Thursday, May 31, 2018

Food Box

Kubota is graduating from high school.  We are giving him a food box filled with items he knows how to prepare.

He will continue to live at home at least through the summer.  Historically, his body clock drifts away from ours.  He does not eat when we eat.  Then he expects Mrs ERJ to prepare him meals at odd times.

This is an inventory of the contents.  It is a guess as to what he will eat.  We can compare the contents in a few weeks to the starting inventory and get a picture of what he is using and what he is not touching.

The card lists the number of each item pictured.  That is, two Dinty Moore Beef Stew and two Dinty Moore Chicken and Dumplings.  ***Two weeks later...all four cans are still in the box***

***Two weeks later, all Mac and Cheese gone as are two Cheeseburger Macaroni.  Cheesy shells not touched.***

***Two weeks later, Au Gratin remains, Asiago and bacon gone.***

***Crackers gone, soup remains.***

***Pasta sides gone.  Tuna remains.***

***All Ramen noodle soup gone.***
This post is more for my records than anything else.

Pandering and Victimology

Key point, the data ranges from -6-to +6 in the X direction and -13-to 13 in the Y direction.
I had time to think about chaos and the human condition during my long drives this past weekend.

I ate breakfast with an older gentleman who spent ten years as a street cop, ten years as a police chief and then ten years as a college administrator.  His parting words were that chaos is the human condition.

The chart shown above was generated in Excel using a function with 2 units of variation in the X and Y direction.  The variation is evenly distributed across the target.  All plots shown here have 100 data points.

X=1-2*rand(), Y=1-2*rand()
The chart shown above is what we intuitively expect that distribution to look like.

The snake shaped function in the top chart is the same function, EXCEPT, a control element was put into place to "fix" the variation.  The controller takes the last observation and "dials the scope" to re-zero the system based on that single observation.  Want to see a few more simulations? No problem, I will just hit the F9 button a few times.


Four armed stars
and lots, and lots of snakes.  It is notable that all of these scatter plots have ranges that are much larger than the function feeding the system.  The control system is inducing noise rather than damping it out.

The control system is not only amplifying the underlying variation, it is creating spurious patterns out of random data.

I want to throw two more ideas out on the table.

B.F. Skinner's superstitious pigeons
B.F. Skinner is one of the founding fathers of our understanding of classical conditioning.

One of the difficulties in running experiments is finding a "good" control, especially when working with lab animals.  While investigating random rewards as a control, Skinner ran into "superstition."  That is, the pigeons would act in highly irrational manners:  Hopping up and down on one foot for thousands of times, spinning...

Pandering and Victimology
Our current system is based on pandering and victimology.  I submit that it functions EXACTLY like the faulty control algorithm shown above and it functions exactly like the reward system that created Skinner's superstitious pigeons.

Somebody makes a bone-headed tweet?  The thought of simply letting the system "play through" never enters anybody's head.  All things must be controlled.  Otherwise, how can the controllers justify their exorbitant pay checks?

A confused adolescent (but I repeat myself) has a moment of questioning about how their biological gender is manifesting....reward them.

A momentary hiccup in cash-flow tumbles a family into multi-generational dependency.

Administrators ham-handedly apply "zero tolerance" policies.  They choose to interpret "zero tolerance" to mean "maximum penalties" rather than "no freebies, every issue will be addressed in some way, even if it is just a discussion."

Counselors advice to patients becomes ever more Byzantine and convoluted as "best practice" becomes an encyclopedia of exceptions.

That is how we end up with tangled nets of conflicting "rules".

As individuals:
  • Do your job
  • Keep your mouth shut 99% of the time
  • Scan for threats
  • Have multiple means to avoid threats
  • Have the means to neutralize the threats when avoiding them becomes impossible.

Installment 6.2: Finding resources

The first few Cali soldiers they encountered were sick.  They were very, very sick.  The fecal stench was enough to make their eyes water and it was evident that the soldiers had shit their pants and beds and no longer had the energy to care.

The few Cali soldiers who were mobile attested that everybody left in the camp was at least as sick as they were.

Chad and Kenny had to quickly devise a plan.  The squad medic was in way over his head.  Chad asked the medic what the sick soldiers were likely to need.

“The need rehydrating.  In a hospital, that would be given several bags of IVs.  In the field, we would give them ORS, Oral Rehydration Solution, but no way in hell do we have enough of that.” The medic said.  "They are going to need four liters a day until they are back on their feet.  And they need clean clothing and bedding."

“What is in ORS?” Kenny asked.

“Water and sugar and salt.” the medic replied.

“Will just plain water work?” Chad asked.

“It is better than nothing but not nearly as good as ORS.” the medic said.

“I need to have you write down how much sugar and salt to add to 1000 liters of water.  I see a bunch of bulk tanks around here and that is what we are going to have to use.  Now, Kenny and I need to find some volunteers to help us water the troops.

They went down three rows and then over three tents so they could take the residents by surprise.  They burst in through the east tent flap so they were backlit by the morning sun.  A couple of girls looked up curiously.  They had been playing with their smart phones.  Everybody else was either sleeping, moaning or dead.

“You and you.” Chad said, pointing.  “Meet us outside the tent.”

The girls got up languidly and slowly walked outside with surly looks on their faces.

“You are now prisoners of war.” Chad started out.  “You have the option of enlisting in the SD-LA army.  If you enlist you will get paid and will be quickly promoted to Corporals.  Do you want to enlist?”

The girls were of the opinion that nothing ever really changed unless you were the lead dog.  The first one said, “Yeah, I guess.”  The second one said, “Sure. Whatever.”

Chad then said.  “You are now promoted to Corporals.  ‘Corporal’ means bodies.  The bodies in that tent are your responsibility.  Your job is to keep them alive.  If you fail, it is your job to dig holes and bury them.  Believe me when I tell you that it is a lot less work to keep them alive.”

The girls looked shell shocked.

“I need to have one of you go through the tent and mark the casualties, the dead soldiers, by putting their pillow at the foot of their mattress.  Then I need to have you collect the water bottles, all of them, and put them outside the tent door.” Chad said.

“I need the second Corporal to visit the eight tents next to this one and bring me two volunteers from each tent.”

Lather.  Rinse.  Repeat.

After a couple of repetitions, Kenny picked out one of the soldiers who seemed to be more collected than the others.  “Do you think you can do what we have been doing?”

The soldier emphatically nodded her head.  Most of the soldiers who had recovered were women.

“Good.  You are now a sergeant.  I need to have you detail one person from each tent to start humping water and filling water bottles.  Every living soldier in those tents needs to drink their bottle in the next two hours.  If they are not strong enough to hold up their heads then the Corporals need to help them.  Clear?” Kenny asked.  “Good.”

Walking away from the process they had started, Kenny asked, “Where are we going to get sugar and salt?  My God, there must be fifty sick soldiers in every tent!”

Chad said, “One thing at a time.  I looked at the medic’s recipe.  The good news is that we only need 2kg of salt for every 1000 liters.  The bad news is that we need 60kg of sugar for every IBC.  I am going to send Beanie up to Bakersfield with one of the trucks.  I am sure she can find pallet loads of salt at the farm supply places.”

“What about the sugar?” Kenny asked.

“That is a toughie.” Chad said.  “That is why I am going to give that problem to you.

Handing the keys to Beanie, Chad said, “We are on our ass. Ask around.  See if you can find anybody who is willing to come back here and help. Bring back anybody who looks like they will more help than hurt.”

Kenny was working his phone.  For some reason Brigid really like Kenny.  She had camera men following him around like a shadow.  The good news was that cameras were really little more than souped up smartphones.  That made them far less obtrusive than the old-style, shoulder mounted cameras.  If you didn’t know better, you might think the two young men near Kenny were taking selfies.

“Hey, Bucky, hows they hangin’” Kenny shouted into his phone.

“Well, Kenny, it is a real goat rope here.  Downtown is all closed off and I can’t make my deliveries.” Bucky replied.

“Hey, I might have another job for you.  One that will put a few bones in your pocket.  Whaddya think?” Kenny asked.

“What is the assignment?” Bucky asked.

“I need 20,000 kilos of sugar and if anybody knows where to find it, it is good, old Bucky Christensen.” Kenny said.

Bucky thought for a moment.  “Can you use Kay-Roe syrup?” he asked.

“You mean Caro syrup, corn syrup?” Kenny asked.

“Yup, that is what I said.  Kay-Roe syrup.” Bucky retorted.

“Lemme ask.” Kenny said.  A few seconds later.  “Yup, even better than sugar.  Do you know where some is?”

Bucky said, “There is only one way to find out.  I need to go and look.

Bucky looked over at Father Fred.  “If I leave this trailer of food here, can I count on you to distribute it to the other churches and not take advantage?  I sort of need you to act like a warehouse ‘cause it sounds like I am getting another assignment.”

Father Fred nodded his head.  “Park it over there.  I will make sure all of the churches get their fair share.”

Bucky said, “Remember to have them pay you before they pick up more.  Now, I gotta go.”

Bucky dropped the trailer at the edge of the parking lot.  Revved up his diesel and left in a cloud of black smoke.  It was 9:00 AM local time.

Next Installment

Wednesday, May 30, 2018

Planting out grape cuttings

Some cuttings had fantastic root development.

Some had root development that was not as far along and some had no visible development at all.
The best development came from this set-up.  A tub filled with potting soil that had been put in the sun and was not in contact with the ground.  That is, the one that had the warmest soil.  The poorest root development was in the individual cups.  The heat of the sun on the side of the tub was not able to get to the rooting zones of the individual cups.

Dig a hole.
Add water
Mrs ERJ asked why I plant the cuttings on a 45 degree angle.  Part of the reason is due to my shallow top soil.  I want the emerging roots to be in the top soil, not the less fertile sub-soil.

I have an additional reason for grafted vines.  Sometimes the bud is higher on the vine than I like.  I want that bud to be close to the ground to increase the odds that it will be protected by snow.  One way to lower the bud is to tilt the  cutting.  While I could plant the grafted vine lower, that increases the odds of the scion rooting and that partially defeats the advantages of a grafted vine.

Installment 6.1: Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow...

A half hour after sunrise, Chad called in on the group channel.  “Has anybody seen anything threatening?” 

Everybody answered “Negative.”

“OK, here is the plan.  The scouting and mortar crews on the south will stay there to make sure Cali does not sneak up on us.  The north-west scouts will set up on elevation south of the road to Mariposa…maybe five miles out.” Chad said.

“The rest of you will ride the two flat-beds down to the camp with me.  We will secure the camp, if possible.  Make sure you have a fresh magazine in your personal weapon and nothing in the chamber.  The last thing I want is a friendly fire incident and the second-to-last thing I want is not being able to return fire if things are not as peaceful as they seem.” Chad finished.

The trucks rolled north on I-5 at a very sedate ten miles an hour so the passengers could look things over with Mark I eyeballs.  Five minutes out from the gates to the camp Kenny pointed up.  Chad looked.  It was a news helicopter circling as if preparing to land.

The trucks pulled up just as the passengers disembarked from the aircraft.

Brigid Barkley was the third person to exit.

Miss Barkley was the world’s premier battlefield reporter.  She was head of her own corporation and her reporting services were currently held by a consortium of Times of India, BBC and CNN.  Miss Barkley sold her services one year at a time.  She had doubled her fees more than once when the bidding period fell during a highly rated war series.

Her services were so highly sought that the price was beyond the means of any one network.

Miss Barkley was in her mid-thirties.  She had flawless complexion, high, arched cheekbones and an elegant nose.  She moved with the muscular, sinewy grace of a wild panther.  If anything, she was more fit now than she had been when she ran 400 meters at University.  More than one male interviewee had surreptitiously noted that there very few places where a dropped quarter would not bounce if dropped upon her.

Her voice carried the soft, Scottish burr and measured cadences of her rural upbringing.  She spoke for understanding and audiences in New Delhi, London and Atlanta never had trouble figuring out what she was saying.

But none of these were her most striking feature.  It was her hair. 

Brigid’s hair was prematurely gray.  No, not just a little bit gray.  Every hair on her head was a pearly, luminescent gray.  She wore her hair in a short, layered, shag that could be made presentable with little more than running her fingers through it to fluff it up.  More than once she had worn a helmet in a hot zone for thirteen hours and reported to an audience of a billion humans with no more prep than doing exactly that...running her fingers through her hair to pull it back from her face.

Brigid Barkley was the last thing Chad needed to complicate his life.

He presented himself to her and asked her what her business was, perhaps a bit more brusquely than was absolutely necessary.

Brigit replied, “My crew is here to embed with the Cali forces as they assault the rebel forces in LA.”

“Well, that is going to be hard to do because the Cali forces left.  We are the LA-SD forces.  What would you have me do?”  Chad really wanted her to get back into the helicopter and leave but her crew was already recording.

“If you don’t mind,” Brigid said, “I might as well embed with you.  Can you call your chain-of-command and clear it with them?”

That was not what Chad wanted to hear.  He said, “You will have to give me a few minutes.  Until I get back to you I don’t want you or your crew to get more than fifty paces from the helo.  As you can see, I don’t have much in the way of forces to ensure your safety.”

As he was walking away Chad noticed that she had bee-lined over to Kenny and started asking him, “So, what do you think your chances of winning are?”

Chad did not stick around to hear the answer.  Kenny could take care of himself.  Besides, if he did not hear the answer then he was not responsible for damage control.

It took four tries to drill through to Pitoitua.  Pitoitua said, “Whatever you need, I can’t help you.”

Chad said, “I haven’t even asked.”

Pitoitua said, “Yeah, well we just had 160,000 Cali forces surrender and they are all as sick as hell.  Undoubtedly contagious.  And they are a mile from Downtown LA.  Incidentally, they said they left some of the sicker soldiers back at the camp.  You might want to check that out…and use NBC gear.  These folks are shitting blood.”

Chad said, “That is not why I called you.  I have a reporter who wants to embed with us.  I think it is a bad idea.”

Pitoitua was distracted.  “Just deal with it.  Remember, you are on your own.  Pull in whatever help you can.  We will sort it out afterward.  Pitoitua out.”

Shit, shit, shit, shit.

Walking back to the reporters he motioned to the helo pilot to kill the engine.

Chad said, “This is the way it has to be.  We are on our own.  There are an unknown number of hostiles in those tents and they are contagious with an unknown plague.  Let me repeat.  We are on our own.  My chain-of-command directed me to control the situation and authorized me to use any resources that were available to me.”

Chad looked over at Brigid.  “Do you still want in?”

Brigid became the premier battle field reporter because she had an uncanny nose for finding stories.  Most correspondents would have considered the camp a “bust” and gone elsewhere to find stories. After all, the front had moved on.  Brigid followed her nose.  She elected to stay.

“We are in.” she said.

“In that case you need to put on NBC gear.  Nuclear, Biological and Chemical weapons suits.  I also need to have your helo take a flight around the camp so we can estimate the number and orientation of tents.” Chad said.

“Can we borrow some of your gear.  We did not bring NBC suits.  Regarding the tents, we took footage as we were circling.  We can play it back but it looks like there are about twenty ranks of forty tents each…call it 800 to 1000 tents.” Brigid said.

Chad thought, maybe this is not going to be as bad as I thought.

Next Installment