Thursday, January 31, 2019

Hybrid Poplar

You can click on any picture to embiggen. This is the northeast corner of the planting discussed below with the photo taken from the north, looking south.
I am fortunate to live about twenty-five miles from a test planting of hybrid poplar.

The topic of hybrid poplar is divisive among tree people. It is a niche product. It is very, very good at what it is good at but fickle about everything else.

Think of it as a high performance, 2-stroke motorcycle engine. Give it anything less than the best gas and best synthetic oil and the performance suffers. Let the RPM drop below 7000 RPM and you would be better off with a bone-stock Honda.

The test planting has sixteen clones or cultivars in five replicates.

Some of the replicates are easy to pick out.

The darker spots are where a tree died and you see the shadow of the tree to the left. The areas of highest mortality seem to be streaky. "No Trespassing" signs are posted and I did not walk the planting. Those could be ridges. Those could be low areas.
Looking along one edge in early August you will see very large differences in the leaves of the different clones. Some clones are sparsely leaved and let dappled sun hit the forest floor. Other are very densely leaved and catch every ray.

I was intrigued by all the little whisker branches on this clone. If that mechanism could be identified and transferred to fruit trees it would be very useful for size control.

Why it is useful to have a test plot in your back yard

One of the pages from a paper written on hybrid poplar production in Michigan.
One of the conclusions was a little bit surprising. The interactions between genetics and environment is almost twice as large as the pure genetics component.

That suggests that selecting a clone based on the performance in a nearby state might be misleading. After all, that conclusion was drawn based on the variation between sites within ONE state, Michigan.

Reasonable expectations for yield
The benchmark clone, NM-6 (A cross between Poplulus nigra and Populus maximowiczii) produced 29,000 pounds of dry matter per acre over a five year rotation in Albion, Michigan. Annualized, that is just a skosh less than 6000 lbs dry matter per acre. That is the equivalent of 300 gallons of heating oil a year, give or take based on how well dried the wood is when it is burned.

The best performing clone was NM-2, a "sister" of NM-6. NM-2 has less disease resistance than NM-6 and a planting of NM-2 and NM-6 would not substantially increase the robustness of the system.

There were other clones planted in Albion, DN-177 and DN-170 that produced 98% and 95% of NM-6 respectively. "DN" clones are crosses of Populus deltoides and Populus nigra. Populus deltoides is the common, Eastern Cottonwood which is well suited to wide swaths of the eastern half of the United States.

Yawn. Been there done that
Maybe you tried hybrid poplar and weren't very impressed.

I did. They were OK but nothing "SUPER". I used the most recommended clone of the day, DN-34 (Imperial aka Carolina) and the more exotic DN-17 (Robusta). DN-17 was notable for arrow-straight trunks and both clones quickly over-topped native hardwoods but they still did not seem "miraculous". How do those old standards compare to NM-6 and DN-177?

NM-6 produces 70% more wood by dry-weight than DN-34 and 50% more wood by dry-weight than DN-17.

Defensible recommendation
Plant several hybrids with different species composition. Including the species Cottonwood in the mix is an option. If choosing from local Cottonwood trees, look for apical dominance and side branches that leave the main trunk at right angles.

Mow vegetation the fall before planting.

Frost-seed red clover in late winter before planting. Red clover will add nitrogen and not be excessively competitive with the new trees.

Plan rows 10' apart with cuttings 6' apart within the rows. Ten feet between rows facilitates machine movement. Seven hundred trees to the acre will result in the trees shading the ground in a couple of years and suppressing competition.

One week before sticking the cuttings, kill vegetation with glyphosate + simazine where the cuttings will be stuck. Make the sprayed swath where the cuttings will be planted 4' wide.

Plant clones in blocks or strings so you can get a clear evaluation of what works best on YOUR site.

Rough mow the site in mid-June to knock down tall grasses.

Plan to clear-cut at 4-to-8 years. Clear-cutting removes diseased stems and keeps the stools juvenile. The wide range of cutting intervals is driven largely on the health status of the planting. Another consideration is to cut at small enough of a diameter so you can avoid having to split wood to fit it into your wood burner!

Cut the stumps at 4" the first time. They will respoutl

Frost seed red clover....lather, rinse, repeat.

Wednesday, January 30, 2019

The price of burning damp wood

Moisture content of most woods as kiln dried, dried at 70% relative humidity and 90% relative humidity

Freshly cut soft maple, aspen and willow are about 50% water, by weight.

How bad is that? That means you need to add about equal amounts kiln dried wood to get the green wood to burn...and all the heat goes up the chimney as water vapor.

Things go around the bend at about 30% moisture. You need to burn twice as much wood, by weight, to net the same amount of heat as air dried wood.

Bonus chart

Baby, its cold out there!

I have been out in -40F and -50F windchill.

99% of getting by in that kind of weather is in having enough, and the right kind of clothing.

A few items I like:

Bomber hats are more wind resistant than the usual knit stocking cap.

Wearing both mittens and gloves means that you have optimum warmth while retaining the ability to pull off your mittens and not expose your flesh to the elements. That is a BIG deal if you you must grip items made of iron.

The parka was discounted because the factory had sewn in the zipper backwards so it was a "girl's" parka.

I also like scarves and 1/4 zip fleeces. I tuck the long end of the scarf so it backs up the zipper of the parka.

I favor quilt-lined bibbs. They give you far more flexibility than one-piece monkey suits. Bibbs are also easier to go to  "the can" in than monkey suits.

One budget-minded outdoorsman I know likes to wear two pairs of flannel PJ bottoms beneath his oversized jeans. It works for him.

Boots are whatever best suits you.

The other one percent?
Keep moving and get out of the wind.

Tuesday, January 29, 2019

Diplomatic posts

If you could offer Feel the Bern and Optional-Cortex diplomatic posts, what countries would you choose?

North Korea?

Schultz from Starbucks
He would run as a Democrat in a heartbeat but he saw how Bernie got screwed by the machine.

Having a dynamic candidate that does not march in absolute lock-step with the Democratic franchise of the Deep-state running as an independent is the natural and logical consequence of that screwing. Once again proving that there is no free lunch and that Karma comes with compound interest.

Focus groups and men's names

One of the things about writing fiction can be both frustrating and rewarding at the same time is picking names.

I decided to approach one upcoming character in Seven Cows a little bit differently. I formed a small focus group of two young women and three women my age.

I gave them a list of fifty names and asked them to pick the five they liked best and to rank their top five.

The results:

Young women:


Women who are my age



Milo is the winner for the guy's name, showing up on three of the five lists and being like by both age cohorts. I was surprised at the amount of overlap between the lists.

I also asked for the venue where the two characters should meet.
One of the focus group suggested the Michigan Hemp Conference.

Another suggested waiting in line to buy a latte at a coffee shop.

And the guy's profession?
Underwater welder.

Stay tuned...

Media freaks out over Donald Trump, Jr's "assault weapon"

A closer look reveals that it is a fifteen pound, bolt action .22LR target rifle.

May I be so bold as to suggest that DTJr's target rifle is not the best choice for hitting targets in a dynamic situation, especially one where the shooter must retain mobility.

Monday, January 28, 2019

Ocasio-Cortez, Thin-skinned, bully and weasel

...As Members of the House of Representatives, we have already begun our individual, committee, and caucus efforts to make this issue a top priority in the 116th Congress. That is why we were deeply disappointed to see that your companies (FB, Google, Microsoft) were high-level sponsors of a conference this month in Washington D.C., known as LibertyCon.  Letter published by Ocasio-Cortez

Are you really sure it is about "Climate Change"?

...the policies advanced by modern-day American “democratic socialists,” including Sen. Bernie Sanders and Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. Single-payer health care, socialized agricultural and energy industries, and government-run education, among many other policies, are not only ineffective, they present serious moral problems.  -2019 Liberty Con session titled Socialism is Evil

As you are well aware, the spreading of misinformation can be dangerous to our society...We must be resolute against granting this campaign any credibility, whether intentional or otherwise. -Ocasio-Cortez

Is that a threat to "tax and regulate" companies that don't play the game to her satisfaction?

Perhaps the wealthy uber-liberals will start to see the downside of keeping a string of socialists as pets. King Cobras are better entertainment and safer in the long run.

Meal Planning is only as hard as you make it

Make some pie charts and play spin the needle. That IS why they call them pie charts, right?

In table form:

Sunday, January 27, 2019

Pelosi and Schumer: Miracle workers

Trump now looks like the adult in the room.

Who would have guessed?

Presented without comment

How many bullets?

Shortly before World War I, the German Kaiser was the guest of the Swiss government to observe military maneuvers. The Kaiser asked a Swiss militiaman: 'You are 500,000 and you shoot well, but if we attack with 1,000,000 men what will you do?' The soldier replied: 'We will shoot twice and go home.'

Numbers vary but some sources claim the Allies expended 25,000 rounds of small arms fire per enemy KIA in WWII, 100,000 per KIA in Korea, 200,000 per KIA in Vietnam and 250,000 per KIA in the sandbox.

There is some hand-waving behind the numbers. WWII was more artillery intensive and the targets were better defined than later wars. The metric obscures the fact that in WWII one torpedo could sink a troop ship and count for 4000 enemy KIA...torpedoes hardly counting as "small arms". Concepts like suppressive fire came into fashion as well as the hardware to deliver it.

What do those numbers mean?
The 5,000,000 rounds of ammo that the IRS has in its possession equate to 20 dead tax-scoffs at 250,000 rounds per KIA. That would be the number of adults in a small high school who shave a little bit on their taxes.

At 250,000 rounds of ammo per KIA, the conventional advice of "6000 rounds of ammo per battle-rifle" equates to about a 2% chance you put one "bad guy" on the ground.

Your tactics suck
If you find yourself in a fair fight it means your tactics suck.

If you find yourself losing then your tactics are worse than suck.

Avoid being the guy on the left side of the photo.
The doomer literature where the good guys get into a "conventional" shoot-out with the bad guys is jolly good entertainment but sucks as a tactic. Neither side is likely to have the logistical tail to support shoot-outs.

Gordon Dickson observed that battles in space will be fought by mutual consent. Space is so BIG that fleets will only encounter each other by mutual agreement.

The same is true to a lesser degree on Earth. You can be a dumb-ass and deal drugs on the corner, wear bling, post on social media or be a blogger. Or you can keep your mouth shut, pay cash, keep your mouth shut, stay off social media and keep your mouth shut. The dumb-ass is far more likely to be the guy on the left side of the photo than the guy who can keep his mouth shut and his purchases discrete.

Saturday, January 26, 2019

Socialist paradise

High school chaperone punctures leftist narrative

Raymond Arroyo interviewed Jim Wilson, one of the chaperones of the Covington, Ky group at the Pro-Life march in Washington D.C.

Slide ahead to the 3:55 mark to hear the parent eviscerate the leftist perspective.

Mr Wilson makes the point earlier in the interview that the kids had gotten off a 16 hour bus ride, walked around D.C. all day long and they were waiting for the buses to take them home. The kids were not very resilient when they were verbally assaulted by the Black Israelites and Mr Philips.

And the one kid, except for the deer-in-the-headlights response, still responded in a morally acceptable way.

Good enough and plenty of it*

I want to highlight a recent blog post over at Defense and Freedom.

Paraphrasing for the purpose of compactness, the author laments that historians who focus on the air war in WWII spend disproportionate amounts of time focusing on the whiz-bang stuff that appeared near the end of the war.

The author's contention is that those weapons did not win or lose the war. They were not deployed in sufficient numbers to make a difference. The war had already been decided. In retrospect, it had become a mopping-up operation.

The planes that fought the deciding battles were not, for the most part (the Japanese Zero being the exception), the planes and power-plants the major forces had entered the war with but they were the planes that represented the lion's share of the production after the contestants had converted their economies to wartime production.

For those of us who like to be prepared, it is a stark reminder.

We fight, and win or lose, our battles with the equipment that has been deployed in quantity.

We may lust for ARs and monometal projectiles but the battle in the trenches will be decided with 10/22s, Marlin 795 semi-autos and bulk packed .22LR ammo and Mossberg 500 pump shotguns.

*Good enough and plenty of it is a motto I first encountered over at Remus's Woodpile Report. The concept resonates with me.

Friday, January 25, 2019


It is slippery out there

When small, fat dogs hit the brakes.

A few thoughts on prayer

Prayer can generally be broken down into four categories.

  • Praise
  • Petition, i.e. asking for things
  • Asking forgiveness
  • Giving thanks

As modern Americans we turn up our noses at praise. At one time my perspective of praise was that it was an attempt to brown-nose God. Surely He could see through that.

My current perspective is that praising God serves to ensure we are in our proper place. The pitcher is on the mound. The catcher is behind the plate. The shortstop is between second-and-third. Everything runs better when the players are in their proper place on the field.

Consider the Our Father:

Our Father, who art in heaven
Hallowed be thy name
Thy kingdom come, they will be done
On earth as it is in heaven.
All praise. No sucking up.  No brown-nosing. Just identifying God's proper place.

Give us this day our daily bread
Bread can be metaphorical as in any recurring need. It can be generic for food. It can be asking for "Jesus, I am the bread of (eternal) life."

Our needs change from person-to-person and over time.

Asking forgiveness
Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us. Suffer us not to be tempted and lead us from all that is evil.
As a Roman Catholic, forgiveness is more formalized for most other Christians. One advantage of that formality is that our faith gives us a blueprint of what God is looking for. It also provides the person asking forgiveness the sense of relief that comes from being forgiven.

He is looking for sorrow for having sinned, not so much sorrow over the possibly going to Hell but sorrow that we offended Him.

He is looking for ownership, that we accept responsibility and not shirk or minimize what we have done.

He asks us to concretely CHANGE what we are doing to avoid sin. If you do what you have always done, you will get what you always got.

One quirk of Catholics is we believe that we must verbally "confess" to be forgiven. The priest serves as a proxy for those people we have injured by our sin. IMHO, as humans we cannot feel forgiven when we fail to ask the victims for forgiveness. The problem is that sometimes it is not safe to tell the victim "Yeah, Don Corleone, about that Cadillac that got vandalized..." Other times it is not possible to identify all the victims of our sins. Hence the need for a proxy.

Giving Thanks
Giving thanks gives us serenity. It is very individual and will change from minute-to-minute.

I am thankful that I am inside tonight.
I am thankful that Mom and Dad are still with us.
I am thankful for family.
I am thankful for the dogs, even the little one who snores.
I am thankful that my guts don't hurt.
I am thankful the truck started the last time I turned the key.
I am thankful for the internet and the ability to reach out to folks like you and to have access to writers who would have been invisible to me fifteen years ago.

BTW: Nice post over at HOTR on thankfulness.

Thursday, January 24, 2019

Storing fats and oils

The fact that oils and fats go rancid in storage struck a nerve with some of my readers.

While prepping for the story I ran into a few facts that I found interesting.

The stabilized (*) HOCAN (High Oleic Canola Oil) in PET bottles was estimated to have a shelf life at ambient temperature of 6.8 years, while oil stored in LDPE bottles had an estimated shelf life of only 2.7 years. The estimated shelf life of HOSUN (High Oleic Sunflower Oil) at room temperature in PET is 2.6 years and in LDPE is 0.88 years.  Source
*1,000 ppm for ascorbyl palmitate, 200 ppm for tertiary butyl hydroquinone (TBHQ), and 200 ppm for mixed tocopherol

Using the same criteria, most vegetable oils have a shelf life of six months from date of manufacture.

Oxygen permeability rates (Oxygen. (g 25μ/m2/24h))

Low Density Polyethylene...8500
Polyvinylidene Dichloride....2

Polyvinylidene Dichloride film can be purchased on eBay if you want to use it to use it as an oxygen barrier between the LDPE cap of most bottles and the glass bottle. Saran Wrap in the US used to be polyvinylidene dicholoride but it is now polyethylene. Wrap sold under the brand name of Saran in Japan is still polyvinylidene dichloride.

Larger bottles have less surface area per unit volume so have better shelf life.

Lower temperature is favorable for longer shelf life.

Darkness is favorable for longer shelf life.

The largest, easy-to-acquire, brown glass bottles are the 40 ounce bottles that hold beer and malt liquor.

Oils that are low in the components that go rancid are Olive Oil, partially hydrogenated anything, peanut oil, tropical oils and some of the high oleic oils. The high oleic oils are currently expensive but production is ramping up as customers shy away from trans-fats.

The price spread between high oleic canola oil and "regular" vegetable oil is about $20 a gallon for HO canola and $8 a gallon for regular.

The fact that peanut oil is a very desirable oil for storage and only costs $11/gallon needs to be weighed against the possibility that one of your people might have a very severe, potentially fatal allergy to peanuts.

Your mileage may vary.

Wednesday, January 23, 2019

Old news: Patriots beat Chiefs

Borrowed from TimeBomb2000

Climate is what you expect. Weather is what you get.

-18 Fahrenheit on Monday. A high of 42 and wet today. Back down to a low of 5 Fahrenheit on Friday.

That counts as a "test winter" event for my part of the world.

I was walking around on Monday and many of the fruit trees looked dehydrated. Their bark looked shriveled. That is a good thing. Extreme cold damages trees when ice crystals form in the buds and they puncture cell walls. Dehydration of the parts above ground is correlated to better cold resistance.

They will be heading into Thursday and Friday all juiced up from the rain. That may be harder on some of them than the minus 18.

Tuesday, January 22, 2019

Toxic masculinity

Mrs ERJ is away. She is visiting a friend from college days. Back then, they discovered they were dating the same boy, a boy who claimed to be dating them exclusively. They sought each other out and had a long talk. They dumped the boy and have been friends and allies ever since.

That leaves me at home. Alone.

Maybe not alone. The dogs are with me.

Just think of all that male energy! Two hundred pounds of German Shepherd, a Boston Terrier and two hundred pounds of me.

Toxic masculinity
Unfettered by the benevolent bonds of the fairer sex we revel in our toxic masculinity like dogs rolling in a stinky carcass.

I leave the toilet seat up.

I sneer at healthy foods. Baked beans replete with onions and garlic and spicy, pork sausage ladled over white potatoes. Not a green vegetable in sight. TWO --- count them --- TWO bottles of strong IPA to wash it down.

Dessert was pecans and dark chocolate.

Such foods would normally result in Mrs ERJ suggesting that I sleep in the living room as the oligosaccharides from the beans and sulfurous contributions from the onions and garlic combine in my lower bowel to produce the biological equivalent of phosgene or mustard gas.

The irony is that I will probably spend the night on the couch in the living room anyway.

Dogs make good company, even if it is just the sound of their breathing.

Travel Fashion advice from ERJ

The ideal garments for travel should be simple, comfortable, wrinkle resistant and a provide a broad foundation for accessorizing. The classic black dress can be worn to casual events or accessorized to go to black tie events. All colors and textures harmonize with black be it scarf, sash or bling.

Level IIIa vest from Safe Life

Monday, January 21, 2019

Logging with horses in Sweden

About ten minutes long.

I eyeball the wagon as holding a bit more than a cord, a cord being 8' by 4' by 4'. A cord of spruce is 4000 pounds. A cord of green aspen is 4500 pounds.

Things look a bit sporty at 3:10-3:20 with an almost full wagon, going uphill churning their way through lumbering trash.

The horses are not very tall but they are thick through the hindquarters.

How much can draft animals pull?

Approximate force required in pounds per square inch to pull a moldboard plow at 2 mph in normal conditions are:
sandy soil 2.5 PSI
corn stubble 3 PSI
wheat stubble 4 PSI
blue grass sod 6 PSI
clover sod 7 PSI
clay soil 8 PSI
prairie sod 15 PSI
virgin soil 15 PSI
gumbo 20 PSI   (Source)

One of my coffee drinking buddies tells me that they used a two-mule team to pull a single bottom, 14" plow six inches deep and used three mules to pull two 14" bottom plows.

Figuring clay soil and the two mule team, 14" * 6" * 8 PSI = 672 pounds pulling force or 330 pounds on the draw-bar per mule. And the mules would do that all day long.

Figuring clay soil and the three mule team, 2*14" * 6" * 8 PSI = 1344 pounds pulling force or 450 pounds per mule.

Another source claims draft horses can pull six times their weight when it is a carriage (pavement). It must be clear that this is not the tension they are putting on the draw-bar but the weight of the carriage.

A third source claims three-to-five times a draft horse's weight is a ball-park figure but highly dependent on surface and how fast you want to pull. Again, this is not the tension in the drawbar but the weight of the wagon + passengers + freight.

Stage coaches weighed about 2500 pounds and could carry nine people inside + six on top and freight. A more typical load might be six inside, two driving and fifty pounds of freight per passenger. At a buck-fifty per person, that is 2500 + 1200 in passengers + 400 in freight for a gross of 4100lbs.  Teams of four or six horses would pull them at five miles per hour and get changed out every four-to-six hours. The roads were terrible.

If you can believe what you read on the internet, a horse bred for pulling can cart 1X-to-4X it weight provided it is pulling a smooth rolling cart along graded dirt roads or across dry, cut hay-fields. It can pull them at walking speed for as long as you want to sit on the seat and drive them.

One consideration is that hayfield and firewood cartage involves rest periods for loading and the return trip is deadhead, i.e., no payload.

That is a tremendous multiplier. A horse might easily pack 20% of its weight and can pull 2X. That is ten times as much payload!

Greatest invention since the wheel. Oh! Wait a minute.....

Sunday, January 20, 2019

Democrats' rush to the left

When Designing an Experiment there are three "classic" mistakes.

One is to not extract all of the information that is embedded within the results.  You paid the money to run the experiment but didn't cash the paycheck.

The second is attempting to extract more information than is actually embedded within the results. That is why the experimenter is required to present a hypothesis a priori rather than look at the results afterward to find a peg-hole he can jam the data through.

The third defect is to so dislike the results that one creates a parallel universe and magically find a palatable cause-effect relationship.

Ossified-Cortex beat a tired Democrat with the appeal of day-old dog vomit. The Democrat, whose name everybody has already forgotten, took his constituency for granted. She went out and worked. Her people rang doorbells and pushed, pushed, pushed.

Faced with the message that candidates who WORK will WIN, they naturally came to the conclusion that the United States is screaming for a system where rewards are decoupled from work.

The irony, it burns

William Devane is inescapable.

He is the spokesperson for Rosland Capital, a seller of precious metals and his ads carpet bomb Fox News, among others.

William's dad, Joseph was FDR's chauffeur.  FDR is the guy who made it illegal for Americans to hold gold.

Is Amazon-dot-Com really a bank?

If it looks like a duck, walks like a duck and quacks like a duck...sure glad I didn't step in that dog ****

You laugh at me. You say, Amazon sells stuff. They can't be a bank.

Retail revenues are growing at about 3% a year. It won't be too long before Amazon is the lilypad that covers the entire pond. Then where will the growth come from?  Amazon's market capitalization is based on the expectation of stellar growth from now until eternity.

Also, Amazon is more of a portal for a universe of vendors than a retailer. They make their money handling the money. Isn't that what banks do?

Besides, there was a time when banks handed out toasters. Now the bank has somebody else deliver it to your door.

Saturday, January 19, 2019

Crepitation Contest

From the golden age of radio. Fifteen minutes.

Thundersprakes and flutter-blasts and sins of delivering substance when style is the coin of the realm.

Never trust a fart!

New California Warning

New tattoo required on all sexually active residents of California.

Roe v. Wade

Yesterday was the anniversary of Roe v. Wade.

My deepest and most heartfelt thank-you to those mothers who carried their babies to full term even when it was inconvenient, or embarrassing or negatively impacted your schooling or career.

I also thank the legions of foster parents, parents by adoption and the social workers who facilitate them.

To frame the magnitude of the raw numbers of abortions:

Number of babies born into slavery in the United States between 1778 and 1865: 7.9 million*

Number of babies aborted in the United States 1973-2019: 61 million (source)

Number of black babies aborted in the United States 1973-2019: 18.3 million (source)

*Number of slaves born based on US Census data and an assumed life expectancy of 40 years.  Four million of those born into slavery lived to see freedom.

Thursday, January 17, 2019

Be Prepared: Marry a Girl Scout

Mrs ERJ gives me free rein over the outside. Her only condition is that I not cut down HER clump of paper birch.

As a girl scout she learned about the use of birch bark to start fires. Little known fact, the Genus name "Betula" is Greek is the same root as bituminus or coal tar. To give one more hint, kerosene was once known as coal oil.

You never know when you might need to start a fire.

Her other condition was that it be planted outside a window so she could admire it...and so she would notice if it contracted Poulan disease.

Our clump doen't contain three stems. Nope. I am an under-achiever. We only have two stems.

One of the stems is growing just fine. I think it is a seedling of Whitespire Senior. When the variety "Whitespire" came out it was pitched as being an exotic Asian species that was magically immune to the Bronze Birch Borer. Sadly, the Bronze Birch Bore does not restrict its damage to birch trees cast from bronze. Its tastes are nearly universal.

Genetic studies revealed that Whitespire birch was, in fact, common-as-dirt Gray Birch (Betula populifolia). Things being what they were, the name "Whitespire" was assigned by the studbook in the sky to Betula platyphylla and the selection of Gray Birch formerly known as Whitespire was looking for a new name because we cannot confuse people, can we? The best they could do was "Whitespire Senior".

Alas, the other white barked birch is not Whitespire Senior. I have no clue regarding the species but I can attest it does not do as well in our front yard as the Whitespire Senior seedling.

Regardless, both specimens look enough like Paperbark Birch to keep Mrs ERJ happy. It is not likely that she will count the chromosomes tell the difference.

Head fakes
When researching birch trees, lo these many years age, I learned that there are several birch species that are relatively Bronze Birch Borer resistant.

I trolled them by the ever wise and lovely Mrs ERJ and she always shook her head "No!".

The problem was that they did not look like the Paperbark Birch of her youth.

Fast forward twenty years...
Different individuals of River Birch exhibit different degrees of peeling bark. Most of the ones used for landscaping were selected for LOTS of peeling bark. Mrs ERJ tells me this does not meet her requirements for what proper birch trees should look like.

I was looking at River Birch (Betula nigra) trees with the intent of stealing seeds. Yeah, I am that kind of guy. Don't leave your catkins unattended at night.

One of my 2019-20 projects is to plant trees in some wetlands that have been denuded of their ash trees.

River Birch is not known to be native to Michigan but it is found in northwestern Indiana. River Birch is one of those "relatively resistant to BBB" species. It is also tolerant of wet feet. The RIVER part of River Birch is a hint.

I looked high-and-low. I found many River Birch as it is a popular landscaping tree but nary a catkin.  And then I learn that its seeds ripen in June. It is the only birch that ripens it seeds so early.
No, I am not even going to ask Mrs ERJ if this meets her specifications. One cool thing about Betula lenta is that the twigs smell like Wintergreen.

Then I learned of another birch, Betula lenta, that is considered very resistant to deer. I looked high-and-low and there is no information about how happy it is in wetlands.

Even if there was information, it must be taken with a grain of salt.

It is like my youngest brother who we all assumed like chicken wings.  He was a grown man before we learned that the only reason he ate chicken wings was because that was the only part of the carcass that made it down to his end of the table.

So it is with trees. Sometimes the only place you find them is where they are clinging by their fingernails, having been elbowed aside by corn fields, housing developments and cow pastures from their preferred haunts.

Birch seeds are cheap. They cost about $13 for 10,000. My quandary is whether to buy them and get a quick start or to wait until June and collect them for free. My inclination is to buy them because I am guaranteed a wider genetic base than I will get from the very few clones that are used in landscaping locally.

SoTU renamed to STFU

How Antifa silences Americans
How Democrats silence Americans.

Wednesday, January 16, 2019

A change in priorities

The Captain dropped off a half cord of firewood today. It was nothing I had asked for.

Since I had nothing better to do I asked him if he could use a hand.

"Why not?" was his reply.

His utility vehicle conveniently carries a half facecord of firewood. Once again I marveled at the Captain's ability to look at the scantest bit of physical evidence and deduce the story leading up to it.

He pointed at old, senile trees and said "There is a 'coon denning in that tree."

Then he would point to the very faintest scratches in the bark beneath the hole that gave the animal access to the hollow trunk.  "Possum don't have claws that will do that." he told me.

We were heading back for the third load when he brought the gator to a screeching halt. "How did that hussy have a calf with me not knowing?" he exclaimed.

Then he scrambled beneath the live, electric fence...the man is sixty-four... and approached the seemingly dead calf.

The calf gave the tiniest wiggle of an ear.  The calf was too chilled to stand.

"Well, Joe. I guess we are done cutting wood for today."

He scooted the UTV back to the barn. Turned off the electric fence. Put the calf into the back of the empty gator. Slowly idled his way back to the barn, slowly enough so mama cow could follow. Put the calf on a pad of dried straw. Fed the calf a half gallon of warmed colostrum while mama watched.

The Captain was concerned because it did not look like mama had bagged up and he was not sure she had milk.

The future is looking much brighter for that calf. That first full belly of milk and warm, dry ground that is out of the wind makes all the difference when you are hours old, 80 pounds and still damp. The weatherman is predicting a low of 19F tonight.

One thing about the Captain. He stays busy. He has a date tonight with his granddaughter. They are going out to eat and then to watch Special Olympics.

Tuesday, January 15, 2019

The Nine Fruits of the Holy Spirit

...the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control.  -Galations 5:22,23

Agape, wishing the best possible outcome for the other person regardless of relationship with that person. Note, this includes tough-love.

Original Greek words imply boundless or overflowing. Think of the wine at Cana, 180 gallons for a simple, country wedding feast.

Serenity. Productive relationships free from rancor and strife.

To not be torn apart by conflicting desires.

The endurance to work through friction to achieve a better result.

To allow "noise" to pass around our soul without being disturbed.

In Greek, old wine was called "chrestos" which meant that it was mellow or smooth. Not abrasive.

Kindness is doing a good turn for another without expectation of something in return. 

One who keeps his commitments. One who cleaves to his faith even when times are hard. One who has proven worthy of trust.

To have earned respect.


Gentleness implies deep reserves of strength. A small pony must jerk the sledge to get it moving while a Percheron draft horse can simply lean into the harness and start it moving by virtue of it's inherent strength.

Self control:
To have mastery of one's thoughts, passions and actions. To not take excessive counsel of one's fears.

Those who cannot master their lives become the slaves of others.

Getting to heaven is a bonus.

Get out of Garbutt

The standard advice given to young, under-employed men has been "Get out of Garbutt."

Garbutt, New York is the prototypical industrial town that had seen better days.

The people giving the advice were often professionals with swanky, $300K/year jobs. Obviously they were worried about the shortage of truck drivers needed to keep delivering Amazon loot and Ready-to-eat meals to their doorstep.

Billious de Bombastio, Mayor of New York City tweeted:

" the super rich, reform Wall Street, create good jobs with good wages."

"...The answer to economic fear and insecurity is actual re-distribution of wealth"
Of course, the way government makes 'good jobs' is to create make-work positions that produce nothing anybody would willingly spend their own, hard-earned money on. Otherwise those positions would already exist.

The rise of Dyslexia Osmium-Cortex has all elected, Democratic leaders rushing to the left side of the boat.

My advice to anybody with decent income or wealth is to Get out of Garbutt NYC.

Do your research. Florida and Texas might flip to red. Oklahoma looks safe for now and the price of housing is CHEAP.

Monday, January 14, 2019


Mark Jewell, a consultant who specializes in helping salespeople "sell" energy saving devices tells a story about a poultry packing plant in the deep south.

The salesperson had presented his best pitch to the plant management several times. The financials were indisputable. The pay-back was less than two years.

After every sales pitch management agreed that it would make the short-list of capital improvements. Every year the LED lighting project did not make the final cut.

The salesperson shared his frustration with Mr Jewell.

Mr Jewell dispatched one of his ace students to see if he could assist.

While the ace student was touring the plant, there was a hick-up in the line voltage and the Metal-halide lamps powered down. The line stopped.

A man came out of a "hooch" near the end of the production line and pulled out what looked like a gun. He walked over to the line and pointed the gun at the floor. And he stood.

After what seemed like an eternity the man walked back into his office and shortly thereafter the line started back up.

"What was that all about?" the ace asked.

"Oh, that is the Federal inspector." the guide said dismissively.

"What was he doing?" the ace asked.

"Federal standards dictate the level of lighting at final inspection." the guide informed him. "He had a light meter and we can't start until he is happy."

Metal arc lamps have a restart sequence. They don't reach full light output for fifteen or twenty minutes.

The ace asked, "Does this happen very often?"

"Dude, summer in central Mississippi? Happens twenty times every July due to thunderstorms alone." the guide replied.

"What does it cost to shut down the line?" the ace asked.

"We lose $1000 worth of salable product a minute when the line is down." the guide proudly informed the ace.


The next time the sales person visited the plant he made a studied, off-hand comment "I don't understand why you don't buy my product. It costs you over $400,000 a year. It is like you are crashing two Ferraris in the parking lot every year and you don't care."

The guide's head swivelled. "What's that?"

"You lost 400 minutes of production time last July alone because the Federal inspector shut down the line. LEDs have a 0.15 second warm-up time. You could have been shipping those 400 minutes. But it is your business. I just don't understand it." the sales person said.

The guide reversed direction. He bee-lined to the comptroller's office.

"Hey, Sid." the guide said. "Did you know you are crashing two Ferraris in the parking lot every July?"

That is the kind of question that gets attention.

Two weeks later the sales person had a signed purchase order in hand.


It makes me curious. In what ways are Christians and conservatives failing? Are we guilty of flogging a key-hole perspective of the power of Christianity and conservative values?

Liberals are guilty of promising everybody of an equal bite of the candy bar.

Conservatives offer a path where every kid can have their own candy bar.

Why doesn't that message burn through?

Eggs ev'ry morning and fried chicken ev'ry night

Sunday, January 13, 2019

Trees for Wetlands

True Blue Sam the Traveling Man recently reposted an essay at my request.

He also posted similar information in the comments on my post regarding Trees for Floodplains

TBS is apologetic for not researching the range maps for my area. I don't think it is that big of a deal. Deciduous trees from southern areas have shown a great deal more site plasticity than anybody ever imagined. Nuttall Oak, for instance, has a northernmost range of Missouri's bootheel. Growers interested in how new shoots are a deep, royal purple report that it grows well into Wisconsin.

When attempting to grow trees north of their historic ranges, it is smart to choose seed sources from the northern part of the range and to plant many seedlings to allow for Darwin to do his thing.

Speaking of Darwin, take a few minutes and read his post about Barberchairs kill.

John, Paul, Ron and Ringo?

I consider it good practice to uniquely identify every magazine I own.

It is a practice I picked up working in the factory. Certain material carriers were more likely to mis-load material into production stations that others. The first step to curing the system was to identify the carriers that were problems and either pull them out of the system or fix them.

The easiest way to mark carriers was to mark the nose of the carrier with a wax pencil or a Sharpie. Pretty soon you would have two or three carriers with four or more marks on the nose and nearly all the other carriers would be pristine.

But we don't always carry a Sharpie or wax pencil. That is the reason for the identifiers.

Magazines can be the weak link in the reliable operation of a firearm. Same-same.

Sure, I could use numbers or letters like 223A but then an observer might assume I had 223 or 308 magazines.  That might be awkward some day.

Mrs ERJ looked at a couple of my magazines and asked, "I suppose you have two more named George and Paul?"

My response was, "Close but not quite. I am naming them after famous authors. I have two more named Ron and Paul."

Saturday, January 12, 2019

Dead languages

I recently read an article suggesting that contracts and other documents written by the legal profession will no longer be in archaic, dead languages. The writer expects this transition sometime in the next ten years.

The writer implied that issues of grammar, tense and gender are too limiting for vast numbers of writers and consumers who no longer make a rigorous study of dead languages in college.

The language the writer was referring to is Standard American English.


Mrs ERJ asked me to look up the benefits and side effects of taking statins.

This is what I found:

The role of blood cholesterol levels in coronary heart disease (CHD) and the true effect of cholesterol-lowering statin drugs are debatable. In particular, whether statins actually decrease cardiac mortality and increase life expectancy is controversial.

Subsequent statin studies have led the United States Food and Drug Administration to issue warnings regarding the increased risk of diabetes and decreased cognition with statin drugs.

...statin trials conducted after 2005 have failed to demonstrate a consistent mortality benefit

The median postponement of death for primary and secondary prevention trials were 3.2 and 4.1 days, respectively.

Researchers found... (a) 72% increase in type 2 diabetes noted in postmenopausal women taking statins.

Statins have not been shown to increase life expectancy in these patients or in others not suffering from clinical evidence of CVD.

As always, be skeptical of what you find on the internet.  I picked these articles because they referenced peer reviewed publication

Think this through
I want you to think through the consequences of telling your doctor that you won't take statins based on your own, independent research.

A note will go into your electronic file stating "Patient refuses treatment." or "Patient not compliant with treatment plan." Those notes will go into your file every time you get counseled on the results of your blood least annually.

If we continue to trudge toward Big Brother medicine, that could become a death sentence if medical care is rationed. You might go to a medical facility and need a procedure to save you life. The care givers might determine that it would be a waste of resources because you are a non-compliant patient.

Consider...just consider...graciously accepting the lowest dose of the cheapest commodity statin ($4/month) and religiously picking up the prescription when it is automatically filled. Nod your head in agreement like a malleable and righteous acolyte.

The nail that sticks up is hammered down.

TSA gropers not paid. No planes fell from the sky.

The two most hated arms of the Federal Government are the IRS and the TSA.

TSA gropers employees have been staging a blue-flu strike and backing up air travel. Travelers are howling and airlines are weeping.

Do you remember traveling before 9/11/2001? For sixty years nobody flew airliners into buildings and except for the occasional tourist demanding a vacation in Cuba there were almost no hijackings.

Then, in the post 9/11 TSA was born. I think it was by anal delivery.


That is a serious question.

Friday, January 11, 2019

Walls don't work

Some of my friends claim that I have too much respect for the study of economics.


But I find that the discipline of economics provides tools and insights that are not available elsewhere.

For example, economics suggests that raising prices nearly always causes a decrease in demand. There are a few, rare exceptions but I will touch on those later.

If the cost to enter the United States increases then the number of migrants to choose that option will decrease by some amount.

That cost might be the cost of renting a boat. That cost might be months spent in a camp with little prospect of making money. That cost might be the cost of digging a tunnel or the cost of a broken leg or blown-out knee from scaling and then jumping off the fence.

Will every migrant be stopped? No, of course not. But neither will fines or jail sentences deter every criminal. Do we hear politicians claiming that traffic tickets, IRS fines and incarcerating felons should be eliminated because they are not 100% effective?

Of course not. The system keeps chugging along because it is a system. Each element contributing to the performance like overlapping shingles.

It is disingenuous to say "Walls don't work."  Walls are ONE part of a system.

Light posting today

Today is a mom-and-dad day and they have no internet.

Then off to Grand Valley to hang out with Belladonna.

It is going to be a LONG day.

Thursday, January 10, 2019

Good fences make good neighbors

I happen to know some senior citizens who own some swamp land. There are trees growing in the swamp. Many of them are ash. Most of the ash died and the wind blew them over after the roots rotted.

The senior citizens have a neighbor who has been very helpful. He is a likeable guy.

The neighbor asked permission to cut the dead ash to heat his home.

The senior citizens know that I have a computer and printer and they asked me to type out the following conditions.

There is a wealth of expertise residing in my readers. Did they miss anything?

The picture in my head is that Dick (not his real name) will cut the logs into manageable lengths and winch them onto a lowboy trailer. I don't see the project taking very long.

Then he will buck to length and split on his own property. 
Conditions around cutting wood at the swamp:

· This permission is only extended to Dick Cissel. Dick may not extend it to anybody else.
· This permission is for a limited time, January 15-to-February 15, 2019
· An adult identified by the owners must be on-site when the cutting and loading is done to ensure safety and the presence of another adult with a cell phone.
· No drinking alcohol before, while cutting or while loading or transporting firewood
· No guns are permitted while wood is being cut and loaded.
· Wood is for personal use and not for resale
· Only windfalls may be harvested. The most dangerous part of cutting wood is felling trees.
· Harvesting of wood is to be done when the ground is frozen so trucks and trailers don’t tear up the ground.
· A meeting with the owners must be held before hand.
· An agreement must be signed that outlines these conditions. Signing agreement means you are willing to abide by the conditions
· Time of chain-sawing must be limited to three hours a day. Tired cutters get sloppy and have accidents.