Saturday, December 31, 2022

Windfall planning

Let me propose a mental exercise. Don't worry. It will not hurt.

Suppose Biden's handlers decide to give every adult in the US $1000 in 2023 as an "inflation adjustment".

Further suppose that the stimulus is likely to increase inflation as more dollars will be chasing existing goods and some workers sitting on the sidelines might decide that they do not need to return to productive work for another month or so.

Some people will use it to buy lottery tickets. Others booze and cigarettes. Some will purchase shoes. Still others might visit an all-inclusive resort. Others might pay down a credit card.

The question on the table is: "If you were to receive a $1000 windfall, what would you invest it in?"

To make it interesting, why do you think your choice would either "retain value" over the 2yr-to-10yr time horizon or become very difficult to replace in that time-frame?

We would probably invest in a newer vehicle for Mrs ERJ. Her 2008 minivan has 300k miles on it. A seven-year-old, base-optioned, smallish SUV like an Equinox or Escape or Sportage would probably be right in the sweet-spot. Even better if it was from down-South where they do not salt the roads. 

I have to admit that I am leery of the turbo-charged engines they are cramming into vehicles now. I am even more leery of that all-electric options that seem to be flooding the field.

---added later---

One of the key characteristics that separate the financially competent and the poor is that the financially competent see income-and-expenses on a continuum while the poor are perpetually surprised.

The basic instinct of a poor person is to "Spend it quick, before it disappears". Windfalls come in and PRIOR COMMITMENTS rise up like the kraken's tentacles out of the deep. the windfall disappears like urine sinking into a sand-dune with no (perceived) benefit to the poor person's lot in life.

Poor people do not mentally "book" the expense when it is made but when it is paid. And since human wants ALWAYS exceed budget, poor people are always surfers on the back-side of the wave, paddling like crazy-mad to just stay even.

The financially competent have plans for windfalls. We know they happen sometimes. And the worst time to plan is when the bullets are whizzing over head or you have 10, crisp, new Benjamins in your paws.

Far better to do it while those are still hypotheticals.

Waste not, want not

Toward the last bit of yesterday's run I tried to go up-tempo. My thinking is that your body remembers how you finish. That and I have to admit to being a bit vain. If anybody is watching perhaps they will think I ran the entire distance at that pace.

I was surprised when I tried to push the speed up a notch for that last hundred yards and my stride turned into the Scarecrow's from Wizard of Oz.

I was once again reminded that the game changes when you are playing with very little "reserve".

Landing an airplane with barely enough air-speed. Trying to recover from a stupid purchase when you can barely cover your fixed costs. Running on a dirt road when your stability muscles are barely adequate for the task.

Small perturbations can amplify rather than damp-down.

I could yap about the economy. Not the economy of "metrics" that is reported in the news but the real economy: The number of hours people have available, how many hours they work and the percentage of that work that is productive. 

When everything is hale and healthy and tuned-in, waste can be plastered over and you might never even know it is there. When things are grimmer then any waste can really hurt.

Waste not, want not.

Friday, December 30, 2022


So now that the world can see Donald J. Trump's tax returns, do we also get to see Barry Soetoro's academic records and citizenship status in his late-teens and twenties?

There used to be a degree of civility in these kinds of things because it was understood that what comes-around, goes-around and knives cut both ways.

The militant Left (or Deep State) must believe that their grip on everything important will never slip. And their actions make it a kill-or-die situation should it slip.

Liar, liar...

I cannot be the only person in America holding his breath waiting for Santos to yell "Gotchya! I am a Democrat"


Back in the misty past, I used to read a lot of academic papers, many of which dealt with motivation.

As a very rough rule-of-thumb, folks are most motivated when they have a 50% chance of achieving their goal.

Consider a 6th grade boy shooting baskets. He becomes bored if every shot goes through the hoop. He becomes frustrated if he rarely sinks a shot. The distance where he is most motivated to practice his shooting skills is the distance where roughly half of the shots go through the hoop and half miss.

Knowing this, I set my goal for running my first couple of 5k races as

  • Finishing
  • A time of 40:00 minutes 

So far, both of those goals appear to be achievable but neither is a gimme.

I ran 2.5 miles today and my pace would deliver a 44:10 5k. Still a long way from my goal of 40:00.

In my favor, I have a month until the first race, the actual race course is super flat and the running surface is "energetic" compared to the wet dirt I ran on today. 

A couple of other factors in my favor that it will be a race. Races pull you along. Another factor in my favor is that I was short of "recovery days" before today's effort.

On the other hand, 2.5 miles is not 3.1 miles. I still need to work on stamina. I plan to make another run on Monday. I will probably ditch the stop-watch and just run for distance with no consideration for "time".

If stuff happens and I cannot meet both goals, there is another 5k about six weeks later that I can run.

You will probably get tired of reading about race-prep. Who said free ice-cream was free?

Fake News Friday: BATFE prohibits Machinists from being near steel bars


The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives recently issued a ruling that prohibits machinists from entering buildings which also house steel bars. Similarly, machinists are prohibited from entering a spherical volume defined as being within 150 meters of a steel bar.

Extrapolating from rules that prohibit shooters from owning unregistered components that can be assembled into illegal suppressors, regulators pointed out that a competent machinist can quickly create a sub-gun, a ZPU-4 or even a GAU-8/A Avenger from simple, round bars of steel.

When challenged by the United States Chamber of Commerce, the BATFE dismissed their complaints by responding that businesses can purchase the completed parts cheaper from China, anyway. So why did they even need machinists?

Heller and Shannon: Bois d'Arc

Shannon followed Heller up, into the charter-bus. He went to the very back and chose a seat. Shannon sat next to him and immediately sprawled over him and was asleep even before the bus pulled out of the parking lot.

Her territorial claim was clear. “This is my man.”

The women who were closest to Shannon shared knowing smiles. It had been a year since Shannon had a boyfriend. Based on the sounds they had heard in the early morning hours, they suspected that neither Shannon or Heller had gotten much sleep the last night.

Even if Heller been offered a $1000, he would not have been able to remember a single reason why he once thought Shannon was “not his type”.

Ce’Diff was the last one to board the bus. She missed seeing the love-birds in the back of the bus. Her search for intelligence on Mr Eldridge Klugman had been an exercise in frustration. He did not exist on FB or Pluggedin. He did not post on Twit or Tok. He was a ghost.

She would try again after she got back to the office where she had access to other databases. The motel internet connection had been slower than molasses in January and it was very frustrating to use. Good-god, how could these hicks live like that!?

One of Ce’Diff’s snitches stopped by her seat and whispered something into her ear.

Realizing that she hadn’t seen either Shannon or Eldridge, she turned to where her underling had suggested she look.

Ce’Diff’s eyes narrowed. Oh, so that is how it was.

There is more than one way to skin a cat.


Ce’Diff waited until 9:30 the next morning before making her moves. She knew a little bit about Shannon but wanted to refresh her memory. Like every Human Resources professional, the first social media website she visited was Pluggedin.

The website confirmed that Shannon was still a teller at one of the regions largest Credit Unions and had not been promoted in the last six years. Ce’Diff was not surprised. There had been a concerted push to make financial institutions look more like the communities they were serving so Peoples-of-Color and other-gendered could have equal access to financing.

Then Ce’Diff did a search of the SPRKCU HR department and selected the names of a few HR professionals. She hit pay-dirt on her first choice, Shelquia Washington. Shelquia was a couple of years younger than she was and had graduated from Eastern Michigan. Most important was the fact that she was also a member of the Omega Alpha Pi Sorority.

Ce’Diff placed her call and Shelquia picked up on the third ring. “Hello. Washington of Human Resources Spark-U Credit Union speaking. My pronouns are Zzz and Zhrr. What do you need?”

“Hello Zzz Washington. I am Ce’Diff Koffi from Critical Staffing Solutions’ Human Resources Department. That is spelled cap-Cee, e, apostrophe, cap-d, i, f, f space cap-k, o, f, f, i. Professionally, I use pronouns She/Her.”

Ce’Diff politely gave Washington time to type her name into the Pluggedin search box.

“Oh! You are a Sistah!” the warmth in Washington’s voice was startling after the brisk, impersonal tones at the beginning of the call. Washington had either checked out Ce'Diff's affiliations page or noticed the lime-green and cotton-candy pink broach she was wearing for her P-I mugshot.

“I am a 4th Degree Bois d’Arc” Ce’Diff said with false modesty.

Washington was impressed. There were eight Degrees and it was rare to meet somebody who had graduated in 2005 who was already a 4th Degree Bois d’Arc.

Bois d’Arc literally translated to “Wood of the Bow” and was an honor granted to some Omega Alpha Pi sorority women after they graduated. The grading system was very secretive but involved becoming personally involved and "facilitating" the professional advancement of Peoples-of-Color in general and other Omega Alpha Pi members in particular. 
Evidence suggested that promoting the advancement of P-o-C and other-gendered in some fields like Human Resources, Media, Higher Education, and Regulation were scored more favorably than advancement in other fields like accounting, elementary education, corrections or medicine. It was odd that the Prosecutors' office was heavily scored while corrections was not.

“What can I do for you?” Washington asked with genuine interest. Clearly, Ce’Diff Koffi had some serious stroke and could vault Washington’s career to a higher level if she was able to impress Koffi.

“I hate to trouble you about this minor matter, but one of your employees displayed extremely racist and biased behavior while representing your company on a public outing….” Ce’Diff knew that she owned Washington.

Thursday, December 29, 2022


A bit of local business that went down over the past month is that Sparrow Hospital is being absorbed by the University of Michigan medical system.

All the evidence I see is that it was a distressed sale. U-of-M is paying about $110,000 per job for the business. With 7700 employees, Sparrow Hospital is one of the area's largest employers.


Some commenters see the Healthcare Industry as a powerful economic engine. I see Healthcare as a cost like the money spent re-working scrap-parts to make them usable. Or another metaphor would be the wages paid to smoke-jumpers fighting forest fires. It is hard to see how setting more forest fires benefits the economy just as increasingly expensive and intrusive medical procedures benefiting the economy.

---End Aside--- 

The plight of Sparrow Hospital is not an isolated case. There is huge cost pressure on all hospitals. U-of-M and Sparrow merging might be analogous to two, falling-down drunks leaning on one another for support.

It is tempting to point to Obamacare as initiating this secular shift in the healthcare business.

It was such a great idea that people had to be punished for not joining an insurance plan that might cost $15k/year/person. Once the penalties were eliminated, people dropped their plans knowing that hospitals legally had to provide services via Emergency Rooms. Federal reimbursements came nowhere close to making up the shortfall.

Obamacare included mandates that added additional layers of administration and complexity. That overhead was larded into every procedure.

Covid resulted in the number of billable procedures performed in hospitals crashing. Overhead is a fixed cost. It does not go away when the volume of work is reduced. The overhead did not go away but became a tsunami of red-ink.

Very locally, the biggest* "gym" in Charlotte, Michigan is affiliated with Sparrow:Charlotte. The gym is named "Alive" and is a converted grocery store. The facility hosts physical and cardiac rehab, a walking track, a weight-room, treadmills, elliptical machines and the like. The facility has classes on various physical disciplines and on heart-friendly cooking.

It saddens me that Alive might be on the cutting block as the bean-counters examine every enterprise with respect to cost-and-revenues. While Alive does not cost much to keep running, mostly payroll, it does not bring in much revenue. My fear is that various types of overhead may have been apportioned on the basis of time-card-hours and a too-simple of an analysis will show Alive to be unprofitable.

And that would be a tragedy. For Alive to be killed due to overhead generated by other enterprises.

It would be a tragedy because Alive isn't setting forest fires. It is using the best science available to prevent them.

*65,000 square-feet



We have all  seen young women out in public wearing extremely long, false eyelashes. They project outward like awnings intended to keep the town's pigeons from crapping on the pedestrians. Young women wear them because they believe that those eyelashes make them look feminine and it is a way of projecting their desirability.

Men, envy them no more

Mr Glen Filthie, I am looking at you...

Ear-hair plugs* are a coming thing. EHPs are the ideal way to establish dominance and to command respect. Nothing says you have ancestors from Europe or India more emphatically than EHPs!

EHPs make hirsutophobes projectile-vomit. Metrosexuals have been seen grinding Carolina Reaper peppers into their orbs after encountering men, real men, wearing them. One man wearing jeans, a plaid, flannel shirt and a pair of these puppies has been known to clear an entire soccer stadium in less then 4.2 minutes.

Available in multiple lengths with 22.3mm, 30.8mm and 45.2mm being stock items. Custom lengths available.

Available in several shades "Bleached", "Ginger", "Dark", "Multi-tone" and the ever-popular Red-White-and-Blue.

All hair is ethically and sustainably harvested from German Shepherds whose ancestors originally came from Northern Europe.

Slightly off topic

A lady once called 9-1-1 on me. The cops were waiting for me in the parking-lot.

"Now what was the problem, ma-am?" the officers (2 of them) asked her.

"He is a mass-murderer. Look at him. You can tell by his eye-brows" she told them.

In truth, I sport bushy eyebrows which sometimes peak upward in mid-arch giving me a Northern Horned Owl vibe.

The cops told me to shut-up and leave. I didn't say a thing, got in my vehicle and left.

I have no doubt that the woman is a "frequent flier" for 9-1-1.

Wednesday, December 28, 2022


US media tells us that America will be stronger if we let in more Haitians and people from other "Developing" nations. Prorated for population, if Haiti had the population of the United States then 198 Journalists would be assassinated every year.

Most of the problems we see would be easily remedied if we addressed the miscreant's CHD (Chronic Hickory Deficiency). Ask your grandpa for a demonstration if you are unfamiliar with the term. In a pinch, peach is an acceptable substitute for hickory.

Hated names

Daily Mail ran a post on the years' most hated baby names.

Baby names have become aspirational and are seen as billboards to trumpet what "cool parents" the lucky baby has.

I am relieved that the trend to name babies random, dramatic words seems to be dying down. Imagine going through life with a name like Sepsis or Mersa, Death, Destruction, twins Sturm and Drang.

Blood work

So if Vitamin D is important for resisting viral diseases and if diabetes is a critical co-morbidity for respiratory viruses...then why aren't Vitamin D and A1C panels included as a matter-of-course for blood-work at Wellness Checks?

I believe that many doctors now include Vitamin D panels in their annual script for blood-work for African-Americans.

At one point it made sense to NOT include A1C panels because insurance companies could exclude new members based on preexisting conditions. At that point there were economic incentives on the part of the patient to NOT have A1C numbers until after there were symptoms (i.e. damage). Denying coverage for preexisting conditions is no longer allowed.

Mental Health

Belladonna informed me that she personally sat in Psychology classes where the Professors informing the entire class that mental/emotional health was totally fictitious and had been invented to enrich Big Pharma.

The implication was that all those people needed was a little bit of counseling to straighten them out.

Let's test the hypothesis. This one should be easy.

Every professor who teaches Psychology at a college level shall house a single, homeless, male in his mid-twenties for one entire week every year they are an instructor. The subject must be given keys to the house and vehicle and shall accompany the Professor everywhere they go during that week.

The Professor must submit to having their vehicle searched by a canine four days after the extended counseling session and will be legally accountable for any illegal drugs found during the search.

The point is that the demographic described (homeless, male, mid-20s, single) often have "issues". The Professors must supply the University with video to document  the effectiveness of your counseling.


Healthcare so good that it has become the model for Canada.

"Oh dear! An abscessed tooth. Would you like a sedative and mumble-mumble 50ml of potassium chloride IV for that?"

Training for the 5k

Training hit a hiccup. Ice and slush to be precise. I have a treadmill but it is not my favorite thing.

I have been walking with 45 pounds in a pack and today I walked steps.

My left calf is still very, very weak.

I encountered another runner who had been hit by a vehicle. In his case it was while he was running. The Emergency Room declined to administer opioids even though his flesh had been road-rashed down-to, and ground a flattened facet on the bulge at the top of his humerus. He lost an inch of height because they had to fuse several of his lower vertebrae together. He has been very supportive and quite the cheer-leader.

I gained 6 pounds over the Thanksgiving/Christmas holiday. Goes on easily and comes off hard.

Heller and Shannon: Risk/reward ratio

The embers of the campfire were fading. Shannon, LR, Snek and Slider were wringing every last drop from the magic of the moment.

Nobody wanted it to end.

“I don’t mean to put anybody on the spot” Shannon began “but if things are so rotten and if traditional Americans are so prepared, why aren’t we in the middle of the Second Civil War?”

As the night had worn on, Snek had been speaking less and less and Slider had started speaking more. Shannon was not surprised when Slider answered.

“The risk/reward ratio is too high” Slider said.

“What does that mean?” Shannon asked.

“Everybody you think might be a target is a deke” Slider said.

“What is a deke?” Shannon asked.

“A decoy” Snek filled in.

“Lemme tell ya a story” Slider responded.

“There is a football team in Alabama who is coached by ol’ Nick hisself” Slider said. “Every year the best high school players sell their souls to sit on his bench figuring that will get them in the pros.”

“This year, Tennessee had a good team. A DAMNED good team. Everybody in the state stopped doing whatever they were doing and watched the game.”

“Except the cops” Slider said. “They pulled patrol duty and were meaner than snakes...real ones.”

“Me, Snek and our buddies went to the local watering hole to watch the game. Everybody knew the cops were lined up on the street waiting for the game to end ‘cause they hadta know we was drinkin’.”

“Well, we won the game and after another half hour of celebrating I decided I better get home ‘cause I had to go to work early the next morning.”

“So me and Snek left the bar and we was leaning on each other to keep from fallin’ down. Danged if I didn’t drop my keys when I tried to unlock the Dodge Ram. Then I fell on my ass when I was trying to pick ‘em up.

“I looked up and I could see every cop parked along Broad Street watchin’ me.”

“Weren’t no point in putting it off. I started the Cummins diesel and let it warm up, then I started driving for home, 10 miles-per-hour under the speed limit. Them cops lined up behind me like I were the queen of the homecomin’ parade.

“I kept moseying along real careful and finally they couldn’t stand it. They flipped on their bubblegum machine and pulled me over.”

“I was as polite as my mama taught me to be.”

“They had me walking a straight line and finally after twennie minutes they had me blow into the horn. I blew a 0.0”

“Bull-sergeant Fife looked me in the eye and demanded, ‘Son, just what the hell kinda game are you pulling?”

“I gave him my best shit-eatin smile and tole him, “Well, ossifer, I am the designated-decoy, don’t ya know.”

“He spun around and the parking lot at the Moonshiner’s Twist-n-Shout was empty.”

“The reason the second Civil War hasn’t started is because everything that looks like a "target" on the other side is a designated-decoy. They are pawns that can be replaced over-night.”

“Wouldn’t be any harder to kill them than to shoot ducks at the city park with a pellet gun. But all it would do would be to get us and our friends and family arrested.”

“What would be the point of taking out all of the local Baby-Beluga news anchors, ferrinstance? They ain't the real problem. They are just one of the symptoms."

"The folks that are the real problem would just use it as an excuse to violate our rights under the Constitution and there is no shortage of fat-chicks who wanna be on TV” Slider said.

“Hell, even most of the politicians are brain-dead meat-puppets. High risk, no gain in taking out any one of them. That's why God-fearin', Constitution carryin' Americans are treading water... for now."

Shannon had never heard it posed so starkly. Looking over at LR she saw him nodding in agreement.

“So what would you do?” Shannon wanted to know.

“You gotta swim upstream and snip the spine at the base of the skull. Or at least go as far upstream as you can.” Slider said with confidence.

“I can’t see how you would do that” Shannon said.

“Lotsa ways” Slider said. “Like that mouthy old lady, whats her name...Wookie Goldbricker...on that show The Room, the one who keeps spouting off about the Holocaust. No point in tryin’ get her kicked off the show. Even if they did they would replace her with somebody just like her or worse.”

“The high leverage is to get 20,000 of your buddies and Google “Atherosclerotic Broadcasting Corporation top advertisers 2022”. Then the next day Google the same thing but add “The Room” to the search. THAT would kick the network in the wallet because the advertisers watch Google Analytics like a hawk and they would start yanking advertising.”

“Wookie Goldbricker isn’t the problem. The network that hired her and the people who finance her are the problem.”

Shannon nodded her head in understanding. "In business we call that "Leverage", where a little bit of effort gets you a lot of benefit."

“So if you had a list of high-value targets, would YOU start the Second Civil War?” Shannon asked.

“Prolly not” Slider admitted. “Nobody wins a civil war. But it would be nice to have that list for insurance. Good information is getting harder-n-harder to come by. If push comes to shove having an org-chart that identified good targets would be bettern having a million dollars in the bank.”

Many weeks later, Shannon realized that none of the people standing around that campfire had their smartphones with them. There was no point as there was no signal in the valley. She wondered if the men would have been as plainly spoken if they thought there were smartphones in attendance.

Tuesday, December 27, 2022

"Happy" is not a function of how much you have


At least it isn't when you can hang out with cool people like these kids.

Fine Art Tuesday

Flight into Egypt
George Hitchcock born in America in 1850. Died 1913.

His greatest commercial success was the painting Flight into Egypt which he sold in many different versions. There is no record that he ever traveled to the middle East but the vegetation and soil-color suggests the setting could have been near Egmond aan Zee in the Netherlands where he was documented to have lived. The flowering chicory and Queen Anne's Lace suggests the image was painted in August.

Monday, December 26, 2022

It could have been worse...

The ladies are taking Handsome Hombre back to Detroit Metro Airport because he has to work this week. He will rejoin us Friday. Tickets for air travel are still pretty cheap, especially Spirit Airlines. The important thing to remember about flying Spirit is to bring your own ratchet straps so you can attach yourself to the outside of the fuselage. Hands cramp on longer flights, dontchya know.

I was given the task of getting Quicksilver to bed. It could have gone better.

She is teething.

I tried all of the traditional remedies: Pickled ring baloney, dill pickles, sardines and Louisiana Hot sauce, Wild Turkey 101. None of them worked.

Finally I found a Youtube Channel that calmed her down. It makes sense. She is from that schizophrenic state known as Florida. Florida is a melange of Damned Yankees, Southern Culture, Caribbean Steel Drums and Latino Americano. Obviously, she needed a little more Southern Culture to level her chakra.

Mrs ERJ is probably going to make me sleep on the couch tonight. Pickled ring baloney and the other remedies usually give me gas.

Hints for working in the cold

Yesterday, Handsome Hombre wanted to go for a walk. I went with him. We went on our usual, three-mile walk.

Handsome Hombre currently hails from Miami, Florida but originally hails from even more southerly regions. Cold weather is new to him. I took the opportunity to give him a crash-course in being able to survive and work outside when the temperatures are lower than what he normally encounters.

The wind-chill was zero F which is not brutally cold but will get your attention if you decide to be stupid.

The first lesson was that movement makes heat. If sitting in a recliner is 1.0 (Metabolic Equivalent), then walking is 3 METs and trotting is 8-to-10 METS. Not moving makes you cold.

The other side of the equation is that if you dress for not-moving then you will sweat when you start working. Damp clothes do not retain heat as well as dry clothes. Consequently, if you will be outside for a while and will be working, then you need a way to unzip or a hat you can stow in a pocket or a way to roll-up sleeves to balance your heat generation and heat loss. It is always good to be just a little-bit cool.

Then I quickly touched on calories. You cannot make heat by burning calories if you are starving.

Manual dexterity was another topic. A light pair of stretchy gloves or split-leather gloves beneath a roomy pair of mittens is a good option. You can shuck-off the mittens when you need to make a fire or swing an axe.

The preferred course of action for larger projects is a math problem. Suppose you must work on a power distribution panel that is outside. In -20F temps you might be able to work on it for two minutes before you have to go back into your truck to thaw out your hands for ten minutes. OR, you can spread a tarp or build a temporary tent around the PDP to break the wind. If there is a power receptacle you can use a clip-on lamp with a 250W IR bulb to shine on your hands while you work. 

It might take 30 minutes to set-up the tent and heat but then you can work straight through. Probably not economical for a small job but definitely a good investment if you have a lot of work to do in the PDP. Some bosses are jerks and will give you crap for setting up a tent even when it saves time in the long-run.

Specific to PDPs, a couple of times I have seen a recurring, intermittent problem solved when the electrician went through the panel and retorqued every-single-connection. That is a pisser of a job to do if you have to keep hopping back into the truck to warm up because it is easy to lose track of where you stopped. It would be just my luck to skip over the ONE connection that was loose.

Sweaters, fleece and quilted fabrics are warm but not wind-resistant. To stay warm when it is windy requires a wind-resistant shell over the puffy clothing.

Turning your back to the wind for a few minutes can make a big difference.

Your nose will run when it is cold outside.

If your vehicle gets stuck and you cannot extricate it, it is almost always better to stay with your vehicle than to attempt to walk-out. Searchers will find your vehicle much more easily than they can find your body. Also, the shell of the vehicle is much more weather-proof than anything you are likely to build with found or native materials.

Ultimately, each person has to figure out what works for them. I might be able to get away with wearing a quilted flannel shirt, an insulated vest (hi-viz to make Mrs ERJ happy) and a knit cap at zero because I am fat. I need a lot more clothing when I am sitting on a deer stand because I am only making 1/3 the heat sitting as when I am walking. A leaner person might need even more clothing.


Heller and Shannon: Packin'

Snek, Slider and three others from the Kingsport group rounded the bushes and saw LR putting Shannon down from carrying her piggy-back over the blackberry stubble.

Snek hooted “Well played!”

Shannon blushed.

Snek was clearly in control of the contingent. “Mikey, run back to camp and let the guides know we found them and they are not hurt. They are gonna wanna know.”

“Slider, you and Bubba grab the first kayak while Tiny and I grab the other.”

Glancing down at Shannon’s bare feet he said “LR, I think you oughta stick with Shannon, cause she ain’t gonna be able to keep up.”

Apparently Snek and the boys were familiar with the path from earlier trips.

LR was looking at the ground near Shannon’s feet. “Those tracks don’t look quite like a deer’s track. What are they?”

“Them are hog-tracks” Slider said.

“Hogs?” LR asked. “Like Russian boars?”

“Pretty much” Snek added.

LR rubbed his chin in thought. Then he asked Shannon “Are you thirsty?”

“Well, I could use a drink” Shannon admitted.

LR reached into his fanny pack and handed her his bottle of water. “Keep it” he said.

Snek said “Don’t worry too much. They make a lot of noise and are scared of people...mostly. And most boars ain’t any heavier than four-hunnert pounds or so.”

“Great” LR said, sarcastically.

Shannon looked a little bit panicked. “Are you guys serious?”

“Serious as a heart-attack, ma-am” Bubba said. “Them pigs can really tear up a farm field or a stream...or a man.”

“You are pulling my leg” Shannon said.

“Ma-am, we ain’t pullin’ your leg. That’s one reason why we are all packin’” Bubba said.

That is when Shannon picked up on the fact that all four of the men from Tennessee had holsters on their belts.

Looking over at LR, she saw he was spinning the fanny pack around so it was in front and was rearranging the contents of his fanny pack so the butt of a handgun was ready-to-hand. Part of her realized that LR had given her his water-bottle because he needed more room in his fanny pack to facilitate its rearrangement.

Catching her glance, LR said, “I screwed up. I didn’t think about not having a belt but this will work.”

“YOU have a gun?” Shannon gasped.

“Not just ‘a gun’” LR said. “This is a Glock 19 in a Safariland GLS holster. It is a tool for certain kinds of jobs. Where I screwed up is I didn’t think I was gonna need it.”

The four men from Tennessee flirted with Shannon outrageously at the start of the trip back. Most guys aren’t that great at body-language but they could see that LR had a lock on Shannon’s heart if he wanted to put any effort into it. Ironically, LR didn’t act as if he had a clue.

They came to a stretch of trail where the rocks were small, glass-sharp splinters and Shannon had to slow down to a virtual crawl. The men from Tennessee kept going and left Shannon and LR behind.

LR had been the man-with-a-plan every step of the way. If LR wasn’t scared of hogs then Shannon wasn’t either.


LR and Shannon ate with the group from Tennessee and stayed for their campfire. The men had fully accepted both of them into their “tribe”. The guides made an obvious show of not seeing the firearms the men were packing. The men didn’t rub anybody’s noses in it. It helped that several of them had glued blue denim over the outside of their holster so it blended in with their cut-off jeans and almost looked like pockets.

LR, Snek and Slider had saved the guides a huge amount of embarrassment and paperwork. Nothing creates confidence more quickly than competence demonstrated without fanfare or fluff.

As the only woman at the campfire, Shannon was treated like a movie-star. She pushed their “Southern Gentlemen” buttons and they responded. She basked in the glow of their appreciation. And she never left LR’s side.
Most of the conversation was opaque to Shannon: 147 grain XTPs vs 124 grain GoldDots, Euro-pellets vs JMB's gift to the world, wheel-guns vs semi-autos, Silverados vs. F-150s, Memphis BBQ vs Carolina BBQ, concealed vs open. It didn't matter to her. The rumble of men's voices; often agreeing to disagree. Every one of them courteous almost to the point of being comical.
While there was so very, very much that she did not understand, she knew in every fiber of her being that each men at this campfire cherished her and would protect her to the very last drop of blood of blood in his body. Every man. Something that she knew, instinctively, was not true at the other campfire.

LR was at war with his emotions. He found himself responding physically to her presence. Every one of his nerves was jangling and intensely aware of every shift of the muscles in Shannon's leg that was entwined with his and in her frame.
It had been a long time since he had been with a woman and was afraid that he would lose control and tumble head-over-heels in love with a woman who was completely alien to his universe. How could that work?

Besides, at thirty, LR was no stranger to sex. He knew that sex made you blind and stupid. IF he and Shannon had a relationship, he wanted to ease into it. He wanted to see her back in Michigan where he was just a dumb guy with bruised knuckles and grease under his nails while she was one of those people who worked in an air-conditioned office. He wanted to sort through that before he jumped into the sack with her because it would be a lot harder to hit the brakes afterward.

For now, it felt fabulous to have her leaning on him, holding his hand. Equally intoxicating was that she had not second-guessed him nor competed with him. Not even once. Stephanie would have turned the task of cutting through the blackberries into a contest where she would do her part faster than LR and needle him for not keeping up.

Shannon had let him lead. Intoxicating!

Sunday, December 25, 2022

Orderly Devolution to a Low-Trust society

Southern Belle had an interesting insight that she shared with me on our trip to Detroit Metro Airport to pick up Handsome Hombre.

S-B tends to hold her cards close to her vest. As somebody immersed in the working-world, she realizes that being too forth-coming in her political or religious views can make her a target. Those zipped-lips extend to family as well. I am still not 100% sure what her opinions are and that is OK.

I was sharing my perceptions that society will fragment as the government became increasingly hostile to productive people and anybody who does not demonstrate 100% loyalty to the Government every day of the week. Over time, that will result in concentric rings of loyalty where every person will first be loyal to self-and-family, then tribe, then village... Some groups would anticipate events and manage an orderly retreat and not lose too much productivity. The majority will be totally surprised and the transition will be a total fertilizer-storm.

I also mentioned the concentric-ring model (also called Low-Trust model) was the rule historically and still was the norm in Latin America and Spain, Italy, Greece and the "Developing" countries.

The most successful early-adapters will adopt working models that already have the bugs worked out rather than inventing their own and remaking many avoidable mistakes. The challenge is to find a concentric-ring model that is fully compatible with the current, US culture.

That is when S-B surprised me.

"I think the Mormons (also known as the Church of the Latter Day Saints) might have what you are looking for" she said.

Historically, the US Government has sometimes been hostile toward the LDS church. The LDS church is also institutionally aligned with being prepared since one of the pivotal events in their history was the diaspora which saw a major portion of the LDS church move from the mid-West to Utah. For those readers who are members of the LDS church, please forgive me if I skate over this and perpetuate inaccurate myths.

It is her perception that the LDS culture is very hospitable toward incubating businesses in the sense that a young family with a business concept can easily find legal, accounting, web-design and the host of other professional services required be a fledgling enterprise.

It should come as no surprise that the fledgling business is "hooked-up" with other LDS church-member's businesses.

Of particular interest is that LDS professionals help the new business dance on the safe side of the tax evasion/avoidance line. In many cases, with a little bit of foresight and advance planning actions that could be perceived as evasion can be legitimately defended in an audit as avoidance. That is one of the risks that is unique to the more Developed Countries. All countries have greedy tax-codes but the Developed Countries have more layers to detect the (potentially taxable) flow of resources.

Getting back to the point, the model represented by the Church of the Latter Day Saints (at least in certain areas) is a good departure point for an orderly development of a parallel economy.

Happy birthday, Jesus


In those days a decree went out from Caesar Augustus that the whole world should be enrolled. This was the first enrollment, when Quirinius was governor of Syria.

So all went to be enrolled, each to his own town. And Joseph too went up from Galilee from the town of Nazareth to Judea, to the city of David that is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and family of David, to be enrolled with Mary, his betrothed, who was with child.
While they were there, the time came for her to have her child, and she gave birth to her firstborn son. She wrapped him in swaddling clothes and laid him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn.


Happy birthday, Jesus.

Born of an unwed mother. Impregnated by One other than her betrothed husband in a culture where he would have been justified to have her stoned to death.

In those days, the oldest son inherited all. If the oldest son died, then the second oldest son inherited. If there were no sons, then the oldest son of the second oldest brother inherited. If any of the sons in the line-of-succession were a bastard, then all property would leave "the family". And a reading of the parable of The Prodigal Son informs us of the potential fate of families that squandered or lost their inheritance.

Born in a barn.

Born into a country that was newly under the heel of Roman oppression. His parents displaced by the census, a census taken so the Empire could squeeze the maximum amount of tribute out of it and levy the maximum number of soldiers from the population. 

It was the habit of the Romans to station soldiers in the corners of the Empire farthest from their homes so they would have no inhibitions about running their spears through the local populace. That undoubtedly made it easier for Herod's soldiers to slay all of the newly-borne boys some months later.

In one way, being born some distance from Nazareth was a blessing. The old bitties who were fond of counting months might not catch wind of the fact that Jesus was born out-of-wedlock, a fact that would make him a target of bullying and teasing.

Another blessing is that his nominal father, Joseph, had skills that were in demand and could flee with his family to Egypt and still make a living as a stranger in a strange land. One suspects that he had a few coins in his fanny-pack to ease the burden of travel. The trip from Bethlehem to Be'er Sheva to the coast and thence to Cairo is 300 miles or about 20 days travel if all went well. Yes, Joseph was literally a journeyman-in-the-trades.

Those who study such things tell us Jesus was fully human. He felt pain and sorrow and joy. They tell us that Jesus was also fully God and not some sock-puppet or ink-and-paper version of God parading around Israel.

Sometimes God's sense of purpose (or maybe His sense of humor) defies human understanding.

Happy birthday, Jesus.

Saturday, December 24, 2022

Reloader's Night Before Christmas (stolen from the Internet)

Twas the night before Christmas, cold, dark and foreboding,
as I sat at the workbench, quite busy reloading.

The empties from autumn were polished so clear
for primers and powder, and bullets from Speer

and Sierra boat-tails, and Nosler's Partitions
(My bench ain't no place for brand name omissions!)

All sat in their boxes, right next to the press
with dies from Midway, and RCBS

When all of a sudden there came such a jolt,
I grabbed for my Mossberg, and whipped out my Colt.

As I spilled Hodgdon's powder all over the shelf
I scrambled for cover, just to protect myself.

From up on the rooftop, came hoof beats and snorting
Like the noise out of L'il Rock, from Clinton's cavorting!

I eased off the safety, to press-check my auto,
with 230-hardball, I'd knock'em all blotto.

Were these rogue federal agents, sent by Schumer and Reno?
Or a staggering Ted Kennedy, in bad need of vino?

My question was answered with a knock, and some sneezing,
"It's Santa, you moron, lemme in there, I'm freezing!"

I flipped off the dead-bolt and threw the door open wide,
to find St. Nick a'shivering, Rudolph by his side.

He eyeballed my Thompson, with a nod of approval
"You're all set," he said, "for dirtball removal."

"But this is no raid, we're not here to harm you
Or persecute, prosecute, or even disarm you."

"Instead," said dear Santa, "I need to borrow
your .357, 'till day after tomorrow."

"It's okay," he assured me, with a hint of frustration.
"I'm enrolled in the National Rifle Association."

He showed me his card, 'twas a Life Member rating
"I've had this since me and the missus were dating!"

"And you see, ol' buddy, I've gotten real nervous
since Feinstein was elected, with a promise to serve us."

"So henceforth as I'm out there, my presents a'stackin'
I want to assure you, I'm legally packin'."

"And my gift for you this year, should give you a hoot."
"I've told the Supreme Court to give Brady the boot!"

"Now, Rudy and I must be on our way."
He said, as he climbed back on the seat of his sleigh.

With the reins in his hand, and my Smith in his pocket
He jingled the sleigh bells and was off like a rocket.

With a pair of speed loaders, and ammo to spare
I knew he'd be safe, he was loaded for bear.

As he faded from view, I could still hear him calling:
"From D.C., where 'P.C.' is already falling,
to bad guys in L.A., Detroit and Atlanta:
I'm ready and I carry, so don't be messin' with Santa!"

The Iggle has Landed

Southern Belle and I departed from the portals of our castle at 8:00PM local time last night.

The usual drive-time is 1:35.

Two hours later we pulled into the short-term parking at Detroit Metro Airport. The "pick-up" line was stacked three-lanes deep for a quarter-mile leading up to the doors of the terminal.

Southern Belle and I hung out in baggage claim to await further developments.

I must confess that it gave me great joy to (quietly) mock my fellow travelers. You could tell who wore organic, unbleached cotton, the newly-minted couples (who walked in perfect synchronicity) and the Homer Simpsons (Hmmm! Donuts!) and the Karens. There are reasons that Mrs ERJ does not take me out in public.

Many passengers milling about waiting for luggage, some had been waiting for over four hours. In one case the plane was packed and pulling away from the terminal when a sensor showed the luggage door was open. Since the plane was to be pressurized and a door popping open at-elevation would be undesirable, the plane turned around and unloaded passengers. It was speculated that ice may have been involved in both the door not closing and then ground-support not being able to open the doors to extract the luggage.

Handsome Hombre's plane from Miami landed at the appointed time but was parked on the tarmac for an hour before passengers were allowed to de-plane.

Handsome Hombre had a pillow and a carry-on backpack.

We hit the head and then Southern Belle drove us home. It took two-and-a-half-hours. I-94 was clean east of Jackson, Michigan. M-50 had intermittent white-outs with drifts (and the white-outs) downwind of open fields. Driving at-speed into a white-out is WAY too exciting because just as sure as sh!t you will run into drifts.

Mrs ERJ's minivan has killer tires on all four corners. They are not very good for road-whine but they rock in snowy conditions. This ain't our first rodeo.

Friday, December 23, 2022

The 1980s are calling...

“Gov. Romney, I'm glad that you recognize that al Qaeda is a threat, because a few months ago when you were asked what's the biggest geopolitical threat facing America, you said Russia.”

The 1980s are now calling to ask for their foreign policy back because the Cold War's been over for 20 years,”   -Barry Soetoro 2012

Well, well, well. Has anybody called this to the attention of the Democrats and war-mongers?

How nice of Biden to green-light "minor incursions" into the Ukraine. Nothing like a popular war to take the people's minds off of domestic problems.

Stupid reasons for getting angry


I had one of these, a 1973 Impala in the exact, same color. Two-barrel 350 V8. I have it on good authority that Glen Filthie makes a cameo appearance in this production near the 2:37 mark and that he is wearing plaid.

Stupid things to get mad about

The wise and loverly Mrs ERJ informs me that when I get mad at other people for stupid things that I need to look in the mirror.

For example, I loaned Kubota the Silverado for the duration of the snow-storm.

Kubota is one of those people who drives a snow-plow truck. Being the low-seniority guy where he works, he gets the stupid shifts. They plow for a bunch of hours and then get five hours off to "sleep" before coming back to work. Throw in a significant amount of drive time and the plow operator doesn't get much sleep.

Furthermore, his truck is not working (again). I had been driving him to work but that meant he would call me and I would show up about 40 minutes later to pick him up.

Loaning him my truck means that he gets more sleep (two times 40 minutes). I get more sleep.

With me so far?

Six hours after loaning him the Silverado he called me and said "Dad, I changed the oil on your truck. Can you pay me for the oil I put in?"

Did I mention that he is struggling for money?

That is when I had to bite my tongue.

Compounding errors

The last time I changed my oil I may have tried to remove the oil pan plug with an adjustable wrench. It may have slipped and slightly rounded the corners of the plug. I may have found my 15mm socket and used it to remove the plug but then was unable to remove my one, good 15mm socket. I had unwittingly invented the rotary version of the Morse taper.

No problems. I reinstalled the new-and-improved oil pan drain plug with the chrome-plated styling feature and ordered a new drain plug on-line. I would swap them out the next time I changed my oil.

Just before passing my truck over to Kubota, the "Change Oil Soon" telltale started telling. No worries. I would get it when Kubota gave the truck back.

Except it didn't happen that way. The new drain plug is (undoubtedly) still riding in the driver's side door pocket. The old socket is disappered and the old plug with the rounded corners reinstalled at crazy-stupid torque.

Did I mention that Kubota is strong?

I bit my tongue.

I commended him for his GSD attitude. GSD attitude can be German Shepherd Dog attitude or it can be Getting Sh!t Done attitude. Same-same.

I told Kubota that the world needs more people with his GSD superpowers.

Now I'm gotta halfta remember that I put the new oil-pan drain plug in the door pocket for another six months.

Mrs ERJ was right. There were a half-a-dozen places I could have done something differently to not end up in this place.

I wrote this blog post just so you readers wouldn't put me on a pedestal and so you could finally learn what Glen Filthie looks like in real-life. That is what Canadians call a two-fer.

Heller and Shannon: That's amore

Shannon had been a ways downstream from where LR stood when he first saw her. She was already out of sight, swept around the bend by the swift current by the time LR launched.

LR paddled briskly but he was not stupid about it. The river was not one of the placid streams of southern Michigan. It could punish the hasty, the distracted or the stupid. LR was none of those.

It took him about ten minute to close the gap and then another ten to “bump” her kayak into a wide gap between two huge boulders. There was enough room for LR to wedge his kayak in beside her. Unfortunately, they were on the opposite side of the river from the camp.

Shannon suggested “I could hang onto the grab-handle of your kayak while you paddle across the river.”

LR shook his head. “That isn’t going to work. The front of your kayak will be right where I have to paddle and the angle of your kayak will make it really hard to cut a straight line.”

He didn’t add that he was dubious about her ability to hold onto the grab-handle. She hadn’t impressed him yet with her athletic ability. The LAST thing he wanted to have happen was to have her lose her grip and for both of them to end up another mile down the river.

“So what do we do?” Shannon asked. It wasn’t a challenge. It was a request for information.

Digging into his fanny-pack, LR pulled out a hank of 550 cord. “This is parachute cord. Next to duct tape, its the greatest stuff in the world. We're gonna tie the kayaks together. I'll tie onto the front of your kayak and you tie onto the back of mine but you gotta use the knot I show you.”

To LR’s surprise, Shannon didn’t argue with him.

He showed her how to tie a taut-line hitch and he stressed the importance of going through the hole in the hull of the kayak. “There is no telling how rotted out the lines are. Better to not trust them.”

Under LR’s careful watch, Shannon knocked out a picture-perfect taut-line hitch, mumbling “Two in the inside, one on the out” while she tied it.

“One of the great things about para-cord is that it is stretch” LR said to easy any tension. “It doesn’t yank on knots the way thicker rope would.”

And with that, LR backed out of their “garage” and pulled Shannon’s kayak into the current. LR had cut the para-cord so there was about a 12' gap between the two boats.

Damn! The current was swift.

He pointed his kayak angling up-stream and started for the other shore. No way in hell was he going to be able to paddle the two kayaks back upstream. They were going to have to beach and then carry or drag their kayaks back to camp. 

Even with his up-stream vector, the current was inexorably dragging his and Shannon's kayak down-river.

Looking over his shoulder, he picked a gap between the boulders and timed his paddling so the nose of his kayak tickled the boulder just upstream of the gap. Then he poured on the power and edged into the gap.

He was helped by the fact that the current was marginally slower close to the shore.

As he was getting ready to stuff his paddle into the water to stabilize his kayak, Shannon piped up “You might want to be careful. That is how I lost my paddle. It yanked out of my hands.”

Forewarned is forearmed. LR cut a length of para-cord and tied an ample loop in the end of it and tied the other end to his kayak. After making sure that the blade of the paddle didn’t get trapped by the rocks, LR rolled out of his low-slung vessel onto the top of the shorter boulder.

Then he reeled in his kayak and pulled it out of the water. Then he hand-over-handed in Shannon’s kayak and helped her onto his boulder and then they pulled her kayak onto the boulder.

Above the boulder-line was a belt of thick brush. Looking closer, he saw it was mostly interlaced blackberry bushes that were tightly woven together with woody-vines.

“No rest for the wicked” he commented to Shannon.

Once again, he reached into his fanny pack. This time he pulled out a sheath knife unlike any Shannon had ever seen and a pair of gloves.

“Its a Mora” LR explained.

“That’s amore?” Shannon asked. “What does that have to do with a love song?”

It took LR a second to realize that Shannon was kidding around with him. He expected her to be freaked out and here she was making corny jokes.

Strange chick.

Moving up to the brush line, LR started bending over the brambles and cutting through them with his short-bladed knife. Turning around to dispose of the long, thorny branch he almost ran into Shannon. She had her hand out to grab the branch.

“You don’t want to do that” LR advised. “They are covered with wicked-bad thorns.”

“Do you have another pair of gloves?” Shannon was going to help if she possibly could.

“Are you left-handed or right?” LR asked.

“Right-handed” she replied.

“Then I guess this is your lucky day” LR said as he peeled the glove off his right hand and handed it to her.

Bending down the branches with his armored, left hand and cutting them with the knife held in his right hand, he was able to make rapid progress.

He kept looking back to make sure he wasn’t going too fast for Shannon to keep up with.

“What are you looking at?” she asked when she caught him watching.

That is when LR realized that he had been enchanted by the fact that Shannon had so many body parts that jiggled. They jiggled at different speeds and in different directions. 

The fact that her throwing form was awkward and the long, springy, arching branches fought being tossed into the river compounded the effect.

“Voluptuous” he thought. LR was not big on fancy words but “Voluputous” fit Shannon to a T. 

"Nothin'" LR said. "I was just keeping an eye on you to see how you were holding up."  Well, that was mostly true.

Shannon was the exact, total opposite of Stephanie. Stephanie had dumped him six months ago. LR was totally blind-sided. He thought they were a perfect fit. They were both intense and competitive and ambitious and physically fit. They both had little patience with incompetence.

What LR came to learn was while he was intensely loyal, Stephanie was intensely ambitious. She dumped him when it became apparent that LR was not compatible with her plans for the future.

After clearing a 6’ wide path through the arching branches of the blackberries, LR carried Shannon piggy-back over the blackberry stubble and thorn-strewn ground. Shannon was barefoot and LR had on a pair of water-walkers. The soft weight of Shannon’s breasts on LR’s shoulders was pleasantly distracting.

No sooner had LR dragged the kayaks through the path he had cut through the blackberries than they heard the voices of the men from Kingsport, Tennessee coming down the game trail that parallelled the river just above the belt of brambles. Snek and Slider were taking bets about how far the two had been swept down the river before the Volunteers found them.

Based on the snippets LR overheard, he had a feeling that Snek and Slider were going to make a fair amount of pocket change.

Thursday, December 22, 2022


Daydreaming about what I would do at the hunting-lease if I get full management authority.

While I would love to graze some cattle on the property, the property is isolated and I fear that the cattle would not be there come fall. There is about 8 acres of former CRP/grassland. Low-level grazing by cattle sort-of mimics bison in terms of what it does to the habitat. Throw in some burns or a mowing schedule and things are interesting in a good way.

There is also a small stand of Norway Spruce that were planted on about 10' by 10' centers some forty years ago. The stand would benefit from having every third row removed and branches pruned up 16 feet.

No trees have been cut for management in the past 75 years. The canopy is dominated in several places by multi-stemmed Silver Maple and Wild Black Cherry. They suck up enormous amounts of sunlight and fertility and return...nothing. 

Managing a wood-lot is a lot like coaching a team. Do you hold onto the superannuated duffers? Or do you dump them to give yourself some salary-cap relief and bring in some young talent with "head room"?

Crookedy-ass Silver Maple or Pecans, Shellbark Hickory, Bald Cypress, Persimmons, Catalpa, Nuttall and Cherrybark Oak? That is the question. I even have a couple of local guys lined up who heat with wood who will cheerfully harvest the trees I want gone.

Wednesday, December 21, 2022

Clostridioides difficile

 Clostridioides difficile (syn. Clostridium difficile) is a bacterium that is well known for causing serious diarrheal infections, and may also cause colon cancer. Also known as C. difficile, or C. diff (/s dɪf/).  The diarrhea may range from a few days of intestinal fluid loss to life-threatening pseudomembranous colitis, which is associated with intense inflammation of the colon and formation of pseudomembranes on the intestinal mucosal surface.

Diarrhea caused by C. difficile has a distinctive, unpleasant smell and is stringy and difficult to clean up. C. difficile is spread by the fecal-oral route, dealing with C. difficile diarrhea blow-outs is a major exposure to the pathogen to health-care providers.

C. difficile produces up to three types of toxins: enterotoxin A, cytotoxin B and Clostridioides difficile transferase (CDT).

Clostridioides difficile is an important emerging human pathogen; according to the CDC, in 2017 there were 223,900 cases in hospitalized patients and 12,800 deaths in the United States. Although C. difficile is commonly known as a hospital and antibiotic associated pathogen, at most one third of infections can be traced to transmission from an infected person in hospitals.

Antibiotic treatment of C. diff infections may be difficult, due both to antibiotic resistance and physiological factors of the bacterium (spore formation, protective effects of the pseudomembrane). The emergence of a new, highly toxic strain of C. difficile, resistant to fluoroquinolone antibiotics, such as ciprofloxacin and levofloxacin, said to be causing geographically dispersed outbreaks in North America, was reported in 2005. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control warned of the emergence of an epidemic strain with increased virulence, antibiotic resistance, or both. Resistance to other antibiotics such as metronidazole, the first choice of antimicrobial drug when treating CDI, has been observed in up to 12% of clinical isolates, so as treatment with various antibiotics continues, more diverse and stronger resistances will continue to evolve in C. difficile populations, further complicating attempts at effective treatment.   -Wikipedia

It is commonly believed that broad-spectrum antibiotics impact the relative population/composition of the hundreds of species of bacteria (and other little critters) that live in our guts. C. diff is able to out-compete the suppressed species and perpetuates the imbalance.

C. diff is a reasonable metaphor for Woke HR departments which carpet bomb the native diversity of the work force the way a broad-spectrum antibiotic shocks our guts.

The constant assault of the Woke HR department knocks the entire organization out-of-kilter and is a drag on productivity and employee retention. The loss of native diversity reduces the organization's resilience to other environmental shocks and ultimately can lead to the demise of the organization.

The power and lack of internal controls in HR seems to attract people with pathological personalities. Like C. diff, Woke HR is most dangerous to otherwise at-risk people like older, less employable workers and people with legacy skills.


Character has been defined as "How an individual acts when they don't think anybody is watching."

That is a still a pretty good working definition.

I had a new acquaintance ask why I blogged under an assumed name.

I started out that way because I didn't want my immediate family, especially my kids, to face any discrimination for my expressing my opinions.

As long as I took money from The Corporation, I was the Corporate Man. I was prohibited from expressing myself.

I published my first blog post the first day I was retired.

Heinlein once observed that every woman is 16 years-old at heart...and every man is 10. That is true for me. Much of my humor is juvenile. So be it. When a man blogs under an assumed name, you get an unvarnished look at their character.

All of this is self-evident so it does not merit mention except for the character Ce'Diff. Whereas I act as if I knew I was always watched by the NSA or Alphabet and certainly by God. Ce'Diff acts as if every action on her part is not only seen by the Higher Powers but is endorsed by them and that they will always have her back. By her lights, she is not "forgiven" for acting on her basest motives but justified and made righteous for doing so.

Several years back I was cruising around the neighborhood with a neighbor kid. He wasn't somebody you would hold up as an icon of wisdom. He had a severe sunshine-deficiency, acne and an addiction to gaming. But he said something that I thought was profound:

"Our fascination and horror at "zombies" is hard-wired in our DNA because of our genetic fear of communicable diseases. It is like our inability to look away from a farm-truck filled with soybeans high-centered on the railroad tracks. Disaster is inevitable. The entertainment is in the details."

Isn't that part of the horrible fascination with the Woke-CRT-Intersectional crowd? Otherwise sane people act like insects with their brains infected by fungus when Those People are around. There, but for the grace of God, goes any one of us.

They are Zombies!

And every good Zombie story has one person escaping. That is what gives us hope.

Heller and Shannon: Situational Awareness

The parties of rafters launched in inverse order that they landed. Those that had landed last the night before launched first and those who had landed first launched last.

The order would be reversed the next evening/morning.

LR and Shannon’s party was somewhere in the middle.

Some of the party thought it was tragic, what had happened to Ce’Diff and her tent-mate. LR kept his mouth shut but one of the other men noted “She brought it on her self. She sounds like a cow when she eats an you know she probably scattered crumbs all over the tent. They have rules for a reason.”

It took very little time for the group to regain it’s buoyant outlook on life. In fact, was far more joyful than it had been the day before without the constant stream of negativity, the snide remarks and the passive-aggression.

Shannon was getting the hang of paddling the kayak. Her sore muscles were more than compensated for by the expertise she was gaining.

LR was impressed by the banks of the river with mini-van sized rocks tumbled about without rhyme or reason.

The first break was two hours into the trip after they hit a long, slow pool. Rafts were tied up to the banks and water bottles and snacks were handed out.

LR paddle over to Shannon and said “Thanks for the support last night. You were the only one who stepped up and checked things out for themselves.”

Shannon gave him the side-eye. “I don’t know why I did after you doused me with that ice-water.”

“You gotta admit, you had it coming” LR said.

“What. For knocking on your door?” Shannon objected.

“No. For the water balloons. I didn’t do anything to you” LR said.

“Water balloons?” Shannon said, confused.

Something clicked in LR’s head.

“Are you saying that you weren’t one of the two girls who plastered me with water-balloons when I opened up the door ten minutes before you knocked on it?” LR asked.

“Crap!” Shannon said. “Chelsea Green and Hanna Doxtader were running around and hitting people with water-balloons. It had to be them.”

“Well, I guess I owe you a big apology” LR said. “I am sorry.”

“No worries” Shannon said. “You go on trips like this expecting to get wet. I just didn’t expect it in Zanesville.” Never-the-less, Shannon was impressed that LR apologized. The "men" in Shannon's life had either apologized without stop, even for things they had no control over or they never apologized at all. LR's apology was simple and seemed sincere.

LR cocked his head. He heard the distinctive sound of a diesel using a Jake-brake on a downgrade somewhere off the right bank of the river. The sound was masked by the sounds of rushing water and muffled by the densely treed valley but he guessed there was a major road some five or ten miles distant.

He filed that information away in case he needed to do a walk-out. It costs nothing to remember stuff like that.

Lunch was two hours after the first break. LR chatted a little bit more with Shannon. She was picking up a sunburn and LR offered to re-apply the sun-block.

LR didn’t take advantage. He was as careful as if he were greasing up his sister Suzanna. He made a mental note to thank Suzanna when he got home. Suzanna had been the one to kick him in the ass and tell him it was time to stop moping over his last girlfriend and get back in the game. LR had been extremely dubious about the prospects at the start of the trip but things were looking up. Shannon had possibilities and the other girls seemed to have entirely different personalities now that Ce’Diff wasn’t in the mix.

The mid-afternoon break was only more than an hour after lunch. The rafters were clearly getting gassed.

The day’s pull-out was a little more than an hour after the last break.

LR was chatting with Snek after he pulled out when he said “SHIT!” and was off like a shot.

Snek was standing on the bank closer to the river than LR and slightly down-river.

Somehow, Shannon had lost her paddle and was quickly being swept down-river. Her yells were lost in the roar of rushing water.

LR picked up his kayak and sprinted toward the water. The paddle was already stowed in the front of the kayak’s hull. He didn’t pause to board the tippy shell. He vaulted into it at-speed.

For the 1.3% of my readers who did not enjoy the "Hot Chicks" images

Guitar players will recognize this

Fiction because A: He is white. B: He can jump. C. He is 1440 inches long

And now for a truly blue, Salicaceous* image

*Salicaceous: Of or related to willows


Tuesday, December 20, 2022

Three reasons to hope

Culture is more durable that we give it credit for

Every day brings new evidence that the America we grew up in is slipping away. How can we prevail when the very foundations of the house seem to be attacking it?

Humor me in addressing this in a round-about way.

Imagine a place where rains come during the growing season every year like clock-work. The farmers live in tiny villages two miles apart. When the rains come they take their draft animals, oxen mostly, out to their fields which they plow and plant. They have only a short time window if the grain is to grow in the rainy season and then ripen with the first dry weeks.

Furthermore, imagine two villages...perhaps 10 miles apart. One village is devout and has exceptionally strong taboos regarding the slaughter of the draft-animals that the village economy depends upon. The other village goes through the motions but it is mostly for show.

Then, one year the rains do not come. The monsoons fail as they might once every five generations.

The less devout village eats all of their grain. Then they slaughter and eat their draft animals. Finally, they migrate to the city and join the swarms of beggars who are already there.

The more devout village also eats all of their grain. They move their draft animals around to find forage. They cut down trees and bushes to put leaves within their reach. They get a little bit of milk from the animals but not enough to sustain them. Many of them move to the city but a few hang on...eating weeds, digging up roots and losing much weight.

The rains come back. Those from the devout village who moved to the city...those who survived the crime and disease and lack of food (cities are no strangers to hunger) come back to the devout village.

Before the monsoons failed, there was BARELY enough farmland to feed the families who lived there.

After the monsoons failed there were vast tracts where entire villages deserted their farmland. It was now open to other farmers who had access to draft animals. That is, to people who had lived in the devout villages.

"But Joe," you ask "what stopped the less devout villagers from stealing the oxen and donkeys of the farmers from the devout villages?"

Some did. And the farmers who owned those animals hunted down and killed the less devout villagers who raided their devout villages. Theft of animals is a capital crime. Not every thief was caught the first time he stole an ox. But eating one ox will not get you through a year (or two) without rains.

The devout village was vindicated and their beliefs were strengthened. The less devout village ceased to exist.

Key point: The faith of the devout village is strong enough that it lasts FIVE GENERATIONS without obvious reinforcement. And even after that time, hungry people will have enough faith to choose starvation over killing what we see as hamburger-on-the-hoof.

Culture is stronger than we give it credit for.

Culture is holographic

Culture is holographic in the sense that tiny, distant patches of it contain enough information such that vast swaths desolation can be reconstructed by repeating the patterns within the patches, much like a crystal grows as atoms deposit on the lattice of the previously solidified atoms.

The term "holographic" is a funny word. 

Women tend to recover from strokes more quickly than men do because their brains are more "holographic". Memories are stored in more places, in locations that are more geographically distant and there are more connections/associations between those memories. Because of that density of linkages, women can knit their "self" back together more quickly after brain damage.

I might be going out onto a limb here, but I believe that we could recreate 99% of the best parts of America with three documents: The Bible (both Old and New Testaments), The US Constitution with the Bill of Rights and Robert's Rules of Order. Those three "patches" of culture are enough that our culture could reconstitute itself and bridge the valleys of desolation.

Divine intercession

Psalm 90

Lord, you have been our refuge through all generations.
Before the mountains were born, the earth and the world brought forth,
from eternity to eternity you are God.

You turn humanity back into dust, saying, “Return, you children of Adam!
A thousand years in your eyes are merely a day gone by,
Before a watch passes in the night you wash them away;
They sleep, and in the morning they sprout again like an herb. 
In the morning it blooms only to pass away; in the evening it is wilted and withered.


Matthew 28

Then Jesus approached (them) and said to them, “All power in heaven and on earth has been given to me.
Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, until the end of the age.


What do you call 50,000 frozen migrants?

50,000 wanna-be migrants are onya-marx at the Texas-Mexico border.

Wind-chills later this week will be lethal for those who are outside without proper clothing.

Blood will be on Biden's hands (again).

Will Occasional-Cortex fly down to the border for a photo-op and shed tears for the men, women and children killed by Biden and his woke policies?

Don't bet on it.

Fine Art Tuesday


Peder Mork Mønsted

Presumably this is what Wichita Falls, Kansas City, Mobile and Armadillo will look like later this week.

Another tip of the old toque to Lucas Machias

Gratuitous "Naked Chicks" picture