Friday, September 30, 2022

Fake News Friday: The .400 Snare

Local inventor, Roger Snare, recently released a wild-cat cartridge that consists of  30-06 Springfield brass trimmed back to 1.750" of length with a 0.401" diameter bullet. The chamber reamer offers 0.350" of free-bore and a standard, 3 degree taper as the bullet engages the 1-in-16 inch rifling.

Mr Snare claims the new invention headspaces on the mouth of the cartridge and any .308 Winchester barrel can be rebored and rifled to the new cartridge.

When asked why the world needed another rifle chambering, Mr Snare admitted the cartridge was designed to fill a niche market. Rumors abound that State DNRs will soon require hunters to document the action type and the chambering of the weapon used to harvest big-game. Mr Snare designed the cartridge to be legal in the maximum number of states, to be "cast-bullet" friendly and to cause State game-law enforcement personnel to "stroke out" after thousands of hunters claimed that they had harvested game with "a Snare".

What a difference a quarter-mile makes!

Our neighbors asked me to look after their dog, a Dogo Argentino-Mastif mix*. That means chaining its collar with a double length of logging chain and affixing the other two ends to a concrete pier before opening the door for it to go outside and do its business.

The dog is surprisingly calm after it drains the water-bed and I enjoyed sitting on my neighbors' front stoop and watching the sun rise. I also saw a boatload of deer. The visibility was surprisingly good considering the early-morning haze.

Of particular interest were the deer percolating through the fence and leaving my property. One of them was a doe. She stopped and two fawns came up to her and nursed. While I have many deer use my property, the heavy cover prevents me from seeing them from the house.

*I may have taken liberties with the dog's ancestry for privacy reasons.

Fake News Friday: FDA Approves use of Lithium Grease to treat Depression


The FDA recently announced that it approved the use of Lithium Grease for the treatment of anxiety and depression in Americans, just in time for the mid-term elections.

As most people know, Lithium Carbonate was the first drug approved for treatment of depression but it is a difficult drug to administer.

Lithium Grease is much less fussy in dosage and avoids problems with how it is introduced into the body.

It will be administered as a suppository.

Thursday, September 29, 2022

A productive day

I got the anode rod in the water-heater changed out. I told Mrs ERJ it was a three-hour job. It took 20 minutes. Well, it COULD have taken three hours if things had gone poorly. Mrs ERJ suggested I order another anode rod for next year and have it and the tools staged. Smart girl!

I got the lights in the basement either working or changed out. It is much brighter down there.

Mrs ERJ commented that the refrigerator was "warm". I used our IR thermometer and it agreed with her. She may have just caught it in a defrost cycle. This bears watching. I bought some time by buying four, seven-pound bags of ice and stashing two in the fridge and two more in the freezer. I put them in aluminum foil, lasagna pans to catch the drippings. Technically, we have what used to be called "an ice-box".

Mrs ERJ was so pleased with the advice rendered by you, the readers, with regard to the washing machine that she "suggested" I solicit your advice regarding refrigerators. Mrs ERJ favors freezer-on-the-bottom models.

Mrs ERJ had a personal victory that I am not at liberty to disclose but we are both exceptionally happy about it.

Possibility of frost tonight. I brought in the last of the squash and three watermelons.

Oh, and I was able to hobble around today in spite of 6.5 hours on my feet yesterday.

Trump "optimistically" listed the value of some of his property

President Trump is in a spot of bother because the New York Attorney General is concerned that he overestimated his net worth and the value of some of his properties.

If memory serves, EVERY bank (public corporations, I might add) refused to mark-to-market assets that were not performing in 2009. Furthermore, they refused to mark-to-market other assets in those tranches.

The real-estate values peaked in August 2006 with a median, adjusted CPI value of $314k.

Median values slid until February, 2012 to an adjusted CPI value of $222k...if you could find a buyer.

Both Q4, 2009 and Q1, 2010 loans printed a 90 day "nonperformance rate" of more than 5.6% vs a historical average of about 1.0%.

Assuming 50 million houses + duplexes in the US, does Attorney General Letitia James have any intention of prosecuting the banks "hiding" the fact that $5 TRILLION of assets vaporized. $5 TRILLION dwarfs the amount of value that President Trump supposedly assigned to some of his property.

OK, I get that the Statute of Limitations probably expired...but what comes around goes around.

If real-estate valuations go in the toilet over the next 6 months, will Leti be bird-dogging the banks and prosecuting CEOs and CFOs for lapses in mark-to-market?

Just asking for a friend. I am sure Leti will be extremely popular when she started poking around the records of those New York banks.

Retail space


In the period between 1880 and 1920, the United States covered itself with a net of railroads. Towns sprung up on a five-to-seven-mile-grid across the eastern agricultural areas as that was about the maximum, economically viable distance to haul produce to the shipping dock with horses or oxen.

Lured by the promise of a "sure-thing", investors piled into railroad stocks and the dense network of rail lines marched through the eastern, and then the western Great Plains.

Technology moved on.

With the advent of motor-vehicles and better roads, many of the spurs and feeder-lines became obsolete and were allowed to slide into disrepair. Lines consolidated. Many went bankrupt. Towns that relied on the commerce associated with rail lines became ghost towns.

The "sure-thing" over-played its hand and became a classic case of a growing organism overshooting the carrying capacity of its habitat or host.

Retail space

One could make a cogent argument that the United States, and to a lesser extent Canada, are grossly over-built in terms of retail space.

If one were to look at the European Union and Japan as a basis, one could state that the United States has approximately five-times more retail space, per capita than it "needs" and Canada has four-times as much.

Nature abhors a vacuum. With that much space and so few customers, is it any surprise that America's malls are patrolled by feral youths?

Like three crack-heads trading financial advice

It gets worse.

The amount of space devoted to supporting e-commerce (warehouses) grew at an exponential rate over the last fifteen years. The largest players, realizing they were approaching some kind of limit, either cancelled projects or allowed them to be finished...but did not take possessions.

For various tax reason, many of those warehouses were not actually owned by the e-commerce retailers. Speculators built them on faith and a contract...a contract that had "escape clauses" on page 47.

Government officials, who had been rubbing their hands with glee in expectation of fat paychecks to tax and escalating land values to bloat property tax collections, were dismayed to find themselves with 500,000-square-foot, attractive nuisances on their hands.

Investors are fleeing like rats leave a sinking ship. The limited-partnership of the investment structure allowed them to walk-away after losing their initial investment with no further entanglements.

Government officials are doing what they always do, they "help".

Even as I type, there are undoubtedly clerks cranking out applications for grants to convert abandoned warehouse space into retail and entertainment venues. Never mind that these enormous buildings are far from other retail destinations. Never mind that retail is (arguably) grossly over-built. Never mind that these warehouses have parking lots that are approximately 20% as large as a comparable purpose-built retail building would have.

Government has an answer for everything. Public transportation will "fix" the problems with poor location and lack of a parking lot...and the drunks that spew out of the yuppy bars at two in the morning. Search for the funding for the public transportation will result in more grants.

Expect municipalities to float bonds to subsidize redevelopment of the sites. Bonds that taxpayers will be on-the-hook for if things don't pan out.

Memories are short. Seven years ago they were writing grants to turn vacant retail space in inner-cities and first-ring suburbs into warehouses.

Grab your popcorn, folks. This promises to get interesting.

Wednesday, September 28, 2022

The US economy is connected to the EU economy in ways that are not obvious

In the summer of 2012, an industrial accident shut down a small portion of a chemical plant in Germany.

Normally, such an interruption would be of little importance. This particular string of reaction vessels, however, were the world's only source of a boutique polyamide that as used in the fuel lines of most of the automobiles sold in the developed world.

This particular PA had the exact balance of crystalinity/amorphous, molecular weight and cross-linking so-as to be impervious to hydrocarbon vapors and yet remained flexible between -60F and 350F.

Within hours of the news leaking out, arbitrage buyers were bidding up every tote of that specialty PA on the market as the world's automakers were trying to secure the resin they needed to make fuel hoses.

This is not to say that other types of plastic were not suitable, or that some combination of plastics could not be co-extruded to provide similar performance. This was because various US Federal and EU regulations produced a heavy burden of validation. Selling products that failed to meet emissions mandates, even some 10 years into the future, would produce financially crippling fines.

To the best of my knowledge, the chemical company was able to repair the damage and start producing the PA resin before any major manufacturers' production was impacted, but it was a close thing.

The point of this rambling story is that the EU is an expensive place to do business and the companies that manage to stay in business do it by producing hundreds and thousands of critical, boutique, smallish-volume items that cannot be easily outsourced to commodity producers.

For example, the EU produces many of the pigments and tints used in paints. You might not think it is a big deal but what if you cannot open your shopping mall because OSHA Yellow and OSHA Blue paint are not available to mark off the handicapped ramps and parking areas? As the owner of the shopping mall, you cannot open the mall because you do not have the number of handicapped parking places defined as REQUIRED BY FEDERAL LAW but you will still have to pay the monthly nut.

The ripples of the Nordstream pipeline sabotage will spread to this continent and will likely touch every person before the first robins of spring sing in the apple trees.

Work After-Action Report

The "boss" picked me up at 6:40AM. He drove for an hour-and-twenty minutes. We worked until 3:00PM with a fifteen minute lunch. Then I rode home with Prentice, his helper.

I was on my bum leg for 7 hours and the hardest part was standing up when Prentice dropped me off at the end of my driveway and I had to walk to the house.

It was probably the best physical therapy money could purchase. It put one stake into the ground of what my physical condition can support.

Nobody ran but nobody stopped moving for the time we were there. The "boss" promised light work, and it was.

Prentice tried to order a pizza for lunch. They billed his card but never bothered to cook the pizza.

Fortunately, I brought a couple of peanut butter sandwiches and a banana. I cannot make any money if I eat lunch.

Tuesday, September 27, 2022

Scraping the bottom of the barrel

Put me in coach, I'm ready to play...

I have to laugh at all of the politicians saying they are going to bring manufacturing back the the US. I hear story-after-story about people who call ten plumbers, get three who say they want the work and none of them show up. Same for roofers and electricians and drywall hangers.

There is a conceit in government. They think they can throw money on the table and capable people will spring up like mushrooms after a rain.

How many states formed Blue Ribbon committees to start solar cell manufacturing plants? Promising candidates were plugged into all of the key positions. Four years later...not a single functioning solar cell has been shipped to an actual customer.

If brute applications like making solar panels is like pouring slabs of concrete for a parking lot, then semi-conductors are like crafting lost-wax mold for an elaborate, gold, filigree brooch.

One of my neighbors called me this afternoon. He asked if I was available to lend him a hand tomorrow. He said that all he needed was a man with a strong back and a weak mind. Fortunately for me, he doesn't need a guy with two legs running at 100%.

With inflation rearing its reptilian head, it is not a bad thing to have some recent work-history and a friend who calls when he needs a hand.

Fine Art Tuesday


Anshelm Schultzberg, born in Sweden 1862. Died 1945.

Prolific painter of landscapes and winter scenes.

Monday, September 26, 2022

Through many dangers, toils and snares...

A friend recently purchased a derringer in .45 Colt. She did not ask my opinion, and even if she had I doubt that it would have made any difference.

The .45 Colt, in most loadings, has a robust recoil. Tiny grips accentuate that recoil. .45 Colt in a derringer will have a ferocious recoil.

In my humble opinion, she would have been better served on a per-dollar basis if she had purchased a used, .380 ACP Hi-Point pistol or Taurus .38 revolver than what she bought, but what is done is done.

Actual picture my friend sent to me

She purchased ammo on-line and it arrived....squashed. It is almost as if somebody who worked with the shipping company deliberately dropped a weight on the package to damage the contents.

I immediately cautioned my friend to NOT shoot any of the cartridges. Pressure spikes rapidly in pistol cartridges when the bullet is set-back and the starting volume is compromised. Shooting damaged cartridges like the ones in the picture can turn a handgun into a grenade.

This is not the first time I have seen shipping companies damaging packages delivering shooting-sports supplies. In April, 2022 I ordered 1000 brass cups from Capital Cartridge.  The package I received had been torn open and contained about 20 pieces. The package was prodigiously stamped with "Damaged blah, blah, blah..."

The USPS refused to honor the damage. Capital Cartridge has not shipped replacements. Odd that the only packages that get damaged, in my experience, are the ones that might contain shooting-sports items.

I went on-line and .45 Colt brass is currently unobtainium. I would gladly purchase a set of dies and show her how to reload some patty-cake loads but it is not to be...not that I, personally, own any firearms. No-sirree. I rely on my rapier-like quick-wits, my manly physique, repulsive body-odor and pepper-spray.

I will be visiting some of the local shooting ranges and seeing if I can scrounge up a handful of brass. A firearm without appropriate ammo is little more than a paperweight.

Bonus points for readers who correctly identify the hymn that contains the title of the post.

Presented without comment

A Post for Señor Filthie

It would be misleading for me to imply that I have any special insights into the mind of the fairer sex. Every once in a while I do stumble across an acorn that might be worth sharing. And when a person like the super-famous Glen Filthie, blogger extraordinaire expresses bafflement about some nuance about the behavior of grown wimmin-folk...and I think I can help...well I am on it like flies on tater-salad.

The most esteemed Senor Filthie was marveling at mature wimmin's ability to be enraptured by the most inane drivel and hokem. According to him, even intelligent wimmins are sometimes mesmerized by it.

It is all about evolutionary biology

Men are expendable. That is the price of launching 200,000,000 missiles with every ki-yi-yippi-yi-yea. The tribe does not need very many of us.

Biologically, men are the ones tasked with stalking mastadons with sharp rocks lashed to crooked stick with half-rotted caribou guts. We are the ones who crawl through cacti and over ant-hills to sneak up on antelope at watering holes. Men are the ones who must sneak into the nearest village to steal an ember when a sudden downpour quenches all of our tribe's fires.

Women, on the other hand, are in the inner-ring. They are slightly expendable.

Criminal Minds

Belladonna adores the TV show Criminal Minds. I never paid much attention to it. I might listen to it for 30 seconds when I was near her and it always seemed like fiction written by a precocious 8th grader. You know, all narrative and 'splaining.

Every aspiring author has it drilled into them to SHOW the reader...not TELL them. Yet these shows and news programs TELL, TELL and TELL some more.

There might be four or five psychologists sitting around a table, cantilevering vaulting spans of speculation from tiny shreds of observation. "Dr. Reid, it is obvious that based on the wisp of fiber found wedged beneath the elm tree near the 13th victim that the perp was right-handed, has a Hula Bobble-head fetish and drinks Absinthe from a gold-rimmed goblet while driving a red Camaro at 105 mph through residential neighborhoods."

The more ridiculous and far-fetched the better it is received by the audience.

The point is that because wimmins are slightly expendable, there is enormous competition to be in the inner-most ring that is NOT expendable. It is not the content of those TV shows, it is the tone and the implied 'confidentiality'. As the audience, you get the vicarious thrill of being one of the very inner-most and cherished sanctum, the NOT expendable. You are the fly-on-the-wall, the sixth, world-class psychologist.

As men, we are socialized (and perhaps genetically predisposed) to risk our lives. The appeal of being in the inner-most sanctums is opaque to many/most of us.

As wimmins who are slightly expendable, the appeal of KNOWING that they will be the very first one in the lifeboat or the heifer defended to the last adult musk-ox is hard-coded in them.

Another cold, hard fact is that the most valuable musk-ox is the springing heifer, the one closest to having a calf and with the greatest potential for future calves. The musk-oxen who is past her calf-bearing years is biologically expendable (perhaps even more-so than the males). The TV shows that baffle Senor Filthie are lobbing soft pitches right down the center of the strike zone for those old-biddies. It scratches an itch they cannot get scratched in "real life'.

If you believe in Jung's archetypes, then the person who watches The View is trying to bump her way into the role of the village witch; the one who makes love potions, poison for dart tips (or unfaithful husbands), poultices...and has dirt on everybody.

Sunday, September 25, 2022

Make or buy?


One of the fundamental calculations done by Industrial Engineers are Make-or-Buy calculations.

They calculate the cost to make something in-house. They calculate any costs associated with purchasing an item outside. Then they compare the two.

According to one estimate by the Brookings Institute, it will cost parents about $310,000 to raise a child to age 17 in the United States. That cost is blind to the costs borne by the greater public...libraries, public education, employer-paid healthcare insurance or Medicaid and so on as well as costs that occur after age 17 such as University educations and legal services. Also missing from the equation is the "opportunity costs" of lost income if one parent chooses to drop out of the workforce and parent-in-person.

If 2 million, young-but-working-age migrants are pouring across the US border every year, that equates to a $620,000,000,000 yearly cost-avoidance.

The obvious question is "Why does it cost so much to raise children in the United States?"

Three-thirds makes a whole

Hotel manager educates demanding customer on math and fractions

One of my nephews spent the weekend in Ludington, Michigan at a tourist hotel.

The hotel had recently changed management and service was not what he expected. In fact, the toilet clogged the very first time he used it.

He went up to the office to complain to the manager and he was asked, "How many plops before you flushed?"

"That question doesn't make any sense" Mack replied.

"Sure it does. Only tree plops and then flush. If you need to go more, than another tree and then flush again".

"That still doesn't make any sense" Mack replied.

"Sure it does. Tree-turds makes a hole but four-turds is bigger than a hole."

Unplugging from the "News"

I think it is time for me to take a vacation from what passes for "News" now days.

I did not access any news yesterday and it felt pretty good. I think I will try it for a week. Maybe I will have some Give-a-Gollys in the tank after that.

I will count on the bloggers on the right side of the page to let me know if WWIII or CWII kicks off.

Saturday, September 24, 2022

Hospitality job on the chopping block

From the drink menu of The Dead Rabbit
If you remember back to 2021, the current administration pointed to block-buster job-growth and used it as evidence that they were "on the right track". Breathlessly high jobs growth was reported every month (only to be revised downward three months later so they could be recounted in the current month). The stock market soared.

Cynics pointed out that most of the jobs growth were due to the belated lifting of Covid restrictions. "Belated" because many of the restrictions had proven to be of dubious value.

The sectors that rebounded the most were the sectors that had been hammered. Specifically, the hospitality industry.

Suddenly, people could not quench their taste for $8 cups of coffee, fruity $19 cocktails and $400, stained-glass suncatchers crafted by androgenous humanoids invariably named "Maeve".

While this is the least of the problems we face collectively, it becomes a huge problem if you are an aspiring artist/actor/bartender and your livelihood evaporates.

Households across America are looking at their 401-k and 403-b plans and soiling their shorts.

People spend "found money" far more easily than they spend money that they equate with blood, sweat, tears and privation. Losing $100k of "found money" sweeps the legs out from beneath the discretionary spending that buys those lattes, vodka-drinks and suncatchers.

Friday, September 23, 2022

Retrospective: The 2022 Growing Season

I learn something every growing season. Sometimes God blesses me and I remember what I learn.

The big event this year is that I broke my leg on the last day of April, arguably the first day of the growing season. Looking at it from a certain perspective, there are lessons to be gleaned. For example, it is a reasonable simulation of "guerilla gardening" but on my own property. I was not physically capable of providing much care for the food producing plants on my property. Some produced well. Others were less productive.


Liberty apple on the smallest, freestanding rootstock that grows in your climate.

Asian pears

FIreblight resistant European pears.

Stupice tomato

American persimmons

Chinese and hybrid chestnuts

Sweet peppers

American plums

The pasture. I was surprised at how well it held up in terms of mass. The paddocks I let the cattle into probably held 4000 lb/acre of standing dry matter and that was after a horribly dry year by local standards. At 4% dry matter per day consumption, each of the four back-paddocks holds 2 weeks of forage.

Locally, alfalfa continues to excel in spite of the drought.

Treading water:

Small fruits. Swenson Red and St Paul grapes will be culled. Swenson Red ripens unevenly, is too prone to over bearing and is not very disease resistant. St Paul is too early. The other varieties of grapes will get to live for another year.

Principe Borgoulash and Sweet Aperitif tomatoes

All apples other than Liberty

Butternut squash

Apples in the semi-wild planting. Large numbers of lower limbs died off. Maybe Nectria? It is an opportunity to plant something useful in the understory since sunlight is now hitting the "forest" floor.


Potatoes. The kid I hired to rototill the potato patch tilled down five of the seven rows because he could not recognize potato plants and was too proud to ask. Weed control suffered after that. I don't think that was a "potato" failure but a failure to find good help.

Tashkent quince: Seems very sensitive to fire-blight. Fire-blight rages when the temperature is over 70F and has a special affinity for entering the host through its blossoms.  Quince flowers about 10 days later than pears when temperatures are higher. The surviving Tashkent quince will be grafted over to Potomac pears. Skorospelka and a cultivar "borrowed" from the alleyway between Clement and Fairview streets in Lansing seemed to shrug off the fire-blight with minor twig damage.

The lawn. Sigh. My ego is shattered.

Apricot trees. Canker got all except one. 

Hazelnuts. Squirrels #$%^#$%^

Bush beans. The smart money plants pole beans and protects them until they are up out of rabbit's reach. A lesson relearned.

Fake News Friday: Raggedy Annie busts Doocy's chops over Long-Covid

Doocy: People are beginning to talk about Biden's decline in mental ability and they are wondering if they are seeing Long-Covid "brain-fog". Do you care to comment on that?

Raggedy Annie: How would anybody be able to tell?

Fake News Friday: Department of Homeland Security to outlaw coffee creamer and flour

White House Press Secretary, Raggedy Annie announced that the Department of Homeland Security had determined that coffee creamer and wheat flour were dangerous explosives and would be taken off the consumer market.

Peter Doocy pointed out that flour would still be used in commercial bakeries and there were a host of other, combustible dusts that could be pressed into service as field-expedient explosives.

Raggedy Annie responded that General Milley had already committed to giving all NCOs lobotomies when they retired to ensure that information did not leak out to the general public. Furthermore, members of Congress would be granted a waiver so they could continue to use make-up.

Thursday, September 22, 2022

Shorts and Chargers

 The cattle are in the newly defined, 1/2 acre paddock.

Entirely by chance, the wire was resting on the parting-line from the molds. You can see the smut from where the vaporized zinc deposited.

A few oddities popped up. I had a ceramic insulator that was shorting through the body of the insulator. I assume there was a crack or void in the insulator and suspect it is related to the parting-line.

I temporarily fixed the problem by spinning the insulator 90 degrees on the bolt. Then I followed up the next time I walked the fence by replacing the insulator AND spinning the new one so the parting line was horizontal.

Fence Chargers do not last forever (Sorry Mr. C.W. Swanson...not that kind of Charger)

My fence charger is acting funny. It was skipping about every eighth impulse and it was "bouncing" on some of them. I don't know what is in the guts of the charger/energizer but if I had to guess I would vote for a relay problem.

The plan is to purchase a new charger and install it. Then put the old one on the bench and see if I can deduce if any of the components are relays and if I can purchase replacements or substitutes with similar characteristics.

Of course my problem gets a lot simpler if I find a relay with a broken connection at the terminal. Then it is a matter of soldering on or crimping on a new terminal on the wire and re-attaching to the relay.

Oddly enough, the old charger seems to be behaving now that the new section of fence is attached. The fence around the new paddock has some weeds touching the wire. Many dynamic systems "behave" when there are resisters or dampers (i.e. energy dissipators) in the system but "ring" after the energy dissipator is removed. I don't know if that is a clue.

Wednesday, September 21, 2022

More fencing means less posting


I-115 Persimmon. It is a bad wind that blows no good.
The weather has been unsettled the last few days. Thunderstorms swept through twice yesterday during the day and once today. Winds are gusty and the trees are really shaking.

I don't like walking through the woods in windy weather.

That means that I will need to turn off the electric fence and walk through the pastures to get to the back pasture where I am working on the fence rather than walking around, through the woods.

I am stripping off the barbed wire that the Captain repurposed a decade ago. Barbed wire that is electrified has two major problems. One, it can tangle people and animals up such that they cannot pull-off. Two, it hangs up on any wire it blows against and is seems at least five times more likely to short-out than smooth wire.

Stripping off the barbed wire, rolling it up, tossing it over the fence is slow, pricky work. Replacing cracked insulators is mandatory if I want ten years of trouble-free operation. The work is also unpleasant because my shoes get soaked.

The other portion of this work is to move one paddock division fence. Google maps has a neat feature where you can make a polygon and it will tell you the amount of enclosed area. I fiddled around and found that by moving one paddock division I can make four paddocks that are all almost exactly a half-acre each.

My hope is that the rain softened the ground enough that I can wiggle them around and pull them out...and then move them over.

Tuesday, September 20, 2022

The best gardening video you will watch today


Eight minute run-time.

I agree with about 95% of this gardener's thinking. He is very deliberate in what he does. 

I diverge from his thinking where labor requirements spike (about the 7 minute mark). Labor and management will always be limiting factors and must be considered.

Crop rotation is a hot topic in some gardening circles. Skeptics ask how an mature forest of oak trees or tall-grass prairie can exist on the same plot of land for 300 years with no problems if yearly rotation is mandatory. Those who are for it claim that "agriculture" is an artificial, monoculture environment that fosters disease and pests and therefore rotating crops is mandatory. Pop some popcorn and grab a beverage, everybody has an opinion. 

This guy's take on rotation is that disease and pest cycles are not broken by TIME but by the number of generations of non-host crops. At the 5:20 mark of the video he talks about his hoop-houses. He rotates four classes of vegetables: Vining vegetables (squash, cucumbers, etc), Nightshades (tomatoes, eggplant, peppers, etc), Leafy winter vegetables (lettuce, greens) and Root winter vegetables (beets, turnips, carrots).  Personally, I think he misses a trick by not splitting the houses in thirds and raising chickens as part of his rotation.

One neat trick that might slip by you is that he allows "weeds" as long as they are edible and are short enough that they don't compete with his primary crop. Portulaca oleracea, Stellaria media, Fragaria, Allium tuberosum, Fagopyrum esculentum and Physalis pruinosa are just some of the options available. Weeds happen, just like feces. Might as well guide and direct them so benefit can be gaind.

Very odd: A video by a Brit of a Russian/Pole farming in Japan. We live in an interesting world.

Fine Art Tuesday


White Cliffs Spitfire

Headlong Attack
From this website where they are available for purchase. Many more pieces of fine art highlighting the Battle of Britain.

Theme chosen to honor the passing of Queen Elizabeth, may she rest in peace. 

Images presented as "Copyright, exceptions" per UK laws under provisions of teaching/education and non-commercial research/study.

Hat-tip to Lucas Machias.

Red-neck engineering

Mrs ERJ and I dropped off our old washing machine to a woman whose machine was on-the-fritz.

Mrs ERJ suggested that I help remove the old machine and install the new one.

While horsing the "new" machine up the back-steps of the woman's house, I noticed the clothes-line on the other side of the privacy fence.

"I have never seen a clothes-line done quite like that" I observed.

The woman shook her head. "I worry about him".

It transpired that the neighbor's domestic partner was short and the neighbor was lazy. The partner wanted a clothes-line and poles to prop it up so the laundry would not drag in the dirt as the line stretched.

The lazy neighbor tied one end of the line to the privacy fence post. He attached the other end to his pickup truck's hood latch.

"There!" he told his partner. "Lower the hood, hang the clothes and then raise the hood while they dry."

Before you ask, the truck was parked parallel to the fence so the line was pulling the hood sideways.

Red-neck engineering at its finest.

Monday, September 19, 2022

Is it logical to use quarter-million dollar weapons to kill $15k targets?

Looking at an academic paper published in 1976, written when heart by-pass surgery was in its infancy, 15% of the operations were to by-pass a single clogged artery, 40% were for two arteries, 39% were for triple by-pass, 5% for quadruple and the remaining 1% was for quintuple by-pass.

Anecdotally, single by-pass surgery is far more common and triple and quadruple by-passes are now far less common. Open heart surgery, while still a serious affair, is no longer reserved for patients in extreme situations. Better to address a single clogged artery (with the change of throwing a clot) that to wait for it to worsen. 

Something similar happened with smart-weapons.

Originally designed to shoot-down very fast, maneuverable targets with stealth-capability they have become so commonplace that they are now used to shoot down a trailer carrying petrol pulled by a Toyota Hilux and armored personnel carriers with a single fighter running a machine-gun.

One bit of footage from early in the Ukrainian conflict shows a Russian Hind flying on the straight-and-level. My untrained eyeball estimates it is moving at 40 knots and about 150 feet of elevation. Fighters some 200 meters in front of the Hind fire a manpad from the craft's 2 O'clock and the pilot has no time to react.

If you can believe the footage played by the mainstream media, most targets that get smoked by expensive, smart-weapons could just as easily have been "killed" by a dumb 107mm rocket with a smart head/steerable fins based on a commodity "Android smartphone" with the IR filter removed from the lens.

Eventually the economics of using quarter-million dollar smart-munitions to kill $15k fuel trucks tips in favor of the team fielding the trucks.

If I were the Pentagon, I would commission some smart grad students to re-jigger dirt-cheap smart-phones to drive smart-heads. I would use the "portrait mode" face finder to find hot targets. Then trowel on a P-I-D, Ziegler-Nichols algorithm to drive the fins to center the hot-spot. Commodity + a commodity = a custom app. 

Incidentally, one pre-paid cell provider offers at least six smartphones that cost less than $60. Any one of those phones probably offers more computational power than the Apollo space craft that landed on the moon.

Waiting for the other shoe

Does anybody else have a sense of waiting for the other shoe to drop?

NATO and US inventories of "smart weapons" depleted and five-to-seven years to bring inventories back up IF we stop shipment to Ukraine.

China sabre-rattling over Taiwan.

US men of an age to provide military service are too fat, too stupid, too drugged-up or too masculine or too emotionally fragile to serve.

US to magically reconstitute herself into a manufacturing powerhouse overnight because "robots". I spent many years working around robots. They come with limitations.

Meanwhile, Mother Nature continues to do her thing.

I hope I am wrong.

On a more humorous note

I had my teeth cleaned this morning. Stephanie, the dental hygenist, is a chatty one. She told me that she started taking music lessons now that they are empty-nesters.

That is when Dueling Banjos floated to the top of her play-list.

It was the first time I had my teeth cleaned in 8 minutes and 23 seconds.

Sunday, September 18, 2022



Progressives justified kicking migrants off of Martha's Vineyard because of a "lack of infrastructure".

That is easy enough to fix. Send every migrant to Martha's Vineyard with a tent, sleeping bag, camp-stove and a 12-pack of ramen noodles. Also give them a map to the estates of the most vocal, pro-immigrant residents and call it good. It should only cost about $200 a person.

Might as well give them the "keys to the city" while we are at it.

I wonder if anybody started a Gofundme for that purpose of supplying immigrants with "infrastructure" to help them establish in places like the Hamptons and Martha's Vineyard.

When Vikings come a-raiding

One of the factors that led to the Vikings being such efficient raiders is the fact that they appeared on the horizon without warning. One day is just like every day that came before it. The next morning dawned with boats filled with Vikings with the village unprepared for defense.

Another shortcoming was the lack of mutual-aid agreements. The Vikings cracked each village individually and sucked out the wealth. Then they moved on to the next village.

But the primary enabler for Vikings was the fact that their transportation out-ran the communication system of potential defenders.

If a person knew when the thief was coming, he would make preparations. He would move livestock to a secure location. He could prepare a warm reception. If the thief passed over his domicile, the responsible home-owner would come to the aid of his neighbor who was not so lucky. 

This need not be something that involves huge amounts of bravery, physical prowess or personal risk. It could be as simple as firing up the chainsaw and dropping a tree across the road to close-off that avenue of retreat to motor-vehicles. Thieves are not going to steal if they cannot get their loot back to a safe-haven. Furthermore, the economics of looting tips significantly if they experience significant attrition on the round-trip.


You cannot beat a dog or two. Learn their barks. Unlike electric systems, dogs are self-replicating. Small-holders in Europe favored small terriers while rural Americans favored "curs".

Geese are another great choice. The girls lay eggs. They eat fresh grass and make meat. Unlike dogs, they are much less likely to be preemptively poisoned or shot by raiders. Of course, the two types of animals compliment each other. Most people do not want to bring geese inside of their house.


Communication systems can be simple

Mutual aid

If nothing else, the old granny can keep her eyes peeled and neighbors can keep their eyes open for your stolen property. It is highly likely that raiders are getting some aid from one or two of your neighbors. Identifying those moles and dealing with them will go a long way toward securing your entire neighborhood.

Secure storage

Thieves look for easy-pickings. This is a good time to do some maintenance on your outbuildings. Grease the track for sliding doors. Trim brush away from doors to provide clear lines of sight. Keep your fences hot...check grounds to ensure your weed trimmer did not pull the wire out of the clamp...yes, multiple grounds.

Consider how you would brace your house doors with a length of 2-by-4 so it cannot be forced in. It can be as simple as a cleat attached to the floor with deck-screws and 36" of 2-by that drops into place to catch the bottom corner of the door or it can be fancy.

Ability to rapidly move assets to secure storage

I love management intensive grazing AND I feed some grain because it makes the cattle far easier to handle. Shake that bucket and they come running.

One possible trajectory for a dystopian future involves a vast increase in the amount of physical work we will have to do. That means that animals will have to shift for themselves...grazing or more free-range foraging. That exposes them to more risk.

Some people keep roosters because they can be protective of their hens and provide warning with regard to hawks. Time is distance and distance is time.

Saturday, September 17, 2022

Girls show us their guns


And of course, no dissertation on girls and their guns would be complete without a picture of a Glock.


Wages chase prices

The tentative agreement for the Rail Unions, as yet unratified, included a healthy pay-bump. Critics scold Biden for brokering the deal because it will "embolden other unions to ask for higher wages".

Frankly that criticism is one of the stupidest I have ever read. Unions always ask for more money. With accelerating inflation they have a duty to demand it and STRIKE if they do not receive it.

I think they would be better served to accept a little bit less and to shorten the duration of the contract but that is just my opinion. A 20% pay increase on a three-year contract may seem enormous but it is paltry if annual inflation is that much or more.

When Money Dies

When Money Dies is the title of a book documenting the hyper-inflation in the Weimar Republic, Austria and Hungary after World War One.

Losers were legion. Especially hard hit were those on fixed incomes, that is, people on pensions.

Winners were few but they did exist. One class of winners were those who converted their assets to assets denominated in "hard currencies". Countries in the convulsions of inflation make it difficult to consummate these kinds of conversions but it is worth looking at. My dilemma is finding a currency that is not subject to inflation. I don't understand crypto...I don't trust it.

Another set of winners were families who could convert local or ubiquitous resources into necessities like food or wood-stoves or medicine or clothing. There is much to be said for an industrial sewing machine with parts, some solar panels to power it and 50,000 yards of #69, polyester thread. Throw in some zippers and snaps and buttons and you have a business.

Maybe those union members would be better served with more flexibility with regard to their time. Then they could get a side-hustle. That is how the southern tier of countries in the EU survive. Side-hustles. Gardens, nurseries, making distilled spirits, selling wine, shade-tree mechanics, resoling footwear, rides to the airport and so on.

Another lesson from When Money Dies is that people will rob you. One story is of a farm-family that went to church services and they came home afterward to find that their farm had been pillaged. Particularly sad was that the raiders had slaughtered their milk-cow and only removed a few cuts of meat. Key point: Leave several people to guard your source of wealth/production when going to church or to town lest you come home to ashes.

Friday, September 16, 2022


I fiddled around with the Made-in-China canning lids.

I took a micrometer to the lids and found the M-i-C lid was 0.008" thick and the name-brand lids were 0.006" thick, so the buckling had nothing to do with the thickness of the material. More likely, it had to do with the name-brand rubber coating having a stippled coating while the M-i-C lid had a smooth surface. I contributed to the problem by over-tightening the lids

I thought I would be able to "paint" them with food-grade linseed oil and it would polymerize to form a layer of varnish over the bare metal.

Imagine my surprise when the oil beaded up on the painted surface. I assume the lids are powder-coated and the coating is highly polar. Closely inspecting the surface, it looks like the oil did have an affinity for the bare metal but it definitely did not like the painted surface.

Pear Chutney

 My sister wanted to try a recipe for pear chutney. I was able to accommodate with some hard, cooking pears.

The general consensus is that in antiquity, pears were very hard and could only be rendered edible by cooking them, much like quinces. Over the generations, softer, earlier ripening pears were selected and now dominate the market.

One can still find "hard" pears: Kieffer, Duchess 'd Angouleme, Pound and various seedlings will fit the bill. I took over some Kieffer pears for her to play with.

My sister promised me several jars of Chutney. I did not have the heart to tell her that I don't need condiments to make food delicious. I get hungry. I eat.

Ok, I lied

I brought in the herbs for our winter window-sill.

Rosemary! If I could only have one herb growing on the window-sill it would be rosemary.

And oregano, thyme, sage, chives....

Mint...gotta have mint... 

Back to sis

My sister is also a new grandparent.

I signed on to make applesauce (without sugar or cinnamon) for the little nipper.

Early tomorrow morning, Mrs ERJ and I will be spreading tarps and shaking the apple trees. My goal is to put up 35 quarts of applesauce which is roughly the yield of 100 pounds of apples (30 liters, 45kg for Simon and Glen).

Wish me luck.


From the standpoint of economics, "Value" is intimately related to the availability of acceptable alternatives.

If food is readily available in grocery stores than there is marginal value in growing your own. If there is NO food available in grocery stores then growing your own food approaches infinite value.

If "sperm donors" are fungible and willingly provide their services free-of-charge, then "sperm donors" have little value.

If "Dads" are uniquely and deeply invested in seeing their offspring succeed then they have value beyond measure.

The very, very sad thing about inner-city culture is that government successfully sold the idea that they were a viable substitute for "Dads". With "Dad" out of the picture, gangs fill the emotional void in young men and mayhem results.

This is not a racial thing. Whites are chasing after Blacks and might catch them for out-of-wedlock births.

St Michael's Episcopal Church, 6500 Amwood Dr, Lansing

St Michael's will be hosting a gun buy-back drive on October 1, 2022.

They are coy about telling folks how much they will be offering for each firearm but I doubt that it will be more than $150 per boom-stick.

Police will be on the premises to ensure order, so if enterprising individuals wanted to park on the street and offer a little-bit-more to take the guns off the street, well, isn't that what they want to achieve?

If it saves one life...

The  most common means of committing suicide in New York City is "strangulation, suffocation and hanging".  Suicide is usually a phenomena of impulse and means, often abetted by substance abuse impairing judgement. 

Undoubtedly, lives would be saved if there was a two-week waiting period for buying rope, wire and plastic bags. Furthermore, there should be a tribunal that evaluates whether the person who wants to buy a coat-hanger or clothes line NEEDS that device before a permit is issued.

The second most common way of committing suicide in New York City is to jump off of tall structures. Needless-to-say, eliminating tall buildings and placing energy-absorbing structures around the shorter structures would eliminate this modality for ending one's life.

Physical therapy

I am definitely on the glide-path to be booted-out of physical therapy.

This was my last session with Jeremy who is heading to a new job in Antarctica. Great guy.

Jeremy put me on a BOSU ball and threw medicine balls at me to catch. We were both surprised when I managed to catch all but one of them and did not fall off of the BOSU ball.

I will say that 45 minutes of physical therapy and a three-mile walk can be a bit stout. Especially when Zeus and a neighbor dog decide to sort-out dominance issues while I was holding Zeus's leash.

Nothing bad happened. Mrs ERJ took notes on the creative ways the leash arranged itself and intertwined with my anatomy in case she takes an interest in BDSM. The neighbors came out and eventually corralled their pooch.

Just another day in paradise.