Friday, May 31, 2019

A few pictures from Texas

Coastal South Texas: Mesquite, Prickly Pear and an estuary. Location
Two of the four dishes delivered to the table for the $12 entree. The name of the restaurant was the El Dorado.
They taste like chicken. This one is wearing lip stick.
These birds are invariably found in pairs proving the proverb that one good tern follows another.
Prickly pear fruit that birds drilled into and ate the seeds.
Alter at Our Lady of Consolation Church. The best place to get recommendations for authentic, Mexican food are at churches that have Spanish language services.
No blood. Skinny guy on the crucifix. Very subdued for a church with a large Mexican-American base.

Close-up of the grain on a mesquite cutting board.


One of Belladonna's friends at college is from Ghana.

I had a chance to talk to her recently, much to Belladonna's annoyance. Bella is not a political animal and discussions about land ownership patterns and legacies of various colonial powers puts her to sleep.

It was a wide ranging discussion.

"J" seemed to believe that there were vast tracts of vacant land in Ghana waiting to be claimed. I suspect that she is a city person and automatically believes that land that is not actively under the plow does not belong to anybody.

We talked about tropical agriculture. She is of the belief that temperate agricultural practices have little to offer compared to traditional, tropical methods. Since the primary tropical method is slash-and-burn with a ten year fallow followed by one good harvest and one mediocre harvest, the method is limited.

And those wide open spaces? The southern third of the country has a population density of 400-to-600 people per square mile, about on par with Maryland or Connecticut. Hardly unsettled.

Her professors told her that third world countries are poverty stricken due to lack of infrastructure. Like all generalization there is a degree of truth to the statement. Most roads and rail lines exist to carry resources from the interior to the port.

"J" shared an example one of her profs gave as "Proof". A village might have a crop failure due to flooding while another a mile away had a bumper crop due to the excellent rains. The village that flooded will starve out because there is no infrastructure to move the food from the village where food is abundant.

I got the sense that "infrastructure", from the prof's perspective meant taxes, officials and forced redistribution.

I asked about markets "Do they count as infrastructure?"

The professor never got around to discussing the role of free markets in moving goods from where they are abundant and cheap to where they are scarce and dear.

Mrs ERJ wanted to talk about the brain-drain. Many smart people from third world countries go overseas to get an education and then do not return to their home countries.

"J" was adamant that nearly all of her peers want to return but that there are no jobs.

That is when I twisted the knife. I said "It seems like many of the jobs are make-work jobs in government. The people in power create sinecures to employ their sons and nephews. Those make-work jobs raise taxes and create more administrative burdens for job formation and are a tremendous economy killers."

"J" agreed that if you were not a member of the area's dominant tribe or related to the people in the power structure you were basically screwed.

Why I still use herbicides

If you have been following the news then you are aware that Bayer Chemical company bought Monsanto Chemical company just before the "Round-up" law suites slammed them. There is a very real concern that Bayer will be driven into bankruptcy status.

Recently, a California case was concluded with the headlines "Round-up causes Cancer" and a two-hundred million dollar settlement.

There are hundreds, maybe thousands of "Round-up" cases percolating through the courts.

This is a perfect storm for Bayer. Monsanto is hated by Greenies because they were at the forefront of what Luddites call "Franken-foods", that is, genetically engineered food crops. Farmers dislike them because Monsanto aggressively protected their intellectual property and used the legal system to put competitors out of business.

One must wonder, why are all of these court cases coming to fruition AFTER Monsanto left "American" ownership and is now owned by the Germans?

I hope I never regret these words
I still use glyphosate, the active ingredient in Round-up herbicide.

I also use 2,4-d which was one of the ingredients in Agent Orange, the herbicide used in Vietnam.

Both of them are effective herbicides and work as well, or better than claimed on "the label".

With regards to causing cancer...juries are not scientists and lawyers are paid to present the most compelling case, not the most un-biased, evidence-based science.

The the other thing is that users are not supposed to bath in it. I use due care in the application and immediately shuck off the clothing that may have collected spray drift and take a shower.

I was a grounds-keeper for a few summers. The temptation is to spray in the morning when the wind is down and the temperatures are pleasant for walking around. The pant cuffs or socks get wet with dew and the herbicide spray is un-noticed. It saturates the clothing and the person who applied the spray might continue to wear them for the entire shift. Or they might wear sandals while applying the herbicide.

Looking a little farther down the road, it is reasonable to expect that every drug, every chemical in an aerosol can will sky-rocket in price.

In layman's terms, industrial science involves a finite amount of "certainty". Said another way, it is mathematically impossible to drive 'uncertainty' down to zero. Any law suite can chisel away at a produce because the certainty is not absolute.

If 95% certainty is not good enough than what is the magic number? How about 97%? Or 99%? 99.9%? 99.9999%?

Each increase in "certainty" vastly increases the size, complexity and cost of validating products. $20 aspirin tablet will become the norm rather than the butt of a joke and stalks of celery will cost $5 each.

Lefties point to Round-up as a reason why we need more government over-sight. They say you cannot trust Corporations.

I see their conclusion as the result of false choices.

I have limited trust of Corporations and I have limited trust in Government. The Lefties would have the people responsible for the Flint water crisis (Political Scientists and "don't make waves" bureaucrats) overseeing chemists with Ph.Ds. Yeah, great plan. What could go wrong?

It is child-like to think that we can give away our responsibilities and safely live on auto-pilot while floating through life looking at our smartphones and being totally self-absorbed.

My objection to the false choice is that it is neither required nor desirable that adults give their responsibility to any entity, corporate or government.

As an adult, I am the captain of my own ship. I look at the charts and listen to the weather forecasts. I listen to the creak of the ship and assess the quality of my sails. Then I plan my own course and accept the consequences.

Thursday, May 30, 2019

Fawns, horseradish and plum curculio

Can you see it?

How about now?

I darn near stepped on this little rascal. He/she stayed where mama put her. I expect this fawn's mother was born last spring. Most 1-1/2 and older does drop twins and they drop them in the first week of May. This little dude is not that old.

There are undoubtedly hundreds, if not thousands of species of parasitoid wasps. They are just now getting attention for purposes like stopping the Emerald Ash Borer and Chestnut Gall. For the OCD, the difference between parasitic and parasitoid is that the parasitic control leaves the host alive but debilitated. The parasitoid flat out kills the host.

The current research suggests that providing suitable nectar sources can extend the effective lifespan of parasitoid wasps by a factor of three.

Anybody who has hung out near a prime nectar source like rhubarb or horseradish quickly realizes that they pull them into the orchard like a beacon.

Key Points: Prime nectar/pollen plants

  1. Increase the number of parasitoid wasps in your orchard, 
  2. Are a critical resource that makes them live three times longer
  3. Provides parasitoid wasps with nutrients so they have the energy to find pests and lay eggs on them
  4. Pests that migrate in from surrounding areas can be whittled down if prime nectar sources are planted along their infiltration routes

This is what blooming horseradish looks like. In a perfect world I would have varieties with bloom times that spanned from the end of apple blossom until after the plum curculio (an insect pest) pressure ended.

A plum curculio and the crescent shaped scar it leaves when it lays an egg in a young fruit.

The plum curculio is the hardest pest to control in Eastern orchards. It shrugs off most easily available pesticides.

According to data from New Jersey, first egg laying was seen at approximately 300 Growing Degree-Days and peaks at about 400 Growing Degree-Days. At this time, south-central Michigan is sitting at about 340 GDD b50. That is about five days behind the long-term average.

This tells me that I need to get off my dupa and spray my apple trees with Imidan tonight.
Other sources say that curculio like warm (+70 degrees F), sunny days and cool, rainy days slow them down.

Typically, I would expect to start seeing heavy plum curculio damage on my apples around June 1.

Wednesday, May 29, 2019

Phone apps

The particular phone app is called Spectroid
I will never admit this to Belladonna but there are some cool apps for smartphones.

This app is called Spectroid and it has a FFT (Fast Fourier Transform) software that converts a time signal into the frequency domain and charts it as a waterfall or carpet plot.

The sound shown above is the sound of a fence shorting out every second.

Why is that important? Because the Captain's hearing is not what it used to be. It would be pretty cool if the sound could be characterized so he could use his smartphone to find shorts.

This is a soft short inside a cracked insulator. Yes, you are seeing the frequency scale correctly. I expanded it to look at the 10,000-to-20,000Hz range. That range is unpolluted by everything except small song birds, chipmunks and the sound of shoes brushing through damp grass.

That last one surprised me. If we could hear well in that range then feet walking through tall grass without lifting them up would sound like fingernails on chalkboards.

One intriguing way to apply the information for the fence shorting is to bond two microphones together side-by-side approximately 1/4 wavelength apart atop the band connecting a set of headphones. Then process the signals so the frequency is in the highly audible range, say 1/20th the input and play them stereo into headphones where the phase relationship between the two signals is maintained.

For example, suppose one chose 17,000 Hz to study. The wavelength is approximately 20mm (3/4 inch) so 1/4 wavelength would be 5mm.

One twentieth of 17,000 Hz is 850 Hz which is very audible.

The point of maintaining the phase relationship is to allow our ears and brain to process the signal for direction.

Is this a huge market? I don't know. But it would be very cool to hear the shorts arcing through cracks in the insulators from farther than 12" away.

I want to document the high frequency of feet brushing through vegetation under several different conditions. It may disappear with dry or mature grass or it may be that wind generates the same content. But it would also be very cool the 10kHz-20kHz band was a clean way to hear people and animals sneaking through the underbrush.

In case you were wondering...

I asked a native why Mission style churches always have one bell tower taller than the other.

He was able to quickly satisfy my curiosity. "Sir, it is because they used more adobe bricks in the taller tower."

Now why didn't I think of that?

Monday, May 27, 2019

Texas size portion

I think the wait staff enjoys messing with us. Mrs ERJ hit upon the idea of ordering one meal and splitting it.

Tonight the meal was much smaller than expected. I must have made a disappointed sound because our waitress assured us that three more plates of food were coming.  That was in addition to the chips, salsa and quesa dip.

The amazing thing is the entree included generous portions of chicken and shrimp and cost $12.

Saturday, May 25, 2019


It is hard to be in South Texas and not think about assimilation.

The gravity model of a planet pulling material into its orbit comes to mind. The space rocks' trajectory changes much...and the  trajectory of the planet is also influenced.

Somebody broke into a truck in the hotel parking lot last night. They looted food out of a cooler and stole a pair of boots. Draw your own conclusions.

Another guest at our hotel had a very stressful encounter with the law because she shared a first, middle and last name with a notorious frequent flier.

Thinking about middle-school kids who just want to fit in. The reason they turn into zealots is because too many of them fail and are humiliated. Much of this is due to grandiose expectations.

Assimilating is an issue to important to leave to the experts.

I don't think South Texas has all the answers. There are too many pawn shops and bail bondsmen and payday loan shops as evidence of economic stress.  But I see huge amounts of new business formation and polite, civil relations between black, white, hispanic and snowbirds.

That said, if you are a knucklehead you can still find somebody to knock your teeth out.


All of those little tan hairs are barbed and they grab hold like a dog-tick.  Or that is what Mrs ERJ tells me.

It was a trick to find ripe fruit that the birds had not eaten the seeds from.  They left the ones hanging down alone.

Friday, May 24, 2019

Belladonna update

Bella beat her seed by five place.

Big smiles all the way around.

Heading to a seafood place in Riviera TX to celebrate.

Thursday, May 23, 2019

Is there mesquite

Looks like July 21 in Michigan.

89 degrees.

My thumbs are stupid at typing.

Vines growing on fence by hotel.l

Tuesday, May 21, 2019

Science is real

I have a niece who is as sharp as a carpet tack. Her name is Maya, although that is not important.

She will be a sophomore in college this year and she is investigating research topics for her Ph.D. To say she is a planner is to understate things.

Since I have a few ideas about such things, I had little difficulty talking with her this past weekend in Ludington.

I wonder how many people who post this sign in their yard realize how hard "science" can be.

I suspect that most people who put this sign in their yard are not scientists or engineers. They probably believe that science is simply a matter of cranking one dial clockwise and validating the increase/decrease of a single output.

Much science is like that. The easiest and best part, really.

The hard part is where inputs are coupled. The Design of Experiments guys call this "interactions".

Consider a bicycle. What happens if you crank the handlebars clockwise without leaning to the right? Yup. You fall on your dupa and skin your elbows. It gets harder from there.

How about the interactions between hydrogen, oxygen and sparks? Boring, boring, boring until all three are present...then duck.

Where science gets punched in the nose is where there are strong interactions and multiple inputs. The number of "experiments" that need to be run is mN! where m is the number of replications and N is the number of variables.

Let's set m to something trivial like 3. N=2 will require 6 "experiments". N=3 will require 18 experiments. N=4 will require 72 experiments....N=8 will require 120,000 experiments.

As you can see, increasing the number of variables quickly puts the economics of the scientific method in the ditch when there is a high degree of coupling.

Which makes the tendency of progressives to couple dissimilar things particularly maddening.

They would couple the pay of the Chief Executive Officer to the lowest pay-rate in any enterprise.

They would couple the tax on gasoline with carbon emissions in China.

They would couple property taxes with rainfall (New Jersey).

They would fine landowners for using best-practice arid gardening techniques, preferring that they let the water run off and be repurchased from municipalities (Oregon).

They would subsidize statin drugs and then lament the increase in Type II diabetes.

Real science holds some hard truths. There is no free lunch. If you think you found one then you better get ready because something is about to bite you in the azz.

Note from the Management

Mrs ERJ and I will be heading to the Corpus Christi, Texas area for about a week. I don't announce when I will be out-of-the-house on public platforms because that is stupid.

The house will not be empty. Kubota is not going with us nor are the two German Shepherds.

The current plan is for me to not take my laptop. That means that the only blogging will be what is scheduled ahead of time. Both quantity and quality will drop since the scheduled story material will lose one editing cycle.

There will be holes in the posting. I have nothing for the weekend and there may be one weekday where the Skinny Cows story will not have a post.

Nor do I expect to monitor comments.

All that might change if the hotel has courtesy computers or if Mrs ERJ gives me the nod to take the laptop.

Thank-you for understanding.


Monday, May 20, 2019

Worst customer ever

I am in the running for "Worst Customer Ever" award.

I went into the cellphone store to have a 4G Smartphone I purchased activated. I activated phones in the past via the internet but this one needed a SIM card.

The young woman sitting on the stool behind the counter argued with me for four minutes telling me that it was not worth her time to turn on a phone that was more than three years old.

First she told me that the phone I brought in would not work with the cell phone provider who employed her.

I said that was not what the person who sold it to me said.

With a sniff she asked, "And who would that be?" expecting it to be some other geriatric.

I said it was a Top Rated Seller on Ebay with 19k reviews and a 99.9% good rating. He specifically said it would ONLY work with that carrier.

I asked her if she would try.

Then she went into the spiel about how she could activate it but it would just stop working in two weeks or a month. That she had activated hundreds of that particular model and every one of them died in less than a month.

That is when I decided it was more important to get my phone working than to ask pointed questions. So I did not ask "How could you activate hundreds of this model of phone if they don't work on your employer's signal?"  The other germane question is, "They all worked like gangbusters until you touched them and then they rolled over and died. I don't think the phone is the problem."

After she started on the same loop for the fourth time and did not move an inch toward the back to get a SIM, I told her that I did not come to the store to hear her opinions. That is when I told her to shut-up and just do her job.

Then she said that slagging phones sold by her employer were part of her job.

She was physically incapable of shutting her mouth and doing the job she had been hired to do.

It took her forty seconds to figure out how to install the SIM card in that particular model. "...activated hundreds of them..." my azz.

Friggin nineteen year olds.

Expect to see a picture of me captioned Worst Customer Ever

Oh, by the way, the phone works.

Sunday, May 19, 2019

Notes from the orchard

According to my notes, these trees were top-worked in 2017.
I did a quick census in the orchard.

If all goes well, I will have thirteen trees fruit for the first time.

My records indicate this quince was grafted in 2017
It is important to verify the variety if you plan to cut scion wood from the tree for propagation. More than one over-eager orchardist filled his rows with something other than what his plans called for.

Saturday, May 18, 2019


This child was inconsolable until she could walk barefoot on the grass.

Great-Grandfather (my dad) and Great-Grandmother (my mom) in the foreground. Great aunt and grandmother in the background. My grandparents are buried beneath the headstones.

Directors of Diversity

There are some questions that you cannot ask while you are working.

One of those questions is "Why is the Department of Diversity 90% African American and 20% GLBTadnauseam?"

I suppose another question of the same type is "Why are 40% of Director of Diversity African-American Lesbians?"

We can only speculate about the answers.

One answer might be "You cannot understand oppression and support diversity unless you have experienced it."

That implies that racial sensitivity is unteachable and the elimination of oppression is impossible. So we could save a pile of money if we broomed all of the drones out of the Diversity office and put them back into jobs that serve customers and made money.

"Because it is impossible for white people to see or sense oppression against people of color or GLBCadnauseam, people of color need to be in positions where they have carte blanche authority to rectify situations of injustice (situations where the oppression is so arcane that it cannot be explained or justified to non-colored people)."

Eyebrows knitted with consternation...if it is impossible for one race to sense the injustice visited upon those of another race, what protections are in place to ensure that the Avengers of Diversity don't wreak epic injustice on others in their crusade?

I would suggest objective measures like attendance and productivity but I have been told those are "white" constructions that do not comprehend the contributions to the rich tapestry of diversity blah, blah, blah...

Things have changed since I went to grade school. Systems that depend on forces that were not measurable and were invisible to the majority of people had a special name back in the 1960s. It was called magic.

"The Department of Diversity is where the C-Suite banishes perpetual malcontents. The fact that it makes life of people at the operations level a living hell is not important. The assholes in operations get paid a lot of  money for what they do. If they don't like it, McDonalds is hiring."

Besides, most American corporations are money laundering operations. The fact that they manufacture, distribute and sell items is secondary to being able to borrow money cheaply, keeping top executives out of court, and keeping Federal regulators and the media out of their knickers is more important than operations.

Frankly, I fall into this camp. And I accept that the model is perfectly viable as long as American corporations' primary function is to launder money.  Perhaps that is why progressives are so keen to control every decision. When the burden of "supporting diversity" and global warming initiatives and the cause du jour becomes too great, the progressive machine can ensure that consumers have no other viable choices when the dollar Ponzi scheme has a hiccup.

Looking at the headlines

Progressives say that Thomas Jefferson must go. He was racist. (Louisiana purchase to be given back to France)

Millions of families one pay-check from disaster. (Sounds to me like they could use a few more Thomas Jeffersons in their pocket)

SAT to officially "Handicap" students (People perform to expectations. Handicaps officially lower expectations)

NBA star used giant, prosthetic penis to beat drug test.

Iran tensions escalate

FDA eliminating EU style regulations on food products, including cherry pies

Caution, Stock market can go up and down

Viewers catatonic and suffer psychotic break because fantasy show nears conclusion. (New question on job application: "What TV shows do you watch?")

Friday, May 17, 2019

Weekend jaunt

Mrs ERJ and I have a weekend excursion planned.

We are heading up to Ludington, Michigan to spend the weekend with family.


At least, none of our kids.

Mrs ERJ frames it as a practice run for our trip to Texas.

One major difference is that we are flying to Texas.

I haven't been on a plane since 2007.

It will be a novel feeling to be awake, wearing a pair of pants and to not be carrying a pocket knife.

Regarding Ludington
Having kids can pull you away from your family. The day revolves around keeping the little blighters alive.

Our youngest is twenty. He will watch the dogs. Hopefully he will not burn down the house while we are gone.

I woke up this morning to the smell of scorched bacon and Fruit Loops cereal. Not a good sign.

Thursday, May 16, 2019

Bellatrix Lestrange hints that she will run as Green Party candidate

Bellatrix Lestrange hints that she will run as a Green Party candidate after the establishment Democrats yank the rug out from beneath her in the primaries.

Wednesday, May 15, 2019

Phrenology report GDD b50

Peak Liberty (apple) and European pear bloom.

Corn in the ground.

First flush of asparagus.

Niece and Sister-in-law found 40 morel mushrooms.

Lost my weed sprayer.

Mail boxes

We recently installed a new mailbox at Casa ERJ.

I went to the Mailbox Guidelines website and the first thing you see is the image shown above.

If we are to believe the image, the United States Postmaster General wants me to place the bottom of the box 41-to-45 inches, plus the height of the curb above the surface of the road. Visually scaling, that adds another four inches to the height of the box.

The Fine Print

In the fine print we learn that the United States Postmaster General wants me to place the bottom of the box 41-to-45 inches above the height of the road surface.

Due to the crown of the road, the tires closer to the mail box will be four inches lower than the tires closer to the center of the road. What part of the road surface does the Postmaster want me to use? The average? The outboard portion. To extrapolate based on the vehicle's overhang?

I installed the bottom of the mailbox 46" above the lowest portion of the road. Our postal delivery person may be a petite gal but she drives a tall vehicle. I also wanted to account for the inevitable snow buildup that occurs in the winter.

From working in the factory I believe that most people find it ergonomically friendlier to reach up a little bit rather than having to bend over.

I left a note on the door of the box. I wrote "Is this too high? I can lower it."

She indicated that she was good with 46". If she is happy then I am happy.

Fun with Venn Diagrams

"I can't find a job"

Tuesday, May 14, 2019

One last visit

On the road to the west side of Michigan.

Dad wants to see his mother and father's grave site one more time before he dies. Dad also wants to visit the site of one of the places he lived and visit with one of his remaining first cousins.

Mom is up for the diversion of travel.

Four of us kids are tagging along to take pictures and record GPS coordinates. I will be driving the Mom-and-Dad mobile and little sis (a nurse) will be sitting in back chatting with them and keeping an eye on their energy and pain levels.

The rest of the family will be traveling in a separate vehicle.

Dad's family was semi-indigent.

Grampa had tuberculosis and died in the mid 1930s. Times were tough in the depression. Times were even tougher when the man of the household could not work and was dying of a chronic disease.

The house Dad remembers most vividly is no longer standing. That does not come as a surprise. Even in the 1930s it barely qualified as a shack.

That house was down by the river and a quarter mile from a hobo camp.

According to Dad, Grampa's brothers set up a boxing ring outside his bedroom window so he could coach neighborhood pugilists from his sick-bed. Grampa's brothers also set up a shooting range where Gramps could shoot at targets through the window from that same sick-bed.

I asked Dad to claw back through his memories. Dad now believes that Gramps had a view of both the garden and the path leading from the hobo camp through his shooting window.

What a fine intersection of function! A hobo might think twice about visiting the poor family with the invalid dad when he knew it was a place where the neighborhood toughs gathered and where he would have to advance through a clear field-of-fire to get to the door.

I will post such pictures as operational security allow.

Monday, May 13, 2019

A question for electrical line-men

Daily Timewaster wrote a post on Pacific Gas and Electric's plan to intentionally black out regions when high winds are predicted.

PG&E was quoted as saying "... a transmission line that snapped in windy weather probably started last year’s Camp Fire..."

I have seen various electrical failure modes in my life. They are usually of short duration as limit switches and fuses kicked in.

The power signature of a snapped transmission line would not be an overload but a sudden under-load.  The thermal profile would be metal arcing high overhead where there is little risk of it igniting a fire, then the hot wire falling to the ground and shorting. The most likely breaking point would be where the wire hangs from the insulator on the pole.

Do power transmission transformers kick-out when there is a sudden loss of current or gross imbalance in current between the two output sides of the transformer?

The other question I have is, do you see more snapped power poles or snapped transmission lines?

Sunday, May 12, 2019

Statistical thinking

The earlier post about car insurance touched a nerve.

That prompted this post.

It is often possible to find a proxy or a relationship between behaviors.

For example, insurance companies found a relationship between people whose address-of-record had a Detroit Zip Code and an increased risk of having the car stolen. The difference was large enough that it justified segregating that population from the general population.

The Governor demands that "non-driving" data cannot be used in setting rates.

I am just spit-balling here, but what if insurance companies discovered a relationship between drivers who run red-lights and an increased rate of vehicle theft?

A side issue is that many police are loath to write traffic tickets for things like running red lights. I have seen light changes where they would have to write eight tickets for every red light. But many intersections have cameras for that kind of thing.

There might be pushback regarding the fact that the only place you find many intersections with lights is metropolitan areas and only the large cities have the automated cameras. That does not negate the fact that it is "fair game" for insurance companies to apportion the cost of covering theft risk based on documentation of any driver running red lights.

It also creates an incentive for insurance companies (or their customers) to file law suits against cities if the automatic cameras are disabled. Currently, I don't give a rip whether they work or not.

But I will care if automatic cameras are a statistical link used by the insurance companies to more accurately apportion costs. If the cameras are inactivated either by politics or vandalism, then my rates will rise because those costs cannot be rationally apportioned.

It is what the Governor demanded: That the price of vehicle insurance be based only by "driving" data.

For my brother in Portugal

Saturday, May 11, 2019

PSA: Drowning Doesn't look like TV Drowning

The new captain jumped from the deck, fully dressed, and sprinted through the water. A former lifeguard, he kept his eyes on his victim and headed straight for a couple who were swimming between their anchored sportfish and the beach. “I think he thinks you’re drowning,” the husband said to his wife. They had been splashing each other, and she had screamed, but now they were just standing neck-deep on a sandbar. “We’re fine, what is he doing?” she asked, a little annoyed. “We’re fine!” the husband yelled, waving him off, but his captain kept swimming hard toward him. “Move!” he barked as he sprinted between the stunned owners. Directly behind them, not 10 feet away, their nine-year-old daughter was drowning. Safely above the surface in the arms of the captain, she burst into tears and screamed, “Daddy!”   -Source

-The mouths of drowning people are not above the surface of the water long enough for them to exhale, inhale and call out for help. 

-Drowning people cannot wave for help.

-Head low in the water, mouth at water level

-Head tilted back with mouth open

-Appears to be climbing an invisible ladder

#1 Rap Song this Week

Old Time Road.

Garth Brooks could have sung this song.


Fifty cents of insurance

A cardboard box to contain the over-spray. I stuck the sharp ends of the wedges into the ground to hold them upright. It is my hope that the triangular facets will not lose their bright paint. I have little hope for the impact surfaces or the surfaces that bear against the wood.
I lose more tools than I want to admit.

It makes sense to invest fifty cents worth of spray paint to make the tools findable.

The wedges were originally black, so I had to give them a base coat of white before I painted them with the fluorescent pink.

We have a Rose-breasted Grosbeak visiting our feeder. I don't know if he/she is sticking around or passing through.

Can you see them?

How about now?

No trick photography. The first spears are very beefy.
This year I had three people who expressed an interest in learning to graft.

Only one of them followed through.

That left me with twenty extra rootstocks. Today I grafted them. To heck with folks who don't follow through. Somebody will take them after I grow them out for a year in the garden.

Friday, May 10, 2019

Car Insurance

Michigan has some of the most expensive car insurance in the country.

The new, Democrat governor wants to make it more affordable, especially for the most economically challenged Michigan residents.

One of the things she is demanding is that zip codes not be used to calculate rates.

From the FBI Uniform Crime Reporting site:
Motor Vehicle Thefts in the City of Detroit per 100,000 residents.....868
Motor Vehicle Thefts in Farmington Hills (close to where the Shekel lives)...145/100,000
Grand Rapids......72/100,000

This will play out in two acts.

The Governor's new law will force insurance carriers to level the cost of insurance against theft across the state. Currently, the cost of that portion of the insurance bill is easily five times as much in the City of Detroit as it is anywhere else in the state.

Bills for people living in Detroit will go down.

Bills for everybody else will go up....except....

Some insurance companies don't have sales offices in southeast Michigan.

Their very limited exposure to the risk inherent to selling to customers in the City of Detroit means they will not have to raise their rates.

Customers will flee the carriers that serve Detroit due to the toxic turd the Governor's new law tosses into the punch bowl.

It will be a major windfall for the regional carriers.

The rates in Detroit will climb back up because fewer and fewer out-state customers will opt to subsidize their rates.

Some people are slow learners

Charles Throgmartin, long time Eaton Rapids resident and career criminal was recently convicted and sentenced for the third time.

He was charged with peddling herbal concoctions of dubious origin claiming that they prolonged lives.

Mr Throgmartin's previous convictions were in 1624 and 1869.

The FDA chose to not comment on this blog post.

Phrenology report

The European pears are nearing peak bloom.

We are sitting at about 160 Growing Degree-Days. The average for this area is 220 GDD.

The first few blossoms on the Liberty apple trees are open.

The cold damage from the -18F and then -16F a week later are evident.

The peach trees survived but no blossoms opened.

One apricot had no blossoms, one had a few and a third had nearly a full load.

The grape vines that were planted last year were a mixed bag. The wild riparia were by far the hardiest. The Swenson Red was a distant second. Then Geneva Red and Steuben in a close three-four. Lucie Kuhlman, Chelios and the others bringing up the rear.

One surprise was a Trebbiano X riparia cross. One selection died to the ground while the other was as hardy as Swenson Red. It is premature to make solid calls based on how they performed the winter after they were stuck as un-rooted cuttings. They invest a lot of resources into sinking roots...resources that are not available to harden buds.

Thursday, May 9, 2019

A failure of deductive reasoning

New Guinea Impatiens, sweet alyssum spilling over the front, cooking herbs like rosemary, basil, mint and oregano hiding in the back.
Last year Belladonna told me that she wanted a couple of planters for the front porch of the townhouse she lived in.

She gave me some rough specifications. I texted pictures from a store that sells such things. She made her pick.

Later that week she came home. We went to Hastay's Greenhouse and Roger helped her select the plants to put into it. Bella humored me and allowed me to sneak a few edibles into the pots.

The center-piece of the pots were ferociously vivid hybrid impatiens. Roger's only caution was that the plants would stop flowering if they were not fertilized. The flower buds originate from the new growth. He also warned that the impatiens are very sensitive to over-fertilizing. His advice was to dilute any reputable house-plant fertilizer to 1/3 the listed strength and to use the fertilizer water once a week.

It took me a couple of weeks to purchase the fertilizer and get it up to Belladonna.

She used it the next day. The day after that plant in the pot were fried as crisply as a potato chip.

She blamed the fertilizer and I felt that I was getting blamed.

I was certain that she had not followed the directions on the bottle of liquid fertilizer. She is a kid, right?

Eleven months later....

Belladonna still had the pots. She still wants plants. She said, "Do it exactly the same way as last year but DO NOT give me any fertilizer."

That is when I suggested that maybe she made a measurement error.

I got 'that look'. "Dad. I used a gallon jug and measuring spoons. I DID NOT SCREW UP!"

In my mind I thought.....


Then, a few days later I was telling the ever wise and talented Mrs ERJ a story of an experiment where the researchers proved that animal's brains are not totally transparent to magnetism. They designed and built a huge electro-magnet and designed special iron funnels to focus the magnetic field on the volunteer's brain.

In the absence of human volunteers they chose a rooster to put in the magnetic chair.

After adding more and more current to the magnet, they finally succeeded in getting the rooster to squawk.

Emails flew. This was huge news in the field. The Rock Star of the field was scheduled to fly to the lab to observe a repeat of the experiment.

The experiment replicated perfectly...and then the Rock Star asked if anybody had a set of Allen wrenches. They found a mechanic in the back room who had a set of Allen wrenches.

The Rock Star went into the chamber and tightened all of the screws holding the iron funnels to the support structure and then commanded the director of the lab to re-run the experiment.

The rooster did not squawk.


Back to Bella's fried plants.

The two pots of plants were clearly fried by a gross over-application of fertilizer. Not only were the impatiens fried but the rosemary and sweet alyssum, plants that should be much more resistant were also fried.

Bella said that she did not do it.

Obvious answer: Somebody else did it. Like her butt-head roommates.  It would be like them to watch Bella and decide that 1/4 teaspoon per gallon wasn't going to be enough. It seems unlikely that it was a wandering drunk peeing into them. If so, he managed to hit both pots.

Ultimately I chose to follow Bella's advice. Instead of liquid fertilizer I put some Jobe's plant spices into the pots. The best way to avoid process control failures due to improperly set knobs is to remove the knobs.

Oh, and she has different room mates this summer.

Wednesday, May 8, 2019

So what is the problem?

Every firearm show in this image appears to be compliant with California's unconstitutional restrictions on capacity.
Ditto for these.
Article HERE.

In spite of the article's text, these photos are clearly not taken from a news helicopter. They were leaked by the law enforcement agencies.

The firearm owner's constitutionally guaranteed right to an unpolluted trial has been infringed upon, as were his rights to own fire arms as were protections against onerous seizure of property.

Anybody wanna take bets that he/she are never compensated for the scratches and damage caused by the careless stacking of those firearms?