too smug.  According to The Daily Kos, the average reading ability of US high school students is 5.3.  For a frame of reference, USA Today is written at what is now considered an 10th grade level and Readers Digest is now considered 8th grade level.  In an earlier time they would have been considered fifth grade reading level.

We have occasional visitors who hand out religious tracts and try to convert us to their denomination.  They are usually blue-haired ladies who are chauffeured by bent-over men in 15 year old Toyotas.  The cartoonish tracts they hand out are written at what is now considered the fifth grade level (average four letter words and ten word sentences).  Back in 1969 that would have been considered third grade reading material.

It is my opinion that success cannot be found at the end of a path that has already proven to be a path to failure.

Perhaps it would be more meaningful to issue students fifth grade diplomas that certified that the bearer was capable of reading and ciphering at that level.  It makes sense if fourth or fifth grade is the highwater mark of academic achievement and the pseudo-student regresses after that.  Give them credit for their maximum attainment.

Then focus the resources on those students who demonstrate that they want to learn.

But don't throw good money after bad.

Lee 90692

One of the risks of blogging is the temptation to just talk about the good stuff.  After a while, the blogger might even start to believe that they are infallible. 

Ordering over the Internet

Mrs ERJ is a bit gun-shy about ordering items over the internet.  The item, when it shows up, often does not look like the picture.

I, on the other hand, am fearless when it comes to ordering items from the internet.  That bit me this week.

I went to a well known seller of "gun" items and placed my order.  My order showed up in the mail and it is not what I thought I had ordered.  Instead, it was an item from my wish list.

158 grain, round nose, flat point .358", six cavity mold.

Not one to curse my fate, I dug around the garage until I found my Lee Production Pot.  The cord had been mangled and the crucible had been knocked askew.  I repaired the cord and did a very short trial run.

More tweaking is required.  One issue with the LPP is that it relies on gravity to seat the needle into the orifice.  It relies on the weight of the needle to create the force needed.  Sadly, the needle is made of steel and it wants to float when the crucible is full.  Add a little bit of rust or roughness to the hinge and the needle will not seat and the caster finds himself in need of two sets of "Depends".  One for the orifice in the bottom of the crucible.  The other for himself.  Those involuntary muscles have a mind of their own when 900 degree molten lead is racing across the table unerringly seeking one's most sensitive body parts.

The game plan is to use a large radiator clamp to un-askew the crucible and to find a short, tension spring to add more force to the needle valve.

Expect reports to follow.

Monday, October 20, 2014


A quick tutorial on "plyometrics".

There are two kinds of muscle tissue:  Slow twitch and fast twitch.

Slow twitch muscles specialize in aerobic motion.  They tend to be well supplied with blood which supplies oxygen, glucose and flushes metabolic waste.  Marathon runners and migrating waterfowl have "slow twitch" muscles.

Fast twitch muscles specialize in anaerobic motion.  They run on battery power.  100 meter dash runners have "fast twitch" muscles.  Cats can vertically jump 5 times their body length because they have mostly fast twitch muscles.  Leopards can climb a tree carrying, with no apparent effort, an animal that is twice its weight because it has mostly fast twitch muscles.

While functional humans require both kinds of muscle tissue, most extreme events place a premium on fast twitch muscles.  Think of a middle aged person losing their balance after encountering some ice.  The muscles used to either regain balance...or fail...are those fast twitch fellas.  Same deal for thwarting  that mugger who tried to knock you over or  breaking that lug nut loose on the flat tire you got out in the hinterboonies.


Plyometrics seeks to create "cat like" performance by recruiting the maximum amount of fast twitch muscles. 

Disclaimer:  A foundational level of fitness must be in place before trying this stuff.

The idea behind plyometrics is eccentric loading.  Consider jumping off of the bottom step and then springing back on to it.  At the time of contact your muscles must exert force while being stretched out.  They must continue to exert force after reversal of direction.  Other examples of plyometrics would involve catching weights (like medicine balls) and throwing them back without holding them.  Clapping your hands while doing push-ups are another example.

The first time you see this video you might not notice that many of the jumps are off one leg. Fun stuff.

In this video you get to see Chris jumping off of one box and bounding onto the next.

Eaton Rapids Joe:  I put the fun in Dysfunctional.

Indiana Tech Warriors

Belladonna and Mrs ERJ visited Indiana Tech in Fort Wayne, Indiana today.  Bella looks to have four schools on her list.  In no particular order, Grand Valley State University, Michigan State University, Indiana Tech and Sienna Heights.

She is getting a modest amount of interest due to her throwing skills.  One coach told me that college coaches are looking for a kid who is a worker.  They want a kid who has some native ability.  They want a kid (girl) who can pitch the discus over one hundred feet.  But they are also looking for kids with ugly throwing form.

A girl who has perfect technique and throws the discus 115 feet is of less interest to them than a girl with butt-ugly technique, or no technique and just power throws....who can throw the discus 107 feet.  A girl who can power throw over 100 feet will polish up into a gem.  The only "pop" a coach can expect out of the girl who has perfect form and can throw it for 115 feet will come from quality strength training.

Bella has decent form and decent distance and is a likable, coachable kid.  She is also preternaturally strong and exceptionally responsive to weight training.  One of her goals is to be the first girl at Eaton Rapids High School to break into the thousand pound club.  A training regime that involves plyometrics along the axes that she must accelerate the thrown weights should result in a quantum leap in her distances.

She is in the enviable position of having many good choices.

Sunday, October 19, 2014


Due to last night's bonfire we opted to attend Mass in East Lansing at 7:00 PM.  I noticed that I was wearing a baseball cap as we were walking into the building.  I went back to the vehicle (in a REAL parking ramp!!!) to lose the cap.  I struck up a conversation with the lady who parked near our van.

Her vehicle had a vanity plate.  Most people with vanity plates are more than happy to help you decode them when they are not completely obvious.

She seemed a bit evasive.  The license plate was her husband's choice. The vanity plate was the URL of his website.  I got the vibe that her husband is a man of strong opinions and passionately believes in what he does.  Spouses know that it is impossible to read people from casual conversations.

I figured I was either really going to like this guy or dislike him.

The Society for Accurate Information and Distribution



Real time sun images

Yeah, I think his website has potential.

He has a sister site "Public Response"

Public Response was born as a community email newsletter to encourage transparency of government and to cultivate communication. Your confidence in the action of public thought will secure a place for public opinion in our society and in that of our children. Our children will live in the shadows of our negligence or in the wisdom and brilliance of our actions.

Bonfire: Debrief

To the best of my knowing:

  • No dead bodies
  • No missing eyeballs
  • No property damages
  • A couple of minor tiffs (drama queen stuff) dust-ups from earlier were patched over
  • The grass will recover
  • No neighbors complained.
And best of all it looks like I am the proud owner of nine additional lawn chairs!

Saturday, October 18, 2014

And what would you have them do?

Another 75 minutes or so left of the 2014 bonfire.  That gives me a chance to do some speculative writing. 

And what would you have them do?

A recurring theme at morning coffee with my adult friends (average age 76 years old) is the dearth of gainful employment for "young" people.  Many of the young people seem to adapt to checks without work like ducks take to water.  This grinds those of the Greatest Generation more than words can tell.

It is just not right.

It begs the question: "And just what would you have them do?" sarcasm.  Sweep the streets?  Purge the Grand River of invasive, alien species of fish?  Crack Black Walnuts.  Adopt a senior citizen?  Read to pre-schoolers?  Sell the lint from their belly buttons on eBay?  Give blood?  Generate power for the grid by pedaling a bicycle?

The closer one gets to the bottom of the economic ladder, the scarcer the options become.

Two of my heroes

Elizabeth and David are two of my heroes.

We have little in common except I once dabbled in a community garden. They, on the other hand, are hard-core.

The bedrock of their clientele are refugees from war-torn African countries.  Africa is a continent trapped in the age of tribalism.  It is silly to speak of nationalities.  But David and Elizabeth's gardeners are from Nigeria, Burundi, Zaire and several other countries.  One might think that those gardeners would be very adept in growing plants...but you would be wrong.

Most of the people who garden in Elizabeth and David's community garden spent a generation as refugees in camps.  That warps a person and their culture.

I invited some of David and Elizabeth's gardeners over to glean a bumper crop of fruit one year.  Elizabeth tried to communicate what to expect.  As usual, I was too dense to absorb what smarter people than me were trying to tell me.

A key part of thriving in a refugee camp is to absorb all resources before the other factions in the camp even become aware that those resources exist.

I told the gardeners which pear trees to pick.  They picked my tomato plants first (more food, faster) before they touched a pear.

I told them to NOT pick a certain pear tree.  It was for naught.  They picked it anyway.

They did not have hats.  I offered to loan them hats.  They took the hats.  The hats did not come back.

They were getting chewed up by bugs.  I brought out some bug spray.  The bug spray did not come back.

David and Elizabeth were sympathetic but they did try to tell me ahead of time. People from refugee camps have a different understanding of "private property" than what you and I are likely to have.

I was very done with them after two episodes of picking.  Elizabeth and David keep plugging away, year after year.  They manage the business based on the quirks of their clients.  Whereas I might offer a 40 pound bag of urea and a five pound bag of green bean seeds to my gardeners to use as-needed, they offer garden space in 100 square foot increments, urea in one pound bags, and green bean seeds in lots of 40 seeds to minimize hoarding.  In other words, David and Elizabeth adapt and cope.


Officially, they do not have favorites.  But an attentive listener will notice the tone of voice, the choice of adjectives and the amount of time spent talking about various gardeners.  We are humans too.  We have some gardeners that we tolerate and some that we admire.

Based on the squishy evidence, I think that Elizabeth and David are particularly fond of on woman from Nigeria.  She cares for 17 children.  About half of these children are her own.  The other half were her sister's.  Her sister and brother-in-law were killed in a civil war.  I suspect Boko Haram or their predecessors pulled the trigger.

The woman is a tireless worker.  She brings the children to the garden and they work, work, work.  Finding enough calories every day to feed 19 humans is a daunting task.

All those fingers

All of those fingers and no way to turn them to profit.  If there is little work for native born Americans then what chance is there for those 17 kids?

A few will succeed.  It is a statistical thing.  They will have the natural inclination, be in the right place at the right time.  But what about the other fifteen?

It occurred to me that weaving might be a skill that is still available to them.  Perhaps wicker work.  Willow grows on marginally drained ground.  The harvest of willow withes can occur in the winter when there are no other garden tasks.

Picture from Double A Willows.

I think it is time for me to drop my heroes David and Elizabeth an email and ask if they want to split an order of Streamco and Onondaga willow cuttings.  I know they have a patch of Reed Canary Grass that will grow excellent willow after they cut the cottonwood trees shading it.  Selling baskets and wickerware on eBay is way more profitable than selling belly button lint.

Bonfire in Progress

This is the "budget" for the bonfire.

20 pounds of charcoal and a half gallon of kerosene ensured that the damp cottonwood ignited.  We are at the end (one hopes) of a 7 day period of intermittent rains.  Belladonna planned this a month in advance.  Weather was the joker.

25 RSVPed.  Mostly seniors.  Kubota is spending the night at a friends.

Predicted low of 28 degrees Fahrenheit.  One expects parkas to stay firmly in place.

Vast quantities of Hobo Pies, S'mores and hot dogs are being consumed.

The young man who took a tumble had been job shadowing before coming to the bonfire.

They played capture the flag.  As expected, at least one person took a tumble in the dark.  

Mrs ERJ, the two German Shepherds and I are staying in the house.  I am trying to train the dogs to bark at just the guys.  I am not having much luck.

I am cruising the internet to kill time.  There is some really stupid stuff out there.  Example:

Loaded with conventional soft point bullets, many bullet brands lose the ability to produce hydrostatic shock at impact velocities below 2600fps and in such cases, dead running game can be a common occurrence when using the .308 (Win) at ranges beyond 50 yards. In fact with some bullet brands, its as if a magic button has been switched off right at the 2600fps mark. Several bullet brands do however have the ability to  produce hydrostatic shock (instant collapse) of game down to velocities as low as 2400fps, depending on target resistance and relevant factors. Regardless, hunters can manipulate speed of killing by matching bullet construction to the job at hand and in this caliber, there are some excellent options, capable of extremely fast killing via wide wounding.

Folks, "instant collapse" is caused by damage to the Central Nervous System.  Sometimes it happens.  Sometimes it does not.  A solid hit to the "boiler room" causes rapid loss of blood pressure and starves the brain of oxygen.  The animal will continue to function for 10-to-20 seconds and can run a long way.

"Hydrostatic shock" presumes incompressible fluids encased in rigid tubing.  Blood vessels are stretchy.  It would be impossible for an animal to flex its limbs if they were not. "Hydrostatic shock" as a valid cause of CNS trauma is a dodgy theory at best. "Hydrostatic shock" is a pseudo-scientific, after-the-fact rationalization that attempts to explain the fact that some animals cartwheel in a cloud of dust while others run 500 yards before collapsing.  It is no more accurate than claiming that the bullets used were comprised of fragments from Thor's hammer.

A new species of tree

Many people are familiar with Ironwood.

I think I discovered a new species of tree while mowing the yard in preparation for the bonfire.

Based on the unique knot pattern, I think I will give this newly found species a common name of Leadwood with a Latin name of Targetus backstopius

Pithy Comments regarding Solitary Pollinators

In the garage. Neutral filled by some kind of wasps/solitary bees.  4.7mm diameter holes.
In the woodpile.
From the woodpile, a hole that is filled with eggs.
Pith of Box Elder.  This is the natural choice of "nurseries" for solitary bees and wasps.  In general, species with larger leaves have coarser stems and larger piths.
Cottonwood stem.  Width of wedding band is 5.7mm
Quaking aspen.
Black willow.
Staghorn sumac.  Cut on the diagonal because stem collapses when cut with bypass pruners.  Diameter of pith also varies with the initial growth rate of the stem and varies from base to tip.
White willow

Missouri willow.
There are hundreds, maybe thousands of species of solitary bees and insect hunting wasps that use small cavities as nurseries for their young.

Each species of solitary bees has a preferred diameter for their nursery.  They also appear to have the ability to bore undersized holes out to their preferred diameter.  If they can expand the size of the hole in ash (a hard wood) boring out the pilot hole in a soft wood like willow or aspen should be a piece of cake.

The picture in my head is to cut a boatload of assorted twigs into four-to-six inch lengths, bundle them into convenient sizes bundles and then stash them in cans (Hunt's Pasta Sauce cans are approximately five inches tall by three inches diameter) to shelter them against the worst of the weather.  By offering a menu of various diameter piths, from willows on the small end and sumac on the large end I hope to make my property more hospitable to these little critters.