Thursday, February 28, 2019


There are two farm stores in Charlotte.

They both have chicks.

This seems like good time to talk about optimum light for chicks and chickens.

Research on broilers has shown that blue and green LED lights enhance growth4. Research on layer pullets indicates that LED lights with a greater portion of blue and green spectra result in better body weights and uniformity compared to incandescent bulbs, although more data is needed (Settar, unpublished data).

In poultry, red light is vital for stimulating sexual maturity and egg production. Birds exposed to red light versus blue, green or white light consistently have higher egg production than the other color groups. Red light is able to penetrate the skull to stimulate the extra retinal photoreceptors. Red light (around 650 nm) penetrates the skull and brain (hypothalamus) four to 50 times more efficiently than blue, green and yellow-orange light2. The hypothalmus is important in regulating the production of hormones important for egg production.
Light intensity, measured in lux, clux or foot candles, is also important for poultry production. In general, light intensity below 5 lux is too dark to stimulate proper growth and production, while higher light intensity (above 50 lux) may cause nervousness and aberrant behavior. The standard recommendation for growing pullets is to brood for 2 to 3 weeks at 30–50 lux, and then dim to 10–15 lux until 14 weeks. Two weeks prior to the transfer, gradually increase the light intensity to match the levels in the layer house. Laying hens should be kept at an average of 30 lux at the level of the feed trough.  Source

The hot ticket is to raise the chicks under a heat lamp + 5000K LED lighting for three weeks. Then turn off the heat lamp. At 14 weeks have a 2700K LED light that you turn on in addition to the 5000K that you have been running the entire time. Start with the 2700K lamp three times farther away than the 5000K lamp and move it closer over the course of the next two weeks so they are equidistant at 16 weeks.

Wednesday, February 27, 2019

Budget quick-strike rigs

The traditional method of hooking minnows when using them for bait has some drawbacks.

For one thing, there is a lot of minnow and just a tiny bit of hook. You miss a lot of fish.

The only sure way to ensure you will get a solid hook-up is to let the fish swallow the bait. Then you set the hook. It pretty much guarantees a dead fish even if you release it as it likely has a perforated stomach.

Another alternative is to use a "quick set" rig. They cost about $10 if you buy them. You can make them for about fifty cents.

The makings to roll your own quick set rigs

Silver leaves were cut from pie tin to provide a little bit of bling.

Take one of the leaders. You can use 6" leaders for minnows as large as 8". Slide a couple of beads, the "spinner" and then another bead onto the leader from the swivel end.

Half way up the leader, put a sharp bend in the leader.

Slide the sharp bend through the loop on the clip end of the second leader.

Then pass the swivel end through the loop and snug it down.

Add more beads and spinner to the swivel end of the first leader.
A split ring and a treble hook go on the swivel end of the first leader.

This is what it looks like after assembly.

Use your imagination. Pretend the hot-dog is a minnow.
You will have about fifty cents invested and it will take you about three minutes to bang one out. You cannot find a parking place at the mall that quickly.

Good luck fishing.

Bonus video

Tuesday, February 26, 2019

The names of the Apostles written in Aramaic

The names of the twelve Apostles as written in Issa-Giliana True-type script.

Just because.

As requested by Jonathan H

B.F. Skinner's superstitious chickens*

Scientists abound in the Eaton Rapids Joe household.

We are replicating B.F. Skinner's experiment where he used random rewards as a "control" for an experiment.

The issue of a "control" for an experiment in behaviors is not trivial. At one point he explored simply dropping food pellets down the chute in a random manner...should be a GREAT control for the rest of the experiment, right?

A problem arose. Some of the birds developed bizzare behaviors like hopping up-and-down on their left foot or spinning counterclockwise or assuming fantastical positions like the 17th image on page 31 of the Kama Sutra.

The ERJ experiment
The experiment did not start as an experiment. Rather, it started as three people with differing standards of what a "healthy" dog looked like.

Roy Kaelin captured coyotes in gluten free traps and then shaved them. This is what they looked like.
I think healthy, domestic dogs should look like wild dogs with a few exceptions. Those exceptions are muscle-bound dogs like pit-bulls and such.

At the other end of the spectrum is Kubota who thinks dogs should be well padded as shown in the top image.

Mrs ERJ is in the middle. The dog's look at her with puppy eyes and tug at the ever beautiful and compassionate Mrs ERJ's heart strings and she gives them a treat. Did I mention Mrs ERJ grew up with spaniels. You would have thought she would be immune.

The rub is that the dogs ARE a little bit hungry twelve hours after they are fed.

Kubota gives them treats when he notices them but continues about his business when he doesn't.

The dogs learned how to be pests in lickity-split time: Prancing, dancing, weaving between your feet as you walk, flipping over the laptop with their noses, logging into Mrs ERJ's social media account and telling stories that are total fabrications.

Four legged attention whores and trip hazards.

In society
I wonder how many of the "brilliant", remake-the-world socialists ever owned a dog? Not just owned a dog on paper but cared for it and trained it and lived with the results?

I would guess that very few have. They would be wiser and their ideas would be more grounded in reality and less rooted in fantasy and ideology.

*Yes, I know they were pigeons but my fingers wanted to type "chickens".

Micronutrients, culture and cuisine

Red and dark red areas have soil that is very low in selenium.
Selenium is a micronutrient that is chemically very similar to sulfur. Selenium falls right below sulfur on the periodic table. A shortage of selenium results in white muscle disease and a host of other issues.

Plant species that are rich in sulfur are invariably richer in selenium than non-sulfur accumulating plants growing in the same soils. The roots cannot discriminate between the two elements.

How can you tell which plants are rich in sulfur and selenium? Well, they stink!

Cabbage, broccoli, kale, turnips, mustard, onions, garlic, leaks etc.

If you were to name the cuisines that make the heaviest use of cabbage, onions etc., what regions spring to mind?  Northern and Eastern Europe.

How about Chinese cuisines from Shandong to Hunan and Sichuan?

I am not talking about the cuisine of the wealthy people. People rich enough to eat significant amounts of meat almost never have selenium deficiencies because animals are accumulators of micronutrients. I am talking about the cuisine of the common peasant.

How about Indian cuisine? If our hypothesis is that cuisines that evolved in regions with selenium deficient areas tend toward, well, smelly...then one would expect some regions of India to be deficient in selenium.

As you can see, most of India is as deficient as eastern Germany, Poland and Belarus and northern Ukraine.

Correlation does not prove causality but it is fun to speculate.

Sunday, February 24, 2019

Wind power

The wind is blowing at sustained speeds in excess of thirty miles per hour today.

We had to drive around an elm tree that had fallen across one lane of M-50 on the way home from church.

Today is a good day to talk briefly about wind-power.

A windmill is a device that converts some of the kinetic energy of the wind that blows through its swept area and turns it to electrical power.

Consequently, it is possible to estimate the absolute, top-end of the power a given windmill can produce knowing only the diameter of the blade(s) and the wind speed. Note: the actual number can be much, much less than this.

Key things to be aware of:
The kinetic energy of wind goes up with velocity cubed (^3). The kinetic energy of each unit volume goes up by V^2 but you have to remember that the number of unit volumes also goes up by V^1.

The swept area goes up by Diameter^2.

Would you care to guess how much more energy a windmill with an 8' diameter blade in a 12.5mph wind will produce compared to a 4' diameter blade in a 7.5mph wind?

The answer is 18X as much. That is why you want to erect your windmill at the top of the hill or crest of a ridge. It is also why you want a large diameter. You might be able to squeeze 400W from a 4' diameter windmill but you might need 30mph winds to achieve those numbers.

If I were handy, I would strongly consider a 10' diameter wheel and construct the blades from 8' long, 5/4", Western Yellow Pine decking planks shaped to be air foils and cut to 4' lengths. The 2' diameter sans blades has negligible area.

Saturday, February 23, 2019

Triggers and Owen sub-guns

This is about how a machinist would lay out the parts if he were going to cut them from 1/4", 1045 or 1137 steel bar with a 3/8", carbide mill. The use of a medium carbon steel facilitates the flame hardening of the sear surfaces to 55-to-60Rc.

My friend gifted me with the stock trigger from his AR after I installed his aftermarket trigger.

Three pieces, three springs. It is a very simple design.

The two biggest pieces are the trigger/sear in the top portion of the photo above and the hammer in the bottom of the photo. The original parts are both sintered metal in the model my friend bought.
Approximate orientation of the two pieces as assembled. The sear regions of both pieces are precision ground and the pivot holes are drilled but everything else is net shape. The third piece is not shown.

The third piece functions as a safety and to prevent auto-fire.

In thinking about the story, Seven Cows, I could see a time when a machinist might be tempted to knock out weapons to arm a militia. Given the limitations of the supply line and the retail prices of commercially manufactured components, he might be tempted to manufacture many of the parts in-house.
It hurts my eyes, especially the stock.  The Owen gun had extraordinary reliability as the spent shells ejected downward and the opening for the charging handle was in a separate compartment. That is why the receiver is so long.

He could do far worse than to modify an Owen Submachine Gun to accept commercially available magazines.
Line of sight two inches above the bore. Sighted in for 100 yards.

Since I have a hand in creating this parallel universe, I am pretty sure the machinist will rotate the magazine well 10 degrees to the right to put the sights two inches above the bore and he will probably put the stock more in line with the bore to minimize muzzle climb.

Oh, and the guns will need triggers. If he massed up the bolt to lower the rate of fire to 300-to-400 rounds per minute it would not be hard to launch single shots or two round bursts.

Increasing the length of the spur on the hammer would result in the hammer giving the trigger a little love-tap to return it to the not-fire position. It would take more finger strength to hold it in auto fire mode.

How long will Pelosi tolerate the loons?

Pelosi rules through intimidation.

All of the other Democratic Representatives are watching her, waiting for the loonies to get bug-splatted by the windshield.

If Pelosi does not smack them down then she will not be able to lead. There is much pent up resentment.

A few questions come to mind.

How much longer will the rank-and-file Democrats in the House give Nancy to smack them before running off the reservation?

How will she choose to do it? Will the guys in the back-room who advise Orbital-Crazy and others start having accidents and ruined credit ratings or will it be more overt? That is, more of an object lesson.

Friday, February 22, 2019

Hoot owls

Things are pretty good around the old homestead.

I woke up to the sounds of a hoot owl outside my window this morning.

"Who, who. Who who who?"

"Who do you shoot? Who?"

The mind plays tricks in that half-awake state called hypnagogia. Fortunately my Jedi training reminded me of the Fifth Amendment and I did not answer the question.

I finally got serious about trouble-shooting the source of the leak in the blue truck.

The leak sprayed coolant on the distributor and that is not a good thing.

The guy who sold me the truck claimed the leak was from the head gasket. That did not add up. For one thing a leak in the head gasket would not spray the top of the engine.

The nipple for the heater hose return looked like a promising source. The packing is pushed out.

The trouble-shooting method was primitive. A wrap of paper towel and then a wrap of aluminum foil to hold the towel in place. Then I drove around.

The first clue I had that I had found the source is that the truck started time-after-time. The diagnostic equipment knocked down the spray and the distributor stayed dry.

The truck has a new nipple.

In other, breaking news: I was able to install a new front sight post and an aftermarket trigger on my friend's AR. I think it is "done".

It has been a productive few days.

Thursday, February 21, 2019

How do you measure biodiversity?

A friend sent me this image that purports to show the number of "vascular plant species per 10,000km". The automatic assumption is that this is a map is a reasonable proxy for biodiversity.

Looking at this map, I am suspicious based on the poverty of biodiversity in Florida and Texas. That just doesn't seem right.

Doing a reverse image look-up yields a website that also lists the number of genus and families per unit area.

Map of Genus diversity. If you expand this map you will find "specks" of super-diversity. They roughly correlate with Ann Arbor, Michigan, Columbus, Ohio...and other college towns. What a coincidence!
For those who are not familiar with the terms: Species is a cluster of plants with more-or-less fixed trait that easily interbreed with each other. Genus are clusters of species that share many fixed traits and can sometimes breed with each other.

Families are one more step up the hierarchy.

The density of species is roughly correlated to the density of Ph.D students needing thesis material.

It is not difficult find enough variation in a widespread population to justify a "new" species. In fact, it was rumored that two botanists "created" two new species of Hawthorn from the same specimen based on the location they were examining. Shade leaves vs. sun leaves and rainy year vs. sunny year will cause significant differences of appearance in many plants.

It is a much, much bigger deal to "discover" a new genus and it generates a serious amount of scrutiny.

Compare northern Georgia and northern Alabama. Look at the map showing the number of species per 10,000 sq-km map and then look at the number of families.

Look at coastal Georgia and Carolinas (current borne species), eastern Texas (flowing out of Central America), central Florida (confluence of sub-tropical and continental) and southeastern Arizona (same as eastern Tx). That is where the rubber hits the road for botanical biodiversity, not California and Calvert, Anne Arundel and Prince George's counties Md.

A tip of the fedora to Lucas Machias.

Wednesday, February 20, 2019

Making history

Kamala Harris wants to make history as the first half-black, woman President of the United States of America.

Nobody has the heart to tell her that she is about 12 years too late for that.

Tuesday, February 19, 2019

What is the color of evil?

What is the color of evil? Is evil blue or is evil white?

In ancient times the concept of “blue” as a color did not exist. Blue was considered a temporary surface condition like “shiny”.

Consider the sea. It is blue, right? Nope. Take a dipper of water out of the sea and it is clear...definitely not blue.

How about grapes? Are grapes blue? Nope. Squish them and leave it for a bit and grapes reveal their true nature to be red.

Perhaps you recall that Homer describes the sea as “dark wine” color in the Iliad. What is wine made from? Grapes. What is the most common color of ripe grapes? What we call blue. Given the inability to define “blue” as a color, the best Homer could do for an adjective to describe the sea was to call it “wine, dark”.

On the other hand, if you take most solid substances and grind them finely enough they turn white. The powder is white. Therefore the substance must be white inside. It's true nature is white.

Is it “...deliver us from all that is evil...” or “...deliver us from evil...”

Is evil a temporary surface condition like “shiny”? Is it a suit we put on and can remove with no effort? Is it a non-durable adjective or adverb that is subordinate to the object or action. Is evil blue?

"Deliver us from all that is evil...", “...deliver us from the blue house.” or “...deliver us from diseases that are mortal...”

Or is evil like Mark Twain’s observation, “Beauty may be skin deep but ugly runs to the bone.” That is, does evil permeate the entire nature of a person, thing or action? Is evil white?

The idea that evil is inherent suggests that redemption is difficult if not impossible. It also implies that inanimate objects can be inherently evil. Are guns evil? Are computer keyboards or rope or E. coli or castor beans inherently and irredeemably evil?

If you give it a little bit of thought you might come to the conclusion that evil starts out as a temporary a vine climbing on a brick wall. But over the years the roots sink into the mortar and the vine cannot be removed without destroying the wall. Over the years we let evil strike roots into us until the ugly reaches into our bone.

The good news is that with the grace of the Holy Spirit, goodness grows from superficial to becoming a part of who we are. When first married my wedding ring was loose. I had to take if off when swimming.

Over the years my fingers grew into the ring and now it is permanently riveted in place.

I need some help with research

Later in the Seven Cows series the characters are going to install a pirate radio station. This is illegal but the authorities are pinned down with other problems. Ideally, this station would be able to reach out ten or fifteen miles in the cardinal compass directions.

I know just a tiny bit about radios and radio waves. Tiny, tiny bit.

I suspect that I have readers who could whip off a functional concept while eating their Rice Crispies.

A few questions:
Which band? GMRS? Ham? CB? AM? FM? The FCC restricts "unlicensed" AM and FM stations to a transmission range of a few hundred meters.

The FCC also puts a minimum power requirement for licensed stations, I think 250W for AM and 100W for FM.

If something like GMRS what is the practicality of duplex repeaters on utility poles? Would they work by shifting privacy codes such that a listener could listen to channel xy and try privacy codes 13, 14 or 15 to find the best signal for their location?

If GMRS, what channels are least heavily used?

If GMRS, would the "network" also be able to function as two-way communication whereby one small patch of civilization can call for mutual aid?

If AM or FM, how much power would be required to transmit five miles? How about ten miles?

What questions am I not smart enough to ask but should be asking?

Monday, February 18, 2019

Some more tresspassin'

Today's adventure was to go tresspassin' with the Captain.

First we went over to his dad's. He plowed snow and I shoveled.

Then we went over to a place he used to hunt when he was a young man.

The drainage patterns changed due to land-use issues and construction. This area is very, very flat and six inch clod in a drainage ditch will cause ten acres of land to flood.

Consequently, there were many, many dead trees.

I am not being judgemental. Nature is always in a flux. The ten acres of drowned trees are counter-balanced by the fact that somewhere there are ten acres now dry enough to grow trees.

The fact that disturbances like flooding and fire create a mosaic that is actually GOOD for biodiversity is lost on most people. But then, most people are "feelers" rather than "observe and thinkers".

I think those newly flooded areas might be a good place to sneak some Nyssa aquatic seedlings.

Buck rub. 3-1/2 diameter Basswood. He sure fuzzed that one up. Generally, local bucks prefer 1"-to-2" diameter White Pine, aspen, willow or sumac in roughly that order. They seem to prefer "springy" sparring partners. Maybe that makes them feel like winners.

What is a native species?
If climate wobbles, then why would anybody expect the "range" of any species to stay constant?

Rottweil, Germany was a desert several million years ago and before that it was warm shallow seas. Would a purist demand that all currently native, temperate mesic habitat species be destroyed because they were not consistent with what once grew there at arbitrary points in time? Would those purists be willing to move back to western Kenya?

More trees
Later, the Captain and I toured a plot closer to home.

This was also very low land.

What was notable about this parcel was the tamarack (larch) and its fine timber form. The tree that is on the left side of the photo and is leaning is one of those trees. It has a very nice stem, for the species.

Also notable was the abundance of Yellow Birch (Betula alleghaniensis). Southern Michigan is close to the southern limit of this species. It reaches farther south along the Appalachian Mountains but that is a special circumstance

There was an west-to-east streak where the majority of the trees were Yellow Birch and the Captain commented on the rarity of the tree and the oddness of the streak.

It is rare that I can contribute to the Captain's knowledge of the out-of-doors.

Birch is a pioneer species that is very intolerant of shade, especially as a seedling. The seeds are small and don't have much get-up-and-go. Consequently, they depend on fire to wipe out taller plants that would shade them or prevent the seeds from coming in contact with the soil.

That is the competitive advantage of small seeded trees. They produce brazillions of seeds that the wind carries long distances. When a burn occurs, whether by the hand of man or by lightening, those species can reach out and colonize those burned areas.

I suggested to the Captain that the west-to-east orientation of the stand was evidence of a fire that started and the prevailing westward winds created a long, slender burn. I also stripped a twig from a low branch and was able to detect the faint odor of wintergreen, i.e. methyl-salicate. This is the first time I had been able to smell the wintergreen.

As I get older I see that humans get trapped by their narrow sense of "normality". They think that their experiences are the "correct" boundaries for what is right.

The conundrum is that nature resents running-in-place. How do you trap a pioneer species in amber? Pioneer species are totally dependent on disturbance.

In the spectrum between control freak who worship an arbitrary snapshot of succession and Laissez-faire management philosophies, I lean past Fairly-Lazy and support the active injection of disruption and intelligent chaos.

Sunday, February 17, 2019

Punchlines for 700

"Page (fill in the number of years you have been married) of our copy of the Kama Sutra has a misprint."


There I was, minding my own business when I noticed that my left elbow felt funny. Or rather, I could not feel anything at all.

If you know anything about heart attack symptoms and left arms then you know that guys on the "seasoned" side of fifty need to pay attention.

A quick inspection anomaly. I had a big bump hanging off my elbow.

I quickly consulted with my sister (a nurse) and my brother (a doctor) and they suggested that I had suffered some trauma to my elbow.

I said, "Golly, I don't think so. I would have remembered."

They threw around some fancy words, lipomas and hematomas and such. They sagely nodded their heads. "Trauma."

Well, I figured out the source of the trauma.


It is beyond gauche to talk about what happens in bedrooms, but in this case it is necessary to understand what happened.

I ALWAYS go to bed before Mrs ERJ. Except the last few nights. Entering our bedroom, the straightest path to my side of the bed that did not involve climbing over my peacefully slumbering spouse was to climb over the foot of the bed.

And then I skated across the kivvers with the grace of an Olympic figure skater, spinning and arcing through space. And do you want to guess what I was skating on?

Yes! My left elbow!

Alas, I can no longer claim it was because page 31 of our copy of the Kama Sutra had a misprint. Sigh!

A great time of year to walk in the woods

Black Walnut leaves are a distinctive spring-green. The clump of trees in the lower left corner of the image are black walnut.
Technically, I am trespassing since I don't have explicit permission to be on the property.

I wear an orange hat and do not carry a firearm. I am not hunting, I am walking. That defuses tension. I am not going to shoot holes in houses, cars or livestock.

The ground is frozen so I can go places that are normally inaccessible. There are no mosquitoes and my heavy coat easily sheds thorns.

My original reason for walking was to look for superior specimens of cottonwood. I was not successful.

Black Walnut
What I found was an eight acre woods where 40% of the trees are mature Black Walnuts.

The tall weeds are Giant Ragweed, a common plant in low, peaty places. Some anthropologists claim Amer-Indians used giant ragweed as a grain before maize migrated from Mexico.

Poor timber form. Probably makes lots of nuts, though.
Root pattern common in marshy areas.

A black walnut blow-down.

A couple of images of the "soil" the blow-down was growing in. Yes, Virginia, the dirt burns if you dry it out and put a match to it. It is pre-coal.

Another image of the "soil".