Monday, October 31, 2022

Ghost Hammers


Untraceable Ghost Hammers. $9000 for the entire lot or $1500 per hammer.

No low-ball bids. I know what I have and I know what it is worth.

Will ship to California.

Presented without comment


Putnam County, Ohio


One burning question regarding population overshoot involves the degree of overshoot that may have occurred in the rural areas that many of my readers have chosen to live in.

To get a handle on that, I picked a county in the heart of the eastern corn-belt, Putnam County, Ohio. Putnam County is blessed with fertile (if somewhat clay-ey) soils and generous natural rainfall in most years. There are hundreds of other counties I could have picked but I threw a dart and this is the one it hit.

Here are a few overhead images

The entire county

A closer view from somewhere near the center of the county.

Maybe 5% of the land has been intentionally left in woodlots. Darned fine farming country.

Population history

One peak was at 1900. Growing industry in Findley and Toledo started pulling the younger people off the farm. Automation both made bigger farms possible and mandatory. That equipment had to be paid off.

In 1890, the ideal farm in Ohio might be 40 acres with 10% of it left in woods for heating and construction material. At one time, the rule-of-thumb for defining an acre was the amount of land that could be plowed by a team of oxen in a day. That means that 36 acres of land would take five weeks of good weather to plow which is way too long to put in a single crop.

Farmers worked around the constraint in several ways. One was to divide their 36 acres into four plots and use a Corn-Oats or Beans-Wheat-forage rotation. The forage was necessary to feed the draft animals and was plowed-down to provide nitrogen for the corn. Instead of having to plow 36 acres in a single go, they only had to plow 9 acres in three separate time-windows.

Another work-around was to use horses or teams of horses. Horses walk faster than oxen and larger teams can pull two plow-shares instead of a single. More animals demand that a larger portion of the farm be dedicated to growing food for the draft animals.

Population density

Using our very crude 40 acres-per-farm and six people per household, we come up with a population density =640(acres per square mile)/40 (acres per farm)*6 (people per farm) or 96 people per square mile.

Six people per household was chosen as that is a multi-generational farm, two children, two parents, two grandparents...or a modest sized family in 1900.

The current population density of Putnam County is 74 people per square mile.

One assumption that is buried in the back-of-envelop calculations is that loss of petroleum inputs in agriculture will make the work far more labor intensive and productive agriculture will require many, many times more "farmers" laboring in the fields.

Another piece of background information is that we know much more about nitrogen fixation and the role nitrogen plays in grain yield. If the "target yield" in 1930 was 40 bushels of corn per acre that same field can yield 200 bushels per acre in 2020. The cost of eliminating petroleum or natural gas derived fertilizer is that you could only grow corn one-year-in-four and expect that kind of yield.

Pencil whipping estimates

Let's cut ourselves some slack and estimate 

150 bushels-per-acre corn * 9 acres = 1350 bu = $8800 at current prices

50 bushels-per-acre soybeans * 9 acres = 450 bu = $6300

60 bushels-per-acre wheat * 9 acres = 540 bu = $4880

Gross yearly revenue of about $20k.

Gross Calories of human-quality food of about 240M, of which some will be diverted to feeding draft animals (and chickens, pigs and dairy cows). Shipping grain off-farm to feed animals somewhere else interrupts the efficient, on-farm cycling of nutrients.

Obviously this picture is painted with very broad brush-strokes and you can argue the numbers I chose. But it does plant one stake in the ground.

Six months after the accident

I was hit on April 30, 2022 and sustained several broken bones. The point-of-impact was the rear-outside quarter of my lower, left-leg.

Six months later I am not cleared for "impacts" but can walk our flight of stairs to the basement fifty times without major pain. I can also walk on rough ground (i.e. the pasture) without issues.

My injured foot is now tending to underpronation but there are multiple exercises and stretches on the internet that will help that.

I go back to the bone-doc November 10 and will find out if I can add running to my exercise program.

When I was a kid...

When I was a kid we had to wait for Halloween before we got dirty razor-blades and needles from strangers. Now days, kids can pick up a dozen of them walking home from the bus stop.

And a question for the more worldly among my readers

If a fellow were breaking out a window with a hammer from outside of a house, how much of the glass falls outward?

Clayton and Krystal: First morning

Krystal awoke to the smell of frying sausage and freshly brewed coffee.

Clayton had obviously taken Mattie.

Getting up, she yawned and stretched. The mattress was softer than she was used to and she had slept longer than usual.

Padding down the hallway in her night shirt, she saw Aunt Alice setting the table. Wordlessly, Krystal started helping.

Alice gave her a pat on the back. “I can handle this. Why don’t you put some clothes on? We have a long day ahead of us.”

Krystal did not argue. She quickly washed up and threw on the grubby cloths she had worn the day before. Somehow “...long day...” did not sound like they were expecting company.

Ed was in a jovial mood and talked almost non-stop during the breakfast. There was enough food on the table to feed a football team.

“We got a ton of downed timber in the swamp and I didn’t have a good way of getting it out before the ground floods again.” Ed said. “With the price of LP this year, being able to burn wood will be like printin’ money.”

Krystal shot a look at Alice. Interpreting it correctly, Alice told her “We might help a little bit with stacking at this end, but mostly you-n-I-n-Mattie will be digging potatoes in the garden.”

Then Ed interjected “I tole you there was a reason why I planted seven rows of potatoes this year” as he looked at Alice.

Alice made a big show of mock-eye rolling. “You ALWAYS plant seven rows of potatoes and we never dig more than a third of them.”

“You can’t say ‘never’.” Ed defended himself. "We dug them all the last year the two boys were here.”

That elicited another set of eye-rolls.

Krystal was glad she had donned the already grubby jeans. Digging potatoes had to be dirty work.

Alice said pointedly, “Nothing is going to happen outside until it gets light. That will be about a half hour. Me and Ed will do the dishes and watch Mattie iffin you and Clayton want to go back to the bedroom and make the bed.”

Ed started filling the sink with hot water. “Yup. Be at least a half hour” he affirmed. And then he shot Clayton a very subdued wink behind Krystal's back. At least it was subdued by Ed’s standards.

Ed turned on the small portable radio by the sink and tuned it to a local country music station. “I like a little music while I am doing dishes” he said defensively.

Clayton’s expression suggested that he hardly believed what he thought he was hearing but he wasn’t going to look a gift-horse in the mouth.

Reaching out and gently grasping his wife’s hand, he suggested “Yes, let’s go tidy up our bedroom. It should only take about a half-hour, right?”


Clayton was eyeing the downed and tangled blow-downs in the swamp with a bit of apprehension. The trees were mostly ash trees that had been killed by the Emerald Ash Borer. The roots had quickly rotted in the damp soil and they had toppled during the summer storms.

Many of them had lodged in adjacent trees that were still alive. The lodged trees were oriented every-which-way as they had not all fallen in the same storm and had been pushed over in different directions.

It was a mess and there was still a lot of potential energy in the logs that were suspended above the ground.

Unlike when he was in the house, Ed was quiet and let Clayton get a feel for the scene.

After a bit, Ed asked “What are you thinking?”

“How long before the swamp floods again?” Clayton asked.

“Hard to say” Ed said. “Depends on the weather. It could flood next week or next month or three months from now. I can tell you that the ground gets soft long before there is standing water 'n it might not dry up until the middle of next summer.”

Clayton grunted and walked the edge of the swamp trying to get a feel for the tangle of wood and come up with a plan of how to attack it.
"Doesn't the ground freeze?" Clayton asked.
"Sometimes it does. But more often snow blows in here and it only freezes a couple inches deep" Ed said. "It fools ya. You drive in and then it breaks through, sinking you up to your axles."

“Maybe the smart thing to do would be to focus on winching the smaller logs out of the swamp and staging them on the bank” Clayton said.

“The bigger ones we can buck into 8’ logs and drag out using chains and the skidding cone” he continued.

“Once they are on the bank we can whittle them down to stove-wood size even if the swamp is flooded.”

Ed had to give that thought some consideration. Even though he and Alice owned 80 acres they had rented out the tillable portion for decades and didn’t have a working farm tractor. His plan had been to cut it to 15” lengths and split it down in the swamp, and THEN hump the pieces out one-at-a-time.

Clayton’s plan sounded a lot better to Ed than what he had been planning on doing.

“Let’s take it slow as we figure it out” Ed said. He did not like the look of the lodged trees.


Back at the garden, Alice and Krystal were taking turns with the shovel. Alice would dig ten hills, then Krystal dug the next ten.

“Just knock the biggest clods off the potatoes. We will clean them later” Alice told Krystal.

Mattie was in her car-seat napping.

The day warmed quickly as the sun rose in the sky.

Warmed by the sunlight and the companionship, lulled by the simple, repetitive work Krystal opened up and started talking.

She missed her dog.

Sunday, October 30, 2022


Lambs that died of Starvation-Exposure-Mismothering complex

A long time ago I used to keep sheep. One of the watersheds in raising sheep is that it was recognized that lamb losses due to the top-three causes were not isolated causes but were joined at the hip.

Before that "Ah-ha!" moment, it was believed that some lambs died of mis-mothering, others died of exposure and still others died of starvation. Each of these were considered very major causes of lamb losses with a 20% loss being fairly common. If your ewes threw twins, then you had 40 dead lambs for every 100 ewes.

Some ewes are super-mothers

Some ewes are horrible mothers. They drop their lamb(s) in random places and walk away from them without bonding. Sometimes it seems like they go out of their way to drop them in the last snowbank to melt in the pasture.

Other ewes are super-mothers. They pick sunny, clement slopes to drop their lambs in good weather and the leeward side of dense brush in inclement weather. They talk to their lambs and bond with them. They seem to be able to count. If they dropped three lambs they do not move away with two of them but wait for the third. They dry each lamb off of birthing fluids. They make sure each lamb "tanks up" on milk soon after birthing and then on a frequent basis afterward.

Most ewes are somewhere between these two extremes. And even super-mothers will lose lambs if it rains for 48 hours after they give birth.

The size of a new-born lamb is very similar to the size of a newly born human. 3.0kg is about 6lb-10oz


Whether super-mothers are due to genetics or imprinting is almost a moot point. The trait seems to run in maternal lines and be more common in large flocks that are less intensively shepherded and less common in hobby-flocks with helicopter shepherds.

Starvation-exposure linkages

A lamb that is cold cannot stand and suckle. A lamb that is running out of calories gets cold. If the cycle of eat-rest-eat-rest is interrupted then the lamb misses a meal, gets cold and gets into trouble.

The proximal cause of what interrupted the cycle is not particularly important.

Does this apply to humans?

If you squint real hard and look at the bottom of Maslow's Hierarchy you might see similar intersections-of-needs.

The lack of food or water impact the human differently but from a practical standpoint they only differ in transportation and storage methods.

Shelter and food can be traded off. More food can at least partially off-set exposure to cold. Better clothing can also off-set colder ambient temperatures.

Social connections can extend the network for finding resources.

Three families in a house will be warmer than a single person living in a house even when there is no fuel for the furnace.

Stonefly larvae
Another parallel, one that is blindingly obvious, is that sometimes events will be so extreme that you can do "everything right" and still have bad outcomes. There are 23 million souls (and 66,666 politicians) living in the NYC metro area. They could harvest every migrating fish, minnow, crawdad, hellgrammite and stonefly larvae out of the Hudson and it would not feed the city for a day.

Before the dawn of the fossil-fuel era, the three largest cities were London, Paris and Bejing and they were barely 1,000,000 people. They were also well endowed with water-based transportation (canals).

The dynamics of population suggest that when a population over-shoots, it does not fall back to its carrying capacity but it oscillates to a population less than its organic carrying capacity. The more the population over-shoots, the farther below the organic carrying capacity the die-off carries the remaining population.

One can make a credible case that NYC and the oil-exporting nations in the middle-East overshot their organic carrying capacity by a factor of twenty.

If the bonds that hold civil society together unravels, it will be very ugly in many places.

On a more positive note: If you have done anything to prepare for tough times than you are likely to have thought about all of the physiological needs and have "connections" that can help you fill in  (or find ways to substitute around) shortfalls that come up.

COVID fatality rates much lower than originally advertised

Pre-publication summary of an interesting paper that is wending its way through the peer-review process.

Title: Age-stratified infection fatality rate of COVID-19 in the non-elderly informed from pre-vaccination national seroprevalence studies

Image from ZeroHedge. Note that rate listed for 40-49 Year-olds is 1/100th of the 3% fatality rate originally bandied about for COVID

"(Original fatality) estimates were created under the assumption that COVID cases were overwhelmingly detectable; that cases were captured by testing and thus tracking deaths could be achieved with a “case fatality rate,” instead of “infection fatality rate.”

Lead author: John P.A. Ioannidis 

Professor of Medicine (Stanford Prevention Research), of Epidemiology and Population Health and by courtesy, of Statistics and of Biomedical Data Science
Medicine - Stanford Prevention Research Center
Web page:

Key points from this paper are that:

  • COVID spread much more rapidly than we knew. This was based on antibody presence in blood collected before vaccines were available.
  • Most people did not know they had COVID, either because the symptoms were so mild or because they suspected but chose to not get tested because a positive test would throw them and their family out of work.
  • The fatality rate based on forensic-quality lab work about who had COVID rather than who SAID they had COVID revealed that the fatality rate was much, much, much, much, much, much, much, much, much, much lower (yes, 10 "muches") lower than what the fear-mongers and power-grabbers insisted it was.
  • All infectious diseases must be respected if you have serious health issues or are elderly.

As a final note, Stanford University is considered a pretty fair academic school by some. The lead author does not work for the Eastern Puerto Rico Academy of Brake Repair and Toof-Pullin'. In the world of medicine, the reputation of your University counts for much.

Saturday, October 29, 2022

Good working companions make for an enjoyable day in the woods


The three logs on the right side of the image are from one tree.

We got three trees down, cut and split.

These two guys worked their fool heads off and did not complain about my slowing them down (very much). There may have been a joke or two about young guys needing a vertical log splitter while mature gentlemen did best with the horizontal splitter.

I needed a nap when I got home.

Cutting wood

I will be out in the swamp cutting wood today.

Read the fine folks in the side-bar

Friday, October 28, 2022

Parsing the changing face of Nuclear targeting

Much is being made of Putin's sabre rattling with regards to nuclear retaliation in the event of NATO overplaying its hand.

The scenario from the first Cold War had mutual annihilation of the USSR and the USA after we had reduced each other to slowly cooling puddles of molten glass.

Politicians assured us that most Soviet nuclear warheads targeted chunks of Wyoming and North Dakota as that is where many of our ICBMs were located.

More recently, there have been questions about the accuracy and reliability of old, Soviet era delivery mechanisms. One could raise those same issues with the oldest US hardware as well. Rust and entropy never sleep.

Recent news is that Russia, the heir to the shrunken Soviet Empire, has been acquiring "short range" ballistic missiles from Iran. New production, battle-tested missiles.

"Short range" in this case means 200-to-420 mile (300-to-700km) range.

Let's play with some strategic scenarios.


Accuracy is a matter of repeatability with regard to range and azimuth. When firing abeam from a ship that is rocking the most difficult of the two to control is range, consequently the most desirable shot is "Enfilade" targets where if you do not hit the preferred target there are "acceptable" targets both closer and farther away.

A ship 12 miles off-shore Portsmouth, New Hampshire has a 445 (land) mile enfilade target from the north-Boston suburbs to Alexandria, Virginia.

A ship or a set of CONEX containers in Newark, New Jersey has two enfilade targets 180 degrees apart: Boston 200 miles to the northeast and Alexandria, Virginia to the southwest.

The other side of that calculation is that an enraged, hungry population can be your army. You don't need to invade a country if you can deprive and then direct the resident population.

Speaking of Ports

52% of the tonnage handled by US ports flows through these nine ports. The next ten ports for tonnage bring the total to 75% of freight shipped.

The Gulf Coast would be hammered.

Other infrastructure

Other infrastructure is isolated and vulnerable to "sleeper" teams. How many of the Venezuelans crossing into our country are agents? How many of the Latin Americans are Cuban plants? How many of the immigrants from Afghanistan and the middle-East are really our allies? How many students from Mainland China are more than just "students"

Then there are the domestic, eco-terrorists that are being energized by the mainstream media.

While all US cities are vulnerable to these attacks, the cities in the southwest are especially vulnerable because they dangle at the end of very long, isolated supply lines for things like water, electricity, petroleum products and over-land transportation.


Foreign powers have the ability to do untold damage to the United States with relatively few nukes delivered by missiles, even low-tech missiles.

The most vulnerable targets are high volume, deep-water ports because they are easy to access and have very high, strategic value.

Foreign powers that have demonstrated little regard for their citizen's lives should not be expected to respect American lives. 

The Northeast megalopolis offers enemies some obvious targeting advantages if running up the body-count is one of their metrics.

Stay away from crowds and big cities.

Clayton and Krystal: Moving Day

Krystal and Mattie showed up at Uncle Ed and Aunt Alice’s farm an hour after first-light. Krystal had called into work and informed them that her house had been robbed and she needed a couple of days to get her head screwed back on.

Clayton had called ahead to Uncle Ed's. 

Krystal loaded a weeks worth of clothing and diapers into her Impala and had taken Mattie with her.

Clayton stayed behind to load the truck. He intended to hook up one of the trailers and move the first load within a half hour.


Ed and Alice had never been Krystal’s favorite among Clayton’s family. They were as country as a muddy pair of blue-jeans while Krystal was definitely a city-girl.

They had an off-beat sense of humor and the timing of their speech was both slower and more staccato than what she was used to. Ed ELBOWED her after telling a joke and cackled. Clearly, he had no idea about proper boundaries.

Ed and Alice were waiting for her as she drove the length of the gravel driveway.

“Why don’t you grab Mattie and I will give you a quick tour of the farm.” Ed suggested.

Krystal shrugged. Why not.

Carrying Mattie, Ed and led her through the mostly harvested garden next to the barn. Then he pointed out some calves in a muddy pen. Finally, he showed her the “camper” where they were to stay.

Alice followed behind the three of them.

Krystal’s heart sank. The camper was more of a trailer. It was a dump and appeared to be barely habitable by humans. The “yard” was overgrown with thorny bushes and the cinder-blocks holding up the trailer had subsided into the ground and the trailer had a visible “lean” to it.

In fact, it would be an act of charity to call it a dump.

Ed cleared his throat. “It is a little rougher than I remember it” he said.

Alice piped up “You can stay in the guest bedroom while you clean it out. It should only take about a week, I figure.”

Krystal continued to stare. There were broken windows and some of the sheet metal had been fluffed-up by the wind. She knew in her heart that local wildlife had taken up residence inside of the trailer.

Ed could read her face. “You know, if this isn’t going to work out for you, there is no point in unpacking.”

Tears welled up in her eyes.

“No. It will be fine” she choked out. “There is no place to go back to. We will make it work.”

Ed looked over at Alice. “Well, I reckon we can help you start moving things to the guest bedroom.”

Alice nodded in agreement.


Clayton pulled in and Ed directed him to back the trailer into one of the barns.

“I can unload this if you want to run back and grab another trailer” Ed said. Ed knew that Clayton had at least two trailers.

Ed and Clayton roughed out a plan about where some of the things should be placed. Clayton wasn’t planning on being very scientific. He was going to just start loading what was closest and clear a path back to the back.

Ed, on the other hand was trying to figure out some way to put it in the barn where the things that would be most used would be closest at hand.

They compromised.

Clayton would load up his tool-boxes on the next trip and they would off-load them to a separate shed where they would not get blocked in by later loads of “stuff”.

“You know it gets hard to keep up a place as you get older” Ed said. “I had to let a lot of things go. I can’t tell you how good it will be to have a young man back on the place.”

Clayton nodded in agreement. The place was much more overgrown than he remembered and Ed was slower moving.

He gave Krystal a kiss and then went back for another load.


Krystal was frustrated. Alice kept high-jacking her for in-house projects rather than letting her get started on cleaning the trailer. Krystal didn't know how she was going to work a full work-week, care for Mattie and clean up the trailer.

The first chore Alice assigned her was to start laundering sleeping bags, comforters and bed linens. Alice directed her to hang the heavy quilts on the outdoor line. Then Alice asked her to scrub the stove and pots-and-pans in the kitchen.

Part of Krystal was happy to put off the daunting task. The other part of her knew that a week was not going to be long enough.

Alice seemed to be really drawn to Mattie. “Never had any girls of my own” Alice told her. “Always wondered what it would be like.”

Lunch was cold fried chicken, baked beans, potato salad and iced tea. Conversation was rushed. Clayton left before everybody else was finished. He really wanted to be finished by nightfall.

Over lunch Krystal learned that Clayton had called a buddy and the buddy was loading at one end while Ed and one of his neighbors were unloading here. Clayton helped on both ends and had three trailers in-play. One was being unloaded at the farm. One was being loaded at home and Clayton was shuttling the third from one place to the next.

The last thing Clayton loaded that night was the chainfall in the center of his garage. It was a monster. He hooked the lift-end to the cross-beam and unbolted the unit, then he lowered it down into the trailer.


Krystal cried herself to sleep with Clayton cuddled up behind her and with his arm wrapped around her. She was cocooned in bedding that smelled of sunshine in a room with a bare, wooden floor that emitted the clean, lemony scent Murphy's Oil Soap. It was unearthly quiet. Just the sounds of an old house ticking-and-creaking as it cooled down, Clayton's deep, slow breathing and her own sniffling.

Next Installment

Thursday, October 27, 2022

Antenna update

Houston, we have ignition!

It took a quick trip to Wally-world, a female-female coupler and a short length of coax.

The Wally-world coax was horrible stuff. The inner wire had rough burs on both ends. A blessing with some 400 grit sandpaper took off the worst of it and we were in-like-Flynn.

We picked up maybe six channels but not the FOX affiliate or the Christian station out of Toledo. I need to do some fiddling with the antenna direction and raise the elevation another 6 feet.

Installing an antenna for commercially broadcast TV

Things were going swimmingly until I got to the last step.

The stupid inner wire of the coax will not insert into the antenna jack on the TV.

Mrs ERJ, who has much to say about the priorities around here, suggested that we might want to have the ability to access commercial, broadcast TV now that we have a grandchild.

Given the budget "OK" I sunk a 10' 4-by-4 into the ground* and then added a 1" diameter, steel conduit to that. Given the amount of post in the ground and the overlap between the two parts I have a 16' mast.

The antenna was installed. Coax run beneath the overhang and a hole drilled in the siding. Nothing very complicated.

Looking at the end of the jack on the TV, the hole in the plastic guide does not line up with the hole in the metal contact beneath it.

I am thinking of getting a coax connection, greasing it up and using a little bit of brute force. I don't want to ball-up the part that came with the antenna but maybe a little bit of grease in the right places will ease things.

Right now the antenna is aimed south-southeast. We have the local FOX and NBC affiliates about seven miles away and a Christian TV station about 60 miles out.

The antenna was dirt cheap at about $40 and it promises 30dB of gain (a factor of 1000) and a 30 degree arc in the horizontal sweep where the gain is maximum.

*Shrink-flation alert: Ready-to-go concrete bags have been downsized to 50 pounds. I remember when they were 80 pounds, then more recently 65 pounds....

Wednesday, October 26, 2022



CDC Data

50th percentile Non-Hispanic White, male 20 and over, height: 176.7 cm

50th percentile Hispanic, male 20 and over, height: 170.3 cm

50th percentile Asian, male 20 and over, height: 170.4 cm

50th percentile , African-American, male 20 and over, height: 175.9 cm

Well, isn't that a fine kettle of fish. According to the CDC, which reports to Biden, Non-Hispanic White men are the tallest demographic and all of the Peoples-of-Color are shorter. Hispanics, whose US population is 50% larger than the African-American population are more than 2" shorter than Non-Hispanic Whites.

And of course, increasing leg room does nothing for most women. NOT charging extra for extra legroom disadvantages nearly all women.

Not every African-American is Shaquille O'Neal. Even so, the 95th percentile African-American only edges out the 95th percentile Non-Hispanic White male by a measly 0.4 cm or the thickness of two nickels.

Clayton and Krystal: Retaliation

“But I thought you said the best way to stop a bully was to punch him in the nose?” Krystal said.

Clayton realized, not for the first time, that he and Krystal had grown up in parallel universes, not withstanding the fact that they had attended high schools only seven miles apart.

Some of it was the gender difference. It was his impression that girls were rule-followers and saw little of life outside the pavement, the painted lines and the areas covered by security cameras.

Some of it was personality.

Some of it was the seemingly random life events that directed life-trajectories like bumpers in a pinball machine.

But much of the difference was undoubtedly due to the fact that Krystal came from the silver-spoon side of the tracks and he came from the gritty-cinder side.

They met when he worked at a coffee-shop. He was a barista and she was a manager by virtue of the fact that the chain was owned by "a friend of the family".

To her credit, she asked for a transfer to a different branch when she felt drawn to Clayton. She was not going to date somebody who reported to her as an employee.

To the dismay of her family, they fell in love and got married.

Girls from Rich-Ville subdivision became lawyers and doctors and professors and accountants. They married the same.

Clayton, on the other hand, was raised by his single-mother. His mother insisted that he not go to school in Lansing. Instead, she exercised Michigan’s School-of-Choice option and sent him to a nearby suburban school.

In this case, suburban meant first-ring-suburb which was much like Lansing had been, value-wise, thirty years ago.

The coaches at the middle-school were VERY interested in Clayton. He had gotten his growth early and there was no indication that his growth was going to stop. Clayton also had a biddable, easy-to-coach nature.

Clayton was sure he had found his place in the scheme-of-things until the local kids who were on the team decided to make him the target of their hazing. As an outsider, he was an easy target.

While the coaches were inside of their office filling out the mandatory, computer forms that documented the practice, Clayton’s would-be-teammates engaged in activities in the locker-room that could have been prosecuted as Criminal Sexual Conduct if they had been done by adults. 

The coaches did not have a clue.

Clayton never went back to practice.

His mother was livid when Clayton quit the team. She had spent good money to get him signed up for football.

He never told her what happened. He knew how much she had sacrificed just to arrange transportation to-and-from school.

But Clayton was all-boy. He was active and NEEDED sports. He played pick-up basketball before school started. He had plenty of time. The rides his mother arranged got him to the school-yard an hour before classes started.

He played football at lunch and basketball after school.

There were no referees. No umps. No video or instant replay.

And the contests, though hotly-contested, were “cleaner” than the official, sanctioned contests.

In the official contests the winners often prevailed because they were better at instigating and then drawing attention from the officials when the other team retaliated. The game was not football or basketball, it was to "game" the officials.

That is not how it worked on the short-sided, pick-up games. The rules were known. Many sets of eyes were watching. Violations were dealt with quickly and brutally.

The problem for Clayton is that this entire universe was something he had internalized and he knew how it worked at an intuitive level. He had never had to verbalize it for somebody else.

But he had to try.

Scratching his head, he replied to Krystal’s challenge “For most bullies you would be right.”

“Like when Mark Trombley would corner smaller kids taking a shortcut through the alley-way and beat them up. Every kid he was bullying thought they were the only one” Clayton said.

“That is part of how bullies operate. The shame of the victims keeps them from talking, keeps them from forming a team.”

“When one of them wised-up and started hitting back, none of the other kids knew. Trombley would pick another, smaller victim.” Clayton said.

“This is a little bit different” Clayton asserted.

“Do you remember Steve Lehigh?” Clayton asked Krystal.

Krystal thought for a minute. “A couple inches taller than you. Walks with a limp. Drinks a lot and has a foul mouth?”

“Yep, that is Steve” Clayton agreed. “Do you know why he walks with a limp?”

Krystal shook her head “No”.

“We were playing football at lunch. We played two-hand touch because we couldn’t get our clothes stained. Full contact blocking, though.

“Timmy Perrone was quarterback for the other team. He had just made a long pass to a receiver when Steve tackled him from behind.” Clayton said.

“It was a cheap shot. Timmy had faked out Steve and made him look foolish. Steve got mad.”

“The next play Shane Sandell and Greg McNairy hit Steve. Greg tackled him from behind and hit him up high. Shane hit him from the front at knee level.”

“Steve was not carrying the ball or anything. But he had broken the rules and nothing was going to happen in that game until after Steve had been knocked out of it.”

“Knees are not supposed to bend that way.” Even though it had happened more than ten years ago, Clayton still winced.

“So what are you saying?” Krystal asked.

“From the viewpoint of whoever is running these home-invasions, we broke their rules. We pushed back. They will not rest until we get knocked out of the game.” Clayton said.

“Our only real option is to beat them to the punch. They cannot hurt us if we are not here. We need to leave. Today.”

Next Installment

Tuesday, October 25, 2022

Presented without comment



Hat/tip to Tanker at Mostly Cajun.

How many rounds in a Bulleit


Mr Biden informs us that he intends to outlaw Bulleits with more than 8 rounds.

To help out the mathematically impaired, there are 700ml in a standard, US bottle of Bulleit Rye or Bourbon and a standard "shot" is 44ml for approximately 16 glasses.

There is no problem if you are drinking with one or more friends because 16/2 equals 8 rounds. 16/3 equals 5 rounds plus a bonus for the barkeep.

The problem is when you are drinking alone. In  which case it becomes necessary to pour out two shot-glasses at a time or to purchase flasks which contain 350 or fewer milliliters.

You can thank me later, after the hang-over subsides.

Fine Art Tuesday

Street art from Bogotá, Columbia

Medellín, Columbia

Nestor Hernandez: Making Babies and Killing Nurses


This man has several felony convictions. He was on parole when he murdered two nurses in Labor-and-Delivery while his baby-mama was squeezing out his pup.

Is it churlish of me to ask about his immigration status? I see his gang-land/Cartel tattoos and it seems like a reasonable question.

If he is not a US citizen, this is as more of an immigration failure than it is a "criminal justice" failure. If he is not a US citizen, why is he still in the United States? 

If I were next-of-kin of one of the deceased nurses I would be asking "Who will be held accountable?" Which judges did NOT deport him? Why?

The best predictor of future violence is a prior history of violence.

Monday, October 24, 2022

Union jobs

One of the piano keys the Democrats are pounding with all of their might is that they are "bringing back high-paying, Union jobs" to Michigan.

There is a good chance that the piano key is out-of-tune and the Dems are tone-deaf.

Approximately 14% of all employees are "Public sector". If 40% of Public sector employees are Unionized, then 5.6% of all employees are Public-sector/Union.

A very large percentage, perhaps half, of the employees who are Unionized are government employees. They vote Democratic even when they are dead.

In total, only about 12% of all employees are represented by Unions. In many cases, the other 88% deeply resent the protections Unionized employees enjoy. They get fired for far smaller infractions than their Unionized brethren enjoy. When there is a problem, guess who gets fired.

So when a Democratic candidate brags about spending $170k to create one, Union job...I am not sure that the other 88% of the tax-payers who are non-Union workers will hear that well.

There is also tension among the electorate with regard to public schools delaying re-opening even after Covid mortality data became more available. Non-union workers were left in a lurch with regard to finding care for their kids while THEY were working (often under arduous conditions of facemasks and high calorie-burn) because Unionized school employees said "No!".

I have no animosity toward Unions. If a Union shop can compete on a level playing-field and win-the-business, GREAT! If they cannot win the business without tilting the pinball machine then the more competitive firms and the tax-payer should not be penalized.

Napoleon is reputed to have said "When your enemy is making a mistake, do not stop them."

This is one of those cases.

The Rule of Threes

  • Three seconds of stupid can get you killed.
  • Three minutes without oxygen is likely to kill you.
  • Three hours of exposure to cold water, 40-degree-rain-and-wind or sub-zero weather is likely to kill you.
  • Three days without water can get you killed.
  • Three weeks without food in an extreme environment is likely to kill you.

Maslow's Hierarchy

Click to embiggen

The more I ponder the hyper-inflation looming on the horizon, the more I realize that the consequences can be modeled as a retreat down Maslow's Hierarchy.

For those who are unfamiliar with the term "Maslow's Hierarchy", it is commonly taught in Psychology classes as THE way people are motivated. Maslow contends that humans are motivated by the most immediate need that is NOT fulfilled.

Preppers might experience an orderly retreat down the hierarchy. Plans have a way of falling apart when they get punched in the nose but the planning-process gives preppers a way of adapting to dynamic situations.

Non-preppers' retreat down Maslow's Hierarchy is likely to be a disorderly and catastrophic.

Don't be stupid

To avoid pulling a Wiley Coyote descent down Maslow's Hierarchy:

  • Don't be stupid
  • Don't hang out with stupid people
  • Don't play stupid games
  • Don't go stupid places
  • Don't say or write stupid things
  • Pull your head out of your nethermost orifice
  • Pull your nose out of your boss's nethermost orifice
  • Do a quick up-periscope outside your internet echo-chamber once in a while
  • Don't hyper-focus on distant threats. You are more likely to be off-ed by somebody who is 10 feet away than somebody who is 400 yards away.
  • Don't
  • Be
  • Stupid

Clayton and Krystal: Ambush

Clayton turned slightly his chair so the action was to his left-front.

He heard murmuring on the landing as the miscreants got their act together.

The dim illumination of a small penlight traced about the sheets of wax paper Clayton had taped to the inside of the window. Clayton was an avid reader of military-fiction. He had read all of the classics...Clancy, Coyle, Curtis, Dickson... and had absorbed the lessons of ambush, kill-sacks and preparation.

The essence of an ambush is to deceive and to deny the target information until it is too late for them to countermeasure.

The hazy, translucent wax paper reflected enough light back at the viewer to deny them any useful information.

The light stopped tracing around the window and appeared to be directed downward.

Clayton heard the clink of tools. He heard the striking of the hammer, then the sound of the dead-bolt dropping on the floor.

Clayton had a moment of panic. If they breached the door-handle that quickly, all of his plans would come to naught.

He curled his hand around the half-dozen, 5/16” hex nuts he had prepared and lobbed them toward the window.

Then he shielded his eyes in the crook of his arm and counted out a half second “Mississi…” he depressed the plunger in his left hand. 

Even through his closed eyelids and with his eyes buried in his arm he saw red.

He heard the tools being dropped and hitting the concrete floor of the landing outside the door.

Clayton had stripped the 30,000 Lumen*, unidirectional light-bars off of his snow-plows and other equipment and hung them in the windows of the doors. One each in the doors he considered least likely as point-of-entry and two of them for the one the burglars were attempting to enter.

Clayton had hung them at the level where he expected the thugs’ eyes to be.

He had wired all four lamps in parallel. He did not want to have to screw around with remembering which switch went to which door.

He gave the lamp a full, two-second pulse before hitting the plunger again to turn them off.

Then he waited for another second before lifting his head from his arm.

He heard and saw precisely...nothing.

Then a crash.

Then the sound of something hitting the chain-link fence “Ker-ching”.

Unable to contain his curiosity, he scrolled through the WIFI security cams on his smartphone.

One goblin was hand-over-handing his way along the toprail of the fence. Unfortunately for him, he had hit the fence to the left of the gate and was working away from it.

The second goblin was harder to find. Clayton winced when he realized that the goblin had run, full-tilt, into the back-blade on his landscaping tractor. That goblin was struggling to get back upright and his gait suggested he was both blinded and lamed.

It took Clayton several passes through all of the screens before he found the third goblin. That goblin was laying face-up at the base of the steps to the landing.

Slowly, the third goblin stirred.

Clayton placed the smartphone down and cracked opened the bolt of the pump shotgun. He felt (for the fifth time that evening) to ensure he had a round chambered and stroked the corncob fore-arm back into battery. And he waited.

And waited…

And waited…

After a half-hour he did another scan of the cameras. The yard was empty.

He checked out the landing outside the door. There was a 3-pound hand-sledge and a cold-chisel with a fish-tail ground into the edge. The tool bag that had been left behind had miscellaneous tools (including a soldering iron) and a handful of zip-ties.

This had clearly NOT been a crime-of-impulse.


Clayton was frustrated as he tried to explain the situation to Krystal.

It was as if she was in active denial and what was crystal clear to Clayton was totally opaque to Krystal.

Of course he had not gone back to sleep after the ambush. Adrenaline does that to a person. He had turned over what he had seen, turned it over and over in his mind trying to make sense of it all.

“It took them literally four seconds to knock the deadbolt off the door” Clayton told her.

Krystal’s face suggested that didn’t mean much to her.

“Those were $50 deadbolts and they cracked them open almost as fast as we could open them with a key” Clayton tried again. "They had tools!"

“So?” Krystal responded.

“So they can walk in any time they want” Clayton said.

“But you stopped them. Surely they won’t try again” Krystal said. She had great faith in her man.

“I might agree if I thought those three were operating alone, but SOMEBODY made them specialized tools. The average thug cannot grind a cold-chisel like that” Clayton persisted, holding up the cold-chisel with the wide, shallow notch and edge that made it so effective at biting into and sliding the dead-bolt.

“And somebody dropped them off and was going to pick them and their loot up…” Clayton said. "They were not operating on their own."

Krystal’s face remained skeptical.

Then Clayton handed her the zip-ties. “Do you know what these are?”

“Yeah” Krystal said. “I have seen you use these to hold wires and things together.”

“Cops use them for handcuffs” Clayton said, cryptically.

“Do you know what this is?” Clayton asked, holding up the soldering iron.

“No” Krystal said.

“It is a soldering iron. The tip gets to more than 700 degrees. Why, do you think, home-invaders would have zip-ties and a soldering iron in their tool bag?” Clayton pushed.

“I don’t know. Maybe to break into safes?” she ventured.

“Not hot enough” Clayton said. “Maybe to torture people so they say where they keep their valuables. Maybe to torture their kids to get that information? Maybe they get their jollies by causing pain…”

Enlightenment dawned in Krystal’s eyes. She drew in a breath and gulped. 

Next Installment

* A 100W, incandescent bulb puts out 1600 Lumens and it is omni-directional. Each light-bar is putting out as much light as 20 100W, incandescent bulbs and it is all pointing out the window.

Sunday, October 23, 2022

Cross-fit competition, Part II

Belladonna gave me permission to post that she is the person I went to watch compete in the Cross-fit competition this week.

She wondered why I did not mention it in the earlier post.


Once I put something out on the web it exists forever. I try to be respectful about people's privacy, especially in this day and age.

For example, when a neighbor sends me a picture of a deer they harvested I strip any information from the description because Michigan's laws regarding reporting of a deer harvest has become intrusive. Michigan's Legislature passed a bi-partisan bill that decriminalized the rules formulated by the Executive Branch demanding that hunters report the location-of-harvest to within a half-mile. Michigan's Governor Big-Retch (hawk, spit) vetoed that bill.

So it is still a potential felony if a hunter fails to report exact location of harvest within 72 hours of bringing game-to-bag.

How much longer before they demand that we do the same for gardens and log-in how many tomatoes on a day-by-day basis?

So rather than expose people who trust me, I leave out details unless the people who share their stories WANT me to share.


This was Bella's first Cross-fit competition. Her team optimistically entered in the "Intermediate" division rather than the "Novice" or beginner division.

There were eight teams entered in her division and her team placed just shy of the middle which is an astounding performance.

The "heats" were brutal. They lasted ten minutes and were a mix of cardio dominated tasks interlaced with strength dominated tasks. For example, the first heat for her team was to alternate 20 sit-ups, 15 "box-jumps" where they had to jump up onto a 24" tall box, and 10 "plate lifts" where they had to lift a 40 pound weight-lifting plate from touching the floor to up, overhead. The two team-members alternated so they both got to do the sub-events. The team was scored based on the number of trips through the torture chamber.

Then there was about a 45 minute recovery period...than another set of events.

The second event was gross-tonnage of clean-and-jerks. The women alternated, one minute-on, one-minute-off. They both had to lift the same weight but they got to choose how much that was.

The third ten minute event was synchronized swings where they had to both have their legs above horizontal at the same time for 20, then throwing a medicine ball against the wall and then 20 burpees.

The final event was stationary bike where they had to sprint as far as they could in ten minutes.

I give my daughter a tip-of-the-hat for having the sand to compete, the optimism to compete as an "Intermediate" and the fortitude to leave it all on the gym floor...all except for her breakfast...she didn't leave any of her breakfast there. But it was a close thing.

...picked a peck of peppers...

It has been a productive morning.

I have a load of peppers in the dehydrator and a load of dishes in the washer.

I picked the peppers by cutting the plants at the base and processing them inside. The plants are done but the peppers were fine. They are Anaheims so they are not very hot but they are what I have.

I also got a pesky seed order done. The vendor's software is not very transparent. It did not like the fact that I used the two-digit version of the year my card expires and it wanted the four digit. The error it threw was that I had to list both my first and last name on my shipping address.

The small airport by Chicago informed me that a shipment of sabots is heading my way.

It has been a good morning so far.

Justified, Satan, Judge

I don't pretend to be a Biblical scholar. I read the Good-Book and ask questions. Sometimes I stumble across things that I find interesting and want to share them.

One word that gets bandied about in the tail-feathers of the Bible is the word "justified'. It shows up in Paul's letters, most especially in Romans.

The modern nuance of the word "justified" is "well, considering all of the extenuating factors the action is not one we will prosecute". That is not how Paul uses the word.

It has been helpful to me to substitute "...made righteous..." or "...righteous..." for the word justified.

The modern sense of a "justified" shooting is a shooting where the target might have presented a risk of mortal danger or risk to limb.

The modern sense of a "righteous" shooting is a shooting where the target presented a clear-and-present danger to innocents: A thug pointing  a loaded pistol at a pregnant woman's belly or an arsonist throwing Molotov Cocktails into a crowded tenement or firing into a school.


Another word that drifted is the word "Satan".

The most common understanding of the word Satan in the Old (aka, Jewish) Testament was as "Stumbling block" or obstacle. If you accept this definition, then the parable of the seeds falling among the briers (an obstacle to progress) and the beaten path takes an interesting twist. The way to find God is somewhere between the two extremes.

When Jesus told Peter "Satan, get behind me..." he was using the word in this sense. if Jesus accepted Peter's counsel he would not be able to fulfill his mission. Peter was an obstacle not the Evil-One incarnate.

The Old Testament book that gives us the closest look at "Satan" is Job. In that book, Satan slyly proposes that men glorify God based on a quid pro quo relationship. God objects and poor, old Job takes a beating. The book of Job has been a great comfort for the less fortunate throughout the ages.

The common understanding of the word "Satan" pivoted as Christianity expanded and encountered competing religions. Many of the attributes of "Satan", i.e. cloven hooves, horns, tail, tridents.... resemble the accoutrements of Druidic and Greek "gods".

The amalgam of Revelations and mish-mash of displaced gods became the popular image of Satan.

That is not to diminish Satan's power. His first appearance is in Genesis where he separates Adam and Eve from paradise by appealing to their weakness. We were created in the image-and-likeness of God. Sadly, we fail to see that we cannot BE God even as we are drawn to be like him.

Bonus link


Another word that drifted in meaning since Biblical times is "Judging".

The general sense I get from the Bible is that to "judge" was to assume (or perhaps curse) somebody into eternal damnation. If you "judged" them as unclean or not making-the-cut for salvation then you were sinning because you made them something less than human.

Paul is a good example of why we should not judge. He held the cloaks of the people stoning early Christians, yet through God's grace became one of the pillars of the church. Should we "judge" the 20 year-old tool who carries an "Abortion is cool" sign to protest those who are holding prayer vigils outside of abortion clinics?

While we cannot know the state of her soul when she slips her mortal coil, we can exercise discernment. Discernment is a critical skill in our mission to be good stewards. It is improper (in my universe) to condemn people for exercising "discernment". After condemning the very "judging" the Bible prohibits

Saturday, October 22, 2022



I attended a Cross-fit competition today. This vehicle was in the parking lot

This team was competing in the competition. They told me about their last competition. There were five teams competing in their heat and they were the two youngest guys.
Cross-fit has a "Masters" division. Unfortunately, they define a Master as anybody who is over 45, so these guys had an uphill fight to score well.

There are going to be a lot of people with sore muscles tomorrow. "Wintergreen" (methyl salicylate) will be the fragrance of choice for most of these competitors.

Based on the tattoos, bumper stickers and tee-shirts, this crowd runs strongly toward patriots. At least on the west side of Michigan.

Friday, October 21, 2022

Foods for the Hungry Months

Historically, the hungriest months of the year were in the springtime before any significant amount of plant-growth occurred.

If you don't pay much attention, it is easy to lose sight of the fact that the ground is either frozen or cold mud and nothing is growing through much of the spring. The larder is depleted and the animals that survived the winter are devoid of body-fat.

Collecting eggs for the fish hatchery. Notice the ice on the riverbanks. Wisconsin. Probably late-July.

Two sources of much-needed protein and calories were migrating waterfowl and spawning fish. In my area of operation suckers and Northern Pike start spawning even as there is snow and ice on the banks of rivers and creeks and they continue to spawn* until the daffodils are in full-bloom. Suckers and pike are "white" fish with little fat, but various trout and salmon are loaded with fat. Fat equals calories.

Carp can be very fatty and they spawn about when the apple trees are blooming. In Eaton County, Michigan apple trees bloom about May 10, give or take a week. North Americans look down their noses at carp but that could change. Different horses for different courses. 

Spawning carp congregate in shallow bayous and ox-bows where the water warms earliest in the spring. They can also be chummed with a bit of dried corn, soaked and partially sprouted. Pounding the sprouted corn makes the flavor leak out. Carp can be harvested with arrows, nets, hook-and-line, electricity, walnut-hulls or pool "shock" chlorine powder. The last three methods are not legal methods-of-take in most areas but if your family is starving, what do you have to lose?

Baby rabbits start showing up shortly after the apples bloom but have almost zero body fat. Protein yes, fat no.

Hens start laying well about the time the apple trees bloom but eggs are also low in fats.

Some kinds of roots/bulbs are easy to find in the spring. Onions and garlic are easy to identify by smell. Turnips can survive the winter under the snow. Carrots and parsnips can make it through the winter, in-ground, if mulched with straw or autumn leaves.

Greens make a good tonic but offer few calories per calorie expended in collecting and preparing.

Autumn is the time to prepare for the hungry months. March is too late.

*There are many species of suckers and they spawn at different water temperatures.