Sunday, March 31, 2019

A story of rings and robes

Today's Gospel reading was from Luke and it was the story of the Prodigal Son.  Depending on how you read it, the story of the Prodigal Son is either the easiest and least demanding of Gospel readings or one of the very hardest.

In both cases the story of the Prodigal Son is a story about redemption.

Let's start with easy
The easy version is like the verse in a Hallmark card. In this version we "learn" that God the Father's middle name is "Milquetoaste".

In this version we put ourselves into the sandals of the prodigal son and we are comforted to know that no matter how heinous our behavior toward God and his church, we are already forgiven.

The hard
I need to lay a bit of groundwork here. The portion of the story where the father first sights his returning son is very tightly written. There is no gratuitous detail or fanciful window dressing. Everything that is there is there for very specific reasons.

...his father caught sight of him, and was filled with compassion.
He ran to his son, embraced him and kissed him...
But his father ordered his servants,
‘Quickly bring the finest robe and put it on him;
put a ring on his finger and sandals on his feet.

"Kissed him" The first time "kiss" appears in the Bible is in Genesis when God the Father kissed Adam and breathed life into him. The father's kiss of the Prodigal Son returns him to life.

"Ordered his servants" is code that we as servants and brothers of Christ are expected to be active participants in the story.

Tiny scraps of cloth are still used to "confer" authority. An officer who attempts to issue direct orders while out-of-uniform might not be obeyed.
"Finest robe"  Clothing was more than a badge of authority. It is authority. We still use the term "investiture ceremony" when somebody new is sworn into office. Investiture; where "vest" or formal clothing is the root.

"Ring" Signet rings were used to seal documents and to enter into contracts. Giving the prodigal son one of the family rings meant that the son was granted the power to commit the family to potentially ruinous business ventures. It was the full equal of a CEO's legally binding signature.

"Sandals" Feet were unclean. Those horses and oxen, donkeys and camels did not wear diapers. Jesus washed the apostle's feet to show service and ennobling humility. The story of the Prodigal Son compels us to be actors in the redemption of others even when it is "icky".

Now to make it really, really hard
Using the story of the Prodigal Son in Luke's Gospel as a lens, how does it inform us to treat the clergy who misbehaved?

I own the next part
Q: What are the similarities?
A: The preface to the story has the opinion makers gigging Jesus for ministering to tax collectors, lepers and others who were unclean. In today's society it is difficult to find any group of people who get treated the way lepers were back at the time of Christ but I submit that clergy who committed sex crimes fall into that group.

Q: Do I propose "re-vesting" clergy who misbehaved and setting them lose in the community?
A: No. There are ample examples in the Bible of needing to balance mission with stewardship. It would be a failure of mission to put individuals with documented weaknesses into situations where they will sin.

Q: What I proposing for the Church community with regard to fallen clergy.
A: Nothing. I am simply sharing where MY head is. I would willingly eat lunch with a defrocked clergyman because I still see them as members of the family and worthy of social interactions. Nobody else needs to climb on board. This essay talks about where I am.

Q: But doesn't the Bible single out sodomy as the most vile and disgusting of sin?
A: All sin is repugnant to God.

A counter-argument can be made that the story of Sodom and Gomorrah is even more about failures of hospitality. Sojourners from the desert enter Sodom and Gomorrah in a weakened state and the residents sexually abuse them. To use a man (male) for sexual purposes was to steal his claim to humanity, to virtually steal his soul. He was now a woman.

The sin was failure of hospitality. Sodomy was the means of denying hospitality.

To break bread with a repentant sinner is to fulfill the duty of hospitality. Ironically, to shun a repentant sinner is to repeat the sins of non-hospitality which is to repeat the sin of Sodom and Gomorrah by a different means.

As always, your mileage will vary.

Not yet

The water temperature where Silver Creek enters the Grand River was forty degrees. Probably a little early. As long as I was there I decided to drown some worms for an hour.
Still ice on some of the backwaters where it was shaded.

A very low tech setup. The buckets have about 4" of water in them for ballast. The poles have bells on them. It was raining while I fished.
The view of Silver Creek farther up-stream. This is just below a cemetery where two branches come together.

This is the south branch. The water tumbles out of the culvert and gouged out a nice pool.

If you can believe the forecast, the average of the daily high and low temps will be about 45 F for the next six days. That is not going to pull the water temperature up very quickly. There is probably not much point in trying again until April 7 or 8.
Later in the day I went to a book store. It seemed fitting that True Crime was next to Social Science in the aisle of oxymorons.

Phrenology report

I lost the season's first pair of loppers.

Saturday, March 30, 2019

Regression to the mean

Lake Wo-be-gone, where the women are strong, the men are good looking and the children are all above average.

One quirk about the statistical concept of "regression to the mean" is that it dominates as numbers get larger.

In a town with one child, there is a 49.9999% chance that the child is above average.

In a town with twenty children, here is a 1.0e-6 chance that all children are above average.

So it is with professions. A profession with a half dozen practitioners can be stellar compared to the average for the species.

A profession or industry that comprises a significant percentage of the gross domestic product, not so much.

Assume the ridiculous, that healthcare expanded to 99% of the economy.

Healthcare could have the same percentage of buffoons, knaves, idiots, psychopaths, illiterates, greedy fuchs, zealots, heroes, saints, nauseum as the general population.

In the long run, perhaps the most corrosive consequence of the college admissions scandals is the inarguable fact that the gate-keepers were bought. The person administering your meds might have gotten into, and passed based on the largess of their parents.

Nor did the best engineers design your automobiles, airplanes and bridges.

What can you do?

Learn to pack your own parachute.


First micro-eyeroll at five seconds. I invite you to mute the sound and count the number of micro-eyerolls in the first fifteen seconds. Source of video
Malcolm Gladwell wrote a book titled Blink. In one chapter he interviews experts at body language. The experts make an extraordinary claim, that they can watch a few minutes of interaction and determine whether a couple will still be together in a year.

The researchers demonstrated by showing a short video clip of a man and a woman discussing whether they should get a pet. The man wanted a dog. The woman did not.

After fifteen seconds the researcher said, "They won't be together for long."

The key in that clip was the frequency of "micro-eyerolls".

What is a micro-eyeroll?
First, let's start with what an eye roll communicates. When somebody rolls their eyes in a conversation they are overtly communicating "I have zero respect for you. Your opinions are utter bullshit that I have no intention of giving any consideration."

Another variation on this is "I am telling you lies and you are SO stupid that you will believe them."

Parents of teenagers know what I mean.

A micro-eyeroll is a semi-feral eye roll. It makes the barest concession to civility. It hides just enough so the other party in the conversation is not forced to call them out.

The person doing the eye rolls still lets enough shine through so the contempt is still communicated. Let me repeat, the person sending the micro-eyerolls wants the other party to know, at some level, that the sender despises them.

The micro-eyeroll is picked up by slowing down the video and looking for the upward movement of the irises as the lids start to close and partially closed eyes with the irises not showing.

This is a good example of a classic micro-eyeroll at the nine second mark. The makers of horror and zombie movies knows this freaks us out at a visceral level. The person doing micro-eyerolls does not regard the other person as human. The other person is either expendable or dinner.
Another, more subtle version is to lift the head and let the fact that you are looking upward "print" through your eyelids. This works when you start the eye roll as your lids are closing to telegraph your intention. This image was taken at the eleven second mark and is a separate even from the nine second micro-eyeroll.
As shown by the puppy example at the lead in, the topic is less important than the other party to the conversation.

The live audience is not the target because they cannot see her face. Remember, the micro-eyeroll is intentional. The sender WANTS the other party to know the sender has no respect for the other party.

That leaves us with two choices: Is the primary target the interviewer or is the primary target everybody who watches TV?

While audience is more important than the topic, the timing of the eye rolls is probably triggered by the specific phrases. The micro-eyerolls are exclaimation points "And this is the TOTALLY, UTTER BULLSHIT!!!"

At the five second mark Bellatrix Lestrange said "...thousands of Americans died..."

At the nine second mark Lestrange said "...terrorist attacks on US soil..."

At the eleven second mark Lestrange said "...our national response..."

What I see as a common thread is underlined.

Friday, March 29, 2019

Gang of ten run down and kill man in Brooklyn

Gang of ten chases down man in Brooklyn and kills him. Yes, they are sagging. No, they cannot run very fast because they need both hands to hold up their trousers.
Man is able to clear six foot fence. Barely. He pushed off the bush growing in the corner.
None of the three men chasing him were able to clear the fence.
This one tried but had neither the jumping ability or arm strength to make it happen.
This is probably the wrong moral to the story, but if you can run one 9 minute mile and clear a six foot fence without a ladder then you can probably leave most of these bozos behind.

The story changes drastically if you are with your wife, kids or grandkids. Then running is not an option. Then, hollowpoints, standard capacity magazines, high-center of mass hits and a good lawyer are your best option.

Rain is coming

Sixty trees in the ground this afternoon.

Rain is coming.

MSU cannot buy a basket at the start of the second half.

Exposed! Sex pistils: Pictures!

The red feathers at the ends of the buds are female hazelnut flowers. More precisely, the stigma of the pistils.

The male sex organs of the hazelnut plant are called catkins. They are getting longer and looser and will soon be dumping pollen into the air.

It is that time of year.

Thursday, March 28, 2019

"Placebo" is to "Medicine" what "Facebo" is to...

"Placebo" is to "Medicine" what "Facebo" is to...
A.) Information
B.) Friends
C.) A Functioning Society
D.) All of the above

Big Don

Big Don
Big Don

Ev'ry mornin' at the mine you could see him arrive
He stood six foot two and weighed two forty five
Kinda broad at the shoulder and narrah at the hip
And everybody knew, ya didn't give no lip to Big Don
(Big Don, Big Don)
Big Bad Don
(Big Don)

Nobody seemed to know where Don called home
He just drifted into town and stayed all alone
He didn't think much, he shot from the hip
And if you spoke at all, you just said, "Hi" to Big Don

Somebody said he came from New Orleans
Where he got in a fight over a Cajun Queen
And a crashin' blow from a huge right hand
Sent a Arkansas Shyster to the Promised Land, Big Don
(Big Don, Big Don)
Big Bad Don
(Big Don)

Then came the day at the bottom of the mine
When a timber cracked and men started cryin'
Miners were prayin' and hearts beat fast
And everybody thought that they'd breathed their last, 'cept Don
Through the dust and the smoke of this man made hell
Walked a giant of a man that the miners knew well
Grabbed a saggin' timber, gave out with a groan
And like a giant Oak tree, he just stood there alone, Big Don
(Big Don, Big Don)
Big Bad Don
(Big Don)

And with all of his strength he gave a mighty shove
Then a miner yelled out, "There's a light up above"
And twenty men scrambled from a would-be grave
Now there's only one left down there to save, Big Don
With jacks and timbers they started back down
Then came that rumble way down in the ground
And then smoke and gas belched out of that mine
Everybody knew it was the end of the line for Big Don
(Big Don, Big Don)
Big Bad Don
(Big Don)

Now they never reopened that worthless pit
They just placed a marble stand in front of it
These few words are written on that stand
At the bottom of this mine lies a big, big man, Big Don

I am at mom and dad's today so you get drivel and scrapings.

First spring peepers of the season

Note to self: First spring peepers of the season heard this morning.

According to this site, Charlotte has 28 GDD base 42, 15 GDD base 45 and 5 GDD base 50.

Wednesday, March 27, 2019

Liberal tears

Apologies to my friends from Nebraska

Prickly pears and figs

The pads (Cladone) are 16" long and by 6.7" wide on this selection.
I am back from the dentist and don't feel much like planting trees this afternoon. That means you will get a post that is long on theory and short on action.

It is almost inevitable that gardeners and folks who raise animals want to push the envelope.
This picture was taken in early spring. Scaling from the oak leaves, the pads are about 1.5" wide by 3" long.
Opuntia cespitosa, prickly pear, are native to Michigan. They survive by flopping down and letting the snow cover them. They are surprisingly common between Muskegon and White Hall, Michigan and are easily spotted when they are in flower since they have large, brilliant yellow flowers. They even grow on freeway overpasses in Muskegon.

One would expect this species to be abundant in the D.C. area given its species name, cesspitosa. But, alas, it is not common there.
Image taken by William Cullina, Executive Director of Coastal Maine Botanical Gardens
Three species of Opuntia also grow in Wyoming where temperatures are far lower than occur in Michigan. I saw some growing in the terra cotta like soils northeast of Wapiti, Wyoming.

Those are not the Opuntia of nopales and prickly pear fruit. Nope.

TAMUK #1319.
That would be Opuntia ficus-indicia

OFI has been domesticated for so many centuries that probably absorbed genetics from clusters of similar species. Sadly, this "species" hits the wall at 15 degrees F. That makes it a no-go in Michigan without protection.

Mrs ERJ will not allow me to grow Opuntia. The spines are almost invisibly thin and don't mix well with impulsive children.

Part of me wonders if elite selections of OFI are cross-compatible with the more hardy species from Wyoming and Michigan. I suspect that I will never find out.

Figs are also another fruit I will probably never grow.

There are folks in Canada successfully growing them.

Neverella fig. Image from HERE
Hastay's Greenhouse in Eaton Rapids has a large specimen. It may be Neverella.

Figs grow like weeds in some places and are pushing-a-rope in others. A man has to know his limits. It is more productive to grow plants that WANT to grow in your climate than to fight mother nature.


I am scheduled to go to the dentist today.

My current dentist is very, very good. He is fast, efficient and a charming fellow.

His staff is courteous and pleasant.

I still do not like going to the dentist.

Growing up, the family dentist was a drunk. Harsh words, but that is what the evidence suggests.

He took twenty minute breaks in the middle of drilling fillings "for the drill to cool off." He came back smelling of cigarette smoke and "after shave". And his hands did not shake.

He once put in a filling and took so long he had to give me a second shot of Novocain.

There was never another patient in his waiting room and he was the cheapest dentist in town.

Our family had the worst teeth in the world. I suspect that the number of cavities he found had something to do with the number of bills he had to pay in the next week.

"Yup, mama ERJ, your little son has seven cavities."

It was our little secret that each of my teeth did not have four filling apiece. I was happy to flee after getting drilled once because he did not reliably hit my teeth. I am probably one of the few people with multiple filling in my gums. Not below them.

We see things differently as a kid. I had no radar regarding the possibility of substance abuse.

The first time I had a cavity I had to lend him a dime to grind up for a filling. He said he was out of silver. I thought it was cool.

The last time I did it I wondered how much money I had given him over my lifetime as his patient.

As I approach the age of sixty, the chickens are coming home to roost.

The first time I went to my current dentist he said, "Dang! Those are some huge fillings! Stephanie, come over here. You gotta see this."

Big fillings means that much of the tooth's structure has been cut away or compromised.

Now that I can access my IRA without punitive penalties I can have some crowns over those teeth before they split down to the roots.

Tuesday, March 26, 2019

Bummer of a birthmark, Bevis

Rapper "detained" after verbally abusing teen wearing apparel with Confederate flag.

A white man would have been charged with a "hate crime" had he done the same to a black teen wearing a Black Lives Matter shirt...and his career would be forfeit.

Seven Fat Cows 6.6: Edwards Muck

Shadrack Shaw came into Kate’s Store lugging a five gallon bucket half filled with gray clay.

“Ma-am, Mr Ed on the radio said you were looking for limestone. I think I can help you out.” Shad said.

The Shaw family home-schooled their kids and the curriculum was eclectic.

Kate was in the process of cutting Carson Duckworth fifteen feet of 3/16” galvanized steel aircraft cable. Kate looked down, into the bucket and honestly commented, “That doesn’t look like limestone.”

“That’s because it isn’t.” Shad said. “It’s marl. Limestone and marl are both calcium carbonate.”

“You sound very sure of yourself.” Kate said.

“I did a unit on local soils.” Shad said. “Parts of Gruesbeck Drain cut through Edwards Muck.”

Kate’s face registered lack of understanding.

Edwards Muck sits on a base of marl. The spoils bank for the drain is topped with marl...pure calcium carbonate.” Shad said with the certainty of a fifteen-year-old.

Kate said, “I am certainly no expert on soils but I am more than willing to let local folks try this. They are desperate for something to strengthen their eggshells. For that matter, so am I. I can’t sell eggs with broken shells.”

“I can work with that.” Shad said. “Let me know if it works out and you want me to get any more.”

Shad left the bucket.

Kate’s customers gave her rave reviews for the marl. Adding five pounds for every hundred pounds of food went through a lot of marl but it also solved the problem with the breaking egg shells. Everybody was happy.

The next time that Shad came into the store, Kate said “We need to talk about what is a fair price for your product.”

“Aw, heck Mrs Salazar. I will just give it to you.” Shad said.

“That won’t work for me for a couple of reasons.” Kate said.

“For one, it isn’t fair to you. Digging up that marl is cold heavy work and it will get a lot harder once you mine out the spoils bank and have to dig for it.” Kate said.

“The other reason is that I need a lot of it. Maybe more than you can dig by yourself. You will need to be able to pay people to work for you.” Kate said.

“How much do you think you need?” Shad asked.

“Hard to say. I could probably sell twenty pounds a week but that could go way up if the other neighborhoods can’t get limestone. It might go up to a hundred pounds a week...dried marl, not wet.” Kate said.

Shad winced. “That is a lot of marl.”

“So, what do you think is a fair price for marl?” Shad asked.

“I have been thinking about that.” Kate said. “I get the equivalent of $4.00 for a dozen eggs. That is, ten dozen eggs trades for a face-cord of firewood. That works out to about $2.75 a pound. Seems to me that would be a good starting place for marl, $2.75 a pound. What do you think?”

“Sounds really high.” Shad said.

“Maybe so, to you. But think of all the work that goes into raising chickens and making eggs. It all gets wasted if the eggs break when the hen lays them or they break in the basket on the way here.” Kate said.

“Think of it as selling insurance.” she said.

Quite by chance, Carson Duckworth was in the store while this conversation was going on.

It was no big trick for Carson to walk Gruesbeck’s drain and see where Shad had been digging. Nor was it a big deal for Carson to throw a bunch of fence posts into the ground and string wire and put up signs declaring it was his property. After all, the drainage ditch cut through “common” property where the legal owners were not in a position to enforce their rights.

Duckworth’s audacity created a firestorm within the community.

Duckworth contended that Shad was a kid and did not have the resources to exploit the marl deposit.

He also contended that there needed to be a mechanism for turning “common property” over to private ownership to ensure it was properly looked after.

When families with far less property than Duckworth commented that they were counting on the common property for firewood, he said that they should make their claims. He also said that every adult member of the community should have an equal claim on the commons regardless of whether they were rich or poor.

By his figuring, that meant that every adult was entitled to three acres of “common land”. Between him, his wife and Cameron his nineteen-year-old son, they staked claim to the stretch of Gruesbeck drain that cut through the Edwards muck.


Monday, March 25, 2019


University of Spoiled Children.

No, not sour grapes.

I went to Lansing Community College because it was the least expensive option for the first two years at $8.50 a credit hour. Then transferred to Michigan State because it was the closest four year University and the least expensive option since I could live at home for free. The cost per credit hour was a staggering $21.50.

I had a VERY clear goal in mind. I was going to be employed when I graduated.

I would have very gladly gone to any state university had they been closer. I might not have become an engineer, but I would have been employable when I graduated.

The way I tried to explain it to my kids: You don't have to go to Harvard to attend a school that has more books in their library than you can possibly read. Harvard has approximately 18,000,000 volumes. You would have to read 12,000 books every day to deplete Harvard's library in four years.

Saginaw Valley State University is one of Michigan's newer universities. It is also the least expensive and has the lowest reported crime rate. They only have 240,000 paper books in the Melvin J. Zahnow library. You would only have to read 16 books every day to deplete their library in four years.

It reeks of pathos to peak at the age of 18, accepted by an "elite" university based on the corrupt machinations of your parents.

Taxes, Part II

Belladonna is not a happy girl.

She worked her butt off last year. She had income report forms from four different businesses.

The work at one business was episodic in nature and they did not withhold any taxes. They issued her a 1099-MISC.

Bella also got some scholarship money and received a 1098-T. No taxes were withheld from the scholarship money.

Bella is crying in her root beer. According the H&R Block software she owes about $500 in taxes between Michigan and Federal.

Welcome to adulthood, Bella.

Sucker fishing

I went sucker fishing yesterday.

I did not catch anything.

The first fourteen seconds are dead time. You might want to turn down the sound.

The video shown above shows how densely packed the suckers can become. This was filmed on Michigan's Grand River, probably at a dam spillway. Each fish is in the 3-5 pound range. That is a lot of protein.

Folks joke that you can catch them in your backyard with a scoop shovel if you leave the hose running anytime in April.

I am new to sucker fishing. Some videos show snow on the ground. Some chat boards talk about catching them near the middle of May.

One of the factors that causes the dispersion is that different species of suckers have peak spawn at different water temperatures.

Shorthead Redhorse suckers have peak spawning runs when the water temp is in the mid-forties, White suckers when the water temp is about fifty while Greater and River Redhorse suckers spawn when the water is closer to seventy degrees F.

Ultimately I want to can some suckers.

The picture in my head is to cut them into steaks or darnes. I want to pack them into pint jars, cover with Bloody Mary mix (sans vodka), add 2 grams of Prague #1 Pink salt and pressure can.

The pink salt will be added because Botulism freaks me out and the USDA ruled that up to 500ppm of Sodium Nitrite is allowable in cured fish. 2 grams of Prague/450 grams of contents should give me about 300ppm if my calculations are correct. Prague #1 is 6.25% Sodium Nitrite.

But first I have to catch some suckers.

Sunday, March 24, 2019

A dog's prayer

Hat tip to C W Swanson

Ozone generators

I was trying to think of a way to work ozone generators into the Seven Fat Cows story without it deflecting forward momentum. I failed.

That means you get a blog post on ozone generators.

I had a few questions about them. For one thing, do they rely on consumable inputs. This essay suggests they have a filter to keep dust out of the reaction chamber but other than that, all they use is dry air.

The next thought I had was that I would definitely buy one the next time Ebola is documented as being present in Mexico, the US or Canada.

My third thought was that investing in manufacturers of ozone generators (and UV emitting diodes) would be a good investment play if/when the day comes.

Ozone has the same issues other disinfectants have with particulate contamination. It takes time to penetrate and the disinfectant loses potency as it reacts with materials in the particle or thick layers of contamination.

Ozone can also play hob with dyes and polymers. Ozone also will beat the snot out of lung tissue if you are in the room.

The upside is that you can put an ozone generator in a room and diffusion is your friend. It will throw into every crack and behind every surface. You are not forced to rely on the work ethic of the people you hired.

Saturday, March 23, 2019

Another day in paradise (*not* sarcasm)

Stocking the cupboard with canned soup, spaghetti, sauce, instant coffee,peanut butter, ramen noodles and candy.
Just another day of planting oak trees and preparing Salamander's orchard for the new trees.

The skunk cabbage is up. I planted a few of the oak trees where they were pushing. I stole a trick from Michael Dirr. I planted half the root in the hole and covered the top of the root with mounded or bermed soil.

I think I will plant some acorns the same way. Lay them on the ground and put a couple inches of muck on top of them. In a swamp, a couple of inches of elevation can make a very big difference. Obviously this is not something you would try with species that demand good drainage.
Still snow where the windbreak caused it to drift. The bush near the center of the image is a hazelnut bush and the catkins are elongating.
I grew up downwind of a factory that burned coal to create "process steam".

I grew up thinking snow became speckled as it melted.

I like the modern snow that stays white as it melts, even if it takes longer.

Inland lakes are still iced over. There is a wee bit of melting around the edges.

Friday, March 22, 2019

You cannot make this stuff up.

Michigan’s attorney general and Department of Civil Rights on Friday laid out plans to increase the documentation and prosecution of hate crimes and incidents while citing a reported uptick in extremist and hate groups in the state.
Nessel’s new unit will fight against hate crimes and review any groups identified in the SPLC list, her spokeswoman Kelly Rossman-McKinney said.
Pol Pot tried reeducation camps. Gave new meaning to "in one ear out the other."
Arbulu’s plans for a database would document hate and bias incidents that don’t rise to the level of a crime. The database would then be used to identify areas where awareness and (re)education programs are most needed, he said.
And I venture to guess to trigger "Red Flag" laws.
Arbulu said he hopes to have the database operating within two or three months. The department piloted such a plan for a few months after President Donald Trump was elected in 2016.
Editorial note: The next paragraph suggests that Michigan is piloting the project for the other 49 States.

“The challenge is developing protocols that other groups can be bound by and we can be bound by so we can capture all that information into one database,” he said.

Arbulu said he hopes the database will allow the department to be proactive and address issues before they rise to the level of a crime.
   -Detroit News, emphasis added
I wonder how long it will be before Eaton Rapids Joe shows up in the database? They are already targeting the Catholic Church for disciplining gay and pedophile clergy members who acted on their urges.

You cannot make this stuff up. Either the Democratic party is incredibly tone-deaf or they really believe this stuff.

Kicked in the teeth by opportunity

Approximately 4.5 acres of prime land. Based on the density of the grass this property is very fertile and would make a great community garden. The only real limitations are lack of parking and no running water.

Sometimes you are just slogging through your day and you get kicked square in your teeth by opportunity when you least expect it.

I was in Charlotte running a few errands. Mrs ERJ was at Vico 23, an emporium of hair, finger-nails, eye lashes and all things feminine and beautiful.

I dashing about town knocking down my Charlotte errands. We like to consolidate trips.

And Then...
This lady I just sort of know grabbed my by the ear and said, "Hey, look at this."

Overview to show surrounding development. The property in question is due east of the parking lots with Team One Chevrolet labeling.
We walked a bit of the property. I would have walked more but I needed to pick up Mrs ERJ.

The lady explained to me that she was affiliated with the organization that was trying to develop the property as some kind of community asset.

The difficulty her organization ran into is that they want whoever develops it to maintain it. That is, treat it like they owned it. Alas, that is where the grand plans come crashing down.

In the short time we toured the property, the lady said any number of uses had been batted about: Dog park, Community (aka Allotment) gardens, Basketball Courts, T-ball fields etc.

Everybody is energized by putting monuments in or on the ground. The hairball is coughed up when the planners are asked, "What is your maintenance plan for the next five years."

ERJ's Proposal
Split the parcel into four, nearly equal sized chunks.

Approach Fraternal Organizations: Eagles, Moose, Lions, Knights of Columbus, Masons, Optimists, Locals in Business and the like. These organizations have been stalwarts in Adopt a Highway programs so I think they would be receptive to adopting a portion of a park.

Present an à la carte menu of possible uses. The suggestions are just thought starters, if they can think of a better use then that is great! Examples include all of those listed above and also include some very low maintenance items:
  • Dog park...This is probably the best single candidate. There are two "Farm and Ranch" type stores within spitting distance and they both welcome pets. A dog park would be a useful extension to their business, especially if trainers agreed to use the park.
  • Community (aka Allotment) gardens/orchard
  • Basketball Courts
  • T-ball fields
  • Photo back-drop garden for weddings and senior class pictures
  • Raptor nesting platform structures. How cool would it be to have Bald Eagles? 
  • Koi ponds (gotta feed those eagles)
  • Simply commit to mow their 1.1 acres on a regular basis
  • Disc golf course...This was added because it would not be able to justify a park on its own but can easily piggy-back on other uses.
Then present it to the organizations as a five year commitment. It is not as daunting as asking them to bench-press the entire 4.5 acres. The expectation would be that they could re-up at the end of the five years or another Fraternal Organization could step in.

Maybe five years is not the right length of commitment. Maybe two or three years would be acceptable to the lady's organization if there is enough interest in the Fraternal Organizations to pick-up the load when the starting team needs a break.

The concept of dividing up the risk is similar to the Dutch East India Company. Engaging in business halfway around the globe was beyond the pockets and stomach for risk of any one family. By joining forces and dividing up responsibilities many families, heck many cities, became wealthy.

The needs of the lady's organization is just a bit too large for any one person to tear off, chew and swallow. Breaking into smaller and more managable bites is one step. Another step is to approach organizations with many people. The third and fourth steps are to be up-front about maintenance and to manage for succession.

Thursday, March 21, 2019

Cherrybark Oak

The brown truck of happiness dropped off two hundred Cherrybark Oak seedlings

This is what ten of them looked like. A 12" ruler included for size reference. These came from Ripley County Nursery and the price was fabulous. These were the 18"-to-24" size.

I planted mine on a hill and in a low area. I marked them with green tape.

Kubota took 25 of them over to the Captain. The Captain asked Kubota if he would plant them since the Captain was boiling sap.

Of course the Captain fed Kubota. Somehow I think Kubota got the better end of the deal.

Gratuitous picture of walnut shells and Sawtooth oak leaves.
A nice post on Cherrybark Oak HERE.

Side-by-side comparison between Cherrybark Oak (left) and Pin Oak (right) showing how Cherrybark is self-pruning and generates clean saw logs. Image from HERE.

I am going to sleep well tonight.

Wednesday, March 20, 2019

Thinking about planting fruit trees

Sorry, no pictures.

I spent the middle of the day at Salamander's farm. I had marked out four rows for apple replant. The original trees went in forty years ago and there are very few remaining.

The original spacing was 6'-6" within the row with rows a generous 25' apart.

I was slow ordering rootstock and the dwarf rootstock were gone. The only ones they had left that were on my "buy" list were G-210, that produces semi-dwarf trees.

Today I pulled flags and replanted them. They are now spaced about 10' apart within the row.

I also threw fertilizer and ground limestone down where the trees are going in. By my count there will be sixty new trees.

The current plan is to plant the rootstock and bud them in early July. Tentative varieties are Enterprise, Golden Delicious, Jonagold. There may be an odd-ball or two that makes it into the mix like Kerr. Time will tell.

I also dropped a couple of the old apple trees and the saw threw the chain after putting #2 on the ground. I did not bring any tools to fix the chainsaw.

One of the other items on Salamander's plan is to sprinkle some micro-orchards deeper within the property.

Currently, the deer nip the southeast corner of the property. Incidentally, that is where the orchard is.

I walked the northwest corner of the property and tentatively put out some surveyor flags where I thing fruit trees will do well. I must be a glutton for punishment because most of the sites I marked were overgrown with blackberries and multiflora rose. That was not an accident. Those species prefer light and fertile, well drained soil, much like the trees I will be planting.

The current plan in my head is to plant pear rootstock in the northwest micro-orchards. Chojuro, Korean Giant and Shinko are all varieties that ripen and drop during Michigan's firearm deer seasons. I have some other varieties I will throw into the mix hoping that something thrives.

TAXES: T...A...X-5...E...S-1 = TASER

I am very productive when I am avoiding a task I dislike.

I finally ran out of other tasks to do. I did our taxes last night.

I used H&R Block's program. It seamlessly imported the files from Brand TT.

The taxes were simpler this year.

The standard deductions were more generous than itemized.

We will get a little bit of money back.

Today I get to do Belladonna's taxes.

Tuesday, March 19, 2019

Tesla: A Trust-based company

I used to work in the auto industry.

On our way to elder-care I pointed out to Mrs ERJ that the over-flow parking lots in Lansing were filling up with newly built automobiles.

That means that something was found that was not to specification. When that happens the factory goes into something called "containment".

The rules are arcane. The job is not shipped off-property. When they run out of room to park the vehicles within the fence enclosing the factory, they rent property and ship them there. Still not considered "shipped off-property" because they are shipped to on-property.

A key point is that ownership of the vehicle is not released by the factory. It cannot legally be "shipped".

Parts that are within specification will eventually show up whether from Muncie, Indiana or South Korea, China or South Africa. Then the vehicles will flow back to the factory and be repaired on-property and run through all of the final, end-of-line quality checks.

Tesla is a trust-based company. They ship the vehicles that are out-of-spec to the dealer and trust that the dealer can fix them.

Tesla stepped on a sensitive piece of anatomy recently. They announced which dealerships they were closing next. I am not totally trusting. I wonder how careful those dealerships and repair technicians were when they repaired the vehicles Tesla dumped on them.

I agree with Pelosi

We should give all of them a one-way plane ticket to fly back to the country in which they hold citizenship so they can vote.