Friday, August 31, 2018

Crass Commercial Message

The first ten thousand words of the Installment and Stub series can be found HERE

The start of the Installment series, the free part, starts HERE

The start of the Stub series starts HERE

-The Management

Fake News Friday: Eat poultry and live forever

A cutting edge research scientist recently discovered a compound in seagulls that prolonged life in mammals.

Furthermore, he discovered that the younger the gull, the richer it was in these families of immune system boosting compounds and antioxidants.

He extrapolated that if a mammal were exclusively fed newly hatched seagulls it was theoretically possible to completely halt the effects of aging.  The mammal could live forever.

He applied for a grant from a large non-profit in Seattle, Washington and was awarded $66.6 million to pursue the research.

Considering the political ramifications of the research, he chose to perform the experiments on a small island.  The island was perfect because it was frequently fog shrouded and thus protected from prying eyes, even from drones.

The researcher's first challenge was to find a mammal that would not only eat seagulls but would thrive on them.  He quickly found out that dolphins were the only such mammal.  Fortunately, he had ample funds to build a dolphin holding tank at one end of the island and a gull hatchery on the other. 

Every morning, he would drive the truck to the hatchery, load it up with the newly hatched gulls and then drive to the other end of the island and proceed to feed them to his experimental subjects.

The operation ran like clockwork until one night when the lion escaped from the state zoo and swam across the narrow strait of water that separated the island from the mainland.  Unfortunately, the lion was lying across the two-track as the scientist was returning with a load of newly hatched seagulls. 

Bam!  The scientist's truck ran right over the lion.

In short order the island was raided, the scientist was apprehended and he and the principals of the Seattle Think Tank were thrown in prison for a very long time.

The charge:  Conspiring to transport young gulls over the state lion for immortal porpoises.

Stub 3.10: Motorcycles

Ideka Nuffin’s team presented their proposal to the entire Sedelia legislature. She had forty page, bound documents distributed to each legislator and then she was the Master of Ceremonies as she queued up her experts and they gave “summaries” of the various components of the proposal. In all, Nuffin’s presentation burned up three hours of clock time.

In contrast, Raymond Rojas’s proposal was printed on one page in 12 point font.

  • Money supply will be managed to stabilize the Labor-Bay composite LA day rate at $10 Sedelia per eight hour day. 
  • NOT a minimum wage but to use wages as the signal to use brake/accelerator for money supply
  • The head of the “Fed” is to report to the economics committee once a month and to the full legislature once every six months.
  • Employers who hire only day laborers were absolved from all records keeping and tax collection.
Raymond read the abstract and then said, “I only want to make one comment about the competing proposal. The comment involves the issue of “stickiness” and the deliberate, abrupt changes in the target metrics.”

“People often ask me about this scar.” he said, pointing to a scar on the left side of his face. The scar started beside his nose, just below the bridge, went down to the corner of his lips and then aft to the hinge of his jaw. Indeed, many of Raymond’s coworkers were curious about his scar.

“As a young man” Raymond said smiling, realizing the absurdity of a 24-year-old-man reminiscing about his youth “I owned a motorcycle. It was a Yamaha Ninja. For those of you who are not familiar with the Ninja, it was a very fast and powerful motorcycle.”

“One evening, after a party, my friend and I were riding north on 395 through the little town of Cartagl when it started to rain. You might not be familiar with the road but 395 sweeps gently to the right and the bend gets just a little bit tighter as you get into it. We were riding single file and I was behind my friend. I moved over to the right side of the lane so I would not be blinded by the spray he was starting to kick up.” Raymond said.

“Did I mention that I was young and that the bike was very powerful? We might have been exceeding the speed limit.” Raymond said, a bit sheepishly.

“My bike started to drift on the wet pavement.” Raymond said.

“The bike was slowly sliding in a very controlled way until I drifted into the middle of the lane where all of the trucks leak oil. Then the back tire of the bike fishtailed. Racing slicks!” Raymond said with a shrug.

“Then I hit the clean concrete on the other side of the oil leaks where tires from earlier cars made the pavement drier and the rear tire bit which just amplified the fishtailing. I was still going too fast.” Raymond said.

“I continued to drift and got into the region between the two lanes. That is where the tires push the loose sand, and gravel and dust. The rear tire kicked out even more violently.” Raymond said.

“And then it happened again as I drifted across the oncoming traffic lane. Each change in surface knocked the back tire in a different direction. Polished tire path, oil slick, polished tire path, loose gravel, shoulder...and every time the surface changed the fishtailing became that much more violent.” Raymond said ...pausing.

“I got this scar when the bike and I went sideways through the fence that separates 395 from the LA Aqueduct. The bike and I cartwheeled through the air before we splashed down. I made it to shore. The bike did not.” Raymond sounded sad. “I loved that bike.”

Fifteen miles away Raymond’s mother and father were sitting on the fourth floor balcony listening to Raymond via the live-stream. Raymond’s mother was reading the book of Judges. Raymond’s father was savoring his once-a-week cigar.

“I never knew Raymond had a motorcycle.” Raymond’s monther exclaimed.

“Sshh! Woman. Raymond is still talking.” his father silenced her.

“I asked my dad what I could have done because he was a noted motorcycle racer in his youth.” Raymond said. “I was hoping for some fatherly wisdom.

“My father shook his head sadly and told me that there is almost nothing you can do when you are going too fast. He said the best you could do was to push in the clutch, not touch the brakes and to steer into the skid. But then he said that nobody could have recovered from the rapid, unpredictable changes of the road surface.” Raymond said.

“Rapid, unpredictable changes ARE the problem..Rapid, unpredictable changes make systems go unstable and that is why you should vote for my proposal and not Nuffins. Otherwise we will all have scars.” Raymond said.

Raymond’s propose barely squeaked out Nuffins only to be rejected by Kenny’s Straw-vote court.  Since the proposal was considered "Conservative" the court was stacked with 5 progressives and 4 conservatives. The majority opinion objected to the unlimited duration of the proposal and to the fact that there were no restrictions on number of workers that could work without administrative burden.

Raymond held a quick huddle with his committee and offered a modified version that was good for five years and applied the “no records/taxes” for companies smaller than 100 employees. The court bounced that proposal.

Raymond counter offered one year and 60 employees. The court bounced that proposal.

Raymond countered with six months and 25 employees which the court accepted and Kenny signed into law.

Fifteen miles away, Raymond's mother looked over at her husband. "Wait a minute. Raymond got that scar in a bar when a drunk hit him in the head with a glass bottle. He was LYING!"

Raymond's father just shook his head. "Raymond is a politician now. That does not even count as a fib. He needed a story to tell a greater truth in a memorable way." Raymond's father said.

"And what truth would that be?" Raymond's mother asked, certain that the end never justified the means.

Raymond's father just shook his head.


The third day of the three day legislative session was dedicated to planning the topics for the next session. Raymond was depressed. Nuffin quickly sensed his funk and started picking at him.

Soon enough she deduced that Raymond was going to have to lay off more than half of his sixty employees if he wanted to remain profitable. There was no way he could make a profit at $27.50 Sedelia per 1000 sq-ft if he had to hire a bunch of office people to keep records.

Not only was he going to have to lay off more half of his employees but there was no way he could meet the terms of his contract and hit his tombstone dates with the much smaller crew.

Nuffin barked with glee “You really stepped on your dick this time didn’t you! You are a loser even when you win.”

“You just should have listened to Auntie Nuffin and gone with the flow.” she finished.

Next Installment

Thursday, August 30, 2018

Guilty feelings

A small portion of 'da hood to give a sense of the street layout. There was a very large factory to the west and the streets were deliberately inefficient to discourage commuters from using them. I am pretty sure chicken entrails were an intimate part of the design process.

Driving in to mom and dad's this morning there was a tiny SUV following us.  Turn-after-turn it followed us as we wound the tortuous path through the streets of west Lansing.

The driver did not look like your typical road-rage warrior.  She looked like she was sixty-five and her hair was died shoe-polish black.  Nor did it look like she was a weight lifter or distance runner.

I commented on our tailgater.

Mrs ERJ noted, "Probably a cat lover who read your post on skinning cats."

Stub 3.9: Zhit or go blind

Professor Paul Jughed was Nuffin’s last expert.

Like the other experts, he was polished, smooth and persuasive. Unlike the others, he did not consider Raymond to be naive and easily manipulated.

Raymond’s interrogation of the other experts had revealed him to be knowledgeable, focused, hungry and cunning. In all, Raymond was a much more formidable foe than the academic ‘peers’ that performed quid pro quo reviews.

“And how do you propose throttling or braking the money supply to best serve the citizens of Sedelia?” Raymond asked.

Jughed’s academic specialty was the numerical simulation of “control systems” with regard to money supply and economic activity. He had published multiple papers on that topic and was comfortable speaking about it.

“The optimum algorithm involves the rapid, sequential control of interest rates, unemployment rates and exchange rates Vis-à-vis a marketbasket of major currencies.” Jughed rattled off.

“How does that work. Give me some details.” Raymond encouraged Jughed.

“One example might be where the Sedelia Fed manages the money supply to hit a target interest rate for a short period of time, say three months. Then it manages the money supply to hit a target tax revenues (which is related to the unemployment rate) for three months. Then it manages the money supply to hit a target exchange rate. It is a simple as pie.” Jughed said.

“Why three months.” Raymond asked.

“That was just an example. Actually, the Fed has to randomly vary the duration and target because people will try to game the economy.” Jughed said. “Three months is suggested as the shortest duration that will produce results that can be monitored.”

“So your proposal is to randomly change the target and duration on-target when managing the money supply. Seems like changing the target would cause the prior target to go into free-fall.” Raymond mused.

“Oh no. Not at all.” Jughed reassured him. “Economic metrics are sticky. Some of that is due to imprecision in the measurements but most of it is due to the psychological nature of humans.” The seamless integration of societal heuristics and the numerical modeling of economics was one of Jughed’s claims to fame.

“So let me rephrase this in my own words. Correct me if I am wrong.” Raymond said. “The Fed has two wheels-of-fortune that it spins. One wheel is the target metric and the other metric is the duration of time-on-target.”

“Well, not quite. It is a little more complicated than that.” Jughed said. “It is necessary to have a third wheel actually setting the target, the target interest rate or unemployment rate or whatever. Again, people are smart and will start gaming the system after they figure out the target.”

“Oh, and you might want to add a fourth wheel that occasionally adds in or eliminates target metrics from the first wheel-of-fortune.” Jughed said. He was rather proud of his ability to couch his explanations in simple language.

“And that works?” Raymond said, frowning.

“Works like a charm!” Jughed said. “The Fed is able to simultaneously control all of those metrics by manipulating the money supply.”

“That is not what I meant.” Raymond said. “The question was,” Raymond looked back at his notes, “does that system ‘ serve the citizens of Sedelia.’ “

“You describe a system where you serve the needs of a game where the goal is to hit metrics. What happens to the other metrics?” Raymond asked.

“What do you mean?” Jughed asked.

Raymond let the trap snap shut. “If I take a water balloon and squeeze it, I can make the portions of the balloon directly beneath my fingers go where I want. What I cannot control is what the other parts of the balloon does. And if I abuse the balloon, what do you think is going to happen. Right. Sploosh! I get wet.”

“You rigged the game. Your simulations meet your very narrowly defined criteria for success by rapidly firing a series of conflicting signals into a dynamic system. In street language, sir, the economy does not know whether to shit or go blind.”

Nuffin objected. “You are badgering my witness. Stop!”

Raymond turned to her. “This session has dragged on past nine hours. Do you want to make a motion?”

Nuffin made a motion to adopt the monetary policy as proposed by Jughed. It failed 3-to-4.

Then Raymond proposed that Sedelia recognize the realities of its current economic conditions by absolving all business owners of any record keeping or withholding of taxes provided they pay each employee at the end of every business day. That also failed 3-to-4.

Loath to have no proposals to present the next day of session, Nuffin and Rojas agreed to present both proposals to the entire legislature. Nuffin, by virtue of alphabetical order would present first.

Next Installment

Wednesday, August 29, 2018

More than one way to skin a cat...

If you LOVE cats you should stop reading right HERE.

I have an acquaintance who found themselves renting a house much too large and expensive for a single person.  They had some other people referred to them as possible co-leasees but they did not join the house until after my acquaintance had to sign all the paperwork thereby making her the "responsible party."

All was good until two of the tenants decided to rescue a cat.  And then they put money into having the cat "fixed".

The landlord has a clause about "no pets" and a plus $500 fine if tenants are caught with a pet.

My acquaintance is distraught.  She is on-the-hook and her co-leasees told her to pound sand when she told them to lose the cat.

I told her the best way to handle the problem is to wait until September 15 when Michigan's small game season opens up.  I will bring her a skinned rabbit and trade her for the cat (in a cage).  The cat will go to Mr Pepper's farm.

All she needs to do is roast the rabbit and serve with brown gravy, potatoes, pearl onions, carrots, a light green salad and a nice red wine.  If the topic of "Fluffy" comes up, just smile and ask them to pass the gravy.

I doubt that she will have many problems with her housemates afterward.

Leif Ericson's Red Wine

Lowbush Blueberries (Vaccinium augustifolium) turns a rich burgundy color in the autumn.  When the berries are ripe, they take on a blue cast.  This photo take in Blue Hill, Maine.

Fame and fortune elude me for yet another day.  I had this plan....

I was going to tickle my sources along Canada's eastern seaboard and ask them to collect seeds from the northernmost sources of Vitis riparia.  After all, that had to be what Leif Ericson must have seen when he named the New Word "Vinland" in about the year 1100.

Then I was going to sell vines of "Leif's Red Wine Grape" and make a ton of money.

The first person I contacted straightened me out.  First of all, passing genetic material across the border is not straightforward.

The other thing is that Leif didn't find grapes.  He would not recognize a grape if it bit him in the anatomy.

According to Rhodora, the JOURNAL OF THE NEW ENGLAND BOTANICAL CLUB (February 1910 issue)

The portions of the original Icelandic texts, which have brought the Grape so prominently into the discussion of Wineland the Good, are frequent statements that the Norsemen found the "vinber," which grew "wherever there was hilly ground" and which, according to one version of the story, were so abundant "that their after-boat was filled with 'vinberjum'... .and when spring came, they made their ship ready, and sailed away; and from its products Leif gave the land a name, and called it Wineland." "Vinber," literally wine-berry, has very naturally been accepted by students of the sagas as "Grape

The berry most commonly associated with hilly ground in that part of the world is the lowbush blueberry.

Regions where wild, lowbush blueberries are harvested commercially.  The plant is much more widespread than that but commercial buyers and processors are not.
Part of what marries lowbush blueberries to barren hilltops is that lowbush blueberry depends on fire to squelch competition.  Hilltops get hit with lightening.

The resulting fire either kills the taller competition or it "burns off the protein" (nitrogen) that more vigorous plants require.  It also thins out the blueberry canopy and frees up potassium.
Lowbush blueberries can occur in pure stands call blueberry barrens (due to the general infertility of the soil).  Except for the jet contrail, scenes like this must have greeted Norse explorers 900 years ago.

Blueberries are also drought tolerant which is not characteristic of the other species considered in the article, currents and cranberries.  You would not expect to see currents and cranberries covering hills to such an extent that a small band of people could fill boats with them.

In a good year the amount of berries that are ripe all at the same time is mind boggling.
So, if you want to taste something like Leif's Red Wine your best bet is to purchase one of the blueberry enhanced beers like Anheuser-Busch's Wild Blue.

Stub 3.8: The Day Labor Market

Raymond only called one expert, Mark Wherrett.

Mark was a labor expediter in the greater Los Angeles metropolitan region.

“Tell us, Mr. Wherrett, about your credentials.” Raymond said.

“I have a Masters in Science from University of California, Riverside in the field of Business Administration. My major area of study was in Operations with a specialty in selecting metrics for Management by Objectives.” Mr Wherrett said.

Ideka Nuffin made a rude noise upon hearing that Rojas’s expert only had a Master’s degree. In her mind Rojas was significantly undergunned and she intended to make him pay.

“Tell me Mr Wherrett, do you work in academia?” Raymond asked.

“No sir. I do not.” Wherrett said.

“What do you do to put bread on the table?” Raymond asked.

“I am a labor expediter. I anticipate differences in the daily rate across the LA metropolitan region. I hire workers in low cost areas, bus them to areas where day labor is more expensive and re-auction their ‘contract’. Then, at the end of the day I bus the workers back home.” Wherrett said.

“Would you say that you are an expert on the labor market in the LA area?” Raymond asked.

“I would say that I am an expert on the day labor market in the LA area. Yes I would.” Wherrett agreed.

“We had a conversation earlier where you told me that you thought Sedelia should use the median day labor rate as the sole metric for managing money supply. Please share your reasoning with this committee.” Raymond smiled encouragingly at the expert.

“The first requirement of a good business metric is that it has to be BIG. And far more people in Sedelia are involved in the day labor market than any other segment.

“A good metric has to be big because small metrics have minimal impact on outcomes. I had a professor who like to say ‘Counting paperclips is not the path to profitability.’ Furthermore, big metrics tend to have inertia and have a better signal-to-noise ratio.” Looking at the audience Wherrett realized that he had lost them. “Let me say that another way. Big metrics don’t shimmy in the wind. It takes meaningful changes in the business operation or the economy to move them.”

“The other important part of a good metric is that it be highly connected to other meaningful metrics. The rare earths used in integrated circuits are crucial to Sedelia’s economy but they are many, many steps removed from the day-to-day operations of most other parts of the economy.” Wherrett said. “The day labor market is no more than three steps removed from over 95% of the Sedelia economy. It is the hub that all the other spokes radiate from. The price of day labor in Fresno and Bakersfield is coupled to the price of labor in LA.”

“Is it difficult to monitor the price of day labor in LA?” Raymond asked.

“Nope, not at all. Labor-Bay is the largest platform that auctions off work. There are other sites but Labor-Bay is by far the largest and most mature. The Labor-Bay site features pull-down tabs that list all kinds of metrics, including number of people who found jobs in the last 24 hours and the median day-wage.” Wherrett said. “Obviously I have that page bookmarked but finding it is as easy as typing a few key words into a search engine.”

“What is the current price of labor?” Raymond asked.

Wherrett pulled his smartphone from his pocket and pressed a few buttons. “As of the last 24 hours the median 8 hour contract went for $8.47 in Sedelia dollars.” Wherrett said.

“What is your gut feel for the median wages if we were experiencing a booming economy?” Raymond asked.

This question made Wherrett uncomfortable and caused him to dance around a little bit. “There are a lot of ways to interpret that question. I don’t want to misinterpret your question give you bad information.” Wherrett said.

Raymond tried again. “Suppose you had the ability to expand or shrink the money supply. Given the state of the Sedelia economy right now, what would you propose as the target day labor rate to jumpstart the economy.”

The way Raymond had posed the problem left Wherrett very little wiggle room. “I suppose I would aim to inflate the economy by increasing the money supply until the median day labor rate for the LA market was an even $10 a day.” Wherrett said.

“Why $10?” Raymond asked. “Isn’t that inflationary?”

“It is because I like round numbers. And it is not inflationary if the increased workforce demonstrates more than a 20% increase in productivity.” Wherrett said. "Besides, you are using an old definition of 'inflation'.  Inflation is not the growth in nominal money, it is the loss in purchasing power."

Raymond said, “I have no further questions and started to sit down when his BAHA buzzed him. He stood back up. “Another question occurred to me.”

“If you could change one thing in Sedelia, what would it be?” Raymond asked Wherrett.

“I would eliminate all records keeping and all taxes withheld on day labor.” Wherrett said.

“Why?” Raymond asked.

“Because the burden of collecting and keeping records is the equivalent of a 40% decrease in productivity. Also, the burden of collecting and keeping records discourages people from starting businesses. They may know everything about working concrete or driving cabs or making pizzas but they are petrified by the fear of having all of their assets taken by the State and being thrown in prison.” Wherrett said. “You need to tell prospective business owners that isn’t going to happen before you can create significantly more demand for labor.”

Nuffin hollered “Bullshit!”

Raymond looked around at Nuffin and said, “I beg your pardon?”

Nuffin said, in a more conversational voice, “I said ‘Bullshit!’. It ain’t gonna happen. Workers need protections from the employers who want to exploit them.”

“How are the employers going to exploit them?” Raymond asked, genuinely curious.

“Well, for one thing they are gonna squeeze work out of them and then not pay them. For another thing, they are not going to give them breaks or will have them do back-breaking, dangerous work.” Nuffin said.

Wherrett interjected, “We are talking about the day labor market. The employer pays the worker at the end of the work day. Every day. The most the employer will screw the worker out of is 8 hours pay. And then there are the reviews.”

“What are you talking about, ‘reviews’?” Nuffin scoffed.

“It is easier to give you an example and show you than to explain. Give me your address.” Raymond commanded.

Raymond typed the address into an app. In half a second he was telling Nuffin, "You have three brew pubs within two blocks of the address you gave me. The Bloated Goat has the highest rated brews, on average but the Red Dog Inn has the best IPA by far and the Toe-Maine Tavern has the best food. I can tell you the price of any drink in any of those three establishments. I can tell you the average customer review. I can tell you the size of the drinks and, in most cases, I can tell you the temperature they are served at.”

“It is the same thing in the labor market. Whether an employer likes it or not, many of his workers post reviews on various apps. Bad bosses won’t stay in business long because they won’t be able to find workers who are willing to work for them.” Raymond said.

Nuffin said slyly, “You are an employer. Are there on-line reviews about you?”

“There are. The last time I looked there were about fifty. Some good. Some bad. You have to look at the picture they paint in total.” Raymond said. “You also have to discard the very worst reviews. Unfortunately, there are some workers to try to extort the employers by threatening to write bad reviews. That is just the reality of being an employer.”

Next Installment

Tuesday, August 28, 2018

Kerr applecrab

I have three scions of G.935 rootstock (Ottawa 3 X Robusta 5) grafted into the canopy as a pollinator.

Called an applecrab because it is bigger than a crabapple (arbitrarily with a diameter of less than 35mm or inch-and-a-quarter) and smaller than an apple (arbitrarily with a diameter larger than 62mm or two-and-a-half inches),

This tree is bearing every other year.  It will sulk next year.
Kerr is grown in the Canadian prairie provinces and even in Alaska.

Unlike most super-hardy apple varieties, Kerr hangs on the tree well into the winter and stays edible.

Kerr was one of the parents used in  the Vineland series of apple rootstocks.

Stub 3.7: Velocity of Money

The Economics committee was in the first day of its three day session. The lead topic was managing money supply.

It was no surprise that Ideka Nuffin had an all-star cast lined up. It quickly became apparent that their game-plan was to peg the Sedelia Dollar to the Cali Callor. That was really not a surprise, either. Nuffin had openly stated that she supported reunification with Cali.

Raymond had problems with pegging the SD to the Callor. At an intellectual level he was hearing that the Callor was rapidly losing value due to inflation. The last thing Sedelia needed was to find their currency shackled to an anvil in deep water.

At an emotional level, Raymond could not see how that would serve the needs of the citizens of Sedelia. And that is how he challenged the experts pitching “pegging”.

Professor Kanye Eastman was Nuffin’s star expert. Raymond had Grace watching the live-stream but for the most part did not chime in on the BAHA (Bone Anchored Hearing Aid) device. She did not want him to be distracted or to make the fact that he was getting coached obvious.

“And please tell me in plain English, Professor Eastman, how pegging the Sedelia Dollar to the Callor will benefit a typical household in Sedelia.” Raymond repeated.

Professor Eastman had a distressing habit of constructing mammoth sentences by tinker-toying together strings of demand-side economic jargon. While that might seem erudite in the faculty lounge it made the speaker seem disconnected to reality in most other venues.

Raymond really did want to hear Professor Eastman’s arguments but he also came to realize that Eastman was defeating himself. His wooly arguments only succeeded if nobody called attention to the fact that nobody understood what he was trying to say.

Eastman smiled in a condescending manner. “Well, OK young man. I will try to use short, simple words but these are VERY complicated ideas.”

Raymond smiled a patentedly plastic smile. “That is exactly what I want. Short, simple words. Short, simple sentences.”

“We cannot jump-start the Sedelia economy from nothing.” Eastman said. “The Sedelia economy is almost flatline. By most metrics, our economy is only slightly more robust than the economy of Nigeria...which is in sub-Saharan Africa if you did not know.”

“The only way we can keep the citizens of Sedelia from starving is to give them Universal Basic Income, Universal Healthcare and Food-and-Rent subsides as well as certain other subsides.” Eastman continued.

“The Sedelia economy does not have a reputation that allows us to borrow money from the international community. The only way we can finance UBI, UH and FaRs is by either using Callors or by pegging the Sedelia Dollar to the Callor.” Eastman said.

For Eastman, not using jargon was like holding his breath. He was very proud of being able to do it for sixty seconds and was sure he had “nailed it.”

Grace, the economics mentor he had picked up in AA buzzed in on his BAHA.

“Two questions.” Raymond said. “ ’Why do you say we cannot ‘jump start’ our economy from its current state?’ and ‘Who would provide the healthcare and produce the food and housing space and other necessary goods and services if we pay residents to stay home and not be productive?’”

Eastman said “Well, you would have to understand economics for me to answer your first question.”

“I want you to try. You actually did a fine job just now and I want a little bit of clarification.” Raymond said.

Raymond did not realize that Eastman was extremely vain and vulnerable to flattery. Sometimes you get lucky.

Eastman rose to the challenge. “The economy, business activity if you prefer, is the amount of currency in circulation times its velocity. Increasing the amount of currency in circulation involves injecting money into the banking system via ‘debt’. The tricky thing is that too much debt is toxic if the economy is fragile.”

“That is why Sedelia cannot get back on its feet organically.” Eastman continued. “The native economy is too fragile to sustain enough debt injection to get it self-sustaining.”

“I think I understood that.” Raymond said.

“Why can’t you increase the velocity of money rather than simply injecting money into the system?” Raymond asked with his blandest, most innocent face.

Eastman dismissed the idea out-of-hand. “Every economist knows that the velocity of money is a constant. You cannot manage a constant.”

“And you are wrong.” Raymond said. “The velocity of money is a variable that we can, and will, manage.”

Eastman was having difficulty wrapping his mind around the fact that somebody had told him that ‘ are wrong.” That had not happened in more than a decade and this uneducated barrio rat had said it in public...and it was live-streamed worldwide!

“Excuse me.” Eastman said. “Did you say ‘I was wrong.’?”

“Yup.” Raymond said. “Happens to all of us. You will survive.”

“Young man, I will not tolerate flippancy.” Eastman said.

“Old man, you are not at University where you can flunk students who challenge you or trash the reputation of those who disagree with you.” Raymond shot back. “Your arguments must stand on their merits, not on what you presume your reputation to be.”

Raymond said, “Explain why you think velocity of money is a constant.”

“Data.” Eastman spat back.

Incidentally, the ratings for the live-stream spiked during this interchange. Enough watchers flagged it as “hot” to have the major aggregators port it into their feeds. The feeds started the loop sixty seconds earlier to capture “context”.

“When and where was the data collected?” Raymond asked.

“All over the world. Europe. Japan. Cali. The US. Canada. And it is all recent data...all within the last ten years. Velocity of money. Does. Not. Change.” Eastman crowed.

“I thought you said our economy was...” Raymond looked at the real-time transcription...” ‘only slightly more robust than the economy of Nigeria...which is in sub-Saharan Africa if you did not know.’

Raymond could not resist twisting the knife by adding the patronizing ‘if you did not know.’

“Is it possible that the velocity of money is different in Nigeria than it is in the developed world? Take your time. This is an important question.” Raymond said.

“Well of course it is different.” Eastman conceded.

“Is it faster, meaning more economic activity for a given money supply or is it slower?” Raymond asked. It was like pulling teeth because Eastman was starting to see where this was going.

“I suppose it is faster.” Eastman had to admit.

“A little bit faster or a lot faster?” Raymond asked.

“Well, I suppose it is a lot faster.” Eastman said.

“And why is that?” Raymond pressed.

“Because most of the economy circulates through the lowest tiers of the economy. They spend money as soon as they get it.” Eastman said. “In contrast, most of the assets in the developed world are in less tangible vehicles. Investors tend to sit on those assets so the velocity slows down.”

“And why is that? You might as well explain or I will draw it out of you one sentence at a time.” Raymond said.

“The lower tiers spend money as soon as they get it because they need to buy food. They also spend it as soon as they get it because they are typically paid at the end of the work day. Banks are scarce and thieves are less likely to steal food and other basic goods than to steal money.” Eastman said. “Plus, it is a mathematical fact that if you are paid every week then the money has been in the employer’s hands for a week, essentially not moving...velocity zero.”

“So, if I understand you correctly, we can increase the velocity of money and stimulate the economy by encouraging employers to pay their employees at the end of each workday?” Raymond said.

“That is correct.” Eastman conceded.

Next Installment

Monday, August 27, 2018


Aesop over at the Raconteur Report has been writing posts about the probable effects of a hot civil war or a Ebola (or similar) pandemic in North America.

My personal opinion is that he has been knocking the ball out of the park.

My humble contribution is to try to make it a bit more concrete.

Consider that the cost of delivering a gallon of diesel or gasoline to a Forward Operating Base in a war zone is on the order of $400-to-$1000 per gallon.  That is not because the US Military is inefficient.  It is because they have learned, the hard way, that fuel deliveries that are insufficiently armored end up in enemy hands.  It costs that much to ensure that the fuel ends up going to the right users.

In the event of a civil war, you will be living in a Forward Operating Base.

Consider what your life will be like when prices rise by a factor of 100X to 200X.  In practical terms, that means you will consume 1% of what you currently consume now.

You might only have 20 square feet of heated space to sleep in.

You might only ride 100 miles in a motor vehicle in a year.

You will consider yourself lucky to have 2000 Calories a day of beans-and-rice or grits-n-gravy or taters-n-taters.

You will have zero new clothes or footwear for a year.

You will do well to have 1.2 gallons of potable water per day.

A bottle of ibuprofen or diphenhydramine will cost $500.

Consider what that will do to your lifestyle and to the US economy.

Our days of innocence

I remember being disturbed watching the hyper-sexualization of twelve and thirteen-year-old girls on TV.

Progressives want to "educate" lower elementary students about alternative sexualities.  That is in spite of mainstream culture telling us that most girls aren't ready for the rough-and-tumble of "normal sexuality" before they are 14 and most boys at least two years later.


Random thought added later:  I wonder if there is an adult lurking in the background who advised or encouraged this child to "come out".

A Russian Perspective on ISIS

Fergana News (Moscow) interviews a Russian expert on the dangers of the caliphate for Russia and Central Asia  LINK

Some of the money quotes:

Andrei Serenko:

Today, Russia should fear not so much IS fighters in Afghanistan as there are attacks from the so-called "sleeping jamaats" already established on the Russian territory, as well as autonomous supporters of IS who can organise an "attack of inspiration" in almost any Russian city with a knife, screwdriver or car...impossible to calculate in advance. The usual methods of police and special services are not always effective

Today, ISIS propagandists in America, Europe and Russia, urge its followers to take knives and screwdrivers and kill "infidels" at the doorways and on the streets. "Take the knife and hit. Have no knife - take a stone. Have no stone - spit in the face," today closed groups in social networks conducted by agitators of the caliphate are full of such directions.

If you ever needed a reason for concealed carry....  No, you aren't going to shoot down 767s about to fly into the World Trade Center with a 9mm but you can decrease the pulmonary efficiency of a terrorist carrying a knife/screwdriver/rock or decrease the optical qualities of a windshield in a vehicle driving down a crowded sidewalk.

There are people...who believe that insignias give them an advantage in the market of services and capital, first of all. Therefore, faced with real threats of terrorist acts, such security units fall into administrative panic, begin to act on the principle of "better oversee than overlook" ( or better to administer than eradicate, i.e. Arab Spring and the arming of 'moderate' terrorists in Syria?) and habitual fraud towards the authorities and public opinion. This tactic is extremely dangerous, and not only because innocent people are subjected to repression as a result, but because the prosecution misses real and not imaginary terrorists.

Figuratively speaking, the law enforcers...strive to erase the project of the IS from the hard drive when it has long gone to the Cloud.

Concealed carry takes the enforcement of the most fundamental of natural laws, self defense, to 'the Cloud.'

IS is more than an ordinary criminal group or a militant religious sect, and approaching it with such patterns means blurring the depth of the problem and refusing to see the whole panorama of the threats that this project brings to civilised society.

When young men start doing laundry

Kubota has always done laundry.  It was part of his chores.  He was on the hook to do one load a week.

Mrs ERJ did the other six loads of laundry he generated a week.  I used to but I was fired because I did not exercise enough care.

My method was to gather up all of the clothing and assorted detritus in the general vicinity of his laundry hamper, regardless of color, fabric or origin.  I threw an appropriate amount into the laundry masticator set to cold.  Added a dollop of soap and pushed "Go". 

Drying was equally simple.  Throw the wad of fiber and peanut butter sandwiches into the drier, set to low heat and launch.

Kubota had trained Mrs ERJ that it was imperative that she use a minimum of four different laundry products.  That included, but was not limited to spot stain removers, laundry detergent, laundry softener, laundry color-fast sheets and drier anti-static sheets and drier anti-stinkum sheets.

When Mrs ERJ did his laundry it came out as soft as a mother's caress and smelled like an angel's smile.

Kubota tends to procrastinate.

He ran out of clean towels.  It took him three months of doing his own laundry but it happened.  I guess he was only able to squeeze half a month out of each of his six towels.

I heard him rummaging around by the shoe bench.  That is where Mrs ERJ stores the "dog towels."

The towels smell like ALL things Canis fidelis.

If the dogs have an accident in the house, we use the dog towels.

If the dogs come in wet from a romp in the frog pond, we use the dog towels.

If the dogs roll in greasy, dog perfume, we use the dog towels.

If one of the dogs is ill and we wish to give it a bit more comfort, we let it sleep on one of the dog towels.

The dog towels get their own trip through the laundry cycle because eau de canine would permeate everything else washed with them.

I looked up and saw Kubota sniffing one of the plusher specimens.  It had a hole the size of a softball in the middle of it.

Wordlessly, he flipped it over his shoulder and strode off to take his shower.

Burning Man


Burning Man, where 70,000 people pay $1200 so they can live like San Francisco street bums for a week.

Mother Nature smack-down.  Does what SF SJWs refuse to do.

And I thought these things only happened when I went camping.

Stub 3.6: Catching up

Raymond was in an expansive mood as he walked into work his customary two hours early. He did not expect the euphoria to last all day but he did expect it to last more than ten minutes. Sadly, those expectations were dashed when John Kloake, his third shift paint lead found him and announced “Boss, we have a problem, a big problem.”

“What is it?” Raymond asked.

“We are missing our tombstone dates and there is no possibility that we are going to be able to catch up.” John informed him.

“I don’t know where you heard that, but that is simply not true.” Raymond said. “The project is going like gang-busters.”

“The project may be doing fine, but we are responsible for painting and we are on-our-ass. We are slowing down everybody behind us; the carpet and drape people, the furniture movers, the signage folks...everybody.” John said.

“Explain to me, how can we be behind. We are getting plenty of work because the electricians and drywall people are not slowing us down...” Raymond said.

“That is true for now, but you gotta remember we got the work late and we lost almost a week with the electricians and drywallers on different shifts being in a pissing match. Then we lost a couple of more shifts when our tools and materials were ripped off.” John said.

“We are almost a week-and-a-half behind and unless you hire some more painters there is no way we will ever catch up.” John said, stating the obvious. “The other thing I was told is that there are penalty clauses in our painting contract if our lack of output delays the opening of the facility. Right now, there is still time for the follow-up people to catch up, but we gotta kick it in the ass, like, right now.”

“How many more painter do you think we need?” Raymond asked, sure that he was not going to like the answer.

“I would like to say twelve more. Per shift.” John said. “But we cannot train all at once. So I recommend three additional painter be added and then two days later add three more and so on.”

Raymond had a head ache.

“I can afford to bring on one, maybe two more per shift. I just don’t have the cash to pay for more.” Raymond said.

John furrowed his brows in consternation. “You get paid more if you paint more, right. I don’t see what the problem is.”

Raymond said, “I get paid at the end of the week based on our output. That, and the tools and materials that got ripped off left me strapped.  That is why I did not replace them but evened out the inventory between shifts. It is going to be touch-and-go making payroll this week.” Raymond admitted.

“I have been meaning to ask about that.” John said. “With all due respect, it is really stupid to pay 50% of your material bills with each delivery when every other contractor in the city uses 30 days-net. I don’t understand why you pay 50%...that has got to be putting a dent in your cash flow.”

Raymond was taken aback by John’s observation. John was right, of course. Raymond started paying 50% cash with each delivery when he was just starting up and did not have a credit history.  It never occurred to him that he did not have to keep doing that.

“Why don’t you call up O’Leary Paint and ask if you can switch to thirty days. You might even ask him for sixty days on the tools that got stolen.” John suggested.

Raymond’s conversation with Colleen O’Leary was very brief. Of course they would extend 30 days-net. And when she heard that the stolen tools and materials had been insured, Colleen suggested that he instruct the insurance company to send the check directly to O’Leary Paint, Colleen would see that the tools and materials would be replaced and Raymond would not be on the hook for any of it.

Raymond hunted up John before John left for the day.

“Thanks for the suggestion about 30 days net. I want you to hire three more painters tonight.” Raymond said.

“I would, boss, but that is way above my pay grade.” John said. You want me to take on a lot more aggravation and responsibility and it is just not worth it.”

“I really can’t pay you more.” Raymond said. “I am still strapped for cash.”

“Would you consider a variable pay component?” John asked. “Say, so many dollars for every 1000 square feet above the daily goal that gets painted each night.”

“Let me check something.” Raymond said. He popped a spreadsheet open on his smartphone to check a few numbers.

“My variable cost to paint a thousand square feet is 20 Sedelia dollars. The base contract pays $27.50 Sedelia dollars per thousand square feet. That gives me a gross profit of $7.50 per thousand square feet. I have expenses to cover out of that $7.50 and I have to pay myself something so I can eat. Would you consider $2.50 per thousand square feet, over an above the daily goal, to be an adequate incentive?” Raymond asked. “That is one-third of my gross profit."

“I would have been happy with $1 a thousand square feet.” John said with a big smile. “You bet I will take it.”

Raymond was chagrinned to realize that he had overpaid, but then decided to focus on the fact that he would still be reaping 2/3 of the profit.

"My only caveat is that if the new painters cannot make-rate by the middle of the second day that you let them go and hire somebody who can make rate.  My profit calcs assume employees who make-rate." Raymond concluded.

“Are you going to offer the same deal to the other shift leads?” John asked.

“Do we have the same problem on other shifts?” Raymond asked.

“Yup.” John said.

“Then of course I will make them the same offer, although I don’t know if they will take it.” Raymond said.

As if on cue, Preacher, the first shift paint lead came into the room. “I have been looking for you.” Preacher said to Raymond.

John piped up, “I already talked to the boss about our concerns. He has a proposal to make, one I already accepted.” and with that John gave them a wave and left the room.

Preacher was more than happy to accept the incentive and he figured he could train four new painters at a time. He lost no time and put in ‘bids’ on Labor-Bay so he would have them that shift.

Next Installment

Sunday, August 26, 2018

A painful story

Gather round, children.  I am going to tell you a story.  Parts of it are true.  Parts of it have been changed to insulate those who lived it.

There was once a young father.  He had a daughter who was the apple of his eye and the reason for the spring in his step.  He had confidence in a better and brighter future because she was the vanguard of such.

Then, his four-year-old daughter became weepy and did not want to talk at home.  This phase caused much consternation and went on for a week.  After much jollying, our hero learned that an eleven-year-old boy in daycare/after-school care had molested her.

Details are sketchy, but I assume it was of the "Come here and pet my snake or I will kick your ass." variety of Criminal Sexual Conduct (CSC).  She knew it was wrong but the boy was mean and she was convinced that he would hurt her.

The issue was complicated by the fact that the after-school care was provided by a family member and the eleven-year-old boy was the girl's cousin.

The young father considered many options:
  • Arranging fatal accident involving the eleven-year-old boy
  • Reporting it to the authorities
  • Reporting it to the day-care providers
  • Reporting it to the boy's parents
  • A stern talk with the boy
  • Pulling his daughter out of that daycare
  • Forgetting the entire incident happened
Unlike most people, he had ready access to "experts" in the field and he sketched out the problem, hypothetically of course, and asked for their input.

To a person, the experts said that it must be reported to the authorities.  Their reasoning follows:
  • Several people were damaged by the incident.  The four-year-old daughter, the eleven-year-old boy, the father plus any other girls the boy may have been victimizing.
  • They reframed the incident:  You might be tempted to try to forget the incident because of the ages, but would you if they were 13-and-6, how about 15-and-8 or 17-and-10?
  • The process in most jurisdictions is to adjudicate the minor perp and to get him "services".  The adjudication process also clears a path for getting services for the other victims.
  • Not only does the process "get" him services, it forces the parent(s) to blast through denial and it mandates that the parent(s) get their child to those services.  "I don't wanna go." doesn't cut it
  • Another thing the experts told the father were that the process has a great many checks-and-balances.  Evidence is gathered.  Stories are weighed against each other.  People who do not have emotional investment are required to sort through the evidence and determine if CSC happened.  In a word, professionals.

The father talked it through with his wife.

They decided, intellectually, that if the goal is to heal the victims and to actually help the perp, then not-reporting the incident to the legal authorities is not an option.

The father reported the incident to the proper authorities.  Then he visited the boy's parents and informed them that they were about to be visited by CPS.  Then he visited the people who provided daycare to tell them the same.

And he pulled his daughter out of that daycare.


A total shit-storm ensued
An elaborate dance occurred at family parties as the three major players lined up for time slots to ensure they were not present concurrently.

The parents of the eleven-year-old boy divorced five years later.  Financial issues were one of the core issues triggering the divorce.  Counseling is expensive.  I suspect recriminations added gasoline to that fire.

The father was banished to sleeping on the couch in the living room because he had anger management issues.  The juvenile adjudication process is opaque so he never had a sense of closure.  He will be in counseling until the day he dies.

The four-year-old daughter is now a delightful young woman.

The eleven-year-old boy is married and it seems unlikely that he will ever have children.

The father knows in his heart that he did the right thing.  And he would do it again without changing a single detail.

Adults do what must be done, regardless of the price.

Saturday, August 25, 2018

Brain stretching

Messing with math this evening and not getting answers that make any sense.

I will keep fighting with it until I get it sorted out.

I post this so you don't think I live a Martha Stewart life where every effort produces "presentable" results the first time, every time.

Another thing I am starting to do is to listen to Beginning Reader books in Spanish.  This seems like a fairly painless way to attune my ear.  I am putting that out there to put myself on-the-hook.

Any suggests for Youtube "channels" will be much appreciated.

Pecking order in the pack

Hercules, our older German Shepherd finally "rolled over" and accepted that Zeus is the alpha dog.

"Rolled over" is literal.  Herc went on his back into the vulnerable beta dog position. It had never occurred to me that the pecking order in a pack of dogs was the origin of the term.

It was a hard pill for Herc to swallow.  Herc weighs about 75 pounds and Zeus weighs 90 pounds and still has the boundless energy of puppyhood.  It does not help that Herc was run over by a truck as a puppy and his hip was never quite right afterward.

In the evening, Zeus sits at the foot of the King (me).

Herc takes up residence behind the Queen's throne and conveniently atop a register spewing cold air.

Smuggles (I didn't name him, really) is the omega dog and he sits on the Queen's feet keeping them warm.

Are epidemics inevitable?

Let's start by accepting the premise that they are not inevitable.

Let's suppose that medical science can stay ahead of communicable diseases through antibiotics, antivirals and immunizations.

Let's suppose that medical science makes similar progress in addressing diabetes, heart disease, cancer and auto-immune syndromes.

Now, assume two populations.

One population is slowly declining and responds bystarts into cities where services and amenities are readily available.  While the  net population is dropping, the population density as experienced by most residents increases.  The average age goes up.  In order to maintain the first population's quality of life it becomes necessary to import many people from the second population.
The first population is intimately interlaced with elements of the second population.  Photo by Kurt Freihauf.

The second population is not stagnant and doubles every twenty-to-thirty years.  Competition for resources causes warfare, both low level and 'hot'.  The resulting strife causes farmers to not work their fields.  Hunger, migration and refugee camps result.  Population continues to grow and the effective population density skyrockets as entire families live in tents a scant two meters apart.

Certain types of cancer are difficult to treat.  That is not because there are not effective chemotherapy agents.  Rather, it is because the cells or tumors are difficult to penetrate and it is impossible to raise the levels of the chemotherapy agent to therapeutic levels.

So even if medical science were able to miraculously subdue pestilence, the other three horses of the apocalypse would ensure the victory is only on paper.

Epidemics have not been vanquished and the longer the periods between episodes, the larger the pile of U235 will be when it lights-off.

Friday, August 24, 2018

And you are just going to pull it out of your tail-pipe?

Aesop over at Raconteur Report has an essay that should be required reading: Some Not-so-Random Thoughts.

It is a nearly perfect essay.  In my mind, it cannot be improved by adding or removing a single word.  A few excerpts:

Others, however, want to "get on" with "getting it on", despite some rather conspicuous lack of necessities on Team freedom's side of the ledger.
So for the two hundredth time, a few reminders:
I) It ain't time to switch from ballots to bullets. Yet.
II) When it is time, you won't need me (or anyone else) to clue you in to that reality.

and thought you were just going to grab a rifle and a bandolier and head out the front door?

Sh'yeah, when monkeys fly outta your butt, that might work.


Where's your log train, your medical evac, and twenty-seven million other things you didn't think about, plan for, or lock down cold, as if this stuff hadn't been a thing since before the Babylonians, except you never learned that, because you never served, or never made it (mentally) above PFC, and you're just a literal babe in the woods?


A little less enthusiasm, and a helluva lot more preparation, might be indicated at this point in the discussion.

I went through a CG inspection, two floats, and three deployments - two of them intercontinental, and four major training exercises with stone-cold professionals, who've been doing this stuff for eighty friggin' years, and it was still an unmitigated clusterf**k much of the time, every time.

And you think you're just going to free-lance that on the fly, and out of your tailpipe?

My two cents
I don't know squat compared to Aesop so it is presumptuous for me to add to his fine essay.

Regarding "knowing when the balloon goes up": it is likely to be a handful of signals all coming one on top of the other.

One school closing due to a bomb threat is not the signal.  The entire city school district closing all of its schools, all grades, all locations could be the signal depending on the reason.  Did it close because of a pandemic or did it close because the bus drivers and teachers had a pandemic of blue-flu? 

One gas station running out of gas is not the signal.  All of the gas stations running out of gas on one end of a small city (100,000 people) probably is.

"Protesters" closing three lanes of a freeway in the center of town on a Friday night is not the signal but armed combatants "snipping" the freeway at multiple points, isolating large chunks of mid-town real estate in the middle of the work day is.

Are TV and radio stations going off the air?

Multiple building and vehicle fires with cops and firefighters not addressing them is likely the "the signal".  Rule-of-law is dead.

The common thread is that these are solid pieces of evidence that the logistics infrastructure is dying.  It is evidence that it is no longer possible to move critical goods, equipment and personnel to where they are needed.  At that point general, over-all chaos is a matter of days or hours away.  It is a great day to call in sick to work.

Regarding "winging it"
It is comforting for the arm-chair commando to sit in his Laz-E-Boy recliner and think that he will survive the learning curve because he is more prepared than the other team.

I won't dispute the other team's general lack of preparedness.  However, there are some on that team who are.  No guarantees that he is not the first person you meet on the street.

The other issue involves noise.  Aesop did a great job smacking the reader in the face with how reality is a cluster festival.  It bears repeating.  Life is not a book.  Books are written by authors.  Authors meticulously pare away the chaos that masks the story.  Nearly everything is clear in books and is revealed in its own time.

It ain't gonna be like that if the balloon goes up.  Most likely you won't be able to tell good guys from bad guys from folks who just want to survive.

Life is noisy and chaotic.  That noise can and will kill you after the balloon goes up.  You might nimbly dodge the first surprise that is thrown at you.  You might be able to duck, dodge, bob and weave around the first twenty.  Can you count on your luck to DDBW one hundred?  A thousand?  How about your wife, kids and grandkids?  How are their DDBW skills?

All those fussy things the military "figured out before the Babylonians" is armor against the noise.

Stub 3.5: Dancing

Raymond called the next evening and asked Margie if she had any plans.

She hesitated for a nearly imperceptible breath and said she planned to take in a street concert. The address was near where they had watched Arsenic and Old Lace.

Raymond asked if he might join her at the concert.

They met in front of the band stand as the lead band, a salsa band, was warming up. Unlike the theater, the gathering crowd recognized Raymond as their representative and it cause a stir.

The only way Raymond could make time with Margie was to dance with her. Otherwise, various constituents collared Raymond and wanted to talk politics.  The constituents were evenly divided.  Half wanted to talk about the lack of jobs.  The other half berated Raymond for not immediately implementing Universal Basic Income and Food-and-Rent Subsidies.

Afterward Raymond figured out that news of his presence had gone out on social media and people actively sought him out to share their opinions.

The public attention was a new experience for Raymond and was disorienting.

Margie found it immensely amusing when Raymond confided that he HATED dancing...but dancing with her was better than getting harangued by disgruntled constituents.

Margie’s picnic basket contained stemware, grapes, crackers and VB ORS, the new sport drink that was all the rage in LA.

Toward the end of the evening Margie grew quiet and pensive during one of the few slow dances. Raymond asked if anything was wrong.

Margie replied, “A girl gets to a certain age and does not have time or emotional resilience to waste. I was wondering, what are your long term intentions? Do you see me as a short-term play-thing or a distraction-of-opportuntiy or as something different?”

“Why would you ask that” Raymond puzzled.

“I find you attractive and I am starting to have feelings for you.” Margie said. “There have been other guys that I thought might be ‘the one’, but weren’t. As I get older I find it takes longer to heal and I want to cut my losses if we are not on the same page.”

Raymond found himself cornered. He did not want to screw this up.

“I told you I have a problem with alcohol, right? I am dealing with it. I am very active in Alcoholics Anonymous. In AA we have a bunch of slogans and thoughts for the day to help us deal with life without alcohol.” Raymond said.

“Some of the slogans involve letting time be our friend. ‘One day at a time.’, ‘Easy does it.’ Other steps or slogans involve acting with integrity. Guilt often triggers drinking as a way to numb pain.” Raymond continued.

“I cannot know what the future will bring. Nobody can. But I know that when I am with you I only have the most fleeting urges to drink. I apologize if you are insulted that I measure your importance by my need to drink, but for a while that was the only standard by which I measured my life.” Raymond said.

“Forgive me if I cannot talk in flowery sentences, that is not my way. But I want to be with you more than anybody else in the world and being with you now is more important to me that anything that might happen tomorrow.” Raymond said.

“So you aren’t just trying to slide me into the sack?” Margie said.

Raymond smiled. “The thought occurred to me. ” he said. “But that is not what I am thinking about now. Now, I would be honored with a simple kiss. Tomorrow can take care of its self when it comes.”

And with that they kissed on the dance floor.

Next Installment

Thursday, August 23, 2018

The lighting dynamics of a small office with a view

Mrs ERJ and I had an opportunity to visit with a professional in her new office.

The profession could have been a doctor, financial advisor, attorney; somebody who advises either one or small groups of people.

Approximate size of 10' by 12'
The professional chose to put her desk diagonally across from the entry door.  She had a three-person couch immediately to the left of the door and a two-person couch across the room from her desk.

The most notable feature, as a visitor, was the window.  It started at about 36" and continued to the ceiling and spanned the entire width of the back wall.

Sitting in the three-person couch, this is what I saw

That may be great for interrogations but doesn't work for professional relationships.  60% of the client seating in her office was not going to work.

And before you ask, the sun was not shining in the window.  It was 10:30 in the morning and the office was on the west side of the complex.

Color palette
A minor contributor to the issue was the color palette.

The color intensity was mid-tone rather than pastel.  I think the professional was trying to avoid the sterile, industrial feel that pastels can bring to a room's environment.

Furniture placement
The biggest issue, other than the vast amount of windows on one side of the room involved furniture placement.

From a communication standpoint, the arrangement shown in the picture would work better than the current arrangement.  The book-shelf could be moved to soften the back-lighting as seen from the two-person couch.

Unfortunately, the professional shot herself in the foot when she bought the furniture.  She would have had far more options if both couches were two-person couches as the 7' long couch really limits the space. 

A cheap way to have identified the issue of limited options would have been to cut some Post-it notes to scale and shuffle them around on a to-scale office plan.

Maybe this post will help young professionals from making similar mistakes.


Source of photo
Obviously a very pretty girl.

What do you think, photoshopped?  The taper on the top of her thighs looks "forced" especially when you consider the lack of muscle definition the rest of her thigh shows.  Her shadow on the door also looks weird.

The problem with photoshopping is that it creates an impossible standard. 

College, welding and yellow jackets

If all goes well, today will be Kubota's first day of college.  He opted for the Vocational track and his plan is to become a welder.  College is an experience that expands students.  It expands the debt of liberal arts students and it expends the income potential of vocational students.

Kubota might switch vocational tracks and that would be OK.  Young guys seem enchanted with welding.  Perhaps because it supplies its own fireworks. 

Welding can demand a lot of flexibility and sometimes the air quality is poor.  I think some of the other trades pay better and have better portability.  But Kubota is of an age where he hears those concerns from peers better than from me. It is all good.

Today and tomorrow are elder-care days.  Blogging will be light.

I got whacked by yellow jackets again.

The embarrassing thing is that the yellow jackets were from the same hole as before.  I thought I had dealt with that problem.

My brother lives in the city and finds it awkward to deal with corpses.  So he gave me a call and asked if I could dispose of one.  I readily agreed.  They make great fertilizer.

I was in the orchard and pondering which tree would most appreciated the extra fertility when the yellow jackets started blasting my right arm.  One little bugger rode me into the house and nailed me in the kitchen.  I may have said a bad word.

My counter measure this time was to mix some Sevin concentrate with a quart of dry sawdust and I buried the hole.  Watching from a distance, it gave me great satisfaction to see the yellow jackets flying a search pattern over the pile, trying to figure out where the hole was.  Then they would land and move a bit of rubble before succumbing to the insecticide.

Least you be concerned, the corpse was a woodchuck.

Stub 3.4: Street theater

After work Raymond again found himself at loose ends. He took in a meeting but left with little of the peace he usually found.

As he walked he ran through his mental Rolodex of eligible, young ladies but the mental image of Margie kept popping into his head.

Lacking any reason not to call her, he dialed her number and waited for her to pick up. After identifying himself and assuring her that he did not have more losses to report he said, “I know this is extremely unprofessional, but I was wondering if your were available to spend time together this evening...that is if you are not married and don’t have a boyfriend.” he said in haste as the possibility occurred to him.

Margie chuckled. “Nope. I am not married. I never even had a live-in boyfriend. And today is your lucky day. I seem to be between boyfriends at the moment. What do you have in mind?” she asked.

“I hadn’t gotten that far.” Raymond admitted. “I was thinking we could just hang-out or maybe I could just tag along if you had errands to run or chores to do.”

“As a matter of fact, I was about to go to the mall and watch street theater. Why don’t you join me?” and she gave him the address. “I will be there in about an hour, so take your time.” Margie said.

Raymond took a shower and changed into a dressier shirt, although he did not know why. It was not as if he was interested in her romantically. After all, she was scandalously old.

While that seems an odd observation, one must be mindful that Southern Cali had become a third-world country with third-world demographics. The median age was 17 and Margie was almost twice that age at 33.

Margie was loitering behind the bleachers of the athletic field that served as a theater after dark. The troupe was performing Arsenic and Old Lace that evening and the stands were nearly full. Margie was carrying a picnic basket and it was clear that she had been there a few minutes as she was talking to one of the cast members.

Margie saw Raymond and beckoned him over. “That was the casting director. He advised me that sitting on the left side of the bleachers, about 1/3 the way up was the best seat in the house. Do you mind?” she asked.

“No problem.” Raymond said. “I am hanging out with you.”

There was a moment of stress for Raymond as Margie unpacked the picnic basket. She had packed an inexpensive bottle of white wine in addition to grapes, crackers and cheese.

“I cannot drink that.” Raymond said, flatly. “I don’t have any problem with you drinking it, but I have a problem with alcohol.”

Margie did not hesitate for a second. She tapped the shoulder of the man in the seat ahead of her. “Whadda you guys have to drink?” she asked.

It turned out that the family in front of them had six bottles of inexpensive, orange soda.

“Today is your lucky day. I will trade you this bottle of wine for two of your sodas.” Margie said. And in a thrice, the trade was done.

“You didn’t have to do that.” Raymond said.

“Nope. I didn’t. But it looked like the Mr and Mrs could use a bit of romance in their lives and, with any luck, that bottle of wine won’t be the only ‘lucky’ they have tonight. ‘Sides, any actor will tell you the quality of the company is more important than any of the props.” Margie said.

Margie fluttered like a butterfly all night long. Raymond was unable to predict what she would say or do next.

She was constantly touching him. As a Latino, Raymond was used to more touch than the typical Norte Americano but Margie touched him more than he was used to.

It was not overtly sexual. It was more a quick touch to confirm that he was real and had not disappeared. It was always on his bare skin and never for more than a quick second.

When Raymond spoke, Margie stopped everything she was doing, turned toward him and listened. She LOOKED at his face and paid rapt attention to both the verbal and non-verbal of what he was communicating.

Even though she sat very close to him, she left enough room for a breeze to pass between them. Raymond never had that hot, sweaty, crowded feeling many of the young girls left him with. And yet, an occasional curling of the breeze brought him a whiff of her fragrance. She smelled of soap, sun-dried clothing and a light, floral scent.

Raymond had never been with a woman who took joy in drinking cheap orange soda from fine crystal stemware.  It was a novel experience for him.

They spent little more than three hours together and parted with a relatively chaste kiss and yet Raymond had trouble falling asleep. Words kept tumbling in his mind as he sought to find a label that suited her.

Sleep found him in the wee hours of the morning shortly after the word “bewitching” surfaced in his mind.

Next Installment

Wednesday, August 22, 2018

More on Low Impedance Fence Energizers

Everybody who has worked with electric fences has their own stories.

One of my stories involves sheep and cattle.

We had cattle for a few years before we added in sheep.  Being the kind of person I am, I had been reading up on electric fences.

The literature all agreed, electric fences work because of classical conditioning.  Ensure that the animal gets a few stiff jolts early on and they won't test the fence.  That pays dividends when the charger goes down or the fence shorts out.

Sheep are ten times harder to keep in with a fence than cattle are.  For most of the year, sheep are insulated with inches of wool.  The literature suggested that the best way to train them to electric fences was to feed them corn beneath the fence and to ensure that the lowest wire was "hot".   Even if the sheep have six inches of wool on them, their ears remain bare.  The plan is to position the lowest hot wire so the sheep's ears hit it.  Then....BAM!

The literature also recommended that the training be done in the early spring when the ground was damp.  That ensured that the ground was, in fact, a great ground for the sheep's hooves.  Secondarily, the ground on the energizer would also be efficiently grounded to the common ground as the ground-rod would have good continuity.

Early spring is also when the charge in the fence is least likely to be wicked away by grass and vines touching the hot wires.

Alrighty!  Here we go.  Your hapless hero, ERJ boldly walked out with a five gallon bucket of corn and poured a "line" of it beneath the fence.  A few hours later he looked out the window and saw his sheep and cattle wandering in the neighbor's field.

Imagine this happening several days in a row.  What the HECK!

Then, one day our hero (me) poured the line and stuck around to watch.  The sheep came running to gobble up as much corn as they could before the cows showed up.

The first heifer showed up and with absolutely no ceremony batted the first ewe she encountered through the fence with her head.  That knocked the fence katy-wumpus.  Then another ewe got bowled through the fence thereby rendering it totally hors de combat.  After the remaining cows mopped up the corn they strolled over to the neighbor's property to see what new spears of grass had emerged since yesterday.


Even though Michigan sheep producers lose ten times as many sheep to worms than they do to coyotes, sheep producers still fixate on coyotes.  Maybe because a worm-killed sheep is simply dead while a coyote-killed sheep is bloody and torn.

Sheep producers out west deter coyotes by using lots of fence wires.  They alternate hot-ground-hot-ground and they place them close enough together that the coyote cannot squeeze through without "closing the circuit".  The ideal conditioning occurs when the coyote hits a ground wire with his ears and a "hot" wire with his shoulder. The pulse passes through his reptilian brain-stem and trains it.

It is possible to know something intellectually with your higher brain and still be totally incapable of acting on that knowledge because your reptilian brain vetoes it.  That is the goal in training coyotes to the electric fence.  You want to train their reptilian brain.

Why do you want their ears to hit a ground wire?  Because the first wire they touch is the one they touch with their ears and if it is hot there is the possibility that, when the ground is exceedingly dry, that they might not get whacked hard enough to light up their reptilian brain.

In populated regions the standard advice is to not use barbed wire with any electric fence.  The concern is a human getting tangled up in it and not being able to extricate themselves.  Nobody ever asks, "Why were they climbing through the fence to start with?"  The burden is on the land owner.

Out west they see things differently.  The wire that touches the ears can be smooth because coyote ears, like sheep ears, have very short hair.  The hot wire that hits the shoulder is best barbed because the barb will penetrate the coyote's pelt and ensure a solid metal-flesh connection.

Success is not measured by the number of Joules listed on the sales brochure for the fence charger.  Success is measured by the actual number of Joules you can blast through the coyote's brain-pan and into his reptilian brain.

Electric fences are not barriers in the sense that they physically keep animals contained.  Electric fences are barriers in the sense that they mentally contain animals.  It is in their mind.