Friday, December 31, 2021

Note to self...


There I was, pruning the pear trees when a branch whipped across my face and swept the eye-glasses off my face.


I walked away from the area where I assumed my glasses had been tossed. I went into the house and found an old pair of glasses with an old prescription.

Then I went out looking.

The glasses are plainly visible in this picture. They are behind the stepladder and framed by the steps and the brace side.

Can't see them?

Here is a close-up from five-feet up. It is from a slightly different angle for security reasons.

Still cannot see them?

Part of what made them hard to find is that they were not on the ground but had been caught by a grapevine about 8" above it.

It is amazing how things slightly closer or further away than our focal plane become invisible.

Note to self: Put a bit of orange tape on the temple of my glasses when pruning trees. Either that or wear brightly colored eyewear retainers (Croakies).

Mikhail Kutuzov

We had Pelé, our oldest son over for Christmas dinner.

At one point he was lamenting that life wasn't turning out as glorious as he had hoped. He had not done anything historic. He had not cured cancer. He had not created a video game to rival Grand Theft Auto. He had not invented a solar-panel paint that can be painted onto any structure thus turning it into a giant solar cell.

In a word, he thinks he is a failure.

I suggested that there is something to be said for still being alive. That cannot be said for all of his classmates.

"Nope. If I were dead I could start over" he replied.

I deduced that he believed in reincarnation....this year.

"My impression is that the form you will be reincarnated as is based on how well you played the cards you were dealt during this lifetime" I told him.

That piqued his interest. "Whaddya mean?" he asked.

"Many times we are dealt shitty hands. Sometimes the best we can hope for is to lose but to lose with elegance and style and at the maximum cost to the victor" I said.

Mikhail Kutuzov

Mikhail Kutuzov was the Russian general who faced off against Napoleon and the greatest and most technologically advanced army in the world.

Napoleon's campaigns were finely tuned to the logistical landscape of Western and Central Europe. To wit, decent roads, canals and harbors. Villages every three miles and enough food, fodder and fuel in the fertile valleys to support a population of 200 people per square-km.

Napoleon entered Russia like a bulldozer, fresh from flattening the greatest armies Europe could muster. European armies with the most modern weapons and the best trained soldiers.

Russia was backwards and poor. Kutuzov had bodies. He had men. He had horses. But he could not match Napoleon musket-for-musket or cannon-for-cannon nor could he match the quality of Napoleon's battle-tested soldiers and officer corp.

On paper, Napoleon should have walked right through Kutuzov's hollow army.

Kutuzov knew that.

In spite of the urging of the government, Kutuzov kept retreating. But it was not a turn-tail and run retreat. It was a set-up-battlelines, harry and then retreat.

Napoleon won battles through rigorous discipline. Every time he encountered one of Kutuzov's phantom battlelines, Napoleon laid in his artillery, assembled the troops, set up the kitchens and hospitals and then launched the battle...against...smoking campfires but no soldiers.

When Napoleon got wise to the trick, Kutuzov was ready. He launched some vigorous sorties into the unprepared French troops and punched Napoleon's pride in the nose.

Napoleon went back into hyper-prepared mode and summer turned into fall turned into winter.

Kutuzov burned fields of grain. Kutuzov burned barns and had the peasants carry grain out of the path of Napoleon's army. There were no trucks in those days. Nor were there trains. Napoleon's army was reduced to dragging their logistical tail.

Not a featherweight but still impressive

It was a consummate demonstration of a featherweight boxer dancing and weaving and not being there when the lumbering heavyweight lunched his haymakers.

Napoleon's army was not outfitted for winter warfare and had no means to update their kit.

By the end of the thirteenth round, the featherweight was scuffed up a little bit but the heavyweight could no longer lift his arms. That is when Kutuzov tagged out and the two greatest generals in Russian history stepped in. General Январь and General Февраль, known in the west as January and February.

This graphic is often presented as the model of maximum information, maximum intuitive content and minimum clutter. The trace starts in the west (left side) and the thickness of the line shows the size of Napoleon's army. Various cities and "battles" are represented with red dots. The black trace is Napoleon's retreat from Moscow.

Kutuzov was not dealt a winning hand.

Kutuzov played his hand with tenacity and grit and intelligence. In the end, the winner overplayed his hand. Kutuzov did not beat Napoleon. Napoleon beat Napoleon.

Reviewing ERJ predictions for 2021

1.) Prediction: Joe Biden will serve as POTUS from January 20 through the remainder of 2021. 

2.) Prediction: The GOP will retain control of the Senate.

3.) Prediction: Cities will burn in July and August

4.) Prediction: Prices will get crazy in very unpredictable ways.

5.) Prediction: People will stop donating to the Democratic party.

6.) Prediction: Former President Obama will start to sound reasonable

7.) Prediction: Melania Trump will be happy

8.) Prediction: Donald Trump become the boogeyman the press claims he was

9.) Prediction: Covid will remain a drag on the economy for the entire year

10.) Prediction: Somewhere, somebody will still have a free spirit and fill their part of the universe with joy.

11.) Prediction: There will be a resurgence of interest in revolvers and the .38 Special will regain popularity

12.) Prediction: Not only will our country continue to split apart, every individual will split into the PUBLIC person and the PRIVATE person.

I am ambivalent about how 5, 6, 7 and 8 turned out.

My guess is that 5 might be true. Charities that went "woke" lost donations. In spite of their public persona, most of the Dem donations are strong-armed out of organized labor and from true-believers.

Regarding 8, if your loyalties are with the Republican party than you might agree since Trump did not reliably and universally endorse EVERY Republican.

Thursday, December 30, 2021

Erectile Insufficiency


The right-rear tire of Mrs ERJ's mini-van had a slow leak.

As sometimes happens when one's jack is old, it proved incapable of rising to the occasion. It was unmoved by threats or promises. Perhaps lack of use allowed the seals to dry out?

There is a rumor that there are little, blue pills that can work wonders. Alas, I had no such pills available, never having needed them before.

The answer proved simple enough. There is a port that is normally covered with a screw. I removed the screw and replenished the fluid with Automatic Transmission Fluid. Even though there are special fluids manufactured for the purpose, ATF is formulated for applications from frigid-to-smoking hot and is rubber-friendly to boot.

Mrs ERJ's tire had a roofing nail in the tread. It is now repaired and reinstalled.

So remember your old buddy ERJ when you find yourself in a situation where erectile insufficiency might be potentially embarrassing; try adding more fluid to the reservoir.

Bonus image:

Wednesday, December 29, 2021

Moderation (in all things): "Herb" of the week


I don't get out much, so it makes a big impression on me when I do.

I was flying to Texas  (in an airplane) in 2019 to watch Belladonna compete in the final dwarf tossing competition of her college career. The gentleman sitting next to me on the flight from Detroit to Dallas-Fort Worth was clearly Asian. Even before the plane taxied down the runway in Detroit he curled into a ball and went to sleep.

He woke up about a half hour before landing. I shamelessly watched as he scrolled through his smartphone to see if he had any messages. One of the pictures that popped up looked like the photo above.

"Japanese temple?" I asked like a total rube.

That broke the ice.

He was a Vice President of a Japanese corporation and he was visiting overseas manufacturing operations. Clearly, he was used to Americans and our rudeness.

What an opportunity! I went for the jugular.

"US companies always want to 'leapfrog' the competition and always fail. Japanese companies seem to avoid that temptation. Why do you think that is?" I asked.

He looked at me like I was daft. "Japanese culture values harmony. It is 'not OK' to excel at one thing if it is at the expense of other deliverables. All things must work together and work toward the whole" was his response.

Welding process windows

At one time I worked for a large automotive company and every welding engineer was issued The Red Book. The Red Book was a three ring binder that (supposedly) contained all of the information you needed to be a crackerjack welding engineer.

One section of the book consisted of "Weld Process Windows" for various combinations of sheet metal parts.

For example, the book might show a "window" or a box that ranged from 8000 Amps to 13,000 Amps and 0.10 seconds to 0.30 seconds of weld time to spot-weld 0.040" thick sheet steel to another 0.040" thick sheet of steel.

Since the energy deposited is proportionate to the time and Amps^2 the energy of the highest combination (0.30 seconds and 13000 Amps) was eight times more than the lowest combination (0.1 seconds and 8000 Amps).

It quickly became apparent on the factory floor that the "window" was not a rectangle but a ski-jump shaped curve. As long as the "schedule" had 12,500 t*A*A (+/- 30%) it would weld that stack of sheet-metal just fine. For the most part the weld did not care if you wacked it with a Zeussian lightning-bolt or cooked it in a crock pot. If you delivered that amount of energy you would melt enough steel to make a spot weld.

If you delivered significantly less then you did not make a weld.

If you delivered significantly more than the weld caps either welded to the metal or "surface expulsion" left razor-blade like metal whiskers projecting outward from the surface.

That said, if you had a metal stack with a tendency to produce surface expulsion than the crock-pot welds were a better choice. Or if one of the outer sheets of steel were thin then the Zeussian lightning-bolt was a better choice.


Humans are incredibly tough and resilient animals. We are every bit as tough than a Whitetail Deer or a Puma. Maybe even tougher.

Every year there are stories of hunters bagging trophy animals and on skinning the animal find more scar tissue than Gale Sayer's knees. Scars from bullet wounds, arrows, traffic accidents, broken bones, antler wounds and the like. All on a single animal.

Admittedly, most of those animals are biologically younger than most of my readers. But if animals can sustain and heal from the most grievous of wounds in-the-wild, why do humans so often roll-over and die from relatively minor wounds?

It may be due to "leap-frog" thinking that chases us into the corners that are diagonally distant from the ski-jump curve.


It is easy to fall into the trap of thinking "If 100 grams of protein a day is good then 400 grams a day has to be better" or "If 30% Calories from fat is better than 45% Calories from fat, then 15% Calories from fat has to be twice as good" and so on.

But in fact they all play together like time-and-Amps in the weld schedules.

And while you are at it, include physical activity.

If tough times come and people increase their Calorie burn by 600 Calories a day (the equivalent of two hours of walking) and their Calorie intake drops by 20% a day (500 Calories a day) then there is going to be a train-wreck.

If the economy goes deeper into the septic tank then many people will have no work. Losing 500 Calories a day is a good thing if you are just going to sit on the couch all day.

But other people are going to step-up. They are going to physically work their dupa off. Losing 500 Calories a day is going to bite them HARD. Cabbage soup and corncob muffins isn't going to cut it.

Just a word of caution: It is good to change your diet over the course of multiple days. The bacteria in your gut are partners in digestion. It will take them a few days to shift to the new regime. If you can, add in new foods over the course of three or four days and phase out others at the same rate.

Tuesday, December 28, 2021

ANTIFA Gun Training. Be afraid. Very afraid


It is satire by Comrade Draggin-cock. His name is the give-away. He is very convincing as a noodle-armed, ANTIFA, wannabe an expert. He sounded genuinely surprised by the report of the "Ack-four-seven"

A couple of f-bombs.

Good for a snicker.

Some casual observations regarding land-use in Ukrainian village


You can see the wooden privacy fences between the houses and the road.

I took the liberty of looking at neighorhoods in the Poltava region of the Ukraine.

I found a neighborhood similar to the one seen in the video in the previous post. I make no claims. It would be a fiendishly unlikely stroke of luck if it were the actual neighborhood. I just grabbed one that seemed similar.

This particular "block" consists of 19 households on 17 acres for an average of approximately one acre (or 40,000 square-feet) per small-holding or household. Don't bust my chops for using round numbers. There is a lot of variability from neighborhood-neighborhood and even between lots on a given "block"

This particular location (49°40'21.7"N 34°36'01.2"E) is only six miles north of the center of the city of Poltava, a city with a population of 280,000 or approximately the population of Durham, North Carolina.

Six miles is a two hour walk or a thirty minute bike ride and that might be why this rural-looking area has privacy fences facing the road.

Other observations: 

Of the one-acre average lot, approximately 1/4 (10,000 square-feet) is dedicated to house, outbuildings and animals.

Lawns are small to non-existent

Shade-trees are very rare to non-existent although fruit trees are common to the point of being almost mandatory. The "problem" with shade-trees is that they shade the ground which could be growing vegetables without providing some kind of annual payback.

There is little or no "pasture" although keeping a cow is very common.

There is no common woodlot. A common woodlot on a short-rotation coppice system makes sense from one standpoint. Every garden has a recurring need for many rods and poles. Growing all of the trees in one place means they will not shade vegetable gardens. Some species of trees are very happy to grow in poorly drained areas that are not suitable for vegetables.

Rank speculation:

It would be smart to divide the remaining 30,000 square-feet into three, evenly sized parcels. One-third for nightshades like potatoes, tomatoes and peppers. Assuming the majority of the area is planted to potatoes and they are well grown, an annual yield of 8000 pounds of potatoes is within reach.

One-third for Brassicas like cabbage, broccoli, kale and turnips. 

The remaining third for everything else, sunflowers, beans, peas, carrots, beets, onions, garlic, cucumbers, melons, squash/pumpkins, lettuce and so-on. Even in cold climates like the Ukraine they can "shingle" two crops like Lettuce early and green beans late.

The three-fields method makes it simple to rotate crops. The reason for lumping nightshades together and Brassicas together is because nightshades share pests and diseases amongst themselves just as Brassicas share pests and diseases.

A serene and calming video and commentary


This video starts out very slowly but soon speeds up to a sedate pace. It is a very calming video to watch. 15 minute run-time

The Ukraine is one of the templates of how a country undergoing civil war can adapt.

Short Ukrainian history lesson

The Ukraine experienced the Holodomor in the 1930s. Millions died of starvation.

It was over-run by NAZI Germany during WWII. The Ukrainian peasants had been treated so brutally that they welcomed the Germans. Additionally, Catherine the Great had invited many ethnic Germans into the Ukraine to settle the steppes. The Ukraine's climate has much in common with the Dakotas.

Having tank battles take place in your country is rough on the economy.

After the NAZIs lost WWII, Stalin cracked down on the Ukrainians because of those NAZI sympathizers.

The majority of the current Ukrainian civil war is taking place in the eastern third of the country, not coincidentally where most of the gas and oil fields are located. This video was recorded in the oblast circled in red...right on the edge of hostilities.

Later, after the USSR dissolved, ethnic Russians agitated to return portions of eastern and southern Ukraine to Russia and were mostly successful.

Food security is never far from people's minds in the Ukraine.

Physical security is never forgotten either.

Joe's commentary:

Multiple generations live on the compound.

Pavlo's wife is a peach. She appears to be very contented helping Pavlo in their daily chores.

The compound has a privacy fence facing the street. Later, Pavlo and his wife take a walk and that appears to be a common pattern.

The compound is home to many enterprises: Poultry, fruit trees, garden, beehives and the like

The compound has multiple internal fences dividing it into sub-areas

It is my speculation that the poultry are managed by rotating through the various "paddocks" 

The ducks appear to be "common". That is, no formal breed. ---Correction: The ones with red growths on their faces look like Muscovy ducks---

Orchard diseases and insect pests are managed by sanitation. Leaves are raked. There is no fruit on the may have been fed to poultry or pigs or pressed for cider

The video does not candy-coat mud and animal poop but it does not dwell on it. It is just there.

There are social benefits to un-plugging from the industrial economy

Everybody has a dog

Their dog is named Jack

Jack is a German Shepherd type dog and probably weighs 70 pounds.

Jack is not neutered

Presumably, puppies are not in short supply

The compound has a raised area in the middle of the large, open area close to the road. It looks like an artificial hill. It is Jack's observation post. This simple detail made the fifteen minute video worth watching.

Jack is treated more like a working member of the family than is seen in most US homes where dogs are either treated as infants or parked away from the family and mostly ignored.

Multiple species of poultry are raised

The poultry were fed (Nov 20) garden waste that had been run through a hand-powered shredder.

Going for a walk with your dog and wife makes for a fine date

Meals are not eaten alone

Small amounts of many types of foods are served at a meal. Prep and clean-up are manageable because many of the foods are "pickles". A few are removed from a jar and put on a plate or served out of a water tumbler.

Excess production is either shared free-of-charge with closest neighbors or family or are sold directly at much less cost than what they charge at the grocery store.

Fine Art Tuesday


Flemish Beauty pear watercolor by L.C.C. Krieger. 1935

U.S. Department of Agriculture Pomological Watercolor Collection. Rare and Special Collections, National Agricultural Library, Beltsville, MD 20705

Pineapple sweet orange. Mary Daisy Arnold. Miss Arnold contributed 1059 watercolors to the USDA collection. This image was completed in 1936

Kalamazoo peach. Deborah Griscom Passmore who contributed 1,524 watercolors of various fruits to the USDA collection. This watercolor was created in 1910. One is immediately struck by the relatively low ratio of flesh-to-pit.

Oakland apple. Amanda Almira Newton contributed 1,211 watercolors. This one was painted in 1921. A very similar apple called "Oakland County Seek-no-Further" was grown locally (Eaton Rapids). It was very slow to come into bearing. Not every heirloom is worth saving.

Damson plum. Royal Charles Steadman contributed 892 watercolors. This image was painted in 1930.

Rome apple, soft fruit rot. James Marion Shull contributed 770 watercolors. This image was painted in 1935. Images like this were valuable for training purposes as not every disease showed up every year.

A tip of the fedora to Billybob in Arizona for suggesting and ferreting out these images for me.

Monday, December 27, 2021

Won't Power


Blue Pearmain Apple. Image from Adam's Apples blog

Whoever named it Will power was deluded. It should have been called WON'T power. This is a time of year when I pray for more Won't power.

This is the time of year when I am looking through seed catalogs and reviewing reviews of various fruit bearing plants. Being fairly proficient at grafting, I can turn a $4 stick into a fruiting tree rather than having to spend $46 per "store-bought" tree.

Disclosure: I could live the rest of my life with just Liberty and GoldRush apple and Korean Giant Asian pear and be very satisfied.

Intellectually I know that most "heirloom" apple and pear varieties are obsolete for very good reasons. The selection pressure was not very rigorous. It was not uncommon for a pioneer to have an orchard with two dozen trees and he might name the two "best" seedlings...typically after his wife and his oldest daughter.

Modern releases might be the best 1-in-100,000 or 1-in-500,000 rather than the pioneers best 1-in-12. The modern breeder is screening for resistance to a half dozen diseases, looking at how long it takes to come into bearing, productivity, cosmetic appeal, picking window, storage ability, ease of culture and so on. The pioneer simply observed "Yeah, this one tastes pretty good".

That said, hundreds-of-thousands of seedlings were grown over the last two hundred years and some of them are pretty good and if you are willing to tolerate their quirks they can offer some unique taste experiences.

And therein lies my vulnerability with regards to seduction.

Blue Pearmain: The flesh is dense, yellow, coarse, and just in case I didn't say, dense. More on that later. The flavor is mild and sweet, but not simple, with hints of pear, melon, caramel, vanilla, and corn. There is the merest suggestion of something like grapefruit peel in the undertow. (Adams Apples description)

Reinette Zabergau: This tree is large, vigorous, cold hardy (to zone 4), and a heavy cropper, but nonetheless reliably annual. It is a triploid and two diploid pollenizers will need to be present for full fertility, but the tree has no other difficulties. It is mildly susceptible to scab but otherwise disease resistant.

One of the largest of the russets, this apple is bronze patched and streaked over a green background. It is a dense apple, but crunchy and aromatic. The flavor when harvested is intense and sweet-sharp, but it mellows in storage, developing a balanced sweetness that has the rich nuttiness we expect from a good russet. It will store well through the winter and it has found favor with some American cider makers for its aromatic qualities. (Cummins Nursery description)

Black Oxford: Winter. Unknown parentage. Paris, Oxford County, Maine, about 1790. This outstanding apple, a favorite long ago around much of Maine, has made a huge comeback.

Medium-sized round fruit, deep purple with a blackish bloom. From a distance you might think you’d discovered a huge plum tree. Excellent pies, superb late cider. Leave the skins on for a delightful pink sauce. Best eating late December to March, but we’ve eaten them in July and they were still quite firm and tasty. They get sweeter and sweeter as the months go by. Good cooking until early summer.

Some insect and disease resistance. Unusual light pink blooms early to midseason. (Fedco Seed description)

Sweet Sixteen: Sweet Sixteen is a popular apple for very cold northern regions. It ripens in early fall, just ahead of Honeycrisp™. It is crisp and juicy with an exotic yellow flesh and a very sweet, unusual sugar cane or spicy cherry candy flavor. The fruit stores for 5 to 8 weeks. It is a good all purpose apple. (Grandpa's Orchard description)

Opalescence: Fall. Unknown parentage. George M. Hudson intro, Shultz, Barry County, MI, 1890s. Originally called Hudson’s Pride of Michigan but eventually sold as Opalescent by Dayton Star Nurseries, Xenia, OH, 1899.

Highly flavored dessert apple, well known among collectors. Very large brilliant deep red white-dotted fruit. Crisp, sweet, tart, juicy—but most of all supremely flavorful. Also considered a good cooking apple. Keeps till mid-late winter. Would be an excellent apple for the small commercial orchard farm stand or the CSA.

Likely at its best from Massachusetts north. Vigorous medium-sized productive tree. (Fedco Seed description)

Define "Crazy"

***I am not a doctor. This essay is presented for entertainment purposes.***

Straight-jacket and spit-hood. Fashionable attire for the sophisticated blogger

"Crazy" is when a person's response to stimuli is outside the cloud of "expected" responses.

Consider the responses that are available to you when somebody crowds your space:

  • You could step back
  • You could tell them to back-off
  • You could explicitly ask them why they are "testing" you
  • You could scream and rage at them using a big voice and big motions
  • You could step closer to them
  • You could throw your arms around them and give them a deep, soulful kiss
  • You could put your hand on your wallet
  • You could spray them with pepper spray
  • You could shoot them multiple times with a firearm
  • You could stitch together an progression of these responses that escalate

The expected response is sensitive to context. If the person moving into my personal space just invaded my home the response or escalation will be different than if I am attending a St Patrick Day party or in a Diagonal Slice meeting with the company's founder.

You will notice that this definition has nothing to do with how a person thinks.

Sigmund Freud

Sigmund Freud noted that most of our behaviors are directed by an entity he called "our sub-conscious". That is, the part of our brain that is not immediately accessible to our "conscious" self.

That is an awesome observation. The person who is ALWAYS cruel and mean is able to rationalize, after-the-fact, why they are so nasty. But those reasons are intellectual back-fill. Think of it as the cook who trowels in frosting to mask the pock-marks in the top of the cake. We see the frosting and the words written with icing but we really have no comprehension of the ingredients the cook used to make the cake.

Sigmund Freud Part II

DIP Switches
Then Freud stepped on his dingus when he proposed that therapists can "fix" defective people by plumbing the depths of their sub-conscious and resetting the DIP switches.

This is almost always doomed to failure because the model of Thoughts===>Actions is fatally flawed. Many times it is more accurate to say Actions===>Thoughts.

So my perception is that the universe of "counsellors" is populated with therapists who slept through intro Freud and perked up later on. They were enchanted with the superficialities but really did not look at the foundation or seek mastery.

Back to the shrew

The toxic shrew described above is very resistant to therapy because her brain always supplies reasons after-the-fact. Addressing those after-the-fact explanations will NEVER change the behavior.

Everybody lies. We are all chocolate-dipped liars and the person we lie to the most often is ourself.

Sadly, most of us live our lives in this mode. We do what we do and only when challenged do we enunciate the reasons WHY we did something. And most generally, the reasons that pop our of our mouths are embarrassingly inaccurate.

1963 Community Mental Health Act

The CMHA with its goal of "mainstreaming" crazy people into "the least restrictive environment" fails to explain why crazy people is a rich-country problem.

The hypothesis that "crazy" is behavior-based and that poor-countries can not afford, nor do they tolerate crazy behavior does.

An analogy

I just looked in our cupboard. We have a stack of nine cereal bowls, and a stack of six 8" lunch plates on top of six 10" dinner plates. Behind the cereal bowls we have a stack of four condiment bowls and the same number of ice-cream bowls.

Most days, I am the only one who uses a cereal bowl. I eat my oatmeal and then rinse out the bowl and place it next to the sink. Dobie the house-elf cleans it overnight and returns it to the cupboard.

Something similar happens with the plates but more plates get used over the course of the day.

Behaviors exhibit "stack" or "LIFO" characteristics. When confronted with a problem that requires a cereal bowl, it is a near certainty that I will grab the same cereal bowl that I used the last time I had this problem.

It is less certain that I will grab the exact-same plate but it is highly likely that I will use one of the three I used the last time.

"Crazy" as Behavior

Suppose there was a teleprompter running on our forehead that continuously displayed the stream of thoughts running through our heads.

What are the odds that you would make it through a week without being labeled insane based on your thoughts?  Pretty low, I would guess. So if everybody is "Crazy" when cognitive processes are used  as the metric, how can that model have any utility or any ability to discriminate between CRAZY/NOTCRAZY?

The main advantage of the Crazy as Behavior approach is that it works. Another advantage is that you don't require a medical degree or a Ph.D. to apply it. All you need is a society that authorizes the general population to enforce conformance when they encounter "wild" stimuli/behaviors.

Potable water: The Healing "Herb" of the Week

Yes, I know "water" is not an herb.

But I had a conversation with the very nice lady who edited my books and she suggested there might be a market for a book on medicinal herbs.

Several emails flew back-and-forth through the ether. Those emails helped me clarify my thinking.

The 80:20 Rule (aka Pareto Principle)

Eighty percent of what you will deal with as a caregiver (also known as "parent" or "Dutiful child") will be generated by 20% of the possible causes.

And of that significant 20%, as a caregiver you will be able to effectively address 80% of those cases but 20% will be far beyond the scope of your abilities.

Your efforts to be an effective caregiver is critically dependent on being able to recognize the 16% that are high-runners and you can address in safe, effective ways. Potable water, even though it is not an "herb" is a big player in "safe, effective ways" and merits inclusion in this mini-series of posts.


Water comes into play in many ways. 

First, dehydration exacerbates many conditions.

Constipated? Drink a tumbler of water and go on a walk. Drink another tumbler when you come back. Half an hour later...drink a third tumbler of water.

Stomach ache? You might be constipated. See above.

Does you kid have diarrhea? Their body is trying to flush out toxins and at risk of dehydration. Mix up a couple of quarts of Oral Rehydration Solution and start "pushing" it. Note that using non-iodized salt makes it more palatable.

Have a headache? Drink a tumbler of water. Then drink another one a half hour later.

Dizzy? Drink a tumbler of water.

Nauseated? Stop watching CNN and drink a tumbler of water.

Can you see a trend here? It is very rare that drinking a tumbler of water will result in an undesirable outcome.

The second way that water comes into play is that cleanliness is next to Godliness. Really. God heals. Cleanliness allows your body to heal.

Wound care: Wash with copious quantities of potable water. I know it is not "sterile" but it will flush the contaminants and grit that harbor bacteria and shield them from your immune system.

Pre-wound care: Insect bites on legs that become infected are a high-runner in third-world countries. Why? Because their legs are coated with poop-dust. Either the insect/spider bite breaches the skin and allows bacterial to enter or the scratching does.

Prevention involves washing with soap and....water.

Cleanliness really is next to Godliness.

Medicinal herbs

Yeah, they are a nifty thing to know about. But in many cases they are chasing after the horse on a stormy night when it would have been far more efficient to keep the barn doors closed.

Clean water is the first "medicinal herb" you should consider and the one you use most extravagantly.

Sunday, December 26, 2021

We don't have a problem with Homelessness. We have a problem with Mental Illness.


Any human with a brain can see that certain politicians are choosing to conflate two, slightly related problems: Generic "Homelessness" and Homelessness complicated by mental illness and/or substance abuse.

Generic homelessness is usually a temporary condition and responds well to standard ways of addressing the problem.

Homelessness complicated by mental illness and substance abuse is by far the more intractable problem. Treatment methods are ineffective. In many cases, the treatment is ineffective because the patient chooses to not comply with the therapy. Since many of the patients are paranoid or oppositional or untethered from reality (that IS their disease) noncompliance should come as no surprise.

The de facto system for addressing homelessness complicated by mental illness and substance abuse is for the victim to engage in antisocial behavior that breaks the law. The "victim" enters the criminal justice system and part of the judgement involves random drug tests, mandatory parole/therapy attendance, proving med compliance. Basically, they are forced into complying with their treatment plan.

If that level of treatment proves to be insufficient, then the "victim" is incarcerated. They have three-hots-and-a-cot. They will be counselled and medicated. It will not be optional. Then released back into the community.

Lather, rinse, repeat.

This treatment plan is rife with issues. It is expensive. It is not very effective although it is far more effective than doing nothing. It is also not very fair to the victim in the sense that they need far more structure and repetitions than bouncing from the slam, to the streets, to the tent by the river offers.

But the key point is that Police and the Criminal Justice system are the only thing that provides the guard-rails to the behaviors of the severely mentally ill and in many/most cases, the only thing that forces them to be compliant with their treatment plans. Without those guard-rails, there is nothing between the mentally ill person and the abyss.

To "Defund the Police" is to remove the only, robust pathway many of these "victims" have.

One path that is very unpalatable to Progressives was to offer the young whackadoodle a chance to enter the military rather than go to jail. Plenty of structure. Plenty of immediate feedback when when they screwed up. Plenty of 'community' to help the screwball straighten up and fly right (code for a soap party). Plenty of physical activity to channel and modulate fight-or-flight responses.

In many ways, this option was ideal.

The gritty truth is that "Homelessness" is not about the availability of housing. It is about bad science creating poor treatment plans for sick people*. If Homelessness were really about lack of housing, then AOC would be overjoyed if Conservatives rented the units on either side of AOC's housing unit and installed men just like those shown in the picture.

*Study"High-income countries are significantly more likely to have high number of mental health professionals, mental health policies and legislation, independent mental health authority and suicide prevention programs. These mental health system indicators demonstrated significant and positive association with suicide, suggesting that countries scoring high on these factors have higher odds of being categorized as high suicide risk countries." (Interpretation: Standard treatment protocols for mental illness MIGHT make the patient sicker or deader suggesting that standard treatments are gravely flawed.)

Study: Not only can homelessness be a consequence of mental illness, but a homeless life may cause and perpetuate emotional problems. To sort out these variables, it is necessary to distinguish among the various categories of psychiatric disorders. The major mental illnesses, principally schizophrenia and the affective disorders (bipolar and major depressive disorders), are unlikely to result from the trauma of homelessness. Rather, they cause a level of disability and impaired social functioning in some people that, in the absence of adequate treatment and support, may lead to homelessness, which will then exacerbate these conditions (Fischer and Breakey, 1986).

Personality disorders are not considered "major" mental illnesses because reality awareness is maintained; nevertheless, these disorders are manifested by a person's long-standing inability to deal with the routine demands of living (e.g., as a parent, worker, or independent citizen). Deeply ingrained maladaptive behavior patterns, which usually begin during childhood or adolescence, interfere with a person's capacity to relate to others, limit a person's potential, and often provoke counterreactions from the environment. Personality disorders should not be seen primarily as a consequence of homelessness. Rather, because they impair a person's ability to cope with the demands of life and the expectations of society, they may contribute to the factors that cause certain people to become homeless.

Student debt


Let us accept the Progressive's foundational premise for their call to have all student debt forgiven:

The majority of American's under the age of 26 are not mature enough to understand contracts and are not mature enough to use debt.

I am sure you could quibble about the age but the greatest degree of angst is over debt taken at the Graduate School level so the cut-off age will be well north of 22-years-old.

If we accept the Progressive's call to cancel all student debt, then it is morally reprehensible to extend any credit to any Americans below the age of 26. Obviously no more student loans should be extended, even to those students in mid-program. Extending more loans, if we accept the Progressive's premise, is to be an accessory to a crime.

That means, to protect the not-quite-adults, it should become illegal to issue  credit cards to them. 

It should be illegal to issue them vehicle loans.

No more loans to buy houses or start businesses.

And since they are not capable of understanding simple contracts (THAT IS: This is what you get. These are your responsibilities in return) it should be illegal to allow them to rent apartments without an over-26-adult co-signer.

And as long as we are admitting that not-quite-adults must be protected from every mistake and are totally incapable of handling money, they should be ineligible for welfare or other assistance.

Of course we know that Progressive's call for the cancellation of student debt has nothing to do with "Justice" and everything to do with putting money into their own pockets.

The students with bogus degrees with no salability would benefit. You know, the people with political science and psychology and economics degrees who are bartending or working in Congress.

The Universities, hot-houses for Progressive values, would benefit even more. Can you imagine the budget trimming that would occur if Universities had to sustain themselves on tuitions that working-stiffs could afford? No, I cannot imagine it either.

But even with the infusion of student loan money, the growth of those Universities are hitting constraints. The biological imperative is that they keep growing. Consequently, the constraints imposed by student loans and the feedback that is slowly creeping back to campus (Hey, they expect us to pay these back!!!) are slowing down that growth. The simple way to fix that "problem" is to eliminate the quaint concept that loans must be paid back.

Reality is about to collapse the Progressive incubator.

Saturday, December 25, 2021

The Christmas Rifle

The Christmas Rifle

Pa never had much compassion for the lazy or for those who squandered their means and then never had enough for the necessities. But for those who were genuinely in need, his heart was as big as all outdoors. It was from him that I learned the greatest joy in life comes from giving, not from receiving.

It was Christmas Eve, 1881. I was 15 years old and feeling like the world had caved in on me, because there just hadn’t been enough money to buy me the rifle that I’d wanted so badly that year for Christmas.

We did the chores early that night for some reason...

More at the link

Safe topics for Christmas company

Belladonna brought Pascal over to meet the family last night. She told me "Don't talk about politics."

The problem with defining things in the negation is that thoughts swirl and return to the forbidden topic. It is more powerful to make a list of "safe" topics.

Safe non-political topics for Christmas dinner:

  • Work
  • Favorite vacations
  • Favorite movies
  • If you were going to write a video-game, it would be about....
  • Supply chain
  • Cyber security
  • History (If you could go back in time/place, where would you go?)
  • Pets
  • Beverages (tea, coffee, whiskey, beer, wine...)
  • Kids
  • Environment/ecosystems
  • Gardens, fishing, hunting
  • Automobiles
  • Boats
  • 2022 Bucket list
For the record, Pascal wanted to go back to the founding of the United States. The Founding Fathers were mental giants and he thinks he would enjoy listening to Jefferson, Madison, Adams and the rest.

Feel free to add to the list in the Comments

A Christmas thought

Christmas is a time of mystery, mercy and a reminder of men's evil.

If you are a believer, then you believe that a virgin conceived, angels and wise-men appeared and a new star appeared in the heavens. Most people ignored the mysteries. A few heeded them and their lives changed.

The mercy was demonstrated by Joseph and Mary's cousin Elizabeth. When it was clear that Mary was pregnant, Joseph COULD have had her stoned to death but he was visited by an angel and given a choice. He chose mercy. Later, Mary's spent a significant part of her pregnancy with her cousin, presumably away from the wagging tongues of the gossips in her home town.

The evil was when Herod sending his soldiers into Bethlehem to kill all baby boys under the age of two. Herod feared that his successor was among their number. Joseph, Mary and Jesus fled Bethlehem and became strangers in a strange land, echoing the flight of Joseph (son of Jacob) into Egypt. One must assume that the later Joseph's skills with his hands were sufficient for him to avoid being trapped into slavery.

The Christmas thought I want to share with you is that we still have mysteries. Pick up the sacred book(s) of your choice and read. You can either embrace the Truth in those books or you can move through life unchanged. If you have the chance, rock a new born baby. How can anybody deny that babies are miracles?

We still have mercies. There are countless people trying to do the right thing, often at great personal cost.

And evil still stalks like a lion around the campfires of civilization. The difference between Herod's killing of infants and abortion is a matter of a few months and a matter of degree. There are still many people who will commit atrocities so they can retain their membership in the cool-kids-posse. The gossips with the wagging-tongues now inhabit social media where their victims cannot confront them.

Christmas is when we celebrate and when we marvel. Christmas is a time when we can take a moment and see the ties that are hidden beneath the froth, crash and glare of everyday life; ties that bind us to the past and to the possible futures.

Friday, December 24, 2021

Adventures in recreational wiring

Here I sit, typing with a bandage-and-duct tape on the end of my left middle-finger.

Yesterday I was moving toward my plan to wire a power disconnect into the wiring outside the garage, beneath the over-hang. I want to be able to run a generator and back-feed into the house-wiring in the event of a power outage.

All the usual precautions were followed. I waited for Mrs ERJ to leave on an errand because watching me work makes her nervous.

I stacked enough tires on the ground to bring my eyes up to the level of the disconnect and electrical box I was tying into.

Yes, Virginia, I dropped the power to the garage and checked it with the test-tool.

One of the complications was that I was under the overhang and the wiring and receptacles were backlit by the sun. Visibility was not that spiffy.

Of course I am of the bifocal generation. The work was too close for the top lenses and too high for the lower part of the lenses.

Me, looking through the bottoms of my bifocals as I worked on the wiring.

It was a simple matter to drag some more tires from my stockpile and make a second pile of tires for my rear foot

Somewhere in the events of stripping wire and running it I jabbed the end of my finger with the utility knife. The cold was a blessing. I didn't feel it when it happened.

Wire-nuts with wings are far superior to the un-winged nuts. And red ones are the boss when you are trying to connect several wires especially if the ends are not smooth and straight.

IT took three iterations of pulling it apart and checking connections before I got good continuity. I decided that I hate wire-nuts that don't have "wings".

I ran the generator for a couple of hours to make sure nothing shook loose.

Happy, happy, happy.

Except for one circuit in the garage that went toes-up.

More diagnostics. The breaker for that circuit puked. 15A breakers are as rare as hens teeth in town. Must be a supply-chain issue.

I cludged the system by doubling up to a breaker that was good. It shouldn't be an issue since the circuits are lightly loaded.

I will have to pick up some 15A Eaton CH style breakers the next time I am in the big city.

It is always something.

Thursday, December 23, 2021

Merlot the Magician


You can only imagine my distress when the ever wise and lovely Mrs ERJ felt it was necessary to inform me that the most famous magician was named "Merlin", not "Merlot".

I know better than to argue with her but I remain unconvinced.

Merlot almost makes me tolerate people and the holidays and that is quite the magic trick.

Setback and KABOOMS!


Out of curiosity, I loaded 124 grain, Rocky Mountain Reloading hollow-points into two un-primed 9mm Luger cases. I fiddled with the C.O.A.L. (Cartridge Over All Length) until it seem to chamber reliably. That O.A.L. was 1.11 inches.

I zeroed the scale with the loaded/empty/unprimed round on it. I inserted a 14 gauge needle and syringed in water until I saw water in the primer pocket. I did not take heroic steps to eliminate the bubble that may have been trapped at the base of the round. Then I reweighed the water-filled round.

The difference in weight for each example was 0.47 grams which suggests a powder volume of 0.47 cubic centimeters. 

A little bit of math suggests that the swept-volume of the base of the 9mm bullet is 0.636 cc for every centimeter of travel.

Converting to inches and percentages: starting with that bullet at 1.11" C.O.A.L. then every 0.010 inches change in C.O.A.L. changes powder volume by 3.8%

Less powder volume means significantly more pressure for a given amount of powder.

For the purposes of visualization, four sheets of ordinary "copy" paper adds up to about 0.010"

In a similar way, a LONGER bullet (projectile) reduces powder volume by the same percentage versus a shorter bullet with the same C.O.A.L.

If you look at some loading manuals, you will see C.O.A.Ls. for 9mm Luger loaded with various 124gr and 125gr bullets that range from 1.060" to 1.169". 

Assuming the same length bullet (projectile), a 1.060" C.O.A.L. offers 17% less volume than the 1.110" C.O.A.L. while the 1.169" C.O.A.L. (The S.A.A.M.I. maximum) offers 20% more volume.

All other things being equal, loading longer C.O.A.L. offers some breathing room in the event of bullet setback, shooting ammo that is thermally "hot" (perhaps the case was sitting in the sun), if supply constraints force you to use a primer with more brisance or should you encounter a slightly faster burning lot of a cannister powder.

"All other things being equal..." means that your bullet is the correct size for the firearm (don't laugh) and the bullet is not already engaging the rifling in the barrel, that is, the bullet has some amount of free-travel before it encounters the resistance of being engraved by the rifling.

As with all things on the internet, this if offered for entertainment purposes. Pack your own parachute. Collect your own data. Do your own math. It is your own fingers and eyeballs that are at risk.

The failure followed the bottom of the "E", "C", "S" and "O" in the manufacturer's stamp. Unfortunately, those features aligned with the thinnest part of the barrel around the chamber.

Aside: This combination of overloading and a less-than-optimal location for a manufacturing stamp is not unique.

Back when I was a wee-sprout in engineering school, I remember seeing a textbook showing an airplane propeller that experienced the same failure. All of the testing was done with an un-stamped propeller. It sailed through the testing with no failures. It went into production WITH the stamp and a plane lost a blade while in-flight.

I have no knowledge about this particular product (the barrel). They might have tested it with the manufacture's stamp.

I included the photo to show that casual disregard for details like C.O.A.L. put you at the mercy of variations in heat-treat and steel chemistry, exposure to hydrogen, location of stamp marks and even how "sharp" (or the age of) the actual stamps used on your barrel.

This KABOOM! might have never happened if the bottoms of the stamp-marks were more rounded (i.e. older stamps). It is unwise to place yourself in a position where microscopic details like the geometry at the bottom of a stamp-mark might decide whether you go home with all of your fingers. 

Wednesday, December 22, 2021



Major, left side of photo
It was recently announced that the Bidens "fired" Major, their long time German Shepherd and replaced him with a photogenic puppy named "Commander".


Apparently Major did not poll well with core constituents so they kicked him to the curb and got a new puppy. For those who have not been paying attention, walking a puppy at the beach will get you more positive, female attention than driving a Corvette or owning a 50 foot yacht and Biden needs every bit of help he can get.

Honesty compels me to note that Major's propensity to bite Communists may have played a factor in his demotion.

The Bleg:

I think it is time for all good patriots and dog-lovers to come together and buy Major some toothpaste.

Just saying: Anybody else interested in kicking in a few bucks to help good, old Major get the taste of Communism out of his mouth?

Differences between men and women...

Mrs ERJ was pulling on her coat to go to the gym to her circuits class.

"Hey, honey, do you have a minute to look at something with me?" I asked.

"What are we going to look at?" she replied.

Frowning, "It will just be faster and simpler to show you" I said as I thought, why does it matter what it is, she either has a minute or she doesn't.

"Just use your words" she replied, arm poised to stab through her sleeve.


Expressed as words rather than a simple, easy to understand diagram like this one

Five minutes later, "Maybe we should just go look at it" Mrs ERJ suggested.

Fifty-eight seconds later, "Yeah. That is a great idea. Wire the wall switch to the power outlet that is kitty-corner from the door and install a ceiling fan THERE" she said, pointing.

"See, using your words wasn't that hard was it?" she said as she sashayed out the door to her class.

Road Trip!!!

At the risk of being a mindless echo, I want to repeat what Arthur Sido said over at Dissident Thoughts, this is a good great time to pick up a firearm or two.

Ammo is still hard to come by but the prices on some highly desirable firearms are currently very attractive. There is no guarantee that prices or availability will be nearly as good in May of 2022.

For instance, one of my favorite not-quite-local stores that carry this kind of merchandise advertised Glock 19, Gen-5 in the neighborhood of $540. It comes with three magazines. They are also advertising Masada 9mm handguns for $430.

More to the point, they had inventory in stock at this price.

Needless to say Shotgun and I made a road-trip to Grand Rapids to verify this was true. They did.

We also discovered that they do not sell Tannerite* to non-binary customers.

Other stores were also blessed with our presence.

You can click on the picture to embiggen if you want to read the tags.

Shotgun grew up in Grand Rapids and knows a few places where good meat can be purchased.

Then, we swung by Bob's Gun Shop in Hastings on the way back home.

One of the old geezers recognized me when I walked in. "Weren't you looking for primers the last time you came here?" That had to have been at least three months ago.

"Yeah, why?" I asked.

"We have them in stock." he replied.

Limit 500. They were a little spendy at $10 a hundred but they were still far cheaper than loaded ammo. Commodity, 115gr FMJ 9mm Luger was available for forty-five cents a round. Bob's also had limits on how much ammo could be purchased each day.

As long as I was buying small pistol primers I decided I could also pop for another pound of Hodgdon's CFE Pistol powder. (At a hypothetical five grains a load, a pound of powder is sufficient for 1400 loaded cartridges).

We dallied at Bob's longer than I intended. Shotgun saw a handgun he had lusted for during his misspent youth. Then life happened. The production of the gun was discontinued. The gun was new/old stock that had been excavated from the catacombs beneath Bob's.

NICS was slow and we waited. And waited. And waited.

Perhaps a lot of other people decided this was a very good time to purchase a firearm.

I kidded Shotgun that maybe he should have returned that library book last summer.

Eventually the approval came through.

It was a long but productive day.

*The package clearly states that Tannerite is a binary explosive.

Tuesday, December 21, 2021

Old dogs, children and watermelon wine...

We knew the day was coming that Hercules (aka, The Senior Partner) would have trouble with his hips.

He is a nine-year-old German Shepherd and he was involved in an accident when he was three months old.

To put it inelegantly, I backed over him with the S-10. The growth-plate was sheared off the ball at the top of his femur. Vets were able to reattach it with a series of small, stainless steel finishing nails driven in through the ball and into the pancake of growth-plate.

The operation was a partial success. The ball ended up undersized compared to the socket and the vets advised us that it was not a matter of "if" but a matter of "when" Herc had issues with his hip.

A couple of weeks ago Herc went off his feed. Belladonna noticed he was favoring his left, rear leg. We dosed him with enteric coated, 81mg aspirin and nursed him along. This morning, I saw his left, hind leg go skating away from him as he walked across the vinyl flooring in the entryway. I suspect this was the root-cause of the insult that triggered the latest episode.

Our first attempt to improve the traction with a carpet remnant was a failure. The bottom of the door was so low that it bunch up the carpet and we were not able to open the door. We did not want to trade improved traction for the dog and increased tripping hazard for us humans.


While discussing the issue with the ever lovely and wise Mrs ERJ, she suggested we look at improving the traction in the entryway with the same "stickers" we put in our bathtub. A quick visit to Amazon shows they are available in clear which will not impact the aesthetics of the entryway.

I know I have some readers who are dog owners. Maybe this will be useful to you at some point as well.

To be continued...