Wednesday, October 31, 2018

What does $1/8 mil get you in fly-over country?

2240 sq-ft. Two complete kitchens, 2 bathrooms, etc. Shared laundry.
When I asked the realtors to feed me some leads to run on the blog, I asked them for houses that would benefit from a larger audience. Call them unique, or quirky or ahead of the curve. Anybody can sell a new house in a new subdivision.

This house was built in 1910 and it is still ahead of the curve. It is a duplex, sort of.

Perfect for multi-generational families. One hand washes the other. One-in-three millennials still lives at home. Someday the parents will need some care if they wish to continue living in their home. This house solves both challenges.

You won't have to listen to their music or listen to their friends complain about their lives or smell their stir-fried bicycle inner-tubes. Seriously, how much is it worth to not have to look at an inch-and-a-half of banana-kale-pomagranate smoothie turning into a hockey puck in your blender every morning?

You can spend as much, or as little time with your grandkids as you want.

Asking price of $133k. That is a metric ton of floor space for the price.

I don't have very many interior shots. I had to double-double check-check to ensure there were two, full kitchens.

Big garage. Probably had horses in it at one time. Also has a fenced in garden.

One block from the river. Two blocks from Main Street and a convenience store. Three blocks from the brew pub and a family restaurant/bar that plays karaoke, Trivia games and hosts live music. 1.5 miles from the hospital.

You will have very nice neighbors. Diversity is celebrated. The gentleman who lives across the street is a University of Michigan fan.

While it could be broken down into rental property, this house is ahead of the curve when it comes to addressing the affordability issues confronting young families and healthcare issues older adults will be facing soon.

Realtor contact.

"They all look the same to me."

I shudder to think what "bone in" pork rectums would look like.

...said the proctologist. He was immediately fired.

Come on, folks. Lighten up.

God made a perfect black boy then technology turned him into a perfect white woman

Black man.
And nobody screamed "White Face!!! Cultural appropriation!" or demanded that he be severed from his wealth.

How about a celebrity with a deep tan? Is that cultural appropriation?

Does getting a nose-job count as cultural appropriation? We need to know this stuff so we don't trigger snow flakes.

Its not about the...

Insoluble problems often share the characteristic that the person who has the authority to solve the problem refuses to acknowledge the cause of the problem.

Three friends

Every man should cultivate three friends.

-A young man with a fast vehicle.

-An old man who shoots straight.

-And the clerk who works in the mail room at the police station.

Ben and Jerry's Pecan Resist icecream

Hat tip Daily Timewaster
Now available in recycled packaging

Pecan Resist shipped in a recycled Pee Can.

Projecting power

My contribution to the Honduran windmill project is on the way.

This is a side of my life I usually keep off the internet. The Bible is pretty clear about not displaying our charitable actions as we run the risk of doing charity for the wrong reasons.

I decided to make an exception in this case. I see value in documenting that those of us who support legal immigration are not "haters". There is also value in documenting that we put our money where our mouth is.

I am not stealing from the "rich" by demanding that taxpayers foot the bill for my beliefs. Nor am I stealing from my children and grandchildren by demanding that the deficit be increased to scratch-my-itch.

My money from my pocket used to purchase tools and consumables with the intent of empowering, literally, rural people in BF Honduras.

-Compared to-

University students being given academic credit to protest for open borders. Impeding traffic while walking around with $6 cups of coffee made with 0% Honduran coffee beans.

Yeah, they are doing the average Honduran a LOT of good.

Cletus and Zeke in Jackson, Michigan

Asphodel was a graceful black woman with a voice as warm and as soothing as melted caramel. She was in her late twenties and she had been worried about her child, Isaiah.

Isaiah was in third grade.

Over the last few weeks her normally buoyant chatter-box had become moody and withdrawn. Rather than being eager to go to school or hang out with his friends he had been clingy and only wanted to stay inside and play video games.

And then, just like that, Isaiah had snapped out of it.

"Did you meet anybody special in the park?" Asphodel asked. She was just encountering the leading clouds of teenaged reticence and she did not like it.

"Nope." Isaiah said. Not short. Just no information.

"I was just wondering. You seem a little bit perkier than normal and I was wondering if you met somebody who cheered you up." Asphodel said.

"Nope." Isaiah said. "I am happy because Billy and Jeff's dad got beat up today and I got to watch it."

That did not sound like her son, although in retrospect he had been playing the most violent video games she allowed in the house.

"How is that again?" Asphodel asked.

"Billy and Jeff were throwing rocks at me in the park." Isaiah said. "Their dad was telling them to throw bigger rocks. He was telling them 'You gotta use bigger rocks. Niggers can't feel them little pebbles you are throwing."

Billy and Jeff were twins in the other third grade class. They were as mean as snakes and it was clear that the apples had not fallen far from the tree.

This was the first that Asphodel had heard about them throwing stones at her child. Her first instinct was to call the school and then the cops, but she knew that she would never hear the full story if she cut off the flow of words.

"Then what happened?" Asphodel asked.

"This really old, white guy walked up to the dad and told him to make Billy and Jeff stop." Isaiah said. "Then the old man beat up Billy's dad."


Cletus was looking for his kid in the park where Asphodel said he liked to play.

Cletus saw a man sitting in the driver's seat of a late model Mustang. The door was open and he was yelling at some kids who were throwing stones at something he could not see.

He assumed they were throwing stones at a stray dog who was cornered in one of the pieces of playground equipment. As he got closer he saw it wasn't a dog and the man wasn't hollaring at them to stop.

Cletus had been doing a lot of cement work that week. His hair was a crusty gray from the powder. Even though he was only forty, two-and-a-half decades of working in the sun had given his face the complexion of an seventy-five year old.

Cletus kept his cool. He demanded that the man call off his kids.

The man, a dandy in his early thirties, told Cletus, "Fuck-off, old man." and continued to record the stoning on his smartphone.

Cletus grabbed the dandy by the scruff of the neck and his first blow hit him immediately below his diaphragm. The solid "TWACK" pulled the attention of the twins from their target.

Cement workers are like Olympic powerlifters who work out for eight hours a day. You can tell when you have met one when you shake his hand. It is like squeezing a brick held edgewise.

How strong is a typical cement worker? Cletus had recently won a bet by tossing 90 conventional cinder blocks up, onto the third level of the scoffolding in 60 seconds. The foreman had been pissed because many of them had chipped edges after the demonstration.

The dandy tried to knee Cletus in the groin. Cletus deflected it easily. He had been in bar fights throughout his late-teens and all through his twenties. For many years he averaged one brutal parkinglot brawl a week. There were no Marquesse of Queensberry rules in dark corners of parking lots.

The dandy's next swing was aimed for Cletus's eyes and he had balled up his car keys in his fist with several of the keys poking out, between his fingers.

That is when Cletus lost his temper.

The beating only lasted about thirty seconds.

Zeke watched the entire beat-down. When it was over, Zeke picked up the key ring and dropped them down the closest storm drain. Then he powered down the dandy's smartphone and pocketed it. Not surprisingly, the screen was cracked. Very cracked.

"Nice job, 'old man.' " was all Zeke said to Cletus as Billy's dad was slumped over on the pavement, spitting out teeth and trying to breath.

Looking over at the twins, Zeke said "If you ever bully that kid again" pointing over at Isaiah, "I will hear about it and I will come back break the rest of the bones in your dad's body."

Cletus said they should probably leave town. Zeke nodded his agreement.

Cletus never got to say a word to his kid.


Aphodel had a friend who worked the Emergency Room. She had a pretty good idea what 'ruptured spleen and liver' meant but had to log into Wikipedia to learn what "compound supraortibal and simple zygomatic fractures", "spiral fractures, phalanges, right hand, multiple" and "floating ribs" were. Further, she was not able to visualize how Billy's dad had received "multiple facial and ocular lacerations and embedded glass shards, many".

Had she seen the Mustang she would have understood. In Cletus's mind the dandy's use of his keys as a weapon freed Cletus to use the edge of the Mustang's roof and its windshield in the same way. The windshield was shattered and caved inward.


Stub 8.2: Reading scripture for solace

Zev walked five hours a day. He slept eight hours and spent another hour doing light, camp chores. That left ten hours a day of enforced non-movement.

Zev used that time to study.

Two weeks after Scooter had mailed the envelopes with the micro SD cards the envelopes had been returned, “Incorrect address. Addressee unavailable.”

Scooter returned them to Zev with an apology.

After Scooter left, Zev inserted the cards, one-at-a-time into his Korean smartphone. Unlike most people in Cali he did not use a locally engineered product. Due to the close relationship between Israel and Korea, various back-doors had been engineered into the Korean product that allowed Israeli programmers to beef-up and customize phones like Zev’s.

One of the cooler features was that the upgrades remained hidden until activated by Zev’s voice and Zev’s voice alone. Not only that, but the activation code was in Hebrew and was a specific verse of scripture. A separate “self immolate” function was a different verse in Hebrew.

The first file Zev opened up was a personal message from his “handler”.

His handler informed him that the “home office” was not in a position to help him. Israel did not engage in over-throwing foreign governments. It had been their painful experience that the beast that stepped in to fill the vacuum was always worse than the one that had been bumped off. His handler then apologetically told him that Cali was twelve thousand km from Israel and the home office had bigger fish to fry closer to home.

That said, his handler went on to say that the home office kept their hands off of organic, local, grass-roots changes in government.

His handler had included various files that he thought Zev might find useful.

He informed Zev that it was his duty to commit suicide BEFORE he was caught.

But other than that, the home office was releasing Zev from his duties. He was now a free agent.

His handler’s last comment was a bit tangential. He mentioned that the Talmudic scholars in Jerusalem had recently been discussing the morality of burning a thorn thicket known to protect the lair of a leopard that had been ravaging local flocks. It had taken five years to determine that it was morally acceptable to burn the thicket under some conditions. He expected it would take another fifty years for the rabbis to fully enumerate all of those conditions.

Zev and his handler had once been friends.

Before Zev left the hunting camp he had run the upgrades on Scooter’s phone so they could communicate securely. Text messages would be embedded in .jpg files. The specific pixels holding the text were identified by a burn pad encrypt file. The upgrade also turned Scooter’s phone into a node on the Israeli neural network, but that was simply a case of value-for-value.

Zev had committed the Psalms to memory during his months of enforced solitude. He also found solace in reading Job and in rereading the tortuous path of King David’s life as found in Samuel, Kings and Chronicles. He continued to study and pray over those readings as he made his way northward like a dagger into the heart of the dragon.

Next Installment

Tuesday, October 30, 2018

Yeah, but what can I get for a half mil?

This is what $100k will get you in Eaton Rapids. It begs the question, what would a typical east or west coast budget get in Eaton Rapids?

An earlier post looked at what kind of house $100k will buy in fly-over country.

Some people have a bigger budget than that. Much bigger. Perhaps they had a lot of equity in their house and cashed out, looking to retire. Maybe they want to invest all of their gains in real estate for tax reasons. This post is for them.

First, a few pictures from the neighborhood:

The house is on the right, north side of this photo. It is not in a trailer park.
Looking up river.

Looking down river.

From overhead. There is a deep hole in the river right in front of the house. That hole holds walleyes and channel cats. Killer northern pike on the other side of the river and slightly down river. Largemouth bass everywhere.
Incidentally, the house comes with over 1000 feet of river frontage. Given a 1/4hp aeration unit, I have little doubt that portion of the river could hold brown trout and maybe rainbows.

It is worth noting that waterfront property in northern Michigan runs $10,000 a foot on sandy-bottomed lakes. A half a million dollars will buy you 50 feet of beach. That same price buys you twenty times as much frontage AND a beautiful house in Eaton Rapids. And better fishing.

A slough is just upstream and it is the cat's pajamas if you like to shoot carp with a bow when they are spawning.

Most of the 76 acres is in early-succession hardwood regrowth. Pretty decent for deer hunting.

The house comes with about 76 acres of land and is a 1/4 mile from the road. A pain in the rear if you don't have snow plowing equipment.

It is 5.3 miles from the local hospital and the same distance to the grocery store and pharmacy. It is 5.4 miles to the closest brew pub.

It is 35 minutes to Sparrow hospital and the same to Michigan State University if watching Big 10 sports is your huckleberry.

Cozy dining area looking out at the river.

Cheerful without being fussy. Fireplace on the right side of photo.

The view looking down river.

A three season room.
Boring details
  • 3200 square-feet. The same price will buy you an 1100 square-foot townhouse in San Jose with no yard.
  • Backup generator included
  • GE home security system

Realtor contact

I have no inside knowledge but I believe the sellers would seriously entertain an offer of $425k as long as they knew the buyers would appreciate the property for what it is.

This, that and the other thing

Today is dad's birthday.

I am sure he is exhausted. He has been entertaining a steady stream of visitors and taking phone calls. The batteries of the hearing aids gave out at 10 this morning. Were it me, I would have not replaced them and simply smiled and nodded.

Dad is going to sell the car to my sister. She will leave it in his garage. It is used to transport mom and dad to church on Sunday which is a two mile round trip. It is used to take them to the doctors about once a month which is a ten mile round trip. My sister-in-law uses it once a week to drove 1.5 miles to the grocery store to do their food shopping.

Dad is getting to the age where the insurance company is raising rates. As one more vehicle in my sister's fleet the increase in insurance will be negligible.

No fraud involved. Neither mom or dad will ever drive again.

I ran the chainsaw a little bit today.

I looked down at my hand and saw where the back of it was bleeding. I undoubtedly got raked by some blackberry branches.

Earlier this month we had an episode with somebody going batzhit crazy over a cut that did not want to stop weeping blood. As a result, I bought a couple of different clotting products. One of those products takes great pain to not tell you what is in it. "A polymer derived from the exoskeletons of marine organisms." or some such pseudo-scientific sounding tripe.

A wee bit of digging around in the manufacture's FAQ and I learn that one of the primary ingredients is chitosan.

From Wikipedia

"Chitosan... It is made by treating the chitin shells of shrimp and other crustaceans... is useful in bandages to reduce bleeding and as an antibacterial agent..."

As a bulk powder dietary supplement, chitosan costs about ten cents a gram. Example.

In handy, foil packages and specifically formulated to stop bleeding it runs a dollar a gram. Example.

We rarely cut ourselves badly. The primary benefit is that it will keep folks from going bananas when they take a little longer to stop leaking. YMMV.

A certain young man left a "spit bottle" in the kitchen. No names will be mentioned.

One of the adults who tidies up around the place put the partial bottle of Dr Pepper back in the fridge.

Does anybody want to finish the story?

Was Mohammad a pedophile?

Was Mohammad a pedophile?

Was Thomas Jefferson a racist?

This type of question can be broached at three different levels.

The most simplistic level, the one that has Progressives toppling historic statues across America is to apply today's standards to historical figures. The advantage of this approach for the simple-minded is that it requires no understanding of history. All that is required is that the "analyst" access their feelings in-the-moment to know what is 'right'.

The intermediate level is to either make a concerted effort to learn the context of the time or to reserve judgement. Learning is work. Reserving judgement is not much fun.

I accept as fact that Mohammad "married" a prepubescent child. I don't know when he started to have intimate relations with her, nor do I know what the generally accepted mores of the culture were. Therefore I reserve judgement in spite of the violent condemnation modern, Western mores demand.

The most entertaining level is to analyze the inconsistencies of the folks slugging it out and then sharing my conclusions.

For example: Those who defend Mohammad are apt to adopt the "mores of the time" argument. That implies a few different things.
  • Mohammad was not Divine, a fact generally accepted by devout Muslims. 
  • That Mohammad was not infallible and every word he rendered to paper and every action he took was not infallible/divine. 
  • The nature of "sin" mutates over time, a belief that many will struggle with. For example: much of what was simple economics in 1818 is sexist in 2018 when electric motors and controls can negate many of the male/female strength differences.
These observations gore everybody's oxen regardless of whether your idol is Mohammad, Obama, Thomas Jefferson or William Jefferson Clinton.

Was Mohammad a pedophile? I won't say. I can't say.

Cletus and Zeke in Grand Ledge, Michigan

After watching Zeke and his sister, Cletus figured he better touch base with his children before he left the state.

From Portland, his closest child was a girl of six named Eibileen. Eibileen lived in Grand Ledge, Michigan.

Even though he was behind in his child support payments, his ex-girlfriend was more than willing to let Cletus take his daughter on a date. She had some vacuuming she needed to catch up on.

Zeke and Cletus picked up his daughter and it was a pretty snug fit in the pickup truck.

Zeke disappeared around the corner to soak up a beer in the local pub.

Cletus and Eibileen went into Kindlystone Creamery with Eibileen in complete command of the situation.

After ordering, they sat at a table. The chairs were much too small for any normal human to sit on. Cletus felt like he was balancing on the end of a cue stick.

Eibileen's first question was, "Are you and Zeke gay?"

Cletus had been around the block a few times and automatically responded, "Why would you ask that?"

"My friend Quinlin's dads are gay." Eibileen responded.

"If I was gay I wouldn't have a daughter." Cletus said.

Eibileen looked at Cletus like he was daft. "Quinlin is a girl and her dads are gay."

"Zeke and I aren't gay." Cletus said. The conversation was not going the way he had expected.

"Why not?" Eibileen asked.

"I like girls." Cletus said.

"Why?" Eibileen asked.

Cletus actually gave the question a bit of thought. "Girls smell better. Girls listen better. Most girls actually care about how you are feeling." Cletus answered.

Eibileen nodded like she had already figured that out.

The trenchers of ice-cream were delivered by a skinny girl with bad complexion. She also brought ice water.

Eibileen took one bite and pushed it away. "I don't like it."

Shit!!! That ice -cream filled boat cost $12. That was a lot of money for Cletus.

"So why did you pick it?" Cletus asked. Cletus had his flaws. He had impulse control issues and when riled he lost all ability to regulate his emotion. But he wasn't going to get mad at a child.

"The picture on the wall looked like Sup-doc Bunny. I wanted to see what it tasted like." Eibileen said.

Cletus thought the dairy dessert barista would have been more than happy to give out taste samples, but he bit his tongue.

Eibileen very cheerfully ate the lemon wedges that were in the ice water. The skinny waitress was more than happy to keep delivering more, free of charge.

Cletus was overly full after finishing his tummy-buster. He walked Eibileen the six blocks home. He felt gassy and did not think Eibileen would survive spending much time with him in an enclosed space.

Zeke looked up from his beer. "How did it go?"

" 'bout what you would expect. She is just like her mom." Cletus said. He had no clear feeling about the interaction. All he knew was that he was trying to do his duty as a father to the best of his limited ability.


Stub 8.1, Holes in the net

The Salinas river valley is as flat as a pancake and it took Zev three hours to cross it.

Zev sighed in relief when he was able to leave public roads and start zig-zagging his way up into broken country on foot trails.

In his previous life as the Chief Executive Officer of Cali's largest pharmaceutical firm, Zev had an insatiable curiosity when researching quality and process monitoring methods and equipment.

Zev had been relentless in his pursuit of state-of-the-art monitoring equipment. Consequently he rubbed elbows with all of the parties involved in Cali's surveillance programs. They all salivated at the prospect of selling Azrael Industries billions of Callors of optical and computing equipment.

Zev made a point of getting lost deep within the facilities of his potential suppliers and talking to technical types who were not affiliated with marketing. For the price of a cup of coffee, a pastry and his rapt attention, they were eager to share what they saw as the shortcomings of Cali's approach to surveillance.

Those conversations now served him well.

The fundamental blind-spot in the Cali system was that it had decayed to an IFF system. That is, it depended on the tacit cooperation of the surveilled in their detection and tracking. All new and therefore "fashionable" clothing contained accent features in various fluorescent colors.

It was not necessary to discriminate between the thousands of shades of brown and gray to discern what was human and what was not. The system only need look for a few, very specific wavelengths and track them. Done. Done.

The second major shortcoming was that optical systems require maintenance. Dust degrades performance, especially when looking into the sun. Windblown grit crazes optics and necessitates replacement. In urban areas, people deliberately destroy cameras and cabling just before committing crimes. Like every government, it was far more tempting to invest in monuments and festivals than to maintain infrastructure, especially when that infrastructure was in the middle of BFI.

Over the past decade, entropy had diminished the vaunted Cali surveillance system and it had become a placebo; it worked only because the surveilled were convinced it was powerful medicine and that resistance was futile.

The third shortcoming of the Cali system was its heavy reliance on the infrared portion of the spectrum to track large mammals, i.e. humans. The problem was two-fold. There had been an order of magnitude increase in large, wild mammals in the mountains since Cali separated from the US. Those large mammals, mostly deer and feral hogs but some mountain lions, increased the number of false-alarms.

The other problem with reliance on infrared was that there was no discrimination during large segments of the 24 hour diurnal cycle. The system was not capable of picking out a human when the background contained a large number of boulders between 90-and-100 degrees F.

Most government officials considered the issues with IR to be self-correcting. A significant number of the large mammals were mountain lions and they had become accustomed to taking down drunks and lovers who wandered too far up into the hills at the wrong times of day. Hikers typically moved in groups and informed authorities of their itineraries.

Zev confined his walks to the five hours in the evening when the sun was low in the sky and thermals most inconvenienced the IR systems. He wore dirty grays and browns.

He also took great care to avoid deer habitat and ambush sites within an hour of sunset. He had no desire to end up as a pile of cougar poop.

He dropped down into the valley early in his walk each day and picked up food and water. He found that his small stash of painkillers was far more valuable than money. He had no problems finding somebody to trade him for anything he needed and the transactions were all outside the official, Cali economy.

Next Installment

Monday, October 29, 2018


During an average, home-game weekend, Texas A&M manages 87,000 potentially belligerent, slightly inebriated Texan football fans.

During an average, home-game weekend, University of Texas manages 101,000 of the same.

And you are telling me that between those two fine universities and a couple thousand cases of 17% OC spray that the United States cannot control the behavior, section, row and seat number of a few thousand, malnourished Central Americans.

Get real.

Stone radios

In the late 1940s and early 1950s anthropologists in New Guinea observed the rapid ascendance of a new religion that they later dubbed "Cargo Cult".

The priests dressed in western garb. Anthropologists observed the priests laying out logs and building fires in ways that simulated air strips and markers for landing craft. The priests had stones that had been shaped to resemble WWII portable radios with reeds attached to them for antenna.

The priests would pray into the faux radios with pseudo-English sounding phonemes and then the acolytes would prepare to transport the cargo that was expected to materialize from beyond the horizon.

You have to smile when you think of a cannibal witch-doctor babbling into a rock with a Brooklyn accent while wearing clothing salvaged from a dump. And he seriously believes that cans of spam will magically appear on his beach.

Those of us blessed to have grown up in the functioning parts of the developed world have a huge amount of information encoded into us. If you are an old guy then you know that the witch-doctor's radio lacked a charged battery, conductive wires, tubes, a crystal, a tuned antenna and perhaps most importantly, the infrastructure on the other end to hear the request, process and deliver the desired cargo.

All the witch-doctor knew about radios was what he could hear and see from a distance. "This big by this big. Rectangular. Whippy thing sprouting out of the top."

Events like the current Ebola crisis in Africa show us that the social structures in the functioning parts of the develop world also have huge amounts of information encoded in them. That information is encoded within the people who run them. You can transplant the external cues but you cannot easily transplant the deep knowledge.

Time and again we see that transplanting the externals creates a cargo cult. Like the cargo cult, the externals are preserved because it is seen as a way to get cargo, that is, to skim resources for personal use.

From a systems perspective, having the individual parts unable to take initiative and anticipate command direction results in slow, slap-dash, uncoordinated response. Oh, and significant percentages of critical resources got "disappeared".

Basketball shoes don't make a basketball player. Calculators with lots of buttons don't make engineers. Bloated bureaucracy does not make good governance.

Europe was once a roiling vat of tribal peoples.

As population density increased so did various stressors.

Families and villages that could synthesize responses like quarantine and then enforce it down to the least member survived.

Families and villages that could not synthesize rational responses and enforce them became extinct and their land became available to those families who did survive.

Enforcement of responses becomes far less leaky when every member "believes" or has deep knowledge of why they must follow the rules. This is not a "feelings" or "exceptions for disadvantaged individuals" or "these rules don't apply to rich people" approach. Those villages became extinct.

Modern medicine is little more than a bandage on a putrefying compound fracture when oppositional-defiant societies meet epidemics like Ebola.

And there will always be epidemics like Ebola popping up. Our dominance of the earth means that huge amounts of nearly homogeneous targets are grubbing around in every portion of the world. We are disturbing every corner of the remaining tropical rain forests and excavating and exposing ourselves to microorganisms that have been slumbering in the permafrost since the last ice age.

Bacteria and virus have a name for humans: Meat.

Cletus and Zeke in Ionia, Michigan

Cletus and Zeke finished the gig in Northern Michigan and it was time to beat their way south toward warmer weather.

Zeke wanted to stop in Ionia, Michigan because his sister was a junior in high school there and was on the Powder Puff football team.

For those unfamiliar with high school traditions, Powder Puff football is a very short football season at the end of the boy's season. It is only two games long. The Freshmen girls play the Sophomore girl's team and the Junior girls play the Senior girls.

It is about tradition and unique uniforms and getting noticed by boys and talking trash about the other team. It is also about giving the seniors one more opportunity in the limelight. The seniors ALWAYS win.

Cletus and Zeke got there just before the Junior/Senior kickoff. Cindy waved so she clearly knew they were there.

Cindy was not Zeke's full sister but Zeke's family did not make the distinction between "sister", "half-sister", "sister by virtue of being the child of mom's new guy". Sister was a binary concept. You either were or you were not.

Cindy played the full game. Zeke wondered if she had been hurt. She missed a couple of plays and came back with her left forearm heavily wrapped.

Cindy threw shot-put on the track team and she was a leftie. Her left arm was her money arm.

As a shot-putter, she was a little bit too slow for the "skill" positions. Powder Puff is flag football so speed is even more important than strength than it is for tackle football.

But the hitting on the line was real. That is, it was real if you wanted to win and it was more than tradition and uniforms, boys and talking trash.

Cindy was on the left side of the line. She was whaling on the player across from her on every play. On defense, she leaped into the air and flailed her arms every time the QB passed on the chance that she might deflect the ball.

On offense she opened up big holes as she engaged and broomed her opponent toward the sidelines.

The seniors were getting pissed at her. This was supposed to be a party, not a bruise fest.

After the game Cindy came over and gave Zeke and Cletus knuckles. Zeke smiled and said, "That was some first class blue-collar football."

Cindy smiled back. "Eight hours work for eight hours pay."

Cletus said, "You will get them next year."

Cindy laughed back. "I am sure we will." She knew the game was rigged but she still played her heart out. That is just how she rolled.


Stub 8.0: The left hand forgot what the right hand did

Zev crossed over the Salinas valley north of King City. Trails laced the spine of the coastal mountains that paralleled the coast and, at its northernmost extent, formed the San Francisco peninsula.

The trip was 100 miles as the crow flies. It was considerably longer by trail.

Zev stuck to the mountains and avoided towns and cities. Often he would find ripe fruits to extend his food. Figs, apricots and plums were in season. He was untroubled by constipation.

Zev wished he had the foresight to plant caches at strategic points while he had still been a billionaire. For the price of hair cut or a shoe shine he could have positioned a half dozen buckets of rice and lentils and chocolate bars along every route he might ever wish to take. Oh well. Opportunities lost.

Zev had been floored by Scooter’s generosity. Especially the food-bars that Scooter’s wife had baked for him. Essentially, they were a fruit-cake of walnuts and almonds, dried apricots and raisins and held together with the barest minimum of honey sweetened shortbread batter.

Scooter had been reluctant to talk about it but time spent together made him more at ease.

Zev was ashamed that he did not remember.

Scooter had mentioned, in passing, while guiding Zev the difficulty the local medical facility had in acquiring drugs that were not supported by “best science”. Most times “best science” was a euphemism for “cheapest per dose”.

Apparently, Zev had told his sales reps to be very generous and pass out “samples” of generic mid-level drugs to rural clinics. Zev had been clear, the drugs did not even need to be ones that Azrael Industry produced. If there was demand, hand out the samples. Just make sure that they were in an Azrael Industries tote bag.

The sales reps were more than happy to carpet bomb the rural clinics with free samples. The purchasing department had gotten the memo and there was never a shortage of pediatric antibiotics, antivirals, asthma drugs, pain killers and anti-psychotics and ADHD drugs in the rep’s sample cases.

Children with dangerously high fevers and infections had been healed. Children whose whistling, labored breaths caused parents to stay awake nights, holding them upright as they rocked them in chairs had been able to sleep without guilt as their children’s breathing returned to normal. Mother’s ripped by the pain of childbirth had been given ease from the torment. Revered patriarchs and matrons had been able to remain in the bosom of their family when anti-psychotics blunted the cruelty that is dementia.

What had been a causal response to Zev had been deeply appreciated by the people who the power elite viewed as social flotsam.

Scooter’s children had been recipients of Azrael Industry largess more than once, sometimes for life-threatening conditions.

Zev had been totally honest with Scooter. “I don’t remember saying that. Really, I think you are giving me way more credit that I am due.”

Scooter and Scooter’s wife had been unmoved by Zev’s modesty. “There is a passage in the Christian Testaments that say something to the effect that ‘the left hand should not know what the right hand is doing’ when giving charity.”

By their figuring, Zev’s forgetting what he had done spoke well of him. That he would forget it was a statement about his character as we remember what is jarring or out-of-the-ordinary.

So as Zev eased his way north, Scooter and Scooter’s wife had a few, quiet, discrete conversations with a few select friends, family and neighbors. If the man who had saved the life of their child or spouse needed help...would they be able to ignore the accusations of the mass media and very quietly come to his aid?

Next Installment

Sunday, October 28, 2018

How do you catch a fisherman?

Belladonna has been enjoying the company of twin brothers. They have their heads screwed on straight. The also happen to be avid outdoorsmen with a passion for fishing.

I rarely give girls fashion advise but I will make an exception here.

Lucas, I hope you comment!

How do you catch a fisherman?
It helps to wear the right kind of ear rings.
Beetle spin. Inexpensive. Almost weedless. Catches everything.

Flatfish, yellow. Cannot be trolled quickly or it spins.

Johnson silver weedless spoon

Mepps #2, silver. Slays large trout.

Assorted trolling plugs. Most useful when seeking attention on the internet

Rapala in Rainbow Trout pattern

Muddler minnow streamer. Streamers mimic small baitfish
Royal Coachman fly
Rapala ice fishing jig
Little Cleo. Casts a mile, looks like an alewife.
Classic Dare Devil spoons. The risk is that you will attract a piker.

Honduras and Energy: The Keystone Resource

The church I attend put a flier in this week's bulletin.

The flier was titled The Challenge of Forming Consciences for Faithful Citizenship.

Buried on page 4 is a list of issues that should be of highest concern to practicing Catholics

"...the preeminent requirement to protect human life..."

"Protect the fundamental understanding of marriage as the life-long and faithful union of one man and one woman..."

"...comprehensive immigration reform that offers a path to citizenship, treats immigrant workers fairly, prevents the separation of families, maintains the integrity of our borders, respects the rules of law, and addresses the factors that compel people to leave their own countries."

And then the document listed six other issues.

An eco-dynamic perspective
The economies of many Latin American countries are struggling.
Per capita electricity consumption normalized to US consumption. Data from the CIA Factbook
If energy is the keystone resource, then the countries in southern Central America are struggling. More electricity is not simply a matter of building generation stations. Fossil fuels are a large drain on the national economy and reserves of hard currency when there are no native supplies.

Not only are the gross numbers discouraging, those counties face some huge distribution challenges.

Even tiny amounts of electricity, on the order of an additional kW-hr per day per household would have a huge impact on quality-of-life. That is because resources that are very scarce are first allocated to the highest value applications. (Essay here)

I know one person who adopted a family in Honduras. She was asking me about solar power. She saw this as an ideal way of bypassing both the low production and the distribution issues.

I did a very tiny amount of research on-line and asked, "Would they consider wind-power?"

My reasoning is that 300 Watts of solar power capacity runs about $300 before shipping and customs.

You can find wind turbines rated for 400 Watts on eBay for less than $100.

The other consideration is that wind power is a more accessible technology for a country of Honduras's development. Everything in that wind turbine except the gear reducer can be built or salvaged locally.

Blades can be fabricated from local wood products.

Wheel bearings, alternators and 12V batteries are available through salvage. Sure, they might be "not the best" but they are available for little more than the cost of labor.

The only thing that likely to cost hard currency is the gear reducer to match up the rpm of the wind turbine to what the alternator needs to see to operate efficiently. I estimate this to be in the $10-$12 range as an appropriate gear reducer is embedded within a $60, Mexican built, winch. The price at wholesale volumes is likely to be significantly lower.

Wind power is not an option for everybody in Honduras but for people along the coasts and at higher elevations it is a technology worth looking at.

The power of suggestion

Blackeyed peas will be simmering on the stove this afternoon.

Was Gab the real target of the Loonie Bomber?

Most of story at God, Guns, Beans, Bullets etc.

When reports of the Loonie Bomber first came out I was a bit surprised when the main stream media prominently featured his use of Gab.

Main stream media is now suggesting that the Pittsburgh Synagogue shooter  was energized by his own postings to Gab

Gab has been informed that their host is tossing them out on their ear because Gab allows "hate speech".

Was silencing Gab the true target of the Loonie Bomber all along?

Hate Speech
Have you ever noticed how yawns will ripple across a large room?

There might be seventy people in a warm conference room. The speaker is droning on. You have been sitting too long. Maybe you dialed back on your coffee consumption because you did not want the discomfort of a full bladder.

Then, somebody in the far corner of the room does it. They yawn.

Then a wave of yawns ripples across the conference room.

The contagious yawn is similar to a strobe. A potential exists and is waiting for the trigger.
A large potential exists between the two ends of the tube. The potential is not enough to break-down and ionize the gas within the tube. An external, high voltage trigger locally breaks down the gas and the potential is then able to overcome the remaining gap. The capacitors dump the energy stored within them.
"Hate speech" is feared by authorities because it is seen as the high voltage trigger.

This is seen by most people who have had training in the physical sciences as ass-backwards. Pertubations happen. Potential energy ALWAYS wants to drop down to a lower floor. The first way to armor systems is to reduce or dilute potential energy.

The crazy-making thing is that some players want to stoke the potential energy in society with identity politics and then they think they can prevent the tiger-in-the-room from eating everybody by removing the old Bon Appetit magazines.

The optics from a couple of different perspectives
If posters on Gab are so transparent in telegraphing their intentions as the main stream media suggests, then Gab should not be shut down. Rather, they should be hosted by the Department of Homeland Security to facilitate ease of monitoring.

If posters on Gab are so persuasive, they should be snapped up by Madison Avenue advertising firms.

If Gap posters are so awesomely capable of mayhem they should be given Pentagon contracts.

If posters on Gab are so destabilizing, then the CIA should be mailing them checks and cloning Gab in target countries.

None of these things happened.

An alternative explanation
I know this is kind of far out there, but what if the heavy political contributors in Silicon Valley were being pummeled in the stock market and wanted a distracting competitor removed from a flanking position so they could concentrate on their current train wreck?

The Loonie Bomber was cooked. The Pittsburgh shooter was an accident.

Saturday, October 27, 2018

As couples age

There are some who claim that thirty years of being together and four kids take all of the romance out of a marriage.

They claim that we become less affectionate and that we take each other for granted. It is said that we cuddle less and forget to snuggle.

I strongly disagree with those statements.

Especially when the youngest kid has a habit of turning off the thermostat in the evening because he is hot.

About those pictures in the van window

Aesop over at Raconteur's Report recently posted what he believed to be supporting evidence that the inept bomber was a Democratic false flag event.

My first impression was that the supporting evidence was thin, attributable to what could have been a mistaken identity or the equivalent of a typo.

One of the piece of evidence he cited involved the graphics in the van windows. I reserved judgement until higher quality images became available on the internet.

There is no evidence these images were posters that were professionally produced.

And the quality is so far beyond what the typical, ham-handed human can produce that the story that he cut them out of magazines with Kindergarten scissors and scotch taped them into the windows himself...well, that story is a non-starter.

I used to install emblems on the back of automobiles. It is duecedly difficult to align rectangular shapes on curved surfaces. The bigger they are the more likely they are to visually walk out-of-square.

So give Aesop at least three points here:
  • The bone-head had some high-end help and 
  • The "help" had a plan. 
  • The bone-head was a tool.

Friday, October 26, 2018

The Captain gave me an assignment

This is a short video clip of about 20 seconds.

The Captain gave me an assignment.

He wants to be able to look out his picture window on a cold and blustery winter night and be able to tell if his electric fence is "hot".

In studying air-gap voltage protectors I learned that the standard 48" fluorescent light tube has an "instant start" voltage of about 600V. That is, apply 600V across the two ends and it will create light.

It took longer to find a fluorescent light tube than it took to wire one end to the electric fence and to twist the other end so it was grounded to a woven wire fence behind it.

The installation was not perfect. It is not bright enough to see in the day. It drags down the line voltage more than I wanted. Perhaps worst of all, I started getting complaints from Mrs ERJ and the Captain's wife. Mrs ERJ said it felt like she was living next to an airport with the night time strobing. The Captain's wife was afraid that it was bright enough to give her a migraine.

Except for the inability to see the light in the day, all of the other issue can be fixed by adding an impedance in-line with the fluorescent tube. As the designer, I had two choices, I could add a resistor or I could add a choke, also called an inductance.

I opted for the resistance because I thought of a sneaky way to calculate the proper amount of resistance, a way that involved very little calculation.

The electric fence is little more than an energized circuit. The amount of power that is dumped to each of the legs-to-ground is proportional to 1/R, or one over the resistance.

The problem with the fluorescent tube with no throttling is that it has a significantly lower resistance than, say, a cow so more of the power will go to illuminating the lamp than to disciplining the cow.

If, however, I could convince a cow to hold the end of the tube in its mouth and provide the "ground", then the resistance of the tube + the resistance of the cow would be more than the resistance of the cow alone.

Cows are not known for being very smart, but they are too smart to do that.

The next step is to logically proceed to the question, "What animal would be superior to a cow as an in-line resistance?"  The answer was a six foot long snake. The snake is a lower wire gauge than the cow and is slightly longer. Therefore it would produce a higher resistance but still be about the same order of magnitude.

"If I can't find a reindeer, I will make one instead"

Due to a shortage of 6' long Blue Racers and Rat Snakes in my neighborhood I was forced to find a substitute.

An 8' length of 1/2" hose was pressed into service.

The lead wire from the tube was stuffed in one end.
A wire was grounded to the woven wire fence and the other end was stuffed down the other end of the snake.
The snake was then force-fed Gatorade, a fine source of electrolytes, to simulate the conductivity of reptilian flesh. Electrolytes: Its what plants crave.

 This is a very short video clip of less than 10 seconds showing the throttled light tube.

So, did I nail it?
Well, no I didn't. I throttled it back too much. But that is easy to fix. I simply pull some of the hose through the tie-downs and cut off a chunk. Then reinsert the lead. That is why you want to start with a LONG snake, so you can tune it.

In retrospect, it would have been even smarter to leave the ground wire long.  Very long. Then I could have simply fed more-and-more of the ground wire into the ersatz snake thereby shortening the path through the electrolyte and stopped when the light was Goldilocks perfect.  A couple turns of tape to secure the ground wire and then come back in the morning and measure the resistance with my multimeter.

Or...simply supplement the Gatorade with antifreeze and cap the ends with tape so rain does not dilute the potion.

For the record, the shorter snake measures somewhere between 2M ohms and 3M ohms and it is still a bit too much. If I were to try this with discretes, I would buy four of these resistors  for about $10 and figure out if my fence liked one, two, three or four of these in series to choke down the fluorescent light tube.

I would also add a reflector behind the light tube.