Saturday, March 31, 2018

Eaton Rapids Phenology report

Vernal Witchhazel.  Smells divine.  All pictures taken March 31, 2018 in Eaton Rapids.
Pussy Willow.  These don't seem to have moved in the past two weeks.
An early (Yamhill) hazelnut, female bloom.  The red brushes on the tip of the bud are the pistils that collect windblown pollen.

Multiplier onions.

Boys flying kites.  Or maybe kites flying boys.

Hat-tip to Adaptive Curmudgeon.  I have been enjoying his Phenology reports.

Can't shovel fertilizer without getting dirt on your boots

Interviewing self-absorbed brat results in loss of 11 advertisers.

Tell me again, why would any media outlet ever interview this kind of leech?  People like him are toxic.

Friday, March 30, 2018

Good call, Michigan State.

Michigan State University has said it will not discipline a sophomore who made a number of racist comments on social media.
Michigan State University has said it will not discipline a sophomore who made a number of racist comments on social media. Jillian Kirk (above) used the N-word in a number of social media posts on Snapchat and Twitter

The racist social media posts went viral and spurred calls from students for the university to take action against Kirk.

Miyanna Fowlkes, a freshman at MSU, posted the racist tweets and Snapchat videos. They were shared thousands of times.

But the university released a statement on Wednesday saying that while it does not approve of the posts, 'we do not get to control what every member of our community says.'   -Source

While I would not write what Jillian Kirk wrote, I do approve of Michigan State University's response.

If students are truly outraged and hurt, then they should have no problem facing Miss Kirk and articulating their feelings.  Otherwise, they are cowards hiding behind a "mommy" figure and are denied the opportunity to grow up.  
As a tax payer subsidizing MSU, I am pleased that they are giving students a chance to engage in authentic human interactions and thus have a chance to learn how to deal with bullies, boors and "diversity", something they should have been learning on the playground since third grade.

Fake News Friday

Eaton Rapids Joe Fake Friday news recently learned that the Rapides (Louisiana) Republican Parish Executive Committee filed a class action civil suit against Lois Lerner.

The RRPEC networked through Facebook to find other conservative organizations that had been audited and "harassed" by Ms. Lerner while she worked for the IRS.  Nationally damages were calculated by several independent experts to be in excess of $150 million when algorithms were used to estimate the donations that were withheld by supporters out of fear of being subjected to politically motivated IRS attack audits.

The American Civil Liberties Union is representing the RRPEC et al because civil liberties are too precious to allow ham-handed, tone-deaf political brown-shirts (regardless of party) to stifle.

The ACLU is expected to request that the court freeze the assets of the Lois Lerner household to minimize asset flight.

If the lawsuit is successful, Lois Lerner will not be left destitute.  She will be allowed to retain $10,000 of equity in her primary residence and is eligible to apply for food stamps and other poverty assistance.  That said, she will be in far better financial shape, and have better access to healthcare than 95% of the Democrats living in the Mississippi Delta.

For readers who are not familiar with the differences between civil and criminal law: The standard of proof for civil law is lower than for criminal law.  For example, O.J. Simpson was not convicted under criminal law but was still found liable under civil law.

Installment 2.9

The next day Denice and Bart, the director of Public Transportation made a spot inspection of the main Public Transportation depot.

Denice said, “I read the contract and ‘Management’ can operate the bus as long as they have a commercial license and we do not operate the bus without a ATU member on-board.  You do have a license, right?”

Bart said, “Of course I have a license.”

“Good.” Denice said.  “Because we are going to take the next bus that comes into the depot…number 24-066 by the look of it, and you are going to drive us around the route.”

Bart said, “That is not necessary.  I can tell you everything you need to know.”

“Excellent.  You can answer all my questions while you are driving the bus.” Denice flung back cheerfully as she boarded the bus.  She asked the driver to vacate the driver’s seat so Bart could drive.  She installed the driver in the seat immediately behind the driver’s seat.

“Let’s roll, Bart.  We have a schedule to keep.  Put the hammer down.” Denice said.

The bus lurched and stalled.

“You know, I could understand this being an issue if this was a manual transmission, but this is an automatic.  Come-on Bart.  Giddyup!” Denice said.

Bart attempted to restart the bus.  It coughed.  White smoke belched out of the exhaust.  Finally the motor caught but not without filling the bus with diesel fumes.

Bart put it in gear.  Once again the bus lurched and stalled, but this time emergency lights came on and an extremely loud alarm message played “Please exit the bus by the nearest exits.  Use emergency exits if flames are visible.”  The message repeated over and over and over.

Standing on the pavement ten feet from the bus stop Denice told Bart, “That is the most disgraceful display of incompetence I have ever seen.  You clearly need motivation so we are going to repeat this exercise once a week until it is no longer a problem.  You have one month to get this squared away, otherwise it will no longer be your problem, it will be your replacement’s problem.  Have I made myself clear?”

Bart’s face was red.  He clearly wanted to say something but was thinking better of it. “Yes ma’am.  I understand.” 

”Get out of my sight.” Denice said.  “You have work to do.”

Walking away from the bus stop Denice called Liz.  “Liz.  Let me know if the Transporation department fails to put in orders for at least sixty-thousand Callors of bus parts in the next twenty-four hours.  I am looking for orders for injector pumps, sensors, wiring harnesses, transmission oil cooling lines, clutch-packs and the like.”

“That’s right.  I want you to tell me if they DON’T put in an order.  It means I need to start looking for another head of Transportation.”

Next Installment

Thursday, March 29, 2018

We planted some lilac bushes today

Mrs ERJ and I planted some lilac bushes today.

I cut out some thumbnails of what the blooms looked like and let her scoot them around in Powerpoint until she thought they looked nice.  She opted for pink in the middle as a focal point, bracketed by white and then by purples.  We planted these where Mrs ERJ will see them when she sits in her favorite reading chair by the window.  They will also make the yard smell nice because they are planted west of our main yard.

From left-to-right

Alfred F. Holden (Description, PDF)
Betsy Ross   (Description)
Sweetheart   (Description)
Beauty of Moscow   (Description, PDF)
Declaration  (Description, same page as Betsy Ross )
Charles Joly   (Description, PDF)

I purchased the plants from Dogwoodritternet on Ebay and was very happy with the plants.  They had fabulous roots!  Coming from Arkansas they had broken dormancy but not so much that the bottom buds had broken.  That is, the bottom buds will grow even if the tops are frost-blasted.

They averaged about $5 each.  I was able to reduce the cost of shipping by putting all of them into the shopping basket and THEN checking-out.

A foodie blog

Recipes HERE.  This is when you wished you know somebody who could read Polish.

Mrs ERJ and I went on a date

Mrs ERJ and I go on one BIG date a year, usually sometime near our anniversary.  We live large.  It is a prime-rib and 18 year old single malt kind of date.

This year I asked her, "Where do you want to go and what do you want to do?"

Her answer was different than I expected.  "Let's go to Battle Creek."

So we loaded up her magazines, sudoku, adult coloring books and crossword puzzle books.  We loaded up a goodly portion of my library of Sci-fi military and cowboy books and we drove to the Battle Creek VA hospital.

Volunteer services is in Building 10, Room 110.
This is an information sheet that is passed out to people who make donations.  It informs us what is needed and what they cannot accept.

Then we went for  a walk.


Oriental Bittersweet.  Almost looks like a snake.

And these, of course, would be snakes mating.
The sound of running water.

Mrs ERJ found the clash of colors interesting.
An oak leaf.
A beaver dam.
Ground Cedar
We never did get to the prime rib or single malt but I had a great date with my wife.

Installment 2.8

Sheila was looking through the plate glass windows that faced the Union Hall for ATU: Local 1277 as she watched the woman get off the bus.

The woman was wearing a poofy white, cotton blouse, Dickies, sandals and a straw hat.  By Los Angeles standards, the woman was dreadfully underdressed.

The woman entered the union hall and walked up to the receptionist’s desk.  Sheila was not energized by people who arrived by bus.  The bus stop was primarily a courtesy as Local 1277 represented the Metro Drivers.

“I looked at the website for the Union Hall and it said that this is when the Chairman has open office hours.  Will it be possible for me to schedule some face time with him?” the woman asked.

“What is your name, honey?” Sheila asked.

“Hey, Tony.  Some lady wants to know if she can schedule a meeting with you.” Sheila shouted down the hall.

“What’s her name?” Tony shouted back.

“She says her name is Denice Delarosa.” Sheila hollered back.

“When does she want to meet with me?” Tony hollered.

“She is standing right here, now.” Sheila responded.

“Oh shit!” Tony exclaimed.  The music from the back room was turned off.

Tony Martinez’s head popped around the corner.  “Come on back.  Can I buy you a cup of coffee.”

Denice said, “I would kill for a cup of coffee.”

Tony walked over to the vending machine.  “Our local represents folks who maintain vending machines.  So, we drink our coffee out of these one-armed bandits.  Actually, the coffee is not too bad if you have somebody who knows how to tune them in and if management is willing to spend the money to have them serviced right.”

Walking back to Tony’s office, Tony asked “And what do I owe the honor of this visit to?”

Denice said, “I have an assistant who is really sharp with computers and data bases.  I gave her parameters of the kinds of people who I want to meet.  Your name came out at the top of the list.”

“Oh yeah?  I cannot imagine it is because I represent a large local, because it is not that big.” Tony observed.

“Nope.  You are at the top of the list because Liz found out about ‘Tony’s Table’” Denice said.

Denice said, “I am a face-to-face kind of person.  The fact that you spent an hour of every shift change sitting at a table in the central depot tells me you are too.  That, and the fact that you did it for two months AFTER you had won the election tells me that you really care.”

“And you are still doing it.  Not every day, but two days/nights a week you are sitting at Tony’s Table when the drivers are punching in and out.”

“I didn’t think anybody noticed.” Tony said.

“Everything is on social media, Tony, everything.”  Denice said.

“That still does not explain why you come into my dojo and want to talk to me.” Tony said.

Denice took a long sip of her coffee.

“I never really appreciated that SD-LA no longer had a police force until I came here and tried to get information about what is happening out in the neighborhoods.”  Denice said.

“I remember hearing about it.  It was a radical idea.  I think the administration wanted to distance itself from the bad press of police brutality, so they privatized policing.  What you might not realize is that the source of our policing pays a concession fee for the privilege.  Of course, the only group with the resources and the incentive to pay to police SD-LA is the Cartel.”

“It has worked very, very well.  It is almost like old-time policing when the Irish flat-foot walked the neighborhood.  Think about the Prohibition.  Did the fact that the pictures of cops busting up barrels of whiskey were smoking cigarettes seem strange?  That is because the whiskey barrels were filled water, not 180 proof booze.”

“Same thing.  Don’t disrupt Cartel business or you will get your head knocked.  Don’t ask too many questions about how the Cartel keeps the peace.  Don’t ask any of the particulars about the drug busts.”  Denice said.
“So, the information I get is all sent to Sacramento and comes back to me thoroughly sanitized.  We truly live in the best of times.” Denice said.

“Tell me, what percentage of buses are out of service right now?  Is that information you can get?” Denice asked.

Tony said, “Wait a minute.”  He pressed a speed dial number on his phone.  “Roger, this is Tony.  How many buses are in the fleet?  OK.  How many are redlined.  Yeah.  Right now.  So what percentage of buses are off-line.  Thanks”

Tony said “Roger over at the bus garage said that about 38% of our buses are not in service.   Why?”

Denice said, “The official information I get is that we only have 2% off-line and that is so they can be upgraded with roof-top solar panels.”

“That is my biggest problem.” Denice said.  “Everybody is covering their ass and I cannot get good information.  I need a guy with his ear-to-the-ground and who is not afraid to give me bad news.  And that would be you.”

Tony said, “People would not be scared to give you bad news if you did not fire them left and right.”

“You mean the folks in IT.  They needed firing.  Besides, this cover-your-ass problem started long before I showed up.” Denice said.  “Your drivers get closer to the public than anybody else in city government.  They cover more miles of road than anybody else in city government.  I need to know what is biting them in the ass.”

“You pretty much nailed it with the buses off-line.” Tony said.  “Our mechanics can’t fix things when management does not order parts.  We are so short of working busses that we are running red-lined equipment to even come close to making schedule.  Next on the list are the roads.  They are going to hell.  Finally, somebody has to do something about the walkers.  They have no sense of self-preservation.  They just wander right in front of the busses with no warning…although they have not been as bad the last few months.”

“I have a plan.” Denice said.  “It starts with my giving you my cell phone number and then we need to do a little bit of coordinating….”

“The other thing I need to know about is the Sanitation Department.  What can you tell me about them…”

Next Installment

Wednesday, March 28, 2018

Aches and pains

I called Belladonna yesterday and asked her advice.  "What do you take for delayed onset muscle pain?"

Delayed onset muscle pain is when you work like a super-hero one day and one or two days later you can scarcely move.  Oddly, the older I get the longer it takes for the pain to kick in.  That means I can work stupid hard for two days and then REALLY suffer.

Digging holes for fence posts.  Cutting fence posts out in the woods.  Carrying them up to the orchard now orchard/vineyard (half mile round trip!), shoveling gravel that was dumped in a friend's driveway.  It all added up.

Belladonna's advice was to stretch and use Icy Hot where the muscles hurt the most.

It was good advice.  If nothing else I smell a lot better than usual.

Installment 2.7

At 9:00 am Denice, Liz and Dilip were crowded into Liz’s office. 

Denice asked the IT head, “Is that conference room next door available?”

“It is for you.” the IT head said.

“How long will it take to knock out the connecting wall?” Denice asked.

The IT head sighed.  “It has been taking six weeks for maintenance to execute work orders AFTER they have been approved by the building committee.”

Denice asked, “Can I see your radio?”

The IT head handed it over wordlessly.  Denice scrolled through the contacts until she found “Maintenance Electrician”

“Denice to maintenance.  Denice to maintenance.  Are you out there?”

“Maintenance, go.”

“Denice to maintenance.  I am at level BB Bay AL-12.  That is along the west wall.  Is there any chance you can meet me?”

“Maintenance.  Maybe. We might be busy”

“Denice to maintenance.  Are you busy?

“Maintenance.  Nope.”

"Denice to maintenance.  Bring a millwright while you are at it.  I will buy coffee.”

Four minutes later a couple of guys in coveralls came through the door.  The electrician brightened up when he recognized Denice.  Denice brought them donuts Friday morning.  That was the first time that a department head had been in the crib EVER much less them donuts.

“Hey Butch, I thought that sounded like you.” Denice said.  “Is that a load bearing partition wall?” she asked, pointing at the offending wall.

“Nope.  All the partition walls are free-standing.” Butch replied.

“Between the electrical and the millwright work, how long…in real clock time…would it take to remove that wall?” Denice asked.

“Do you want it repainted?” the millwright asked.

“Nope, not right now.  That can be done tonight after these people are gone.” Denice asked.

“Actual, physical work, not including paperwork;  it would take about forty-five minutes.” Butch said.

“Here is your work-order.  If anybody gives you any crap tell them to come see me.” Denice said.

Denice handed Butch a hand-written piece of paper.  It said “Butch, please remove the partition wall at Level BB, Bay AL-12 at your soonest convenience.”

Denice looked over at the head of IT.  “If I were you, I would give your crew a forty-five minute break when these guys come back with their tools.  It is going to get a little bit loud in here.”

Next Installment