Wednesday, September 30, 2020

Will you leave if you lose?

Trump answered "Maybe."

This has a bunch of people's attention. They see it as proof that Trump plans a coup to illegally retain power and ignore the results of the election.

If that were true, why would he telegraph his intentions?

It is like the Biblical story of the two sons asked to work in the vineyard. One said "No" but changed his mind and went to the vineyard. The other said "Yes" but the never got around to going.

I think it is more likely that Trump is putting the Democrats "on notice" that fraud will have consequences.

Consider one of the Obama elections. There were precincts where 100% of the voters were recorded as voting for Obama. Even if every voter was actually for Obama, what are the odds of all of them being able to correctly punch the correct chad or fill in the correct circle with the pen?

And there were no consequences for the perpetrators. There were no investigations. There were no independent audits to verify the highly improbable results.

Let's play this out with words.

Let's say the election goes slightly in Trump's favor on election day and then over the next several days votes trickle in via mail and tip it toward Biden. Suppose the numbers of votes and the ratio of B-vs-T votes followed suspicious patterns.

Trump files in court. The court will order investigation because there is almost two-and-a-half months from Election day until the Inauguration.

Trump publicly informed the Democratic machine that any shenanigans are likely to be exposed to the light of day because he isn't going to roll-over and let them clear the table without a contest.

Home-field advantage: Grasshopper

The deputy's final words of advise were for me to swing west to Verlinden before heading south, into the neighborhood.

The deputy informed me that power wires were down and fires were still burning in the neighborhood, releasing toxic fumes.

The wind had clocked around to the northwest since midnight and I would avoid the worst of the fumes if I stuck to the west edge of the neighborhood.

It took me a half mile out of my way but I appreciated the her information. As I moved south along Verlinden, I could see into the neighborhood. It was like a scene from Dante’s Inferno. The only thing still upright were chimneys and the trunks of some massive shade trees. Even the utility poles had caught fire and burned down.

Visually estimating, it looked like the better part of eight blocks had been leveled by the fires.

I was baffled by the fringe of unburned houses along Verlinden. At first, I thought maybe Alex’s forces on the berm had beaten back the rioters, but then the light of the rising sun lit up the brass in the middle of the streets. Lots of brass.

Somebody had taken a stand and beaten back the crazed rioters. Stupid tactics, standing in the middle of the streets and shooting, but braver than hell.

Damned if it wasn’t the renters! The renters had defended their homes while the double-income, home-owners had rolled over. That was the complete opposite of what I expected to have happen.

It gave me grist for the mill as I walked. The renters had children. The renters did not have the monetary resources of the DINKs. By the time I got to Alex’s domain I had reworked my worldview: Having kids sinks roots into a community more than owning a home.

A secondary factor may have been that DINKs can afford the luxury of believing the world is a gentle and altruistic place. The renters lived in a more rough-and-tumble reality. In their reality, somebody WILL stand on your foot and it is your job to shove them off of it.

I tipped my hat to Alex as I passed by. His face was covered with soot and tracked with sweat. I doubt that he had slept yet.

Vince’s house had burned. I guess I wasn’t surprised. His house was Ground Zero for where the rioters got their mad-on.

I took photos on my phone and texted them to him. He could forward them to his insurance company although it seemed likely they would have some loophole regarding civil unrest.

The good news was that Vince was truly anal about storing stuff on multiple servers. If it could be digitized, Vince had copies and back-ups to the copies in multiple places, with multiple vendors. Pictures, contracts, name it.

Then I went to Jamie’s house.

I called Psylla. “Are you still at your friends?” I asked.

“Yup” she replied.

“Is your mom with you?” I asked.

“Nope. She is with Grandpa Johnson. He had chest-pains last night” Psylla said.

Ruth was providing elder-care for her father. Unlike our side of the family, it was only her.

Her dad was recovering from a nasty bout of pneumonia. Now he was suffering from chest-pains. I had no doubt that Ruth had spent the night in the hospital parking lot.

“I don’t suppose you took the dog with you last night?” I asked.

“No, we left Grasshopper in his crate. The fireworks were driving him nuts and D'Asia’s mom has a cat. It wouldn’t have worked out to bring him” Psylla said.

Grasshopper was Jamie’s dog. I could not believe it when he bragged that he had spent $1800 on a mutt...sorry, designer dog.

Jamie went on-and-on about how the breeder took applications and only accepted 20% of the people who wanted her dogs. She gave the entire family the Myer-Briggs personality test. Then, a half year after receiving the deposit she had the “perfect” puppy: The best parents, the best personality match from the litter.

Personally, I think mutts are the best. It is a great way to avoid inbreeding depression and if you pick two breeds are are a similar size you are less likely to get a surprise in that regard.

Still, $1800?!? And the vetting process; what a crock of sales-hooie.

Grasshopper was a happy-go-lucky dog. Always up for a romp or to chase the ball. He was one of the family. He had been with Jamie for ten years and didn’t have a mean bone in his body.

“Hey, I want you to do me a favor” I told Psylla. “Give me a bump on the phone before you head back home, OK?”

That got Psylla’s antennas up. “Why, what is up?”

“Just give me a bump, OK?” I repeated.

“Uncle Tim. I am an adult. You don’t have to protect my feelings. Just tell me what is going on” Psylla demanded.

One of my weaknesses is that I take people at their word. Psylla said she was an adult. She said she wanted to know. I told her.

“The rioters burned down your house last night. That is why I wanted to know where your mom and Grasshopper were” I said.

Less then ten minutes later Psylla was trying to paw through the coals. She was wearing a bathrobe and her crocs. I told her to get away from the foundation or I would knock her on her ass and carry her over my shoulder.

She could tell I was not joking.

“Why, Uncle Tim? Why would anybody burn down our house? Why?” Psylla asked.

“Grasshopper never threatened anybody. Why would anybody MURDER him?” she asked, tears streaming down her face.

When we are in pain, we do not want elegant, intellectual answers. We want raw truth without the window-dressing.

“Psylla, they burned down your house and killed your dog because they are bullies. They did it because they are bullies and they could get away with it and they will keep doing things like that until somebody stops them.”

I didn’t have a better answer at the time, and to this day I still don’t. 

"How can I help?" Psylla asked.

That was a surprise. I thought she was firmly on the side of the Marxists.

Thinking a couple of seconds, I asked "Was all of your photographic equipment in the house?"

"Most of it was, but I have a backup camera and lenses in Dryad's Jeep." Psylla informed me.

"The police are letting most of the demonstrators go home but they are taking some of them into custody on suspicion of arson. I don't suppose you could sneak around and get mug-shots of some of the arsonists." I said.

I really didn't have much hope she could. The cops had the area cordoned off with crime-scene tape and it seemed unlikely that even somebody as tiny and as non-threatening as Psylla could sneak in and just start taking photos.

Psylla gave me that haughty, superior look that young people give mature citizens when they say something stupid, especially what it involves technology.

"Watch and learn Uncle Timmy" is all she said.

Seriously, how many people have $3000 of photographic equipment as back-up? She had a mid-level, Canon EOS, a tripod and telephoto lenses in the back of Dryad's Jeep.

She set-up beneath a neighbor's lilac bush and took high-quality mug-shots of every person taken into custody at the high school.

I had no doubt that those photos would be showing up on the internet in short order.


Tuesday, September 29, 2020

A few pictures


An Asian pear tree. Mrs ERJ likes Chujoru best. I like Korean Giant. I also have a few Shinko sprinkled in.

I find Asian pears to be easy to manage, precocious, productive, tasty and the fruit hangs on the tree waiting for me to get around to picking it. What is not to like?

Enterprise apple over G.935 This is another easy-to-manage combination.

A close-up of the limb. We saved a Jonafree and a couple of Enterprise until March last year. Mrs ERJ like the Enterprise better.

At least a few of the Bald Cypress I planted last spring survived the summer.

It took me a while before I saw the first one, and then I was able to start picking them out.

The Gordian Knot of sloppy thinking

I was listening to an interview of a Democratic Senator and the interviewer asked the Senator to comment on the Biden families' entanglement in shady, Ukrainian businesses.

The Senator went off on an unhinged rant about Trump colluding with Russia.

The interviewer persisted. The Senator once again "answered" the question by talking about how "dirty" Trump was.

Here is the thing most readers will disagree with me: I believe that in his mind, he thought he was answering the question. The veins on his head were bulging. His face turned red and so on.

A digression

2*X*Y + 3*Y*Z + 4*X*Z = 34

5*X*Y + 6*Y*Z + 7*X*Z = 67

8*X*Y + 9*Y*Z + 10*X*Z =100

Those three equations are ugly because they are very highly coupled. They are a mess to deal with. Wouldn't it be nice if there was an easier way to express X, Y, and Z?

Here is an example of a highly coupled sentence. The authors were discussing how rural groups are disenfranchised: 

Whereas most states in the region have largely adopted paternalistic agendas of inclusion in their (rural) sub-populations in recent decades (to varied effects), the modern (name redacted) state continues to employ policies and narratives of difference to justify agendas that keep rural sub-populations - including (exhaustive list) - at arm's length from full inclusion and participation in the legal and administrative processes of the state.
It doesn't have to be that hard!

Wouldn't it be easier if I told you that X=1, Y=2 and Z=3?

Wouldn't it be easier to say "The state excludes rural people from participating in decision-making by using both overt and covert processes."

Where does the Gordian Knot come from?

Much of it has to do with quid-pro-quo legislative wrangling.

"I will give you military funding if you give me funding for one of my pet projects. 

BAM! Military funding is now linked to the funding of solar farms the one legislator may or may-not be invested in.

Throw in over 600 legislators and 60,000 lobby-lizards, stir, and you have a tangled mess. And that is just at the Federal level.

The legislative mind does not function in straight lines. It functions by thinking "How many mosquitoes can I put on the elephant before it keels over from blood loss?"

In other words, "How complicated and tangled and irreversible can I make it?"

Fine Art Tuesday


Catching Rabbits 1839
William Sidney Mount: Born 1807 near Stony Point, NY (Long Island), died 1868.

By all accounts not just a visual artist but a musician as well. He composed and collected songs and designed and patented violins.

Mount was one of the first painters to focus on rural, American life.

What attracted me to this painting is that there is enough detail to recreate the rabbit trap and it looks like it would actually work. One wonders about the back-story and the finely dressed dandies who pulled the rabbit out of the trap.

The Windmill circa 1858

Francis William Edmonds: Born 1806 in New York, died 1863.

Edmonds worked as a bank teller and painted in his spare time. He went to Europe in 1840 for his health.

Many of his paintings showed interiors that are exceptionally spare by today's standards.

What attracted me to this painting was the combination of the child, dog and the man who shared time with them creating a mechanical marvel with little more than some firewood and a sharp knife. That was back when mechanical geniuses sprouted up everywhere like mushrooms after a rain.

Home-field advantage: Cleaning up the mess

My family has always been early-risers. It was undoubtedly Dad’s influence.

I was up at 6:00 which made me the slacker.

The power was back on. Everybody had their phones plugged in, charging. 

Most of the family was glued to the TV news. It was impossible to make out which neighborhoods had been burned. The riot had turned into total chaos in the half-hour without leadership that occurred after I broomed off Harry’s roof.

I got antsy after sucking down a freshly brewed cup of coffee. I needed to be doing more than watching the boob-tube.

The first order of business was to collect my truck. I jogged over and found it unmolested. Apparently, all of the neighbors with sticky fingers were roasting marshmallows just west of where I parked. I unlocked the truck and drove it back to Marie's and parked in the street.

Then I decided to hoof it back into the old neighborhood to see what was going on since I was last on the list for a shower and it would be a while before the water heater caught up.

Yes, I know: Cat, curiosity and all that. 

As I walked back in, I texted Psylla, fearing the worst: “R U OK?”

She responded immediately: “M fine”

I asked “Where R U?” 

Even old dogs like me can learn new tricks, like texting abbreviations. 

She responded: “At friends. Behind Montessori School”

That was a relief. Psylla was the ringleader. If Psylla was at her friends then so was her sister Dryad.

Then she did something she had never done before. She volunteered information.

She texted “Got wild last night. Made TV in Philippines. Dad texted ‘Get out’.”

Then she texted “I am going back to sleep”

I said a prayer of thanks. I had no doubts that the two girls would never initiate violence but stray bullets, chunks of concrete and wild-fire have no conscience or sense-of-direction. They go where they go. Anybody can get dinged by them, a fact which undoubtedly influenced Mr Blue-face’s choice to lead-from-behind and above.

Frankly, I wanted to see how bad the neighborhood looked in the daylight and see if Nick and Josh had been able to disable any of the buses.

I almost didn’t get into the neighborhood. There were police on the corners of all the roads leading into the neighborhood. Fortunately, the one on the corner of Jenison and Oakland was an Eaton County deputy and she recognized my name.

She was in a mood to chat and I was hungry for news. I got the latest gossip from the cop side of things.

The Lansing mayor had fired the Chief-of-Police last night.

The Chief recommended that the Mayor read his contract. He was owed a two-week notice and he was not going to leave until the two weeks was up. The only way she* could remove him before the two weeks were up was to call a tribunal and prove he was breaking the law.

The mayor threatened that she would have him black-balled and that he would never work in a large city again.

The Chief responded that in two weeks, the way things were going, there wouldn’t BE any large cities still standing.

The Chief had grown a big, brass set that clanged together when he walked.

He called in mutual aid. There were law enforcement officers from Ionia, Clinton, Shiawassee, Eaton and Jackson Counties. There were Ingham county cops. And they all brought meat wagons and billy clubs and an attitude.

The Chief also reached out to other agencies and specifically requested two special officers. Officer Zephyr was working the rioters congregating near the Verlinden Avenue buses and Officer Sinclair was working the crowd in the High School parking lot. Zephyr and Sinclair were arson investigation dogs and were expert-witnesses in every court-of-law in Michigan. They were trained to smell gasoline, diesel, paint thinner and a half dozen other, common accelerants.

Their handlers were figherfighters who wore body cams. Those fire-fighters were also considered expert-witnesses. If either of those dogs sat down in front of you and looked at you, your only chance to avoid hard-time was to plea-bargain or hope the prosecution made technical errors.

The firefighters were really pissed at the rioters. They put themselves at risk every time they made a fire run. Firefighters had been attacked and lamed trying to put out the fires rioters had set. Every firefighter knew at least a couple of firefighters who had been sent to the hospital by rioters.

The deputy informed me that the Chief was controlling the flow of traffic into the neighborhood while the sheep were separated from the goats. There were only two pickup points. You had to go by either Zephyr or Sinclair if you wanted to ride out of the neighborhood. If he alerted on somebody, the person was asked to step out of line.

He was asked for ID. After handling and photographing the ID, the fire-fighter peeled off his plastic glove and turned it inside out. Then he clipped the open end with a clip that could only be removed by cutting it and popped it into an evidence bag.

Later that day, I actually witnessed an arsonist get bagged-and-tagged.

“Whya doing that?” one of the men asked.

“Everything you touch leaves traces of DNA and any accelerants you handled in the last 24 yours. You just gave me additional evidence that links you with the use of accelerants.” the firefighter said. “That glove has a bar-code on it and it was assigned to me. The photo I took has your ID and the bar-code. The glove has your DNA and traces of the accelerants you handled last night.”

The evidence gloves weren’t really needed but were frosting on the cake. Every lawyer is protective of their win/loss record and is spooked when presented with an overwhelming amount of evidence against their client. Why roll the dice when you cannot win and the client cannot pay? You have better things to do with your life.

They did let one man go after Sinclair alerted on him. He claimed to be a driver who had fiddled with the bus engine, trying to figure out why it stalled and wouldn’t start.

The fact that he had grease smeared on his shirt gave weight to his claim.

Letting him go was the best thing the officers could have done. Attorneys for the arsonists would later attempt to claim that it was a set-up and that the cops were racists.

The driver was black. The prosecutors invariable pointed out that he had NOT been arrested because of something called “evidence”.

The suspected arsonists were sent to five different jails in five different counties.

And to add insult to injury, the Chief paid the parking enforcement Sunday over-time to issue parking tickets for all of the disabled buses lining Verlinden Avenue.

Josh and Nick had been busy last night. Only two buses had made it past the perimeter and neither one of them made it as far as the freeway. Those buses had two flat tires on one side and they barely made it a mile before the inside, rear dually liquified and that was all-she-wrote. 

The buses with the crimped fuel lines idled for about ten seconds and then sputtered to a stop. The other buses had three flats on one side and the drivers refused to move them.

Nearly all of the former rioters were completely disoriented. They expected to be home in bed by now. Instead, they had not slept all night. They were cold. They were hungry. They were thirsty and the batteries of their smartphones were dead.

Even worse, the Marxist “leaders” who organized the entire fiasco and who were supposed to pay them were nowhere in sight.

They had been left twisting in the wind. They now had to figure out how to get back to Mishawaka or Columbus or Indy or Chicago or Madison and they had to do it on their own dime. 

They had done everything they were expected to do and the Marxists had left them to take the rap. 


This may come as a surprise, but cops are notorious gossips. It is a way to deal with stress. It is a way to gain some tiny degree of predictability in a very chaotic and unpredictable job.

Later that morning the cop-network was buzzing with rumors that the Mayor had directed the Chief to arrest residents and the Chief told her to pound sand.

According to one source, the Chief reminded her that she had fired him. Then he reminded her that this was one of the calmest, least problematic neighborhoods in the city until the Marxists showed up. The residents were not the problem.

Then he told her that since she and the City Council had partially defunded his force, he had limited resources. He could either work on PROBLEMS or POLITICS but not both, Then he reminded her that his oath was to work on PROBLEMS.

Then he told her that she could direct her new Chief to start arresting residents in
"thirteen days and seven hours” before saying "Have a nice day" and cutting off the call.

The Lansing police force might have been gutted, but every cop on it...and every cop on loan from outlying areas were 100% behind the Chief.

They were being allowed to do their jobs, and that was way overdue.

*The current mayor of Lansing is a man. He does not seem any better or worse than the average Democratic mayor.


Monday, September 28, 2020

Internet still down

Austin, Technician #3 and the "special tool"

The internet is still down.

We are on the third technician.

The first one showed up and said "I found the break but I don't have the special tool to fix it. I called my associate and he will fix it. He is working another break-down but should be here in a couple of hours."

The second guy showed up and checked it out. "The break isn't where the first guy thought it was and I don't have the special tool I need to find it. I am calling a third guy."

The third guy showed up.

"Do you have the special tools you need to find and fix the problem?" I asked.

"Sure do" he said as he pulled a shovel out of the back of the truck.

Yes sir. The 'special tool' was the shovel.


The official blogging chair for the ERJ blog

I don't share this information very often, but Mrs ERJ came to our marriage with property. Indeed, she came with a genuine, La-Z-Boy recliner.

Over the years, I succeeded in wrestling it away and making it my own.

The years have not been kind to this chair. Teenage children dropped into it and so on. The wear-and-tear was undoubtedly exacerbated by the anomaly in the gravitational field immediately above the chair. I swear, settle back into this chair and it is like fighting Jupiter to get back out of it.

This is the second set of springs I replaced so I am getting 13 years per set of springs.

I probably should have stretched the springs more because the chair now has a beer-belly.

As you can see, it was not laparoscopic surgery. I suggested that Mrs ERJ not repair the incision. Perhaps I am anthropomorphizing my old friend, but it looks like it is smiling. Mrs ERJ thinks that is silliness and quickly set about stitching the gash together.

Recreational plumbing

Does anybody want to guess what these came from?

If I didn't know better, I would assume that Mrs ERJ is enjoying this holiday from the internet. With nothing better to do, I am fixing things around the house that need fixing.

After putting the fixture back together, Mrs ERJ gave the fixture a little nudge and asked, "Is it supposed to rock like that?"

I made an unhappy face. "No."

"Is that a problem?" she asked.

"Only if raw sewage leaking across the floor is a problem" I replied.

Rocking it a little bit more, she saw the floor breathing. "Is the floor supposed to be doing that?" she asked.

Very unhappy face. "No."

She batted her baby-blues at me. "But you ARE going to fix it, right?"

Then she added "It doesn't have to be today.

Home-field advantage: When range is your friend

***Note from the management: This is fiction. Comments are encouraged, especially ones speculating about future events. The value of a story is not that it is a perfect road-map for the future but that it teaches us to drive with our high-beams on.***


A plan was starting to come together in my head.

I once shot two bucks from the same stand on the same morning. I was able to pull it off because I saw where the first buck died. I did not leave the stand and muck-up the run with my scent. Later that morning I was able to shoot a second buck, and then a doe. We ate well that winter.

The men on Harry’s roof clearly thought the shooter had been on the berm. Not only could I take a second shot from my current hide, but I could probably shoot with impunity.

Doc Lisenby* had drilled basic strategy into us. “If your enemy has a handgun and you have a shotgun, open the distance to thirty or forty yards and kill him. Don't f___ around. Kill him."

"If he has a shotgun and you have a rifle, open to 120 yards and kill him. If he has a short rifle and you have a long one, open the distance to three hundred yards.”

Then I asked “What if I have the handgun and the other guy has a shotgun”

Lisenby spit on the ground for emphasis and said “You either better have your will written or learn how to be invisible because you probably aren’t going to survive.”

It was Doc's belief that very few people had the skill to be effective with a handgun beyond ten yards. There may be a few, but they are rare. Add the fact that pistol shooting is hard in the best of times, then factor in adrenaline and the need to duck bullets coming your way and he probably had a point.

I was shooting a long gun that fired a bullet that was pretty good at bucking the wind.

The men on the roof were shooting 5.56 NATO or Commie 7.62mm and didn’t know where I was. Or if they did, they would only be guessing at the exact Kentucky windage. On the other hand, I was dialed in.

One thing you learn playing poker is to not give information away for free. I decided to play the stealth game just a little bit longer.

The men on the roof were staying well away from the parapet that faced Verlinden and the berm around the demolished factory. They weren’t quite so careful about staying away from parapet on the south side of the roof.

I guessed it was because of the A/C units on the roof breaking the north wind. Based on their silhouettes in the scope, they were wearing tight, stylish clothing that offered very little in the way of warmth.

The were pacing around trying to generate body-heat.

I let them settle into a pattern, then I took up my shooting position again. I set the crosshairs near the south edge of the roof and waited for Mr Blue-face to wander through them.

A little bit of pressure on the barrel ahead of the scope to depress the horizontal cross-hair so there was just the tiniest amount of light between the top of the target’s head and the bottom of the cross-hair.

Then I waited until the vertical cross-hair lined up with the outside of his shoulder.

It happened slowly enough that I was able to synch up my heartbeat and breathing.


Half a second latter, Mr Blue-face and the tablet rolled off the south side of the two story roof. I bet that hurt.

Then the radio-handlers opened up fire on the buildings to the south of them.

The time for stealth was over.

I started methodically racking the bolt and firing.

They figured out where I was after I toppled the second one of them. I only heard a couple of bullets ping the side of the box car I was in.

Reload the magazine. Shoot it dry.

Reload the magazine. Shoot it dry.

They tried to use the parapet for cover. Good luck with that.

Load. Shoot. Load. Shoot.

And then I was dry on ammo.

Time to skedaddle.

I slipped out of the box-car and locked the door like a good citizen and then slipped over the tracks and made my way west.

I took a very long, very indirect route to Marie’s house. It was the better part of three miles.

I saw no one.

There were a boatload of cars in front of her house.

I let myself in through her side door. Mom’s little dog greeted me.

Ann was sleeping on the sofa I had planned to sleeping on. Her husband Mark was sleeping on the living room carpet.

I was glad they decided to bug out. Really, I was.

I unrolled my cheap pad by one of the furnace vents and put the fanny pack under my head for a pillow. I had slept under worse circumstances.

The furnace wasn’t working, of course. No power.

I sent Lizzy a text “All OK here”

It was fifteen minutes after midnight.

I pulled the stocking cap over my eyes and was asleep within seconds. 

*Doc Lisenby was a real person. He shot long range competitively. He did not use coarse language (that part was fiction).  Doc Lisenby lived in South Carolina. He died in 2008.


Sunday, September 27, 2020

Saturday, September 26, 2020


Sadly, these times have harshed the mellow of the people who drive vehicles like this one.

I have a solution:

They just need a different Coexist sticker to paste on the back of their Prius!

You know me, Mr. Helpful!

Am I the only person who has this reaction?


Smoke emitting diodes

Who knew there were smoke emitting diodes in the rheostat for the fireplace insert blower?

The fan has two elements to the control system. It has an on/off snap-disk thermostat in series with a speed-control rheostat.

The fan unit is self contained so the on/off element is mounted very low and in the corner of the insert. It is mounted below the insulating material that lines the floor of the firebox.

It takes a long time for the fan to kick "on".

I added an additional snap-disk but that did not prove reliable in the sense that there were still multiple layers of metal and dead-air separating it from the firebox.

So I went old-school. I added a simple 125V/3A rated, on/off toggle switch. While installing the switch, a hot wire touched the blower housing for a fraction of a second which energized the SED in the rheostat.

OK, it was probably not the SED. Most rheostats involve windings of resistance wire and a sliding contact. I probably blew out the resistance wire.

I have not one, but TWO rheostats ordered and jumpered across the defunct speed control. The fan runs in full-on or full-off mode.

Note to self: Next time, unplug the unit before fiddling with the electrical guts of it.

Home-field advantage: Old Doc Lisenby

I know I come off as a Luddite. I am skeptical about new technologies.

I do recognize, however, that they can do some amazing things.

For example, there are some mapping apps that allow you to get very precise measurements between two points. For instance, the app informed me that I was approximately 1367 feet from the center of Harry’s Place.

That was an interesting bit of information because there were about five men standing on top of the roof.

Dialing up the scope to nine-power, I could see the tell-tale blue glow. At nine-power the men appeared to be a scant fifty yards away.

Again, using the apps on the phone, I learned the north wind had a steady speed of 13 miles per hour with gusts to twenty-five. Those measurements were taken at the airport which is slightly more exposed than my location. Although the old factory had been shaved down to a concrete slab it did have a berm around the site.

I like round numbers. I estimated 10 miles per hour.

Then I accessed the ballistic calculator I had downloaded onto my phone. I entered the data into the program and learned that I needed hold 30 inches high and could expect 18 inches of wind-drift.

The distance and wind-data were critical because I would have guessed the distance to be at least six-hundred yards and the program told me I would see at least seven feet of bullet drop and close to four feet of wind-drift.

People ALWAYS over-estimate distance. Even people who spend a lot of time outdoors and are estimating the distance between items they have walked around for decades. A general rule of thumb is most outdoors people over-estimate by a factor of two and most “city” people over-estimate distances by at least a factor of four.

I ate another granola bar and drank a bottle of water. I continued to monitor the news-feeds. I wanted to be fashionably late to the party. I didn’t anybody to ever accuse me of starting it.

I saw the orange glow coming from Mom’s neighborhood before it hit the “live” news feeds. The news feeds showed demonstrators engaged in frenzied dancing in front of a burning building.

I heard and saw fire-works going off in Vince’s neighborhood. No, I am not using “fire-works” as a euphemism for gunfire. They were setting off Fourth-of-July type fireworks.

I don’t know what they intended to accomplish.

Maybe they wanted a cover for when they started shooting guns.

Maybe they wanted to goad the residents into starting the gunfight.

Maybe they intended to use the fireworks as an excuse for how houses caught fire “I dunno, Officer. It musta been one of dem rockets dat started da fire”

The fire in Mom’s neighborhood was enough reason to start thinning out the herd of blue-faces.

I moved to the far side of the box car. I rolled up the pad I had been sitting on. Then I put the fleece on top of it. Stretching out prone, the muzzle of the rifle was still a solid six feet way from the door.

I almost forgot to put in hearing protection. It was a good thing I remembered before I touched off the shot. I could feel the concussive muzzle blast in my ribcage and even with the hearing protection my ears complained.

Looking through the scope, Mr Blue-face was still standing. It was a clean miss.

What the hell?

I double checked the numbers. Everything looked good.

That is when old Doc Lisenby started whispering in my ear.

Doc was my shooting coach and had very firm views on almost everything.

I heard Doc say “Shooting at a deer that is on the far side of a bean field is no different than shooting an aspirin tablet at fifteen yards. The mechanics are the same.”

OK, maybe I had rushed the shot. One of Doc’s training techniques was to build confidence in his students by having them shoot aspirin tablets with an Olympic grade pellet gun.

When we got good at that, he would make us do ten push-ups and then practice that, too. The push-ups certainly made me appreciate the effect my heartbeat had on where the pellet hit.

Yeah, I hadn’t been paying attention to that, either.

Finally, I heard Doc say “Don’t f___ with the equipment. Especially, don’t f___ with the scope.”

Doc had been a machinist mate in the Navy before becoming a Chiropractor. He served on old ships that had old equipment and he had a healthy respect for “lash”. Ten-thousandths-of-an-inch could be twenty-thousands on the work piece or it could be nothing. Basically, he taught us to never trust the marks on the dial.

I told myself to settle down. It was just like shooting aspirin tablets. It could have been a stray gust that made me miss or the beat of my heart.

Psyched back up, I went into the zone.




If I had a good shot but wasn’t in the best part of my breathing and heartbeat cycle, let the shot go.


Hold the cross-hairs so there is just the tiniest bit of orange sky showing between his head and the horizontal crosshair and line up the vertical crosshair with just a glimmer of orange light between the line and his north shoulder.


Half a second later, Mr Blue-face folded over and all hell broke loose.

The radio minders were all armed. They shot the living shit out of the berm just across Verlinden Avenue from them.

Imagine my surprise when they started taking fire back from that very same berm. My guess is that Alex had deployed shooters on the berm because they could look down the east/west streets and effectively lay fire on the rioters with their longer-range weapons.

After a half a minute of intense fire-fighting, the men on the roof pulled back.

Five minutes later, their numbers were replenished. I learned later that a significant guard detail posted around the perimeter of Harry’s Tavern after the brief fire-fight. If nothing else, the exercise had pulled hard-core Marxists from the riot and they would be less organized.

Oh, and there was a new Mr Blue-face running the show.That didn't take long.


Friday, September 25, 2020

A handy feature in Google Maps

 Many people are familiar with the Measure Distance feature in Google Maps.

Put the cursor on the map, right mouse button click. Then a second mouse button click and it will give you the distance between the two points on the map.

But you don't have to stop there, you can add a third, fourth and more clicks and the distance accumulates.

What many people do not realize is that if you form a closed polygon with your if you were measuring the length of fence wire you would have to buy it to enclose the parcel, Google will calculated the enclosed area.


This parcel is east of Bugtussle, Ky. It is a fairly simple shape and you could probably make a reasonable approximation by pacing off the length and the width. 685,000/43,320 is about 16 acres.

This parcel is also east of Bugtussle and it would be significantly more difficult to get a good estimate of the area of this field.

One use for this tool is to estimate the number of cow-grazing-days in a paddock. If you have two paddocks of the same size and one consistently produces more cow-grazing-days than the other you might want to figure out why. You are leaving money on the table if you have rain and sun falling and it isn't making as much grass as the other paddock.

For example, I learned that my pasture is only 3.6 acres in size. I thought it was bigger than that. This pass through, I expect to get forty grazing days with about 4500 pounds of beef. At 4% dry-matter per day, that is 180 pounds of dry-matter per day or 7200 pounds total. Another way to look at it is that the cattle are harvesting 2000 pounds of dry-matter this time around the paddocks.

This is a fen or a grassy bog in mid-Michigan. It is pretty tough to pace out distances when you sink to your knees with each step.

I steal all my best material


I stole it from Pawpaw's House

Yard sign

 I frequently pass a yard sign that reads


He ain't great, 

but at least he is not Trump

That is the same logic that contends that James Posey was twice the basketball player Kareem Abdul-Jabbar was because Posey had half as many fouls during his NBA career.

Kareem Abdul-Jabbar played hard and did not back down. Any team in the NBA would have given about anything to have him on their team. Abdul-Jabbar's 4657 career fouls didn't detract from his stellar career. It was a symptom of it.

Five of the seven top foul generators in the NBA (Jabbar, Malone, Parrish, Olajuwan, Hayes) are in the Hall-of-Fame. Something to think about

Homefield-advantage: Searching for Grace

My window for leaving the neighborhood was rapidly closing. Mom’s news program was showing in real time the buses and personal vehicles converging on the Westside.

Unfortunately, I had no choice but to stick around and look for my daughter.

Bidding Mama and Marie good-bye, I hopped in my truck and drove to a tiny, nearly abandoned strip-mall across from the oldest Mexican restaurant in the neighborhood. The Hall-of-Justice was a half mile due south of the Five-and-Dime and presented the least complicated route to it.

I parked the truck behind the old Five-and-Dime and locked it. It was a plain-jane truck. Stock wheels. Stock tires. Stock radio. The only thing custom about the truck was the tool-box and that was bolted through the frame-members. They would need a back-hoe to rip it out of the bed.

Pulling on a stocking cap and some mittens, I went looking for my prodigal daughter.

The demonstrations around the Hall-of-Justice were a big disappointment. It looked like an amateur-hour production compared to the demonstration of the night before. The signs were home-made and flopping in the brisk, north wind and unlike the other day there were no kiosks handing out free hotdogs, chips and hot chocolate.

The demonstrators were wilting rapidly without the energy of thousands of like-minded lunatics.

All-in-all, I had never seen a more bedraggled, more dispirited group than those demonstrators.

I made two circuits around the Hall, first clockwise then counterclockwise.

No Grace.

I found a good vantage point to sit and watch. I stayed there until I recognized repeat faces shuffling around the building.

Still, no Grace.

I tried calling and texting.


I called Psylla which was probably the first thing I should have done. She picked up. “What can I do for you, Uncle Tim?”

“Is Grace with you?” I asked.

“Nope. She said she was coming but we haven’t seen her” Psylla said.

“When you do, can you give me a bump on the phone so I know she is safe?” I asked.

“You bet, Uncle Tim” Psylla said.  

Psylla may have despised my politics but she was still polite. I hoped she was as honest.

Well, that left Mom’s neighborhood or the possibility that Grace had not gone to Lansing after all.

I really didn’t want to have to look for Grace in Mom’s neighborhood. I might stumble across her by shear luck but those chaotic streets meant that I could not efficiently search for her. I could miss her by a matter of seconds and feet all night long.

Plus, I had a bad feeling about Mom’s neighborhood. Unlike Vince’s neighborhood, nobody had stepped up. Nobody had discussed resisting. Some of the wiser heads left. Others assumed that because things turned out fine last night, tonight would be the same.

I was trudging back to my truck when I got a text from Lizzy: Grace is fine. Was at Sarah and Hunter’s watching Avengers. Was recharging phone.

Alleluia for that. She was safe. She had not defied us after all.

That still left me in Lansing until day-break.

I could walk to Marie’s house and sack-out on the couch or I could try to push-back against the evil.

Tough call. I had said it was not my circus...but then rushed back in when I thought it might engulf my daughter.

I pulled a fanny pack out of the tool box.

I stuffed all but five of the 180 grain, blue-box bullets into a sweat sock so they wouldn't rattle and then stuck the sock into an outer pocket.

I put three water bottles and a handful of cheap, oatmeal granola bars into the main compartment. Then, realizing my phone was about out of juice, I added a power-pack that I kept in the console and finally added some hearing protection.

I carried the rifle muzzle-down and close to my body. Bad practice in the woods because you can obstruct the muzzle with snow or mud but it breaks up the distinctive outline of the rifle to carry it that way. Under the other arm I carried a small, closed cell sleeping pad from Wally-World and a fleece.

I expected to get cold tonight.

I walked three blocks north to give Mom’s neighborhood a very wide berth.

Then I turned west and walked three-quarters of a mile to the railroad tracks that ran north-south. Those tracks had been the artery that fed the beating heart of Lansing, the industry that had been an economic dynamo for eight decades.

But now they were used as a holding yard by the railroad. When the economy was slow, they used the sidings to park unneeded rail cars.

The sidings were packed. Clearly, the rioting and pandemic had completely tanked the economy. Again.

I slipped between a couple of cars and headed south, walking between two sets of rails. There was no benefit to being any more visible than necessary.

I could feel as much as see when I passed over M-43. Then another ten minutes of walking before slipping between the railcars for an up-periscope moment.

I was directly west of Harry’s Place, the tavern where I had been sitting when the first 9-1-1 alerts rattled Vince, Marie and me out of our complacency.

On a hunch, I started checking the doors of the box-cars. They are supposed to be locked but the economic realities meant that some things that were “supposed” to be done were skipped.

I hit paydirt on the third car. I slid the door open far enough to hoist myself up, out of the knifing, north wind. I could not think of a better place to pass the time if I had to be in an unheated space.

I stuffed a random piece of two-by-four into the opening so it wouldn’t lock me in, then I shut the door as far as it would go.

I plugged my smartphone into the power-pack. It had turned itself off due to a low battery and the cold.

Then, with the power-pack in my shirt pocket beneath my coat to keep it warm, I passed the time by checking various news feeds.

I was surprised to learn that the woman I had shot was a doctor. That is, she had a Ph.D. in political science. The major news networks gushed over the loss of a promising young star, much to soon.

What I found most interesting was the testimonial from Michigan’s junior U.S. Senator. Apparently she had been on his staff as some kind of fund-raiser. It was the usual, pre-canned gibberish of glowing praise, short on specifics. The Senator then went on to invite the people of Michigan to join him in a PEACEFUL vigil tribute on the streets of Lansing.

Rereading the invitation, the Senator used the word “peaceful” at least six times.

The cynical part of me read that as meaning they did not plan to start tonight's festivities with Squad Automatic Weapons. 


Thursday, September 24, 2020

For misanthropes everywhere


The Captain (RIP) had been using a Shorthorn bull the last seven years or so.

He had a Hereford lined up as his replacement when he slipped his mortal coil.

His brood-cows were a mix of Angus crosses and Shorthorn crosses and even some Charolais (which occasionally threw monsterously large calves).

Sprite is getting out of the cattle business and sent both bulls and the brood cows down the road.

These are the last few calves and they are heading to the slaughterhouse in January.

I had a conversation with Sprite. She is not adverse to letting me graze cattle on her property. She doesn't want the hassle of managing them.

My current thinking is that I could pick up 2000-to-6000 pounds of calves in the January-April time-frame and then sell them in August. 

If my only goal is to keep my pasture healthy I could go with the 2000 pounds. If I want to graze Sprite's pasture as well, then 6000 pounds.

One dark-horse contender is to buy one steer-calf and train it as an ox.

In Lieu of content...PICTURES!


At a local business. Governor Big Retch says we have to wear face coverings. Incidentally, their Greek salads are very authentic.
Persimmons are starting to fall

This is one of Claypool's hybrids: I-115. It was delicious.

Sprite's cattle.

I couldn't decide which picture I liked better so you got both.

I moved the cattle to a new paddock today. They are happy girls and boys. The girl on the left is a very sleek, full-bodied lady isn't she?

Home-field advantage: Reversals

Lizzy asked “When are you going to be home?”

I told her “It will be a while. The thing is, there are some things I need to pick up at home and drop off here.”

God bless my wife. “I can bring them in. What do you need?” That was going to save me at least a hour of road-time.

I had been making a list on three-by-five index cards. Yes, I know you can do that on a smartphone and then send it as a text message. I just am not there yet.

I rationalize my reluctance to totally move to my smartphone because the invasion of Normandy was done with three-by-five cards and I was not sure it could be done with smartphones.

Vince’s neighborhood was going to get more than a brick of .22 ammo from the Eaton Rapids auxiliary. I justified it in my mind, better to stop the Marxists here in the streets of Lansing than have them show up in the dead-of-night on my out-of-the-way gravel road a few months later.

I was parting with a substantial portion of my hoard of 5.56 and 7.62 NATO as well as buckshot loads for 12 and 20 gauge.

I found Vince talking to a neighbor in his mid-30s. He was wearing ballistic glasses and had the build of a guy who knew his way around a weight room and he had the face of somebody who spent a lot of time outside.

“Timmy, I want to introduce you to Alex Villareal. He is going to hand out the ammo after I leave.” Vince said.

“Speaking of which, I have some more coming” I said. “Where can I have it dropped off?”

Alex gave me his address. Apparently, everybody knew Alex. He had that charismatic personality that attracted people the way candles attract moths.

I called Lizzy when she was about five minutes out because she won’t answer texts while driving and I gave her the address.

He had one of those faces and personalities that people assume they have met before. Then Alex smiled and it struck me; Alex was a dead ringer for Erik Estrada, the TV star from the early 1980s.

Alex had also ‘been around the block’ in a manner of speaking.

For one thing, he totally understood why Vince had to vacate. Sharon would not leave the house if Vince did not go with her. For another, when hunting leopards you don’t put the shooters on the goat.

The houses near where the baby had burned to death (I refuse to say the baby was shot) were the bait. Unfortunately, Vince’s house was one of them.

Then I texted Alex’s number to Nick and Josh. I pointed out the boxes of ammo to hold for them.

Alex looked at the boxes and said “Not many people shoot a .300 Blackout. I wouldn’t worry too much about somebody making off with them.”

I gave him a look. “You would be surprised at how ignorant people can be. The see .300 and figure it will fit in their .300 Winchester magnum.”

I got a nod of agreement to that. “OK, I will make sure Nick or Josh gets these.

Lizzy asked, “Are you heading back now?”

I shook my head “No.”

"I have a few more things to do. One of them is kissing Mom goodbye,”

Liz knew I was superstitious. I was afraid that the one time I didn’t say “Good-bye” would be the week she died. In my defense, I had plenty of data that giving Mom an insurance “Good-bye” kiss kept her alive. She hadn’t died yet.

Liz seconded my invitation to Vince and said “See ya soon” and drove off.

The ‘..few other things..’ stretched into an hour. I helped hand out ammo. Some people came to take. Others came to swap or level-up.

Alex gave some people more ammo than others. "I give people who live in houses with tactical advantage more ammo than those who don't have tactical advantage. I give people I trust to be good shooters a little more."

Alex refused to give some people ammo, which surprised me.

When I asked him about it he said “Druggies. They would just sell it or get high and shoot anything that moved.”

Good call on his part. Secretly, I think he might have also been refusing ammo to those he suspected of supporting the Marxists. But it was not my circus, not my monkeys.

Then, as I was giving Mama her good-bye kiss, I got a call from Lizzy.

She was alarmed. She had gotten home and Grace and the car were gone. Lizzy had attempted to call and text her. The calls went straight to voice-mail (which Grace never listened to). Lizzy was afraid that Grace decided to participate in the riots in spite of our direction not to.

In all honestly, we made our fair share of mistakes when raising our kids. For one thing, we listened to “the experts”.

It was after our kids were in adolescence that we realized that ‘the experts’ methods were OK for a certain kind of kid but parents need a full tool-box, not just a screwdriver.

With Grace, our specific mistake had been to always give her the reasons for what we told her to do. The experts said this was the best way to project our ‘value map’ into our child’s head.

Little did we know that our children arrived at a different conclusion. They concluded that they only had to follow our edicts if they fully and completely agreed with our reasons in-the-moment.

We thought we were telling them the roadmap we used to arrive at our decision. They saw it as us making our case and them having the option to agree or disregard our input if they so desired.

I thought we had mostly worked our way out of that misunderstanding but it looked like Grace decided that our ‘argument’ was not sufficiently compelling to prevent her from having a ‘once in a lifetime adventure’ with her favorite cousins.

Grace knew that her cousins would lord it over her for months if she was a no-show.

Damn social media and the inevitable competition to achieve coolness. 


Wednesday, September 23, 2020

Two additions to the Blog List

Mostly Cajun added back in.

And I added a link to's library. They have a bunch of articles on a wide variety of topics squirreled away.

To get a sense of what is there, here is an article on Asymmetrical and 4G warfare. According to MS Word, it is written at the 11th grade reading level but since many of my readers already have a foundational interest in the topics you will take to it like a duck to water.


From east-to-west, looking south. You can click on the image to embiggen. The pale gray pegs are to keep the pavers from sliding downhill on the double-layer of plastic.

Moss is a good way to hide height miss-matches. The edge of the eves lines up with the middle of the center pavers.

The seam that is filled with moss is in line with the spigot for the hose.

I went into the woods and peeled moss off the ground. I scraped out some of the ground limestone because nearly all of the "experts" on the internet say moss prefers soil with low pH. I replaced the limestone with a layer of peat moss.

Then I stuffed the moss into the crack. Afterward, I watered with the hose.

I can tell which moss has been in the longest. It is the most vivid, saturated green. The moss with less tenure is paler and more yellow.

This side of the house gets about two hours of sun a day and then the spot is shaded by the house and an arborvitae on the west end.

...willing to organize and act

From the Comments:

What I found most impressive, and oddly least realistic, are the strong networks of capable people ready and willing to organize and act. It's like Massachusetts in 1775, when 14,000 men converged on the Concord Road in one day to fight the British army. In today's atomized society, I don't know many people who could organize 100 friends to take action, even with all the social media and cellphone communication.  -Contrarian View

I am a small fish in a small pond. I can speak to what I have seen, what I have done and people I met.

My dad once told me that a person will make a cement balloon fly if they have personal investment in the venture. He was speaking of people and projects. 

Dad was in a "management position" from 1966 until 1992. People under him sometimes brought him proposals. It was very rare for him to turn down a project. For one thing, running a project increased their work-load and most people didn't want more work so he wasn't actually buried with proposals.

The other thing was that once somebody screwed up their courage to beard the lion (dad) in his den, they would crawl over broken glass to ensure it worked. They would make the cement balloon fly.

On the other hand, Dad had no illusions about the success being transferable to other workers. It was all ownership.

The credit others give you is 100X better than the credit you claim

People expect you to brag. They discount accordingly.

On the other hand, when people you have worked with, or for, speak well of you...well, that is different. People perk up and listen due to its rarity.

The listener applies a multiplier. It is like calculating the sun's radiant energy based on what reflects off the moon. Their multipliers may not be very accurate but it is better to have a multiplier than a discount applied to your reputation.

Connectors and super-connectors

Conventional wisdom is that a typical person knows 2000-to-3000 people. It is also believed that some people, known as super-connectors, know ten times that number.

Connection is not just a matter of raw numbers. It is a matter of the depth and quality of the information. "What do you do for fun?" will tell you more about somebody than "What do you do to put bread on the table?" 

If I know 2000 people and each one of those people know another 2000 people (admittedly, there is a lot of overlap), then collectively we know 4,000,000 people.

Could I, personally, pull together a hundred people who would take radical action?

I am a small fish in a small pond. I could get five of my 2000 connections.

Who might be able to inspire another five each. Who, if times were desperate could inspire an additional five each. That is 125 people who, if they had the skills and are in the right place, they are a lever that can move the world.

That they are willing to self-organize and to act is a consequence of the dire circumstances they find themselves subjected to.

That is one of the foundational premises of my fiction. My fiction is not about super-heroes who know fifty-thousand people and inspires them. It is about ordinary people living ordinary lives who just cannot endure their current situation any longer. They are the seed-crystal suspended in the super-saturated solution that triggers self-organization.

Presented without comment


Home-field advantage: Setbacks

The push-back came from an unexpected person: Vince.

“You aren’t going to do ANYTHING to protect the neighborhood?” he asked in disbelief.

“I am not stopping anybody in the neighborhood from protecting their own house just like you protected yours” I said.

“Yeah, but they are helpless” Vince objected.

“No they aren’t. I have had hundreds of conversations with them or people just like them. They are sure the police will protect them” I said.

Vince looked at me with scorn. “Yeah. Right. The cops don’t come out at night.”

“No argument from me” I said with no guile in my face. “That means that the perps need to be pinned down until the sun rises. Then the cops will come out and book them.”

“If things go the way things have always gone then the perps were back home by 8:00 in the morning with $500 in their pockets and a big McGreasy breakfast in their tummy” I said.

“The way to cave in the Marxists is to make them feel like they have been betrayed by their leaders. Break their social contract. Keep them in the neighborhood until daybreak. Anybody gets out...don’t let them get back in, especially with food. Get somebody with a bullhorn and tell them they can WALK out” I said.

Vince mulled the picture over in his head. “No McGreasy breakfasts? That is going to go over like a turd in the punch-bowl.”

“Nope. These people don’t think ahead. If some brought a little bit of food so much the better. They can fight over it. Give the damned Marxist a preview of their future utopia” I said. “Going every where on shanks-mare and going hungry and going thirsty. We will see how good their leaders are at shitting food out of thin air.”

“You are still leaving the neighborhood unguarded” Vince accused me. Clearly, he bought the idea of stranding the ‘demonstrators’ in the High School parking lot and along Verlinden Avenue.

Well, that was some progress.

“I am not abandoning them. They can protect themselves” I said.

Vince snorted. “They don’t have any guns.”

“I disagree. I bet half of those houses have a gun somewhere in them. Maybe on the back-shelf up in the attic. Maybe stashed up in the rafters in the basement. Hell, even a paint-ball gun is better than nothing.”

“No ammo” Vince said, smugly.

“Half of them are 12 gauge shotguns. Most of the rest are .22 rimfire” I speculated. 

I knew for a fact that Vince had just purchased a case of 12 gauge shells. They were #8 shot because he planned to shoot clay birds with them. Never-the-less, nobody wants to get hit in the face with any size shot.

“Tell you what. I have a brick of .22 Long Rifle ammo in the truck and a box of 20 gauge shells. I will donate them as seed-stock.”

“Seed-stock for what?” Vince asked.

“Trading” I said. “Put out on social media that you found a few bullets in your garage and want to give them away. Tell them to PM you. Ask them what they have to trade and then tell them these are the last ten you have.”

Vince shook his head. “Zark Muckerberg will shut me down in a heartbeat.”

I looked at the sun. “We only have about six hours before sunset. Do you think he will shut you down before then?”

Speaking of which “So, you and Sharon know where you are spending tonight?” I asked.

“Maybe your place?” he asked, looking at me with a sidelong glance.

“Done” I said.

“Were you able to convince Ruth to bail out” I asked.

“Nope. She is going to ride it out. The girls think it is some kind of party. I think they are planning on joining the demonstrators.” Vince said.

“Did you talk to them?” I asked. I simply could not believe…

Then my phone rang. It was my daughter, Grace.


Oh, crap. She only called me ‘Daddy’ when she wanted something or was about to tell me something she knew I would not like.

“Whaaattt?” I drawled back, cautiously.

“I am coming into Lansing and was wondering if there was anything you need from home?” my beautiful, brilliant, clueless daughter asked me.

“Why are you coming to Lansing?” I asked, heart filled with fear and trepidation.

“Dryad and Psylla invited me to join them in the BLM demonstrations tonight” my daughter proudly informed me.

Good God in heaven. Whatever possessed Jamie to saddle his daughters with those names.

“I cannot forbid you to join the demonstrations but I suggest you find another place to live afterward” I informed her.

I heard the gasp of indrawn breath. “You wouldn’t dare!”

“Put your mom on the phone” I said.

Clearly, based on how she started the conversation out with “...Daddy...” she did not expect the information to go well.

A few seconds later, my wife, my rock and sanctuary answered the phone. “What is the problem?” she asked.

“People died here last night. More are going to die tonight. Maybe a lot more” I said. “I just told our daughter that if she insists on participating in this demonstration that she needs to find a new place to live.”

“You didn’t” my wife said.

“This isn’t Selma. This isn’t about voting rights or equality. This is about dominance and subjugation” I said.

“Is it really that bad?” she asked. She knew I was a pessimist.

“It is worse. Ten, maybe twenty times worse.” I said.

“We moved Mom to Marie’s house. I invited Vince and Sharon to spend the next few nights at our house” I belatedly informed her.

I heard “Shit!” uttered beneath her breath. I knew the guest bedroom was a mess but did not think Vince or Sharon would care, considering the circumstances.

Cutting to the chase, “So what are our options?” my darling Lizzy asked.

Thinking furiously, I said...”Ask her if she intends to go to the demonstration even if we say ‘No’. If she decides to get stubborn, ask for the keys to OUR car back. She can either walk or get a one-way ride.”

“That is playing hard-ball” Lizzy observed.

“Did you see in the news about the woman who was killed a block from Mom’s house?” I asked. I did not wait for Lizzy’s reply. “The bullet blew up her head. Basically, her neck was a bloody stump. I do not want to get called to the morgue and asked to identify my daughter’s body based on a tattoo and some jewelry. Do you?”

“Point taken” Lizzy responded.

Lizzy was a marvel. On the phone, talking to her women friends, Lizzy could talk for three hours. To me, she could compress a universe of emotion into two words.

I considered the matter handled.


Chauffeur's licenses, 2-stroke motors, mange and pecans

Oh, happy day! Kubota got his Michigan's Chauffeur's license today.

That opens up a lot of jobs for him. 

I can hear what some of you are thinking "He should have had that three years ago."

But I know that "over-planning" is one of my weaknesses. This is Kubota's journey. He has to own it.

I offered to buy him a Wendy's Frosty to celebrate but he wanted to get home. He had jobs to apply for.

Home-field advantage

HFA will run until at least October 2. In a perfect world, I will have enough creative juices seeping up to keep it going until election day.

No promises.

I appreciate the fact that the readers are involved enough, and thinking enough to make comments.

2-Stroke out-board motors

I found a deal on a Johnson, 2-stroke 9.5hp motor. While I don't NEED an outboard motor, there are several family members who have boats that would benefit from one.

Most 9.5hp motors are 15hp motors that have been detuned or throttled to meet the "less than 10hp" requirement on many lakes. The only way to kill one is to run straight gas in them.

I am sleeping on the deal. Maybe sanity will strike and I won't spend the money.

Mange update

I cannot state with 100% certainty that Zeus has mange.

The lesions seem self-limiting to where he was cut with some barbed wire six years ago. It shows up when it is humid and seems to respond to "mange" medicine.

The mites that cause mange are part of the natural microflora/fauna of a dog's coat. Mange occurs when something tips out-of-balance.

Dogs that are in-bred are more susceptible to mange so there is probably a genetic component. Even though Zeus has wandered in-and-out of the condition several times over the years, Herc (the senior partner) never had it.

Pecan trees

My driveway is lined with pecan trees.

"What? Pecan trees don't grow in Michigan." you say

Pecan trees are not native to Michigan but they grow just fine. They are native along the Mississippi river as far north as southern Wisconsin.

Many years I am just a bit shy of heat-units to fill the nuts. Some years they do fill. At least, they fill enough to germinate and produce viable seedlings.

Tonight is a nice, calm evening. I am sitting in front of the garage waiting for the branches to start moving.

#8 shot is considered by many to be a bit light for squirrels but I think it is great for Red Squirrels.

Tuesday, September 22, 2020

Fine Art Tuesday


Ploughing in the Nivernais 1849

Rosa Bonheur Born in France in 1822. Died 1899. Bonheur is considered by many to be the finest woman painter of the nineteenth century. She painted animals and natural scenes.

I looked at this painting for a bit and then something struck me as odd.

Then I looked at another painting where she painted a team of oxen and it had the same anomaly. 

Oxen pulling a cart

Do you see it yet?

Yet another of her paintings. Same quirk.

Do you see it in this one?

Same image as before but a close-up. Can you see the issue now?

Here is an image of a team of Shorthorn Oxen from Tillers International. Do you see any difference between the paintings and the photo?

Rosa Bonheur's images don't show the yokes! The oxen seem to be attached to the equipment's tongue with air.

Being a resourceful person, I contacted Tillers International and this is their reply:

"We zoomed in on the painting and have a more specific answer for you. Head Yokes were common in France and parts of Southern Europe in the 18th, 19th, and early part of the 20th Century which meant that's what Bonheur would have seen while doing reference sketches of the oxen.  If you find a large file of the painting, you'll see hints of the head yokes just behind the oxen's horns. Here are a few links that show the head yokes:"
The head-yoke was a length of wood that as lashed to the horns of the oxen.

One advantage of the Head-Yoke is that it doesn't take very much wood or a high level of fabrication skills. In areas that are starved for high-strength, straight grained woods, areas like southern Europe or parts of the Indian sub-continent, head-yokes make all kinds of economic sense.

All you need is a few feet of wood slightly thicker than a hoe-handle and a couple lengths of strapping. If you are feeling high-tech you can put a skate-strap buckles on the end of the straps or use ratchet straps.

Tillers International is a group dedicated to maintaining "legacy skills" and to helping developing countries optimize the efficiency of their draft animals.