Sunday, July 31, 2022


Nitrogen fertilizer restrictions

First, let me start off by saying that there are probably people who work with you and who attend your church and who claim the same political affiliations who do not have your best interests at heart.

It is easy to see when the other side gas-lights us. It is a thousand times more difficult when people we assume are part of our "tribe" are doing the same.

So when pundits and experts go hyperbolic with outrage about nitrogen fertilizer restrictions I do not automatically hop aboard that bus. I ask myself, who benefits?

Indeed, who benefits and whose ox will be gored?

Primarily, the highly capitalized, industrial agriculture community benefits from the current arrangement and are likely to be gouged by the rational responses to restricted access to nitrogen rich fertilizers.

First let me state a fundamental principle: matter is neither created or destroyed in the normal course of events. The nitrogen fertilizer that comes from a catalyst filled tower in Louisiana and is applied to a field in Iowa turns to protein in corn. The corn is shipped to Denmark or Poland or North Carolina or Oklahoma and is fed to livestock. Most of the protein passes through the animal's digestive system and ends up in the bottom of the cage or feed-lot.

The system where grain is grown in one place in massive quantities and then shipped to other places to be fed to animals which are then shipped to a third location to be slaughtered and processed is very capital intensive. It also ends up in a massive dislocation of plant nutrients. Those lagoons filled with shit are vulnerable to overflowing or the dams bursting and the release of nutrients with the attendant kill of fish.

This was not always the case. At one time, the corn that was fed to the calf or pig or chicken was grown within a mile of the animal. Sometimes the animal was raised on pasture and the supplement was fed to the animal on that pasture or the animal was turned out on a picked corn field to scavenge corn missed by the picker. The pasture was plowed and planted after a few years and the nutrients that had been collecting there ended up back in the corn.

Then the animal made a short trip to a local slaughter-house and was turned into meat.

Under that system most of the nitrogen cycles on a tight loop with little slipping away. THAT system really does not need a great deal of additional nitrogen injected into the system because very little nitrogen (protein) is shipped off the farm each year. A 1500 pound steer might have 300 pounds of protein in its body or about 45 pounds of nitrogen. Compare that to 250 bushels of corn per acre which ships 250 pounds of nitrogen off-the-farm.

So the rational response would require a decentralization of where animals are raised and (likely) where they are slaughtered. That reduces market concentration which dilutes producers ability to command prices in the marketplace. It also reduces the overwhelming advantage the current system offers to producers with easy access to capital.

I am NOT saying that I like government mandates. I am saying that there are rational responses to the mandates and it might actually increase employment opportunities through large swaths of "fly-over" country.

Trailman apple-crab

The Trailman apple-crab are ripe. Apple-crabs are bigger than crabapples but smaller than domestic apples. Roughly speaking, they are between 1.5" and 2.25" in diameter.

It is a small, easy-to-eat morsel that is most notable for the tree having withstood -65 F in "the flats" of Fairbanks, Alaska. It is also fairly resistant to fire-blight.

The deer certainly like this little treat. They have beaten the grass beneath this tree flat.

Laundry detergent

I see there are some laundry detergents that only require a half-ounce per load. My opinion of most liquid detergents are on-par with body-wash that comes in bottles. Consumers are paying extra for water and thickeners.

Another pet-peeve are the drier sheets that reduce static and make clothes smell nice. They contain a wax that clogs the screen of our drier. That is not helpful.


After I deleted a boat-load of comments in the SPAM folder I belatedly noticed that many of the comments in the SPAM folder were legitimate comments.

I screwed up.

I will review the SPAM folder on a regular basis. If your comments did not appear, it was the Blogger spam algorithm and not me that censured your comment.

Again, I apologize.

Chinese cabbage went into the ground yesterday


Newly planted Chinese cabbage. The tilled patch is roughly 25' square with a row of beets planted on the extreme left. Watermelon in foreground.

Looking straight down a row.

"Yellowfin" zucchini has a very open growth habit, yellow summer squash and good disease resistance.

Green beans after rabbits, deer and woodchucks visited.

How soon can I buy my grandkid a pellet gun?

Zeus checking out the cabbages and broccoli.

Please excuse the blue-tint to the pictures. I was in "food" mode and the color pallet had shifted to blue saturation.

Saturday, July 30, 2022

Moral "situations"


Suppose you recently started working at a medical facility and you had just gotten your best-friend-from-college a job there.

As a new employee, her job is to move people from the lobby to the proper treatment room. Specifically, moving people who recently came to the United States and English was not their first language.

Your friend calls you at the end of your shift because she had been summarily fired.

She was moving a young, Asian couple from the lobby to ultrasound and she deduced that the woman intended to abort the fetus if it was a girl. Instead of moving them to ultrasound she dropped them off at Ethics Counseling.

Your friend urges you to publicly protest because your friend just knew that the woman was being coerced by the man into making that decision. Her body, her choice. Right?

What do you do?


Registered agents with a large, Asian country start offering women in the United States $2000 if they abort girl fetuses.

They stand outside clinics in inner-city areas and if the candidates meet certain criteria then they are offered $2000 cash to abort the fetus.

After watching for a while, Social Justice Activists realize that the agents are making those decisions based on race and dependency on public welfare.

Is there anything wrong with this? After all, it is the woman's body and her choice. Bully for her if she can make a few bucks on the side.


The United States government decides to selectively fund abortion clinics in inner-cities.

After studying the statistics, Social Justice Activists realize that certain racial groups are aborting their babies at 3 times the rate of other racial groups primarily due to the location of the clinics.

Is this a problem?

Hurricane season preps

I thought this guy did a good job on his preps. I am not going to repost much of what he wrote (fair use and all that) but I will post a couple of pictures.

Shutters. Also available in steel. Installs with wing-nuts.

An after-action-report on what makes the first few weeks after a hurricane more livable. Insects and biting flies are a huge annoyance especially if your windows are broken.

On the more humorous side, Strawberry Pop-Tarts and light beer are huge sellers after hurricanes.

Friday, July 29, 2022

Obits, Crockery, Pectoral Fins and 25 fps


An obituary that caught my attention 

Douglas Earl Roiter, the last convicted cattle rustler in Eaton County, headed North to Loud Basin Lodge, Thursday, July 21, 2022. Doug was born March 26, 1965, in Charlotte, the son of Earl and Sharon (Powers) Roiter. Doug had many love affairs throughout his life but the most passionate affair took place between him, Little Debbie and Mountain Dew (Sorry, Tammy!). Doug was a lifelong resident of Brookfield Township. He enjoyed everything outdoors, especially hunting, fishing, and snowmobiling. Doug would tell you that he hated being the center of attention but he was always the life of the party. You could always find him every Sunday grilling in his yard in his underwear and waving at all those who were headed down Sherman Road. Doug worked the majority of his life as a truck driver and was currently employed at E.T. MacKenzie in Grand Ledge.  Source

Breaking crockery

Mark Twain was quoted as saying that if he had known what joys could be had within the bounds of Holy Matrimony he would have married as a toddler rather than wasting time breaking crockery and such.

It appears that the father of Robert Baden-Powell (founder of the Boy Scouts) followed Mark Twain's advice.

From the Wikipedia page on Robert Baden-Powell

"Baden-Powell's father died when he was three." Precocious rascals, those Brits.

Ears and pectoral fins

Ralph Ely is the finest hunter and bow-fisherman that I know.

I once asked him to summarize the key to his success. After a few seconds of thought, he offered the following advice.

"A lot of hunters go into the field or walking the river-bank looking for a deer or for a carp. I go in looking for the pink of a back-lit ear or the swirl of a pectoral fin. I rarely see an entire deer, or carp or squirrel for  that matter. The successful hunter is looking for that tiny-bit that is out-of-place."
That advice resonated with me. 

I think we lost something in society when the average Joe needs to have every detail sketched out before they can see what should have been obvious much earlier. Even with every detail known, they want to argue that the carp might be a bar of dial soap, the felon a misguided choir-boy and the fraud a statistical anomaly.

25 fps

People who reload ammunition can be a little bit strange in the sense of believing that some combination of components/technique represents the Holy Grail. Yes, sometimes that applies to me.

For example, we might look at a particular chambering and see that one exotic powder offers a whopping 25 fps advantage over another, more common smokeless powder. Will we sleep until we find a source of that "better" powder?

That depends on how you "frame" your choices. In the original example, the faster load loses 25 fps of velocity in twenty feet. Yep, the "difference" between the magical smokeless powder and the common-as-dirt powder can be erased if the shooter of the CADP can stalk 7 paces closer to his target...or if he can patiently wait until the game gets that much closer to him.

You cannot tell if the animal is 7 paces closer at typical field ranges? Then that 25 fps of muzzle velocity is meaningless, isn't it?

Bonus story

There was a grizzled, old hunter out-west who had learned to reload as a young-un at the foot of an old-timer who had been reloading since the 1930s.

The load was a scoop of IMR 3031 and a Sierra 150 grain Pro-Hunter in a 30-06. It shot as flat as a laser beam and hit like the Hammer of Thor. He filled his freezer as well as the freezers of countless family and neighbors with deer leveled by this magic load.

Decades passed. He never had reason to doubt that HIS load was anything other than a death-ray for killing deer.

Then, one day his grandkid asked if he could shoot The Load over a chronograph. The old man was sure it would clock over 3100 fps. 

Nope. It exited the muzzle at a tiny bit over 2500 fps. Weighing the charge thrown by the scoop (an old -06 case that had been cut down and a length of brazing rod silver-soldered to the base) showed that it threw less than 40 grains of IMR 3031.

The magic was not in the "numbers" that The Load generated. The magic was the confidence the old man had in The Load. That, and the fact that the mild load never caused him to flinch and the bullet always landed where he aimed it.

A modest proposal

Let's de-letter the progressives. Let's start calling them Ogre-essives.

In my opinion, they have not earned the P-R that they get.


If one of the functions of a hedge is to contain farm animals, then "thorns" are almost a necessity.

If the function of that same hedge is also to produce food for humans then the kind of thorns and some of the fruit characteristics are also critical.


If you think back on your rambles through the woods and fields, you realize that thorns come in all kinds of flavors.

Eastern prickly pear has fine hair-like thorns that are almost invisible and detach when brushed, leaving an irritating keepsake in your skin.

Multiflora rose has thorns that are sharp, stout and they are recurved so the points dig-in as you try to push through the arching canes.

Black Locust also have recurving thorns and the tips often break off below the skin and fester.

Green brier has dense, needles.

Honey Locust trunk
Honey Locust has big balls of thorns that deter everything except pre-Columbian Proboscidea from eating their pods.

Brambles have variable thorns. Some blackberry thorns are ferocious to walk through but the fruit is well displayed on arching canes and you can fill your buckets without having to wade through the patch. Most raspberry thorns are limp and can barely penetrate a pair of jeans. Gooseberry thorns are short and a careful picker can avoid them.

Domesticated fruits

Many of the domesticated fruits (pears, some apples and plums, for instance) have a juvenile stage when the seedlings carry many thorns. This makes sense from the standpoint of a short seedling needing protection from browsing animals while a mature tree of the same species with its canopy safely above the reach of herbivores does not.

Not surprisingly, shorter species like American plums hold onto their thorns later into life than taller species.

If thorns are desired then they can often be reactivated by keeping the tree juvenile. The simplest way to do that is to cut the tree down and the suckers from the lower parts of the trunk and from the roots will be "juvenile". You can also partially cut the trunk and bend it over (pleaching) to stimulate suckers from the roots.

Another factor that makes thorns on domesticated fruits less of an issue than wild fruits is that domesticated fruits are larger and heavier. They often have longer stems and hang-down. Lastly, the fruit-stem abscisses where it joins the fruit spur when it is ripe. That means that a slight twist or tug will let the fruit drop into your hand.

Klim's Prize Seaberry

 That compares to a species that is much closer to wild...say Sea-berry...where the stems do not weaken, the fruit is small and very close to the stems and the fruit is soft. Picking those fruit (with very sharp, needle-like thorns interspersed in the clusters of berries) is a chore. They don't want to pull off the stem and they turn to mush in your hand...and you get poked by the thorns.

Extreme thorns

  • Pyrus betulifolia
  • Some hawthorn species
  • Rosa multiflora and canina
  • Wild-type honey locust 

I am sure there are others. Feel free to add them to comments.

Thursday, July 28, 2022

Presented with little comment

The image is posted below the fold because many will find it offensive and will be angered by it. You were warned.

Pride goeth before fall

I thought I was doing fabulously in physical therapy.

Then, the day before yesterday I went to an appointment with my physical therapist.


My first two visits were overseen by the actual Physical Therapist (Ph.D) where he baselined my mobility and did a few (crude) exercises to get a coarse estimate of my capability.

The next four or five visits were with a Physical Therapy Assistant who used the PT (Ph.D)'s notes to run me through the paces.

Frankly, it was not much of a challenge and I was feeling pretty smug.

Unbeknownst to me, the PTA was also noting that I was not being challenged by the exercises.

The day before yesterday

The PT (Ph.D) took a turn toward the more-difficult.

"Hey, this isn't what Scott and I were working on!" I exclaimed with consternation.

"I know that." the PT said.

"But I wanted to impress you with how well I was doing!" I said, indignantly.

"I read Scott's notes. Duly noted." the PT said.

"But I cannot do these exercises!" I wailed.

"Good. My job is to find the line between what is impossible and what is possible but very difficult." the PT grunted as he caught me and prevented me from falling into the ornamental ficus plants.

Somehow, I think the vacation is over. I can look forward to the "possible but very difficult".

Furthermore, yesterday I was not worth a penniless Richard. I ached all over.

***The insurance company requires once-a-month updates to document "progress". When progress flat-lines then authorizations for treatment cease.

Starting out with an "easy" exercise program serves two purposes. 1.) The patient feels successful and gets into the habit of doing the exercises and not blowing-off the appointments. 2.) Re-calibrating the difficulty of the exercises to something closer to the limits of the patient's capabilities counts as progress or improvement.***

Cornpop sighting


The general consensus is that Biden is "issued" Adderal or some other ADHD medication before public appearances. Adderal is a slow-release amphetamine that addresses ADHD by raising the levels of all neuro-transmitters thereby diluting relative disparities between them.

It is commonly thought that Hitler started taking amphetamines mid-way through WWII because they made him feel "sharp". Historians suggest that some of his more capricious decisions may have been influenced by those amphetamines.

We live in interesting times.

Wednesday, July 27, 2022

Fedge update

 A "Fedge" is a hedge that is composed of predominantly food-producing plants.

One of the last things I got done before breaking my leg was to fence off a 10' strip along the east side of the north paddock. That 10'-by-360'.

I purchased two varieties of primo-cane bearing raspberries from the same supplier. The Joan J plants were much huskier than the Polana and did much better. This is a Joan J next to an arugula plant.

This Joan J had fruit.

Raspberry plant on the extreme right of photo.

Polana is supposed to be quite vigorous. It will be interesting to see how they do after they are established.

A hazelnut seedling

A plum seedling. The seed parent was a variety called South Dakota

A strawberry plant

The black current suckers did fabulously. That leads me to believe that I lost many plants and seedlings due to pressure from rabbits as black currents are very, very resistant to browsing by herbivores.

Another plum seedling

A persimmon seedling


A plum or peach

Amelanchier (June berry) seedling

I dug up a grafted mulberry this spring and "gifted" it to a friend. The mulberry had been growing next to a persimmon. Now I have about 40 Meader persimmon seedlings that I can move and then graft over. Persimmons will get taller than my target and don't have thorns so they are not my preferred "hedging" species but there is nothing wrong with one every 50'.

It is a perfectly fine strategy to plant 40 seedlings with the intention of either grafting over them or to cull 90% of them and leave the 4 specimens that produce the best fruit.

The "take" rate was very poor...maybe 3% except for the Joan J and black currents which were almost 100% survivors. That suggests that I need to do a better job protecting my trees from rabbits and my seeds from squirrels.

It also suggests that gooseberries (thorny) might be a good plant to throw into the mix.

Too many migrants in D.C.?

May I propose HERE, HERE and HERE as alternative drop-spots.

That way our betters can have their own pagan-babies*.

*In the play Patent Leather Shoes Reflect Up, the protagonist sets a record in collecting donations for the missions. He labored under the belief that "saving pagan babies" meant that if he drummed up enough of other people's money, he could buy his very own pagan-baby.

Thanks to all the readers who took the time to comment

Thanks to all who read the blog. Special thanks to those who took the time to organize their thoughts and make comments.

Tuesday, July 26, 2022


The last post generated some cynical posts about voting not making a difference.

My personal problem with cynicism is that if I become cynical then I know I will become negative and depressed and stop trying. I make this claim about NOBODY ELSE. This just happens to be how I am wired.

The devil wins if I stop trying. If I do everything I am supposed to, then at least Old Nick will have to rouse himself from the couch and his other distractions and cheat.

If I do nothing, then he wins by default. I am GIVING Old Nick the reins to power rather than having to work even the slightest, little bit.

Losing may be a forgone conclusion but I can at least make the bastids break into a sweat. And, God willing, working and following directions will be so foreign to most of them then we can still prevail.

And making the shark swim across the mud-flats will leave a mud-streak that leads back to where he was loafing. That can be useful information.

Bonus image

The race for Michigan's Governor

Tudor Dixon
 It is a rare thing when the contest for Michigan's governor makes national news. It is even rarer when the primary race makes news.

Earlier in this election-cycle there were ten candidates vying for the position to run against incumbent Democrat Gretchen (Big Retch) Whitmer (boo-hiss!).

The five candidates who had the most impressive resumes, including former Detroit Police Chief James Craig, were blown out of the saddle when a "random audit" of their petitions to be included on the primary election ballot were found by the Democratic Secretary of State to be invalid.

Evidence suggests that the candidates that were drummed out of the race had hired a common firm to collect signatures and the majority of those signatures were fraudulent. It has been suggested that the firm was run by Democratic operatives whose goal was to torpedo those candidates. If so, the Repubs were very handily outmaneuvered.

That leaves the Repubs fielding the second-string for the primary and it is a motley crew.

Cutting to the chase, the most conservative candidate who I believe can win against Big Retch is a woman named Tudor Dixon as long as she is smart in who she picks for the Lt. Gov side of the ticket.

I think the Dems realize this and some truly nasty ads have been circulated slamming Dixon as a RINO. Oddly, nobody is taking credit for those ads. Most candidates want to collect more votes rather than sinking a fellow candidate and evenly distributing those votes amongst all of the other candidates.

A Tudor Dixon/James Craig ticket would be a very strong ticket. A Dixon/Soldano ticket would be OK as it would beef up Dixon's lack of grass-roots support.

Dixon neatly checkmates most of Whitmer's obvious ploys...Dixon has a uterus, Dixon has daughters (four of them!). Dixon is photogenic which is a HUGE plus with the younger generations who are visually oriented and scan social media. Whitmer likes to bring up that she "cared for her mother" when her mother had cancer to "show" that she has compassion and empathy. Dixon is a cancer survivor.

Whitmer cannot point to any success. Her promise to fix the roads was back-end loaded so most of the work would be done in the election-year. That backfired as traffic is horrific and the roads are still battered strips of pavement with potholes and proud "expansion strips".

Whitmer is trying to position herself as somebody who wants to lower taxes but she wanted to raise the Michigan gas tax by 45-cents-a-gallon.

The Repubs' second-string can beat the Dems but they gotta be smart about it. They cannot pick the most conservative candidate if that candidate is on the defensive for 90% of the game and cannot exploit Whitmer's multitude of weaknesses.

Ben and Jerry Ice Cream endangered species

Right on cue: There was a news article on local TV yesterday about Ben and Jerry Ice Cream being an endangered species due to...wait for climate change.

More precisely they claimed that the flavorings that go into every BnJ icecream are threatened by global warming.

Being good, responsible believers in man-made climate change, I challenge Ben and Jerry to IMMEDIATELY combat global warming by switching from dairy based ice cream to insect-protein based ice cream.

They need to put their money where their mouths are. DO IT NOW!!!

Monday, July 25, 2022

Who is picking up the trash in MD?

Several years ago I was assured by a couple who lived just outside the DC Beltway that all of the menial jobs in the tony, Washington D.C. suburbs that are home to the Federal elites were done by people who commuted from West Virginia or the rural areas well west of Hagerstown.

I assume they have the same transportation issues Kubota has. If they start dropping out of the DC menial labor pool because they cannot afford to drive 100-to-150 miles round trip, then who will pick up the trash and sort the recycleables?

I wonder what kind of real-time indicators would show up in the news: Recycling centers closing? Help wanted? More restrictions on what can be put in the trash? Shifting from weekly to bi-weekly collection?

Self-correcting problems

I pulled into the driveway where Kubtoa lives at 5:50 AM. I called him. Then I sent a text.

The MUST LEAVE by time was 6:00 AM. I set my alarm for 6:01 AM.

When it went off, I turned off my phone and drove home.

I have no idea what is going on in Kubota's head. It would be speculation on my part to supply reasons.

Mission Creep

I am not happy. Nope. I am not.

Love isn't a feeling. Love is the conscious choice to do something "loving" especially when you don't want to do it.

The tricky thing is that we are often skating on thin-ice with regard to whether we are actually "enabling" our kids in an unhealthy way.


Kubota accepted a job in Grand Rapids. The job involved working off-site. Lodging and a per-diem stipend were included when off-site.

Kubota's personal transportation puked. We agreed to drive him to G.R. on Monday morning and pick him up Friday afternoon. Total weekly mileage of about 300 miles. We did this for the last two weeks.

Kubota's boss secured a job in the Grand Rapids area for this week. No per-diem. No lodging. Kubota either needs a place to sleep in Grand Rapids or he needs daily transportation there. The median rent in the Grand Rapids area is $1600/month.

Kubota now realizes that the Grand Rapids job is not sustainable. It is easier to get a job when you have a job. It is like getting a girl-friend. It is easier to "trade-up" when you already have a girl-friend. He has a friend who has a friend who knows of an opening...

Mrs ERJ is temporarily out of the driving rotation for minor medical reasons. Two round-trips to Grand Rapids puts 300 additional miles on my truck a day and about five hours of driving. I can do it for a week...maybe.

No, loaning Kubota a vehicle is not on the table. No, Kubota is not paying us...he has to get his own set of wheels running.

Sucks to be me. I did it to myself.

Sunday, July 24, 2022

A big day!

I went for a walk with the lovely Mrs ERJ.

Nothing heroic. Just a half-mile down the gravel road that runs in front of our house and a half-mile back. I have been walking a mile per day in P.T. but on flat-smooth-hard surfaces with no vehicular traffic that requires that I leave the road.

We took Zeus and he was excited at the return to normality.

It has been two months and three weeks since the accident.

Our usual walk is three miles. I need to get in better condition before we attempt that.

I started walking up-and-down our flight of 13 stairs to help build up those leg muscles. So far today I have 28 flights in three sets of five minutes each.

It is a little thing, as is walking up-and-down flights of stairs but it feels like I have turned the corner with regards to regaining "normal" function.

Presented without comment


CNN Director admits unseating Trump and installing New World Order were/are corporate goals


Project Veritas strikes again. Five minute run-time.

CNN now means Cable Narrative Network. It isn't "news" if you already know what you will be broadcasting over the next two-and-a-half years.

Bonus images

Saturday, July 23, 2022


No apricots this year.

I have one tree left and raccoons cleaned them out just before they were ripe.

How do I know they were raccoons? They left behind a bunch of broken branches. Possum are lighter and less likely to break branches.

I understand that black bears (and moose!!!) make growing fruit a challenge up north. A black bear can tear the limbs off of a fully grown apple tree as it shinnies out to get the ripest apples near the ends of the branches.

It is my impression from growing sweet corn that raccoons are very sensitive to electrical shock. I could run a hot wire around the "serious" orchard but that seems like a lot of work and I have never had much predation on the apple or pear crop.

Another option is to harvest the raccoon population and turn them into meatloaf. Following the "harvest" idea to its logical conclusion, that means most fruit that ripens before the huge surge that starts in early-September will face very heavy pressure because there are not many other fruit trees producing in this period. I really don't have the fire in my belly to process a dozen raccoon carcasses in the July or August heat.

The long-shadow of "compliance" induced costs

It is reasonable to suggest that inspectors and other workers given the task of ensuring compliance to regulations "auto-calibrate" and issue a constant number of citations regardless of the actual status of what they are inspecting.

Psychologists who study heuristics and decision-making tell us that humans have three calibration nodes. We are intuitively well calibrated for 50:50, 100:0 and 0:100. Actual distributions that "should" be something different, say 80:20 slide to 100:0 or 20:80 slides to 0:100.

Put yourself in the shoes of an inspector. For the sake of argument let's say you visit dairy farms and inspect the premises for compliance to State sanitation requirements.

If you never write-up a farm (0:100) then there is no point in having inspectors and you lose your job.

You might write-up half of the farms you visit. If you wrote-up the last farm then you give the next one a pass. If you gave the last farm a pass then you issue a citation for the next farm.

Alternatively, you issue a citation at every farm you visit. They might be substantial issues like dairy cows wading through udder-deep manure or they might be chicken-shit issues like light bulbs dimmed by dust. Regardless, you justify the citations because you think you are making every farm "better".

Of course, people learn to play the game. They leave one thing for the auditor or inspector to find, one thing that is easy to partially unscrewing one light bulb i.e. "burned out bulb" which is very economical to fix before the inspector's next visit.

Medical environments

I suspect that the administrative side of the medical business creates costs far beyond the payroll they pull down.

Some amount of administration is desirable. It is stupid to have an M.D. ordering soap and towels and scheduling housekeeping personnel.

The problem becomes administration that adds burdens rather than off-loads burdens. The problem are the administrators who police the proper use of pronouns and who mandate "fluff" education sessions on the endlessly evolving science soap-opera of victimology rather than education about C. diff and signs of domestic violence.

Multiple layers of administration

Mark Nissen is a consultant in California and he was asked to investigate why the United States Navy had trouble keeping items like gray paint and toilet paper in stock.

The short answer is that every purchase over a million dollars required four levels of approval and the final approval had to be made by a full Admiral. The Navy is a huge organization. Nearly everything they buy is purchased in amounts that exceed a million dollars.

The problem was that each approval layer "bounced" 50% of the purchase orders for some issue over grammar or lack-of-clarity over the specifications.

If you looked at the approval process as a series of four, black-boxes then each box had twice as many P.O.s coming in as they passed on to the next black-box. Furthermore, the rejects were returned to the original submitter.

Take an imaginary week when 16 purchase orders are submitted to the Ensign on Monday. He bounces half and passes 8 on to the next desk. On Tuesday the officer at the second desk bounces four and passes 4 on to the next desk. On Wednesday the next officer bounces two purchase orders and passes two on to the Admiral. On Thursday the Admiral approves one P.O. and bounces one P.O.

On Friday the entire office goes to lunch with Air Force Purchasing and nothing gets done.

The officer tasked with buying toilet paper or ketchup or gray paint must submit the same P.O. with corrections for chicken-shit objections 16 times before it randomly rattles its way through the auto-calibrating "bounce 50%" bureaucracy and the purchase can be executed.

Why do we know they are they "chicken-shit" objections? Because the Navy has been buying toilet paper and ketchup and gray paint for a hundred years and all previous buys provided adequate cost/quantity/utility. The previous purchase orders obviously specified the product with enough detail for a successful buy to be made.

The fatal flaw

That is the fatal flaw of layered compliance administrators in Human Resources.

Additional duties are created for line personnel who are actually saving lives, additional duties that involve chicken-shit, made-up problems.

Somewhere, somehow the professional malcontents convinced policy makers that it was the organization's responsibility to make them happy...even if it made the other 95% of the workers supremely unhappy. Maybe that was the malcontents' goal all along. Misery loves company. Twisting the organization into knots makes results-oriented people very unhappy.

It used to be acceptable to tell the malcontents "If you are unhappy here, quit. I understand McDonalds is hiring."

Friday, July 22, 2022

Skimmed, phishing and so on

 I got a call from an 800- number this morning. I let it ring through to voice mail.

A half-hour later, I got a repeat which I answered.

It claimed to be from my bank. It claimed to be from Fraud Prevention. It claimed that it had flagged numerous "suspicious" credit card purchases on my card.

I asked them to describe one of the suspicious transactions. "Nope. I did not make a purchase there".

Then they started asking for more, personal info to "verify" I was the card-holder of record. "Nope. I don't do that over the phone. I will drive to the local branch of the bank and handle it from there."

The only problem was that I was scheduled line-to-line for the entire day.

The bank gave me several phone numbers to call and the 20-something teller wearing the 4" long, false-lashes read the 3.25 pt print on the back of the card.

I made the call from a chair in the bank lobby and connected with Jannella who in all probability was 23 years-old and African-American. She was also a rock-star.

She verified that three suspicious transactions had been made on my card: a $200.00 transaction, a $300.00 and a $500.00 transaction at

The most likely place where I could have been wanded or skimmed was at the coffee kiosk at McLaren Hospital's main lobby in Lansing. The transactions happened after that visit.

Consequently, I am without a valid credit card at the moment. I trust that things will be cleared up in short order and a new credit card will be mailed to my address of record.

The roving manager in the bank gave me an atta-boy for A.) Not trusting phone calls (phishing) and for B.) Expeditiously pursuing the possibility of fraudulent use of my credit card.

Bonus Image

A $5000 signing bonus for a job that paid $12/hour two years ago.

In a perfect world, rules mandating various ratios for patients:professionals would be relaxed so promising "under-credentialed" professionals could fill in for more highly credentialed professionals when the mandated, credentialed professionals were MIA. If sufficient time passed and the under-credentialed professional performed well, provisional higher-credentials could be issued.

As it currently stands, 500 square-feet of un-primed drywall must be painted and there is only one gallon of paint. The only choice is choosing those dark corners where starving the paint-film is least likely to be noticed.

If you follow the blog, you know that my Mom is in a nursing home. The wait time to get wet Depends changed is...very long. Some staff simply does not care. If fired, there are plenty of other nursing homes screaming for help.

Allowing "management" to upgrade staff gives them more flexibility and relaxes the strangle-hold some lazy, credentialed staff might try to exercise.


The education and credential granting apparatus that is very carefully calibrated to maintain the status quo of wage differentials will be unable to back-fill that 30%-in-two-year attrition driven by Federal Covid mandates. That education and credential apparatus is tuned into an 8%in-two-year attrition rate.

Hospitals will not be able to discharge patients in Med-surge due to lack of beds in step-down facilities.

Emergency rooms will not accept patients arriving by ambulances due to lack of beds in med-surge.

At some point, ambulances will all be tied up as they drive EMT care-packages to mythical, open-beds in Goshen, Indiana and will not be available to pick up recently traumatized, tax-paying citizens.

That mythical bed in Goshen? It was an IT error caused by a klutz kicking the surge protector and now 17 ambulances are converging on that non-existent bed.

The $630 Billion question is: Will more people die prematurely if we have ambulances not showing up to accidents or if we have trained, medical professionals sometimes playing above their credentials while within hollaring distance of more highly credentialed medical professionals?

Framed another way: Do our elected officials owe their primary allegiance to the tax-payers and citizens or to the credential-granting institutions and ossified professional hierarchy?

Short-season gardening

My first impression is that it makes sense to have a traditional stud-wall for the lower 32-35 inches because I am getting to the age where bending over is not much fun. A 16' feedlot panel flexed into a semi-circle covers about 10' by 54"...somewhat less than 54" if you overlap them by a row of openings.

Today promises to be a full day.

Physical therapy, mom visit, trip to Grand Rapids area with other chores stuffed in the cracks.

Short-season gardening

One of the big eye-openers for American Industry in the late 1970s was the flexibility of Japanese factories. They produced a multitude of automobiles (for instance) out of a single factory. Sometimes it was the same basic auto but modified for a dozen different markets.

American factories, like metal stamping plants, operated on "Economic Lot Size" theory which essentially meant that if you had enough racks to hold six months worth of a specific part, that is how many you stamped out before changing the dies in the presses for the next part.

That differed from the Japanese who might stamp out one week's worth of parts.

Obviously, the US factories could not operate on a one-week cycle because it sometimes took an entire week to change out the dies and tune them in to the point where a usable part was produced.

There are many reasons to emulate the Japanese model. One reason is that it is expensive if your set-up was less than perfect and you produced six months worth of a part and most of them had cracks in them. Or if there was an engineering change and you had to hand-rework or scrap six months worth of parts.

There were also issues with the week-long die changes. The press might be down for a week and then run a week to make the six months worth of parts. Then down another week and running another week making another part. Because of the ratio of down-time to up-time, the company needed twice as much press-line capacity as it would have needed if it could change the die-sets in fifteen minutes.

This history shapes my thinking on short-season gardening (sometimes called cold-climate gardening).

I like the term short-season gardening because there are large portions of the country where it is very hot and dry where the growing season is short. Or sometimes there are two growing seasons separated by a hot summer.

Then there is the issue of food production from the garden having value. Let's say a late frost flattens your garden in the second week of June. Do you just decide to sit the year out or do you have/make a plan to overcome? If you are hungry, you make a plan and soldier on.

When the enemy (hunger) is on the horizon we can use precision rifles and allow time for the barrel to cool off. When they are closer we take any shot we are offered. When they are in the trench with us...we do what is ugly and necessary.

Mrs ERJ is strongly suggesting that a greenhouse is in our future. I am interested in hoop houses made with cattle feedlot panels and plastic film. Do any readers have experience with the cost and durability of the various types of plastic film used to cover them? Mrs ERJ and my vision vary slightly. I see it as a way to start the season earlier. She sees it as a way to have fresh salads through most of the late-fall, winter and spring.

If used just for starting plants, the film could be peeled off of the frame and stored out of the sun until late the next winter. In Mrs ERJ's vision it could be removed for the summer and reinstalled in mid fall. UV light and wind battering are what kills the plastic film.

Thursday, July 21, 2022

Starline Brass


I ordered some brass directly from Starline Brass last week. It was on back-order and the only promise they made was first-come-first-serve with regard to the next production run.

I got an email yesterday informing me that the brass is on the way.

I like the fact that I don't have to keep popping open a distributor's website to see if they have my odd-ball caliber in-stock. I don't know if the week turn-around was just an accident of timing. Regardless, I have a pretty high opinion of how Starline runs their business.

Presented without comment


The Phantom Benefactor strikes again

These posts have been relatively popular with readers.

The backstory is that one of my readers sleuthed out my address and started sending me "care packages". He has been sending me books (mostly) and assorted artifacts that he thinks might help the ERJ clan in the coming spicy times.

If nothing else, it is fascinating perspective into another person's thought processes.

With no further ado:

These are the first two books I am tackling.

The top item is a harmonica to go with the instructions

The phantom is also a craftsman

The top item is a trammel hook and was used by the cook to adjust the heat when cooking over an open or semi-enclosed fire. You might recognize these tools if you are a fan of Townsends cooking channel on Youtube

He even included a Tee-shirt

Note from the management: Today and tomorrow will be busy with assorted chores and blogging will be light.