Sunday, January 31, 2021

Front-loading pain, Faith and Figs


Short memories

Ronald Reagan's first year in office was an economic disaster.

The Jimmy Carter economy sucked. Economies have momentum. The momentum was downward.

Reagan dispensed the medicine and 3.5 years later the electorate had forgotten the pain of the economic correction. 

Reagan was re-elected.

That happened so long ago it is now part of the DNA of all political wonks.

If the economy is hyper-extended and Biden is likely to have an economic contraction on their watch, it is better from his perspective to front-load the contraction and get it out of the way.

From that perspective, Biden's flurry of economy-killing Executive Orders makes sense. They are rewarding their faithful spear-carriers. They are front-loading economic pain and counting on the electorate's short memories. And any pain associated with those Economic Orders can be pinned on Joe which will leave Harris free of any accusations that SHE caused extensive job losses of Organized Labor.

It is easy to be a Christian when the sun is shining

Maybe not easy but easier.

One of the first things we teach our children is The Lord's Prayer.

Jesus was asked by his followers "How should we pray?" and Jesus responded with:

Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name,

your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as in heaven.

Give us today our daily bread; and forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors;

and do not subject us to the final test, but deliver us from the evil one.

Matt 6:9-13  NAB. Translations vary slightly

Looking at the second line, the one that is underlined, it is a real challenge to reconcile that with what I see going on in the world right now.

There is no ambiguity, equivocation or weasel-wording in the line. Any rational, analytical reading of the line would declare it a falsehood.

St. Thomas Aquinas said this about Faith:

"(It is) the act of the intellect assenting to a Divine truth owing to the movement of the will, which is itself moved by the grace of God"   -St. Thomas Aquinas

"The disciple of Christ must not only keep the faith and live on it, but also profess it, confidently bear witness to it, and spread it"   -Catholic Catechism

Putting the two quotes together, Faith is the application of our will to bend our intellect to recognize Divine Truth, even when we cannot fully see or understand that Truth. It is the application of our will to live that Divine Truth, to freely share with others.

If would not be much of a challenge to "do God's will" if everybody else was doing it.


Down the fig rabbit hole.

There are folks raising them in Michigan and Ohio.

Dan Foster in Newport, Michigan has a nice presentation HERE.

Figs are not reliably hardy in Michigan without extraordinary measures. Dan grows most of his in containers and moves them into his garage. The containers have openings in the bottom and strike roots in the spring when he puts them back outside. Dan partially buries the containers.

You can see how he grows them outside in this video. You get a nice shot of his garden about ten seconds into the video.

Dan has a Youtube channel with several five-minute reviews of fig varieties he has been successful in fruiting. He also has several videos on propagating figs and protecting them from winter weather.

Even if I can never ripen the fruit, I can always use the leaves to cover my privates.

Bonus video

Saturday, January 30, 2021

I love science!

Cities used to be tough...

Big Cities circa 1914

Chicago by Carl Sandburg

Hog Butcher for the World,
   Tool Maker, Stacker of Wheat,
   Player with Railroads and the Nation's Freight Handler;
   Stormy, husky, brawling,
   City of the Big Shoulders:

They tell me you are wicked and I believe them, for I have seen your painted women under the gas lamps luring the farm boys.
And they tell me you are crooked and I answer: Yes, it is true I have seen the gunman kill and go free to kill again.
And they tell me you are brutal and my reply is: On the faces of women and children I have seen the marks of wanton hunger.
And having answered so I turn once more to those who sneer at this my city, and I give them back the sneer and say to them:

Come and show me another city with lifted head singing so proud to be alive and coarse and strong and cunning....

Big City people 2021

Friday, January 29, 2021

Greatest Of All Time

Sychronicity and triggering events


"Narrative" is a word that I hate.

In simple terms, when somebody uses the word "narrative" it is a signal that they believe that their lies are every bit as valid as your understanding of the truth.

The word "narrative" sounds educated and "hip".

The word "narrative" is all promise and no delivery.

"Narrative" has no predictive capability.


David Pfaff claims that any phenomena can be explained by any one of four, universal causes:

  1. Mass hysteria
  2. Hallucinogenic drugs
  3. Space aliens
  4. Doesn't really matter what the fourth cause is because none of them offer predictive capability

Pfaff's universal causes gives comfort to the stupid because it gives them a false sense of "knowing" the causal chain-of-events.

For science to have any value it must offer predictive capability BEFORE an event has completely unfolded. Too much of what passes for science is really "narrative". It is the sports color-caster 'splaining the completely obvious after the play is over.


Interesting article here on deer populations in widespread areas cycling together.

The thumbnail for the article is that underlying weather patterns bring populations into synchronicity.

Fruit trees

Many kinds of fruit trees develop a pattern of biennial bearing over time.

One year your orchard will have a huge crop of fruit that struggles to ripen. The next year virtually no fruit at all.

Trees in the wild, oak trees for instance, will often demonstrate two, three, four or even five year patterns of mast production.

Obviously, as a person caring for an orchard I want a reasonable crop of high quality fruit EVERY YEAR. Consequently I studied the mechanics of biennial production.

Triggering event

It is my opinion that biennial bearing is usually triggered by a severe weather event like a late, killing frost.

The frost kills most of the blossoms on the trees and the trees bear a very light crop.

In July and August (in the northern hemisphere) the buds on the growing twigs make a decision based on the ratio of carbohydrates-to-nitrogen. If the ratio is high then the developing buds  form flower-buds internally. If the ratio is low then they don't form flower-buds.

Fruit have a high priority on sucking in carbohydrates. With no fruit on the tree, the buds are swimming in carbohydrates and too many of them form flower-buds, including buds deep inside the canopy where there is little sunlight.

The next summer the situation is reversed. With all that fruit sucking up every molecule of sugar in sight there are no carbohydrates to trigger the buds to form flower-buds internally so the next year is a bust.


As fruit growers we have a lot of tricks in our bag. There are chemicals we can spray to thin flower buds (including weak salt-water, 2oz/gallon). We can beat the trees with a stick when they are in flower. We can severely prune out the number of branches. We can attempt to fertilize our way out of the problem.

This discussion is different from a "narrative" because I had two late, killing frosts last spring. I had a crop that was about 30% of normal. I am using that information to guide my management practices...fertilizer, pruning, weed control....

Societal chaos and political repression

I look at the heavy-handed, unilateral actions of the Biden regime and the impeachment theater in Congress and I wonder: Is this a killing frost that will synchronize opposition?

One of the commonalities of biennial bearing apple trees is that they are typically mature-to-overmature in age. Their is an inherent propensity to over-bear due to too much canopy overhead and competition between trees for limited sunlight. The propensity is there, the frost is simply the trigger.

Economically, all of the Executive Orders and Progressive initiatives seem to be increasing overhead by an order of magnitude and choking the energy (sunlight is energy) that drives our economy. As the propensity increases the size of the trigger decreases.

Like the wide-flung deer populations that move in unison, will the Progressive "mandate" cause We the People to move in unison? If so, then the backlash will not coordinated through Social Media and censoring non-Progressives with have no effect.

Fake News Friday: Kama-Lama Ding-dong song


"And our next song goes out to the Vice-President from an admirer named 'Joe' " (in our best Wolfman Jack voice)

1961: How did they know?

Fake News Friday: Dillion announces Portable Progressive Press


Dillion Reloading announced their new, portable, high-speed, progressive reloader today.

Available in .223 Remington, 6.5 Creedmore, .308 Winchester and 9mm Luger and 45 ACP.  The hoppers hold up to 0.5 kg of smokeless powder and the equivalent number of primers and projectiles.

For ease of use, the unit is mounted on a Choate, full-length, aluminum-block chassis and is powered by a cordless drill (not supplied).

Not only is Dillion PPP state-of-the-art for reloading, it also reconditions the cases after reloading to make them lead-free and 100%, LEEDS approved as eco-friendly.


Every Dillion PPP is shipped with a 100 meter target demonstrating the system's Minute-of-Armageddon performance.

Remnant: Jarrell backstory

Jarrell’s career had been meteoric in both directions.

Jarrell was a natural musician. Mr Velo quickly recognized Jarrell’s inborn talent in fifth grade. Jarrell was so far along with his music that Mr Chickle, the high school band teacher, plugged him into the jazz-band. Even as a freshman, the voluptuous and sassy tones he coaxed from his saxophone took the jazz-band up to an entirely new level.

Naturally, he majored in music in college.

Then, the fickle finger of fate intervened. Jarrell’s academic counselor went on sick-leave and the freshmen music students were assigned to alternative counselors.

There were no flags in Jarrell’s academic performance to suggest he would need any counseling so he was assigned to a counselor in the business school.

Jarrell decided he needed guidance and made an appointment. His newly assigned counselor pulled up Jarrell’s abreviated academic record and knew she had to recruit him for the business school.

Jarrell was apologetic when he showed up for the appointment. His question revolved around some arcane difference between two classes in musical theory and he wanted to know which one, and which instructor, he should be scheduled for. Obviously, a business counselor wouldn’t have a clue.

“So, if you didn’t think I could help you, why did you show up?” Mrs Sharpe, the counselor asked.

“That is common courtesy, Ma’am.” Jarrell answered. Jarrell's command of "soft-skills" would be a hallmark of his, except for one very brief exception.

Mrs Sharpe scanned through his record and stated what she saw. “Straight 4.0s. Advanced math and composition?” she said with a question mark at the end.

“I test well” Jarrell admitted.

“Did you know that more than half of our students have to take remedial math and they rarely get an A?” Mrs Sharpe asked.

“No, I did not know that. Many musicians are gifted at math. It is a pattern thing” Jarrell informed her.

“Math. I am glad you brought that up” Mrs Sharpe said.

Jarrell was too polite to reminder her that she had been the one to raise the subject.

“How many hours a week do you practice?” Mrs Sharp asked.

“I practice thirty-two hours a week” Jarrell said. “I can only practice 18 on the Sax because my lips can only take so much….so I compose and practice reading music by playing the piano for the other hours.” His tone was apologetic, even a little sad that he could not play more hours on the Sax.

“What do you get paid for those hours?” Mrs Sharpe asked, sweetly.

“Paid?” Jarrell asked. He was completely blindsided by the question.

“Paid” Mrs Sharpe said. “I have major corporations screaming for interns who will work more than twenty hours a week. They are looking for candidates EXACTLY like you and are paying $25 an hour, minimum. I guarantee that you will like the work. If you don’t I will move you until you do.”

Jarrell knew that the “EXACTLY” like him referred to the fact that he had checked the Black or African-American box on his application. He had just listened to an article on National Public Radio where a famous academic expounded that “race” was a social construct and was totally artificial. If that were the case, then Jarrell was totally justified in checking the Black or African-American. After all, the pupils of his eyes were black-ball.

Jarrell did love the work. And he loved the money.

Program management came as naturally to Jarrell as music had. It was like being a conductor, pointing with his baton to each section in-turn and bringing harmony to the chaos. It brought him joy.

Jarrell’s big moment came shortly after he graduated. He had been hired at the rate of somebody with five years experience and had been stuck in IT for seasoning.

Reading through the manuals, Jarrell realized that the comprehensive business software really was comprehensive. Not only were there report-writing modules but the company had already paid for them and installed them as part of the package.

Reviewing the modules, Jarrell realized that the outputs were not only more useful to the people using the reports, the code was inherently more stable and had debuggers written into it to “reality check” the inputs.

The “Push reports” had the same formats required by the GAAPs used by the firm and the “Pull reports” were so simple that non-computer geeks could use it.

Jarrell didn’t know how many analysts were hired by the company but he knew that it was too many. They were doing work that had already been automated.

Jarrell corned a Vice President in the lunchroom. Little escaped Jarrell’s notice and one of the things he had observed was that this VP was addicted to cherry cheesecake.

The way to get face-time was as clear as a bell. Jarrell bought out the entire supply of cheesecake and dumped all but two of them into the trash. Then, when the disgruntled VP sat down, Jarrell joined him and made him a deal. “You can have this second piece of cheesecake if you let me give you a two-minute pitch.”

The VP bit. Jarrell got the project. Jarrell spent the money on first-class training from the firm who supplied the software.

The end came even more rapidly than the beginning.

Jarrell was celebrating with his small team as was their regular, Friday custom. It was their Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday custom too.

The reporting was scheduled to go “Production” in ten days. Jarrell was in his glory, basking in the homage of his minions. He waxed eloquent. He shared a few observations about lesbians and transgenders...observations that most people would agree with.

He was canned first thing Monday morning.

André Troy Daudier, a slightly-built, gay man of Hatian extraction punched the project into the endzone and got the credit.

Bud Sanborn, one of the gray-beards in the IT department called Jarrell at 10 on Wednesday morning and suggested that they have coffee at a cafe fifteen miles from corporate headquarters. Sanborn’s call woke Jarrell up.

Nursing his cup of coffee, Jarrell asked “Aren’t you supposed to be at work?”

Bud answered “The boss knows where I am.” Bud didn’t specify which boss that was and Jarrell would have been surprised if he learned how far up the food chain the man who sent Bud was.

Jarrell was wallowing in self-pity.

“By now, you probably figured out that nobody in this town will hire you” Bud said. It was a statement of fact.

“You can keep hammering and that will keep the memory of the front of everybody’s mind. Or, you can move to another town and continue you career there. If, in ten years, you want to come back your request will be entertained as well as any experiences you pick up in the mean time.”

“So you are telling me that I have been black-balled and kicked to the curb” Jarrell said, bitterly.

“Temporarily black-balled” Bud said. “'Til things cool down.” 

Bud did not mention that nearly everybody in IT was pissed at him. First, for by-passing chain-of-command. Second, for vaporizing the legacy reports that many of the gray-beards were sitting on as they coasted to retirement. In ten years all of the gray-beards would be gone.

“You can fight it and lose or you can go with the flow and win.”

Jarrell didn’t see that he had much choice. Later, as the nation tumbled into the political and economic abyss, he regretted not having fought for his job.


Thursday, January 28, 2021



Box-o-Truth is a classic website from "back in the day". Box-o-Truth originated when the authors were having a discussion and one of them said "Let's test it and find out"

First BoT post

The site was a roaring success. Readers started contributing "I call bullshit" and the authors happily obliged their readers.

A few of my favorite posts:

Squeezing more accuracy from a mil-surplus rifle by handloading

Can't find softpoint bullets? Try loading FMJ backwards: Part I, Part II

Basic clean-and-lube for AR-15s 

Did frozen Chinese clothing stop M1 Carbine bullets? 

Tightening up the accuracy of old rifles with rough bores

Many, many more posts at the site. Not a bad way to spend part of the day when you get snowed in.

Cutting firewood is too much work

My ever-cheerful bride was sitting in her favorite rocking chair in front of the fireplace nibbling on a thimbleful of double-butter popcorn when she exclaimed "Fires are beautiful! We should have them more often."

I shook my head and said "Cutting firewood is too danged much work."

Then she committed the ultimate heresy "We could always buy it."

As if I would pay money for something I can collect for free?

The last time...

The last time I cut firewood at the hunting lease I had carefully loaded up the back of the Silverado with everything I thought I would need, then I added a bunch more stuff.

Driving back on the hunting-lease I spotted a dead ash tree that had partially blown over.

I shook that tree and cussed at that tree and shook it some more. 

In spite of my efforts the branches of the silver maple it was lodged in still embraced it as tightly as two homely kids slow-dancing Stairway to Heaven at the end of the high school dance.

God gave men brains so we are not doomed to passively accept our fates.

I had a chainsaw, how hard could it be to cut a chunk and then push it over?

The key point here is that the ash tree had been one of the first to topple because its roots had rotted. The roots had rotted because the tree had been growing in muck soil which never dries out. That muck soil was still soft and damp beneath the four inches of snow.

Each time I cut a chunk off the ash truck the remaining length drove down into the muck like an eight-hundred pound Jart.

Eventually, the truck was vertical, and then past vertical and I was able to push it away from the silver maple.

The portion that I had pushed away was easy to cut up.

The chunks that had been driven down into the ground were another story. By squatting down and hugging each chunk I was able to laboriously wobble, cuss and unscrew each piece out of the ground.

In my excitement to get the tree on the ground, I had been less-than-careful about marking off precise, 15 inch lengths. The fact that six inches of each piece was jammed into the ground was an exacerbating factor. Our firebox will take 19" lengths if you lay them diagonally but these piece were averaged 24".

No matter, they were about 60 pounds each and I didn't fancy lugging them to the truck so I cut each of those 24" lengths in half.

That tree pretty much filled the back of the truck.

Which was parked on muck soil.

Which was not frozen beneath the snow.

The Silverado is two-wheel-drive.

The heck if I was going to unload the truck! There was a tractor in the barn.

A tractor with a leaky carburetor.

And no gas in the can.

I lugged the can and a length of hose the quarter-mile back out into the swamp and siphoned a couple of gallons out of the Silverado.

I poured it into the gas tank of the tractor waited a couple of minutes for the bowl of the carburetor to fill and hit the starter button. Nothing!

This time I took a sled with me. I pulled the battery out of the Silverado. Somehow my tools weren't where they were supposed to be but I found a rusty pair of Vice-grips and made it work. Then I dragged the sled and battery back to the tractor and swapped batteries.

I really shouldn't have taken the shortcut through the swamp. The tractor didn't have floation tires.

I got soak wading to solid ground.

I pulled the chainsaw out and cut an eight foot pole. Fortunately I had some logging chains and was able to lash the pole to the back wheels of the tractor and inch it back to solid ground.

I pulled the Silverado out of the muck.

Put the tractor back in the barn.

Swapped batteries back and drove home with the heater on full-blast.


My bride offered to help cut wood.

I took her up on it. It was time for her to see how much work is involved in cutting firewood.

We were not even to the driveway of the hunting-lease when she pointed out the window and suggested "Why don't we cut up that one?"

The perfectly straight ash log was 6' off the road-grade and the stubs of its branches had it suspended 24" off the ground.

That is the problem with wimmins. No sense of adventure.

(Mrs ERJ's note: God gave women brains so our men are not doomed)

Remnant: Forums

Alice Springs and Del Rio were fixtures on the first level of the forum. The first level was never highly populated having a maximum count of seven players at anyone time.

Alice favored benign neglect. Her contention was that the Lefties were doing what Lefties always do. That which is unsustainable will not be sustained. They were like physicists attempting to find the critical mass of Pu239 by adding 30 grams of metal to the pile at a time, justifying the increments on the basis that “nothing bad happened last time”.

Del favored a more active approach. He believed it was best to choreograph the Lefties' collapse. His rational was that North Korea had hung on for seventy-years, ChiCom was still run by the Communist Party and Communist Cuba had been parked 90 miles off the tip of Florida for sixty years. Del wanted to see the Lefties crash-and-burn in his lifetime, preferably within the next few months.

Another concern that Del brought up, repeatedly, is that the Republicans were disintegrating just as quickly as the Democrats. Del wanted to make sure the Lefties didn't prevail by default.

Both could dredge up and present valid arguments. Alice argued that NK and Cuba were vassal states that were supported by sponsors. Del argued that ComChina was not a vassal state.

Alice argued that any “nudges” the Leftists were given would be blamed on conservatives. Del said that already happened regardless of where the nudge or bad-luck originated.

Del and Alice were so fixated on destroying the other’s argument that they paid scant attention to the players who more activist than Del. The incoming players might engage in side conversations. The ones who demonstrated the ability to contribute to the forum and showed intelligence and independent thinking were quietly invited to the next level of the “game”.

The players who were less activist than Alice quietly went away as they figured out they couldn’t get a word in edgewise, or if they didn't go dormant, their token was pulled and they were denied admittance. Level one was a recruiting and sorting tool and it needed a constant trickle of new blood to function.

The second level of that game was entirely more specific.

Angus moderated the second level and ruled it with an iron fist. Angus’s take on the struggle was to disperse and disorganize the opposing force. Mass casualty events were to be avoided at all costs because of the effect on mass sentiment.

He had suspicions about some of the members in his group. He was sure he had met some of them in meat-space. If they were who he thought they were, they were capable of shooting pop cans at 300 yards and owned suppressed .22 rifles.

So when discussion turned to shooting the windshields of delivery trucks, Angus did not squelch the thread. He emphasized “no intentional loss-of-life” and suggested that they focus on time, location and type-of-truck that would throw the longest shadow.

Discussion would swirl around the merits of bread trucks versus on-line-fulfillment trucks versus utility repair trucks. On making-a-statement on the fringes of the city vs. deepest down-town vs. at the depot.

This was planning. Nobody had been authorized to act. Everybody realized that if the time ever did come to act that incremental escalation would not take the Leftist out-of-their-game. Execution, if it came to that, had to be sudden and overwhelming.

Angus's mantra was "Get into their heads. Make them fixate on what could happen next. Tiny escalations. You lose your leverage when you run out of steps to escalate."

Angus's favorite example involved judges. "Suppose there is a judge you don't like. What would murdering him accomplish? The next one would be worse and it would be that much harder to take out."

"But what if a man on a motor-bike drove up to the judge's car at a stop-light and shot up the driver's side door with a paint-ball gun?"

"Then, suppose as soon as the judge had the dents in the door fixed, it was shot-up with a paint-ball gun again but this time the contents of the paint-balls etched the paint and broke windows?"

"The judge would freak every time they saw a motorbike because it is very clear what COULD happen."

"How hard are cops going to look for a vandal with a paint-ball gun versus a murderer?"

"It is like kidnapping. You lose bargaining power if you send the person you want to influence the head. You could send a single fingernail and make the same point."

And, for participants who chafed under Angus’s rules, there were levels beyond the forum he moderated.


Wednesday, January 27, 2021

Thank-you Mr. Zachary


Seems like a waste of red wine, but it does add a bit of festive color to an otherwise drab photo.

The square Post-it note is 3" square. "1" was my first shot and it looks like I was "pushing" the gun in anticipation of recoil. SA was in Single Action mode. Fly Rod explained in text. Target was 6 paces from the shooter

As reported earlier, one of the neighbor kids purchased an inexpensive .38 Special. I have a pit where we can shoot. I supply the ammo. He supplies the hog-leg with the understanding that when things ease-up I will get a brick of primers or a mold for casting 9mm or .40 projectiles.

Today we shot up some of the "trial" ammo. The trial ammo is a dogs-breakfast of 158 grain SWC in front of various amounts of Unique and Titegroup. The target shown above is my effort at six paces.

Frankly, this is the best shooting I have done with his handgun and I am thrilled.

When asked, the kid admitted that he had been dry-firing it a great deal (20 times per night) which may have smoothed it up and he noticed that the grip was loose so he tightened the screw.

I was thrilled at the results. Just eyeballing the group, that is 2" wide by 5" tall which is perfectly adequate for real-world, defensive shooting at 6-to-7 yards.

Fly Rod

Mr Zachary over at The Next Chapter posted about accurately shooting Double Action on January 16.

The money quote was 

Keep the trigger moving, forward and back. "Once the trigger starts moving, it doesn’t stop. The compression/release sequence should not have any interruptions or slow spots. It should feel as though it is one continuous motion—just like a golf swing!"

I am not a golfer but I have been know to go fly-fishing.

Thank-you, Mr Zachary for the information. It was timely.

Bonus pictures

Rabbit tracks. They all go through the same opening.

They picked that opening because "somebody" bent the top-and-bottom wires to make it just a little bit easier for them to hop through. If I ever have to set a snare to catch meat for the pot....

Remnant: Intelligence

Dallas Metzger would have had a difficult time explaining why he was part of the Walter Mitty bulletin board.

It wasn’t the technical challenge. He had assembled and programmed more complex devices in high school. Compared to the gaming computers he made as a sophomore, the sniffers were bone-simple. They had a few tweaks to conserve battery power but they functioned as simple data-loggers.

Dallas appreciated that Jarrell was willing to do more than just host the board. Jarrell had planted the first sniffers right in the heart of downtown Lansing.

Finding somebody to plant sniffers along I-96 and I-23 was going to be more of a challenge.

Jarrell didn’t seem too worried. He wanted to prove the hardware before he expanded the net.

Dallas thought that was over-kill. He was supremely confident that the equipment set was more than capable of the task, even though all of the components were gray-sourced, that is, recycled. The top half of the “bricks” were a polymer impregnated, paper-mâché . 32 cubic inches is an incredible amount of volume to package electronics.

The reason he participated is because Jarrell made it fun. It was like the worlds greatest video-game...better than GTA and COD and AC combined. It gave Dallas a sense of doing something historic and of using his skills. Nobody on the board belittled him or second guessed him. There was nobody trying to take credit for his work or throw him under the bus.

It was a heady environment for somebody who had been a grunt in a lab working for a bunch of lifers who fixated on climbing the corporate ladder.

The State of Michigan has several things in common with California, Oregon and Washington. For one thing, the economic powerhouse is distant from the state capital.

In the case of Michigan, Lansing is 80 miles from Detroit and about the same from Ann Arbor. A great many politicians and heads-of-departments opted to commute from the Detroit area to Lansing, not wanting to lose the potential appreciation their homes would realize in the hotter, Detroit-area housing market.

Since the top positions in government changed with each administration, the movers-and-shakers knew their job was a short-time gig; long enough to make contacts and pay-off future benefactors but too short a time to justify moving.

With the troubled times, the Governor had authorized State Police escorts for her most important lieutenants. The very most important merited five police cars, one to carry the VIP, one behind and in front and two to either side as they drove down the freeway at 80 miles per hour.

Loath to lose two, potentially productive hours a day, the VIPs sat in the backseat with their assistants and processed emails and did other administrative tasks during the commute.

There was no consensus in the Walter Mitty community what they would do with the information. They did know that the first step for any action would be to pattern the targets.

In the finest tradition of spy-craft, the targets were given names: specifically Lizard Lips and Whales.

Lizard Lips was extremely punctual. Whales was not. Whales could be anywhere between one-minute-after Lizard Lip’s phalanx to 90 minutes later to not even going to Lansing.

Squints Palledorous was the other half of the INTEL brain-trust. Squints knocked together a relational database on a stand-alone computer. All data was ferried to it on thumb-drives. Squints accessed it through anonymous VPNs housed in Latvia, Iceland and Finland. Into the database went the names of local DAs, Election officials, Judges, reporters, professors and media celebrities. 

One branch of the records captured information that was used to create an index that represented how much they had perverted Western concepts of responsibility and accountability. Squints labeled it "Wokeness index". The index was not comprehensive but tracked bellweather metrics like bail requested and percentage of charges dismissed, funding accepted from Progressive PACs.

The other branch in the records captured mundane information like property records and business filings. The database not only included the individual's data but the data of their children's, grandchildren's, significant-others, ex-significant others, siblings, in-laws, nieces and nephews. Squints mined social media and professional organizations to flesh-out the database. Because this branch was so much more labor intensive, Squints only populated the entries for the most-woke of each category.

When completely populated, an record in Squint's database would have less than one-tenth of one percent of what Big Tech knew about ANYBODY in the United States.

Jarrell was still finessing the organization of the bulletin board. Players needed to be able to focus but they also needed to share information and tasks within levels and between levels.

Since there was no consensus on the best action to take against the targets, Jarrell defined several groups that were fire-walled from each other so they could develop their plans free of criticism.

Membership was by invitation only.


Tuesday, January 26, 2021

Fine Art Tuesday


Many of Duane Bryers paintings tease us with a bit of ambiguity.

Is it very early morning or late evening?

Is the operation in the background now run by the "kids" and did Mom and Dad move out to the bunkhouse?

Regardless, the piece reflects a timeless ease and peacefulness of two lovers who have grown old together and still cherish each other's company.

There is enough detail of the young woman's face to realize that she is not much older than 20 and there she is, running a household with at least two children.

The bird is a nice touch.

Back then, people did not go into a a twelve-year long state of suspended animation (adolescence). And they were better people for it.

God laughs when men make plans

It seemed so perfect. Covid came at exactly the right moment to topple Trump. The mail-in voting. The cratering economy. The timing of the vaccine to yank the economy out of the ditch the second the Dems took the reins of government. It was perfect. Almost as if it were designed for the purpose.

But then the mutations started showing up.

At least one vaccine is considered ineffective against the South African strain. There are two or three new strains popping up every week.

Vaccine production is not as robust as first believed.

The vaccine is fragile and spoils easily.

It is almost as if God was looking down from heaven, saw how the Dems were describing Covid and whimsically said, "Oh! That is what you want? I can accommodate you. I can create a virus that only responds to self-isolation."

Remnant: Work

Standard north-is-up format. Distance from St Joe to Ottawa is 3000 feet.

Morning came too early.

Jarrell made two bowls of oatmeal in the microwave. One he gave to Merle. He ate the other.

He hopped onto his bike and rode the four miles into town. Merle kept pace beside him. The roads had been plowed but not salted. Government employees were still paid although the buying power was rapidly eroding.

A year ago it would have been suicidal to ride down a state highway in the dark. Now, there was hardly any traffic.

Jarrell dropped his bike and Merle off at his buddy’s house. Merle would hang out with his canine buddies and Jarrell knew his bike would not go riding off.

Jarrell walked three blocks from his buddy's house to the bus station and waited. He dressed in layers. He had a couple of sandwiches in one pocket, an apple in another and a water bottle in a third.

Even though he was wearing layers, he wouldn’t take any of them off. There was just too much risk of them disappearing if he so much as laid them down. He wore layers for the extra pockets and because he could zip or un-zip as necessary.

Jarrell had been taking a backpack to Lansing when he first started working there. Most days he would take it empty and fill it with “loot” as the day progress and he came across items that might be useful or have resale value.

That ended the day he saw a fellow itinerant mugged because of what the thugs thought might be in the backpack. The victim could not spin quickly enough to defend himself and ended up on the pavement with his face kicked in. The only reason they chose him rather than Jarrell was dumb luck or maybe because the other fellow’s backpack appeared to be full while Jarrell’s was still empty.

The ride to town in the converted school bus was ominously quiet.

Early on, there had been conversation. That dried up as some of the more gregarious and trusting were disappeared. Then, one of the chatter-boxes who flitted around and engaged random people in conversation was knifed in the back as she was leaving the bus. Somebody had put two-and-two together and determined that people disappeared after Miss Chatter-box had conversations with them.

After that, nobody spoke on the bus and almost nobody disappeared any more.

Jarrell was carrying both his and Ashley’s smartphones.

The hiring process was simple. You became eligible for a job thirty minutes after you entered a geo-fence. You had five minutes to accept the job and another ten to get to the job-site.

Most of the jobs were close to the State Capitol so that is where most of the unattached workers went.

Jarrell didn’t know what the hiring algorithm was but he kept track. Ashley’s phone got three times as many offers as his phone did. That was not a problem because most weeks he was lucky to get two “offers” of work that might total 12 hours.

Nobody gave a shit.

Nobody gave a shit that he showed up instead of Ashley because the funds went to her phone.

Nobody gave a shit whether he actually picked up litter or handed out food or shoveled the snow or washed the windows or vacuumed beneath the rocks in the landscaping.

Jarrell did a little more than most but not enough to stand out. Tomorrow another crew would be gigging litter and shoveling snow and washing windows, but mostly cleaning up after the riots from the night before.

Most days, Jarrell hung-out with the army of unemployed workers near the river-walk. The walk was out of the wind and there were places that reflected the sun and were pleasant even in late February. Not that the sun shown all that much in Michigan in February. 

Later in the day, when it became apparent that he wasn’t going to get a gig, Jarrell went walk-about and looked for loot.

Pickings were slim. Sometimes it was a pair of sneakers that had been tossed. Sometimes it was little more than some cardboard. Once, it was a squirrel that had been run over. Jarrell stuck his pinkie finger into its mouth and determined that the body was still warm.

Fights were becoming increasingly common. More than one worker had been pitched into the river because he was in the wrong place at the wrong time. The workers were separating into gangs and marking off territory. It was increasingly difficult for an unaffiliated worker to move about and Jarrell was pondering what his next move would be.

It is not as if there were any jobs for Program Managers, and even if there were it was clear he had been black-balled and would never work in that capacity again.

Today was a little bit different. He picked up some bricks at a dead-drop. His job was to deposit the bricks in places where they would be out-of-sight to the causal rioter but still have a clear line-of-sight to traffic on northbound Grand Avenue. Grand Avenue was the single, viable road from the Detroit-to-Lansing freeway and the north side of the State Capitol building where the big-shots parked.

The bricks were sniffers. Their directional antenna reached out and "shook hands"with passing electronic devices like smartphones and laptops. They stored the data and dumped them when tickled.

Jarrell had lots of options for placing the bricks. Grand Avenue, two scant blocks from the State Capitol was a desolate waste of unused parking lots and vacant buildings. The high-gain, directional antenna meant that he didn't even need to be close to the road. Jarrell was even able to plant one brick on Ottawa by dropping it and nudging it beneath a trash basket.


Monday, January 25, 2021

When do they start burning down state capitals?


This may be a stale observation, but has anybody noticed that the major riots on the west coast have NOT been in the state capitals? Rather, the riots have been in the centers of economic production.

The left assumes they own the arms of government and are now attacking the normal, productive people. This has never been about "politics". It has been about attacking and seizing the means-of-production by threat-and-coercion, a classic Marxist tactic.

Things will get sporty when the extreme elements of the left get pissed at the ones in power "just giving lip-service" and the riots swing to Olympia, Salem and Sacramento.

Remnant: Intro

Jarrell stood at the counter as he sliced the head of cabbage. He was cooking up a skillet of fried bacon and cabbage with a sprinkle of vinegar. The biscuits were ready to go into the oven and he had a pitcher of iced tea in the fridge.

Nobody else in the house liked cabbage-and-bacon but it was his night to cook and nobody bitched too much any more. If they were tired of what he cooked it was not mentioned because the alternative was too grim to bear. Nobody who valued their digestion wanted Ashley to cook so Jarrell took her turn as well as his.

Jarrell looked around the battered kitchen. It was a far cry from the sleek, modern apartment he and his girlfriend had been living in just six months ago. But, alas, they had to move out after he was fired.

No doubt about it. Moving in with his girlfriend’s parents was a step down although he had to admit that he had been on a bad path with his drinking. The pattern on the forty-year-old laminate counter-top was worn but it was far crisper than his memories of the custom, fused, Mongolian-gneiss counter-tops at the apartment. Being sober did that to a person.

Mike wandered into the kitchen, wrinkling his nose. Mike was Ashley’s dad. “You aren’t making that crap again, are you?” he asked as he scratched his softening middle. Just over forty and he was letting himself go.

Jarrell didn’t take offense. Tone is everything. Mike’s grousing was pro-forma.

“More biscuits and less cabbage and you probably won’t fart as much” Jarrell advised.

Krystal came into the kitchen behind Mike and said “I am all about that. It isn’t like I can open a window when it is twenty degrees outside.”

Krystal set the kitchen table with an economy of motion. Then she went over and shook Ashley awake.

Jarrell served the food from the skillet at the stove and each diner used a spatula to move the biscuits from the cookie sheet to their plates.

Sitting at the table, Mike said a short grace and then the family started eating in silence, the only sound was the scraping of forks against plates.

The silence was a blessing.

In spite of the aura of forced good cheer, everybody was off-balance and edgy.

The new government’s flurry of Executive Orders continued without pause. Even before the previous day’s orders were digested and assimilated, new ones were released that seemed to contradict the ones from the day before.

To nobody’s surprise, the economy had locked up like a gear-box filled with concrete as the government’s edicts kicked in.

Unable to back-down, the government doubled-down. Commissions were founded. Punchlists generated. Personnel identified and reassigned.

Mike was one of the “Personnel”. He got the equivalent of a Draft Notice informing him that he was assigned a construction job in central Kansas.

Jarrell wasn’t sure what Mike was going to be doing out there but he assumed it had something to do with The Newest Green Deal.

Mike had been selling custom barbecues, grilles and patios at a local concrete-and-aggregate company. Facile without being smarmy. Friendly without seeming cloying or manipulative.

Mike didn’t push. Nobody walked into the store unless they had already decided to spend money. He would rather sell them a $6000 package than push and have them walk out of the store in a huff and spending money at his competitor across town.

Mike made a metric shit-ton of money for his employer but never seemed to be able to hang onto any of it for himself.

Krystal was a blonde with chemically abused hair. The years had not been kind to her. Countless hours in the tanning-booth shrank her flesh like a country ham left too-long in the smoke-house. Her legs were bird-thin.

It took Jarrell several weeks to ken to the fact that Krystal ran the joint. She was a micro-manager. There was no detail too small for her attention. No decision that would not be improved by her demands. No situation so complex that she could not understand it perfectly in less than seven seconds.

Jarrell almost bolted when he realized that Ashley was well on her way into turning into Krystal.

Ahhh! Ashley! Sweet, delectable, limber, adventurous Ashley. Whatever Krystal’s faults, she seemed to keep Mike happy.

Ashley who could spend $5000 on-line in a night. Ashley who had gone semi-catatonic when she had to move back in with her mother.

Jarrell could see it now. He had been her “Ken doll”. She had dressed him, told him what kind of car to drive, picked the apartment….. He had been putty in her hands. He worked and happy-houred. She f----ed his brains out, played him as if he were a Wii character and spent his money.

The implosion of the economy had been hardest on her. Before the pandemic, Jarrell had been netting $10k a month as a project manager vs. Mike’s $5k a month. Between his money that he gave her (nearly all of it) and the credit cards, Ashley had been rolling in dough.

Jarrell did not qualify for any kind of unemployment after he had been fired.

Mike got unemployment which is what kept the household afloat.

Having to move back into her mother’s house had been a bitter, bitter pill for Ashley to swallow.

Jarrell was a firm believer in Matthew 8:32. He had learned the hard way that “The truth will set you free”. He could not afford to live anywhere else. He kept his lips firmly zipped.

Ashley had no such inhibitions. Ashley, when she was awake, was a whirling Tasmanian Devil of barbed wire, broken glass and rock salt. Her tongue lashed, flayed and salted, all in a single pass.

Fortunately, her depression made her sleep all day long and her mania had her playing video games all night long. If anybody was distressed by her lack of hygiene or limited wardrobe, well, it was better to just let her sleep.

After the meal, Mike and Krystal shuffled back out to the TV room to watch the news.

 left without saying a word, kicked back in the recliner and appeared to be asleep within seconds.

Jarrell wiped out the skillet and put it at the back of the stove. Then he washed and put away the dishes.

There was no extra food to put away.

Afterward, Jarrell slipped into the spare bedroom that he had set up as his study. Merle, his Blue Heeler cross slipped in with him. Merle found the rest of the house as toxic as Jarrell.

Logging on to the bulletin board he had designed and still curated, he quickly parsed the activity. Traffic on Walter Mitty was picking up.


---Note from the Management: I don't know if this will go anywhere. With any luck it will get some air beneath its wings.--- 

Next installment

Sunday, January 24, 2021

A day of rest


We attended church on-line.

I bought three splitting wedges. They are still $11 at Menards but are over $20 in many places. Inflation? Maybe rolling in the price of shipping to my doorstep? Hard to know.

Mrs ERJ and I have a date scheduled for mid-week. We are going out to the hunting lease to collect some dead ash wood.

I did a little cutting in our woods. I gave a haircut to an apple tree that has never paid its rent. I will graft it over to another variety, probably Kerr, this spring. I also removed the lower branches from some young oak trees.

In a few days the apple branches will be a magnet for rabbits. They love the bark from fruit trees and seem to love apple twigs most of all. If a fellow were hungry, it would be a good place to put a few snares...

The Shepherds have been my buddies.

Zeus is particularly good in the woods. He keeps an eye on me. He is like a Cocker Spaniel because he has a 20 yard string between him and me and he rarely gets farther away than that.

Herc is more of a hunter. He is more like a Beagle than a Cocker Spaniel. I have to keep an eye on him but he is fine driving around in the truck in spite of his impressive ability to fog the windshield. I have to arm-wrestle him to determine who drives, though. So far I have been winning by default. I will be in trouble if he ever sprouts a set of arms.

Saturday, January 23, 2021

Does anybody know anything about gourds and Indian cuisine?


Bitter gourd (Momordica charantia)

Michigan has a healthy population of East Indians other East Asians.

I see that the culinary habits of Chinese, Koreans, Japanese and others are very well served. However, there are few shops or growers who specifically target the preferences of East Indians.

Looking at a smattering of Gujarat recipes the one ingredient that is not common in other cuisines is the use of gourds. Yes, I know there are over fifty different, distinct cuisines in India  but I had to pick one.

Wax or Ash gourd (Benincasa hispidia) notable for keeping well


Bottle gourd or Calabash (Lagenaria siceraria)

Luffa (Luffa acutangula and aegyptiaca)

Snake gourd (Trichosanthes cucumerina)

Apple gourds

So, if you live north of the Ohio River and have grown any of these...what are your thoughts?

If you are a fan of East Indian cuisine (or are married to an expert), which of these are most desirable from a locally sourced supplier standpoint?

If I don't get any feedback I am leaning toward the Wax gourds due to their long shelf life and the bottle gourds because they have a secondary use if I cannot find buyers for them as a vegetable.

ALICE pack update


I am up to forty pounds.

Thirty wasn't so bad. Forty was a struggle until I loosened the shoulder straps to lower the frame so more of the weight was resting on my hips. Then, after a bit, I tightened the hip-belt. After that...not bad at all.

It is still a chore to put it on. I suspect that most guys have a buddy to help. I also suspect they put it on with the straps loose and then tighten.

Everyday is an adventure.



Sprite is icefishing today. She is up to nine bluegills and sunfish.

Small ponds need to be fished to keep them in balance. The Captain's yearly target was 200-to-250 panfish a year. There was not throwing back of the little ones. The entire point of catching 200 panfish is to reduce the number of mouths to feed. An acre pond can only support so many pounds of fish. The only way to have larger fish is to reduce the numbers. Apex predators (adult largemouth bass, channel cats) help some, but they often cannot keep up.

Mrs ERJ worries about Sprite when she is on the ice. They have an agreement. Sprite sends Mrs ERJ a text every half-hour. Often, those texts are pictures of the fish she caught.

Which is where the pictures in today's post came from.

Automotive supplies

Coyoteken suggested that I lay in a supply of automotive supplies like motor oil, filters, belts, hoses and the like.

I have enough set aside for 30k miles. Fortunately, two of my vehicles use the same filters.

Thanks, Ken.

I wonder if it sets off a metal detector


The Ravin 18 compact crossbow.


Thursday, January 21, 2021


Who ever said that nothing exciting happens in a small town?

A reliable source informed me that I will be abducted by a beautiful, 23-year-old girl sometime between 8AM-and-10AM on January 21, 2021.

Decisions, decisions, decisions. What shall I wear?

Belladonna has a (video) quiz this morning and she needs "a dummy" to demonstrate the motions of various body joints.

Sadly, Belladonna is a native-born American so I will not be able to brag that I was Abducted by Aliens.

A general note to my readers

It has come to my attention that we are:

"...(an) unholy alliance...of religious extremists, authoritarians, fascists, bigots, racists, nativists, even libertarians"*

I want to commend you all for your maturity, character and self-discipline. It speaks highly of us that we are able to hold down jobs, start businesses, pay taxes and still have time to get married, raise children and volunteer in our communities even as we carry such burdens. 

Furthermore, it is amazing that such a diverse group of pathologies can maintain a functional alliance. The Democratic Party really ought to study that.

Keep up the good work!

* Former CIA Director John Brennan

Wednesday, January 20, 2021

Executive Orders


Progressives love Executive Orders.

Whitmer is up to 140 and counting.

In case you missed it, Obamacare mandates employers cover the cost of healthcare when employees are "full time", defined in Obamacare as thirty-hours-a-week or more.

Dogs, sleds, packs and vehicle maintenance


I did it. I ordered a dog harness.

Etsy seemed to have decent, American-made products at prices I could accept.

This is an extension of the water/firewood hauling plan. I have a 48" long, HDPE sled that I will train the German Shepherds to pull. At least, that is my plan. Then we will see what happens.

The ALICE pack arrived last week. I am up to thirty pounds and will soon move up to forty. Mrs ERJ pointed out that IF I couldn't quite handle 40 pounds, there is no law that demands that I completely fill the five gallon jug.

My thinking is that full jugs do not slosh as much as partially filled jugs.


Mrs ERJ made an exception and allowed Kubota to drive her minivan. Kubota complained that he was not able to get it over fifty miles per hour and that it was not safe to drive.

Mrs ERJ scheduled a visit to the repair shop.

Mrs ERJ and I are not typical when it comes to maintaining vehicles.

Neither of us are very concerned about the exterior cosmetics of the vehicles. Tires? Fluids? Hoses, belts and brakes? You golly-darned betchya  we care about those.

We also tend to look at the cost of a repair in terms of how many payments it would be for a new vehicle. At $300 a month, a $1200 repair is the first four months of a new vehicle payment or a fraction of the down-payment.

Consequently, we usually opt for repairs that most people would dodge by selling the vehicle and buying a replacement. A replacement that they have little information regarding its prior maintenance.

We are in a situation where people look at us in disbelief. "Why would you drop $1400 in a vehicle that is only worth $1200? For all you know, the transmission will fall out of it next month."

My response is "It better not. We replaced the transmission two summers ago. It should be good for another 120k miles."

By staying on top of the major maintenance, the Kelly Blue Book of $1200 is not applicable to our vehicle. Granted, the exterior looks rough...but that means I can park it on the street in a rough neighborhood and it will still be there when I return.


I will have to catch up on my blogging later.

Belladonna to the dentist (in Lansing)

Kubota to a job interview (somewhere)

To keep you entertained until I get back:

Official Eaton Rapids Downtown Traffic Webcam

Tuesday, January 19, 2021

Everything you need to know about investing

OK, I lied. This is a 40,000 foot overview of "investing" with special emphasis on what you need to know TODAY and over the next four years. Think of it as a map.


Folks will quibble, but in general Bonds are less volatile than domestic stocks which are less volatile than foreign stocks which are.....

For a map to be useful it must be simple enough for the user to comprehend the information but complex enough to provide predictive value. For example: If I move west, do I walk off a cliff or run into salt flats without water? If it is too complex, for instance if it shows every stone, then important information will be diluted and lost.

Within the universe of bonds...

There are two axis of "risk". One is the "rating" and the other is "duration". The least volatile investment vehicles you can buy are US Government issued bonds of less than one year duration. The punters can argue until the keg runs dry but this is pretty much conventional wisdom.

---Disclosure: The ERJ fortune is about 60% parked in short duration, highly rated bond instruments---

Within the universe of domestic stocks....

Like bonds, there are two major axis. One axis involves the size of the company(ies) while the other axis represents where in the "S" growth cycle the company(ies) are in their primary industry's growth cycle.

Incidentally, unless you have super-human insights  you are better off holding index funds than holding individual stocks.

---Disclosure: Most of the rest of the ERJ fortune is invested in Equity Index Funds and Mega Millions lottery tickets.---

Within the universe of foreign stocks...

There is a world of difference between investing in the UK or Germany and investing in South Africa or countries in the Persian Gulf.

Why does it matter?

When the shit-hits-the-fan investors flip from aggressively seeking risk. They panic and flee risk with the abandon of prostitutes running from a burning motel. The first sectors to puke are the highest risk sectors.

REPEAT: When the worm turns, it turns first (and most violently) in the riskiest portions of the market and the contagion rapidly spreads to the less-risky portions.

Since VC and Options are not very easy for the average person to track, the first information Smedley T. Waukenfuss will have that the economy is being gutted is when he reads that stocks in Australia, Indonesia and Latin America (for instance) projectile vomited.

Market timing

Everybody knows it cannot be done.

Everybody tries it anyway.

After Australia, Indonesia, Russia and Latin American markets vomit until they are comatose and and prostrate on the floor and while US markets are still fully convulsed...the brave investor starts moving some, minor portions of their portfolio out of the safe-havens where they parked it and starts cautiously buying into riskier (comatose) portions of the market.

Repeat: the stockmarkets in Australia, Indonesia, Russia and Latin America will be the canaries in the coal mine for the reset.


This post is for entertainment purposes. It is worth exactly what you paid for it.

What is the smartest money doing?

Baron von Rothchild is quoted as having said that "Nobody ever went broke selling too soon."

The current scion of the Rothchild banking empire suffered a fatal heart attack this past week at the age of 57.

Please be advised that there are gentler ways to exit the riskier portions of the investment universe.