Sunday, September 30, 2018


The classic definition of Chutzpah is to murder both of your parents and then demand mercy from the court because you are an orphan.

Senator Richard Blumenthal asserted that Kavanaugh would not be a good judge because of the rancor he displayed.

Got news for you, Dicky boy, you better not be throwing like a girl if you plan on pulling Mr Pin from Mr Grenade and throwing it up-hill. Otherwise it is likely to roll back and join you in your foxhole.

Your side created this "rancor" as surely as murdering one's parents makes one an orphan.

Chutzpah, sir, Chutzpah to demand a different candidate.

Hey Lefty, what happened to your eye?

Having no thoughts worth sharing today, I intend to steal today's post.

Father Dwight's sermon was on Mark 9:38-48.  That is the sequence where Jesus says to cut of our hand if it causes us to sin, pluck out our eye....

Father Dwight's sermon threaded the needle between the literal interpretation and dismissing the reading as hyperbole.

Bear in mind that we heard that sin, "being made unclean", comes from within and not from what we eat just two chapters earlier in Mark 7:21-23.

Father Dwight eased into his argument. Rather than quote him, I choose to paraphrase.

We all know somebody who is argumentative so let's use that person as an example. Perhaps that is our own particular weakness. We know that arguing is sinful (Matt 5:21,22). Why do we argue? It is because a part of us, our self-image, demands that we always be right or we have an over-powering need for dominance.

Those are the parts of us we need to excise and cast away from ourselves. The parts of our "self" that lead us into conflict with God's laws.

Ripping out our eye won't save us from lechery or envy. Cutting out our tongue won't stop us from spreading lies nor will cutting off our hand(s) stop us from stealing or hurting our brothers. We need to let go our our sense of entitlement and be grateful for what God has given us.

Too hard to be grateful?  Check this out and get back to me.

Just as a side note: The woman sitting in the pew in front of me took notes.  First time I have ever seen that.

Saturday, September 29, 2018

Win some, lose some

The corky wings on the twigs is a key feature of Rock Elm. The seeds are rumored to taste like filberts.
As reported earlier, I have been spending a significant amount of time doing elder-care.

Because the Kavanaugh hearings were making me sick to my stomach I have been spending more time outside. Walking around my dad's yard I noticed the west fence line was getting overgrown. I looked it over to see how difficult it would be to clear.

And there, staring me in the face, were two specimens of Rock Elm.  Six inches west of my dad's property. Hither-to-for I have only found one specimen locally and that was in Charlotte.

One of the trees had been about 8" diameter and somebody cut it down and left a 6" stump.

The other is about six feet tall.

I will not be able to dig either one up but have no inhibitions about harvesting all of the scionwood within a foot of the fence.

The great grape grafting project came to a dismal end.

The grafts would take, the buds would push for about a 1/2" and then turn black and die.  One graft had this happen three times.

Some of the pushed buds showed tiny caterpillars and webby silk.

I suspect the scionwood lacked sufficient carb reserves to grow "through" the problem.

About mid-summer I abandoned the plan to populate the third row of the vineyard with Vidal 256/riparia.  I have little doubt that I could make that happen but am choosing to take this as a sign; "...lead us not into temptation but deliver us from all that is evil..."

The new plan is to populate the row with Geneva Red, a variety that is notable for modest quality, prodigious yields and a tenacity that exceeds that of cellulite on a matron's thighs.

In most cases, it is possible to press a decent white wine from blue/black grapes so this variety will give me the ability to switch hit.

Mrs ERJ and I were planting trellis posts in the third row today. Tomorrow might be an ibuprofen and ice day.  Time will tell.

Know your audience

Friday, September 28, 2018

Pre-Vetting: ERJ exclusive

Highly placed sources in the White House informed the ERJ blog of a new policy about to be implemented by the Trump Administration.

A "short list" of future Supreme Court nominations will be pre-vetted in the most intensive way imaginable to avoid future embarrassment. The DEEP intelligence check will not only focus on allegations with corroborating evidence but investigate with the full weight of the FBI all reports of misfeasance, nonfeasance, and malfeasance regardless of credibility.

The FBI provide written reports to the entire membership of the Senate's Judiciary committee as allegations are made and investigated so members will have ample time to assimilate the information.

Trump's short list for future Supreme Court Justice nominations includes:

Barrett, Amy Coney

Blackwell, Keith

Clinton, Hillary Rodham

Eid, Allison

Grant, Britt

Hardiman, Thomas

Kethledge, Raymond

Larsen, Joan     

Lee, Mike

Lee, Thomas

Moreno, Federico

Newsome, Kevin

Obama, Barack

Ryan, Margaret

Stras, David

Tymkovich, Timothy

Wyrick, Patrick 


I Believe in "Science"

Much of what liberal arts majors consider science is indistinguishable from magic.

Want something badly enough, mutter incantations, wave a wand and BAM!: It becomes a reality.

Stub 5.11: Protocols

The protocol that Hunter was following was simple and iterative. He incubated twenty sets of the cultures for 20 generations which increased the population by a factor of a million. Then he subjected ten of the twenty cultures to a coarse “ladder” where he added varying amounts of bacitracin, an antibiotic and an additional dose of nutrient.

The antibiotic did not kill the bacteria. Rather, it interferred with the bacteria’s ability to reproduce. Consequently, it took a week to determine the cut-off level where one concentration stopped the culture and the lesser concentration did not.

Hunter then used the remaining ten cultures to “dial in” the exact concentration between the two coarser steps to determine the log 4 concentration where the antibiotic killed 9999 of every 10,000 bacteria.

After determining that concentration he increased the concentration of antibiotic in the viable cultures that had received the lower, non-inhibited dosages.

He was able to determine existence of fresh generations with polarized light. The older cells were not motile and sank to the bottom of the bottles. Hunter rarely needed to decant a bottle.

After a second incubation period Hunter chose the culture with the highest number of motile bacteria and pitched the rest.

Lather, rinse, repeat.

The backstory given by the protocol sheet informed Hunter that antibiotic resistance was being bred into the strain of bacteria so antibiotics could be added to the reaction vessels and suppress other bacteria that might contaminate the run.

Croyle was impressed by Hunter’s energy and ingenuity. He had stalled out in finding another biologist.

Croyle asked Hunter if he though he could take on more work. Hunter looked at the water bed mattress and figured he had room for at least two more cultures.

Croyle sent two more cultures and specified that one be bred for resistance to Neomycin and the other be bred for resistance to Polymyxin B.

The package also had a pre-paid with $3000 on it with the promise of another one in a week if Hunter’s work continued to show promise.

Next Installment

Thursday, September 27, 2018

If you are not confused then you are guilty of not thinking straight

Picture taken at Target.


How many others visualize this clip when they hear the word "hippocampus"?

Surely there must be an institution of fine arts somewhere that has an inordinate number of large students.

Another electric fence picture

Click on picture to embiggen. Point of interest is point of "barb" that is to the left of the fence post and immediately below the yellow insulator.
This section of electric fence was arcing out to the fence post.

I could hear it from seventy yards away.

An arc leaping 7.5mm of air suggests a line voltage of approximately 7000 Volts.
It was one of those instances when the twisted barb on the barbed wire fence lined up with the insulator.  One of the barbs pointed back at the fence post. My digital calipers suggests that the distance between to point of the barb and the fence post was about 7.5mm. That is one more reason to not use barbed wire for an electric fence.

First I tried to break off the barb with my pliers that have insulated handles. I quickly deduced that the insulation on the end of one of the handles had cracked.  After acquiring that information, I turned off the fence and broke the barb that was pointing back toward the post off with the pliers.

This is the fun part of debugging the fence. The tedious work of improving connections and removing weeds means that the fence is plenty hot. Shorts are "self announcing" in the lingo of Quality Control.

Some more work remains improving a few more connections. I am waiting for some more hardware to show up.

I am in a foul mood today

I have been listening to Dr Ford's testimony at the Kavanaugh confirmation hearings.

I am in a foul mood.

The closest she came to a simple, declarative statement of what Kavanaugh "did" to her was "...he put his hand over my mouth..."

And then she added speculation regarding his intent for doing that.

And there we have it.  Touching somebody's mouth with your hand is now the full equivalent of Criminal Sexual Conduct, i.e. Sexual Assault.

By that measure I am a pedophile because I put a binkie into a kid's mouth.  I am guilty of incest because I clamped my kid's mouth shut when they were screeching in the checkout line at the grocery store.  I am guilty of beastility because I let my dog lick my hand...and most heinously, I groomed my dog by feeding him pre-sliced American Cheese, the cheap generic stuff.

I wonder what Pawpaw and the professional cops think.  Dr Ford was as twitchy as a stoolie three days out from her last fix. 

When asked simple "Yes or No" questions she went into dissertations about how HER hippocampus worked. 

When asked if she had gone swimming at the Country Club before the infamous party she answered with something like "I must have because that is the only way I can imagine it might have happened."

Excuse me?  "...imagine..."?  "...might have happened..."?  What would Freud say to those choices of words.  Hmmmm.  Take all the time you need.


Stub 5.10: Strawberry-Serrano

By now Domo’s three cases of Domo’s Delight had shown up. The boxes were heavily secured with duct tape. Domo ripped up a corner and pulled out a bottle.

“I will do it for free on one condition, that you shoot some footage of DeLeon Redd drinking one of these.” Domo said, handing the bottle to Vincent.

Vincent looked at the label. Then he looked at Domo. Then he looked back at the label.

“Oh! You are THAT Domo!” was all Vincent could say.

“I gotta have you shoot some footage of DeLeon drinking some more of this stuff during the game.” Domo said.

Vincent assured him that he could take the footage but there were no guarantees that the producer would splice it in on national TV.

Domo was only able to bootleg in six bottles of Strawberry-Serrano, his newest flavor and it was almost impossible to get them to DeLeon in the swirl and hubbub of the pregame.

Any optimism that Domo had was crushed by half-time. Detroit was getting crushed by thirty points. They looked tired and DeLeon’s shooting was cold, stone cold. The thing about the five point line is that when you are hot, you are smoking hot. But when you are cold you are as cold as ice.

At half time DeLeon’s teammates asked why he was getting so much action from the videotographers. They did not know it, but none of that footage was making it to the audience. All they saw was Vincent shooting footage of DeLeon way more than his shooting warranted.

DeLeon admitted it was because he was helping out a friend by drinking the hot new beverage Domo’s Delight. The five starters leaned on DeLeon and he coughed up the five unopened bottles in his gym bag.

At the same time, Domo was asking the game producer why the footage wasn’t making the cut. Domo exuded naivety and puppy-dog enthusiasm and the producer felt compelled to make him more worldly.

“Whats in it for me?” the producer asked. “I got my ass handed to me the last time footage of DeLeon drinking something other than Croc-piz went on TV. Crock-piz is a huge sponsor of the NBA and they were plenty steamed about giving a potential competitor free air time.”

“We got lots of bunks. We could put you up next time you are out in Sedelia.” Domo said.

Normally, this kind of offer would have been met with scorn and derision by the producer. But the lodging in Cali and Sedelia sucked! That was something that all socialist countries seem to have in common: Bedbugs, saggy mattresses and miserable breakfasts.

“How are the breakfasts?” the producer asked.

“Fresh bacon and ham, eggs any way you want them, french toast, hashbrowns. More than you can eat.” Domo said.

“Ok, kid.” the producer said. “I ain’t making no promises but I will see what I can do.”

If anything, Detroit was even colder after the half-time break than before. Part of it was the air conditioning. If there is one thing Texans know how to do, it is air condition!

Four of the starters were benched when Vincent and Domo came back around. Seeing Vincent and his camera, they reached into their bags, pulled out bottles and drained the contents and then slammed the bottles down on the bench. In unison, like a barbershop quartet, they piped, “Damn—That’s good!”

Vincent took care to zoom in on Domo’s beaming face on the label.

The producer put it “in the can” in case he had a lull he needed to fill.

The coach gave his players a dirty look. He sketched out a play on his board and put the four starters back in.

And the serrano pepper in the drink caused the four players to pop out into a sweat.

In theory, basketball is a non-contact sport. In practice basketball is a bump-grind-and-grab sport.

Except now the Pistons were ungrabbable. They slithered through the defense and were able to roll out of traps. When tripped, they slid twenty feet and the refs had to call fouls, if only because they had to stop the game and mop the floor.

The Pistons now played up-tempo and Houston looked like tired old men. Part of it was the magic wrought by good-old-sweat. Part of it was because Domo’s Delight was isotonic and quickly supplemented the fluids lost by the body. Crock-piz was sweet and very drinkable...but it was not isotonic. It did not have enough salt.

The Pistons lost the game by two points but it was a hell of a comeback. The head honchos at NBA headquarters were beyond delighted. That game made the 10 PM news across the country and now viewers wouldn't think of surfing away from an NBA game, even if one of the teams was getting monkey-hammered by twenty-or-thirty points. That "stickiness" translated into huge upscaling of advertising rates.

And the producer inserted the footage of the Pistons drinking Domo’s Delight in one of the lulls when the floors were being mopped.

At the end of the game, Domo realized that he had committed Escutia Farms to hosting the producer and camera men in three weeks. Then, Domo was the one sweating bullets.

Next Installment

Wednesday, September 26, 2018

Amish Pickup Trucks

The driver said that he frequently hauled 600 pounds, 4 miles on paved roads on this cart.  The horse was a smallish standardbred.

A source of parts if you want to build your own.  Not a warranty or recommendation, just a source.

Stub 5.9: Domo in Houston

Domo Hudson was not intimidated by the crowds in the Houston airport but he did find the hustle-and-bustle disorienting. It would have been worse if he had not worked at Escutia Farms. At least there he had encountered periods when folks just plain moved fast.

He was swept along by the crowd deplaning. They moved as a mob to the luggage carousels. Domo had been coached to expect his items to be last. In addition to his meager personal belongings, he was traveling with three cases of Domo’s Delight. One was “Original flavor” and the other two were experimental flavors.

Domo’s mission was to catch up with the Detroit Pistons before their two game series with the Rockets and to give the sports drink to his friend DeLeon Redd.

As he was waiting for his unwieldy luggage to be unloaded, Domo heard a familiar voice. Looking over at the adjacent carousel, Domo saw a shaved head bobbing as the man spoke with emphasis.

“Mr Wiggins?” Domo asked. He did not ask loudly as he did not want to look like an idiot if he was wrong.

The man, hearing his name turned to identify the source of the voice.

Mr Wiggins half squinted and cocked his head a little bit as people are apt to do when they encounter somebody they know in an unexpected venue.

“I know we have met, but I cannot remember where.” Mr Wiggins said.

“I was in the Sedelia camp at Escutia Farms.” Domo said. “You were embedded with our group. I was the team leader, Domo Hudson.” Domo reminded him.

“Oh, hell yeah!” Mr Wiggins said and shook Domo’s hand with a double clasp, right hands joined and gripping Domo’s forearm with his left hand. It was not a casual handshake. It was a greeting given to survivors meeting on a distant field of battle.

“You can call me Vince. My dad is Mr Wiggins.” Mr Wiggins commanded. Vince was in his late twenties and was one of the local, free-lance videotographers who had been hired Brigid Whatshername.

“What brings you to Houston?” Vince asked.

“I have to deliver a package to a friend.” Domo said. “How about you?”

“I am covering tonight’s game between Detroit and Houston.” Vince said.

“I gotta go to that game too.” Domo said. “I don’t suppose I could give you a hand, do you?”

Vince thought for a minute, “Usually I cannot afford a microphone guy and I have to rely on the camera’s boom mike. If you are willing to do it for free, it would be a great favor to me. I get paid by the seconds of my footage that get used and the producers tell me that my sound quality is what keeps me from getting more seconds.”

By now Domo’s three cases of Domo’s Delight had shown up. The boxes were heavily secured with duct tape. Domo ripped up a corner and pulled out a bottle.

“I will do it for free on one condition, that you shoot some footage of DeLeon Redd drinking one of these.” Domo said, handing the bottle to Vincent.

Next Installment

Tuesday, September 25, 2018

Let's play "One of these things doesn't belong"

What Senate hath wrought


Please feel free to repost.

Stub 5.8: David

The next perp to come into court was large, very large.

Magistrate Aquilina looked to make sure the bailiffs were on point. It was bad enough when a 110 pound Hispanic kid broke loose but this guy could be a disaster.

The social worker slid the cheat-sheet onto her desk.

Aquilina quickly scanned it. Clean tox-screen. Brainwave scan showed recent closed-head injury. Three broken ribs and minor hemmoraghing from the liver and spleen.

The man was a newbie in her court. She would have remembered him.

“What is your name?” Aquilina asked. She always asked that question. The compulsive liars would always give her a different answer than the one on the sheet.

The man stood there and Aquilina thought “He is not going to answer me.”

Finally, the man said “David.” which matched the name on the sheet, no surname given.

It just took that long for the surviving brain cells to find another functioning brain cell to talk to.

“You look more like a Goliath than a David to me.” Aquilina mused beneath her breath.

Aquilina took a minute to really look the man over.

Besides being enormous, he stank. He smelled of stale urine and feces. He had a pall of ‘dead mouse’ smell wafting off of him, undoubtedly from the swollen, puffy infected forehead.

He had been popped after stealing food from a street vendor. He had not resisted arrest.

“Turn around.” she commanded.

After processing the thought, and with a helpful prod from the bailiff, the man slowly turned.

The back of his head had been thoroughly pulped in the recent past. It was a solid crust of scab. All of his exposed skin was sun blasted and blistering.

“You aren’t from around here. Where do you live?” Aquilina asked.

The man thought for a count of three and then answered, “In a house.”

Aquilina gave him a sharp look to see if he was being flippant.

“WHERE is the house?” she asked.

Again, the man thought for three seconds before he was able to dredge up the information in his head. “On a street.”

"Well, obviously we are not going to get much information out of him.” Aquilina commented.

Addressing the social worker, “What is your recommendation? Do you judge him competent?” Aquilina asked.

“In my professional judgment the defendant is not competent.” the social worker intoned.

“No shit!” Aquilina snapped, sarcastically.

“What do you suggest we do with David?” Aquilina said.

“He can’t go back on the street.” the social worker said. “He clearly cannot fend for himself.”

“That, and it is pretty clear that he really pissed off the wrong people.” Aquilina agreed with the social worker for once.

“David, no surname given, is sentenced to three years of power generation at the San Diego sewage treatment plant.” Aquilina was limited to sentences of three years or less. She figured moving him to San Diego would make him less accessible to his enemies, whoever they were and maybe his brain would knit in the intervening three years.

Power generation was not economical. It cost $2 a day to feed and house the prisoners and the half kW-hr they generated each day was only worth twenty cents. It gave them the semblance of honorable work and more importantly, made them tired enough to keep them out of trouble...most of the time.

“You” Aquilina said, pointing to the social worker, “enter a note in his file to make sure a doctor looks at his head when he shows up in San Diego.”

Aquilina was not a cold human being. She did what she could with the three minutes she allotted to each defendant. She had gone thirty second over with David but it could not have been helped.

Next Installment

Monday, September 24, 2018

The impact of illegal immigrants on CO2 generation

Per capita petroleum consumption.  Source
What is the impact of having immigrants come from regions where fewer carbon based fuels are used and moving to regions where more carbon based fuels are used.

It is relatively simple to calculate a lower-bound on the impact.

Consider that residents of Mexico consume an average of 970 liters of petroleum per capita.  The average resident of the US consumes 3500 liters of petroleum per capita.  The difference is 2530 liters of petroleum per capita per year.

Over the course of a decade, that translates into 1.5 million pounds of CO2 per immigrant (conversion factors HERE).  Or, if one uses MIT's latest estimate of roughly 20,000,000 illegal immigrants in the US, that comes to 30,000,000,000,000 pounds of CO2.  And that is just the United States!

Considering Europe: The average German uses 1700 liters of petroleum per year.  The average immigrant comes from a country that uses less than 500 liters per year for a net difference of 1200 liters per year.

First time asylum applicants for the EU averaged a half million per year for the last ten years.  Assuming a 2X factor to gather in those who failed to apply for asylum and for those who arrived before 2008, that suggests that there are a minimum of 10,000,000 refugees in Europe.

Going through the same math I used to calculate the US net CO2 increase, one gets  680,000,000,000 additional pounds of CO2 per decade.

Not every immigrant will achieve "average" fuel consumption.

Response: Only petroleum was considered in an attempt to have offsetting "errors".  Adding in coal and natural gas would increase the carbon footprint considerably.  If you want me to comprehend the effects of the lower economic status of immigrants I will include the use of coal and natural gas.  Just by way of comment: I see more immigrants driving old pickup trucks and Buicks than Prius.  Just saying.

Why Germany? They have the highest petroleum consumption of Europe. You are skewing the results.

Response: Germany is the number one destination of refugees because of the strong economy.  Therefore I chose them as a proxy for all of Europe.  It should be noted that Syria is the number one originator of refugees and they have a much higher base consumption of petroleum compared to, say, Nigeria.  The "from" number is much, much closer to Syria than Nigeria.

You inflate the number by using a decade time horizon.

All time horizons are arbitrary.  How long do refugees stay?  A day? A week?  A year?  A decade?  Which comes closest to the real answer?

'tis the season for weed seeds

I was fiddling around outside today.  It was cool enough to enjoy a flannel shirt.

The sleeves and bottom of the shirt were thoroughly encrusted with stick-tight seeds of assorted flavors.

I did not wear the shirt inside.  Mrs ERJ would not appreciate my adding those seeds to the upholstery.

Stub 5.7: Crazy people

Magistrate Aquilina stared down at the perp.  He was a frequent flier and was going through his act, gibbering and drooling and twitching.

He had a Social Worker representing him.

His name was Damien Something.  They got a different answer out of him every time they asked the question.

"Is he competent to stand trial?" Magistrate Aquilina asked the Social Worker.

"No, he is not." the Social Worker answered.

"How did you determine that?" Aquilina asked.

"He has not been meds-compliant." the Social Worker answered.

"How long has he been in custody?" Aquilina asked.

"A week." the Social Worker answered.

"What was the charge?" Aquilina asked even though she knew the answer.

"Damage to property and resisting arrest." the Social Worker answered.

In fact, Damien had been throwing bricks at one of the trucks that were becoming increasingly common in LA. It took four police to subdue him as he spat at them and attempted to kick and bite them.

"How long have you been assigned to his case?" Aquilina asked.

"For six days." the Social Worker answered.

"At any point in those six days did you file a complaint that the jail was not administering the meds of latest record?" Aquilina asked.  Again, she knew the answer.

"No, Magistrate, I did not." the Social Worker answered.

"Your recommendation is that he be released back to the street without punishment or being institutionalized.  Is that true?" Aquilina asked.

"That is true.  He can scrape by in the street." the Social Worker admitted.

The Social Worker was no better or worse than most of the ones Sedelia had inherited from Cali.  Regardless, she would soon be out of a job. The new court protocols had drastically reduced the resources required to try-or-adjudicate crazy people from the three man-weeks that used to be the norm.  The court no longer had a back-log and about 15% of the Social Worker's case load had been found in back-alleys and parking lots riddled with bullets now that universal surveillance had been discontinued.

"Then this court judges him to be a competent adult, at least as competent as he is capable of." Magistrate Aquiline ruled.

Damien stopped gibbering.

"Damien Somebody," Magistrate Aquilina addressed the prisoner "adults make choices and then live with the consequences. I am going to offer you choices and you will make a decision. If you cannot give me a coherent answer I will choose for you."

Aquilina did not bother to ask if Damien understood.  If he did, he would undoubtedly lie.

"Your choices are:
A) Surgery that implants a meds pump that will administer an anti-psychotic for one year.  Failure to appear for a meds refill at the appropriate time will result in electro-shocks until you appear.
B) Volunteer in the FFL, Frontier Front Line, aka, French Foreign Legion.
C) Volunteer for Power Generation Duty where you will pedal a stationary bike for 8 hours a day."

Aquilina continued "You have thirty seconds to make up your mind."

Damien went into full, spastic faux-epileptic fit.

After thirty seconds, Aquilina ruled, "I assign you Option A, meds pump."

It was not really a "pump".  The implant looked like the packets of ketchup given out by fast food restaurants back in 2018.  Part of the packet was made of a permeable membrane that allowed anti-psychotic meds to leach into the patients bodies in a controlled way. The packets were implanted 6mm beneath the patient's skin in the small of their back where they would be least likely to dig them out. 

"Bailiffs, remove the prisoner." Aquilina said.  Total time elapsed, three minutes.

The meds pump also included a strong sedative that could be "commanded" by police or medical personnel.  Fifteen seconds after commanding the sedative it was thirty minutes of night-night for the psychotic, plenty long enough to put him in cuffs.

Damien would be back on the streets as recommended by his Social Worker but the enforced meds-compliance was going to give him the personality of a Downs Syndrome child rather than that of a dyspeptic Water Moccasin.

After decades of dealing with the institutional insanity of the mental health industry, the medical professionals tasked with calibrating the meds tended to error on the side of over-medicating.  After all, these were the same doctors and nurses that had to deal with the biters and spitters and HIV and Hepatis positive street people on a daily basis in hospital emergency rooms.

Medicating Damien would not fix the fact that he was homeless, but it would change his behaviors such that he would not be kicked out of homeless shelters.

Aquilina reserved the Power Generation Duty for the really hard cases, the ones where the meds pump was not enough to quell the voices in their heads.  If Damien appeared in court again in the next year he would be pedaling a bike eight hours a day, six days a week while listening to 1970's disco music at 85 dB.  And his food would be "enhanced" with 3mg of risperidone for every 1000 Calories.

Next Installment

Sunday, September 23, 2018

A few minutes of humanity at the DMV

My sister went to the Michigan Secretary of Sate office to get my parent's vehicles legal.  They needed new plates and the registrations renewed.

The line was out the door.  The kiosk indicated a wait of at least ninety minutes.  Sis got her number...let's say it was 724.  After waiting in a short line the triage lady checked out her documentation and pronounced her good-to-go.

Shortly after sitting down my Sis noticed another lady in distress. She was having an asthma or panic attack.

Sis is a registered nurse, but even if she wasn't Sis is congenitally incapable of ignoring somebody who needed help. It is just the way she was wired at birth.

Sis walked across the room.  She rummaged through the woman's purse and found a rescue inhaler. After the immediate crisis was over, Sis got a wheelchair and put the elderly woman in it.  Then Sis wheeled her through the process after elderly woman's number was called.  Afterward, Sis wheeled elderly woman out to her car and got her buckled in.

Sis returned to the waiting room and thought nothing more about it.  By her watch she had about another 55 minutes.

"658?  658?" the next DMV clerk called.  It was pretty clear that number 658 had decided that waiting an hour-and-a-half was not going to work for them.

Suddenly, the triage person boomed "658 is right THERE!" pointing at my sister.

Not one to fight a favor, Sis got up and did her business.

Nobody in the packed waiting room contested my sister's promotion.

Knock, knock, knock at 3 in the morning

Knock, knock, knock.  "I need to talk to dad!"  It is Kubota's voice and he sounded agitated.  It was three in the morning.

I pulled on some clothes and join Kubota in the hallway just outside our bedroom.

The words tumbled out of his mouth. "I had an accident."

I look him over.  He appeared uninjured.

Duct tape, JB Weld, zip-ties or stove bolts. Take your pick.
"I hit a deer.  A buck." Kubota continued.  Out here there is no such thing as a generic "deer". That would be like a NASCAR fan failing to identify a Chevy or Ford or Dodge.

"I saw a doe cross the road so I slowed down." Kubota said.

I was thinking, good plan!

"Then I sped up..." Kubota said.

"...and the buck ran into the side of the truck." he finished.

I didn't know why he had to wake me at three in the morning. And then he enlightened me.

"I was driving your truck."

Maybe it is a good thing that I was still processing a little bit slowly.  Or maybe it is because I have been praying more, a side effect of spending more time with my elderly parents.

The words continued to gush out of Kubota's mouth. That was a little bit odd. Most of our conversations are monosyllabic.

"I ran out of gas over by Charlotte so I walked back home to pick up a gas can.  I used your truck to run to the gas station to buy some gas. I hit the deer on the way back to my truck."

Kubota has a copy of my key and my permission to use my truck for "emergencies".  He was shitting razor blades out of fear that I would not consider a vehicle abandoned beside the road enough of an emergency.

NO WORRIES!  How much damage can anybody do to a $1300 vehicle? Nobody was hurt. The buck ran off.

Heck, that is not damage. That is character!

Saturday, September 22, 2018

I am proud of my oldest son

We lost track of our oldest son for a bit.

His phone number was disconnected and he stopped frequenting the usual social media.

Today, Mrs ERJ and I hunted him down.

It turned out he was economizing.  He dumped his phone/carrier and switched to a far more economical plan.  He lost his phone number in the process.

He has also been working sixty hours a week, hence no time for social media.

He is stressing over money issues.  He is not the first to get in over-his-head with payments and he certainly won't be the last.

I am proud of how he is handling it.  He battened down the hatches, trimmed the sail and is riding it out.

He is also getting some debt counseling.  He is looking into debt consolidation because even with sixty hours a week he might not have the horsepower to power out of the stall warning.

Clearly, he is embarrassed to have been caught in this situation.

I think it is important that he hear that I am very proud that he is "owning" his situation and grinding his way through it. 

I also think it is important that he knows that he is a man in my eyes.

Primitive weapons

The Defense and Freedom blog has an outstanding essay on primitive weapons.

He leads off the essay with the double bow which is NOT the best part of the essay.  The best part is below the video and is titled "Third, some general remarks on non-firearm weapons:"

The author gives a very quick and precise rundown on a wide variety of pre-firearms weapons listing key visual features, effective tactics, economics of production and effectiveness against infantry, horse and armor.

Friday, September 21, 2018

Ron Johnstone

I once worked with a maintenance electrician named Ron Johnstone.

The factory we worked in had two lines: The M System that had the newer equipment and extra redundancy and the C System that had no "back-up" capability.

Ron was the lead, third shift electrician on the "C" System respot line. Day-after-day, week-after-week the C System beat the snot out of the M System for quality and throughput and Ron was a big reason why.

His philosophy was to have his system ready to run 22 hours straight with no maintenance except for changing caps. If he or anybody on his crew was not absolutely certain that a shank or a jumper or hose would make it another 20,000 welds then they replaced it with new.

They bootlegged chemicals in the plant.  Nothing exotic; mostly toilet bowl cleaner. That was the best stuff (10% hydrochloric acid) for cleaning copper connections that were exposed to cooling water.

They also cobbled together "water savers" before they were "a thing".  They fabricated small brackets to mount proximity sensors for the handles that turned on the cooling water.  The equipment would not move if the electricians had not turned the water back on after changing caps.

They nickle-and-dimed the maintainance budget but the production guys loved them and you can buy a bunch of $20 prox sensors when each additional weld cell costs $4-to$6 million.

I took Ron's lessons to heart. Better to over-kill an installation or a rebuild and KNOW that it wouldn't need any special attention for a very long time.  After all, I suck at maintenance and I know that. Thing is, I have been told that there are many people who suck even worse...and they are the ones who tend to kludge crap together and hope it makes it one more cycle.

Double Standard

Image from Daily Mail Online, a paper out of the UK.  Article clearly mentions that the shooter is "transgender".
From CBS.  At no point is the shooter identified as anything other than a "temporary worker" or a "woman".
Seems like the American press leaps to identify LGBTELaMeNOP (pronounced L-G-B-T-L-a-MeN-O-P) people when they do anything perceived as positive.

And yet they cannot bring themselves to identify LGBTELaMeNOP when they do something that suggests they might have mental illness.

Making use of salvage

The pole with the flag is the one being replaced.  Replacement unit is behind the white bucket.
I mentioned that I needed to replace one of the poles that supported the feed-wire to the electric fence. Mrs ERJ suggested that I install a lightning rod since lightning is the reason most electric fence chargers go tango-uniform.

Casting about for tall, sturdy poles I asked my friends at coffee for suggestions.  Fast Eddie suggested that I use one of the posts commonly found in portable basketball hoops.  You have seen them, they have a large, hollow plastic base that you fill with sand or water.

Just so happened that Fast Eddie had one in stock.  Eddie specializes in salvage.  He gave it to me.  It is four inch square, steel tubing and the piece is 12' long.
U bolt on top (left) and smashed down the end and through bolt on bottom.

I happened to have a 10' piece of galvanized, electrical conduit in my stock.

I had to buy a bag of insulators for the fence wire.

Looking down the length of the assembled post/lightning rod.  I suppose it could have been straighter and I suppose the lightning won't care.
Two feet down with the auger.  Then dug out around the top to provide room for a concrete collar.  This is a great place to throw old steel wire and such-like.  I lost style points here because it is a proven fact that 16" pieces of steel rebar are the optimum reinforcement.
My major concern at this point is whether I find it on the ground this morning.  We are expecting twenty mph winds with gusts to forty mph.

The top of the whip is 19' above the ground.  At least it is in this photo.  I moved the location of the support so it was in line with something I already have to mow around.

Stub 5.6: Setting up the lab, Part II

Hunter was glad Indie was home to move the boxes inside. The Fedex van filled half the porch. It wasn’t that they lived in a high crime area, relatively speaking. It was just that some neighbors had very good vision and loose definitions of private property.

Indie and Donald helped him unpack the boxes after he came home from class. Most of the stuff looked like what Indie imagined a lab equipment to look like but some of it raised her eyebrows.

“A microwave?” Indie asked.

“Yup, nothing better for drying samples and for pasturizing small amounts of liquid.” Hunter said.

Indie’s eyebrows nearly shot off her head as they unboxed the largest package. “A waterbed!!! Just what do you plan to do in this lab...create life?”

“The boss gave me a protocol to follow. The cheapest way to keep the cultures at 95 degrees is in a waterbed.” Hunter said.

Hunter sterilized forty, twenty-ounce pop bottles with screw tops using materials he had from his homebrewing enterprise.

Hunter mixed up four gallons of phosphate-buffered saline in the coffee urn and set it to “Brew” to sterilize it.

Then he and Indie started filling the waterbed mattress with warm water, trying to hit 95 degrees.

The first pop bottle that Hunter filled he measured out 500ml with great care. It came up exactly to the top of the label. After that, Hunter simple filled each bottle in turn. He unscrewed the cap of the sterilized bottle. Filled it from the smoking hot coffee urn and then put the cap back on. After filling, he turned the bottle upside down to ensure that the heated liquid sterilized the top of the bottle.

After filling the forty bottles, he placed them atop the water bed mattress and flipped a couple of comforters on them. He would check the temperature in the morning and call “the boss” if they were between 90-and-95 degrees.

All told, between himself and Indie, they had put in eight hours of work.

The next morning, the inexpensive IR thermometer told him that he was good-to-go. The bottles in the center of the bed were slightly warmer than the ones along the edges so Hunter placed them all close together.

Hunter sent “the boss” a text. The return text directed him to send pictures.

After sending the pictures, "the boss" said that the starter culture would be delivered via expedited shipping late that evening. The text also asked how many hours Hunter had into the project.

Next Installment

Thursday, September 20, 2018

Stub 5.5: Setting up the lab

Indie Turner came home from her six hour shift at the dollar store after picking up Donald, Indie and Hunter’s three year old child at day care.

Indie and Hunter would have married four years ago if it wouldn’t have screwed up Hunter’s student loans and cut into their “assistance”. As it was, they both thought of themselves as “common-law” married. At least Donald knew who his daddy was, unlike many of the other kids at the subsidized daycare.

Indie heard Hunter before she saw him. He was dragging an old appliance out of one of the rooms they kept closed off. The big, ramshackle house had several rooms that were filled with junk left by previous tenents.

“Whatcha doing?” Indie asked. She had high hopes that Hunter was clearing out a room to use as a nursery with number two on the way.

“I am claiming this room for a study.” Hunter said. “Actually, more of a lab than a study but it is almost the same thing.”

TVs and appliances with metal in them were stacked by the curb. Meth-heads would pick it up and take it to the scrap metal yard to turn a few bucks for their next hit.

Broken furniture was stacked in the “bonfire” pit. Boxes of old magazines were discretely staged in the garage. They would be added to the fire once it got going.

Plastic trash was broken up and in trash bags.

The room was 8’-by-14’ and would have been perfect for two baby cribs. Indie sighed.

They mopped out the old vinyl floor with bleach and water. They scrubbed the walls with Lysol. Hunter had a couple of gallons of paint and paint rollers ready to go.

“Where did you get the money for those?” Indie asked. As the primary breadwinner at 24 hours a week of minimum wages, she kept close tabs on where the money went.

“My new job came with a pre-paid credit card.” Hunter said. “Just a heads up, I ordered a bunch of stuff from for overnight delivery. It should show up tomorrow. If you are here when it comes, just put the boxes in the study.”

“I don’t suppose you could buy a package of Pampers with that card. We are out.” Indie said.

Hunter gave it a moments thought. “Don’t see why not. I dropped $1000 on lab materials. I can always say the Pampers are for toxic waste control.”

Hunter kept a couple of tables, some sturdy chairs and a fifty-cup coffee urn and all of the extension cords he found in the study. Everything else was pitched.

Next Installment

Wednesday, September 19, 2018

Resistance, baling twine and suspensions

I put a multimeter on the fence where there is a gate.  That way, I was able to measure the resistance of the wire and connections for the system for the entire perimeter.

My multimeter measured 2,260,000 ohms.  For a frame of reference, I measured the resistance of my body from thumb-to-thumb and came up with 1,500,000 ohms. This information is useful because it tells me that even if no power is lost to shorts-to-ground via vegetation, less than 40% of the energy the charger puts out (using a constant current model) is available to excite the body touching the wire.  Using a constant voltage model the available energy is much, much lower.

Then I did some math to calculate the theoretical resistance of a 2.0mm diameter, steel wire that is 1000 meters long. That came to about 50 ohms.  That tells me that the problem is not the wire. The problem involves the connections between the various strands.

This line problem-solving will be continued with pictures at a later date.

Mistakes were made
Have you ever left a wee, bitty length of twine hanging over the tailgate of your pickup?

That is over a 1/4 mile of baling twine.  And yes, it was mine.  Fortunately it patiently waited in the center of Canal Road until I came back that way.

My arms got tired pulling it back in.

The minivan is in the shop.  New struts, shocks and stab-bar hardware are going to run about $1100.  Then a new set of tires for the winter.

I was moping around the house thinking about how much that was going to cost when Mrs ERJ suggested we go to the store to buy a few groceries.

I stopped for gas on the way back home and the fellow pumping gas next to us had a new truck.  New as-in two weeks old.

The tires did not look stock.  I asked how much they cost and he said $400....per tire.

He spent more on replacing perfectly good "factory" tires, $1600, than I spent for my truck.  I paid $1350. My eyebrows must have gone up because he commented, "They have some great rebates out right now."

I don't feel so bad about dropping $1600 on the minivan to get another three or four years out of it.  Imagine, $1600 for tires!  The "factory" tires did not have tread that wrapped up the sidewalls and did not look "cool" enough.

Don't mess with Texas

Texas granny takes down 12', 600 pound gator that ate her pet. Winchester made this granny the apex predator in her pond.

Story here

Elon Musk announces new, non-carbon source of electricity

Wires on right side of image.

Stub 5.4: Homebrew

Croyle and Tony Spada verbally agreed to do business. There are many things that are too sensitive to commit to writing or electronic media. Croyle’s project was one such thing.

Croyle did nothing until confirmation arrived that the first $5 million had been deposited in his working account in a US based bank.

Croyle quickly deduced that the strain of C. botulinum used by Azrael Industries was a commercially available strain curated by the University of California, Berkeley. It had been a simple matter of buying a low-level lab-tech from Azrael Industries Cosmos at the local pick-up bar and letting her talk about how important her job was.

The particular strain, UCB-257nte (University California Berkeley, 257, Neuralogical Toxin Enhanced) had been chosen by Azrael because it had resistance to the penicillin and tetracycline families of antibiotics and because it was a prodigious producer of the toxin used in wrinkle-elimination therapies. It was also desirable because it had a unique DNA profile that allowed technicians to identify when the production strain had mutated sufficiently to justify a new “starter” culture from the UCB lab.

It was a simple matter to find a technician at University of California, Berkeley lab who had a gambling problem and to purchase 5 ml of UCB-257nte culture. Croyle assured the tech that he represented a pharmaceutical giant that was investigating new product lines and wanted to develop the technology on the Q.T. Croyle also took the tech’s resume and assured him that he would be among the first to be hired when the pharmaceutical giant opened its facility.

Croyle then flew to Chicago and rented a car. He proceeded to visit DeKalb, Illinois, Bowling Green, Kentucky, Muncie, Indiana and Kalmazoo, Michigan. He visited the shops that specialized in the home-brewing of beer. He placed a help-wanted ad in each shop after chatting a little bit with the manager.

Croyle changed his appearance with brilliant blue contacts, black-rimmed eye glasses.  His hair was cut high-and-tight and he had it grayed.  He also wore a heavy, gold University of Wisconsin class ring proclaiming him to be a proud member of the class of 1999.

These communities had been selected because they all hosted mid-level Universities that churned out far more graduates with Biology degrees than the local economy could absorb. He chose home-brew shops because he was looking a certain skill-set and inclination.

Then Croyle waited for future developments. He was not idle. He discretely collected information on the optimum cultures and protocols for culturing C. botulinum. Then he researched sources and prices.

His first nibble was from Russelville, Kentucky. Hunter Clifton was in the final year of his Master’s program at Western Kentucky University and was shocked to learn that nobody was impressed with his 3.35 GPA. The best he could hope for was a $14/hour job at the local VD clinic and he would have to beat out a dozen candidates to get that position.

Hunter was desperate. His live-in girlfriend had their second child on the way. He owed a pile of money for student loans. He was interested in “side jobs.”

Croyle learned that Hunter lived in a large, old, shambling home with few neighbors. He also learned that Hunter was an accomplished brewer of beer. Croyle decided to meet with Hunter and get the project kicked off.

The interview in the local cafe went better than Croyle could have hoped for.

Hunter was slavishly thankful that Croyle was picking up the tab.

Croyle learned that the Cliftons of eastern Kentucky had been moonshiners since Moses wore diapers.

Croyle said that he had never heard of any famous moonshiners named “Clifton” and Hunter primly informed him that GOOD moonshiners were never famous. It was simply a matter of valuing profit over fame.

Croyle hired Hunter. He gave Hunter a Bill-of-Materials and pre-paid card with $2000 on it. Empty pop bottles, whey protein isolate and the ingredients for phosphate-buffered saline don’t cost much.

“Give me a phone call after you have it set up and validate the temperatures. Then I will come back down and give you the starter culture.” Croyle said.

At no time did Croyle ever have to dust off his cover story of being associated with a pharmaceutical giant. All Hunter needed in the way of credentials was the fact that the waitress verified that the pre-paid card had a balance of $2000.

Next Installment

Tuesday, September 18, 2018

Phantom Memories

A classic example of a false memory from the second year of life described by the Swiss psychologist Jean Piaget (1896–1980) and reproduced in English translation by the US psychologist Elizabeth F. Loftus in her book Eyewitness Testimony (1979): ‘I was sitting in my pram, which my nurse was pushing in the Champs Élysées, when a man tried to kidnap me. I was held in by the strap fastened round me while my nurse bravely tried to stand between me and the thief. She received various scratches, and I can still see vaguely those on her face. Then a crowd gathered, a policeman with a short cloak and a white baton came up and the man took to his heels. I can still see the whole scene, and can even place it near the tube station. When I was about fifteen my parents received a letter from my former nurse saying that she had been converted to the Salvation Army. She wanted to confess past faults, and in particular to return the watch she had been given on this occasion. She had made up the whole story, faking the scratches. I, therefore, must have heard, as a child, the account of the story, which my parents believed, and projected it into the past in the form of a visual memory’ (pp. 62–3). See also constructive memory, deferred action, eyewitness misinformation effect, infantile amnesia, reality monitoring, recovered memory.  Source

Jean Piaget is the rock-star of developmental psychology and Christine Blasey Ford, a psychology professor undoubtedly studied Piaget.

Cognitive dissonance is another psychological concept. The human mind constructs bridges between memories to make the memories coherent and orderly. In time, those bridges become indistinguishable from the "true" memories.

I am not saying the Ford constructed her memories out of the whole clothe, but intellectual honesty as a psychology professional requires that she admit that the potential exists that she holographically constructed her memories out of partial snippets of information.

After all, that is exactly what Piaget did, a man whose shoes she is not fit to tie.

The paradox of blogging

The basic paradox of blogging is that when you are busy and have lots of great stuff to blog about you don't have a lot of time to blog.

Today was six hours of eldercare, a three mile walk with my sweetheart and then changing the rear brakes on the minivan.

I expect to hurt tomorrow. The walk included a few pushups along the way and changing brakes involves bending my body in ways it is not accustomed to.

Adventures await next week. I am half expecting an invitation to drive down to Wilmington, North Carolina to clear fallen trees. I am biding my time. The airport is closed until Sunday. I don't see any point in driving down there before the flooding is down and power restored.

Stub 5.3: The Five-point Line

Mick Scerba settled into his recliner to enjoy one of the few vices he allowed himself. He was going to binge-watch basketball. Not just any basketball, but professional basketball.

He had been aghast when the league instituted a bunch of rules that changed the game. They added 10’ to both the width and length of the court. They added a five-point line about five feet out from the three-point line. Finally, they raised the rim from ten feet to eleven-and-a-half feet,above the court.

Two reasons were given. The primary reason was that $50 million/year athletes were injuring each other with unsettling frequency. Too much beef, too close together.

The other reason was that pro ball had become so divorced from high school and even college ball that it was hard to relate to. With the rim raised 18”, dunks in a pro game were only slightly more frequently seen than in high school ball.

The pro teams were struggling to adapt to the changes with varying degrees of success.

Mick certainly needed the distraction. He had blown his top that afternoon when he found out that Shelly had over-night freighted the case of Domo’s Delight to Miami. Of course, she was only doing what he told her to do, but he figured Domo’s friend was in LA, ninety miles to the south...not 2000 miles east. The accountant in him screamed when he saw the $80 bill to ship the $2 of product (his cost at the factory).

He really needed to get his mind off work.

The first game he queued up was the Heat vs. the Pistons. It was the middle of the first quarter when he tuned in and the Pistons were already getting pounded. Miami had too many good, big men and the Pistons couldn’t do anything beneath the basket. The basket might be eighteen inches higher but rebounding is rebounding.

Mick had been hoping to see the Piston’s new guy play but the coach kept him on the bench. The camera scanned the bench and Mick could pick him out but could not put a name on him. Mick figured he looked familiar because he must have seen him play college ball, somewhere.

The score sloshed around with the Pistons trailing anywhere from six points to, at one point, twenty points. Mick was sure the game was safely in the bag for Miami when they were leading by twelve points with just two minutes to go.

And then the Pistons coach put in the new guy.

BAM! He knocked out a five point basket like it was nothing.

The Pistons got the ball back and fed it to him again.

BAM! Another five point basket.

In the course of 15 seconds of clock time the Pistons were only trailing by two.

Then Miami put their best defender on him on the shooter. The defender was all over the shooter but the refs turned a blind eye to the infractions. The crowd was going nuts.

The new kid was working his ass off to shake the defender with limited success.

The other Miami players were also collapsing on the shooter which allowed the Pistons big-guys to stay in the game.

The Pistons would score, tying the game.

Miami would score, pulling ahead by two.

Back-and-forth. Back-and-forth. It looked like it was heading to a Miami win or overtime, depending on who had the last possession.

In the last three seconds of the game the new guy, absolutely drenched with sweat, rolled off the defender and then one of his own forwards. The defender was clutching at the shooter but could not keep a grip on him.

The new guy spun around his forward and was fed the ball.

BAM! Five points.

Pistons win by three.

Damnedest thing Mick had ever seen. That is, it was the damnedest thing he had ever seen until the new guy grabbed a bottle out of his gym bag and guzzled it down in a single go. Slamming it down on the bench, DeLeon Redd said, “Damned thats good” loud enough for the camera to pick up. The camera zoomed in on the bottle and Mick found himself staring at Domo’s enormous smile. It was a bottle of Domo’s Delight EF ORS.

Mick jerked the microphone off his shirt collar, depressed a couple of keys and roared, “Domo. Get your ass up here. You got some explaining to do.”

Next Installment

Monday, September 17, 2018

Draw your own conclusions

District of Columbia, Maryland and Virginia: Geographically close but with vastly different degrees of Second Amendment freedoms.

The gun grabbers and the urban elites would lead us to believe that Virginia should have the highest homicide rates.