Tuesday, November 30, 2021

"It is pay-back time" Fiction

Nancy's face glared out of the video screen; frozen into a stone-like grimace by far too many Botox injections.

"We did everything we could for you. Now it is pay-back time" her voice as dry and slithery as a sidewinder's belly scraping across wind-polished, Mojave gravel.

She paused letting it sink in.

"We pressured City Halls and State Capitals to give you Election Day off as a paid holiday" she said to the assembled public-sector employees and retirees.

"We said it was so you could exercise your right to vote. But in fact, we did it so you could make sure the right candidates win" Nancy said.

People who were not in-the-know always marveled at how smoothly elections ran. For an event that happened once every two years it was incredibly smoothly orchestrated and everybody seemed to know how to swing with their partner.

It was no accident. Most election workers worked together every working day down at City Hall. Same chain-of-command. Same smoking breaks. Same person went out to Tim Hortons for coffee and donuts. The only difference was the address they showed up at in the morning.

"I shouldn't need to tell you how important THIS election is" Nancy hissed as her dentures hitched forward in her mouth.

"Chicago and Illinois are going to hit-the-wall in the next cycle. Pensions will be nullified if the God-damned Republicans are in the majority."

"Our best estimate is that we will be able to salvage twenty-cents-on-the-dollar because of our strength in the Illinois Statehouse. That means that your $3000 a month pension will become $600 a month. You will not be able to make your house-payments or even be able to pay your property taxes with that" Nancy reminded them.

There was a collective gasp as many of the seniors inhaled.

"It gets worse" Nancy drilled in relentlessly.

"Retirees who retired before age 66 will have to pay their own health insurance premiums. That will be at least $22,000 a year for a couple" Nancy said. Some of the retirees were 48 years-old. They would not be eligible for Medicare for another 18 years.

"Whatever happens to Chicago and to Illinois will be the template. It will be the precedent and everything that happens in Chicago and Illinois will happen to YOU. Maybe not next year. Maybe not in five years. But I guarantee that it will happen to most of you while you are still alive."

"The stakes have never been higher."

Some in the audience started sobbing. They lived in a NICE neighborhood. Their friends lived there too. And they had a house in Florida and they would have to give that up, too.

They knew about Medicaid. They knew that their very good, very UNDERSTANDING doctor did not take Medicaid. They would have to go to clinics and get their medical care from the same doctors that POOR people were forced to go to.

"It is pay-back time" Nancy hammered. "We need to have Democrats win from the top of the ticket to the bottom.

"It is pay-back time. Your job is to make sure the right candidates win. Whatever it takes."

Low visibility agriculture (continued)

Sidebar 1: The Inca empire of South America did not have money or currency. Taxes were paid as labor or as merchandise such as agricultural produce. One tribe was so poor that that the Incas levied a tax where they were required to pay a certain number of dead fleas every year.

Sidebar 2: According to R.A. Oliver in his book The African Middle Ages, 1400-1800 the expansion of the Asante Empire was primarily fueled non-native inputs like horses and firearms which were paid for by captives (sold for slaves), gold and diamonds.

Neither horses or firearms were "durable" in the climate of Benin, Togo, Ghana and Nigeria. That region had no indigenous, large, traction animals due to endemic diseases. Horses did not last long. Firearms firing corrosive black-powder soon had their touch-holes rusted shut in the oppressive heat and humidity.

A secondary factor that fueled the expansion of the Asante Empire was the primary agricultural model shifted from slash-and-burn (academics prefer the term 'midden') agriculture with cassava, yams and plantain as the primary crops to heavy-hoe/grain (primarily sorghum) as a crop.

Oliver observes that it is difficult to overestimate the impact grain has on warfare as no other food is as compact, as transportable and as non-perishable as grain. Can you imagine trying to wage war if your only source of food was turnips or sweet potatoes (especially if you had no draft animals)?

History can teach us much if we pay attention.

One of the advantages that potatoes had for the poor Irish was that, unlike a field of barley, potatoes were not damaged by a party of fox hunters or soldiers riding horses over the field.

Raiders and looters are looking for grab-and-go food. Foods that need to be dug are at the bottom of their list. Foods that are 80%-to-90% water are at the bottom of their list.

Corn and wheat fields are instantly recognizable. Potatoes, turnips, carrots and the like are much less recognizable (especially if there are a few weeds in the field) and require that the raiders be much closer before recognizing what they are.

Theft as a tax

If you think about theft as a tax, then it changes your mindset to determining ways to minimize the tax.

Is a small amount of petty larceny, like neighbor kids lifting a few watermelons every summer, the lowest tax?

Is paying "protection money" to local strongmen the lowest tax? It might be if they enforce their monopoly and suppress vandals, raiders and outsiders.

Is dedicating 30% of your workforce to guarding the fields the lowest tax? It might be if you have a bunch of old men who are otherwise unsuited to field work.

Offer value-added alternatives

This is a little bit out-of-the-box and may sound naive, but what if you offered to cook and serve the hungry boys (the raiders) a mess of cheese omelets and hash-browns in exchange for leaving your chickens and milch animals alone? It could even be a standing offer: Any time the raiders swing by they get a discount on breakfast, much like cops get free donuts.

"But they will eat everything I have!" you protest.

I suspect that if you tell the "boys" that you are running short of firewood, they will gladly "find" some while you are mixing up and cooking their omelets or flap-jacks. In a similar way, if you start running low on food, if you whisper into the ear of the leader, they will bring food to supplement what you are cooking for them.

That might be at odds with their standing orders but HQ does not need to know about everything that goes out in the field.

There are other value-added propositions. Can you brew anything resembling beer out of native materials? As long as you accept that (heavy) taxes are inevitable, then your farm/craft center will become a destination for grain and food resources instead of a net exporter of them.

Atrocities will undoubtedly happen, but not as ubiquitously as the entertainment industry would have you think. Mass slaughter makes for good entertainment but very bad economics.

Fine Art Tuesday


The Message
Edward Lamson Henry born in 1841 in Charleston, South Carolina. Died 1919.

E.L. Henry's parents died when he was seven. He grew up in New York and Pennsylvania.

E.L. Henry is notable for capturing his sense-of-humor in his paintings and the empathy he shows for rural life. Unlike many contemporaries, he includes Negros (to use the term of his day) in his paintings.

Kept In

The New Woman

Barnyard in Pennsylvania

Country Breakfast

Monday, November 29, 2021

Heuristic: Enough

The roughly dressed man stood in the doorway, wringing and kneading his battered cap. Mrs Marfy recognized him as the foreman at the Brewery where Paddy worked.

"Mrs Marfy, it is my sad duty to inform you that Paddy died at the Brewery today."

"What happen't?" Mrs Marfy asked.

"Paddy fell in the vat and drown't" the foreman said, sadly.

"Was it quick?" Mrs Marfy asked.

"I'm afraid not" the foreman said, regretfully. "He climbed out three times to use the men's room."

I am not getting much love from my laptop. The essay I wrote in LibreOffice will not open so you get a slap-dash version of it.

Joe Dominguez and Vicki Robin wrote a book titled Your Money or Your Life. It had its day in the sun and folks moved on.

Dominguez makes the point that Prospect Theory is wrong.

Prospect Theory suggests that the joy of a gain has a singularity around zero and then the joy increases monotonically as the gain increases. Further, Prospect Theory holds out that each increase in gain is subject to diminishing returns but it always inches upward. 

Dominguez contends that the joy/gain curve is shaped like an upside-down "U". It goes up rapidly at the start just as Prospect Theory contends. It has a broad, almost-flat region (Dominguez calls this almost-flat region "Enough"). But then the joy starts to drop downward when total gain is more than "Enough".

Occam's razor

While there are many cases like poor Paddy Marfy like the man dying of thirst in the desert who prays for rain and drowns in a flash flood, those cases are one-ofs. Occam's Razor demands a single unifying mechanism even if it is not as dramatic as Mr Marfy heroically climbing out of the vat the third time.

That single unifying mechanism is that every person has a limited number of hours in their life. The hours and dollars (money is a proxy for the hours of our life) that are expended seeking MORE of something beyond "enough" are robbed from other facets of our life where we are lacking.

In aggregate, we are sub-optimizing when we hyper-focus on one narrow facet of our lives. More money, for instance, cannot fix rotten arteries, a lazy mind or a defective character.

Consider firearms. A first gun might be a single-shot, full-choke shotgun. The owner might be happy to keep 8-of-10 shots on a paper plate at 35 yards. Lets call that 30 MOA.

The next weapon the newbie buys might be capable of hitting a playing card 8-times-of-10 at a hundred yards. Lets call that a 3 MOA firearm.

Then the shooter wants one that is a 1MOA firearm at 100 yards. Then a 1/2MOA rifle. Then a 1/2MOA at 200 yards and so on.

The first gun was $50 at an auction sale. The second was $300 and every rifle and associated hardware was 5X more than the previous.

With me so far?

If the shooter's needs were to shoot bunnies in the cabbage patch, raccoons in the chicken coop and to pot an occasional deer on his five acres...the first gun was probably "enough".

How did we get trapped?

We were trapped into this thinking by the simplest of classical conditioning. Going from Not-Good-Enough to Better-but-not-enough tickles our pleasure centers. Tickle those pleasure centers enough times and gains will continue to do so even after "enough" is passed.

How to get un-trapped

Make decisions consciously. Maybe your life doesn't shower you with joy. Racing past "enough" in one or two facets of your life might be totally rational.

On the other hand, reaching for more may be habit. Slow down. Ask "What is the best use of my next hour or next $20?"

NOTE: Computer still locking up. Hence the lack of pictures.

St John's Wort: Herb of the Week


St John's Wort (aka Hypericum perforatum) is a plant that has been documented as having properties similar to Selective Serotonin Re-uptake Inhibitors used for the treatment of anxiety and depression.

Unfortunately, St John's Wort also comes with the drawbacks of the first generation SSRIs. For one thing, it takes several weeks before the brain chemistry stabilizes and full effects are in place. That makes dosing adjustments a slow process. Further, it means that the side-effects associated with starting a medicine (sleepiness, changes in appetite) are drawn out.

The reason I front-loaded the few herbs that have effect against depression and anxiety is that if things go sideways half of the population could be incapacitated by depression. People who were raised to be empathetic and "sensitive", people who are "traumatized" when they saw robins feed their nestlings earthworms will see actual humans die, sometimes in very ugly ways.

For the record, EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid), one of the Omega-3 oils found in fish oil has also been documented as being an anti-depressant. While oily, ocean fish might be difficult for most people to acquire linseed (flax seed) oil is rich in ALA another Omega-3 oil and about 10% of ALA is metabolized to EPA in the human body. So it is reasonable to assume that imbibing flax-seed oil MIGHT have antidepressant effects. Milled flax seeds are also an option but one must be mindful that linseed oil is perishable and very prone to oxidizing.

Point being, folks will have to make-do with what is available even if it is not considered a top-shelf drug in a modern, functioning, first-world country.

St John's Wort is available as seed or small plants from all of the usual suspects.

Sunday, November 28, 2021

Notice to readers

I upgraded to Windows 11 today.

It is buggy.

My cursor disappears when I move it around the page. I can see typos, misspellings and grammatical monsters and I cannot highlight and fix them.

So be forewarned. The posts over the next few days will be...odd.

Your patience is appreciated.

Bitcoin, Beanie Babies and Pokemon Cards

One of the most prescient things I ever read was somebody pointing out that Beanie Babies were not inherently "collectable" because they were made of materials that did not age well.

At the height of the mania, grannies and pre-teens were planning to make a killing on Beanie Babies because they were guaranteed to double in price every year. Who was making that guarantee and how they intended to backstop that guarantee was never made clear to me.

Pokemon cards were worse. How hard can it be to counterfeit a printed piece of cardboard? And cardboard is not the most durable material in the world, either.

I look at cyber-currencies and cannot help but wonder, how are they any different than the digital equivalent of Beanie Babies or Pokemon Cards.

I have no intention of investing in cyber-currencies. There are too many other useful items I can invest it....items I understand and know how to use.

Saturday, November 27, 2021

Low visibility agriculture (livestock)

Peter over at Bayou Renaissance Man points out that bad people will demand your preps and any food you have grown if things go pear-shaped. It is not enough to be able to grow your food. You have to be able to protect it as well.

That triggered a few thoughts on my part. Successful organisms rely on multiple, overlapping (like shingles on a roof) defensive strategies. The benefit of overlapping shingles is that the roof still sheds water even if one shingle is breached.

I also place a very high value passive measures. They work even when you are otherwise occupied. Active defenses are needed, but they will eventually fail if challenged enough times. That is the way luck works. Given enough chances, even the blind marksman hits the lucky spot. 

The best passive measures are the art of silence and invisibility.


Livestock will be a magnet for raiders. Few forms of wealth provide its own transportation when stolen by pirates, brigands and looters to steal it.

Meat is nutritionally dense and a luxury item, just the thing to "pay" your henchmen if money loses its value.

If you haven't given it any thought, livestock is impossible to hide.

If you have given it some thought, you have a nucleus you can build on even if they find some of them.

God (or Mother Nature) gives us a template

The Rouen duck is a breed of mallard that is virtually identical in coloration to the wild mallard but twice its size. They are almost invisible in cattails or tall grass and you can maintain plausible deniability regarding not "declaring" your wealth. Rouen ducks are the ultimate stealth livestock

Hungarian Partridge

Female Ringneck Pheasant

Ruffed Grouse

Note the muted colors and the coarse, speckled pattern.

There are many chicken breeds that approximate the patterns seen on upland birds. In most cases these birds were bred for the show-ring and the colors are more vivid than those seen on female, wild birds. A few of them are:

Speckled Sussex


Gold-laced Wyandotte
Barred Rock

The cloak of invisibility will not do you much good if you have a rooster crowing. And if you don't have a rooster you will be out of the egg business as your hens age out.

The No Crow collar muffles the roosters crow because he cannot swell up the resonance chambers at the base of his neck (think Bag-pipes)

Cattle and goats

Whitetail deer are notorious for being able to disappear into small patches of cover.
You would be hard pressed to find an animal with coloration more like a Whitetail deer than a Jersey heifer.

Supplying neighbors with milk is a calculated risk. Dead cows don't give milk so your neighbors might be more motivated to keep their mouths shut. And while they might like beef, there just isn't very much meat on a pure-dairy cow.

Animals that forage are often quieter than animals that are fed. Cows make a terrible racket when they see somebody carrying that bucket that brings them their corn.

Rabbits were probably the Number-One source of meat in much of NAZI occupied Europe.

They were quiet. They reproduced quickly. The could be raised as semi-feral animals and snared as needed. They did not require exotic feed.

Meat and communication. Plus, they can forage for food long distances from their home roosts. The downside is that there is not much meat on a squab.

There is nothing wrong with a pond with a few catfish or a mess of panfish in it.

Ponds also attract muskrats and migrating waterfowl. Clams, frogs, turtles and crayfish can also be harvested.

Intensive aquaculture will be a struggle as fish-food will either be non-existent or you will be announcing your wealth (food) when you go to buy it.

Pressure Canning Turkey


The day after Thanksgiving...

Mrs ERJ insisted that I wait until after Thanksgiving before buying turkeys to pressure can. She did not want Tiny Tim Cratchit's family to do without.

One store had turkey on sale for thirty-two cents a pound. It was forty-nine cents a pound if you did not have their "App". Limit of one turkey in either case.

A second store had turkey on sale for ninety-nine cents a pound.

Big-box-store had turkey on sale for eight-seven cents a pound.

Five turkeys, approximately 100 pounds worth, followed me home.

I was not worried about food poisoning because the root-cellar is now 55 F and I was only going to hold them in it until thawed.

I ran an experiment. Two of the turkeys were placed on the floor of the root-cellar/pantry and a fan was started.

Another two turkeys were thawed by bobbing them in water. It was a bit of a challenge to find a clean container large enough to hold them but I managed. There are some details that are best not shared with my better-half.

The clear winner for ease was the pantry/fan method. Fifteen hours and the most frozen part of the 22 pound birds was soft-sherbet for hardness. The cold-water soak method was a pain in the behind and not as well thawed. Plus there was the risk of Mrs ERJ figuring out what I used for the container.


The smallest turkey, the forty-nine cents-a-pound one, weighed 11.3 pounds. I processed that one first and weighed the parts as I broke it down so I could estimate how many jars I would need.

The wings weighed 1.6 pounds or 14% of the total.

The drumsticks weighed an ounce less for essentially the same fractional weight and percentage. Both wings and drumsticks went into the stock-pot. More on that later.

The neck and giblets weighed 0.9 pounds or 7.5%. They also ended up in the stock-pot.

The body, sans liquid drained and extra parts weighed 7.2 pounds

The boned meat weighed 4.6 pounds or 41% of the purchased weight.

The bones with the scraps of meat went into the stock-pot.

If you do the math, eighty-seven cents a pound with a yield of 41% works out to $2.12 a pound, not counting the cost of labor. Not a huge bargain when you can buy boneless, skinless chicken breast for $2.20 a pound if you look for sales.

All that is irrelevant if you love turkey as much as Mrs ERJ. 

The economy is in the stock-pot. I threw in the drum-sticks because it is a pain to cut the meat away from the pin-bones. If cooked long enough, and cooled, the pin-bones are easily stripped out.

Fat is flavor. All of the waste skin is mostly fat. It is great to add to soup. Fat is flavor.

I expect to get 40 points of pressure canned turkey out of the experiment. I also expect to get about 30 quarts (50% more by volume) of soup-stock.

Experience increased speed

I got much faster as I gained experience. I learned where to cut and how to lift and twist to disarticulate the joints.

I think I was three times faster by number five as I was for the first one.

Pink Salt

Pressure canning is incredibly slow. One reason is because I only have one pressure canner. The other reason is that the directions say to let the pot cool by natural convection. That is a slow process. It is not uncommon for one batch to take four hours by-the-clock from jars first in the bath to being able to pull them out.

The primary reason for pressure canning is to produce temperatures high enough to inactivate Botulism and Perfringens (Clostridia) spores.

Another way to suppress them is either by lowering the pH. This is done with pickles and with summer-sausage (lactic acid). This is also a decent option for soup-stock as you can add some vinegar to each quart. I am not going to list an amount because I do not want to be held responsible for a bad outcome.

A third way to suppress them is by using "saltpetre". Nitrates/nitrites combine with proteins and mess Botulism et al up. This is used for ham, bacon, corned beef, hot dogs and cold-cuts. The nitrates/nitrites that combined with the proteins is what makes the cured meat that rosy pink. It has also been linked to increased cancers of the stomach and bowels.

As an experiment within the experiment, I "corned" six pints of turkey. I chose the thigh meat and used 1/3 a teaspoon of "pink salt" per pound. "Pink salt" is also known as Prague #1 powder. According to my notes, the target is 2 grams per pound. According to my powder scale, 1/3 of a teaspoon was 1.6 grams and 1/2 was about 2.4 grams.

I added a half-teaspoon of mustard seeds and a half of a bay leaf, then pressure canned as normal.

My goal is not to test whether pink salt suppresses Botulism but to see if the taste is acceptable.

The point is that I have at least five kettles that I can use for standard hot-water canning. I have turkey fryers and camp-stoves I can use for heat. In a pinch, I could increase my throughput by about 10X between the increased number of kettles and being relieved of the need to slowly cool the kettle while under pressure.

A Manly Topic

This post is written specifically for men, especially for those of us over age fifty and whose girth has increased ever-so-slightly over the years.

Women, do yourselves a favor and don't drop below the break. I refuse to be held responsible for any fainting, ugly babies or broken marriages. 

Those of you who are man enough, please put down your drinks because we are going to discuss a very serious topic:

Friday, November 26, 2021

Fake News Friday: Consumer Advocates find Godzilla DNA in Subway's Sweet Onion Chicken Teriyaki sandwiches


It is unclear whether the source of DNA is the chicken, the teriyaki sauce or the ovens.

Fake News Friday: Biden approves use of Bass-o-Matic to lower "meat" prices


The Biden administration, always sensitive to rising prices due to supply-chain bottlenecks*, approved the use of Bass-o-Matic technology to process chickens, turkey, pork, beef, lamb, bats, pangolins. fish, insects and lycanthropes.

The United States Department of Agriculture determined that all animals can be processed by Bass-o-Matic technology into safe, wholesome and nutritious foods. Furthermore, they point out that wild carnivores usually eat both the intestines and contents of their fresh kills.

It is the natural way to eat!

*Displaced packing-plant workers will be gifted with $450,000 (which they were probably going to get anyway) which will cost the US taxpayers exactly zero-dollars.

Thursday, November 25, 2021

Thank-you to all who cannot be with family because of duty

Message from the Management

Thank-you to all of the guys and gals who cannot be with their families today. Whether you are in Shitholistan or an inner-city or patrolling empty prairies or running deep-and-silent or stopping arterial bleeding in the E-Room: Thank-you!

Wednesday, November 24, 2021

Kubota update

The ever-wise and lovely Mrs ERJ and I decided that Kubota would have a better chance of succeeding (that is, hanging onto his new job) if he had access to showers, laundry and a warm, safe place to sleep.

So we made the executive decision (right, indifferent, wrong or very-wrong) to let him back into the house temporarily. "Who among you would give your son a snake if he asked for a fish?"

He has been working at his new place of employment for three weeks and it is now time for him to move out again.

We are a bit wiser. Kubota is overwhelmed by the tasks required to find a new place to live if the process is more complex than asking his friends if he can move in.

Since we want Kubota to be successful (that fish/snake thing, again) we are grinding through the tedious parts of the process.

The housing market is white-hot

Totally baffling to me because the economy is comatose. Kubota's new job is a factory job and he estimates 50% uptime between parts shortages and equipment that cannot be repaired due to labor issues and....more part shortages.

It is totally baffling until you realize that the Federal government is moving millions if illegal aliens to cities across America where they can efficiently be supplied with "services". Ironic that they can always find them to deliver services but cannot find them when it is time for their court hearing.

Our new economy is based on making invaders feel right at home. People are fleeing cities and suburbs and snapping up properties in backwaters like Eaton Rapids.


I have been looking for rooms to rent. Kubota would benefit from having a roommate and the economy of not having to rent an entire apartment or house would provide some financial relief.

I found this gem:

$500 / 1br - 7ft2 - Room for rent, see requirements

ERJ writes: I guess Kubota could learn to sleep standing up.

1. Rest/Worship on Saturdays, no work/cooking/errands.
2. Use only vegan/vegetarian/Kosher food/toiletries/cleaning products/detergents/soaps/perfumes.

I wonder how she would respond to "I don't use soap or commercial cleaning products. Nothing but sand, wood-ash and rainwater collected in white-oak barrels for me! And raw beaver castor and Balsam Fir needles for fragrance."

3. Higienize yourself/your shopping/things as you come through the door.
4. Put only sterilized food/containers in the fridge.


If you go to witchcrafters or are one, please do not message me. I don't want to take in any one involved with witchcraft, horoscopes, the occult or all the like.
You need to have your own portable internet.

You need to be a straight/moral female (sleeping around/sex innuendos are grounds for eviction), clean, go to bed the latest at 8:45 PM and not play any loud music, throw doors/burn food accidentally just when I leave for an appointment

Are you ASSUMING Kubota's gender? How many decibels is "loud"? Can he/she play rap music?

No parties/guests.

I will inspect your room for cleanliness...

I am not sure this will be a good fit for Kubota. For one thing, I doubt that she will approve of Kubota's Vegan cats.

This is more like it!

Somehow, 1911ft^2 resonates with me

Tuesday, November 23, 2021

Weather. Everybody talks about it

There are two, maybe three things that impact global temperatures and, as a consequence, atmospheric transport of water.

First is the gross energy emitted by the sun. The sun cycles. Sometimes more energy is emitted. Sometimes less. Less energy means lower ocean temperatures which means less water evaporated and less atmospheric moisture. Variations in atmospheric moisture (barometric pressure if you will) drive weather patterns which move moist air over land...agricultural areas. Less moisture in the air means wind patterns that distribute rain will not penetrate as deeply into continental masses.

The second factor is the albedo. Albedo is the reflectance of the earth + atmosphere. Volcanic eruptions inject more particulate into the atmosphere and make it more reflective. The same amount of energy might hit the upper levels of the atmosphere but more of it is reflected back into space before it gets to chlorophyll.


There are other factors that accelerate the tipping of atmospheric cooling.

Dry areas are more reflective then moister areas. Green, growing plants absorb radiation and much of that becomes heat. Sand, dry dirt and surfaces crusted with salts and carbonates are much more reflective than growing plants.

We tend to think of deserts as being extraordinarily hot, and they can be. But they also become extraordinarily cold after the sun goes down.

Another factor that "tips" the albedo is snow. Snow is more reflective than snow-free areas. Greater areas covered with snow or snow that remains on the surface for a longer period of the year reflect more heat into space and amplify the cooling part of the oscillation.

Solar radiation wobbles over time.

Volcanoes sleep, awaken and then go back to sleep.

Once the system "tips" it feeds off of its own momentum.


As somebody who putters about the garden and fancies that he could feed his family from his property, the issue of "dry" is more immediate than increased cold or a shorter growing season.

I wouldn't write about this if there were not some actions that I (and others like me) could take as a hedge against the possibility of longer and more severe droughts. Hopeless hand-wringing is for victims.


Weeds are my own, personal failing. Weeds compete with plants that produce human-quality food and every weed takes food out of your mouth and the mouths of your wife, children and grandchildren.

Weeds: Eternal vigilance and no mercy.

Perennials are more drought resistant than annuals

Annuals go through a seedlings stage. They don't have much in the way of roots and are most vulnerable to drought when they are first planted.

Perennials store energy in their extensive root system for the first flush of spring growth. They launch out of the ground with a mature root system intact.

Some perennials are more drought resistant than others

In a pasture, short plants that are grazed more often are more susceptible to drought than taller, deeper-rooted species that are typically grazed at longer intervals.

Bluegrass, Red Fescue and White Clover are examples of pasture plants that are susceptible to drought.

Smooth Brome, Switchgrass and Alfalfa are examples of pasture plants that are less susceptible to drought. The downside of these species are that they are much less tolerant of continuous grazing and you must manage your animals (rotational grazing) or treat them as a hay-crop.

High plant populations increase drought stress

If you had a crystal ball and could see a drought coming, it would behoove you to do "release cuttings" of your trees and to plant your unirrigated crops at lower densities.

This might be a good time to turn your lowest value trees into firewood, even if you will not need it for a few years.

Cull, cull, cull and cull some more

Give a big dose of trailermycin to every animal that ever jumped or pushed through a fence.

And to every animal that ever tried to kick you.

Or lost a calf or a lamb.

Or has bad hooves or teeth.

That needs a special diet.

Remove every tree in your orchard that you are hanging onto out of inertia.

Remove most of the trees in your orchard that you are hanging onto for sentimental reasons or because it is "cool" to be growing a variety that Thomas Jefferson was said to have grown.

Take a very long, hard, dispassionate look at heirloom varieties that you may have grown in years past. Do they pull their own weight with regard to yields? They will not be any more productive when there is a drought. 

Keeping run-off from leaving the property

Permaculture goes into great detail on how to design "swales" to capture runoff.

In very dry places, many plants survive by assuming a "rocket-burn/coast" strategy. They grow like the dickens when there is soil moisture and then coast or appear to die after the soil dries. Capturing the run-off so the soil is moist for a month or two is critical for those plants to leaf-out and make use of the moisture.

Organic matter

Organic matter sponges up moisture.

One gardener in Arizona noticed that juniper needles tend to fall straight down and form a deep, adsorbent mound beneath the tree. Individual juniper trees have survived centuries and this mounding may have helped.

He is mimicking that with his plantings. He creates a shallow dish and fills it with organic material and mounds it. Then he plants into the center of the ersatz juniper mounds.


Wind carries away moisture, especially from growing plants.

Unless your property is cement-slab-flat, there will be places where the wind-flow separates and is lower velocity. This is a double-win because these are the exact same places where snow-drifts form. The snow melt is water. The location is has lower evaporation potential.


One risk of drought that is not discussed much in the mid-West is the increased risk from wildfire.

That double-row of Blue Spruce around your house becomes a major liability.

If you had a crystal ball, you remove highly combustible conifers near your house and you would prune out dead limbs to prevent ground fires from climbing into the crowns.


Be strategic with what you do irrigate.

In alignment with the comments about culling, don't waste irrigation on specimens that you are ambivalent about keeping.

Lots of books out there

This was a 40,000 foot overview. There are lots of books out there (one example focusing mostly on "cold" and not "dry"). Some of them are very narrow in scope. Others are more general.

I would love to have any of my readers suggest books for people who might have an interest in gardening and growing food in dry climates.

Hat-tip Coyote Ken

Fine Art Tuesday

Boadicea and her daughters

Thomas Thornycroft born in England in 1815. Died 1885.

His most famous work is Boadicea and her daughters. Boadicea was a Celtic warrior queen who defied the Roman invaders.

Boadicea is still considered a British folk hero. 

There is a line of pricy fragrances named Boadicea the Victorious. One of their more highly rated offerings here. How pricy? $50 a teaspoon pricy.

Commissioned 1864. Actually cast in 1902.

Commerce commissioned 1867

Monday, November 22, 2021

Not my circus, not my monkeys


Many observers were quick to assume that Rittenhouse had gone trolling for BLM/Antifa types to shoot, that he was guilty of provoking them.

It is now coming out that Rittenhouse was exercising his First Amendment right to protest IN FAVOR OF BLM. He was attacked by people who he thought were his allies.

According to some accounts, Rittenhouse's attorney is a Democrat.

The judge, who was a total stud at keeping his courtroom under control in spite of constant challenges from the prosecutor, was appointed by a Democrat so we can make some assumptions about his leanings.

While there are a dozen ways you can slice this information, for me the most powerful insight is that a person's politics are not relevant if they do their darned job and stay out of my swim-lane.

Would I care about the politics of the person counting the votes if I had confidence that they were counting them fair-and-square? Nope.

Would I care about the politics of my surgeon if I knew he would discharge his duties to the best of his ability and escalate if things went pear-shaped? Nope.

Would I care what lever the preacher pushed in the voter's booth as long as the preached without bias from the Good Book? Nope.

We don't have a Liberal or a Conservative problem. We have a problem with Zealots who believe the rules do not apply to them and we have an even bigger problem with prosecutors and judges who actively avoid doing their jobs.

The second week of deer camp


It has been a while since I saw vintage cans of Stroh's beer.

Heuristic: Inappropriate baselines


It is a mathematical axiom that one can establish an infinite number of coordinate systems and measure points-of-interest from that coordinate system.

In 3-Space, the most common systems are rectangular-Cartesian, Spherical and Cylindrical. Not only are there different systems, but the origin and the X-Y-Z (or R-theta-iota or L-R-gamma) can be different as well as the units of length or angle.

Consider the common housekey:

This is one way to define the critical surfaces that interface with the tumblers

This is another, equally valid way to define those interfaces

In our family, we use the phrase, "Measuring down from Mt Everest rather than up from sea level" as code for the tendency to compare somebody's wealth to Bill Gates, intellect to Bayou Renaissance Man, raw good looks to Old_NFO, coolness to Mr B and so on.

Prospect Theory

Prospect Theory informs us that humans feel "losses" three times more acutely than gains.

That guarantees that the person who engages in comparing what they have to what others have will always be acutely disappointed. They are programming to be unhappy.

The "Measure down from Mt Everest" tendency is encouraged by social media. When was the last time you saw somebody gushing about their new boyfriend who worked in a factory making $15 an hour, had an I.Q. of 95, looked like every guy in a crowd and who wore blue jeans, camo and Timberland boots everywhere?

I believe that we were genetically hardwired to measure down from Mt Everest due to evolutionary pressures. If the next village over was harvesting 50% more wheat-per-acre or the neighbor consistently brought home a much larger catch of fish. We either need to step up our game or be dominated by our neighbors. Family groups and villages that "measured down from Mt Everest..." were more fit and less overwhelmed than those that did not.

The train-wreck came when modern people doing that for ALL attributes simultaneously including ones that are not linked to any meaningful outcome. The problem is exacerbated by the fact that we know Bill Gates' net worth while we had no glimmer of conditions of villages 200 miles away two-thousand years ago.

Does thick, curly, glossy hair free from desquamation detritus have any relationship with a potential mate's fidelity or common sense? Perhaps it did 4000 years ago when it might have been an indicator of trace element deficiencies "back on the farm", but does it now? If our mental hardwiring evolved over 50,000 generations then it is not realistic to expect it to decode over 20.

The countermeasure for "measuring down from Mt Everest" is to consciously think through and decide to use baselines that are appropriate for our current environment. Is a man's income enough to support a family for two years while his wife has a baby? Is he comfortable living in a less fashionable place than his coworkers if that is what is required to make two years of "single engine flight" viable?

Is one-of-the-two of you smart enough to do your own taxes, read a simple contract and understand it?

If raw attractiveness is related to fitness and health in a foundational kind of way, are both people capable of walking for three miles (an hour)?

Is one-of-the-two of you "cool" enough to walk into a room of strangers and sense the mood? Buy necessary groceries? Ask directions?

Darwin has been misquoted as saying "Survival of the fittest". What he actually wrote was "Survival of the fit". Popular culture bent the quote to conform to the desire to "measure down from Mt Everest" when his original quote was more fitting for the world we really live in.

Valerian: Herb of the week


Valerian, aka Valeriana officinalis is a medical herb that has been associated with helping with sleeping disorders and anxiety since the times of ancient Greece.

WebMD has a decent, research-based overview regarding Valerian. At the risk of editorializing, it is difficult to fund modern, peer-reviewed research on herbs that grow like weeds and cannot be patented.

This herb is so potent that even the fragrance has been documented as calming and helping with sleep. 

Unlike many medicinal herbs, Valerian can be a rampant grower. There are few herbs that can compete hammer-and-tongs with nettles but valerian is one of them.

Plants are widely available and can be found at many nurseries including locally at Umbel Nursery in Parma, Michigan.

Sunday, November 21, 2021

Dynomight dot net

I have been enjoying a website I stumbled across. One example of the writing HERE


Broad culture war questions are irresolvable mind-killers, but we can’t simply give up rational discussion of huge realms of human life. Statistics might not be able to answer those questions. What it can do is find the effect of interventions: What happens after you do something? We should skip the broad culture-war, and ask “if we push this policy lever, what are the effects?” At the same time, we should try to deflate the culture-war by skeptically evaluating all broad claims. Studying interventions is less controversial, more grounded in evidence, and must happen eventually anyway. Directly fighting the culture war is like a frontal assault on Rabaul.

The writer reminds me of a beagle. He/she doesn't care where the data leads. He doesn't care whose ox is gored. He does not seem to be conservative or progressive. He sees data. He thinks about it in an organized and methodical way. He writes. He is able to explain his use of statistics and make them clear and understandable...and that is a rare gift.

It is going to take me a while to get through his archives. His writing is "chewy" in the sense that it provokes thought and not just "ditto, me too" thinking.

When God has to tell you something three times, and then He uses His outside voice


The runways at Detroit Metro Airport run North-northwest by south-southeast

Winds of 17 mph with gusts to 35 predicted at the time of our scheduled departure.

Our tickets are with American Airlines. "Scheduled" and "actual" departure times might be different.

Thanksgiving week is one of the two busiest airline travel weeks of the year.

Running a little light on the Chicken Noodle soup

And then the coughing started.

Fever of 101 F.

Two days later (26 hours before the flight is scheduled to depart), still running a temp.

Mrs ERJ looked me in the eye and said, "Are you going to be devastated if we don't fly to Miami on Monday?" Mrs ERJ asked.

"Frankly, my dear, it will be a great relief" I said.

Southern Belle, our oldest daughter, is already looking for alternative time-slots when we can visit. She was directed to avoid Christmas time. We are retired. We can entertain ourselves while the "kids" are at work.

Friday, November 19, 2021


Blogging will be light to non-existent over the next week.

Read the fine folks in the sidebar.

Open well


I saw this while walking yesterday.

It is between 18" and 24" in diameter.

This is what the camera sees when pointed down the hole at 4X zoom. I did not have a measuring tape to run down it to give you a depth.

I passed word along to somebody-who-knows-somebody that they might want to cap this hole. It is in a back-corner of a property that is adjacent to a public walking trail.

I wonder if it is full of hibernating bats. That might complicate things. I suppose topping it with an 8' length of concrete culvert would deter humans but not exclude bats nor provide prime foraging stations for raccoons.



Asking for a friend...
Does anybody know Irene Byron's Byon's address? Her favorite modes of commuting? The time she generally leaves for work? Does she have a significant-other? Does she have children? Where they go to school?

Ditto for James J. Morrison. 

I like to be helpful. Obviously, they LOVE Doxxing and I want to help them out. The Golden Rule and all that (Do unto others as they do unto you)

Thursday, November 18, 2021

Twilight Zone material

I need to work my way around to the story at hand so you can see the story from my perspective.

I used to work for a large manufacturer of transportation equipment. We used MAXIMO as a planning and scheduling tool for maintenance. One module of MAXIMO had "job-plans" which outlined step-by-step each sub-task required to execute a certain type of maintenance on a tool. Each step had a time assigned to it.

Another module scheduled the execution of those job-plans on every tool in the shop.

Think of it the way you think of changing oil in your vehicles. You can spread it out or you can knock them all out in a day, but you will be changing the oil on each vehicle twice a year.

With me so far?

Iain, a manager with a razor-like intellect and deeply hidden social skills*, was getting tired of the down-time in the shop. On a hunch, he had his MAXIMO wizard sum up the number of manhours that MAXIMO "pulled" in the course of a year. Was it 5% of the Electrician, Millwright, Pipefitter hours available? 10%? 25%?

Point being that the skilled trades were also used for tool installations, emergency break-downs and the like. Further, doing the job-plans during production nearly always required that the tool be taken out of production and running tools pay the bills, not ones sidelined for maintenance.

The MAXIMO wizard reported that if every MAXIMO scheduled was done according to the official job-plan, the time required was well north of 100% of the Electrician/Millwright/Toolmaker/Pipefitter hours available.

Which meant that the vast majority of the job-plan documentation were pencil whipped.

Tell me you are surprised. I dare you.

After ripping his staff new assholes (a necessary event given that they were falsifying documents) Iain told his staff to come back with what REALLY happened.

In fact, most equipment got a Light-Light-Heavy-Light inspection. Most inspections were drive-by or phone-in (via infranet data) inspections. One-in-four were hands-on, MAXIMO compliant job-plans.

Critical equipment got more "Heavy" inspections. Equipment that was fragile got more inspections. Equipment and processes that were bullet-proof got fewer.

AFTER honesty had been driven back into the system, it was possible to make improvements. That was totally impossible when the actual and documented system were only casually acquainted in the most random kind of ways.

Resources that had been dedicated to tools/processes that were materially improved could be throttled back and reallocated to tools that were more fragile.

The Twilight Zone story...

I just got back from a "Patient Care" meeting at the nursing home where my mom is a resident.

I was there. The every-lovely and talented Mrs ERJ was there. My sister (a nurse) was there.

Twenty minutes after the scheduled start of the meeting we had not seen hide-nor-hair of any staff. My sister lassoed a staff member walking down the hall. The staff member investigated and came back with this story...

"They already had your meeting" she said.


"Beg pardon?"

"It was by phone" she said.

Good, Bad, Ugly looks pass between the three of us.

"They called Michelle and cranked through the meeting" the name-not-released-to-protect-the-innocent.

There are no people in my family named "Michelle".

The number the Social Worker called to speak with "Michelle" had been disconnected in early October (verified).

Second Act

When the two most obvious conclusions were presented as a binary decision tree to the Social Worker, she blew a gasket.

For the record, the other branch in the decision tree is that she had failed to verify (via a list) that the person (name) on the other end of the phone was approved to discuss sensitive, medical information regarding my mom. Furthermore, she had proven that she was not competent to dial a phone number...and that was the more savory of the two options.

Things went south from there....

Tin-foil hats

I must admit that when people first started suggesting that our leaders were designing policies designed to make people fail, I thought they were wearing tin-foil hats.

I need to reconsider that position.

The manpower situation in the nursing home is dire. They are GUTTED for people. Toilets are backed up and not being fixed. And this is one of the three most highly rated nursing homes in a metro-area of 400k.

They are likely to lose another 30% of staff over the BS that fully vaccinated will soon mean three shots or four shots.

The Federal agencies are "remedying" the situation by adding levels of documentation and administrative overhead.

They are either engineering systems to implode or are pathologically stupid. Maybe both.

If it were within my power, I would make Iain head of the CDC.

*Full disclosure: I own Iain for a great kindness he once showed me.

I was failing in a job. Not just failing, but failing with a "Monday GIF" flair.

Iain was the first person to see that I was about to belly-smack the water from the high-board and got me transferred to a job where I could be successful.

I doubt that he had my best interests at heart, but sometimes the needs of the Firm align with the needs of the pawn/cog. That was one of those times.

Bonus factoid

My sister-the-nurse shared that her corporation determined that shared fingernail and toenail polish is a potential vector for pathogens like C. diff and Noro.

Fingers go everywhere, especially body-parts that are itchy or tender. The brush can pick up pathogens and then convey them to other patients. They put their fingers into their mouth, perhaps to bite a nail....

Sis said that her corporate master mandates that bottles of nail polish cannot be shared between patients.

So, if you have a loved-one in a facility then buy them their own bottles of polish. And if you can spare a few bucks, buy their roommate bottles of the shades they prefer.

They will think you are a great guy. They don't need to know that sometimes the needs of the NPC align with the needs of the important people in our lives.