Saturday, July 31, 2021

Tramp Steamers

(Howard) Pease was strongly critical of the 1930s world of children's literature (in which he worked) which he stated was a "wholly and solely a woman's world—a completely feminine world" subject to "tender-minded feminine control." Pease believed that this resulted in a paucity of male authors, depressed wages and a lack of realism in children's stories...modern critic took Pease to task for creating "traditional" male heroes who were "brave, clever and independent.   Wikipedia
I remember reading Tod Moran books as a young lad. Moran was the protagonist in many of Pease's novels. Moran sailed as a crew member of a tramp steamer to exotic locations.

The books have essentially vanished from commerce. They cannot be found on digital formats where expired copyrights can often be found. The rare copy that shows up in the secondary market command prices from $30-to-$300.

WWII Victory ships made fine tramp-steamers. They were about 450 feet long and rated at 4000 net tons. They could make 17 knots with a clean hull and with full bunkers had a range of 23,500 miles. They also were fitted with cranes so they could load and unload at primitive ports.

Tramp steamers used to be a staple of fiction written for young men. The term "tramp" refers to the fact that they do not have a regularly scheduled series of ports-of-call. The captain contracts out and hopes to pick up another load at the port where they unload. Or, sometimes they hop from port-to-port like a shuttle-bus and pick up copra, timber, ore as supply and prices dictate with the hope of turning a profit by unloading at commercial centers.

Obviously, higher profits were available when skating the edge of what was legal and what was not, or dipping in and out of war-zones.

As foreign nationals in ports, the protagonist could not count on help from the local law. Nor could he count on friends, family or people in high places. Rather, he found his help in his mates, the cooks, rickshaw drivers and waitresses of port cities.

US Merchant Marine activity was killed off by wage demands, an aging fleet and safety regs. Tramp steamers still exist but the crew, as a general rule, does not speak English.

It is a pity. There was no better test-bed to measure your manhood. We also lost an entire genre of fiction.

What a cluster-festival

I saw an article regarding vaccination rates on Daily Mail that was total gibberish.

I followed the links to the CDC page and saw that the article was almost a word-for-word cut-and-paste.

I didn't just look at the pretty charts. I downloaded their "data" and ran the math.


The premise of the article was that some demographic sub-groups are showing more "vaccine hesitancy" than others.

According to this table (and I could not replicate their numbers because I have no idea what denominator they used), less than 1% of people who identify as Native-American are "fully vaccinated". Authorities are baffled.

If you had been given Small-pox riddled blankets and then had your land stolen from you by "Authorities", would YOU trust them?

Blacks are listed as having 9% of them fully vaccinated. Again, authorities are baffled.

  • If your people had been allowed to die of Syphilis (Tuskegee Syphilis experiments....a Black University, no less) by doctors. 
  • If "Authorities" allowed the city of Flint (Black majority city) to marinate in water with lead levels high enough to cause brain damage. 
  • If the "Authorities" mandated that Covid-positive patients be placed in nursing homes where Black patients were in the majority, thereby resulting in a disproportionate impact on teh Black community. 
  • If "Authorities" could not be bothered to investigate Larry Nassar...a sexual predator who victimized one of the communities iconic athletes (Biles)....

Tell me with a straight face, why would YOU trust the authorities.

Oh, and these same authorities are juicing up Black Lives Matter, Critical Race Theory and the narrative that all bad outcomes are due to systemic racism and malice on the part of all White people.

Tell me, would YOU trust the authorities?

I don't know whether to laugh, curse or cry.

Friday, July 30, 2021

Which of the FAANGs stocks are most vulnerable to a hostile take-over?

Destroying stuff is good for profits

Predatory Venture Capital firms swooping in, buying controlling interest in a viable credit-worthy firm, borrowing to the hilt against that firm's business, transferring those funds to the mother-ship and then jettisoning the husk of the formerly viable company is a key characteristic of our "financialized" economy.

Our economy doesn't invent and make stuff any more. We shuffle numbers between accounts.

So let's stop screwing around with the penny-ante companies and go BIG. Hostile take-overs of these huge companies would have been unthinkable until the Fed pumped the economy to the bursting point with liquidity. That money is analogous to packs of wolves looking for places to go.

The key attribute for a good take-over candidate are sticky customers, solid profits and a business model that is not critically dependent on a very small cadre of people.

My list, in order of preference, follows:


Very sticky customers. They would buy Apple-branded etch-a-sketch pads for $2000. Music streaming and cloud business is "sticky". Hardware can be farmed out and rebadged.


Sticky because of convenience. One-stop-shopping. Business model is inherently simple enough that loss of some personnel will not scuttle the business.


Sticky because of penetration with businesses and Big-Data that can be mined for the next decade even if they never gain another customer.

Google (Alphabet)

Business model is like a middle-Eastern bazaar. Maybe more potential to part-out the businesses than the others but the complexity makes Google(Alphabet) less desirable than the others.


Too many competitors. Do not touch with a ten-terrabyte pole.


All sizzle. No steak. Dies if Musk walks.

Thursday, July 29, 2021


 Who wrote the following:

We don’t want the word to go out that we want to exterminate the Negro population...

Apply a stern and rigid policy of sterilization and segregation to that grade of population whose progeny is tainted, or whose inheritance is such that objectionable traits may be transmitted to offspring.

... these two words [birth control] sum up our whole philosophy... It means the release and cultivation of the better elements in our society, and the gradual suppression, elimination and eventual extinction, of defective stocks -- those human weeds which threaten the blooming of the finest flowers of American civilization.

Birth control itself, often denounced as a violation of natural law, is nothing more or less than the facilitation of the process of weeding out the unfit, of preventing the birth of defectives or of those who will become defectives… If we are to make racial progress...

Hint: This darling of the American Left died in 1966 and is still lionized by Progressives today. 

The rumors are TRUE


As a matter of fact I WAS a drummer for ZZ Top.

I even have video evidence.


Transactional Analysis was a way of looking at relationships and communication that was a Big Thing in the early 1970s.

Just because it is old doesn't mean it cannot give us insights.

For example, Fauci or Cuomo or Whitmer are speaking from "Parent" when telling their constituents what they MUST do regarding Covid-19. People who project from "Parent" are almost always directing their message to "Child".

That has the potential for massive fails.

Transactions are analyzed very simply. Lines cannot cross. For example, I could transmit from Parent-Authority. If my intended listener attempts to communicate in Adult-Dialog then communication will break down and a fight is likely to ensue.

From the perspective of the person who perpetually transmits from Parent-Authority, there are only two acceptable responses:
  • Total, unquestioning compliance.  P--->C
  • Becoming an accessory in the "push" message.  P--->P

Much bigger than Covid
This issue is much bigger than Covid.

Consider pre-natal checks. There are communities where more than 50% of clinical, pre-natal checks are "blown-off".

In one study*, 65% of the respondents mentioned "...emotional barriers to keeping appointments. At times, the negative emotions about going to see the doctor were greater than the perceived benefit of keeping the appointment."

I am just spit-balling here, but I would guess that at least some of the prospective mothers didn't go, in part, because they knew their weight was going to be mentioned and they were going to be told to lose weight.

In the same study, 44% of the respondents commented "...on issues of respect by the health care system. From their viewpoints, health care staff did not respect patients, discounting patients’ time, opinions, and feelings." for missing appointments.

Pre-natal visits are absolutely essential for diagnosing placenta previa, flagging perinatal blood pressure issues and collecting family histories of clotting related disorders like lung embolisms. All three of these issues are potentially lethal to the mother.

Nagging might seem like an effective strategy to Fauci et al but it does not increase compliance rates and trains people to avoid medical providers.

*Not linked because it has an issue with small sample size.

Not a First -World problem

Hooky Wednesday is back on track.

It had been put on hold with Mom's medical issues and the heavy mosquito population.

Yesterday we fished in downtown Eaton Rapids. Say what you want about urban fishing, but short grass and paved parking lots are not friendly to mosquitoes.

I kept six bluegills/sunfish. They had swallowed the hook. The rest were clean catch-and-releases.

Cleaning fish

I was the designated "fillet" guy as a kid. My other brothers got off with scaling them. Dad and I did the filleting.

I remember filleting as taking forever to do. My brothers could rip through the scaling and be doing other things long before I finished filleting and cleaning up the mess. 

Part of it is the time distortion of being young. Another part is we kept a lot of fish. Any bluegill over six inches was a keeper. Dad had a lot of mouths to feed. The final part of my filleting angst was that Dad was fussy about certain things.

Last night I was tickled by how quickly I got the fish cleaned.

Esoteric discussion on Bluegill anatomy

---Warning: Remove fish from hand before making cuts with knife or chainsaw---

Dad's method of filleting a bluegill involved first making a straight cut as shown. (Not my photo. It was one I borrowed from the Internet)

My quibble was that the meat in the area circled in red is very thick while the region circled in green (the belly) is paper thin. Paring every molecule of the thin belly meat off the ribs is meticulous work, especially when the mosquitoes are buzzing.

Dad kept insisting that I slow down and get every square millimeter of belly meat and yet we were leaving far more meat on the bones by not cutting farther forward on the top.

Some of it was the inspectors problem. It is easier to inspect bellies (lots of area) than filet mignon tips.

Idealized first cut

Last night I made slightly curved first cuts. It angled way forward at the top and pretty much left half of the belly meat on the ribs. Dad was probably looking down from heaven, clucking his tongue and wanting to give me guidance.

I love you Dad. I honor you by cleaning and eating the fish rather than feeding the turtles or burying them under the rose-bush. But you gotta give me a little room on the style issues.

Wednesday, July 28, 2021

The Night of the Killer Yeast

In 1963, scientists Bevan and Makower described "Killer Yeast".

This was of great interest to the wine industry because "wild" yeast added undesirable characteristics to wine; characteristics like rotten-egg smells, excessive foaming, cloudiness and weird solvent smells (like model airplane glue). Killer yeast killed off other strains of yeast and cheerfully proceeded to spread through the must and produce a repeatable, salable product.

It was determined that "Killer yeast" were infected with a virus that they were nearly immune to but was lethal to yeasts that had not co-evolved with it

Fast forward to 2020:

There is a disease that is killing off millions of bats in North America. The disease is called White-Nose Syndrome (henceforth WNS).

Bats are communal animals, especially when hibernating. Most bats in the north hibernate in the relatively  few caves and mine shafts that are deep enough to provide an equitable temperature. Consequently, thousands and thousands of bats huddle together, touching, to conserve warmth. The crowding and the humidity are prime for fungi to spread.

And it has.

Some scientists investigated Pseudogymnoascus destructans, WNS's causal agent and determined that it existed on bats in Europe but did not cause WNS.

What the heck?

Further investigation revealed that various populations of Pseudogymnoascus destructans are infected with different types of virus, or no virus.

The challenge of introducing hypovirulence causing virus into wild populations is that the vigor of the disease causing organism must be dialed down to the point of producing a modest infection but it must not be dialed down so far that more vigorous strains overwhelm it and make it extinct.

The home-run scenario would be one where the specific virus could be cultured on an industrial scale in yeast and the growth media aerosol-sprayed into the air as the bats left their caves. As a point of fact, when yeast die of old-age they autolyse, that is, they explode and puke their innards out and that would include any virus swimming within them. The media can be filtered of yeast (large cells) and the active virus will pass through.

Consider the boon this technology offers the patient. Scientists could collect toe-jam from Brazilia, Manilla, Calcutta, Jakarta and other crowded, humid cities. They could screen them for Candida that exhibits killer or hypovirulence characteristics. The most promising candidates could be cultured using standard yeast-growing methods and equipment and a one time dip-or-drench would provide long-term protection against Athlete's foot and crotch-rot.

This could be a very timely contribution to the medical arts. There are recent reports of fungus diseases in the United States that are resistant to all standard antifungal drugs.

Unfortunately, there is little profit to be made with this technology. Once the hypovirulence inducing virus and/or yeast carrying those virus have taken up residence on the patient's skin, it will be there for a very, very long time. Repeat sales would be very, very low.

I would like to think that Universities and non-profits would investigate the possibility but many of their labs are funded by for-profit big Pharma and University bean-counters would see killer-yeast, hypovirulence research as a threat to that cash cow.

Tuesday, July 27, 2021

What Biden said

The idea you need a weapon that can have the ability to fire 20, 30, 40, 50, 120 shots from that weapon — whether it’s a — whether it’s a 9-millimeter pistol or whether it’s a rifle — is ridiculous. I’m continuing to push to eliminate the sale of those things

I read this a little bit differently than most commenters on the internet.

If Joe's brain was in gear and the words coming out of his mouth were congruent to what was in his "handler's" brain, then translated into gun-owner's speak it would read:

I am going to ban all weapons starting with those that accept detachable magazines.

Once a firearm is designed to accept a magazine that can be detached, then the number of rounds it holds as-shipped by the factory becomes meaningless.

Your Savage Mark II with the five-round magazine will become illegal.

Your Remington 700 in .17 centerfire with the box magazine? Illegal.

Even the Remington 870 that accepts magazines extensions: potentially illegal.

So stop fixating on 9mm handguns. The gun-grabber agenda intends to make a much, much larger first bite.

Tips on how to get along with East-Coast Elites

Word got out in the neighborhood that we are planning a trip to the East Coast.

Various neighbors have been swinging by to "coach me up" on the finer points of deportment. They don't want me to embarrass Mrs ERJ or give rubes a bad name. My neighbors are under no illusions regarding my social skills.

For example, Dan swung by and tried to teach me about the finer points of drinking in  big-city bars. He told me about one bar he visited in a city named Georgetown.

He had just arrived after 11 hours of driving and was looking forward to a cold PBR to cut the dust of the trip.

He was halfway across the room before he noticed that all conversations had stopped. Everybody was looking at him as he strode across the room.

His eyes were on the ends of swivel-stalks, he noticed that all the men were beautiful and all the women looked like they could chew railroad spikes and spit carpet tacks.

He would have turned around but he was thirsty and there was no guarantee that any of the other bars were more like the ones back home.

The bartender wore nail polish and his hair was prettier than Sharon's had been when he took her to Senior Prom.

The bartender was looking him over with elevator eyes: sweat-stained baseball cap, faded denim shirt with the sleeve rolled up. Belt with a Row-Dee-Oh! buckle. Baggy jeans with neatly sewn patches on the knees. Military-surplus, 8" tall boots in coyote brown.

"You are not from around here, are you?" the barkeep asked with a supercilious, simpering lisp, upper lip curled into a slight sneer.

"Nope. Reckon not" Dan responded. "I wanna order a beer. Whatchya got on tap?"

The bartender clearly did not want to serve Dan, so he deflected.

"What do you do for a living?" the barkeep asked.

Dan decided to be obliging. "Well, I have been a hoof-trimmer, a renderer, a journal-greaser and a diesel-fitter. Today I am driving a bob-tail."

The room erupted into a low buzz as the patrons attempted to get traction with Dan's list of professions. Then it faded.

The barkeep's eyebrows contracted in consternation. Clearly, none of those words meant much to him.

"Do you have any hobbies?" he queried.

"Yup. I do taxidermy" Dan patiently replied. He sure wanted that cold beer.

Turning it over in his mind, the barkeep decided to dig a little deeper. "And just what, exactly, do taxidermists do?"

Dan answered "I mount dead animals."

Suddenly the ice was broken. The barkeep burst into a huge smile and said "I think you are going to fit in just fine. Your first beer is on the house."

Dan said he didn't have to buy a beer after that.

Monday, July 26, 2021

Cellulite on a Celebrity's Thigh


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

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

As we end the first month of our food experiment

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

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

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

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

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

Out of curiosity

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

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

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

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

Mom update

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Critical Race Theory

Critical Race Theory

Those guys are starting to piss me off.

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

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

Follow the money

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Cherry-picking statistics

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sunday, July 25, 2021

Who runs the clock?

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

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

Most of the games were in the mid-West.

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

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

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

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

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

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

God is in control

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

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

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

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

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

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

The trip east is a "GO!"

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

Mrs ERJ made the hotel reservations.

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

Belladonna and Kubota will watch the dogs.

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

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

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

Maybe it is paranoia

Maybe it is paranoia or maybe it is just planning.

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

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

Bonus joke

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

The boy asked, "What is this Father?"

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

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

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

Saturday, July 24, 2021

A few pictures


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

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

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

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

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

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

From the "Half-formed thoughts" file

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

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

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

Let me illustrate with a fun example.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Friday, July 23, 2021

German Prunes

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


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

Image from HERE

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

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

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

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

German Prunes

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

In France they are often called Mirabelles. 

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

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

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

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

Timing of T-budding

Gras Romanesc plum

We had an inch of rain this morning.

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

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

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

Purple leafed plums

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

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

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

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

Grab them by their wallet

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thursday, July 22, 2021

Best of intentions....

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

I made a list of Things To Do for today.

I only got 2.3 of them done.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

End side note

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

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

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

Miscellaneous information

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

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

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

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

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

How does one measure "Racism"?


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

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

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

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

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

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

Gravity map of a portion of the United States.

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

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

The US Women's Soccer Team is not Woke enough

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

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

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

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

Fake news today....mainstream tomorrow. 

Wednesday, July 21, 2021

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Speaking of back-up

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

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

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

Hour meter

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

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

Stock watering tanks

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

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

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

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


This is a little bit odd.

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

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

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

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

Lambsquarters and Smartweed

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

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

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

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

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

OK, we are all done laughing.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The good shepherd

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

We should pray that we match that description.

Tuesday, July 20, 2021

A productive day


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

We wet it down.

We soaped it down.

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

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

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