Sunday, December 31, 2017

Stories in the snow

The hourglass track through the center of the frame are pheasant.  They drag their tails.

Somebody decided to leave in a  hurry.  No feathers, so it was not a Cooper Hawk strike.
Sumac berries on the snow.

Birds were feeding on them.
A railroad tie being used as a fence post
Rodent "shoddy" at the base of the post.
I don't know if the interloper wanted the mouse or the house. 
Birds were working the weeds over for seeds.  Most of these weeds were amaranth.
Something in that hole smelled good!

At least the mosquitoes aren't too bad

Days with lows below zero (F) circled
Southern Belle and Handsome Hombre not impressed.  They have been watching the weather back home.

Temperatures in South Miami over the same time period.

Saturday, December 30, 2017


It is worth noting that we still have power.

Image from HERE
If the North Koreans truly intended to destroy the United States, if they had a weaponized nuclear device and a viable delivery system then they would have undoubtedly used it about three days ago.

Just saying that sometimes events that don't happen have nearly as much information in them as events that did happen.

The cost of confusing fantasy with an informed opinion

The cost of "talking out your ass"
The cost of "talking out your ass" is that you will soon find yourself defending the indefensible.

You might have no investment in your stated opinion before you give it voice.  Your motive may have been to simply pass time or perhaps to shock the others in the conversation or maybe you are resentful of other's confidence and simply want to "take them down a peg."

The more tenuous the position the more ferociously it must be defended lest you lose face.

The more invested you become, the harder it is to reverse directions.

Ultimately you lose all respect from those whose opinions matter.

Just don't go there.

Friday, December 29, 2017

"Ideas", "Feelings" and "Opinions" are not interchangable

I was driving one of my children to the gym so we could work out.

The discussion turned to an off-property project we needed to do and I was listing the "Bill of Materials" and the tools we needed.

The child responded, "Nope.  We don't need those tools. Anybody can do that job without tools."

I snuck a quick glance over at the kid.  They seemed to be completely serious.

After a couple of heart-beats of consideration I decided to try unvarnished truth.

"You are talking out your ass." I said.

They were offended.  "There is no need to talk like that!"

"Look, I have done this job and it requires two wrenches, a pair of Vice-Grips and some sand paper."  I said.

"So?" the kid said.

"So if I accepted your 'expertise' and we went to the job-site with no tools then we would both be out one hour of travel time and the job still would not be done."  I said.

"That would REALLY piss me off."  I continued.

"Why don't you calm down?" the kid suggested.   "We were having a conversation and I was contributing. Besides, you are starting to hurt my feelings."

"Talking out your ass is not contributing.  I don't mind people telling me everything they know.  I am a very patient person.  What I resent is when they get to the limits of what they know and keep talking.  And that is exactly what you were doing." I said as we turned onto M-50.

Sneaking another quick glance over at the kid I asked, "What are you doing now?"

"I am texting my friends that my dad is talking shit to me and there is nothing I can say in return."

Quick learner.

Gratuitous editorializing
The kids sit in their dorm rooms or at the coffee shop or play video games while sitting on their parent's sofa and they talk.  Somewhere the adults failed them.  The kids think a feeling is a rational thought.  They think a complete sentence is "truthie" by virtue of it grammatical completeness.

I think it is because they watched Harry Potter movies and unconsciously soaked up a belief in metaphysics.  That is, the belief that "wanting something" more than the other guy is all it takes to make something come true.  Of course, they rarely "want something" enough to work for it.

The problem is that most of them have not been exposed to "common labor".

I was not a particularly industrious youth but I mowed lawns, picked strawberries, raked leaves, cleaned eve troughs, hung guardrail, roofed, mowed more grass, cleaned carpets, buffed tile floors, mopped, welded trash dumpsters, drove trucks, chainsawed, mowed more grass, washed dishes, sprayed weeds, peddled merchandise door-to-door and painted lines in parking lots.  Like I said, I was a slacker for my generation.

Common labor is where kids are exposed to the laws of physics.  Didn't close the tailgate and you might have five gallons of paint chatter its way off the truck (don't ask) and get hit by the guy tailgating you.  Put too much weight in the back of the trailer and the trailer might take leave of the bumper hitch at 45 mph and cross oncoming lanes of traffic (nobody got hurt, thank God).  Don't plan your cuts right and the chainsaw will get pinched in the cut.  The list is endless.

Common labor is where kids learn that the first idea that pops into your head might not be the best solution, in fact, it can get you and onlookers maimed or killed.  There is absolutely nothing magical about an idea simply because the idea came out of YOUR fevered mind.

Most kids don't have the life experiences to disabuse them of the ghastly concept "Everybody's ideas, feelings and opinions are equally valid."  Gag me with a ginsu!  Treating "ideas" and "feelings" and "opinions" as if they were interchangeable.

I failed my kids.

Group Trust vs. Family Trust revisited

Reader Kona Commuter observed:

"Group trust delivers but IS family trust the more stable system? I believe that the west has slipped too far to go back to group trust. I'm trying to work on clan/gang/tribe/family sized grouping."

I don't see this as an either/or proposition.

While it appears that identity politics are overwhelming "group trust" there are glimmers of hope.

At one level, those groups that can maintain the high road will simply out-run the cultures that are mired in distrust of groups. 

For the sake of argument, let's say the FT group can return 1.05 on investment every year and the GT can return 1.08.  In ten years the FT group will have assets of 1.63 vs GT's assets of 2.16.  In twenty years FT will have assets of 2.65 vs GT's 4.66.  In two generations (40 years) FT will have assets of 7.0  vs GT's 21.7. 

One of those "glimmers of hope" are recent changes in the tax code that reduce the transfer from successful GT cultures to the less successful FT cultures.  It is true that one gets more of the behaviors that are rewarded.  Will FT maintain its luster when only people who practice GT get access to resources?

When push comes to shove
Yeah, sign me up for Family Trust.

Need to borrow $500, no questions asked?  You don't ask your boss or co-worker.  You ask family.

Need to disappear without a trace?  Again, you don't ask somebody from an ephemeral, volunteer organization.  You ask somebody who cannot throw you under the bus because that would get him/her thrown out of the family.

A portfolio approach
Portfolio management creates stability the way a pontoon boat creates stability.  In a pontoon boat, one float is optimized for load that is biased to the right and the other pontoon is optimized for load that is biased to the left.

In a portfolio, part of the investment is configured to conserve capital in bad times and the rest of the investment is configured to maximize growth in good times.  The percentage of assets in each category is dictated by your personal tolerance for risk and your view of the future.

Professionally, I think it is worthwhile to be primarily "Group Trust" oriented.  It may appear to be a fool's game in some circumstances but consider that you can figure out who is worth hiring and who is dead-wood.  The finest revenge is to go into competition with an employer who treated you shabbily and to put them out of business.

Personally, I think it is worthwhile to cultivate "Family Trust" bonds.  As Ben Franklin noted after signing the Declaration of Independence:  "Now we all have to hang together or most assuredly we will all hang separately". 

Thursday, December 28, 2017

"Dad, the car won't start..."

Cold weather can be rough on equipment.

I got a call from Belladonna at 3:15 this morning.  "Dad, the car won't start."

The longer story is that she started it to warm it up.  It ran for ten minutes and then shut down.  After that, no juice to turn over the starter.

That is a weird combination of symptoms.

Sometimes it does not pay to guess.  Later today I will be trekking to Lansing with tools, a new battery complete with shiny, new battery lugs, a couple bottles of "dry gas" and a box of miscellaneous fuses.  I will feel a little bit stupid if the problem involves loose battery connections but I think the battery is over five years old so it does not owe me anything.

Her boss drove her to an all-night convenience store that is halfway home.   That is where I picked her up.  

Wednesday, December 27, 2017

Skittle trees

Imagine my surprise when Handsome Hombre told me that his family has a plantation of skittle trees.  The variety of skittles that his dad planted is called "Catuari".  Somehow I imagined the trees would be taller.

The video clip is about 30 seconds long and was supplied by Handsome Hombre.


Presbyopia is the combination of two Latin root-words.  "Presby-":  meaning arms-are-too-short and "-opia" meaning vision.

Originally thought to have been coined after a Christian denomination commonly found in Scotland, the condition was observed in congregations and was found to be exacerbated by a combination of the frugal and canny Scots printing church documents in the smallest font available (to conserve paper) and using the minimum number of candles and windows allowed by local building codes.

Many people who find their arms getting shorter as they age resort to bi-focal glasses.  The top prescription is suitable for distances while the lower prescription is useful for reading and working on computers.

The speedometer on vehicles is always between the two prescriptions which results in blue-haired ladies either driving 25 mph (driving by Braille) or 85 mph (everything is a speed-bump if your vehicle is large enough and fast enough).

Sometimes old farts are pressed into service working overhead.  Sometimes it is vehicle maintenance.  Sometimes it is recreational plumbing or wiring.

In addition to having arms that are too short, the oldster handiman finds that he cannot tip his head back far enough to engage the problem with the "near" portion of his bi-focal glasses.

If you perform enough of this work, close and overhead, it might pay to buy a pair of tri-focals.

Dedicated glasses
A less expensive solution is to purchase a pair of glasses that are 100% the lower, close prescription.

My pair arrived the day after Christmas.

It is easy enough to do.  Obtain your distance prescription and your Pupillary Distance from your eye doctor.  He might kick a little bit about giving it to you because selling eyeglasses is the profitable part of his business.  Remind him that the data belongs to you because you, or your insurance company paid for it.

***Note:  The following discusses how your eye doctor determines the prescription to put in the bottoms of the bifocals and is not intended as "practicing medicine" on the internet***

The way an eye doctor determines your "near" prescription is pretty straightforward.  He uses this formula.

Take your age in years.  Divide it by eight.  Then subtract 5.00.  That is the "add".

This is what the prescription entry dashboard looks like at Zenni Optical.
Lets suppose the prescription for your right eye is -3.75 spherical and -6.00 spherical for the left eye and that you are 60 years old.  Sixty divided by eight is 7.50.  7.50 - 5.00 = 2.50  Consequently you would add 2.50 the spherical for each eye which would result in

Same prescription but adjusted for "near" vision for our mythical sixty year old geezer.
The only other tweak to the prescription is to slightly reduce the PD.  Our eyes become slightly crossed when we are looking at objects that are close to us.  Reducing the PD by 2.0 millimeters is usually sufficient.

Tuesday, December 26, 2017


Handsome Hombre's technique improved as the evening progressed.

 These three girls were amazing.  They were trying to hit a chunk of ice halfway down the hill.

 Yeah, this is where I hung out!

These are truck inner tubes encased in tough, synthetic covers.  They are a smooth and fast ride.  Burchfield Park has about sixty of them.  They can be rented for $2 for two hours...and by then you are ready for some hot chocolate or adult beverage.
They leave the lights on until 8 in the evening.  They don't kick anybody out.  They just turn out the lights.  Picnic tables and benches for those of us who are more interested in socializing than sledding.
The fading light of evening.  The hill is comfortably boisterous at 150 sledders but it starts to get a bit congested at 200. 

Winter clothing

Southern Belle stylin' in some winter duds shortly before the couple went on a walk.

Handsome Hombre and Southern Belle are up for the holidays.  They live in Miami...South Miami.

Handsome Hombre had never seen snow.  On Christmas we had white-out conditions, 15 degree temps and gusts to 40 mph.  We also had about 6 inches on the ground if you could find a place where it had not blown clear or drifted.  It is -1 F as I type.  Not the worst weather the mid-West offers but weather that demands that you take it seriously.

Handsome Hombre is a good looking guy.  He cares about his appearance.  The ladies took him clothes shopping back around Thanksgiving.  To him, "Coats" were articles of apparel designed to make chests and shoulders look deeper and wider and to make waists look slimmer.  Coats open in the front to display bling.  Coming from the climate of Miami, the primary consideration of clothing after they covered up your private parts was "How does it make you look more attractive?"

Mrs ERJ said it was almost comical.  They had to LEAD him to the winter coats, pick them off the rack and hand it to him.  He had been bringing back knit, turtleneck, long sleeved shirts thinking they were winter coats.

In retrospect his dissonance was identical to what would happen if I went to Walmart and somebody had accidentally put a rack of Walmart work vests on display.  I would dismiss them and they would become invisible.

Well...alrighty.  Handsome Hombre is starting to figure out why he is the proud owner of a loose fitting, quilted winter coat with a hood and why he owns multiple bulky sweaters, mittens, snow boots....  And he figured out how to wear them all one atop the other.

Gratuitous picture of Belladonna and her winter sweater.

Monday, December 25, 2017

The Last Centurion and Christmas

I recently read John Ringo's book The Last Centurion.

Chapter Six talked about the differences between cultures dominated by "Group Trust" and cultures dominated by "Family Trust."  That single chapter was worth the entire price of the book.

Family Trust vs Group Trust
Globally, there are far more cultures that are "Family Trust" than there are "Group Trust."  By numerical count there are probably far more people who are "Family Trust" than there are "Group Trust."  However, the cultures that achieved global dominance are populated primarily by "Group Trust" cultures.

Cultures dominated by "Group Trust" are very agile.  They quickly self-organize into groups that align skills and needs.  Those ad hoc groups are very efficient because they are not burdened with extraneous selection criteria like clan or tribe.  Needs are seen.  Needs are addressed.

At the individual level, it is difficult for people who grew up immersed in "Group Trust" cultures to see and comprehend "Family Trust" cultures because it is so foreign to them.  To "Family Trust" cultures, every individual who is not 'family' is a resource to be subdued, dominated and exploited.  To a Group Trust member that idea is so dissonant that they simply cannot credit the evidence in front of their eyes.

Origins of Group Trust
In the West, the origins of Group Trust culture can be traced from the Parable of the Good Samaritan (The extremely expansive definition of "Who is my neighbor?") and through the evanglization in Acts and the letters of Paul.

Then it can be seen "leveraging" when Christianity became the state religion of the Roman Empire.

Rome maintained a grip on the empire by putting Gauls over Jews, Greeks over Egyptians, Goths over Carthagians.  Exploiting the pre-existing animosities allowed the empire to balance each group against the other and assured the government that if ordered, the soldiers would have no inhibitions against killing those they were garrisoned within.

By the year 300AD the Roman Empire was lurching from crisis-to-crisis as resource depletion, ever longer supply lines and the growing "entitled" class created economic strain.  The centuries of pitting one ethnic group against the other exacerbated pre-existing tensions and the Empire was on the verge of self-immolation.

Christianity was the key
Adopting Christianity as the state religion offered some very practical solutions to a couple of the problems. 

It is debatable if Jesus's message of servant-leader made much headway with the entitled classes but every little bit helped.  That is the nature of recursive algorithms like Julian sets and compound interest;  small changes in the input result in massively intricate changes in the long-term output.

Perhaps the larger solution was the idea of "Group Trust".

For through faith you are all children of God in Christ Jesus. For all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ.  There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free person, there is not male and female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus. And if you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham’s descendant, heirs according to the promise.  Galatians 3:26-29
Rome lurched along for another 150 years before collapsing but the foundation was laid for "Western Civilization" as we know it today.

And all because a scared, unmarried woman agreed to the most preposterous proposition.   And a babe was later born in a barn and laid in a manger.

Merry Christmas!

Sunday, December 24, 2017

Saturday, December 23, 2017

Comparing AA batteries vs AAA batteries

Energizer E92 AAA battery.  Nominally 1200 mAh at low energy draw or 104 mAh per gram.  Source
A simple AAA battery has five times the energy as the CR2032 "coin" battery powering my Red Dot scope.

Energizer E91 AA battery.  Nominally 3000 mAh at low energy draw or 130 mAh per gram...approximately 25% more energy per unit mass as the AAA battery.  Source
A simple AA battery has twelve times as much energy as the CR2032 in my Red Dot scope in is infinitely easier to find out in the wild.

The mass efficiency of the AA improves even more vs the AAA if the device(s) require a battery carrier to hold three AAA.  Two AA batteries have 65% more energy than three AA batteries and only weigh 17% more than three AAAs in a carrier.

The advantage to longer life is immeasurable.  There is just that much less opportunity to find yourself in the ditch.  There is much comfort to be had when your light works in the dark.

The secondary advantage is that the service life of a AA battery has less "sag" at higher power draws than the AAA battery.  For example, the service life of an AA battery at 250mA is 6.5% as long as it would be when the amp draw is 25mA.  The service life of an AAA battery at 250mA is 5.7% as long as it would be when the amp draw is 25mA.  That is on top of the AAA's shorter service life even at the slower power draws.

CR-1220 batteries.

Stupid battery sizes.  I like how most items standardized on AA batteries.

I wish they would do the same for the hockey puck batteries.  For the record, a CR1220 battery has 40mAh or about 1/75th as much as an AA, alkaline battery or 1/6th as much as a CR2032.

Friday, December 22, 2017

Stolen from Wirecutter with absolutely no shame

Watch the eyes of the observer.  I suggest watching it in full-screen mode.

PS: This would not be me shooting.

Fake News Friday: Bit-coin

From the Comments Section

Reader Third Coast wrote in the comments section of the post Self-discipline:
Books have been written about some of the items you've brought up here. Do you think there's a possibility the pendulum will start to swing, or is it too late? All I'm going to say is people, especially younger ones, have no sense of history.
 Having four kids has given Mrs ERJ and me a seat on the fifty yard line.  Hanging out with my coffee group has also given me things to think about.

Too late for some individuals
While it is risky to discount the power of God to effect change in people's lives there are some lives where it appears to be too late to turn them around.

Consider the forty or fifty year old man who steals firewood from his dad.  He is unemployed by choice.  Work cuts into his video gaming too much or he tried it once and he did not receive the respect that he knew he was entitled to.  He drive vehicles that are given to him by his parents and lives in housing they bought or are paying for.  Hearing that the 76 year old dad was driving around on bald tires I offered him a set of snow tires I had stored in my barn.  His response, "Hey...those will fit on Junior's truck."  I withdrew the offer.

The disconnect between "school" and reality is huge.

I have had conversations with teachers who honestly believe that "entry level" jobs that pay $130,000 a year abound.  "All you have to do is follow you heart and your passions."  I think they do a grave disservice to our young people.

Is it any wonder they roll-over when they hit reality?

It is like tossing a tropical fish into the run-off from a landfill.

Our responsibilities as men
Men are culpable, in part, for this turn of events.

The feminists oversimplified.  They exalted "mothering" and dissed "fathering" as a third-rate, piss-poor substitute for "real" parenting.

They were oblivious to the fact that mothers and fathers act as a team.  We fill different roles in our child's development.  Mothers do the heavy lifting from birth to age nine.  Then dads rapidly take larger roles in the child's transition to adulthood.  THIS IS NOT A FLAW.

Many men abdicated their role.  Some were pushed out by welfare rules.  Others said, "Fine.  If that is the way you are going to be then I will retreat to my man-cave for the duration."

The damage was compounded as grandfathers became scarcer.  They had been filling the gap.

The absence of dads or the complete wussification of them results in children getting stuck in childhood.

Adults accept that they are responsible for the consequence of their choices and their actions.  The arrested child looks to somebody else, anybody else to rescue them.  It is the only mode of harvesting resources that they know.  Swoon-and-collect.

Back to millennials
Reality is a ruthless bitch.  Most millennials come around.  They realize they have been had. 

The first rule of conning somebody is to tell them what they want to hear.  "Yep, empty Jim Beam bottles are going to be worth a fortune.  Mark my words!"  Easy to see from that perspective.

"Yep, a $150,000 Master's Degree in Video Media is going to be worth a fortune.  Mark my words!"  Not so easy for the child to see.

Most millennials flip right-side-up once they figure things out.  They narrow down their luxuries to a good cup of coffee in the morning and then trudge off to their part time jobs.

Unless, of course, they can find a parent who will continue to support them economically.

Will the pendulum swing?
The question is, will it swing within our lifetime.  Hard to say.

The key metric is the 10 year T-Bill interest rate.  The arrested development is funded by issuing debt.  That is, society is using a credit card to pay for these "children".  Interest rates will spike when they bump into the credit card's limit.  Then the economy will go into the septic tank and inflation will immolate any savings "the ants" might have.

When will the credit card hit the wall?  I don't know but one good guess is that it will happen shortly after baby boomers flip from net savers to net spenders.  Withdrawls from 401-ks, IRAs and pension funds raising liquidity will create a shortage of buyers relative to sellers and then things will get ugly.

Fake News Friday: Swastikas

Not fake news.  A government that does not respect or enforce an individual's property rights is well on its way to trashing all of your other rights.

Multicultural swastikas  Source if image

Thursday, December 21, 2017


Hmmm!  A $2 candy bar or a $140 bar of silver?

Much of what passes for moral wisdom is little more than the consistent exercise of self-discipline.

Whether the venue is food or drink or "thrills" or sexual gratification; the ability to defer pleasure is the common under-girding and is common to every major world religion.

The ability to defer pleasure is a skill, not a resource.  Skills are strengthened by repetition, not depleted.  Skills transfer from venue-to-venue whether it is catching a ball or holding off just a little longer.

It is fashionable to slag "old" moral codes that had prohibitions or guardrails on sexual congress, for instance.  "Things are different now."

The critics' reasoning are that there are no consequences to the hook-up culture.  Why would anybody discourage indiscriminate sexual intimacy (fun) unless they were just "mean" or "hateful"?

Perhaps because wholesale refusal to engage in self-discipline means that most people will not have the skills to engage in monogamy. Ever.  Oh, perhaps they will when life is easy, but what about when the spouse goes to Vegas for a week on business or you find yourself comforting a hot looking co-worker who just broke up with their SO?  Play that game and you will be looking at divorce court and broken families.

It is heartbreaking to see that it is not just older people.  Scroll to 1:22.  We perpetuate our lack of self-discipline by not teaching it to our children because we don't want to be "hypocrits".

It is not just broken families.  It relates to obesity.  Find a "gate" that does not self-select against "average" and "poor".  The Secretary of State waiting room and the entrance at Walmart are decent choices.  Watch the people walking through the door.  A third of the people are not just obese.  They are 60-to-150 pounds overweight.

The engineer/mathematician in me wishes I had a floor mat that could automatically weigh people as they walked or rolled across it. Even if it was just video data that capture height and diameter at the waist-line. I think we would get a clearer picture of America than just counting on what doctors offices report.

Wednesday, December 20, 2017

An Edspedition to Grand Rapids

One of my coffee drinking buddies was "up north" with his wife when she had a stroke.  Names will not be used in this post for all of the usual privacy reasons.

They were staying at a family member's house on Saturday night.  After a game of cards Wifey turned in.  Five minutes later Queenie, the dog, went full-on Lassie barking like a dervish at the bedroom door.  My guess is that Wifey was making scratchy sounds on the door as she tried to regain her feet.

Wifey was on the floor, wedged between the door and the bed.  The door opened into the bedroom.  The buddy and home-owner were able to open the door about six inches.  Quick use of a screwdriver and claw hammer  popped the hinge pins.

Wifey was transported to Cadillac, Michigan.  A few tests were administered and an ischemic stroke was diagnosed.  They dosed her with Draino-for-the-Braino and stuffed her in an ambulance bound for Grand Rapids.

The family reached out to the guys at coffee.  By Wednesday they were running on fumes with regards to sleep.  They needed somebody to make a mid-day trip to Grand Rapids to ensure that Hubby had somebody to talk to and to make sure that he had a bite to eat.

I was one of the two guys elected to perform the task.

We swept onto the fourth floor of Butterworth Hospital like conquering heroes.  We had schooners of coffee, bags of Hubby's favorite fast food and most importantly, a huge box of chocolate for the nurses' station.

The prognosis for Wifey is pretty good.  She tried to introduce us to her speech therapist.  She called me Mr Apple.  She started to call the other fellow Mr As_h_l_ but was quick enough mentally, to stop half way...ok, maybe it was a little more than halfway but she did catch herself.

And that is why you don't have much of a blog post today.

Tuesday, December 19, 2017

Christmas parties, concealed carry and the elusive middle ground

I was at a Christmas party where there was a concealed carry "fail".

Nope.  It was not me.

It is ironic that open carry requires that some portion of the firearm be visible at all time while concealed carry requires that the weapon never becomes visible.  The legal thinking is that revealing a "concealed" weapon opens up the possibility of "Brandishing", a felony. misdemeanor.  "Brandishing", for those who are new to this kind of thing is often defined as "intentionally displaying a weapon in an intimidating or threatening manner."

You can take a toy gun into a bank and be guilty of "Brandishing".

I strongly suspect that three of the people at the party were carrying.  Heck, it could have been more.

One of the mothers who has young children somehow got wind of it afterward.  Facebook?

She sent out an email.  I was not on the distribution but saw a copy.  I do not know if the three who were likely to be carrying were on the distribution.  The mother was distressed.

Her primary concern was negligent discharges.

She accused the folks who were carrying of drinking while carrying.

Frankly, I did not see any of the ones I thought were carrying so much as touch an empty can of beer.  If you were trained in Michigan than you learned that alcohol and concealed carry are a no-go zone.  Blowing anything that makes the needle quiver is instant confiscation of your firearm and a MINIMUM of a one year revocation of your Concealed Carry License.  

The hostess attempted to find a middle ground.  She was fine with guests bringing their handguns as long as they locked them in the trunk of their cars.  I am not sure if that is going to be "OK" with those who carry.  It will be their call.

I don't know if the hostess is familiar with the strong prohibition on alcohol consumption and concealed carry.  Clearly the concerned mother is unaware of the fact.  If the hostess was aware of the prohibition then there is the possibility that she could weigh the risk of her guests Driving-under-the-Influence vs the possibility of negligent discharges.

The Quandary
The quandary is that folks who are not "into" firearms are unaware of the other dimensions of "middle ground".

One dimension within the middle ground is for those who are carrying to have a better concealment system.  This would not have ever become an issue if one of those carrying had not "printed".  Crass?  Maybe.  But why would you rub somebody's nose in the fact that you are carrying if you knew it stressed them?  A corollary of this is to not mention that you concealed carry on social media.  Any social media.  Ever.

That is water over the dam for this group of people but something to keep in mind if the issue has not arisen at your Christmas parties.
Many/most holsters with secondary retention features shield the trigger.  It is not obvious to the casual observer how to unlock the gun from the holster.  That is by design.

Another dimension within the middle ground is to require that those who are carrying "at my house" to use a holster with a good "secondary retention feature".  The word picture from the concerned mother involved Billy-Bob rough-housing with her child, the firearm tumbling out and, in the chaos, discharging.  Even CNN attests that holsters that have secondary retention features are effective at securing guns from prying hands.

Prosecutors say Tsarnaev and his older brother, Tamerlan Tsarnaev (Boston Marathon Bombers), killed Collier because they wanted his gun. But their efforts to take it were thwarted by a safety holster.  -Source
Trust me, folks who carry are always looking for an excuse to buy another holster.  That would not be an imposition.

A third dimension within the middle ground involves adding a degree of separation.  That is, carry the gun unloaded but with the magazine (or speed-loader) in a pocket on the other side of your body. The chances of a ND are as close to zero as math acknowledges.  A firearm without bullets is a rather inefficient hammer.

The reason these are identified as dimensions is because they are fully independent.  The host or hostess can mix and match any of the three dimensions to get the level of confidence they wish.

Just my thoughts.  Your mileage will vary.

Note:  Some corrections were made regarding "Brandishing" based on input received by email.  Incorrect info was struck and corrected information was underlined. That is why formal classes are valuable and why lawyers are worth consulting...

Microsoft Excel

A candid photo of Eaton Rapids Joe in casual attire.
Several of my "business associates" are not very good with computers.

One of them was unaware that there were formulas buried in the spreadsheet he was using and when it was not updating the way he expected he power-typed (with two fingers) the numbers he expected to show up.  Of course what happened is that he trashed the spreadsheet.

Microsoft Excel is an incredible tool.  One can start with simple models and add complexity.  Calculations on one sheet can be linked to other sheets, even other files.  Repetitive calculations can be automated in several different ways.

Once the model is built and validated, the user can perform sensitivity analysis.

What happens if the interest rate is 6%?  How about 4% or 2% or 0%?

What happens if the price of energy (fuel) goes from $2.50 a gallon to $3.50 a gallon?  What if it drops to $1.80?

Here is a good question:  How much do you have to 'discount' your product to make it competitive against older technologies that already have a user-base.  The 'discount' might actually be a higher base price for the dominant technology and a stiff rebate for a more competitive technology.

One of the challenges of a good model is to include the fixed costs that are external to and and cannot be separated from the immediate decision.
If the only cost of producing corn was the cost of the Nitrogen fertilizer than the most revenue for the money invested would be at the lowest level.

For example, a farmer might look at corn yield and think that the most bang-for-the-buck is at the lowest Nitrogen level.

On the other hand, suppose all of the other costs are 10X the cost of the lowest level of Nitrogen.  In that case the most revenue for the capital sunk in the venture is the highest level of fertilization.

Other costs matter!  A new technology might look expensive in a two-horse race that excludes productivity benefits.  Including inseparable, fixed costs gives  a truer picture as more volume is HUGE when there are other, large costs to amortize.

Monday, December 18, 2017

Package stealing

Scum bag
Package theft continues to rise as more people shop on-line.

Karma can be engineered.  A low cost "odorant" involves a gallon of milk with a loose or missing cap.  The leaking milk soaks the padding beneath the carpet of the miscreant's vehicle and start to produce odor days later as the bacteria feast on the protein and lactose. 

Skatole is a higher tech odorant.  The name comes from a combination of "Scat" (polite, Latin for "poop") and Indole a fragrant chemical.  It is soluble in alcohol.

A gallon jug filled with oil from your last oil change is also a possibility.  The addition of a small amount of paint thinner will help it penetrate the cardboard box in a more timely manner.

In smaller packages non-deodorized fish oil can be very effective especially if the thief  tosses it into the back of the vehicle and the oil leaks out above the exhaust pipe.

This is an exercise of "thinking inside the box".

I hate thieves.

A reasonable effort to manage on-line, personal content

A portrait Eaton Rapids Joe.  Maybe.
My family had our annual Christmas party.  Toward the end of the party some of the photographers were flipping through the images they had collected.  One of the images was of my brother, napping.  Whether by accident or by design there was an empty "adult beverage" container in the frame.  The person who took the photo thought it would be humorous to post the photo on social media.

And then one of the adults spoke up
The hostess of the party is in one of the counseling professions and she shared her profession's "Code of Conduct".

The Code of Conduct, as I understand it, is slightly different than the Code of Ethics.  The Code of Ethics is compact and more theoretical.  The Code of Conduct is more concrete and specific.

The hostess said that her profession requires that "reasonable effort be made to 'manage' on-line content."  For example, consider the options that are available to "manage" on-line content. 
  • The person in the photo can verbally request that the image be removed.  If that works then the problem is solved.  If it does not work....
  • He can follow-up by requesting that the image be removed via email...which provides evidence that he is making an effort.
  • He can request that the image be "un-tagged" so it is not linked to him.  Again, email is the preferred medium
  • He can dilute the images on the internet by flooding it with plausible substitutes.  Then he can ask friends to "click on" the benign pictures to "bury" the undesirable image.
The reason the counseling professions are so concerned about on-line content is that much of the value in counseling is the result of the relationship that the counselor and the patient.  That relationship can be poisoned if the patient sees pictures of the counselor drunk or doing lines of coke or grinding on a person of the opposite sex.

Sunday, December 17, 2017

Well behaved people rarely...

There is a bumper sticker that reads something like "Well behaved people rarely make history."

That statement is balderdash.

Nearly all history is made by people who "behave":  People who go to work and give their employers a full day's work.  People who invest themselves in raising good children.  People who take care of aging parents.  Folks who obey traffic laws (mostly), pay the taxes they are legally obliged to pay, maintain their dwellings.

A more accurate bumper sticker is "Poorly behaved people are often recorded by history."

If notoriety is your goal, then by all means be ill-behaved.

Saturday, December 16, 2017


In Eaton Rapids we usually just hang it from the rear view mirror.

In 1949 only socialism could save China. In 1989 only China could save socialism. In 2009 only China could save capitalism. In 2018 only socialism can save the United States.

Half of all twins are unplanned.

Only ten of the 300,000,000 sperm released by the male partner ever make it to the egg.  Like the male partner, sperm also refuse to stop and ask for directions.

Friday, December 15, 2017

Broken alarm clocks

After twenty years of faithful service Mrs ERJ's alarm clock finally broke.

She wanted to get up early this morning and asked me to wake her at a certain time.

Being a big fan of Sleeping Beauty, I knew just what to do.

I was a little surprised when she tapped me three times on the forehead after I kissed her.  I think she wore the clock out hitting the "snooze" button.  Mrs ERJ can be a sound sleeper.

Fake News Friday: Plant Breeders

Fake News Friday: You too can be a benchrest shooter

I visited Family Shooters Corral today and Russ Nelson told me Uncle Buck's sure fire way to "tune in" rifles so they are capable of shooting 1" groups.

The most important thing is to buy a box of premium ammo.  All snarkiness aside, you cannot go wrong with Federal Premium Vital-Shock loaded with Sierra Game Kings or Nosler Ballistic Tips in a weight that is appropriate for the game.

Then, set up at the fifty yard target.  Most people grossly overestimate range so it is reasonable to test your rifle at fifty yards for what you will judge to be one hundred yard shots in the field.

Then, fire all twenty cartridges at the target.

It is very important to take your time so your barrel can cool off between shots.  As incredible as it seems, it is not excessive to take an entire three minutes to shoot twenty times.

Then circle the three shots that are in the tightest group.  That is the three-shot group size.  Viola!  A one inch group.  Now that was not so hard, was it?

Don't despair if the group size initially appears to be larger than one inch.  Count the number of holes in the target.  If you count the holes in the target shown above you will see that there are only sixteen holes.  That obviously means that four of the bullets went through the same hole that was made by an earlier bullet.

The gun, ammunition, and most importantly The Shooter is clearly capable of half-inch, three shot groups!

You too can become a master marksman by simply hanging out at your local shooting range and by asking guys like Russ Nelson "How does Uncle Buck do it?"

Editor's Note:


I did go to Family Shooter Corral yesterday and shot honest 2.5", three shot groups at 100 yards. I had horizontal stringing which suggests that I have a lot of trigger work to do.  The load was nothing exotic.  .308 Winchester, 41 grains of IMR 4895 and Hornady 165 grain boat-tailed softpoints.  The load is a full 10% below maximum and shoots as gently as a 75 year old man flatulating.

I had the scope on 4X as that where I will most likely set it when hunting.  Magnification is a trade-off between speed and precision.  My preference is to hit with less precision rather than missing with higher precision...but that is just me.

I intend to upgrade to a Nikon Prostaff or a Vortex scope after I win the lottery.  $200 can buy a lot of scope now days and $40 will buy a set of Warne Maxima rings.

For a Tactical rifle, hunting rings and bases are not strong enough. The standard twist in type rings are fine for a rifle that will only be used a couple times a year but not for a rifle that will be dragged through hell. For this reason I chose WARNE MAXIMA rings and bases ($57.00 for the whole set). These use torx type fasteners and are tough as nails. These are the only civilian rings and bases I will recommend. They have served me well and are very exact in initial zero. The screws for the bases are torqued to 25 inch pounds and the rings to 13 inch pounds. This is rock solid with steel-to-steel contact at all points.  Source

Ballistics software suggests impact velocities over 2000 fps at 200 yards which should be plenty to make the bullets expand on targets coyote sized and larger.

For the technical types, both plots have a standard deviation of 4" which suggests that 90% of the shots should fall within a circle with a 13" diameter and 70% of the shots will fall within an 8" circle.

Thursday, December 14, 2017

Moping around today

We got some news this week that we did not want to hear.

My brother has been fighting cancer for the last 9 months and recently had some imaging done.  The imaging was not favorable.

It was a punch in the gut because everything seemed to be going so well.  He, his wife and his three daughters (ages 18, 20 and 23) are regrouping.

Prayers requested
I am requesting prayers on his behalf and on behalf of his immediate family.

If it helps to have a name then you can think of him as "Firefighter".  God will be able to figure it out from there.

If it helps to have some Bible verses to help focus then Matt 6:25-34 or Luke 12:4-9 might be a good starting place.

If you are not a problem.  All prayers are welcome although human sacrifice is discouraged by the management.

You might be out of the practice of praying but that is more than OK.  It is the wheel that has been idle the longest that makes the loudest squawk.  I am sure Firefighter will be tickled if you give it the old college try.

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Still snowing

I had a 1973 Chevy Impala that was almost a dead ringer for this vehicle. 350 V8 and a two barrel carb.

I sold it to my brother in 1987.  Good times.

Yup, it snows in Michigan.  Get over it.

Wherein Jack invades Northern Georgia

The Battle of the Bulge was NAZI Germany's last big offensive on the western front and was notable for the deep snow in which it was fought.
Jack came to coffee yesterday.  More accurately, his close friend Rollin (pronounced Rah-lin) drove him to the restaurant and they ate breakfast.  Jack's son-in-law was also in attendance.

We had a full house.  Everybody but Fast Eddie was there.  Junior met Jack at the door and Jack addressed him by his "Driver's License" name, Darryl.  In turn, we all went one-by-one to pay our respects to Jack.

Jack is 94 and was wounded in the Battle of the Bulge.  He recently suffered a heart attack.  His daughter and son-in-law are taking him back to Georgia when they leave.

This was probably Jack's last trip to coffee.

Rollin is distressed, although stoic.  Rollin and Jack did almost everything together.  They went to church together.  They went to yard sales.  And, of course, they went to coffee together.  Sometimes they arrived early and they would remain in Rollin's truck to listen to the last bit of an inspirational radio show before coming in.

Rollin noted that Jack is less "sharp" than he was even a month ago.  The heart attack affected his cognitive abilities.  Rollin fears that Jack's daughter will find him too much to handle and will put him in a home.  Rollin wonders, why not let Jack live in his own home and then move him to assisted living in Michigan when the time comes?

Jack's son-in-law announces to everybody who will listen, "It is the right thing to do.  Everybody says so."

Most of us drinking coffee have the luxury of not having any skin in the game.  Jack and Rollin are admirable men and it is a time of hard decisions.  It is a time when the best decision is a clear and firm decision...empathy but not waffling.

It looks like Jack's departure from Michigan will be a snowy one.
Vaya con Dios, Jack.   Fair winds and may God be with you....and look out for shrapnel.

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Peering into the future

Courtesy of  ERJ's proprietary crystal ball crypto-software my readers get a flash preview two decades into the future.