Monday, August 31, 2020

"Quest" ends today

The Thanksgiving Turkey never has more evidence of the farmer's eternal benevolence than on the afternoon of the Wednesday before Thanksgiving.

Great literature teaches that history has some kind of symmetry. The events after the climax will have a center-of-gravity that will approximate the events before the climax.

"Quest" has no pretense of being "great literature".

"K" is the estimated, steady-state carrying capacity. Population over-shot by factor of about 3.5 Population went from 100-to-6000 over the course of twenty years and then from  6000-to-42 in less than two years.

Caribou population Bathhurst Island Complex. The population listed for 1960 is currently viewed with suspicion. Other populations from aerial surveys. On many of the islands in the complex the caribou herd was completely wiped out. It was an extinction event.

The people of Ann Arbor failed/refused to make any changes until the last kernel of grain was swept out of storage. And then it was much, much too late.

Unlike Great Literature, God and History give us no promises regarding symmetry on the backside of watershed events.

Quest: The power of a name

It was the end of the road for Thibodeaux and Andi.

There had been no word from “higher”.

Thibodeaux made expeditions three miles to the south and to the north and none of Sayed’s observation posts were still operating. Just him and Andi.

He knew the jig was up once they ran out of hard-tack. You can starve to death eating rabbit meat. Not enough fat. Not enough calories.

And they weren’t catching all that many rabbits. The rabbits had figured out how to twist around and chew through the synthetic cordage. Unlike steel, the nylon was no match for bunny teeth.

Thibodeaux and Andi discussed the best way to surrender. They knew there was a high risk that they would be shot while turning themselves in.

Andi voted for surrendering to the two lovers they saw strolling twice-a-day. Her reasoning was that they were the ones most likely to have empathy for the couple.

Thibodeaux was of two minds. While he agreed with Andi in principle, the man had clearly been wounded and since he was of military age, it was a damned good chance that Sayed’s forces had been the ones to shoot him. Men tend to resent things like that and had been known to hold grudges.

In the end Thibodeaux agreed because he didn’t have any better ideas.

Wyatt and Tikka were very regular in their walks. Andi had them timed down to a ten-minute window.

Thibodeaux and Andi stashed their guns in the middle of a blackberry thicket some 150 yards from the road. If things went sideways they wanted to be able to recover them.

They left their backpacks and water there as well. 

They intercepted Wyatt and Tikka a quarter mile off Howell Road. Howell Road was a heavily traveled artery and they didn't want a crowd. On the other hand, they didn't want the couple they were surrendering to to feel isolated and to think they were being ambushed.

Thibodeaux and Andi stepped into the middle of the road some thirty-five yards ahead of Wyatt and Tikka. They were holding hands as they walked out of the brush that lined the road.

They turned and faced Wyatt. They separated by about six feet and raised their hands and Andi loudly announced “We are political refugees from Ann Arbor and we want to surrender to you.”

Then they waited.

Wyatt saw a scruffy, hairy, muddy man who he knew was not a Buffer-Zone fighter. That is, a threat.

Tikka saw a magazine-cover, glamorous model. That is, a woman so gorgeous that Tikka was instantly intimidated.

Wyatt slipped his handgun out of his holster and kept it at low-ready as they approached the couple. Tikka had a .22, bolt-action long gun for defense against feral dogs and to pot the occassional woodchuck or squirrel. She didn’t think to un-sling it.

“Who are you?” Wyatt asked. His voice was not particularly loud. Just loud enough.

“We are refugees from Ann Arbor and we are surrendering to you.” Thibodeaux said.

“Yeah, I heard that. If you are refugees, then why are you surrendering?” Wyatt asked.

“Good question” Thibodeaux admitted.

“We are surrendering because we recognize that you are calling the shots.” Andi said. Then, she regretted her choice of words. Getting shot was NOT what she wanted to have happen.

“So who ARE you?” Wyatt repeated.

“My name is Thibodeaux and this is my wife Andi” Thibodeaux said.

Tikka saw the lightening fast glance Andi gave Thibodeaux. Andi's head did not move a millimeter, just her eyes. Tikka guessed that until just now, Andi had been oblivious to the fact that Thibodeaux was going to identify her as his 'wife'. 

She was not wrong.

Wyatt nodded. He had not picked up on Andi’s quick ‘tell’. His eyes were glued to Thibodeaux. His 'spider' senses told him that Thibodeaux was by far the more dangerous of the two. "My name is Wyatt and this is my fiance, Tikka."

Neither Thibodeaux or Andi missed the fact that Tikka’s eyebrows shot to her hairline. Tikka would never be the poker player that Andi was.

“Give me one good reason why I shouldn’t shoot you both like rabid dogs” Wyatt said. “We have been over-run with your kind, stealing and breaking into homes.”

“Shooting you might be a kindness. A bunch of you have Ebola” Wyatt concluded. "It is not a pretty way to die."

Thibodeaux winced.

“I used to work with a guy” Thibodeaux said. “We moved from job-to-job for almost two years. Last I knew, he married a girl who lived near Eaton Rapids. Any chance you can call him and get a character reference?”

“Not likely he is still alive. The first wave of Ebola took lots of folks” Wyatt said.

“Maybe” Thibodeaux said. “I got a letter from him while things were getting hairy and he was alive back then.”

Tikka, who grew up north of Eaton Rapids and far more likely to know if Thibodeaux’s friend was alive asked “Who is your friend. I might be able to tell you if he is still alive.”

“His name is Milo Talon” Thibodeaux said.

Even Wyatt knew who Milo Talon was and knew that he was very much alive. Milo had been instrumental in getting General Spackle to approve the land-grants and to getting the garden plots plowed. Milo Talon supplied the tractor and the manpower. Milo Talon owned the trucking company that delivered the vast majority of supplies that had kept Wyatt alive the last nine months.

“How do I know you aren’t making that up?” Wyatt asked.

“Ask him” was all Thibodeaux could suggest. From Thibodeaux’s standpoint, things were going well. Neither Andi nor he had been shot. Yet.

Given sufficient priority, it is possible to daisy-chain repeaters together and talk over great distances. Wyatt, as a wounded soldier who never abused the privilege was able to command that priority.

Milo almost didn’t pick-up the call. They were hustling to put together a shipment and he was busy. Gladys “suggested” it would be in his best interest to pick up the call. Nobody wanted to piss-off the local operator, so he sighed and toggled the call in.

“Yeah, whaddya got?” Milo asked, cutting to the chase. He was beyond busy with dozens of people wanting a piece of his time or a favor.

After a lag as each repeater collected and disgorged the message in chunks, he heard “I am guarding an enemy combatant who claims to know you. Says you can give him a character reference” the disembodied voice said.


“What is his name?” Milo asked.

“Never gave me a first name. Just calls himself ‘Thibodeaux’.”

The roulette wheel had to spin around twice before the ball dropped into the slot.

“Scruffy bastard? Talks like a drunk with a mouth full of marbles?” Milo asked.

“More or less” Wyatt responded.

“If you don't mind, can you hand him the radio” Milo asked Wyatt.

Then, once he was sure the radio had been handed over “You dirty, rotten bastard. You still owe me $10 for lunch”

“Yeah, about that. I have been busy. You know, you are a lot more likely to get it if your soldier boy doesn’t shoot me first” Thibodeaux said.

“Hand the radio back to your guard” Milo said.

“What is your name, son?” Milo asked.

“Wyatt” Wyatt responded.

“Tell you what, Wyatt. It will take me an hour to get there from Capiche. I could get there quicker but it would be hell on the tires. Is there any chance you and my friend Thibodeaux could stay tucked out of sight until I get there? You know how folks have been getting excited when they see enemy combatants.” Milo asked.

Wyatt agreed that he had no pressing engagements and he and Tikka could keep Thibodeaux and his wife company until Milo showed up to take things in hand.

Milo walked out into the warehouse and asked which truck was closest to fully loaded for shipment to the Buffer-Zone. The crew pointed at a Ford truck.

“Throw five gallons of gas in the tank. I don’t have time to fire up the gassifer” Milo said. That was a lot easier to say that now that the Canton-to-Burlington line was delivering crude oil up the Michigan spur and Ozzie and Gabby had figured out how to distill it without blowing up.

Fifty-five minutes later, Milo pulled up to the GPS coordinates Wyatt had transmitted. By post-Ebola standards, it was a Cannonball Run.

“Shit, I knew you were too ornery to kill.” Milo said, hugging Thibodeaux and thumping him on the back.

“We have a screaming need for people who will work” Milo said. “There just aren’t enough people who know how to do ‘stuff’.” 

"I don't think there will be any issues in getting the two of you in except that you need to go through quarantine.

Thibodeaux cocked an eyebrow.

"Ebola" Milo said. "We have a vaccine but you still need to be in quarantine for four weeks."

"It isn't a very good vaccine. It takes a while to kick in and it isn't 100% effective with older people. So to protect them and to keep you out of sight...we need to find a place to stash you during your quarantine.

That is when Tikka piped up again.  “Mr. Talon, My fiancé has a forty-acre farm next to his that they can stay in. I can make sure they have food, water and whatever else they need if they stay there.” 

Milo smiled and said, "Call me 'Milo'."

Turning to Wyatt, Milo asked "What about you? Are you willing to put up with this devious bastard for a month? By the way, I appreciate how discretely you handled this. Most people wouldn't have shown as level of a head."

Wyatt was trapped. The third richest man in Delta Township/Capiche just told his bride-to-be that they were on a first name basis. Wyatt punted.

"It is really up to Tikka, Mr. Talon. She is going to do most of the work. General Spackle isn't very eager to let us least just yet. If Tikka wants to do it then I am all in" Wyatt said.

Milo smiled. "Whaddya think, Thibodeaux? You got a better offer?"

That is when Andi sent Thibodeaux a smile that promised many joyful nights over the coming decades “I think we should take them up on it, 'Hubby'.”


---The end of the third and final saga of Seven Cows--- 

Update on Pawpaw (Central Louisiana)

"Pawpaws youngest here. 

He and Momma are doing just fine. They were out of power for about a day and a half, but its back on and he only sustained minor property damage (a downed fence). Laura was a Category 2 when it got his place. 87 mph sustained winds with 100 mph gusts for about 3 hours. It was touchy for a bit, but they came out mostly unscathed. 

The rest of the family fared well too. My brother didn't have any damage, and my sister only lost a storage shed. Nephew was activated in the guard and is pulling checkpoint duty in 12 hour shifts. 

Pops says he works, comes home, eats, sleeps, and starts all over. They all have power again. Pops is out of internet so he won't have updates until it gets restored. Thanks for all the well-wishes and prayers guys."


Pulled from comments at Pawpaw's last post.


What are the odds?

The Shekel poses the rhetorical question: What are the odds that all three men who attacked Kyle Rittenhouse were convicted felons?

Knowing a little bit about functional statistics, I want to make a stab at answering that.

Aaron, the author of the blog shares that approximately one Wisconsin resident in fifty is a convicted felon. I see no need to dig into that.

The difficulty

The difficulty is that the question is posed AFTER the data is known.

Statistics generally works by making a hypothesis and then accessing or creating data. The fact that the data was known leads the reader to a conclusion that seems obvious.

Consider the monkey throwing three darts at a newspaper listing all of the stocks on the New York Stock Exchange.

Depending on which stocks the darts hit, one might reach the conclusion that the monkey was programmed to hit high-dividend stocks or are Technology or Financial stocks or all have the letter "A" as the second letter in their ticker symbol.

One way to deal with the problem of no a priori hypothesis is to change the hypothesis. Instead of asking "What are the chances of all three attackers being randomly drawn from the general population of Wisconsin being convicted felons" we might ask "What are the chances of the next two attackers being drawn from the general population of Wisconsin and having the same criminal status as the first attacker."

The second hypothesis is still weak but it makes a passing nod to the problems of making a posteriori hypothesis.

In the case of the first hypothesis, one would draw the conclusion that the odds were 1-in-125,000

In the case of the second hypothesis, one would draw the conclusion that there is a 1-in-2500 chance that the second two attackers would be felons just like the first attacker. 

That suggests that there is a 2499-in-2500 chance that the Leftist demonstrators on the streets of Kenosha that night were a distinct population compared to the general population of Wisconsin. One could even go out on a limb and make the case that riots somehow attract convicted felons.

Quest: Diaspora

Angelo Marino drove his forces to the Ann Arbor Airport with minimal looting along the way. Work first, then fun.

If locals took pot-shots at them...well, then he detailed troops to level the neighborhood. Object lessons lose their effectiveness if the intended target of the lesson has any doubt regarding who the lesson was intended for.

There was no resistance the last five miles to the airport. The gate was easy enough to push in.

Marino had his troops secure all fuel, arms and ammo.

He had them burn the planes. He did not have pilots. He did not have mechanics. He certainly wasn’t going to leave them for the enemy to use.

The sleek turboprop with the blue football helmets painted on the sides was not at the Ann Arbor Airport.

He found the plane he was looking for at the Willow Run Airport fifteen miles east of the Ann Arbor Airport.

It burned spectacularly. The high-tech fiber-reinforced resins burned like pine pitch.

The return leg arrowed directly thorough downtown Ann Arbor. Having accomplished his primary mission, it was time to sew the seeds of chaos, panic and vengeance. It was also a way to reward his men for following his orders when they what they really wanted to do was rape and loot.

During the three days his men rutted and routed Ann Arbor, the only discipline he maintained was a daily roll-call. If too many men started disappearing then it was time for another object lesson.

Getting ready to pull out of Ann Arbor, Marino left a trusted lieutenant to maintain a garrison in Ann Arbor, lest lest the locals get to feeling ambitious.

Marino really didn’t trust any of his lieutenants. He left the underling with just enough manpower to keep a lid on Ann Arbor provided he used an iron fist and was able to liberally seed the populace with spies.

Heading back to Jackson County, Marino’s guess that his competitors had met with a bad end was confirmed. That left him the undisputed leader of the Jackson County Hard-Timers.



For want of a nail the kingdom was lost. 

The trucks in the marshaling yard in Howell had enough fuel in them to make it to Delta Township, plus one gallon for safety. Sayed had been exquisitely aware of the temptations of a full fuel tank. Drivers would either siphon off the extra and sell it or they would bogey out of his reach.

Interspersed with his convoy were tanker trucks. Their job, once they reached Delta Township and Capiche was to refuel the cargo trucks after they had a full load. They were tasked with doling outh exactly enough fuel to get them back to Ann Arbor.

It was forty miles from the marshaling yard in Howell to the middle of Delta Township. It was thirty miles from the marshaling yard to the center of Ann Arbor.

Add in the necessity of taking indirect, circuitous routes to the dacha of The People’s Collective Voice and it was easy to see that most of the trucks were running on fumes as they pulled onto US-23 for the outbound, northward leg. The driver’s concerns were brushed off. There was a refueling station set up in Hartland, twenty-five miles north of Ann Arbor.

Shomsky’s thinking was that she wanted the refueling station to be far enough north to avoid having Ann Arbor residents fleeing the Hard-Timers stumbling across it.

Even with the highly optimistic guesses regarding how far the trucks would go before running out of fuel, things might have worked out if Ann Arbor’s most-favored had been willing to abandon vehicles as the ran out of fuel. But they were loath to give up the cargo. They demanded that the trucks that were still running run tow the disabled trucks.

And then there were the issues of pushing through groups of refugees. The drivers insisted on slowing down so they had time to move out of the way.

And there were disabled vehicles to work their way through. Most of the disabled vehicles had run out of gas.

The refugee’s live-and-let-live attitude came to an abrupt end when they encountered the PCV convoys that were totally drained of fuel. The passengers were unloading the trucks and attempting to separate out the most valuable loot to be carried by hand.

It became clear that The People’s Collective Voice and their closest friends had been pillaging for months and were in the process of abandoning the people they had sworn to lead and protect from the Hard-Timers.

The PCV forces were well armed. They were well armed and greatly outnumbered.

The refugees stacked their bodies in the road and hand-pushed the stalled trucks to form road-blocks.

It did not go well for the PCV members and minions who dallied and were not among the first out of Ann Arbor.


The PCV members who did make it to the refueling area in Hartland were allocated enough fuel to go an additional 150 miles. Had they known that most of their members were not going to make it to the refueling station, it would have been possible to give them far more fuel.

Most of the PCV members fell for the biomass fallacy. It is easy to assume that forests with large amounts of standing biomass are exceptionally fertile. That is rarely the case.

Fertile lands were put to the plow and had few standing trees. The forests with large amounts of standing biomass had been passed by the farmers and the impressive amount of biomass had been collecting for the last 90-to-140 years.

An ecologist would have looked at the trees and seen that they were Red and Jack Pines, aspen and birch and red maple. The ecologist would have looked at the distance between whorls of branches on the trucks of the pine trees to judge the fertility of the soil.

In southern Michigan, pine trees regularly grow three, even four feet a year from the time they are eight feet tall until they are more than thirty feet tall.

In the vast sand-plains of northern Michigan, those same pine trees might make nine inches-to-fifteen inches a year. Nearly every refugee who fled to the sand-plains would starve or freeze to death within the year. 

Most of the refugees were not pampered members of the PCV.

Ann Arbor emptied itself of baristas and barkeeps, lawyers and masseses, personal fitness trainers, sno-board instructors, soldiers, teachers, house cleaners and orthodontists. Like a mindless mass of lemmings, they marched north certain that things had to be better.

They found that most of what they had considered ‘wealth’ was not regarded as such by the subsistence farmers of the region.

In the end, those who survived indentured themselves to successful farmers as they lacked tools, seeds, livestock and even the fundamental knowledge of how to plant their own garden. 

The rest died. They died fast and they died ugly.

Sunday, August 30, 2020

A note from the Management


Emotions are likely to run high from now until the President, whoever that might be, is sworn in.

I want to provide guidance regarding comments that I consider acceptable and comments that might get deleted.


Since it is Sunday, you are going to get a little bit of Bible thrown at you.

Then the Pharisees and some of the scribes came together to Him, having come from Jerusalem. Now when they saw some of His disciples eat bread with defiled, that is, with unwashed hands, they found fault. For the Pharisees and all the Jews do not eat unless they wash their hands in a special way, holding the tradition of the elders. When they come from the marketplace, they do not eat unless they wash. And there are many other things which they have received and hold, like the washing of cups, pitchers, copper vessels, and couches.Then the Pharisees and scribes asked Him, “Why do Your disciples not walk according to the tradition of the elders, but eat bread with unwashed hands?”

He answered and said to them, Well did Isaiah prophesy of you hypocrites, as it is written:
 ‘This people honors Me with their lips,
But their heart is far from Me.
And in vain they worship Me,
Teaching as doctrines the commandments of men.’ 
For laying aside the commandment of God, you hold the tradition of men —the washing of pitchers and cups, and many other such things you do. He said to them, All too well you reject the commandment of God, that you may keep your tradition. For Moses said, ‘Honor your father and your mother’; and, ‘He who curses father or mother, let him be put to death.’ But you say, ‘If a man says to his father or mother, “Whatever profit you might have received from me is Corban”—’ (that is, a gift to God), then you no longer let him do anything for his father or his mother, making the word of God of no effect through your tradition which you have handed down. And many such things you do.
When He had called all the multitude to Himself, He said to them, Hear Me, everyone, and understand: There is nothing that enters a man from outside which can defile him; but the things which come out of him, those are the things that defile a man. If anyone has ears to hear, let him hear!    -Mark Chapter 7: 1-16 NKJV Translation
Comments that criticize public figures for their words and actions are fair game, even encouraged.
Comments that criticize or can be perceived as belittling them because of their origins, geographic location or ancestry are likely to be deleted. Good men arise from difficult circumstances. Sadly, many bad men come from favored circumstances.

I don't care if a public figure counts Blackbeard, platypuses and myxogastria in his immediate ancestors, if he screwed up...comment on his behaviors. If he was a hero...also comment on his behaviors.

As a practical matter, let Brand X get trapped in playing identity politics. WE are better than that.


One of the things you learn in supervision is to keep asking "Why?" until you reach the bedrock of the problem. As a rule of thumb, asking "Why?" five times might get you close to the bedrock.

When somebody brings a problem to you it is human nature that they skewed the story to make themselves less culpable and more awesome.

Let me give you an example.

Suppose a former First Lady claims that American is marinaded in racism and uses the "fact" that she snuck out with her two children and went to a Dairy Queen "incognito". She claims that the person serving the soft-serve cones would not look her in the eye.

If you accept this story at face value then approximately 30 Secret Service agents and supervisors need to be fired.

She sneaked out? She was walking down the Washington Mall and nobody recognized her?

Justice demands that Trump find out what day(s) this happened and the Secret Service agents responsible for her safety, and the safety of the President's children be fired and that they be blackballed from future employment in law enforcement or security. They should not be able to get a job guarding Porta-Potties.

And the management needs the same treatment at least two levels up.

Imagine the leverage a foreign power would have it it kidnapped the President's children?

That is the problem with "telling stories". The story-teller is rarely prepared for the consequences when their story is peeled apart and others look-under-the-hood. "Oh, my little, white lie is going to get 30 people fired? Bummer."

Let's look at a couple of other hypothesis. These people love to put signs in their yards saying they believe in BLM, Science, yada, yada, yada.

Suppose the teenager working the soft-serve machine is terrified of 21, buff, armed, body-guards who were actually present doing their job.

Or, suppose the employee was on the receiving end of 24 hours of "Cultural Sensitivity Training" and was indoctrinated with the belief that looking an African-American in the eyes is an act of aggression

In either case, the former First Lady needs to check her "White Privilege". Ironic, isn't it?

Great Dates: Part III


Image from Fine Art America

"Picnic by a peaceful lake with sun shining, breeze blowing and watching the wildlife"

One date that is vastly under-rated is the double date where you, as the man, invite the lady you are interested in to a picnic or barbecue and the other couple are two people you have known a long time; perhaps a best-buddy from college or long-time coworkers...maybe even a sibling and his/her spouse.

It is creepy if you pry deeply into your new beloved's history and don't reveal anything about yourself.

The double-date gives your new love-interest a chance to do some sleuthing regarding you. She can hear stories that you probably won't tell her. She will learn  how you respond when things aren't going your way.

Perhaps the biggest thing she will take-away from the date is how you treat women after you have known them for a while. Are you easily irritated? Do you tease too much? Do you listen to their stories? Are you disrespectful?

As the two of you get to know each other, one important question in her mind is "How is he going to treat me after 'the shiny' has worn off?" 

Quest: Options

The most southern column of the Hard-Timer’s invasion was not lagging the others because of leadership incompetence. Quite the contrary.

Angelo Marino had taken time to collect the people and materials he needed to make an extended, cross-country movement and arrange logistical support. He referenced maps and determined that the Ann Arbor airport was south of Ann Arbor. He also determined that the Willow Run airport had to be approached from the south unless he wanted to drill through miles-and-miles of congested, urban areas.

Marino preferred to jog to the south through Hard-Timer held territories. Then to head east.

Marino’s competitors were more impulsive. And they were competitors more than collaborators. The African-Americans and the Pecker-Heads and Marino’s gangs were in a complex equilibrium. No one set of gangs was sufficient to withstand being ganged up upon by the other two.

Having started his eastward penetration much later than his competitors, his column had not penetrated as deeply which is why Mészáros left their column until last.

Now, Mészáros would never get to them. Mészáros impact had bent some of the diagonal bracing of the high-voltage power-line tower but the impact had shredded the plane and Mészáros.

The only flying in Mészáros’ future was feeding them.


Approaching the intersection with Zeeb Road, the lead element halted. Marino put smart people in front for a reason. He expected them to use their eyes and their brains.

There were bodies in the intersection.

Willie radioed back to the control center. “Hey, boss. We gotta problem up here.”

“Burn one of the prisoners” Marino directed after Willie explained the hold-up.

One of the Ann Arbor defense forces who had surrendered to Marino’s forces was pulled out of the back of a van.

Two of Marino’s forces prodded the Ann Arbor deserter with the muzzles of the gun.

“Walk up the road” the shorter man directed the deserter.

The man blinked in the bright sunlight. “Sure, Bro. Whatever you want” and he started walking east through the intersection. He didn’t make it to the other side.

If the man thought calling Marino’s forces “Bro” would endear him to them, he was wrong. That is what the African-American gangs called each other. It was tone-deaf in the extreme.

Prisoners were expendable. There are only two things that have currency within the gang structure: Loyalty and results. Those who surrendered demonstrated they were not capable of either.

Marino did not want to back-up to find another route. It would be a goat-festival trying to turn around. He made a note to himself to send scouts out ahead of the main force once they worked their way out of this issue.

Looking at the map, Marino saw that there were sub-divisions to the south of the intersection on both sides of Zeeb Road.

“Grab some more prisoners and send one across about two-hundred yards south on Zeeb. If he doesn’t make it, go another two-hundred yards. He was willing to waste a few prisoners to see if Ann Arbor had used area denial continuously or had merely hit the major arteries.


Thibodeaux was running out of options.

Thibodeaux had gotten the whistle from the north observation post that he was needed.

It was a thirty minute evolution for him to slip from one side of Howell Road to the other. He hoped it was worth the effort.

Bruner got right to the point. “One-eyed-Mike is sick.”

Thibodeaux could see that. One-eye was panting and seemed pale. For that matter, Bruner wasn’t looking all that hot, either.

“What do you propose?” Thibodeaux asked.

“I think I need to take him back tonight so he can be looked at.” Bruner said.

Thibodeaux made some quick decisions. “Take Davis and Conner with you. You stay with One-eye. Davis and Conner can bring back the batteries and food.”

Then, as an after-thought Thibodeaux said “D’Koda and D’astion, go with them and make contact with the group north of us. See how they are making out. Then come back here and report out.”

The next morning, the North camp was deserted. D’Koda and D’astion had not come back from their meeting just one mile to the north. The others who had stayed behind had slipped way during the night.

That left him and Andi watching Howell Road. They had a little bit of hardtack, a radio with nearly dead batteries, two rifles and a hundred rounds of ammo between the two of them.

On the positive side, they had plenty of water and Thibodeaux was able to strip the core out of some of his paracord. Young bunnies were easy to snare. They would be OK for a little while, yet.

Saturday, August 29, 2020

Great Dates: Part II


I never saw this coming.

"The person that I have been casually seeing and I both got tested before and immediately after spending time with one another for the first time."

Then, later in the email

"I also don’t think 'dating' is a huge priority for a lot of people right now. It seems that things have been reprioritized and shuffled around quite a bit. I can say personally that dating/getting a boyfriend is pretty low on my list right now. But if there is someone that I enjoy spending time around (and it’s life giving for both of us) then I will try to figure out how to do that as safely as possible for both of us."

I get the sense that the "dating scene" became less of a priority due to Covid as much as for personal reasons.

Birth rates in the United States. Depression years circled in Red. WWII circled in dark blue

I wonder if that would change if Covid lock-down was the new-normal and it might go on for half a decade? Would young people make different decisions? 

What if Covid drags on for five years and then we have economic spasms for another ten? Would they make different decisions then? I am not predicting that, just pointing out that there have been prolonged periods of recent history where things really difficult for the romantically inclined for more than a decade.

If young people knew in 1929 that things were not going to magically return to "normal" until 1946, how many would have gotten married anyway? How many would have not delayed having children on the hope that "next year will be better"?

Specific date ideas:

(I think) hikes, swims or bonfires are all fun socially distanced dates.

Great dates

The feedback I am getting from both Kubota and Belladonna is that dating is hard during these times of Covid.

Guys, admit it, we have become mentally lazy. Dinner, a movie, maybe a drink afterward. In states where politicians strangled entertainment venues in the name of Covid, these activities can be more of a chore than romantic or relaxation.

As a public service, and because I am mentally lazy, I reached out to the ERJ Focus Group, Beautiful-Young-Woman division and asked for their assistance in identifying Covid-compliant dates.

The opinions are trickling in and I will share them as they show up.


Boats are inherently romantic. They get us in touch with what is fundamentally primal and tear us away from distractions. They also discourage pulling out the smartphone and checking on what everybody else is doing. That dog don't hunt and that smartphone don't float.

Take a simple dinner. It can be submarine sandwiches if you want to stay nautically themed.

Rum drinks and citrus are traditional but any light-to-very-light beverage will do.

Sailboats shine near big water. Don't go out too far unless both you and the boat are capable. Be mindful that if the sailing is too challenging it will be difficult to pay much attention to your date. Keep your eye on the prize.

In places like Southern Michigan the common pontoon boat is the boat of choice. You don't need a 100 hp motor, ten will do. You aren't in a hurry to go anywhere. You just want to leave shore and leave the Karens and mosquitoes behind. You don't want to scare her, mess up her hair or shift the mood away from "Hey, I want to get to know you and don't want distractions".

If you are my generation, a portable radio tuned to a station that plays Mo-town or slow dance music helps set the mood. Younger couples might want to include swimming on the list of activities.

Picture borrowed from eBay

Even a simple rowboat is incredibly romantic if you are physically fit enough to operate it. 

Your ability to select the proper boat and dating partner is critical. Some are built for speed and others for comfort. A rare, fine few are suited for both. I refer, of course to both boats and women.

Quest: Crop dusting

Bob landed the plane and taxied it to the hanger.

He got out and walked away. He was done flying.

He showered and went home.

The ground crew power-washed the plane and flushed the tank. Then they moved it to another location. Then a second ground crew power-washed the plane and flushed the tank again. They weren’t taking any risk of creating VX in their airport anywhere near their hangers.

Two trucks were servicing the plane when Mészáros arrived. One was fueling it. The other had hermetically sealed lines and was pumping the second part of the binary VX into the tank. The hermetic seals were not unusual. The ag-Cat had been designed back in the day when materials like Guthion were routinely applied to farm fields.

Firing up the bird, Mészáros waited until the gauges were in the green. Then he informed the tower he was taking off.

Compared to his plane, the ag-Cat was under-powered but it did have a much tighter turning radius. Mészáros was trying to figure out how to turn that to his advantage.


The column of trucks returning from Livingston County ran into lines of refugees streaming north out of Ann Arbor.

Several tried to hail the lead truck. The political officer told the driver to drive over the refugees who tried to step in front of the trucks to stop them.

By the time the lead truck had flattened the fifth refugee, the front was splattered with body fluids. The refugees quickly got out of its way as it got close and they were able to see the remnants of the refugees who had been more optimistic than they.

The trucks behind the lead truck were not molested. Maybe it was the impact of the lead truck. Maybe it was the fact that stake-rack trucks with armed soldiers were interspersed every fifth vehicle.

Shomsky was busy taking calls and making notes on a large dry-erase board the entire trip. As they neared Ann Arbor, Shomsky detailed portions of the convoy in different directions.

By Shomsky’s reckoning, only a third of the convoy was needed to stop the Hard-Timers. She over-heard Sayed say that defense always held a 3:1 advantage over attackers.

What she did not comprehend was that Sayed was referring to defenders who had been able to dig-in, prepare fighting positions and pre-position munitions. The scrum between the Hard-Timers and the forces called back from Livingston County was going to be more like two offensive forces meeting on a field of battle quite by happenstance.

The trucks that peeled off from the main convoy always contained at least one stake-rack truck with guards, several flat-beds and a passenger van. The traveled by discrete routes to various cottages and villas that had been taken over by members of the People’s Collective Voice. The guards were put to work loading the flat-beds. Much of the material that was being loaded was stacked in the basement and caused much cursing among the guards.


The panic of the refugees was contagious.

The Ann Arbor Police Force was quickly overwhelmed. The People’s Collective Voice had modeled the police force after 1960’s, London “Bobbies”.

Most of the people fleeing Ann Arbor did not have a firm destination in mind. They just knew that the threat was coming from the west.

Most of them left town heading north. To them, north was untrammeled wilderness and safety. Everybody knew somebody up-north. Everybody had spent vacation time in a cabin or cottage up north. They believed north was safe.


Mészáros, just like Krissman, did a high altitude fly-over to assess the location and speed of his targets.

The northern-most column was the most advanced. The middle column which was coming up I-94 was not far behind.

The southern-most column was clearly lagging the other two.

The columns were far enough west that he had time to “dash the tops of the Ts”. Krissman had flown along the length of Zeeb Road, slightly west of Ann Arbor. Krissman had laid down short “dashes” of the VX precursor where each east-west road intersected Zeeb Road. Those were Ann Arbor's go-to-hell plan. Mészáros saw no reason to wait until the last moment. He added Part II. The fact that residents used those roads every day did not enter into his mental calculus.

Mészáros then swung out over southern tip of the Buffer-Zone and leveled out just high enough to clear the high-tension power-lines between him and his target.

He came in as fast and as low as the dumpy ag-Cat would fly and fogged the northern-most column.

Troops got shots off at him but their window of time to recognize the threat, aim and fire was so short they all shot behind him.

It took the fog about five seconds to settle on their skin and start diffusing into their bodies. It took another ten seconds to combine with the precursor that was already coursing through their bodies. The nerve agent caused them to twitch like cartoon bugs in an insecticide commercial on TV. It took the people inside the trucks slightly longer to acquire a fatal dose...on the order of a minute.

There was nowhere they could go to escape the fog. It had already sucked into the cabs of the trucks before they noticed what was happening. The lead truck managed to croak out a barely intelligible warning on the radio before he succumbed.

Mészáros attack on the second column was nearly identical to the first. They knew something was up. They had their rifles up, but like the first column, they could not pivot, acquire the target and fire in time to have much of an effect.

At the end of his dusting run, Mészáros could not resist the urge to do a little end-zone dance.

“Boo-ya, Boys!” he crowed as he pulled up in a barrel roll. "You are playing in the Big House now!"

At the top of his barrel-roll, Mészáros craned his head to peer back, behind his run to survey the damage he had wrought.

He never saw the power-line tower as he completed his roll and dropped back into level flight.

Friday, August 28, 2020

Will it be no-show Joe...again

One of the first lessons of being a supervisor is "Go and see"

It sends the message, "I care" more vividly than anything you can say. Words are cheap.

Time is the ultimate resource. If we take the time to go-and-see, we are communicating our priorities in ways that cannot be misinterpreted.

The Biden campaign stands at a watershed. Will he go to Kenosha, Wisconsin? Will he go to Lake Charles, Louisiana? Will he demonstrate that "he cares"?

He can send surrogates but that won't cut it. If he cannot go to either community then he should let Harris head the ticket and fill the VP slot with somebody who is not missing-in-action.

The time is now. There are no do-overs. "FEMA slow to respond. Bush to blame" is still a meme 15 years later. Will a Biden no-show poison the punch-bowl for Democrats for the next decade? It could.

Will he go or will it be no-show Joe.

Fake News Friday: Small Town restaurants offering "Antifa Specials"

Michigan Small Town Restaurants, strangled by the restrictions the State Government placed on them in the name of Covid-19 are attempting to drum-up business in unlikely places.

Since protestors are getting a free-pass from the Democratic Governor, businesses are appealing to Antifa for business.

For example, one restaurant in Eaton Rapids offers every person who enters the restaurant carrying a skate-board and wearing a black mask "The Antifa Special"

  • A chicken club sandwich
  • Red corn chips in the shape of raised fists
  • Beverage choice of Skittles flavored seltzer water or Double Decaf, Sustainably Harvested, soy latte.

A bargain at $19.17

Travel to Eaton Rapids, buy lunch and be a part of history!

Quest: The pace quickens

Bob took the ag-Cat up to two thousand feet and moved through some gentle maneuvers to get a feel for “the stick”. It was as stable as a 14’ jon-boat on a farm pond.

Then he did some aerobatics* that were strictly forbidden in the plane he usually flew. Doing aerobatics was a quick way to void the warranty on the plane.

However, crop-dusting is non-stop aerobatics. Flying feet off the deck and then yanking the plane into a three-G climb to clear the power-wires at the end of the field. Climb straight up and hair-pin turn just before stall. Yank back on the yoke just shy of a crash landing on the way back down.

And doing it all-day-long.

Yeah, the bi-wing, ag-Cat was a hell of a plane to throw around, even with thousands of pounds of liquid aboard. The tank was filled with baffles to keep it from sloshing and was mounted in-line with the wings so changes in ballast had little impact on the handling characteristics.

Still, Bob believed that repetitions were the key to survival.

After a high-altitude pass over the advancing, Hard-Timer’s columns, Bob dropped down behind them and approached at 150 knots. He was not flying directly up the road but was flying a several hundred yards north of it. Bob’s hope was that the prevailing southwest wind would mislead the column into thinking he was farther away than was the fact.

The noise was not noticed by the Hard-Timers ensconced in their truck. 

Bob's fixed landing gear cleared the tops of the tallest trucks by twenty feet.

Bob had already passed over the column and was fading away in their windshields as the oily fog settled down over the trucks as they first noticed his presence.

His mission gave him the heebie-jeebies. The bright boys at the University insisted the material was perfectly safe until the second part and the catalyst was added. 

Only then did it become VX. They did leave out one tiny detail, though. The hemoglobin in red blood cells was an adequate, if slow, catalyst.

One enemy column "painted" and two more to go.


Thibodeaux was spooked.

Thibodeaux had hunted deer since he was eight. Bag limits are very generous in Louisiana and not every person in the bayous respected even those liberal laws.

Thibodeaux had been on countless hunts were deer were run by hounds. The swamps were so thick and impassible that it just made sense to send a sixty-five pound hound in to flush out the deer.

Those experiences in Thibodeaux’s formative years ingrained in him the basics of lines-of-drift and fields-of-fire.

What Thibodeaux saw chilled his blood. Somebody had been building bunkers east of the Buffer-Zone that overlooked all of the potential lines-of-drift. The implications were crystal clear.

In one regard, that made his immediate job much, much easier.

Thibodeaux merely had to point a team of observers in a general direction and a suitable, pre-built observation post had already been optimally sited, excavated and reinforced.

The spooky part was that the enemy undoubtedly knew where every one of those bunkers were.

That would not be an issue if the Buffer-Zone defenders came boiling out of the Buffer-Zone intent on attacking the rear of the convoy heading west toward Capiche and Delta Township.

It would be a problem, however, if Sayed’s offense pushed the Buffer-Zone defenders out of the Buffer-Zone and into their fall-back positions.

Thibodeaux attemped to call “higher” and was not able to drill through. The batteries in his radio were almost dead.

After cursing, Thibodeaux snaked his way back to the main part of his squad. None of their radios were working, either.

Shaking the batteries out of the radios, Bruner said “Just regular alkaline batteries. I bet somebody recharged them and that they kept their charge long enough to sell them to the military as ‘new’.”

Thibodeaux shook his head in disgust. He was willing to bet Bruner was right.

By playing with different sets of batteries, they were able to mix-and-match one set of batteries that could reach Sayed. And then they turned off the radio to conserve those batteries.

Thibodeaux had two observation posts, the main one to the north and Thibodeaux and Andi in the south, manned during the daylight hours. He assumed that there would be enough noise to alert his people if the Buffer-Zone evacuated by night.

The two observation posts would communicate by whistling.


Sayed stalked around the war-room. “Absolutely not” he said to his Political Officer, Kristen Shomsky.

“I am within hours of a break-out. I will come back and support Ann Arbor after I fulfill my objectives.”

“The Hard-Timers pose an existential threat to Ann Arbor. You must withdraw and defend Ann Arbor” Shomsky explained to him.

“Yeah, yeah, yeah” Sayed said. While attending University, Sayed had heard the term “existential threat” nearly every day of his life.

The term means “viable and imminent threat to the very existence of...”

Sayed heard it applied to dozens of elected officials. He heard it applied to global warming. He heard it applied to genetically modified foods. He heard it applied to trans-fats and urban policing and synthetic fertilizers and the “factory farming” of meat.

Every one of those “existential threats” would have been seen as blessings by his people in Africa. They would have embraced them with prayers of joy. Those politician who were "an existential threat" were a hundred times less corrupt than the ones back home. The food (well, maybe not the pork) and the policing would have brought song and dancing to his drought and corruption plagued country.

If there was one term guaranteed to trigger Sayed’s animus, it was the term “existential threat”.

And the woman was disrespecting him in front of his war-council by bringing it up after he had already dismissed it.

Sayed said “I will send aid when I can spare it.”

Shomsky asked “Is that your final answer?”

Sayed stared at her the way a cobra stares at a pigeon. “I do not repeat myself.”

One of the roles of leadership is that leaders set the tone. Sayed treated women like fixtures or furniture. It was inevitable that others in his staff mimicked his disregard for women.

That is why his staff was completely surprised by the report from the .380 Bersa Thunder. It wasn’t that loud. The low-level Political Officer had pushed it into the back of Sayed’s neck just as she pulled the trigger. Nobody had noticed her until her gun went off.

Shomsky looked over at Mustafa Manzoor who had been General Sayed’s second-in-command and asked “General Manzoor, do you intend to order your troops to move to Ann Arbor to assist in the defense?”

Some people’s minds lock-up under stress. Others speed up. Manzoor’s was clocking at near the speed of light.

He knew that his personal Political Officer was in the meeting. She was not in his cone-of-vision. One part of his brain was reconstructing her whereabouts for the last minute in an attempt to calculate where she was now.

Another part of his brain, the sub-conscious part said “Don’t bother replaying the mental video. She is right behind you.”

Cues that were just beneath the reach of his conscious brain KNEW where she was. The hairs on the back of his neck rose.

Half a second after Shomsky asked Manzoor about his intentions, about as long as it took him to move his gaze from Sayed’s inert form to Shomsky’s face, Manzoor informed her “The lead elements of our support will be leaving the compound less than five minutes after this meeting is dismissed. We well send every asset at our disposal to relieve Ann Arbor. Every asset.”

Behind him, Manzoor heard the click of a handgun being de-cocked.


*Hat-tip to drail for correcting my usage of "acrobatics" when "aerobatics" was proper.

Thursday, August 27, 2020

Potential Evapotranspiration

This is a screen shot. MSU is Michigan's Agricultural university and they have a site dedicated to Integrated Pest Management. This weather site is a subsection of that IPM site. As you can see there are "wheels" to change variables and locations.


Potential Evapotranspiration is a simple idea. "How much water would evaporate out of a cake-pan if you left it in the sun?"

Clearly, a multitude of variables come into play. 

  • Air temperature
  • The dew-point
  • Windspeed at ground level
  • Solar loading
  • Day length

being some of the main variables.

The very simplest way to measure PE is to actually put a cake pan in the middle of a sunny yard and weigh it at sunrise and again at sunset. That, however, is labor intensive and subject to error due to thirsty animals availing themselves to the water.

Consequently, scientists developed several different formulas to calculate the PE from the variables listed above. I suspect that the data is accessed hourly and integrated to produce the daily PE number.

The person who uses this information still has the responsibility to "map" the raw PE number to his circumstances. For example, an orchard might have both northern and southern exposures. The orchard might have some areas that are clay-based and retain water well while others are sandy and prone to drought. The orchard might have newly planted dwarf trees with roots that don't strike deeply into the soil and it might also have mature, semi-dwarf trees that are more deeply rooted.

So the orchardist will have one, calculated number to work with but will still have to use his brain to develop individual irrigation plans for each portion of his orchard.

Other states

I believe that most other states offer similar data. You just have to do a little bit of digging. For instance, Texas A&M offers this site and This one.

The smart money will look at the three stations that are nearest your growing location and will use rain-gauges at your growing location to judge actual rainfall.

The thing about rainfall is that it can vary wildly in a half mile and unless the weather station is on your property you have to take your own measurements.

Next gen technologies?

The next generation seems to be sensors that measure actual soil moisture. At one time these were blocks of gypsum with electrodes embedded in them. The resistance changed as the moisture content changed.

The weakness of soil moisture sensing technology is that if you are trickle irrigating with individual emitters on sandy soil, the wetted volumes are deep-and-narrow and likely to be invisible to the sensors.

Quest: Yipping Coyotes


Thibodeaux and his squad moved slowly through the night. They followed old fence-lines a quarter-mile east of Williamston Road for most of the way. That kept them off the roads where they were most likely to run into guards or civilians.

They arrived at the sector they had been assigned well after midnight. Traveling silently, cross-country, by night is slow business.

The main portion of the squad bivouacked at the edge of a woods a quarter-mile northeast of the corner of Williamston and Howell. Thibodeaux and Andi bivouacked on the south side of Howell Road.

The reason Thibodeaux and Andi camped in a different location was that Andi’s vocalizations while “cuddling” were notable for their range, intensity and duration. As a matter of courtesy, Thibodeaux moved their bivouack away from the main group so the sounds would not keep them awake.

It was not far enough.

Shortly after Thibodeaux and Andi became a couple, Thibodeaux asked "Do you HAVE to be that loud.

Andi glared at him and answered “Yes I do HAVE to be that loud!”.

Thibodeaux never broached the subject again.

The few locals who noticed the unusual sounds assumed that a pack of coyotes were yipping at the moon.


Trudi never expected Fuller Park to descend into chaos, certainly not at the speed with which it had.

The evening before there had been relatively few empty campsites.

By the middle of the next morning the entire park was a zoo. Men, women, entire families were streaming out of the park. Some carried their tents. Others had clearly abandoned everything they owned other than the clothes on their backs.

It would have been trivial to have buttoned up the park before the mass exodus, although now it was a moot issue.

Still, Trudi tried. Every person she turned to replied “I am not authorized” or “It is not my job” or “It is above my pay-grade.”

Even as she watched, columns of smoke started rising in the still, morning air above the residential neighborhoods and she could hear windows being broken in the nearby hospital.

Trudi surmised that the refugees had taken it upon themselves to find a grub-stake before setting off to wherever they were destined.

Shots rang out. Apparently, the fact that a house or business was currently occupied was not much of a deterrent to the desperate refugees.

Stopping one of the refugees who was passing her, a refugee she recognized as a former patient, Trudi said “Why are you running away? If you caught Ebola then we can treat you better here than where you are going.”

“Fuck Ebola!” the former patient cursed at Trudi. “The Hard-Timers are coming.”

“I assure you that the leaders of Ann Arbor have things well in hand. They are undoubtedly negotiating with these ‘Hard-Timers’ and are resolving any misunderstandings like adults” Trudi said.

The former patient looked at Trudi like she was stark, raving mad. “Do you really believe dat shit...dat da leaders of Ann Arbor have a fuckin’ clue?”

And with that, the former patient dismissed Trudi and continued trudging in the direction she was destined.


The Hard-Timers brushed aside the feeble resistance of the Ann Arbor ground forces. The AA ground forces were swept aside like so many cornbread crumbs off of an oil-cloth table covering just before dessert was served.

In extremis, the People’s Collective Voice had thrown clerks and naturalists, street-artists and social workers into the breach.

Nearly to a man, and woman, they had thrown down their weapons as soon as their leaders were out-of-sight and fled.

The Socialist Utopia had promised them self-actualization. It had promised full employment based on the near infinite division of tasks where each person was the perfect widget for their place in the machine. If such a place did not exist, then a place would be designed and the position guaranteed. Every person was totally perfect, totally necessary and totally well-compensated.

As Yogi Berra once noted, “If people don’t want to come to the ball-park, you cannot stop them.”

Sure, college towns have athletes. But it is seldom considered that 90% of the athletes who are capable of competing at Division I Universities never graduated from high school.

Of the 10% who do graduate, a significant portion of them struggle to stay in college for a variety of economic and social reasons.

The institutions the Hard-Timers matriculated from, on the other hand, received a huge number of very capable men. They went in capable and when they left prison, they were also well trained and cold-blooded in the extreme. They were Hard-Timers.

It would be an overstatement to claim that the Ann Arbor ground-forces collapsed like a house-of-cards. For one thing, a house-of-cards has structure before it collapses. The Ann Arbor ground forces never attained that.


The only thing that kept Ann Arbor in the game was their air attack.

The Hard-Timers were loath to walk anywhere. They had trucks. They had an abundance of fuel. Damned if they were going to walk.

Mészáros flew mission-after-mission and his airplane took multiple hits.

The problem was that Mészáros simply didn’t not have the fire-power to match his maximum...and safest...air speed.

If he strafed at his maximum speed then he was laying down one bullet every 25 feet with his two machine guns. That density of fire is not sufficient to intimidate ground-forces nor likely to cause them to cease firing at his plane.

If he slowed down to lay a higher density of bullets, then he became a juicier target.

Mészáros had been badgering his ground-crew to find a way to increase the rate-of-fire. One of them had changed out the recoil springs and opened up the gas-port which increased the rate-of-fire by 50%. One bullet every 17 feet was a barely noticeable improvement and the guns started jamming up.

On top of that, ammunition and linked belts were becoming increasingly scarce. 

Still, Mészáros succeeded in temporarily stuffing a cork in the bottle. He found that he could create a bottleneck if he dropped down to 200 knots and focused his firing at the head of the column. If he opened up at 3/4 mile and held down the trigger for a count-of-8-Mississippi, then he was dumping 250 bullets into the first few trucks of the columns and that was invariably enough to stop them and clog up the road.


Bob Krissman had NOT asked for this assignment. It did not matter.

He was flying an ag-Cat crop-duster he was not rated for. He was a piston-engine flier, not a gas-turbine guy. That prick, Mészáros, told him to keep his foot in the gas and keep the engine near red-line and it would all work out.

Easy for him to say. Mészáros was flying the second mission with the plane provided Bob didn’t stick it into the ground like a 3,000 pound Jart.

Bob’s payload was 400 gallons of liquid.

His mission was to crop-dust the Hard-Timer invaders.

Bob had to admit, the bi-plane's 750 shaft horse-power and variable-pitch prop had gobs of thrust and lift to burn. And since he had been told to keep his foot in the gas, every one of those ponies was chomping at the bit to take him for a ride. This might even be fun...

Wednesday, August 26, 2020

Overtraining and seasonal flu shots

You don't have to be training at the level of an Olympic athlete to suffer from overtraining.

Before discussing overtraining, it is necessary to discuss how physical conditioning works.

Basically, the muscles are stressed by subjecting them to a combination of more load and a greater number of repetitions than they are physiologically ready for. That causes damage to them. Often the damage is in the form of micro-tears. The damage sends out chemical markers that signal the body to invest resources in healing and strengthening them.

After giving the body an appropriate amount of time to heal, the athlete stresses his body again.

A good training program considers the number of repetitions or miles, the weight or speed, the current condition of the athlete, the genetic endowment of the athlete and the athlete's age. All of those things come into play with regard to how quickly the athlete's muscles will have repaired themselves enough so an additional workout will add incremental speed, strength or stamina.

It means that an out-of-shape 60-year-old cannot condition like a 21-year-old Marine. It also means that after two years of working out you will be able to shake-off work-outs that would have totally incapacitated the pre-workout you.

Pinning down when you enter "overtraining" territory can be elusive. There are a boatload of symptoms and not every person in training will have all, or even most of the symptoms.

Right now I am hobbling around and have been experiencing the symptoms of a low-grade cold for a week. So there is a good chance that I am tickling "training too hard" and need to back off.

Flu shots

There are currently three technologies used to produce seasonal flu shots. Most of the vaccine is still produced using chicken eggs.

There are two big issues with vaccine produced from chicken eggs.

  • Adverse reactions in some people
  • Genetic drift in the H3N2 strains

I have never had an adverse reaction but I know that many people have had them.

The genetic drift in the H3N2 strains means that earlier generations of the vaccine production produce robust immunity to the strains expected to circulate through the community early in the vaccine production cycle. It also means that the immunity is LESS robust as more generations of virus cycle through chicken eggs.

One of the non-chicken-egg vaccines is grown in cultured mammalian cells. Specifically, they are grown in a culture derived from canine kidney cells. If H3N2 strains drift, they drift much more slowly than the ones grown in chicken eggs.

Yesterday, I went to Rite-Aid and got my seasonal flu shot. I asked if they had any of the vaccine made from dog kidneys. Surprise, surprise, surprise...they did! Flucelvax Quadrivalent.

MSRP is $59. Private sector, wholesale $25.76. After insurance and cost to me.

I already notice one side-effect. I am able to lick over 80% of the surface of my body.

Rain, Weights, Flowers and Snakes


I don't know how it happened, but this entire storm system missed Eaton Rapids

As-of July 26 we had 12.4" of rain during the growing season vs. an evaporation potential of 16.7". That left us with a deficit of 4.3" of water that plants had to mine out of the soil.

As-of today, we had 14.1" of rain and 21" of evaporation potential for a deficit of just about seven inches that had to be made up out of the soil profile or supplied by irrigation.

If you know a little bit about plants, you know that they have strategies to avoid transpiring moisture. Unfortunately, those strategies also shut down productive photosynthesis.

As most old-time gardeners will tell you, weeds steal moisture. The cheapest way to water your garden is to control weeds and to plant the individual plants far enough apart that they have sufficiently large "block of soil" 

to mine moisture from.

We could use a good rain.


Belladonna likes lifting weights and she really misses going to the gym.

I need to lift weights because once every seven weeks I stay overnight with my mom and she needs to be physically moved to get her out of bed.

I suggested buying a set of weights. It is for our health, right?

Bella demurred. "Too much money."

I asked her "If you could only have a single weight, what would you pick?"

"That is easy" Bella said. "Get me something between 120 and 145. I can use that for deadlifts, squats and benchpressing." Bella is stronger than the average girl, even for Eaton Rapids.

Concrete comes in sixty pound bags. A gallon of water weighs eight pounds. A six-foot length of black, iron pipe weighs about two pounds. Total weight somewhere between 135 and 140 pounds.

Sadly, without a rack it is tough to do benchpresses and squats, however dead-lifts and jerks are still an option.


As fabricated, the bar was too close to the ground.

Ideally, the bar is about mid-shin height. If it is too low you cannot get your foot under it and you start your lift with the weight farther away from your body which is hard on one's back.

Bella gave me a homework assignment, get the bar higher in the air.

As you can see, no expense was spared.

"Too high" SWMBO Jr said.

11" from the ground to the center-of-the-bar

Pro-tip, lift your toes off the ground when dead-lifting. That mitigates against having the weight too far forward and minimizes the chances of you throwing out your back.

I am taking it slow with this bar with five reps per set. I want to sneak up on where I should be for reps.

Flowers of late Summer


Close-up of flower to give a sense of its size.

Milk snake

A baby milk snake. All reptiles like to sun themselves in the cool of the morning. A car got this one. Pretty snake.

Quest: Revelations

Overview of areas-of-operation

The orders for Thibodeaux’s squad to infiltrate the region west of Doan Creek, south of the Red Cedar River was met with disbelief.

Argument was squashed by the fact that the orders were handed out by the LT and the Political Officer. The boots-on-the-ground didn’t have much respect for the LT. They called him the “Smile Balloon”. The Political Officer, on the other hand, was universally feared.

A scanty, three-days worth of food rations were handed out. They were also issued radios, batteries, maps, ammunition.

To ensure that regions south of the river were not populated by “coast watchers”. Sayed intended to saturate those regions by mortar with VX to clear them of watchers and render them impassible by the Buffer-Zone defenders.

Thibodeaux’s squad was assigned a sector from a half-mile north of Howell Road to a half-mile south of Howell Road. His orders were simple. Report westward movement. Engage.

You didn’t have to be a graduate of West Point to see that it was a suicide mission.

Thibodeaux and his squad waded across the Red Cedar under the cover of darkness and moved south to their designated sector.

They had been promised resupply but nobody had considered the logistical difficulties that would be encountered after Sayed saturated the region south of the sanitized route with VX. That was the thing about first efforts: Everybody made rookie mistakes.


Sayed continued to drain trucks from Ann Arbor. The People’s Collective Voice had belatedly recognized Ann Arbor’s precarious food security situation and had dug the spurs into Sayed.

The Collective Voice was long on “Pure Theory” people and short on “Practical Application” people. The fact that there is often a long lag between recognizing a need and the execution of all actions needed to satisfy that need was not foremost in their minds. The hypothetical models rarely considered those lag-times. Command-and-fullfillment were simultaneous in their mental models.

That was biting them now.

As a military commander, Sayed would have preferred to “pacified” territory before committing all of Ann Arbor’s rolling stock. Sayed had no issues wagering 5% of the rolling stock. He saw that as Venture Capital. His issue was putting EVERY truck in harm’s way. The PCV over-rode Sayed’s inherent caution.

The marshaling area in Howell was so packed it was difficult for people to walk around in it and more trucks were arriving hourly. It was a jack-in-the-box awaiting the final turn of the handle.


“So why are you trying to sell me the property you and Keagan filed on?” Wyatt asked.

“I don’t think I can keep it. It is too much.” Tikka said.

“But you are doing a great job on my claim and Keagan’s. I don’t get it.” Wyatt said.

“A couple of half-acre gardens are one thing” Tikka said.

“A forty-acre farm is something entirely different” Tikka said. “It is more than what one woman can manage.”

“I don’t see any problem” Wyatt said. “You are very pretty and I have never met a sweeter, kinder human being. You shouldn’t have any problem finding a husband.”

In fact, Tikka was short and still had the ghost of acne scars on her face. By pre-Ebola standards of beauty, she fell short of “beautiful”.

“There are complications” Tikka informed him after a short pause.

“Like what?” Wyatt challenged.

“I don’t always tell the truth” Tikka admitted.

Wyatt frowned. This was not a turn of conversation he had anticipated. “What do you mean?”

“There are three ways to tell a lie. One is to tell the truth badly. One is to tell a story that is 99% truth and 1% falsehood. The third way to tell a lie is to just keep your mouth shut” Tikka confided.

Wyatt was still in the dark and he told Tikka as much.

“I never told Keagan. I have a two-year-old-daughter. Her father died during Ebola. It was never the right time...I was afraid he would not want me if he knew I came with baggage” Tikka said.

Wyatt was taken aback. He started to defend Keagan but then stopped. He didn’t know. Tikka might have been right. Some guys are like that.

“But where is your daughter?” Wyatt asked.

“She is staying with my mother” Tikka told him.

Wyatt felt a surge of righteous anger.

“Any man...any GOOD man would be proud to take both you and your daughter into his home” Wyatt stoutly asserted.

Tikka looked up at Wyatt. There were tears in her eyes and anguish in her voice. “Would he take a second child too? I am more than a month late on my period. I, I know...I am carrying Keagan’s baby.”