Tuesday, March 16, 2021

Nesting mode

It seems like everybody at my address is in nesting mode.

Kubota cleared out a quarter of the garage to use as his private den. He is currently entertaining one of his buddies. 144 square feet can seem like paradise when you have a wide-screen TV, a mini-fridge filled with beverage, a kerosene heater and no parents to bug you.

We topped off our oil tank after the majority of the heating season. Mrs ERJ was antsie back in January. She was concerned we would run dry. The time we ran out during the middle of a March cold-spell weighs heavy on her mind.

Her remembering of the story is that we topped-off in August and ran out by March. I did not recall filling the tank in August/September (which is historically the cheapest time to buy heating oil).

No worries. As of today, we had used slightly less than 400 gallons of heating oil and we have a 1000 gallon tank.

For those with an economic turn of mind, a million BTUs of heat costs about $2.50 if you burn natural gas. That same million BTUs of heat costs about seven times as much if you heat with LP or #2 heating oil. Natural gas is incredibly cheap.

Home projects

If I managed to save a couple of nickels to rub together during my life it is because I trained myself to feel physical pain when I spent money.

There are times when this amuses Mrs ERJ. "If you want a chocolate ice cream cone, buy one. Even if vanilla is a dime cheaper."

My reading of the tea-leaves suggests that massive amounts of inflation are on the horizon. The smart play is to invest in things like better windows and doors, roofs, HVAC, insulation and the like.

We had a contractor over today and we signed a contract to spend a stupendous amount of money. I keep reminding myself that that money might be worth ten-cents in five years. It helps. A little.

I still feel physical pain.

I got shot today

Michigan went from being on its ass for delivering Covid vaccine due to inadequate resources to meet demand to opening "guidelines" to accepting almost everybody. 

To my surprise, the collective memory was longer than five minutes. All of those Democrats disparaging the vaccines developed under Trump's watch resulted in many Progressives choosing to not accept Pfizer or Moderna's vaccine. On the other side of the aisle, many conservatives are leery of injecting suspect technology into their bodies.

My willingness to accept the vaccine may be unique. A million years ago, while pounded by a particularly vile and malign strain of influenza, I went to the Michigan State University health clinic. There, I was treated by a Dr Cahoon. He was on the teaching staff and was doing his weekly penance in clinical. I was a sympathetic ear. He was a Professor.

According to Cahoon M.D., antibodies are modular and in his opinion, that is a good thing. Antibodies function like defensive players gang-tackling Billy Simms. Virus mutate. The analogy is that Billy might juke and the player aiming for his left leg might miss, but the guys aiming for his right leg, his arms, his neck and his waist will connect and bring him down after (only) five yards.

From a public health/epidemiology standpoint, a virus in a naive population might have a growth rate where every new victim will infect 1.3 new humans. If the vaccine "only" trims the infectivity rate so 0.7 new humans it will quickly extinguish.

As individuals, this is less than compelling. From an altruistic, population standpoint it is very compelling.

Mrs ERJ gently suggested that the probability that I will be asked to repopulate the earth is extremely low when I observed that there might be reduced fertility associated with the vaccines.

The possibility that the vaccine might cause me to grow a penis or a unicorn horn in the center of my forehead is more entertaining than scary.

Ultimately, I took the vaccine because I have never had issues with vaccines. I am a "believer". And finally, it will give my mother comfort to know that I am "safe" and that I am unlikely to infect her.

You are adults. No pressure. It is your decision.


  1. So, does that mean your nat gas costs 0.2585 per therm? I think I would like to move nearby.

  2. Good for you! I got both of my doses back in January when it was available through work. Yes, as a nurse I figured I should get it, but also I figured Trump worked hard to get the pharma companies to shake a leg and come up with something that would slow down, if not stop, this stupid virus. And, like you, my Mom also worries a lot about me being out and about with this thing running around.
    Yes, I have had positive patients that have needed me to get within "bad breath distance", and yes, I have worn my masks, and the full rig when needed.
    Recently I was tested and it came back positive, but neither I nor my housemates have an signs/or symptoms. Yes, we are on lock-down, but all 3 of us are feeling fine. Bored, but fine.
    To know that even if I do test positive, I can't contaminate folks I love and care about means more than a little to me. I am at an age where I'm not going to be tasked with repopulating the world either, so I really don't give a fig for what everyone else thinks.
    I am glad I got the vaccine--both doses, I am glad it seems to be working, and, yeah, I'm glad I haven't grown any unicorn horns either.
    I can live with that. Which is the whole point.

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  4. We will be lucky if a dollar is worth a dime in five years. At the rate the commies are spending money...that we DON'T HAVE....inflation is going to give Zimbabwe and Weimar Germany a run. And that's if the dollar doesn't lose benchmark status, something the Chinese....and a lot of other powerful interests....are angling to see happen.

  5. My memory of heating oil is.....if it gets REALLY cold the stuff can jell on you. Hated heating with it. As Mrs. ERJ remembers the time fuel oil ran out in March.....so it is that over 35 years later I remember that one time.......so glad I have natural gas heat now.

    1. These days all diesel cut distillates are ultra low-sulfur diesel since refineries don't want to segregate separate storage and pumping systems for on-road & off-road diesel, No. 2 oil, etc. So, cold weather viscosity spikes aren't an issue any more.

    2. Call my little diesel tractor and tell it about no more viscosity spikes. I had to find the power service 911 in feb to plow the 8” snowfall.

    3. Diesel is different than heating oil, and not just in sulfur content. Diesel requires more paraffinic content (as a lubricant) than heating oil. The two are in many ways nearly identical, but if you try to run a diesel engine on heating oil, it will run, but it has a more limited lifetime. (Maybe because of wear on the high pressure injectors?) Oil furnaces don't pressurize as much as a diesel engine. Both fuels go through a dewaxing process step, but diesel gets to keep more of its lower molecular weight paraffins. So diesel fuel is more prone to gelation issues. I think they modify the blending for seasons, just like they do for gas.

  6. Got my first jab a couple of weeks ago via county health dept. some miles SW of you. As a hardcore cynic of anything bureaucratic, I was amazed at the efficiency of the process. Literally thousands of old boomers (me included) went through. It took me 25 minutes from time I entered facility until I left, including 15 minute wait time. Kudos to the folks responsible. As a side note, I asked one of the employees if anyone had shown any side effects immediately after getting their jab, he said none.

  7. I have no problem with people that want the Covid shot, nor do I have any problem with people that don't. I think everyone deserves to make up their own minds about the risk versus benefit.

    That said, you realize it isn't really a "vaccine" in the traditional sense, right? It's more akin to gene therapy. Gene therapy on your own cells designed to activate (i.e., fooling) your immune system into thinking there is Covid virus. To me, that means the risks are less well understood, or maybe not even all that well known. That shifts the calculus. Maybe not enough to change the decision, but it ought to make people think about it a little harder and a little differently than if it was just a "vaccine." I know some of the people at Moderna who are in charge of their Covid vaccine programs (there are multiple ones, and they are still in ongoing research-mode, not just switching over to production mode). They took it, so they have faith in their own work. That should count for something too.

    As for fuel, I've lived where home heat was natural gas, where it was fuel oil, where it was propane, and where it was wood, or some combination of them. Natural gas is the most practical and cleanest, if it's available. But my favorite is still wood. I like the feeling of being in (more) control of my fuel source. Of course, needing gas for the chainsaws makes that control somewhat delusional too.
    Home heating oil has enough pour point depressants added to it that it really doesn't gel anymore. Unless you live in the Arctic. Knew a Canadian engineer that worked in some gold mines near the Arctic Circle ... he said they never turned off the diesel engines in the winter.

    1. One perspective that has not been aired is that IF Ebola makes it to the US, the Covid "crisis" has been a great trial run.

      According to some sources, the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines (I will use that term because people recognize it) were locked-and-loaded in March. The intervening nine months were running the trials to "prove" efficacy and managability of side effect.

      If Ebola made landfall in the US in any significant way, it is reassuring that we had a full-scale, dress rehearsal of D-Day with Covid.

    2. Covid was kind of new, so the response time was impressive. They had to create the vaccine, test it, and then scale-up for production. (Lots of things that work on a lab bench don't work at the 10,000 gallon Pfaudler reactor vessel scale. That's where the biochemical engineers come in.)

      Ebola is a well known risk, has been for years now. If they don't already have a vaccine designed and tested, the CDC, Homeland Security, or whomever is responsible should be publicly hanged. The only think is scale-up for mass production, and somebody should have already been planning how to do that.


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