Friday, April 30, 2021

The Persistent Widow

Then he told them a parable about the necessity for them to pray always without becoming weary. He said,

There was a judge in a certain town who neither feared God nor respected any human being. And a widow in that town used to come to him and say, ‘Render a just decision for me against my adversary.’ For a long time the judge was unwilling, but eventually he thought, ‘While it is true that I neither fear God nor respect any human being, because this widow keeps bothering me I shall deliver a just decision for her lest she finally come and strike me.’” 

The Lord said, “Pay attention to what the dishonest judge says. Will not God then secure the rights of his chosen ones who call out to him day and night? Will he be slow to answer them? I tell you, he will see to it that justice is done for them speedily. But when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on earth?”  Luke 18:1-8

There are lots of times I struggle to be a good Christian. Jesus tells us this parable to encourage us to pray and rely on God in Heaven.

Unfortunately, I keep focusing on the underlined portion that is the lead-in to the main message. Widows were among the lowest status and least powerful in the time of Christ. They had no visible means of support. They either begged or turned to prostitution.

It begs the question: What can I, a deplorable from dirt-country, do to emulate the persistent widow and pressure those "who neither fear God nor respect any human being"


Yesterday in review

 It was sprinkling yesterday morning.

The Big Boss of the roofing company texted me and told me they were "making plans for the day". Working on a new steel roof when it is wet is like working on ice.

Three minutes later I got a text from Mom's caregiver. She was ill and had to leave.

I called the Big Boss back and asked if it would be a problem if his crew did not show up Thursday or Friday (mom's usual day). I said it would be a personal favor.

"No problem" he said. He had a pole-barn in St Johns he could put them on.

And off I went to Mom's.

It has been a while since I watched TV and that is what Mom does.

Harris Faulkner looks fifteen pounds lighter than I remember her from December. I hope she is not having health issues.

Mom really likes a "Doctor" show where the doctors(?) interview celebrity health kooks and then nod sagely as gibberish spews from the celebrity's mouth. Yesterday's episode had a couple singing the virtues of nose-breathing.

They even recommended duct-taping mouths shut to ensure accidental mouth-breathing did not occur.

And then they gave a huge laundry list of proven health benefits:

  • Nose breathing fills the body with heavy negative deions (I think I went to high school with Deion)
  • Nose breathing irradiates the body with long-wave, infrared light
  • Mouth-breathing creates free radicals (everybody in Portland and Seattle must be mouth-breathers)
  • Nose breathing centers your shakra and puts a point on your koan.

This is where the camera took shots of the doctors(?) and showed them nodding in complete agreement.

I remember thinking the duct tape trick would be pretty handy if your problems had their hands firmly zip-tied to the back of the chair and you also applied it over their nostrils. Admit it, the thought occurred to most of you, too, as you read it.

Out of self-defense, I downloaded one of Dorothy Grant's books on Kindle. That, too, has its risks. I made Venison Stroganoff for dinner and then ate too much.

Remnant: Keep moving!

A thousand thoughts flashed through Rod’s mind as he froze. Foremost in his mind was the time he and his older brother had been crossing Bly’s spring-fed pond to hunt rabbits on the other side. In his eagerness, Rod was well ahead of his brother when the ice started cracking beneath him.

“Keep moving. Keep moving!” his brother shouted at him.

The pond was only about four feet deep at that point but it would have been a long, wet and heavy walk back to the farm house.

Rod kept his weight evenly distributed between his two feet and alternately swept them along the ice as he curved back toward solid ice. He looked odd because he had spread his feet as far apart as he could as he scuttled back to safe ice. If he was going to make a hole in the ice it was going to be a BIG one.

The ice cracked and creaked beneath him. He could feel it settle and sag. But he didn’t end up getting wet.

They ended up with three rabbits that day.

Rod’s brain unfroze. If Victor noticed the tiniest of pauses, he did not say.

“That is ammo that fits an AK. Will the neighborhood be needing that, too?” Rodney asked.

“I am not sure” Victor said. “Let me ask around.”

“Do you have anything else?” Victor asked, clearly referring to ammo.

Rod figured in for a dime, in for a dollar. “I have some 9mm, .22s and some other odds-and-ends.”

Victor nodded. He knew there would be demand for the 9mm. “You can keep the .22, for sure. Nobody uses it. Like I said, I will ask around.”

Victor was pretty sure Hermes would be more than glad to have a healthy supply of 7.62-39mm ammo. Very glad. For the time being, most of it could stay where it was. Rodney wasn’t going anywhere.


Billy Reuben’s mind never moved quickly, even in the best of times.

The men had the drop on him. He had lost his authorization. He was on probation and showing up back in Lansing with no cargo and an empty gas-tank was not an option.

He supposed he could pull to the edge of town and call for back-up, but then he would have to split the payout with however many teams showed up. That was a non-starter.

The Eaton Rapids men had already dismissed him from their minds. They could not see how slowly he processed information. Then, one of the men laughed for no particular reason. Perhaps it was the sudden relaxation of stress.

Billy’s self-control snapped. His back was to the Mayor and the men. He stealthily extracted the handgun from his waistband.

His thinking was that if he spun around and pointed it at the Mayor, the men would be obliged to do his bidding.

The muzzle was six inches clear of his belt when a 5.5mm hole appeared in his forehead and 400 microseconds later its twin appeared in his scalp immediately opposite.

Even before the “BOOM!” of Melody’s shot resounded, Billy started to collapse like a puppet that had its strings cut.

The meaty crash of two heavier slugs plowing into the passenger side of Billy’s truck each followed by deeper boom from Jarrell’s .308

Perhaps it was fitting that Billy died the same day as his grandfather, Jim Thresher.


Hermes was still receiving constituents and administering justice when his brother Victor came in and handed him a plate with two, open face sandwiches on it.

“What are these?” Hermes asked.

“Pilot biscuits and Spam” Victor said.

Hermes frowned. He had a very firm grasp on the food (hardly any) that had been coming into Fabulous Acres. “Where did it come from?” he asked.

“You know the yellow house on the east side of Maplewood, the one without the fence?” Victor said.

Hermes had to think about it. He didn’t pay much attention to Anglos. “Barbecue-Man’s?” he asked. The barbecues had been a fixture since his family had moved into the neighborhood 25 years earlier.

“That is the one” Victor said. “They had a bunch of food in their cellar. Pallet loads of food. They gave it all to the church. This is some of it.”

“Barbecue-Man also wants to give you a ton of 9mm and AK ammo, if you want it” Victor finished.

Hermes knew that things were tough. He knew that everybody waiting to see him had sons and nephews and boyfriends who were doing what they needed to do to survive. Sometimes that meant home invasions or worse.

Hermes raised his voice. “Anybody fucks with Barbecue-Man or his wife will have to answer to me. They are under my protection.”

Hermes’ motivation was not entirely altruistic. He knew people were hording. Nobody else would offer what they had if giving it up left them naked.

Within a half-hour the entire neighborhood knew. Don’t fuck with Barbecue-man or his property or you would get a tune-up you might not live through.

Thursday, April 29, 2021

"Police Departments have to stop hiring psychopaths"

 Sample test to screen for psychopaths

1. Glib and superficial (insincere, shallow)
2. Grandiose (exaggeratedly high) estimation of self
3. Need for stimulation (prone to boredom)
4. Pathological lying (l lie to make things go more smoothly)
5. Cunning and manipulative (I cheat and manipulate people)
6. Lack of remorse or guilt
7. Shallow affect (superficial emotional responsiveness. I rarely connect with others emotionally)
8. Callousness and lack of empathy

One of the hallmarks of "Grandiosity" and "Lack of empathy" the complete inability to sense that attribute?  It is like asking somebody who is color-blind if they are color-blind.

My token Progressive friend continues to send me emails. It is his belief that Police Departments make an active effort to recruit psychopaths. One of his "fixes" to the BLM narrative is to stop hiring psychopaths.

And so, pray tell, how do you propose identifying who is and who is not a psychopath? Would you use a test like the one shown above?

Suppose I was a psychopath, what is to prevent me from gaming the test the same way potential jurors game the juror selection process? Isn't the incentive to be dishonest? I would be far more suspicious of a "perfect non-psychopath" score than somebody who scored moderately psychopathic.

His reply had a twisted kind of logic: "Well, they seem to be able to identify them to recruit them."

How can one have a rational conversation with a thought process that is so captured by circular logic?

An unusual engineering simulation

Altair Engineering, a company that markets Engineering and Design software sends out a monthly news letter.

My email address ended up on one of their lists.

This is an extract from one of mailings:

Does holding a wireless car key-fob to your head extend the range?

The chip. The loop around the perimeter is the antenna for the 315 MHz signal

Gain chart, plan view. Chip floating in space.

Gain chart, side view

Then a human body was added to the simulation.

It was interesting that a fat, healthy side-lobe forms off the human's "weak side". I never would have anticipated that. The weakest signal is behind

The optimum positioning for the fob was to place it on TOP of your head.

The signal is 10dB (ten times) stronger in the 1 O'clock position (if held in the right hand) than the free-standing chip. Perhaps more important, the gain is nearly circular so there are no dead-zones like when held in front of you. The weakest signal direction of the "on top of head" is still ten times greater than the weakest direction for "fob held in forward position"

If signal decreases by distance^2, then 10dB should triple the distance the signal can travel and still actuate the circuit in the vehicle.

This work was not replicated for people who cranial cavity is filled with a vacuum or air.

Wednesday, April 28, 2021

Roofs and events that cluster

The guys (2 of them) finished off the roof except for the vents.

They were hampered by an early morning shower, high humidity and high (for Michigan) winds.

We are in the home stretch.


I am disappointed that Biden did not outlaw red meat.

I figured that every woodchuck would be worth $100 (after making adjustments for inflation), every rabbit would be worth $30 and who knows what I could get for each raccoon and possum.

Holding my breath

Suicides run in clusters.

Have you ever noticed how one person yawning during a dreary training session will result in a ripple of yawns across the entire room?

"...the fracture appears to originate at the base of the letters "E" and "L" of the metal stamped part number..." Source

It like a scratch on a smooth surface where stresses amplify and from that scratch a crack grows and then the part snaps.

What was behind an opaque curtain pops out and becomes fully visible. What was unthinkable (or unthought) becomes a fascination, like a tongue probing a newly lost tooth.

For the crack to grow or the yawn to spread there must be underlying tension.

The absence of broken cam shafts or yawns is not definitive evidence that there are no underlying tensions. Rather, it could be evidence that a triggering event has not happened. Yet.

If I were I a prominent politician in a state that had implemented repressive policies to slow the spread of Covid; and if there were no body of evidence supporting the efficacy of the painful measures I had gleefully continued to inflict...I would pray that nobody made that first yawn.

Many times, the difference between "suicide" and "homicide" are vanishingly small. Clusters.

Please forgive my oblique and round-about way of discussing these concerns.

6.5mm Arisaka and Limpet mines

The 6.5mm Arisaka or 6.5mm Japanese is an interesting cartridge for a few reasons.

It was introduced in 1899 and the bolt action rifle that fired it was state-of-the-art for its time.

Unsure of their metallurgy abilities, the Japanese took a design similar to the German Mauser and doubled the number of locking lugs from two primary to four primary lugs. With a +30" barrel it made a fine spear after mounting the bayonet on it.

At some point in WWII the Japanese decided that the 6.5mm round did not have enough killing power and introduced a second infantry round that was very similar to the British .303. Those darned Americans were way-hard to kill.

In retrospect, declining marksmanship was probably more of an issue than lack of killing power.

The US had a similar issue in the Korean War when the .30 Carbine gained full-auto capability and the round that mowed down Japanese Bushido warriors couldn't kill Chinese. Kids, freaking out when the Chinese attacked in waves went full auto and most of the rounds went high, smacking into the hill two klicks downrange.

The bullet that misses has no killing power unless you count the ones that land in Miss Susie's 4th birthday party across town.


6.5mm Arisaka, 120 grain softpoint, about 2500 fps

6.5mm Grendel, 120 grain softpoint, about 2400 fps

6.8mm Remington SPC, 115 grain softpoint, about 2500 fps

The 6.5mm Grendel and 6.8mm SPC are very new chamberings intended to maximize downrange energy .AND. still fit in an AR-15 envelope.

In WWII, the 6.5mm Arisaka was more typically loaded with 160 grain FMJ bullets at 2200-to-2300 fps.


The 6.5mm Arisaka is not a SAAMI defined round. The "official" max pressure is 42,000 psi which is probably a nod to the same, conservative decisions made by the Japanese in 1899.

By way of comparison, the .243 Winchester has a SAAMI max pressure of 60,000 psi. The reason that the .243 Winchester is used for comparison is that some reloaders use .243 brass as the starting point and re-form it into 6.5 Arisaka brass.


The exigencies of war result in excessive variation in components. Dirt, mud and other debris can prevent a firearm from going into battery.

To deal with the issue, the Japanese "grew" the diameter of the chamber. A machine can run if it is "too loose" but it will not run if it is "too tight".

The generous chamber dimensions mean that brass life for the 6.5mm Arisaka is short for those of us who reload. The brass gets a work-out between expanding when fired and being cranked back down when full-length formed. One option, if you will only be shooting the round through a single rifle, is to resize just the neck.

Limpet mines

The British engaged in a crash program to create weapons as WWII loomed over the horizon.

One of those weapons was the limpet mine, so named because it resembles a clam that adheres to structures like the hulls of ships that are moored.

Necessity is a mother.

The original plan called for specialty magnets but the Brits went with common, horse-shoe magnets because that was what was readily available.

Two major problems that had to be solved involved a robust timing mechanism and how to initiate that start of that mechanism.

Batteries are heavy. Salt water is both corrosive and conductive.

The solution was to separate the two contacts (or the hammer of a percussion igniter) with a small candy called "aniseed ball". The sugar-based candy dissolves at a very repeatable rate in cold water and worked just fine....


It started dissolving the second the frogman stepped into the water. Since frogmen are expensive and time consuming to train, Brits deemed it advisable to recycle them rather than sending them on one-time missions.

The solution was to encase the aniseed balls with a condom which the frogman stripped off the mechanism just before he swam away.

The jokes write themselves.

Nevertheless, I admire the fact that the Brits were able to field an effective weapon for less than a billion dollars in development costs.

"Brits discover that condoms delay premature events involving aniseed balls" or something like that.

Remnant: Ananias and Sapphira

Hermes Aiello rubbed his temples as he sorted through the worst of the issues facing the neighborhood.

Aiello had taken over a closed Chinese restaurant named HuaPei. Neighbors joked that the name was the cause of its demise. “Why Pay?”

It was on the southeast corner of the neighborhood. Although it was not centrally located it was easy to find and the heavy brick walls were resistant to drive-by shooters. It was spacious inside and light enough after some of the plywood on windows not facing the streets were peeled off.

Hermes had volunteered for the job of administering the neighborhood out of self-defense. He had grown up south of the border and seen what happened in neighborhoods when the wrong people ran them.

Hermes had a background in general construction and had been on-track to get his general contractor’s license. He had a knack for making things come together and for not agonizing over tough decisions.

People will follow a decisive leader even if his decisions don’t always seem fair. They will neither respect or follow somebody who waffles.

A loud man with a florid face that bespoke of a long-standing intimacy with whiskey bottles demanded to see Hermes. The man resembled a daddy-longlegs spider with spindly arms and a round body, hard with long-standing fat deposits.

The man pushed past the people sitting in chairs along the wall who were waiting their turns.

Aiello tuned him out. Waving his hand to one of his lieutenants, Hermes directed him in Spanish to throw the loudmouth into the street.

Then addressing the strident loudmouth, Hermes said “I don’t have time for you today. You must make an appointment. I think there might be one open next week.”

Two lieutenants bracketed the man and literally tossed him out the door like a couple of bouncers.

When they came back, Hermes said “This one looks like he could be trouble. If he comes back, don’t let him in. If he has a gun, shoot him.”

One of Hermes’ first acts as administrator had been to discipline one of the local hot-heads.

The next neighborhood east of Fabulous Acres sent a mob to collect the hot-head claiming he had raped one of their girls.

Hermes stood them down by force of personality. “He is mine to discipline. If you don’t like how I handle it...then we can talk.”

The neighborhood rumor mill verified that the young man had forced his affections on the unwilling girl. He had bragged about it.

Hermes dispatched a couple of lieutenants with 30” long pieces of concrete rebar and they had given the man a vigorous tune-up. It would be a long time before the man would walk normally.

Everybody was happy. The neighborhood east of Fabulous Acres was happy. The residents of Fabulous Acres appreciated a firm hand on the helm. The only person who was not happy was the recipient of the tune-up and he didn’t matter.

Twenty minutes later, Jim Thresher was lurching toward Hwai Pei with his hand in his pocket.

Hermes’ lieutenants operated on the premise that anybody worth shooting once was worth shooting ten times.

Thresher had a cheap, dirty Hi-Point handgun in his pocket.

The lieutenants dragged his body into the center of Mt Hope Avenue. His body was not the first, nor would it be the last.


Joyce Wagner was a kind, soft-hearted woman. She hired local women as maids even though she was totally capable of keeping their small home clean. She bought handicrafts and folk art from them.

The one luxury that Joyce allowed herself was a room air conditioner on their bedroom. None of the homes in Fabulous Acres had central air but most of them had at least one room that they kept air conditioned.

She was oblivious to the fact that one reason their home had only been burgalled twice was because the neighborhood had a comprehensive list of everything they least on the ground floor. They simply had very little that could be fenced for decent money.

Rod, for his part, held two neighborhood barbecues a year. It was a way to clear out the freezer before he went back out-West. It cost him nothing but made a big impression on the neighbors.

Rod was torn.

Joyce told him that they were going to donate their supply of food to the local church, Iglesia Pentecostés Puerta de Refugio. Joyce rarely told Rodney what to do but she had very strong feelings about this.

While Joyce and Rod didn’t belong to any local church, Joyce read the Bible daily and she felt “called” to give away their pallets of food.

Rod felt like he was being roasted over a slow fire. It went against every fiber of his being.

Joyce persisted. “What are people going to think as they waste away to skin-and-bones while we stay fat?”

Then she played her trump card. “It is like the story of Ananias and Sapphira in Acts. This is not a time to be half-hearted.”

Oh, how it tortured Rod. He knew, at some level, that Joyce was right. It would not be too long before a delegation from the neighborhood went door-to-door, forced their way in and confiscated every bite of food.

It was a hard thing to swallow, but he conceded. Better to appear to be with the program than to have others rip it out of their basement. Better to give your heart than to have it ripped, beating, from your body.

Joyce called the Pastor. The Pastor sent a couple of Elders to assess the offer...basically to see how many people it would take to carry the food to the church's food-bank.

Rodney was carrying a lantern as he showed Victor Aiello and Antonio Silvas around the basement.

Rodney froze when he heard Victor ask “What are those?”

Turning, Rodney saw Victor was pointing at his stash of Com-Bloc ammo spam-cans and US Mil ammo cans with his flashlight. Rod had completely spaced that they were visible.

Tuesday, April 27, 2021

Another day crossed off the calendar

The roofers were a no-show.

I got a call from The Boss. A church in Kalamazoo (seventy miles away) had an issue with their roof.

The Boss's right-hand man had a doctor's appointment so The Boss grabbed the crew-leader and crew who were working on my roof and took them down to Kalamazoo.

So if a congregation gets sprinkled by water coming through a leaky church roof, is that technically holey water?

Overwhelmed by sloth

I mowed the yard with the push mower.

I moved the cattle to a new paddock. I saw the first swallow (bird) of the season while moving them. I am uncertain regarding the species. I think it was just passing through.

I drove into Lansing and bought a couple pairs of running shoes. $49 a pair for New Balance 481s. 

My feet do well in New Balance and they seem to hold up to the pounding that fat, old men put on them. Some other brands are much lighter but they don't hold up.

Out-of-Battery mysteries

SAAMI chamber drawings show rifling starting a nominal 4mm (0.160") from the step that head-spaces the brass. This photo clearly shows the rifling starting at that step where there is supposed to be free-bore.

Witness marks on a round that kept the weapon out of battery. The two bite-marks are from where the projectile ran into the rifling.

I fiddled with a Taurus Millennium G2. The problem is clearly rifling that extends too far aft. I don't know how common that is in Tauras Millennium G2 barrels, but projectiles that are "into" the rifling when fired can cause pressure spikes.

In a perfect world, a reputable company like Lone Wolf Barrels would offer to run a throat broach into the barrel to produce a combat-friendly free-bore. I would GLADLY pay $40 plus freight both ways for the service. Just sayin'


Coming along.

Canning supplies

Slowly creeping back into supply. Our local Ball-Fart has jars but no lids or rings.

The mice will play while the cat is away

With Mrs ERJ away we flaunt our independence. 

We made sandwiches with WHITE bread and ate them.

I had a long phone conversation with her today. She has been gone a week and is still settling in.

They made an expedition to The Big City to take her sister to a specialist. It was harrowing. The traffic. The parking.

It was the wrong specialist. Wires had been crossed and she was sent to a specialist in issues she did not have.

Somehow, I have no doubt that their insurance company will get dinged anyway.

Fine Art Tuesday


I like art where I can identify the trees. The trees on the bank (left side) are beech trees. In a tamed and civilized landscape like Denmark, those trees were left intentionally. Probably due to the fact they produce mast (nuts) that fatten the Christmas goose.

Peder Mørk Mønsted born in Denmark 1859 and died 1941.

May Theilgaard Watts once observed that nearly everybody feels a certain, visceral connection with the landscape of Denmark. She claimed it was due to the impact of the illustrated writings of Hans Christian Andersen. We recognize the Danish landscape from the stories.

Pollard willow on the bank. Mønsted accurately captured the algae bloom in the water due to the high nutrient loading from the goose poop. He may have chosen this time of year for the painting because the water might look pretty nasty later.

It seems crazy that people could build that close to water and not be hammered by mosquitoes.

In the United States, holly hocks were usually planted by the outhouse so discerning guests did not need to ask. Of course, if it was urgent one could simple sweep downwind of the property and then follow one's nose.

Holly hocks are usually biennial. They bloom the second year and then die. They can be vigorous self-seeders.

Unfortunately, most common strains of holly hocks are susceptible to mildew.

Many of Mønsted's pictures show thatched roofs. I picked this one because it shows the battens that are on the peak to provide wind-resistance and to hold down panels to cover the part of the roof that does not have overlapping bundles of thatch.

Monday, April 26, 2021

The day in review

The roofing continues.

The crew is working steadily. And I believe they are working safely

They put in ten hours today. It drove me nuts. I felt pinned to the house.

They left at 7:52PM and at 7:54 I was in the truck heading to Burchfield Park for a run.

I knocked out a 3.5 mile run with the last quarter-mile being the walk-down to work the lactic acid out. Bella is trying to be a good influence on me. I did ten push-ups at each mile mark.

Gobs of deer running around at that time of the evening.

The crew will be back tomorrow. It may be the last day. Sorry, no pics for OPSEC reasons.


The calves rotate back to the beginning of their paddock rotation tomorrow. That is the one they first hit in early March.

A high of 80 (F) is expected tomorrow.


Today was the last good day to collect scion wood. I expect the 80F temps to blow out the buds tomorrow.

I got lazy. It is easier to graft a few scion on to a well placed oak tree (for instance) than to dig a five foot tall tree and transplant it.

A friend in Kentucky, Lucky P, sent me some hybrid oak acorns several years ago. It has the quaint name of Q. X  humidicola. You cannot make this stuff up.

Three seedlings did very well and have exceeded my stamina and motivation to dig them up. Hence the graft onto wilding rootstock strategy.

Never underestimate the industry of a lazy man.

A moment to pray

Belladonna has had two unshakeable friends in her life. She met both before she was six and they stuck with her through thick-and-thin ever since.

One of them lost her younger sister, age 16, a couple of days ago. Her younger sister took her own life.

This is one of those topics that is right on the margin of what is appropriate to share in a public blog. Please understand if I am vague regarding the circumstances.

Nothing is ever simple or straightforward when this kind of thing happens. In retrospect, there seem to be dozens of off-ramps before the bridge-out event.

Sometimes random events collude to produce an unhappy ending. I would dearly love to lay this at the feet of Gov. Whitmer's closing of schools but know in my heart this is a minor factor.

I ask those of you who are the praying types to pray for the deceased girl's mother, that she might not be crippled with guilt and "would have, could have, should have". I ask you to pray for Belladonna's friend and her friend's younger brother. I ask you to pray for every sixteen year old who pushes away help and is sure they are alone in their pain and that things will never get better.

If you had to disappear...

Where would you go?

One contender would be Wasagaming, Manitoba.

The key to winning at the disappearing game is to seed so many possibilities into your back-trail that they never think to look at Caribou, Maine, Pineville, Louisiana or Green-Eggs-N-Ham, South Dakota.

Sadly, Canada has standards and I am not sure they would let me in.

Just out of curiosity, I wonder if I have any readers in Manitoba.

Book Clubs

I happened to be looking at the statistics for my blog and noticed that three consecutive selections from the Quest series each had exactly 14 hits each in the previous 24 hours. That has the feel of a book club.

If that is the case, thank-you for choosing one of my stories. I hope you enjoy it and maybe even glean a bit of wisdom from the adventure. I make no claims of writing great literature, but God can turn coal into diamonds. Maybe my story can be the catalyst that triggers some latent gestalt in the reader. If so, it is not me. It is God.

Some observations on Supply-and-Demand

Actual title, Survival Sex during Spicy Times

A man came home from work to see his wife frantically packing her bags. Clearly, she was trying to leave before he came home.

"Whatchya doing?" he asked.

"I am leaving you" she replied.

It was really not a big surprise. Things had not been smooth during Covid.

"Where are you going?" he asked as he spied her plane boarding pass.

"Los Vegas" she said as she continued packing.

"Why Vegas. Got another man lined up?" he asked.

"Nope. Going there because prostitution is legal and it pays $100 piecework." she said.

Without a word the man pulled out his suitcase and started packing.

"Where are YOU going?" she demanded.

"Vegas" he replied.

"Why?" she asked.

"I gotta see with my own eyes a place in America where you can live on $300 a year."

OK, it is a joke but it illustrates that "Supply" can be very flexible and can be perverse. The woman is getting way more than $100 in-kind per intimate act in her current setting. In Vegas she would be getting less and would consequently have to produce more.

Dominican Republic

There are two rates for sex in third-world countries. There is the full-retail price paid by tourists and then there is the rate for locals.

According to my niece who visited the Dominican Republic twenty years ago, the going rate for sex for locals in the barrios around the tourist joints was half a bag of stale hamburger buns.

This is not to bang on Dominican Republic. I doubt that there are any substantial differences in between any of the third-world countries.

A typical case is an emaciated woman with an infant and a toddler. The one door of her shack cannot be secured. A john wanting sex shows up. The john worked in a kitchen at a resort and he picked up an open bag with four, stale hamburger buns as he left. A friend (or two) might hear him rutting and join him. Consent is consent. Policing is non-existent. It is what it is.

United States

We had a "temp" worker in one of our auto factories. She was fired because everyplace she worked in the plant experienced disruption.

Her supervisor told her that the process was to give her an exit interview before tossing her in the street.

She asked if it could happen after lunch because she had three "dates" lined up in the parking lot for the 24 minute lunch break.

I asked Eddie, the man who was sharing that information with me "How is that even possible. It is a five minute walk from anywhere in the plant to the parking lot. That means three tricks in about fifteen minutes?"

Eddie said "What she do, she doan take off no clothes." 

Use your imagination. 


She will get much skinnier if she expects to survive by selling her body.

Slightly exaggerating here, but every man between the age of 15-and-40 is capable of, and desires sex twice a day and every female between the ages of 12-and-65 can crank-out a job every 10 minutes for a sum-total of 42 per 8 hour day with an hour for breaks.

Twice as many suppliers as consumers, each one capable of cranking out twenty times more "product" than each consumer demands suggests a potential over-supply of 40X.

That does not bode well for the producers' pricing power. Once the supply exceeds the base demand by even a tiny percent, the prices will fall off a cliff.

Random observations

Sex will be so pervasive in Spicy Times that it will be the thirteenth donut in the Baker's dozen. It will be tossed in to sweeten the deal.

A gifted seamstress will command prices that are many times higher than the best blow-job in the world. Spicy Times will be hard on clothing especially since so much of what is in closets is not suitable for hard work.

In the Dominican Republic, the hungriest babies were the ones living in the shacks the furthest way from the resort kitchens. Johns would not walk an extra fifty steps if they could have their needs met closer.

We consider "women having agency over their bodies and partners" to be a fundamental fact-of-life. Women have no agency in environments without robust policing. The average working man has three times the upper-body strength of a typical woman. Even the most skilled at martial arts will fail when confronted with multiple aggressors in a confined space.

A scene from the "Wokest" Oscar ever


Somehow fitting in light of the Progressives' Orwellian need to change the meaning of words.

"Wokest" indeed.

Remnant: Sometimes it is just not your day

The trajectory of Billy Rueben’s life was accurately predicted by his Kindergarten teacher. On his first report-card, she wrote “Does not play well with others. Impulsive. Never considers consequences before acting.”

Billy was a slightly-built, sallow-faced man with a slightly stooped appearance. In his late-20s, his economic fortunes had been squandered betting on the-next-big thing. This time, though, he was sure he was on to a winner.

His grandfather had called in all kinds of favors and had gotten him a Letter of Marque.

He was near the end of the convoy of trucks heading out of Lansing on M-99 toward Eaton Rapids. He seethed as drivers ahead of him peeled off the line and headed down side-roads that appeared to be rich in loot.

Billy had achieved self-awareness. He knew he did not play well with others and usually got the shitty-end of the stick as a result. He did not follow any of those trucks.

That is how he found himself to be the only truck to enter the City of Eaton Rapids. Him and him alone.

Cruising down the nearly deserted street, he was oblivious to the stares he was receiving. His head was swivelling around trying to figure out where they stored the food. Then, a stray breeze brought him the smell of freshly baking bread. Billy’s stomach growled.

He pulled his truck into the parking lot of the Submarine Sandwich shop. Of course they had bread!!! Probably lots of other food, too.

Billy turned the truck around so the nose was pointed to the street.

Getting out of the cab, he saw an armed guard.

Billy presented his Letter of Marque to the guard and told him “Get these hicks to load up the truck. I am on a schedule”

Billy assumed the guards worked for the Governor and were there to protect against unauthorized looting. He did not attend to what appeared to be random motion of the guards as they moved to put the truck’s body behind Billy or moving so stray shots and pass-throughs would skip up the street rather than into nearby buildings.

Nobody had ever accused Billy of being a quick thinker.

Gary Weber crooked a finger to beckon the Mayor. “What do you think of this?” he asked.

The Mayor took the page. Billy heard the rasp of a cigarette lighter igniting and before Billy could react, the Mayor was holding the flame to the precious piece of paper.

“Think of what?” the Mayor asked.

Billy was scrambling to get his gun out of his waistband when he noticed that several of the guards were already pointing their rifles at him.

This was not shaping up to be Billy’s day. He was on probation the recruiter who had issued the Letter and would remain so until he had either recruited three more raiders or returned with more than three-thousand pounds of food.


Rodney Wagner was also experiencing a heightened state of anxiety.

The dehumidifier in the dank basement of their hundred year-old house on the south end of Lansing’s Fabulous Acres neighborhood had not been running ever since the power went down.

Lest you get the wrong idea about Rodney and Joyce’s house and the “Fabulous Acres” neighborhood, the houses were on tiny lots and of ramshackle construction. Rodney’s house was one of the very few not surrounded by a tall, chain-link fence and patrolled by pit-bulls with names like Angelo or Romero or Drago.

Rodney and Joyce’s presence in the neighborhood was a bit of an anamoly.

Joyce was a PK. That is, a Preacher’s Kid. Even at age 63 and after their home had been broken into several times, she was still naive and trustful.

Rodney loved Joyce and as long as she shared his bed let him go hunting out-West every autumn, he could live in a tent and be happy.

Rodney was also a stubborn man. His brother in Eaton Rapids had been pointing to the downward slide for years and damned if he was going to give his brother the satisfaction of say “See, I was right.”

But his brother had been.

You can take a boy out of the country but you cannot take the country out of the boy. Rodney had a substantial stash of supplies in his basement but they would be quickly destroyed by the humidity.

The humidity was exacerbated by the sewers backing up. Already, houses at lower elevation were reporting over a foot of raw sewage in their basements.


Jim Thresher was about to make a scene. 

Every VFW hall and every bar that caters to ex-military has at least one person like Thresher.

When Jim entered the bar, men would look at their wrist watches and suddenly remember urgent appointments elsewhere.

Jim was a bluffer, a blowhard and a braggart. He fancied himself "an operator" and would tell anybody who slowed down within six feet of his table that "I killed more gooks in one day than the rest of my platoon killed in five years." Oddly, his claim was based in fact.

The defining moment in Jim’s life was in 1972 in Thailand. He reported for duty higher than a kite. He had been given the assignment to hitch his truck to a trailer that carried a water tank and move it to another location.

Jim became disoriented while en-route and became thoroughly lost. Jim subscribed to the belief that when lost in a foreign country the proper solution was to accelerate and lay on the horn. Eventually, you will recognize some landmark or the MPs will find you.

The tires of the M149 Water Buffalo hit the washed out approach to a bridge over one of the countless canals in the area and the tongue jumped off the hitch.

Travelling at 45 miles per hour, the 4500 pound trailer plowed through the pedestrians crossing the bridge, killing 12 and maiming almost 30 more.

Jim bluffed his way out of it. He claimed the trailer was defective and that the damage to the hitch had been there BEFORE the accident. When asked why he had not red-tagged the trailer during his pre-operaton inspection, Jim claimed it looked like that when it came out of the Motor Pool PMs and he assumed mechanics had bought off on the damage.

Then he went for his kill-shot. “If you discipline me you are going to have to discipline every mechanic who worked on it and every driver who signed off on their pre-op inspections. You won't have a single mechanic or driver left."

The officers folded. Jim was shipped out to Germany and the brass did whatever it took to prevent the carnage Jim had caused from spinning up into an international incident.

Jim was about to use his guardhouse lawyering skills to straighten out the people running the neighborhood food distribution. 

Everybody knew that when things went in the ditch you needed a real military man to run things. Not some pansy officer. You needed somebody who had been there and done that. Of course, they would have to make it worth his while.

And if they tried to screw with him they would rue the day they had tangled with Jim Thresher.

Sunday, April 25, 2021

Daily report

The roofers got a lot done today. I expect them to finish tomorrow.

I will be overjoyed to have the freedom to jump in the truck or go for a run. 

Mostly, I have been "available" which means I stayed in the house and over-ate. I am starting to get that Covid weight-gain thing.

I knocked out a couple tiny house projects. A few months ago one of our under cabinet lights puked. I replaced it with a unit from a Big-Box store. The new unit had a tiny switch that was difficult to see tucked up beneath the cabinet. It was easier to turn on by plugging and unplugging.

Today I drilled a 1/2" hole through the cabinet over-hang and spliced in a push-button switch. It works but the switch is high effort.

The other side project was to fix the ceiling fan/light in Belladonna's room.

It required dusting the blades and screwing the bulb back into the socket. Somebody had removed the bulb but left it in the globe. Fixed and fixed. That was an easy one.

I also got next week's fiction knocked out.

Other than that, it was a day of doing nothing and going nuts.

On the agenda for the coming week is two days at Mom's. Get the septic tank pumped out (or get it scheduled) and drywall the ceiling of the kid's bathroom.

I have been holding off on drywalling until we had our roof leaks eliminated. The asphalt shingle roof was 20 years old and the roof vents were not the best. The only leaks were are likely to get now are from ice dams and word on the street is that steel roofs shed snow and ice dams are unlikely.

9mm Major


Disclosure: This is probably a 40 S&W case. I chose it because the bulge resulted from an incompletely supported chamber. Eye-catching, isn't it.

All progress is due to "crazy" people. There are thousands of reasons why things are exactly the way they are and to try anything different is to be crazy.

"9mm Major" is a wildcat designation for a 9mm handgun cartridge that is loaded so that the power-factor (the muzzle-velocity in fps) TIMES (the weight of the projectile in grains) DIVIDED BY (1000) is reliably above 165.

For example, a 124 grain projectile requires a minimum velocity of 1331 feet-per-second to be 9mm Major vs. the 1100 fps that one might get from SAAMI compliant 9mm Luger loads.

Oh, the other thing is that this cartridge uses common, 9mm Luger "9X19mm brass".

That extra velocity comes at a cost of higher pressure. SAAMI sets the maximum pressure for 9mm Luger at 35,000 pounds-per-square-inch. 9mm Major reloads run a wide range of pressures with 45,000 psi being common and 60,000 psi a real possibility.


Why would anybody torture equipment and brass by running 30% to 70% over SAAMI spec?

Because loading 9mm Luger to those power levels provides a scoring advantage in IPSC and USPSA shooting competitions due to how "hits" are scored.

What can we learn from 9mm Major?

When you are riding the ragged-edge, very tiny details make a huge difference.

Let me paint a word-picture:

The 9mm Luger case is straight-walled and short. One way to increase the volume behind the bullet is to not seat the bullet as deeply when reloading it. A typical 9mm defensive load (like Hornady 124gr XTP) might have an over-all cartridge length of 1.06" so it chambers and fires in any SAAMI complaint chamber. The SAAMI length spec for 9mm Luger is a maximum of 1.169" and it is not uncommon for 9mm Major reloaders to push that to the max allowed by their magazines....often 1.18"

Just as increasing the over-all length of the loaded cartridge lowers pressure, inadvertent shortening (often called "bullet setback") will cause it to spike even beyond the 45-to-60ksi range.

How can bullet setback happen?

Inadequate neck tension is one big cause. The reloading die for 9mm reduces the diameter of the outside of the neck and the inherent assumption is that the wall thickness is consistent. Well, it may be within a specific brand of cases but it is not consistent from brand-to-brand. Some cases have thicker material in the neck (good retention) and others have thinner material (less aggressive retention).

Another consideration is the geometry of the ramp that the projectile hits as it is stripped forward and out of the magazine. The ramp lifts the pointy end up and guides it to the chamber. If the ramp is blunt then it exerts more aftward force on the bullet when it first strikes the ramp and starts to lift it up.

In a similar vein, if the surface of the ramp is rough it increases the friction and all of the forces produced when hitting the ramp increase.

The material characteristics and geometry of the projectile's tip and how they interact with the surface material of the ramp can come into play. Remember that time you went down the slide at the playground and the shorts you were wearing rode up? Yeah, no joy there.

Equipment sets

One thing that I found to be useful when researching 9mm Major is that some equipment sets, specifically barrels, are more accommodating to supporting the demands of reloading to  9mm Major pressures. The ramps are polished. The surfaces are nitrided. The chamber has minimum cut-outs for extractor clearance to better support the brass. Free-bore is generous in length and diameter and the tapering of the rifling is gentle. And so on, and so forth.

If I anticipated that I might someday own a handgun, and if I thought it was prudent to have a back-up barrel in stock for repairs, I would certainly research what the 9mm Major competitors were running and give those exact barrels/part numbers very strong consideration.

Saturday, April 24, 2021

The day in pictures


Millie, left side, foreground, seems to be responding to the medication.

Here she is next to her bosom buddy Lucy.

She appears to be eating more, much more. In fact, she turned into an eating-machine and she lost that hunched-up look.

We will wash the poop-ring off her tail after she is moved to a paddock closer to the house.


The roofers showed up today.

It started to rain at 12:30 and they bagged it for the day. The steel roofing is very slippery when wet.

They dropped off an enormous dumpster for the roof tear-off. Half the roof filled less than a sixth of the dumpster. The crew chief said I could not throw tires in there but he would look the other way for nearly everything else.

The roof tear-off was loud inside the house. It didn't bother me because I have lots of practice ignoring loud music, loud kids, loud TVs, loud bangs and the like. It drove Kubota nuts. Karma?

Side project

I fiddled with the old Coleman Dual-fuel 533 camp-stove I have.

My first go-around had several leaks. I looked at the cost of a new one ($100) and decided it would be worth my time to try to fix it.

I bought an set of Viton O-rings because...well, because it is always the O-rings.

It wasn't the O-rings. Somehow it had gotten tossed around and the compression fittings were loose. Fixing it involved lightly greasing the O-rings with Rotella red-grease, reassembling and tightening the nuts for the compression fittings.

It ran like crap until the air and stale gas had worked its way through the system.


Once it burned off whatever was clogging up the air-ports (spider webs?) it ran like a top.

What a great piece of technology and not a single wire or chip in it. 


No pictures but at least one set of geese at the local pond have newly hatched goslings in tow.

Shopping trip

Again, no pictures. I made a trip to Charlotte (pop about 8k) to shop at the local sporting goods store.

The Dunham's Sports in Lansing had New Balance running shoes that my feet like. I assumed the store in Charlotte would also have them.


On the positive side, they have Ruger American Ranch rifles in .350 Legend with decent Vortex glass on them for about $600. Tempting.

Spanish can be such an expressive language



The post from the Bayou Renaissance Man resonated with a lot of readers particularly this line:  

They, unknown to me, told half-a-dozen other families to come too - "He's a good guy, I'm sure he won't mind!"

I think the best answer is to be very up-front with people (if any) you invite to share your space.

"If you show up with an uninvited guest then neither of you are welcome. You can find someplace else to squat."

"If somebody shows up later and claims you invited them...and you admit you are both out on the street."

"I am a total, cast-iron prick when it comes to protecting those closest to me. I will not let ANYBODY jeopardize that...not my cousin or my neighbor or even my son or daughter."

"Never make the mistake of thinking I am a 'nice guy' or that your opinion of me matters even the least, little bit."

And be perfectly clear in your head that you WILL toss your son or daughter out in the street without hesitation if they are the ones drilling holes in the bottom of the life-boat.

Friday, April 23, 2021

Presented without comment


That went over like a fart in church

I had an extra-long shift scheduled at mom's today.

The regular caregiver is burned out and needed a long weekend.

The roofer called and said they were going to start today. Crap, crap, crap, crap.

Normally, no problem. Mrs ERJ and I would split up. One would stay home and the other would do mom-duty.

I had to call and renege on mom-duty which got siblings and other care-givers' panties in a wad.

I called the roofer at 8:30 this morning "What time will they show up?"

"Oh, something came up. The tear-off crew will be there after lunch" the contractor said.

At 12:30, two guys pull up in a pickup and drop off a few rolls of underlayment and say they will start tomorrow.

I head to Mom's five hours later than scheduled. The person who showed up at 7 the previous night was still there and a walking zombie. She said she wanted to stay until the next person came and I could go back home. Hey, her call.

I walked the dog and then went home.

Things being what they are, I don't know what other choices I had. The contractor from last year stiffed us from late June for the whole rest of the construction season. I cannot get too bent about this guy slipping a day.

The other thing is that roofers work in rain-free windows of time. We have sporadic rain forecast and they are going to tear-off and roof one side at a time.

I will be very, very happy when the new roof is in place.


While in town I had a conversation with one of my brothers. He was pissed at me (brothers can tell these things). 

The conversation was about changes to The Rules when mom clocks through the two weeks after her second shot and is considered fully vaccinated.

The CDC guidance varies from webpage-to-webpage. One place it says "everybody fully vaccinated...good to go" other places it says "Full face masks and physical distancing is still required if anybody in the house is at high risk (which includes old people over 65)".  Holy crap! Mom is 89 and by those standards will never see a human face the rest of her life.

My brother was knocked on his butt for four days by the vaccine (Pfizer). He is pissed that he went through the grief and there will be no benefit.

With Mrs ERJ away, I have to monitor the family Facebook page. I floated the idea of dropping the masks if mom and caregiver are fully vaccinated. I also pointed out that every decision has two risks. There might be a slight increase in the risk of Mom getting Covid if we drop the masks but there is an increased risk that multiple caregivers will jump-ship if we don't give them relief on masks. Caregivers with flu-like symptoms are expected to recuse themselves but that was pre-Covid anyway

My gut feel is that some of them are already not wearing masks when more than six feet from Mom and Mom is A-OK with that. She is not going to rat on them. I caught myself doing it. Mom asks "What did you say?" and down comes the mask so she can see my lips move.

A basic rule of leadership is to not issue directives that will not be followed and you cannot enforce. Something our Governor never learned.

...what evil comes our way?

One way that intelligent people prepare for future disasters is they look to past disasters to gain insight into what might happen.

From those reference points, preparedness-minded people can triangulate how events might unfold and make adjustments, if necessary, to ease the pinch.

One treasure-trove of information comes from a blog post that Bayou Renaissance Man wrote back in 2008 regarding the ripples from Hurricanes Katrina and Rita. I am going to lean very heavily on Fair Use and display just a few tidbits that spoke most loudly to me.

I chose to quote two of the bullet in their totality because they the spoke most loudly to me. 

Let me reiterate: This is not my work. I am "borrowing it" from Bayou Renaissance Man. I cannot even claim to have found it; a kind gentleman pointed it out to me. If it speaks loudly to you, it is probably worth your time to follow the link shown above and read the his entire post.

The original post is a multipart, mega-post. I will identify the sub-post and bullet that I am quoting:

1:3  Plan on needing a LOT more supplies than you think. I found myself with over 30 people on hand, many of whom were not well supplied: and the stores were swamped with literally thousands of refugees, buying up everything in sight....

1:4 In a real emergency, forget about last-minute purchases.

1:11 Have enough money cash with you for at least two weeks. 

1:13 Don't rely on government-run shelters if at all possible. Your weapons WILL be confiscated

1:14 Warn your friends not to bring others with them!!! I had told two friends to bring themselves and their families to my home. They, unknown to me, told half-a-dozen other families to come too - "He's a good guy, I'm sure he won't mind!" Well, I did mind . . . but since the circumstances weren't personally dangerous, I allowed them all to hang around. However, if things had been worse, I would have been very nasty indeed to their friends (and even nastier to them, for inviting others without clearing it with me first!). If you offer a place of refuge for your friends, make sure they know that this applies to them ONLY, not their other friends. Similarly, if you have someone willing to offer you refuge, don't presume on his/her hospitality by arriving with others unforewarned.

2:1 Route selection is very, very important. 

3:1 People who were prepared were frequently mobbed/threatened by those who weren't. ...neighbors who had not prepared all came running after the disaster, wanting food, water and shelter from them. When the prepared families refused, on the grounds that they had very little, and that only enough for themselves, there were many incidents of aggression, attempted assault, and theft of their some cases, shots were fired.

3:2 When help gets there, you may get it whether you like it or not...In one incident, a family who had prepared and survived quite well were ordered, not invited, to get onto a truck, with only the clothes on their backs. When they objected, they were threatened. They had pets, and wanted to know what would happen to them. They report that a uniformed man (agency unknown) began pointing his rifle...

Another aspect of this is that self-sufficient, responsible families were often regarded almost with suspicion by rescuers. The latter seemed to believe that if you'd come through the disaster better than your neighbors, it could only have been because you stole what you needed

3.3 There seems to be a cumulative psychological effect upon survivors. This is clear even - or perhaps particularly - in those who were prepared for a disaster. During and immediately after the event these folks were at their best, dealing with damage, setting up alternative accommodation, light, food sources, etc. However, after a few days in the heat and debris (perhaps worst of all being the smell of dead bodies nearby), many found their ability to remain positive and "upbeat" being strained to the limit. There are numerous reports of individuals becoming depressed, morose and withdrawn. This seemed to happen to even the strongest personalities. The arrival of rescuers provided a temporary boost, but once evacuated, a sort of "after-action shell-shock" seems to be commonly experienced. I don't know enough about this to comment further, but I suspect that staying in place has a lot to do with it - there is no challenge to keep moving, find one's survival needs, and care for the group, and one is surrounded by vivid reminders of the devastation. By staying among the ruins of one's former life, one may be exposing oneself to a greater risk of psychological deterioration.

4.3 Your personal and/or corporate supplies and facilities may be commandeered without warning, receipt or compensation.

4.5 Those who thought themselves safe from the disaster were often not safe from refugees. There have been many reports of smaller towns, farms, etc. on the fringe of the disaster area being overrun with those seeking assistance.