Monday, July 26, 2021

Cellulite on a Celebrity's Thigh


By my count, there are nine bottles of ointments that are used to dress salads in the ERJ refrigerator
One of Mrs ERJ's fondest memories of her mother is when her father was traveling on business and Mrs ERJ and her mother were also traveling (but not with her father). Clerical errors were made regarding funding and Mrs ERJ's mother found herself with three children, almost no food and checks that were bouncing.

Surveying the ingredients, she had on hand: Pancake mix, a half stick of margarine, sugar and a dash of ground cinnamon, Mrs ERJ's mother made a coffee cake for the meal. It was memorable for the kids because coffee cake was reserved for grownups and Bridge Parties. It wasn't until years later that Mrs ERJ's mother shared the reasons for the bounty.

As we end the first month of our food experiment

It become obvious that much of the space in our refrigerator and cupboard are taken up by foods we don't eat.

It started innocently enough. A kid had a recipe and it required wing-of-bat, wart-of-armadillo or or dehydrated Okinawan shiikuwasha slices or some other such esoterica.

Like cellulite on a celebrity's thighs, once it shows up it never leaves.*

I get that we feel loved when we have three different bottles of our favorite salad dressings in the fridge. It shows that we are important.

Should things get spicy, I will also feel loved if I can go to bed with something in my belly.

Out of curiosity

  • How many different kinds of salad dressings are in YOUR refrigerator?
  • How many condiments for meat (Ketchup, 3 kinds of mustard, 3 kinds of BBQ, soy sauce, teriaki....)?
  • Jams and jellies?
I am not judging. I have plenty of room to improve. The issue is that the items or classes of food that we don't eat very much of don't cycle through and over time monopolize a disproportionate amount of valuable space.

Conversely, there are some heavy-lifters like rice, Bisquick, oatmeal, beans/lentils, cheese, sugar, cinnamon, salt, pepper, onions, peanut butter, salami, bacon/sausage, shortening that punch well above their weight class. I will love to read any comments from readers nominating items they consider to be "indispensable items for the larder". 

This is an invitation to the more experienced to help those of us who are not as far along the learning curve.

*Begging forgiveness for the click-bait title. I could not resist.

Mom update

A few readers who have my email asked how Mom was doing. I suspect a few other readers might also be curious.

I appreciate the respect everybody has shown for my privacy and my mom's privacy.

Mom still inhabits this plane of toil, tears, blood and sweat. 

Mom is in re-hab. A VERY rough estimate of how long she will be there is six-weeks based on the "Three days to recover what you lost while you were bed-ridden for one day."

She is still with us. She is very fearful of falling but the Occupational Therapist was very encouraging.

She cannot do much. Even sitting up is tiring. The low-sodium diet requirement somehow disappeared during the transfer.

She looked great. Morphine was not her friend. She was hurting and she struggled to hear people but she looked great. She looked even better sitting in a wheel-chair.

Inch-by-inch, row-by-row.....

Critical Race Theory

Critical Race Theory

Those guys are starting to piss me off.

A central belief of CRT is that ALL disparities between the races are solely due to insidious, systemic, institutionalized racism.

A superficial look at the idea shows how stupid it is but it sells to the mouth-breathers because it absolves them of having to change to better their lot in life.

Follow the money

Money isn't everything but it is important. It is the most commonly recognized claim on current and future resources. The animal with the most money gets the first, and biggest claim on the feed-trough of life.

While money isn't is how most people keep score and might be the root of 90% of all grievances.

Two common ways of looking at money are Income and Wealth.

Income is the rate at which money comes your way. It is $/time. It can be dollars-per-hour or dollars-per-year. If "Money" were a bathtub, "Income" is how fast the water comes out of the spigot.

Wealth is the accumulation of money. If you have $10/hour income in excess of your needs and you work 2000 hours a year, then you have the potential to increase your wealth by $20,000. If "Money" were a bathtub, "Wealth" is how much water is currently in the bathtub.

Wealth also increases with investments. If you have $20,000 of wealth and it earns 5% then you have $21,000 at the end of the year...with the potential for it to keep growing every year. At 7% return, the base sum will double every decade.

Older people have greater potential to have wealth than younger people. We have more time to accumulate "excess income" and more time for the compounding effect to work.

Cherry-picking statistics

Proponents of CRT love to cherry-pick statistics to "prove" the existence of institutional racism.

One of CRT's favorite statistics is "The Wealth Gap". They point to the fact that African-Americans with 4-Year college degrees have less wealth than White people with 4-year college degrees.

It is a fact that White college graduates are OLDER, on average, than Black college graduates. In 1980 10% of 25-to-35 year old Blacks had four years of college. That had grown to 20% by 2017. That is, it had DOUBLED. The growth rate for Whites was from 25% to 40% which is a 60% increase.

A second factor is the population pyramid for Whites shows a baby-bust after the baby-boom. Not only is the growth in college graduates lower for Whites but the basis that percentage is applied to is smaller. Those wealthy cohorts that graduated between 1970 and 1985 was huge for Whites.

A third factor is that wealth is usually HOUSEHOLD wealth. A White household is far more likely than a Black household to be TWO adults. For example, 70% of White children are born to married parents while 35% of Black children are.

Two adult households have twice as much income potential and tend to accumulate far more wealth than single-adult headed households.

Simple math and demographics, not "racism" explains the differences in wealth.

If you want to be wealthy, get skill or a degree that commands good wages. Get married and stay married. Don't make babies until you have your economic house in order. Don't spend every penny you earn. Use credit sparingly and wisely. Live a long time.

Sunday, July 25, 2021

Who runs the clock?

One of my friends was a professional bookie in Detroit during his misspent youth.

For a period, several of his "clients" were beating Los Vegas on a regular basis. The venue involved Professional Basketball and the specific things they were betting on were point spreads and total points.

Most of the games were in the mid-West.

It turns out that every person who officiates in professional sports has an elaborate, statistical profile kept by serious bettors.

The local guys were making bets where both officials were picky and made lots of calls that stopped the game.

The local guys slipped the time-keeper (at the time an unpaid position) a hundred bucks. He was either instructed to stop-the-clock-early-and-start-late or to run-long-and-start early. Nobody noticed that every game stoppage had an additional half-second tacked on to each end or a half-second shaved off.

Over the course of the game, the time added up. Shortened games were lower scoring and had a smaller spread. Games where the time-keeper started late and ended quickly were higher scoring with larger spreads. Adding or subtracting half a minute to actual play time resulted in adding or subtracting two points to the total.

The local guys didn't win EVERY bet, but they won enough to get the attention of the big houses in Los Vegas. They sent folks to investigate.

The time-keepers were paid a stipend after Vegas figured it out and the scam ended.

God is in control

And God said, Let there be lights in the firmament of the heaven to divide the day from the night; and let them be for signs, and for seasons, and for days, and years:

And let them be for lights in the firmament of the heaven to give light upon the earth: and it was so.

And God made two great lights; the greater light to rule the day, and the lesser light to rule the night: he made the stars also
   -Genesis 1:14-16 KJV

 "...divide the day from the night and let them be signs, and for seasons, and for days, and years...the greater light to rule the day and the lesser light to rule the night..."

One interpretation of "rule" is to measure or divide, as in "a ruler". Rule also means to command. Either interpretation suggests that God created the "clocks" that mark time. Said another way, God created time and is not ruled by it.

It is calming to remember that God is running the time-clock as well as the score-board. Especially when the passing of time seems to get goofy.

The trip east is a "GO!"

It looks like a trip to the mid-Atlantic to see Ducky and Jerry is a lock.

Mrs ERJ made the hotel reservations.

I bought a float-valve for the cattle tank. They will get two fresh paddocks just before I leave, primarily because the paddock that is two ahead of where they are now has the best logistics for water.

Belladonna and Kubota will watch the dogs.

The destination is a county with a population density of 2000 people per square mile compared to Eaton Rapids Township's 100/. Most of the population is jammed into the east side of the county. The west side is owned by "horse people" and includes a trout stream, not something I expected at that latitude.

I was interested in hitting a Farmers' Market but the days and hours don't work out. The region is very well-to-do by my standards. Median household income is twice the US median and those yuppies like their boutique markets.

Maybe I can find somebody to give me a tour of Kinkos and OfficeMax. If I am lucky, maybe they will demonstrate how to operate a copy machine, a device I heard stories about but have never seen with my own eyes.

Maybe it is paranoia

Maybe it is paranoia or maybe it is just planning.

The truck has a useable range of 450 miles. The destination is significantly farther than that. I like to drive on the top half of the tank.

In the event of social unrest, there is no way to drive the entire distance without stops for fuel. On the way back, refueling in Northern West Virginia should give me enough range to get the rest of the way home.

Bonus joke

A boy and his father from Eaton Rapids were visiting the Big City. They were amazed by almost everything they saw, but especially by two shiny, silver walls that could move apart and then slide back together again.

The boy asked, "What is this Father?"

The father (never having seen an elevator) responded, "Son, I have never seen anything like this in my life, I don't know what it is"

While the boy and his father were watching with amazement, a dowdy, older lady hobbled up to the moving walls and pressed a button. The walls opened and the lady lurched between them into a small room. The walls closed and the boy and his father watched the small circular numbers above the walls light up sequentially. They continued to watch until it reached the last number and then the numbers began to light in the reverse order. Finally the walls opened up again and a gorgeous 24-year-old blonde stepped out.

The father said quietly to his son....."Go get your mother."

Saturday, July 24, 2021

A few pictures


A neighbor blowing out the carbon. He has a Cummins diesel in this beast.

The pop-bottle mouse/chipmunk roller is sensitive enough to toss mice into the drink.

Japanese beetles are attracted to red clover. Who knew? I have very little damage on my grapes, so far.

They seem to be most attracted to the flowers. Are they drinking nectar?

The temp is in the mid-80s, the humidity is high and the winds are about 12 mph. A recipe for strong thunderstorms.

Then, God willing, we will have string of nights with temps in the sixties. That would be Fahrenheit for all of my Canadian readers.

From the "Half-formed thoughts" file

It is commonly, but erroneously, believed that more information always reduces uncertainty and that more laws increase order. Note that I include information systems and laws in the same basket because both are intended to tame entropy and chaos and are, at there hearts, very similar.

Additionally, it is believed that each incremental piece of information reduces the amount of uncertainty by increasingly smaller amounts. Incidentally, this is capture in a mathematical concept called Bayes' Theorem.

By way of example, we intuitively believe that our ability to predict what somebody will do is very strongly correlated with how long we have known them. Given two different people, one I have known since childhood and another I just met...I are SURE that I can predict what the first will do with far more accuracy than the second.

Let me illustrate with a fun example.

Behold: A Treasure Map. X marks the spot! (All maps from the fine folks at Google)
What information is captured in this map? There is a treasure buried on a beach near a body of water. If you could zoom in, you might deduce that the beach is not sand but stone cobbles and the treasure is buried where the water suddenly becomes shallow.

An additional piece of information. The treasure is 3.54 miles from some town. 
Still not very much to go on.
Blimey! The pirates have different colours of ink.

In addition to the previous information, we can now deduce that the treasure is 3.54 miles west of some, unknown town near a body of water.

Our pirates now tell us the name of the body-of-water but Lake Michigan is 300 miles north-to-south.

There is now enough information for intelligent people to mount a search even though it does not describe, to-the-inch, the precise location of the treasure.

Where Bayes' Theorem fails
Bayes' Theorum fails when the additional "information" comes from dodgy sources. You cannot wash the turd out of the punch bowl using water from the septic tank.

Consider the modern high school student who borrowed his parent's vehicle. He/she ignored the idiot lights and it stopped working.

They called an equally ignorant friend who informed them that the engine is out of oil. Looking in the trunk, the intrepid motorists found two quarts of motor oil. They proceeded to add oil to every place under the hood where a cap can be pried off. It goes into the transmission, the radiator, the power steering, the windshield washer tank...some even went into the motor.

Then they poured the second quart of oil over the top of the engine.

Don't laugh. THIS HAPPENED (and continues to happen).

Miraculously, the engine started back up and after a bit later it ignited the oil that had dripped down onto the exhaust manifold. 

Or it swells the seals in the transmission and it stops shifting. Or it sprays motor oil on the windshield and the loss of visibility causes a crash.

Calling a friend did not decrease the entropy/chaos but added to it.

Adding bad-law to what is already on the books is no different than Dumb calling Dumber for car advice.

Friday, July 23, 2021

German Prunes

Can you think of two words that when combined would be more likely to produce a grimace or a rude joke?


"German Prunes" figure prominently in central European cuisine and in some Ashkenazi Jewish cooking traditions.

Image from HERE

"Prune" is used in the sense of a type of plum, not necessarily one that has been dehydrated. You can dry any kind of plum, "Prune" plums make the best dried plums.

While "French Prunes" are large, voluptuous and extremely juicy, German Prunes are petite and the intercellular spaces of the ripe fruit are filled with air rather than liquid.

Cooking traditions co-evolve with what thrived in the garden and grew in hedgerows

Using French plums in a recipe for German Plum Cake would be like throwing water-balloons at an angel food cake. Too much liquid. The ratio of fruit-to-batter assumes the use of German Prunes. They behave well in the oven, leaking just the tiniest amount of juice (flavor) into the surrounding binder.

German Prunes

German Prunes are a class or land-race of plums, Prunus domestica, that spans Europe.

In France they are often called Mirabelles. 

German Prunes come into their own in the more continental climate of Germany, Poland, Russia, Hungary and the Balkans because some strains are very late bloomers and avoid the spring frosts that nuke early blossoms.

One of the first trees I planted was a plum variety named Dietz offered by Farmer Seed Company of Fairbault, Minnesota. To the best of my Google-fu, the variety and the company are both extinct. In retrospect, "Dietz" was  a German Prune.

I remember the tree as being extremely productive and a regular producer.

While "Dietz" is extinct in commerce, there is a 50% chance that it was a re-badge of a variety brought over from Europe. That, or it was a chance seedling from one of those European varieties.

Timing of T-budding

Gras Romanesc plum

We had an inch of rain this morning.

The best time to bud (in my opinion) is after a rain that kicks the trees back into active growth. The insult of inserting a bud is forgiven and it heals quickly.

I have two, small trees on my property that were sold to me as "German Prunes". One is Gras Romanesc. It is from Romania. The other is Pozagaca (aka Hauszwetschea variety renowned for the production of plum brandy. I decided that I want more than one copy of each.

One source I referenced claimed Gras Romanesc is NOT self-fertile but Pozagaca is. If I had to guess, I would guess that Dietz was either Pozagaca or a seedling of it because there was no other European Plum within a mile to pollinate it.

Purple leafed plums

I have a row of purple leafed plums I grafted on American plum seedlings. I collected the scionwood near Playmakers in Okemos when I noticed a hedge that had a healthy crop of plums on it.

The grafted plums never delivered on their promise. I got the odd plum or two but nothing like the crop I saw in Okemos.

They had their chance. Today I started budding Gras Romanesc on them and I will add Pozagaca buds tomorrow.

--Note to self: Gras Romanesc buds tagged with orange surveyor's tape. Pozagaca buds with white plastic strips torn from grocery bags.---

Grab them by their wallet

Suppose you had one guy in your group whose only job was to bring the beer. Bubba is a total bore and makes it tougher to impress the girls, but hey, he always brings the beer.

You got to the beach and Bubba didn't bring the beer. Not only did he not bring the beer, he lectures you about your beer belly. 

He tells you he will no longer supply the beer. He will eat your barbeque and smoke your cigars. He will ride around in your pimped out truck and push the buttons on the stereo so it plays the music he likes.

The next time you go to the beach you take your own beer and Bubba stays home. Really, who takes German Shepherds to the beach, anyway?

Never mollycoddle a malcontent
For no particular reason, here are the sponsors for the United States National Women's Soccer Team:

If those sponsors have money to squander on America-hating teams that refuse to play (the only thing we ask them to do), then those sponsors are charging way more for their sweat-shop products and financial legerdemain than I am willing to pay.

I say that if the USNWST wants to burn down the house, let's help them!

Thursday, July 22, 2021

Best of intentions....

An upscaled version of the spinner mouse trap. I have this in an area with many chipmunks. Chipmunks are an alternate host for ticks. The spinner is a couple of Mountain Dew bottles with the bottoms cut out, nested and glued. The mouths were greased with Crisco and baited with PB. No catches yet.

I made a list of Things To Do for today.

I only got 2.3 of them done.

I went for a run. Mrs ERJ is a member of a gym in Charlotte which is about 10 miles west of here. I asked if I could join her. She was agreeable.

While she did her weight-lifting inside, I ran around the building. I knocked out about 2 miles in about 22 minutes. Then, knowing Mrs ERJ would be busy for a bit longer, I walked around the building interspersing 100 yard sprints with 200 yard walks.

That last part took a lot out of me. It uses muscles that are very different than my jogging muscles.

Side note: One of my readers asked if I had ever used a heart rate monitor.

I did. When I first started running (15 years ago) I was concerned that I wasn't pushing hard enough. Different sources have different target heart-rates. Based on one formula, the age-appropriate bpm target for me was 165 bpm.

I strapped up and started running. I didn't think to look at the monitor until I had run a quarter mile. Looking at the handy-dandy wristwatch readout, I saw I was clocking 177 bpm.

Millions and millions of words have been written about target heart rates and the most effective targets to gain condition. Proponents of the lower bpm rates suggest that your heart cannot pump efficiently if you are over-clocking. They suggest that if your heart cannot fill, then your heart cannot pump efficiently and the muscles are flailing rather than working.

I remain unconvinced about a single number, based on age, that is a universal fit.

What I learned about MY body was that I didn't have to lean very hard into the discomfort zone before I was well above the target.

Since then I run by comfort level. As long as I recently deballasted waste product, am adequately hydrated, had my 81mg aspirin running 10-to-12 minute miles is as comfortable as walking.

End side note

After getting home and having a bite to eat...I closed my eyes for a second.

Then I put the fence around the fall-vegetable garden. The rabbits found the Chinese Cabbage. The mosquitoes were bad.

The 0.3 part of the things-to-do involved some preliminary work to installing Mrs ERJ's back-up camera. 

Miscellaneous information

This chart shows the recommended impact velocities for assorted Hornady XTP pistol bullets.

This is valuable information when combined with an external ballistics calculator. For instance, a 158 grain, Flat Point XTP .357 has a recommended impact velocity of 1200 fps to 1800 fps. If launched at 1900 fps, it loses 100 fps in the first 25 yards. The ballistics calculator then suggests that the FP bullet is within its design envelop for impact velocities from 25 yards out to 150 yards.

Run that sucker through a resizing die to get it down to .355 inches and you have a fine bullet for the .350 Legend as long as you dial down the velocities a few hundred fps below maximum.

And for those ten yard shots? Stay out of the shoulder (and the larger cuts of edible meat) and you will take home venison.

Unlike the purpose designed bullets for the .350 Legend, you can still find the 158 FP XTPs if you hunt around.

How does one measure "Racism"?


I can measure a 2-by-4 for length. I can mail the board to California and another person can measure it with their own measuring tape and our answers will agree within 1/8" or about one-part-in-eight-hundred.

Can the race hustlers propose a measurement system that is 5% as capable?

It is a simple question: How do you measure "Racism".

Critical Race Theory claims white men (like me) are so hopelessly stained with the sin of Racism that we cannot see or sense it any more than a fish can sense the water it swims through.

They claim that our sin-of-Racism" is not just our actions but our thoughts, our emotions, the actions of our ancestors and the actions of our issue.

Pray tell, how does one measure/quantify half-formed thoughts and fleeting emotions? Furthermore, how does one add them up: vectorially (square-root sum of squares and all that) or linearly or perhaps it is multiplicative?

Gravity map of a portion of the United States.

The same case can be made for gravity. For the vast majority of humans, we spend our entire lives immersed in gravity and yet we have many ways to measure it.

Propose a repeatable, objective measurement system for "Racism" where one-hundred random people can be "binned" into twenty silos with even spacing between silos. It should be a system that I can exercise in Michigan and somebody in California or North Carolina or Glasgow or Perth or Bombay can perform and we should get the same result.

The US Women's Soccer Team is not Woke enough

Let me be among the first to congratulate Sweden's Women's soccer team for their stunning victory in the first round of the Olympic playoffs.

And let me start the countdown....Three.....Two.....One....

US Soccer Team not woke enough with only five Lesbians on the team.

Rumors swirl that a Progressive Billionaire soccer fan on the West Coast offered the entire Senegalese Mens soccer team untold wealth to immigrate to the US and "Go Tranny".  What could be more "Woke" than a woman's soccer team composed entirely of black, trans-sexualswho recently immigrated from a certifiable Third-World country?

Fake news today....mainstream tomorrow. 

Wednesday, July 21, 2021

Belts, Back-up cameras, Hour-meters, Potatoes and weeds and Tollund Man

You can imagine my dismay when my belt broke. It broke at the buckle. The loop on one side of the prong gave up the ghost.

Never fear, I have a back-up. Unfortunately, the leather shrunk while in storage. Mrs ERJ tells me this happens all of the time, especially for long slender items like belts.

I asked her if any of HER belts had ever shrunk and she admitted they had not.

It was with great sadness that I went down to the Bentonville General Store and bought a new belt.

Today I repaired my broken belt. I used some nylon webbing and two Chicago Screws. In case you are not familiar with Chicago screws, they are a threaded fastener that mimics a rivet.

Once again I have a belt and a back-up. Life is good.

Speaking of back-up

I installed a back-up camera on my truck today. It can be installed in two different modes. One mode is powered by the Auxiliary Power Outlet (a device formerly known as a cigarette lighter). The other mode ties it in with the back-up lamps and it only energizes when backing up.

I opted for the first mode. I have a cap on the truck and sometimes I want to know what is following behind when I am driving.

I bought two units on-line for about $40 each. The other unit is going into Mrs ERJ's vehicle. She wants me to tie it in to the back-up lamps.

Hour meter

One of my readers advised me to install an hour-meter on my small generator to keep track of the 25 hour oil-change intervals.

I installed it today and validated that it works. Thanks to whoever gave me that advice.

Stock watering tanks

If we go on a trip to visit Ducky and Jerry, then I need to improve my stock watering system. They are currently drinking about 30 gallons a day and I can go two days between refills.

A couple of 60 gallon, plastic barrels would stretch that to six days. I would have to cut them in half because cattle can tip over containers that are taller than 27 inches. The pain-in-the-butt is that it is manpower intensive to fill up 6, 30 gallon containers. 

It is far easier to have one, 150 gallon tank and a hose aimed at it. Then if our stay is extended and I have to call-in some help all they have to do is turn on the spigot and let it run for a half hour and then turn it off.

It is possible to purchase valves that are very similar to the float in your toilet bowl. As the cattle drink, the float drops and the tank refills. That will involve splicing a length of hose on the end of the poly line I have run out to the tanks.


This is a little bit odd.

I weeded one row of potatoes and left the rows to either side unweeded. My rational was that I expect this variety (Megachip) to be very productive and I am weeding from highest-priority to lowest-priority. This is the gardener's version of "Fault Tolerant Programming". Feces happens. Structure your work to maximize gain regardless of random noise.

You can see the towering Lambsquarters on the neighboring rows. Four weeks of rain will do that.

What worked best was to pull weeds with my left hand and to hold a pair of pruning snips in my right hand. Tomorrow, I will have a lanyard holding the snips so I can pull with both hands until I need the snips.

The snips are exceptionally handy when there is a towering weed that is within 6" of a potato plant. Pulling those weeds will also pull up the potato plant. The elegant solution is to apply the snips and holler "TIMBER" as it crashes to the ground. 

Lambsquarters and Smartweed

Pale Persicaria is more likely to be known as "Smartweed" in the US. Fat-Hen is more likely to be known as "Lambsquarters".

Tollund Man is back in the news. His body was found in a bog in Denmark back  in 1951. His cause of death was hanging. His estimated date of death was 2400 years ago.

A recent study took samples from the content of his lower intestine and analyzed them. They determined that most of what he ate was barley but a significant portion of his porridge consisted of "weed" seeds.

A detour: Lysenko was Stalin's Head of Agriculture in the 1930s and '40s. Lysenko was a lunatic and was responsible for millions of USSR citizens starving to death.

One of his hair-brained ideas was that if you planted common grass seeds in a wheat field and if you treated them exactly as if they were wheat, then you would be able to harvest full crop of wheat from that field. This was an extension of the Marxist Nature/Nurture question; Marxist believing that outcomes were 100% Nurture and 0% Nature.

OK, we are all done laughing.

But... extend Lysenko's hypothesis over two-hundred years of casual selection.

Don't eliminate the wheat or rye or barley but broadcast it over the roughed-up field.

The weed phenotypes that will thrive alongside the wheat and rye and barley will be the ones that produce prodigious numbers of seeds. Prodigious numbers of seeds implies non-trivial weight of seeds.

Those phenotypes will either match the primary crop in season or will compliment it. Smartweed and Lambsquarters are "matchers". Chickweed and deadnettles are "complimenters".

Agriculture created the "Weeds" we know today. Before human agriculture, the ecological niche for annuals that produced enormous amounts of seeds was a very narrow niche restricted to unusual environments like sandbars where ephemeral flood-waters created open "fields".

Bronze-age agriculturalists didn't spend a lot of energy weeding their fields. They broadcast planted them, let them grow and then harvested them, cereal grains and weeds alike and threshed them all together. Calories are calories.

For the record, I was weeding lambsquarters, amaranth (also called pigweed or redroot), smartweed, foxtail and some kind of small-berried solanum species out of the potatoes today. Unlike Old-World cereal grains, potato plants are large, widely spaced and the relative productivity differences makes it well worth my time to weed them.

From the standpoint of Tollund Man's peers, a pound of (weed) seeds from 40-to-200 square-feet of land was a huge windfall relative to what they could find by foraging. By comparison, a typical yield in the US Corn Belt is a pound of corn (maize) for every four square feet.

The good shepherd

Woe to the shepherds
who mislead and scatter the flock of my pasture, says the LORD.
Therefore, thus says the LORD, the God of Israel,
against the shepherds who shepherd my people:
You have scattered my sheep and driven them away.
You have not cared for them,
but I will take care to punish your evil deeds.
I myself will gather the remnant of my flock
from all the lands to which I have driven them
and bring them back to their meadow;
there they shall increase and multiply.
I will appoint shepherds for them who will shepherd them
so that they need no longer fear and tremble;
and none shall be missing, says the LORD
  -Jeremiah Chapter 23

This was one of the readings I heard in church last Sunday.

One thing that does not immediately register with a modern reader is the fact that sheep (and other livestock) are mobile wealth. Other common forms of wealth in that era (timber, fish, sheaves of wheat, clay vessels filled with wine, areable land) were not mobile. 

Sheep were THE prime target for major theft. Once stolen, they were like dollar bills, virtually impossible to identify as to the previous owner.

Loss of a significant portion of the flock was likely to be an extinction-level event for the family. The additional protein, fat, fiber and income from the flock was likely to be the difference between successfully raising children or having them die. So in one sense, stealing sheep was worse than a single, isolated homicide.

Yes, lions, bears, leopards, hyenas, wolves, boars, jackals and cheetahs were native to the Holy Land and would gladly feast on sheep, but the apex predator walked on two legs.

Reread the selection from Jeramiah after envisioning untrustworthy neighbors or a tribe from slipping in from the desert. They wait for the shepherd to fall asleep before bashing him in the head and then leading the sheep away.

Woe to the shepherds
who mislead and scatter the flock of my pasture, says the LORD.
Therefore, thus says the LORD, the God of Israel,
against the shepherds who shepherd my people:
You have scattered my sheep and driven them away.
You have not cared for them,
but I will take care to punish your evil deeds.
I myself will gather the remnant of my flock
from all the lands to which I have driven them
and bring them back to their meadow;
there they shall increase and multiply.
I will appoint shepherds for them who will shepherd them
so that they need no longer fear and tremble;
and none shall be missing, says the LORD
  -Jeremiah Chapter 23

The job of being a shepherd is not what Hallmark Cards would lead you to believe.

It was facing down lions and boars and bears at the end of a 6' spear.

It was sleepless nights as the "Gypsies" prowled about the flock looking for a weakness.

It was countless miles of walking and weeks away from family.

It was drinking bitter water and enduring sleet and frost at night and lightning among the high meadows.

It was following your internal compass and disregarding the blandishments of hucksters and quick-buck artists.

It is proving that you are not a man to trifle with. That you are a man of unbending principal.

We should pray that we match that description.

Tuesday, July 20, 2021

A productive day


My day started off with a shopping trip. I was shopping for running shoes but that did not prohibit me from swinging by the ammo aisle of Dunham's Sporting Goods in Charlotte.

As is typical for a store in southern Michigan, more than half the ammo was shotgun ammo. The surprise is that 95% of the shotgun ammo was buckshot and slugs. I applaud Dunhams. If that is what their customers want to buy, then bully-for-them for supplying it.

High quality thermoplastics that can be warmed up and shaped are underrated. Tent stakes are a great source of very tough, impact resistant plastic that is relatively easy to work with. And tent stakes are inexpensive.

Five gallon fuel containers are running about $20 per. Much of the cost is in the fancy, evaporative-emissions compliant spout. These are called "Racing" containers. The price was not listed but I suspect it was substantially less than $20. Research is warranted.

The Winter Crisp Chinese Cabbage is close to outgrowing its container.
If there is one rule to growing Chinese Cabbage, it is to never stress it, never let it struggle for moisture, fertility or sunlight. Pedal-to-the-metal, start to finish.

Otherwise, it will go to seed instead of producing large, heavy heads of cabbage.

Approximate spacing of 15" between plants and 24" between rows. In metric that is 3.8e+9 Angstroms by 6.1e+9 Angstroms. I watered them in today and will give them another watering tomorrow and that water will be supplemented with fertilizer.

Image taken the next morning. They look a lot perkier. The leaves are no longer limp but are deployed and ready for photosynthesis.

The rug is draped across two picnic tables, two rows of cinder blocks, Yogi Bear, a 12' ladder and an even dozen 4' long slats. OK, I am joking about the bear. I just wanted to see if anybody was paying attention.

Today's big project was to roll up the 12' by 13' rug, move it outside and wash it.

I did something smart. I paid Belladonna and Kubota $10 each to roll it up and move it. Either kid could twist me into pretzels without breaking a sweat. Rather than have me and Mrs ERJ struggle, I paid the money and let them bicker and sweat. It took them about four minutes.

We wet it down.

We soaped it down.

We used the pressure washer to beat the soap into the pile.

We hosed it and hosed it and hosed it to wash out the detergent.

Tomorrow will be a grand day for drying. The relative humidity will be about 50%.

When somebody gives you a lemon...

I read blog posts and get emails that trash the "vaccines" because they are not FDA approved, therefore they are not real, safe "vaccines".

I think folks are missing the point.

The FDA gatekeepers only exist to create post-retirement sinecures. Really, at this point, what value do they add? They were MIA when we needed them, so what good are they?

Let the drug companies self-validate that they met the protocols and eliminate the FDA. Pink-slip the 18,000 employees (and countless contractors) associated with the FDA.

If they are half as smart as they tell us they are, they can learn to code.

Suck it up, Buttercup

It is difficult to avoid becoming a pessimist.

If you think in terms of "probability clouds" regarding future events as opposed to "this is for-sure going to happen", then the cloud representing future shutdowns is getting broader, taller and denser.

Covid virus tends to wax-and-wane and the mainstream-media is reporting a surge in Covid cases and it is only mid-summer.

Many virus become more common with the onset of fall and winter. Some claim it is Vitamin D deficiency. Others claim it is because we spread out in the summer and move closer together, i.e. indoors, in the cooler months.

Aside from biological realities, some elites in power feel threatened and long for a return to the days when they could stomp on people's right to assemble. It is a foregone conclusion that anything I commit to the internet is spied upon, leaving face-to-face the only private medium.

Thinking like an investor

I asked the every wise-and-lovely Mrs ERJ "Is there anything you really want to do that we can knock-out before mid-August? Is there anything we should buy? Any people you want to visit."

My thinking is that Michigan will tip into lock-downs between mid-August and mid-September as parents howl that they want their kids to return to in-person schooling.

She quickly said, "Let's go visit Ducky and Jerry" (not their real names). They live in a mid-Atlantic state.

Jerry's cancer relapsed and his prognosis is lower-triple-digit days even with aggressive chemotherapy.

Even now it might be too late. Ducky may look at the reports of rising Delta-variant Covid cases and say "Thanks, but no thanks". Chemo knocks down the body's immune system and Ducky is Jerry's gatekeeper at this stage of the game.

Nursing homes

It looks like Mom is on the brink of being transitioned to a nursing home for rehab.

Nursing homes were death-traps in the early stages of Covid due to decisions our Governor made.

They were also extremely inhumane in who isolating the patients. If any Covid was detected in the facility, they locked the patients into their rooms and delivered meals until they were "clear".  They were little more than coffins with oxygen hoses and TVs.

Signs of decline

Is there a hospital anywhere that is unaffected by staff shortages, insane Federal mandates and money-losing Medicare/Medicaid reimbursement rates?

A quick example. I took a photo of this paper-towel dispenser located in one of the Men's Restrooms at Sparrow Hospital. American Disabilities Act mandates the height that dispensers are located. It also mandates widths of doors and handicapped, self-opening features. Bringing an existing restroom into compliance is an exercise in compromises.

The only place to mount this dispenser was directly above the trash bin. If you want a clean towel, you must rip off the dispensed (and pitch it) before grabbing and ripping off the freshly dispensed before it is so long it spools out over the counter.

Stupid, stupid, stupid...but it is what the law mandates.

The manpower crunch hit older employees hardest. Management tends to be heavier in older people. The loss of management capability shows up with every step with the "THRIPP, THRIPP, THRIPP..." of every tacky footstep. Housekeeping decided that they only need to mop-down soap/disinfectant solution and never follow-up with a damp, wet-mop to pick it back up. 

That would have been nipped in the bud if there was even a vestige of management capability. As it is, what little management capability that is left is busy ensuring compliance to Federal mandates and funding while Housekeeping plays on their smartphones in the Atrium.

You are on your own

More evidence that we are on our own. Nobody is coming to save us. Suck it up, Buttercup. 

If there is anything you can do to improve your health, physical security, or ability to thrive during a lock-down, do it now.

Monday, July 19, 2021

I saw this while walking the stairs at the hospital

Design intent. Two bolts, washer compressed.

Missing bolt. Broken welds

Other side of staircase. One nut loose. The other missing. Tilt of fastener suggests structure may have shifted.

Other flights had issues but the 4th floor landing was in a class of its own.

Follow-up to post on Caches

Both "Anonymous" and Mr B shared a few thoughts in the Comments that I thought deserved space above-the-fold.

I think it depends on the purpose/mission of the cache.

That adds much clarity to the discussion.

If you look at the cache for the high-desert hermit, the purpose of the cache is to provide a few comfort items to make waiting while flood-waters recede somewhat more endurable.

The cache for the snowmachine enthusiast is to provide the means for emergency repairs.

For me, it had always been about walking home from work.

Job history

My entire "real" work career was spent with a multinational corporation that slowly imploded over the course of four decades. It went from totally dominating the world market to going bankrupt over that time. One consequence of the implosion is that jobs within the company became a game of musical chairs. You jumped into any open seat when the music stopped.

In 1984 I was assigned to a boss who worked in Warren, some 95 miles from my desk. For the next twelve years, I drove to Warren two-to-five times a week.

For those who are not familiar with Detroit, it is surrounded by rings of suburbs. Warren is a "first ring" suburb. Sterling Heights is a "second ring" suburb, Utica is "third ring" and so on. 

Urban blight paused, briefly, at Eight Mile Road but then bled north into the 'burbs.

The facility I was assigned to was on 12 Mile Road.

The question on the table was, "What would it take to walk home, some 100 miles to the west?" 

The question popped up again in 2009 when I was assigned a job in Pontiac, Michigan 94 miles from where I currently live. I worked there for about two years.

Even as a retired guy, Michigan's major airport is Detroit Metro and it is about 100 mile from home.

At fifteen or twenty miles per day, that means between five and seven days of walking. Carrying that amount of gear/food makes you conspicuous, especially in an urban environment, which in the case of starting from Warren would be at least twenty miles of walking.

Bucket swap

SpartanF3nc3R suggested finding a like-minded person who would hold a five gallon bucket of his "stuff", possibly in an reciprocal exchange. That is, Spartan holding the counter-party's bucket.

That addresses many of the security issues of having your cache pilfered by others.

In the case of the walk-home from Warren, having that person 10-to-20 miles out would be useful. Novi (20 miles west) would be nearly ideal as I would have drilled through nearly all of the urban areas.

The downside is that I chose to live somewhere between nowhere and nowhere-squared. For one thing, property values are cheaper here. I am not sure the other party would find much value in stashing a bucket with me and I am not about to trade away a spot in the lifeboat to somebody who is not family.

Fabulous comments. Thanks a million to the readers.

Incidentally, both WWW and Aesop have essays on caches.

It is a clear case of 

Bugatti Chiron