Tuesday, October 3, 2023

Fine Art Tuesday

Luca della Robbia born 1399 in Florence, Italy died 1482.

Luca della Robbia was the Henry Ford of late-Renaissance sculpture. He made multiple copies of some of his sculptures in terra cotta (cheap pottery) and figured out how to up-market with glorious glazes that made them more durable and attractive.

Our life and times

"...then that beotch, the Little Red Hen triggered me when she asked "And who will eat the Bread?""


The fish gets the worm, and then it gets the hook (Fiction)

"Copperhead Cove" is on the east side of the Cumberland Plateau which is deeply dissected by "hollows" or valleys. The elevation drops 1000 feet from Copperhead Cove as one heads east.

“Come with me” Sig said to Blain without preamble as Blain was wiping the last smear of blackberry jam off of his plate with the last bite of cornmeal pancakes.

Blain licked his fingers and followed without comment, pulling his knit cap out of his pocket and pulling it over his head. The mornings were cold and misty in late-November at 1800 feet of elevation.

Sig set a rapid walking pace as they headed north, away from the cluster of buildings.

“Yer probably wondering why we let you join us. Yer probably figuring you going to have to earn your keep. If you were, yer right” Sig said even as Blain tried to keep up with him.

“It did cross my mind” Blain allowed.

Sig stopped where the picked cornfield ended. “Field” is probably too ambitious of a word. Each household was allocated a truncated wedge of land to garden. The wedges were shaped much like canned, chunks of pineapple. The point of the wedge usually, but not always, was near where the gardeners lived. Without a frame-of-reference, Blain had a hard time guestimating how large each parcel was but if he had to guess, he would have estimated them to be about half the size of a typical city-block.
Blain had learned from Lliam that it was up to each household to “manage” their parcel.

Outward from the relatively level (though rolling) gardens the slope of the ground broke and rapidly became more sloping. That land was in coarse pasture grasses. A stone’s throw away from them a cow was tethered to short picket line and she was contentedly grazing. A fifteen-foot long lead led from the picket line to the collar of the cow. The distance between the stakes was about thirty feet.

“Things are getting crazy out there” Sig said.

Blain nodded in agreement.

“That means that everybody and their dog will be showing up on our doorstep expecting us to take them in” Sig said. He didn’t bother to hide the bitterness in his voice.

“Most of them, we will turn away. This is a hard land and it is grudging in what it yields” Sig continued.

To Blain, it sounded as if this was something that Sig had personally experienced.

“Hard land makes for hard men” Sig said.

“But some we cannot turn away. Family. People who stood by us when things were difficult” Sig said. “We might be poor but we have honor.”

Blain was silent. He knew that Sig was going somewhere with this.

“In a year, there will be twice as many people living here as there are now. None of them will be slackers, but the point is that they cannot plant gardens in the middle of the woods.” Sig said.

“First, you will work with us cutting down the trees. But then you will be working alone; dragging branches and staking them into gullies so they don’t wash away. Burning brush and stumps. Collecting manure and spreading it” Sig said.

Sig shot Blain a sidelong glance.

“Will I have equipment or will I be doing this all by-hand?” Blain asked.

“I ain’t gonna candy-coat it. It will be by-hand” Sig said. “Sun-up to sun-down, six days a week.”

“You are going to learn how to stabilize gullies by working for Sally for three days. He knows his business. Pay attention because that is what you are going to do when you get back here” Sig said.

“Will I get paid?” Blain asked, referring to the work he was going to be doing for Sally.

“You already did. He brought your stuff up here, didn’t he?” Sig pointed out.

Blain was on the verge of arguing when he realized it would have taken him three days to lug all of his stuff up here and he would have been on miserable roads with no shoulders. Besides, Sally was a colorful character and working for him was likely to be more enjoyable than working for Sig.

Sig was sure Blain was going to bail out. He was clearly a city-kid and 60 hour work-weeks in return for a place to sleep was pretty poor wages.

“I got a few questions” Blain said.

“What?” Sig said.

“Are meals included or will I have to do my own cooking?” Blain asked.

“Meals included. Sarah, Lliam’s mother agreed to feed you. This is her plot we are standing on now and this is where you will start working” Sig said.

Blain realized that Sarah must have been the woman who had served the pancakes and was the author of the delicious, blackberry jam.

When Blain had started eating the pancakes, he had covered each of the cakes in the stack with a lavishly thick layer of jam. As he was wolfing them down, he heard Lliam sternly directing his younger sister to not be a pig.

The young girl had accurately mimicked the amount of jam Blain had spread on is flap-jacks. Looking over at Lliam’s plate, he saw that Lliam had spooned out a meager portion onto his plate and was dabbing the bottoms of the cut pieces of pancake in the jam...barely moistening them with jam where they would touch his tongue.

When in Rome… The second hot stack of pancakes Blain got saw Blain carefully following Lliam’s example.

Try as he might, Blain could not pull up a mental picture of what Sarah looked like. He could hear the swish of her skirts and the sound of her footsteps on the wooden floor. He had the impression that she was tall...perhaps even as tall as he was. But her face was so plain and forgettable that she would have become invisible in a crowd of three women.

Blain looked at the plot of land with renewed interest. It didn’t matter if Sarah was plain and tall, she was the boss along with Sig. She was his meal-ticket.

He could see the start of at least one wash-out.

Following his gaze, Sig said “The last hurricane dropped six inches of water in 8 hours.”

Blain could see why addressing the gullies were such urgent business. If untended, and if the coming spring was wet, then it would cut deeply into Sarah’s garden.

“What were your other questions?” Sig asked.

“Is there any reason I couldn’t bring the cow out? I have worked with cows before and it wouldn’t be a big deal” Blain asked. “Whoever owns the cow can milk it in the morning before I take it out and milk it when I bring it back.”

Monday, October 2, 2023

Never give up

The old saw is that if you want to get something done, give the task to somebody who is busy.

That appears to be the case. I find my discretionary hours reduced while caring for Quicksilver. If you are married and of a certain age then you might notice that sometimes you are going to assorted medical appointments with an increased frequency. And in the lulls when you are not going, your spouse is.

Such has been the case over the last few weeks. If Mrs ERJ were a vehicle, her chassis was worked on, the motor tuned up, all of the moldings detailed and Armor-alled, the paint buffed-and-waxed, the electrical system had the codes pulled and zeroed out...and so on and so forth.

So, I have had Quicksilver a little bit more than originally envisioned. Not a big deal but it kicked me out of cruise-control.

For one thing, I need to move more. So, this morning I stuffed Quicksilver into the backpack and put a pack on Zeus with necessities and we went for a walk at first, full-light.

It was a short, shake-down run. "Stop while we are still having fun" is the way to grow an activity. We walked a scant 3/4 mile down the road and returned. We made it ten minutes before I had to start feeding Quicksilver kibbles of Purina People-chow that Zeus had generously been carrying for us.

Tomorrow we will shoot for a mile-out and a mile-back. My goal is to get up to three miles on the days when the weather is favorable. It makes a grand start to the day.

Miscellaneous pictures

Some Romaine lettuce that I cut and forgot about. The leaves wilted even as new leaves ventured forth from the crown. Never give up!  I like the play of the different shades of green.

Lon Rombough, a plant-geek from Oregon (sadly, now deceased) once shared the opinion that a transplant is not dead until it has been dead for at least two years. This pecan seedling was girdled the winter I transplanted it and it did NOTHING the first summer. But look! It lives. Never give up.

Trucks of a feather flock together (Fiction)

Terrain similar to the fictitious Copperhead Cove compound. The circled regions are relatively flat and suitable for agriculture. Horizontal legs of "E" are very vulnerable to erosion. Approximately 48" of silty-loam over shale bedrock.

Blaise (henceforth known as Blain, a change of name to make it harder for authorities to track him down) asked Sig if he could ride along on the next trip to town so he could pick up his “kit” at the campground.

“We don’t drive to town” Sig said. “You gotta hitch a ride.”

Blain’s face must have showed his surprise.

“The trucks ain’t registered or insured” Sig elaborated. “We drive them off-road.”

“But they have plates?” Blain said.

“Expired plates” Sig clarified. “They might pass on a public road in a pinch, which is why they are on the trucks. But we don’t go courtin’ trouble.”

Sig then explained that they had a neighbor who drove to town almost every day. They would tie a bandana to a branch the day before they wanted a ride and (usually) the neighbor would stop at the end of their driveway the next morning and give them a ride into town. Depending on the neighbor’s errands the stay in town might be just a couple of hours or it might be almost all day.

Blain met Lliam as the eastern, night-time sky was first starting to lose its blackness. Lliam fired up the old Ford F-150 and let it warm up for a minute before turning on the headlights and easing it down the rocky two-track that served as the driveway.

It was a quarter-mile to the public road.

Lliam was pretty excited to have some time with the “new guy” and was extremely talkative. Lliam, “Short for William. My mom said nobody is ever happy to see a bill” looked like he was all of fourteen years old.

Lliam parked the truck about fifty feet shy of the road, pulling it off the two-track. The truck was surrounded on three sides by thick mounds of thorny brush. Blaise was pretty sure the truck would be invisible to passing vehicles due to its chalky, faded paint and the brush. The road was not the kind of road that was pedestrian friendly (or friendly to bikers). It twisted and turned and rose and fell. It was the kind of road that strongly suggested that the driver not sight-see. Blain rememembered it from biking. It had no shoulders so he doubted there would be too many folks casually walking by.

“Grab the other two gas cans, wouldjya?” Lliam suggested to Blain. The two men carried the four, empty five-gallon containers to the side of the road.

Lliam handed Blain a paper bag. “We generally don’t eat in town. Costs too much money and folks is nosy” by way of explanation.

Blain could hear their ride coming for three minutes before it showed up.

Blain loaded the empty gas cans into the back of the battered work-truck that stopped to pick them up.

Lliam had a few brief words with the driver. Blain was not able to make out what Lliam was saying over the wheezing and rattling motor.

Lliam told Blain “I will let you ride shotgun on the way in and you get to sit in the middle on the way back.”

That seemed fair to Blain and he said as much to Lliam.

“Name’s Salisbury. Most folks call me ‘Sally’” the driver said, reaching across Lliam to offer Blain his hand.

Blain shook it and replied “My name is Blain”

“Pleased to meechya, Blade” Sally said.
Blain deduced that Sally's hearing wasn't all that good.

“I been havin’ problems with this old-gurl over-heatin’” Sally said. “Good thing I ain’t got far to go, cause we ain’t getting’ there fast.”

Sally was the most unlikely looking “Sally” imaginable. He was ancient and had a scraggly beard. His cheeks were sunken and his skin was reamed with creases and lines. He smelled of old, stale tobacco smoke and sweat.

Blain had the sudden suspicion that Lliam might have pulled a fast one on him. Riding next to Sally in the heat-of-the-day might be enough to gag a goat.

They rode to town with the windows rolled down and the heater blasting.

“I savin’ up to replace the thermosat” Sally informed Blain. “Runnin’ the heaters sucks some of the heat out of the motor.. a little bit, anyway. It was still a slow ride even though it was down-grade for most of the distance.

Sally let them out at the farm-feed store in Dayton. Lliam walked around to the driver’s side door and had another private conversation with Sally. Blain saw Lliam carefully count money off a book-of-bills held together with a clothes-pin. He watched as Lliam fished around in his pants pocket and pulled out a wrinkled list and handed it to Sally.

Sally looked the list over and nodded. Blain assumed that meant that Sally could read the writing.

Sally put his truck into gear and gently gave it a little bit of gas.

Lliam led the way into the store. Blain followed.

The clerk was already waiting on a customer. Lliam stopped a good fifteen feet behind the other customer but within the line-of-sight of the clerk.

Blain was impressed by Lliam’s patience as the customer hemmed-and-hawed and asked about the price of a dozen different types of feed and worming and fly control products. Lliam stood without complaint or shifting of feet. 

Blain followed Lliam’s lead and stood as if carved from stone.

Lliam did not immediately move up to the counter after the customer concluded his business but waited until the beefy, red-faced man had exited through the door. Only then did he move to the counter.

“Ma’am, how much is a fifty-pound bag of wheat?” Lliam asked, the model of politeness and civility.

“Let me check the spot prices” the middle-aged woman said. “The price has been bouncing around something awful.”

She tapped a few times on her keyboard and then cleared her throat. “It went up some” she said.

“I need $37.34 for a fifty-pound bag and I gotta charge 4% more if you use a credit card” the woman said after checking a couple of screens and typing some numbers into a calculator.

Lliam pulled out his wad of bills and carefully counted them. “I reckon I can afford two of them.”

Blain noticed that there were not many bills left after Lliam pulled four, $20 bills off of the wad.

“Can I pick them up later?” Lliam asked.

“Sure. Just lean them over there by the muck-boots. I’ll make sure nobody bothers them” the matronly woman assured him.

“Mind if I go out and talk to Sheldon?” Lliam asked.

“Suit yourself. Just keep an eye out for the fork-truck” the woman cautioned.

“Sheldon’s one of my buddies” Lliam said to Blain by way of explanation.

“Don’t we have to hustle so we don't miss Sally?” Blain said, worried that Sally might leave them behind.

“Nope. Sally won’t be back for four hours. He is driving over to Athens to shop at the Wally-world. He does a bunch of shopping for neighbors, including us” Lliam said.

Satisfied that his ride back home was assured, Blain tagged along with Lliam as he sauntered to the pole building behind the store-front.

They walked up to a group of idle, young men at a loading dock who were watching a huge, white pick-up truck with horses painted on the doors. The driver of the truck and trailer was attempting to backing up and turn around. Blain recognized the driver as the man who had been in front of them at the counter.

It took a solid four minutes before the driver was able to sort-out the geometry and leave.

“What's with him?” Blain asked. He had never seen anybody so inept at backing up a vehicle.

One of the younger guys chuckled and said “That is one of them smart-trucks. He musta had some mud splashed them sensors. Hadta figure out howta drive it himself.”

Then Blain heard one of the other workers mutter the term “white-top” as if it were a derogatory term.

Lliam and Sheldon went off to the side to converse when the grain-bagger started up again. The other men walked over to their job stations and started working.

Blain asked what Sheldon had been doing and was told that Sheldon had been carrying the filled and sewed bags and stacking the on a pallet.
Blain looked over at the next pallet over to see what pattern Sheldon had been using and started stacking the bags to kill time while Lliam chewed the fat.

The other workers assumed Blain was purchasing the next pallet. It didn’t happen very often but sometimes a customer would pitch-in to make things go a little faster. Usually, it happened when the customer had an appointment and they were running behind.

Afterward, when Blain and Lliam were walking from the feed-store to the camp-ground, Blain had a few questions.

“What’s a ‘White-top’?” Blain asked.

Lliam shot Blain a sideways glance to see if he was joking. Clearly, he was not.

“A white-top is a govmint man” Lliam said.

Blain found that puzzling. “Are you saying that the only people who drive white cars and trucks work for the government?”

“Pretty much” Lliam agreed.

Blain frowned. “I don’t follow.” It was certainly news to him.

“Couple years back some scientist figured out how many billion tons of carbon could be saved each summer if every car had a white roof and mirror-tinted windows. Something about air conditioning” Lliam said.

“Before you could say ‘Boo!’ every govmint car had its roof painted white” Lliam said. "Other folks said that white 'lectric cars never caught fire...somethin' about the battery not gittin' as hot. So you almost never see a 'lectric car that ain't white no more."

Lliam spit like the words left a bad taste in his mouth.

“Folks who like govmint or whose paycheck depends on them won’t buy anything except a white car or truck. Its like them big-city kids in gangs, they get beat up if they wear the wrong kind of shoes or wear the wrong color” Lliam said.

Armed with the new information, Blain looked at the vehicles in parking lots with a new eye. The newer, white vehicles were parked in knots while the older, more colorful vehicles were scattered about. White vehicles and the odd white-roofed vehicle were in the majority in just a few of the parking lots but in other parking lots they were conspicuous by their total absence. While in other lots there were just one-or-two of them and they were parked far away from the more diverse vehicles.

“I can’t imagine picking out the color of my car for politics” Blain marveled.

“I can” Lliam said. “If I had $100,000 to spend on a new truck, I sure as hell wouldn’t buy a white one. Goes against my principles!” 

Once they were to Blain's cabin, Lliam was dazzled by the amount of "loot" Blain had had managed to gather in the two months he had been in Dayton.

It belatedly dawned on Blain just how short his new community was for cash. A closer look, more critical look at Lliam told Blain just how worn, patched and threadbare his clothes were.

"Ya know, we could take a swing through the lost-and-found" Blain suggested. "They might have somethings we could use back at the Copperhead Cove."

"But those things belong to somebody" Lliam objected. Blain had the distinct impression Lliam would starve to death before he would hop across a fence to snitch an apple. It was a novel thought to Blain.

"We can ask the manager. Most of the folks have packed up and headed out...probably never do check out the lost-and-found."

Blain knew where the manager hung out and the manager was bored and more than happy to have a distraction.

"Take anything you want. Most of the folks who camp here are grandparents. They buy toys and clothes for their grandkids when they visit and then just give them to me when they leave. I hang onto them in case somebody can use them."

Lliam was torn.

"Help yourself. Anything you take will be that much less for me to haul away" the manager said.

When Sally swung by to pick them up, Lliam had two garbage bags filled with kids' clothes and a five-gallon bucket filled with hickory nuts.

All told it was a successful venture for all parties.

---Author’s note---

In early production runs most of the vehicles are painted white because it is difficult for customers to see imperfections (dents, bad paint, creases) on a white vehicle. Conversely, painting a vehicle black is like putting on a tight pair of jeans; every imperfection jumps out at you.

Early production is apt to experience more handling through the process and the surface can be damaged every time it is handled.

The other issue is that good white paint is CHEAP. High-end red or metallic paint is expensive. Metallic paint also has the issue of being difficult to match the lay of the metallic material (usually mica flakes) on repaired parts.

Commercial fleets also like white paint for the same reasons. Commercial fleets used to be identifiable by their custom colors. Every city or company wanted their own unique shade of orange or green or blue.

 The vehicles get banged up in fleets and buyers learned that weird colors were fleet cars. In time, companies learned they could get slightly better prices at auction because they didn't shout "flogged like a rented mule" like custom colors and because the white paint hid minor cosmetic damage better than colored paint.

A final point in favor of white paint vs. custom colors is that body-shops have a difficult time matching the paint when repairing or replacing fenders and other damaged parts. Difficult repair means that it is more expensive to fix them.

 Commercial fleets are all about keeping costs down.

So it is not an implausible stretch to assume that vehicle ownership will consolidate and the winners in the consolidation will A.) Require that all of their vehicles are the inexpensive white and B.) Curry favor with the government by bowing to their whims.

Sunday, October 1, 2023

Just another Sunday

The beautiful Mrs ERJ and I attended Mass as we do every Sunday unless we are sick or incarcerated.

One of the readings was about two sons. Each was asked to go work in the vineyard. One said "No" but had second thoughts and went to the vineyard. The other said "Yes" but then never showed up.

The editorializing in the tail-feathers of the reading sounded a lot like Jesus didn't have much use for people who signal virtue but don't deliver.

This is where I have to work. It is easy, oh, so very easy to look at Progressives in that light (i.e. virtue signaling). I have to work harder at seeing how this applies to me.

Tidying up

There are only two days a week when we are not watching Quicksilver. So we bent that day-of-rest thing a little bit. We tidied up in the basement today.

That means leaving doors open to make lugging items to better places easier. That is just a non-starter when Quicksilver is awake or napping.

Thanks to Anon

Anonymous, who is my most prolific commenter, noted that I shouldn't be walking places because I am a runner.

Well, golly Anon. I had forgotten that. I went for a short, warm-up run this morning. It was 1.5 miles and I did not time it. I find that I don't listen to my body as well when I am wearing a watch.

Big Black Walnut crop this year

This is an "on" year for many nuts and acorns.

I want to make a special effort to collect a bunch of Sparks 147. It has a decent nut, good resistance to leaf diseases and good timber form. There are no guarantees when planting nuts but it is a comfort to stack the deck as much as is within my ability.

I am not sure regarding the pollen parent but there is a large tree of Drake and one of Elmer Thomas upwind of the biggest Sparks 147 tree.

As a young man I was enchanted with "Carpathian Walnuts" but now that I am solidly middle-age+ I realize that I harvest 100 pounds of Black Walnuts for every pound of Carpathians. Black Walnuts are that much more adapted to my conditions.

Saturday, September 30, 2023

Hey Grandpa, What's for supper?

Bean soup (small red and lima) with smoked sausage, sage, oregano and garlic. Plus some shredded carrots and diced potatoes.

We don't eat fancy but we eat good.

Bonus pictures

I pulled a row of Stocky Red Roaster so the row of Aji hot peppers can get some more sun. If you can believe the weather we have about one more week of good weather for warm-weather crops. These are the peppers I removed from the SRR.

This is the Aji pepper I am going to save seeds from. The other ones are weepy while this one stands upright with no help from me. It is supposed to be Aji Mango.

This is one of my Aji Pineapple. I had to prop the branch up for the photo-op. Very productive but late ripening. I think I will have the opportunity to see how well they ripen with the plants pulled up and hanging from the rafters.

Another row of potatoes. Not a very impressive yield but we had 8 weeks with no meaningful rain, I did not add fertilizer and (as usual) my weed control was lacking.

Suppose you were cold and hungry. Your wife was hungry. Your children and/or grandchildren were hungry. It is the middle of the winter. The ground is frozen. The stores are closed.

How far would you walk to bring back enough food to provide all of your family with one, hot, nutritious meal?

Would you be willing to walk four hours? How about two hours? Surely you would walk one hour if you had children crying because their bellies hurt and they could not keep warm for lack of calories.

That is one of the mental games I play when I am harvesting food an it is slow going. Maybe it takes ten minutes of digging to fill a five gallon bucket with potatoes. Twenty poof potatoes is several meals for an extended family. Ten minutes to fill a bucket is a much better deal than walking two hours to get that much food.

Keep digging, Joe. Keep digging.

Asking for a friend

So if the Federal Government shuts down due to failure to agree on a budget, does that mean that Biden's Border Patrol will stop cutting Texas Governor Abbot's fences?

Storage bags for produce, drying rooms

The potato harvest continues.

I am looking at purchasing 7-gallon, fabric "pots" for storage. 

Mrs ERJ likes five-to-seven gallon size containers rather than the larger apple or banana boxes. Five gallons is roughly 1200 cubic inches, seven gallons is about 1600 cubic inches while an apple box is nominally a bushel which is 2160 cubic inches. So if the apple-box is 100%, then the seven-gallon and five-gallon containers are 75% and 53% respectively. Or, if an apple-box holds 40 pounds, then the seven-gallon container will hold 30 pounds and the five-gallon container will hold about 20 pounds.

In other chores for today, I plan to cut some of the Black Locust that are infiltrating a row of chestnut trees. This will be a good time for me to assess the harvest.

Ceiling fans

One of the challenges of having a small operation is that a squirrel or other pest does not need to travel very far to find something to eat. Cecil Farris who lived just east of Lansing's Groesbeck Golf Course. was a breeder of hazelnuts and he fought a constant war against them. One growing season he kept a log of every squirrel he shot. Cecil knew that he shot a lot of squirrels but even he was surprised when he added them up and it was 177 squirrels. No wonder the compost he made was so rich (which is how he disposed of the bodies).

Cecil used an airgun. He was also on the Township Board (a position nobody else wanted) and knew every Township policeman by their first-and-last names. He never turned down an invitation for a ride-along. A little bit of human connection goes a long way when you are "poaching" squirrels in town.

So I decided that I need a "drying room" for my staples.

Many foods have a "growing period" and then a "dry-down" period. During that dry-down period they are vulnerable to predation and to rot by molds and mildews. One solution is to find a space that will keep the rain off of the harvested crop, a space that can be enclosed with netting and with good air flow.

I have an overhang on the south side of my garage that comes close to that description. It is a little too shady and in needs a fan to help with the air-flow.

My plan for the air-flow is to install an indoor/outdoor ceiling fan.

Thursday, September 28, 2023

Sure enough, I have another "cold"

And this too will pass.

Mrs ERJ said that I cannot blame Quicksilver. Nobody else has one, yet.

Just another demonstration of my leadership abilities.

Under-appreciated plant species (Vaccinium pallidum)

As a certifiable plant-geek and as a person who is intensely interested in eating on a regular basis, I am always on the look-out for plant species that can produce food under less-than-ideal circumstances. The Blue Ridge Blueberry is one such plant.

If you are blessed with well drained, fertile soil and rains hat arrive with clock-like precision...you will not understand. Under those conditions potatoes can produce one pound (wet weight) per square foot and corn can produce a quarter-pound (dry weight) per square foot. You are blessed.

There are many places that do not have that potential. The soils are too barren. The slopes are too steep. The bedrock is too close to the surface.

From Maine to Michigan's Upper Peninsula to the Ozarks, central Alabama to Myrtle Beach SC, V. pallidum sinks its roots into sandy banks and exposed, ridges thinly covered with soil. Vaccinium species readily hybridize so there is potential to up-grade the fruit quality.

One plant that thrives in dry, acidic soils and can rebound from fire and will grow (but not produce much) in the shade is the Blue Ridge Blueberry, Vaccinium pallidum.

In most cases, low-bush blueberries (a swarm of species) are not cultivated so much as the environment is tweaked to favor them over other species. It is assumed that if your soil is so wreaked that low-bush blueberries will survive that the birds already planted them and you just need to tilt the pinball machine to make them dominant.

That means beating back the trees that are shading them. That means suppressing grass. Regular burning is the ticket. And if you absolutely HAVE to fertilize (like it is a religious thing for you) do it with a very, very light hand since fertilizer favors grass.

A low-bush blueberry barren. The images are not V. pallidum but convergent evolution suggests it COULD be.

Low-bush blueberries are harvested with "rakes".

One Week "Vacation" is an Antidote to toxic on-line content

John Wilder recently wrote a post titled The Kids aren't Alright: Mental Health

Solutions that seem perfectly obvious to those of us with a few miles on the odometer never occur to the kids muddling through their universe.

 If you have a relationship with a kid who is immobilized by depression or anxiety, don't be afraid to suggest a one-week "vacation" from social media or from whichever websites leave them feeling worse.

One week seems doable for most folks. Calling it a "vacation" is accurate. Vacations are when we leave behind the grind and demands of everyday life and recharge our batteries.

Simple, cheap, under the control of the patient.

Suggest they write a short paragraph on how the feel before starting the vacation and another short paragraph after it. Then read the two paragraphs one after the other.

If they found that it helped, they can prescribe a social-media vacation any time they feel it would be helpful for their mental health.

Wednesday, September 27, 2023

Garden pictures


Mrs ERJ's kitchen garden that was prepped September 10. Turnip and kale seeds are up.

Garlic. All of the plants that look like grass are garlic.

This plot is tentatively designated as the 2024 Onion garden.

A close-up of the turnip and kale seedlings. Still a lot of sunlight falling on dirt.

The 2024 corn patch. Most of the green is clover that tilling did not discourage. Kale seeds are just starting to germinate.

A picture from the 2023 potato patch

A misty Wednesday

I am usually not very productive on rainy days so I count it as a victory if I do ANYTHING.

Quicksilver and I made a trip to the lumber-yard and I bought four U-bolts and a 1"-by-3" furring strip. A little bit of careful measuring and I was able to replace one of the broken rungs on the bottom of a dining-room chair. It looks "rustic" but I hid it on the far end of the table. At least now it is not a booby-trap.

I broke a fitting on a hose today. And I had the parts in-stock to fix it.

I finally bit-the-bullet and purchased a set of brackets to turn 2"-by-10" planks into ramps for equipment. I had a set and somebody borrowed ONE of them and never returned it. I assume it was one of Kubota's dirt-bike riding buddies. I hurt to spend $40 for two brackets when I only needed one but the single ramp was almost useless.

I remember this toy as being much larger and much louder.

A couple of toys showed up for Quicksilver. One of them is a "popcorn" push-toy. It required assembly.

Finally, I trouble-shot an intermittent squeal in our furnace. The housing of the squirrel-cage fan was shaking and it is rubbing against the wall of the plenum. Rust-on-rust plus movement equals squawking. I will probably resort to expanding polyurethane foam to immobilize the two parts.

Many noises can be fixed by separating parts so they never contact each other or securing them together so they never have relative motion.

Regarding the most recent fiction

Blaise, the character, felt compelled to do something that is stupid unless circumstances are extremely dire.

He leaves all of his support structure. He leaves the area-of-operation he knows most intimately. He goes to a place where he is an outsider and throws himself on the mercy of strangers.

But they are not just any strangers. They are at least as paranoid as he is. That suggests that either they are mentally ill or that they have a dark history and might have ghosts stalking them.

And from the standpoint of the strangers; if they are paranoid then they know they created a huge risk by welcoming this stranger who blew in out of nowhere. What motives could they have? What would they be willing to do if Blaise turns out to be a spy or a blabber-mouth?

Hitting the silk should be an option that you consider when all other options look like dead-ends. The chances of getting lucky are extremely remote, especially if things go sideways and there are many refugees competing for very few spots in life-boats. You will be competing against others who can make claims of kinship, former associations or special skills. 

The fact that Blaise did not run into these in the story is only because he was hyper-sensitive and one of the very first to bolt.

Swamp-rat Stew


First, sear your rat in a hot skillet. Then proceed as you would for any other kind of stew
Follow me for more recipes!!!

Tuesday, September 26, 2023

Alzheimer's and Social Stimulation

---Full disclosure: I am not what most people consider a "social person" and that is likely to color the contents of this post.---

Lack of social contact is considered one of the greatest risk-factors for developing Alzheimer's Disease. Like many things that "everybody knows", close examination reveals that the connection is not crystal clear.

The major reason for the lack of clarity is that cause-and-effect are very muddled.

In many, perhaps most mental-health issues, pathology is not suspected and a clinical diagnosis is not warranted as long as the patient's lifestyle is not significantly impacted. "Sadness" is not sufficient reason to trigger a diagnosis of "Depression" but being unable to leave your bed and getting fired from your job is.

But it isn't just the patient. Other people who experience extreme inconvenience is enough to be the catalyst that starts the cascade of events that results in a "diagnosis". Those people can be the patient's caregivers, family or other responsible "parties".

Inability or extreme aversion to interaction with humans in the public sphere are one of the symptoms that can cause other people extreme inconvenience.

If withdrawal from social interactions is one of the prime symptoms that funnel patients into a diagnosis of Alzheimers then it is improper to consider social withdrawal to be a cause. "Oh, look. The tomatoes are ripe because they are red. Everybody knows that red makes tomatoes ripe."

No matter how thinly you slice it...

There are limits to what science can "see".

Suppose that you believed that excessive consumption of trans-fats increased the risk of developing heart-disease.

Most forms of shelf-stable coffee whitener are mostly trans-fat by non-water weight.

Ergo, people who put creme in their coffee should have higher rates of heart-disease. Alas, no study has ever found that eliminating shelf-stable coffee whitener has had any effect on heart-disease even though everybody knows it should.

The problem is too much noise and too little signal. One mouse turd in one-hundred pounds of black pepper.

That is the first fist that punches science in the nose when attempting to back-out the degree to which social interactions provides a protective effect against Alzheimer's.

Another punch-in-the-nose is from the difficulty in quantifying "social interaction'. It isn't like green tea where you can run an experiment where one cohort consumes five-grams of green tea a day and another cohort consumes none.

The efforts to quantify or characterize social interaction further splinters the signal but does little to reduce the noise.

Is the determinant form of "social interaction" language or analytical? Is it physical touch or motion or visual? Is it deep interactions with one or two people or is it superficial interactions with many more? Is it interactions in our youth or middle-age or while we are dancing on the brink of dementia? Too many questions. Not enough signal.

(Ageing without dementia: can stimulating psychosocial and lifestyle experiences make a difference?)

Where do we go from here?

Progression of our mental-models of information as we age. Youngest models on the left, more mature models on the right.

What if we start from the beginning?

The illustration shown above is a conceptual drawing of how we accumulate information.

The circle on top is the "bobber" like the kind used for fishing. Or, if you ever programmed in Pascal it is the "handle" and the circles that dangle downward are the rest of the record.

For normal people who never programmed in Pascal, the circles shown below the "bobber" are "the answer" or a chain of related pieces of information.

In our youth, we are fed information in straight, unbranching drill-downs.

At some point, we realize that information is not linear and our brains have matured to the point where we can conceptualize and store information in  branching structures similar to tree roots.

With adulthood, we start cross-linking the root-like structures. We realize that geometry and algebra can be useful when building a fence. We can look at a small thumbnails and we can make surprisingly accurate guesses about what the rest of the panorama looks like.

As we age, we run into problems maintaining the linkages. They are not indelible and they fade if they are not refreshed on a frequent basis. In dementia, the linkages are vaporized by cell-death. If it helps, it is as if sectors of the directory on the hard-drive are irreparably corrupted.

If, however, the important information is sufficiently cross-linked then redundant paths to that information exist. They can be found (what do you think is happening when we dream?), refreshed and the brain can continue to function with minimum impairment.

The money line

A wide range of social interactions increase the odds of our refreshing a broad portfolio of cross-links and thereby partially armoring our brains against the inevitable ravages of time, orgies, drugs and rock-and-roll.

Or if you are like me...the inevitable ravages of time.

You can take it as a matter of faith and expose yourself to social interactions or you can wait until science sorts it out. What is the worst that can happen? You fall in love with cannoli and baklava?

Bonus advice: The link between hearing loss and Alzheimer's might be that we withdraw from social events if we cannot make sense of conversations. So whether we attend in body but cannot benefit from the stimulation because we cannot hear or if we stop attending because we are embarrassed, the end result is the same; we lose the benefit of having our cross-links refreshed.

Monday, September 25, 2023

Alzheimer's in Women

Dipping into the CDC mortality data I find many anomalies in the data.

For one thing, elderly women have about a 30% higher death-rate from Alzheimer's than elderly men do. That is unusual especially since men are more likely to be smokers, drinkers or overweight.

It isn't just death-rate. A study in the Netherlands suggests that the Alzheimer's case-rate is five-times higher for women over 90 than it is for men of the same age.

OK, maybe that is due to the husband typically dying seven years before the wife (two years due to men typically being older and five-and-a-half years due to differing life expectancy). So maybe it is the lack of social stimulation effect during that seven years of widowhood.

But then white women have a 10% higher rates from Alzheimer's than black women and a 50% higher death rate than white-Hispanic women. That is both odd and it seems to contradict the protective effects of having a spouse as being the reason for the higher, female death-rate.

Sorting death-rate of white women for Alzheimer's by state seems to generate an "Ah-ha!".

By comparison, New England has crude death rates below 150 for women between 75-and-84 due to Alzheimers.

A graphic representation of the "Cotton Belt". The only state in the top-ten not in the Cotton Belt is Utah.
But if we test the pesticides-used-on-cotton we have to ask "Why does it impact women more severely than men?" and "Do we see the same patterns in black women?"
Looking at the same age group of black women, only five of the top-ten states for Alzheimer's for white women show up.

Asking the question that none dare ask

Is it possible that products used in beauty salons can cause Alzheimer's?

Can anybody speak to the possibility that elderly women in the South might be more likely to dye their hair and/or have a perm than women in New England?

I mention this because recent research has been investigating the possibility of the chemicals used in hair-straightening products (used by black women) being linked to cervical cancer.

Maybe the cliche of the forgetful, blue-haired old-lady driving fifteen under the limit in the left lane with her blinker on is not a cliche but actually an important observation. Maybe the old-lady is daffy because of her blue hair.

If true, it does not bode well for all of those social justice warriors with the rainbow-hair, does it.

Quicksilver update

Quicksilver will be turning 16 months-old in a few days.

She just noticed that Zeus has some junk hanging down between his rear wheels.

She squatted down for a better look and Zeus moved.

She stood up, chased after him, squatted down to look...and Zeus moved. Lather, rinse, repeat.

We took Zeus outside and put him in his kennel. Poor guy.

The plan for today is to dig a row of potatoes and have Quicksilver help put them in buckets. She likes to be busy and she likes to do "real" work rather than mess around with toys.

She is cutting some molars so she is not always cheerful but this too will pass.

Disappearing (Fiction)

Jana was worried about her nephew Blaise.

Without fail, Jana got an email from him at least once a day. Sometimes it was early in the morning. Or it could be at random times during the work-day. Often it was late at night. The emails were always short, just a line or two or a meme that had resonated with him.

Jana had been the one family member who had remained nonjudgmental with regard to Blaise. Part of it was that Jana worked at a small, Christian college so she was exposed to the wide range of the questioning that younger people go through. One of Jana’s favorite quotes was from J.R.R. Tolkien, “All that glitters is not gold and all who wander are not lost.”

The other part was that although the two were emotionally close, Blaise was physically distant enough from Jana that she was not yanked around by his day-to-day activities. If he did not come home from a political protest it was his parents or current girlfriend who was yanked through the knot-hole, not Jana.

Jana knew from the memes Blaise shared that he was “radicallized” but frankly, who wasn’t?

Jana found the middle-ground to be a lonely place. Jana considered herself to be both compassionate and to have a brain and believed that both ends of the political spectrum had valid points.

Gowain had pointed out that instead of a bell-shaped curve, the population’s politics were now “dumbbell-shaped”. They both chuckled at that. “Dumbbells” indeed.

After the second day passed without an email from Blaise, she sent him a text “Are you all right?”.

Blaise did not respond to the text.

After the third day, Jana sent out texts to the extended family asking if Blaise was all right.

Nobody had any information. Surely if he had been hit by a car or arrested, somebody would have known.

That is when Jana started to pray.


“Trust your gut” Blaise’s mentors had always told him. “Intuition is intelligence at a deeper level than words” was another gem he remembered.

So when the switch flipped for him, he knew it was time to don the Rowling cloak-of-invisibility and disappear.

There was a time when a person could disappear with very little effort. He could move to a different city and pick up work at his old trade. He would not even need to change his name. 

That all changed with Social Security.  A man could still disappear by pretending to be a musician and move in with a groupie or he could be a live-in health-aid for an elderly, disabled person and essentially fall off the grid. But even that was no longer possible as The Kraken now had its tentacles wrapped around everything.

 Woe to any who fall out of favor with The Kraken.

Blaise considered each alternative in turn. The reach of the state was enormous. If they highly motivated to find him, they could. That said, there was no reason Blaise had to make it easy for them. In his mind, it was a cost-benefit problem. If it cost more to find him than it was worth then they would not look for him. His main concern would be getting swept up in a random sweeps and making stupid mistakes.

The primary risk was that it costs almost nothing for spiders and servers and search engines to look for him. They were tireless and nearly eternal. A single sentence or photo of him got posted on the internet and he would have company if the current regime was still in power, even if it was twenty years later. That would make a good “article” for the local Pravda “Dangerous radical caught blah, blah, blah…”

Blaise did not fully trust the mail. He knew that there were imaging technologies that could read a folded up sheet of paper inside of a sleeve of aluminum foil, inside of an envelop and it had been available for decades. But the imaging technology was slow and required manual intervention so it was reserved for special cases. However, it was easy enough to scan the outsides of envelopes and back-track to where one had entered the system.

Blaise’s plan was simple. Late October is when the snowbirds headed south. The Winnebagos trundle south down the Interstates in long convoys reminiscent of the Mastodons migrating ahead of the glaciers in the movie Ice Age. In the week before his flight, he left a large footprint on the internet with searches using key-words like “sanctuary” and “Austin”, “San Antonio”, “Santa Fe”, "Denver" and “Phoenix”.

He also drained his bank account and used it to buy sun-screen and flip-flops at the local convenience store that were packed with security cameras. In fact, he made sure that he visited those kinds of stores several times a day.

He had a couple of neighbors who he did odd-jobs for. He turned off his smart-phone to conserve the battery and slipped it into the bags of one of his neighbors as they loaded up to go to Corpus Christi. He believed that his phone could be turned on remotely and its location accessed. If he became a person-of-interest that would be one of the first things authorities would do to locate him for collection.

After bidding the Texas bound couple bon voyage, he helped another neighbor winterize their summer cottage in exchange for sleeping on their couch. He told them that he and his roommate had a falling out. 

Blaise very carefully stayed out of convenience stores and took pains to stay more than 150 feet away from the searching eyes of the video-doorbells that seemed to be everywhere. His thinking was that beyond 150 feet the fish-eye lens would not have sufficient resolution to make a tentative ID possible.

A couple of days later, he bummed a ride with those neighbors by offering to help drive the motor-home. The husband was thrilled. They were heading to Panama City. His wife did not drive and it was a very long haul.

They made good time. The fridge was stocked and they took potty-breaks on-the-fly. They refueled after three-hundred miles. Blaise did not leave the motor-home when they refueled.

Blaise  picked Athens, Tennessee to leave them because it was as close to a blank-spot on the map as he could find along I-75. 

He had the old man drop him off on the edge of the parking lot of the Walmart. Blaise had a day-pack and was wearing a knit cap that covered his ears and a pair of sunglasses with large lenses.

The old man gave him a cunning grin and slipped him a hundred. “Good luck, Bud.” The old man was pleased that Blaise would not hit him up for the price of a plane ticket after they got to Florida. The old man understood that there was a lot that Blaise was not sharing with him...and the old man could afford $100.

From there, Blaise hitchhiked twenty-five miles west to the town of Dayton. Of course, he told the old man that he was hitchhiking east to visit his girlfriend in Asheville which was east of Athens.

The old couple were as deaf as fence-posts and he wasn’t too worried about them ratting. He was pretty sure that neither of them knew his name since they always called him “Bud”. Nevertheless, there is no point in giving away information that might point toward him.

Once in Dayton, Blaise quietly ingratiated himself into its fabric. He rarely spoke except to perfect his generic, Southern accent. He was always as clean and as presentably groomed as his circumstances allowed. He was quick to lend a hand.

His best move was to offer to help clean up the local campground after most of the campers had left due to the cooling weather. The campground manager was more than happy to let Blaise pick through the left-behinds for household goods and clothing and let him stay in one of the smaller cabins.

It looked like food was going to be a problem until he figured out that if he cleaned the bathrooms at one of the local fast-food joints that the manager would ask him to “...carry these out and pitch them into the dumpster…”, “these” being a paper bag full of food that had passed the time it was allowed to sit unsold.

Blaise never offered to clean the mist of grease off of the plastic bubbles that protected the security cameras, though. In fact, he MIGHT have added a bit to some of them with a spray can of cooking cooking-oil. Breaking the cameras would have attracted attention. Grease in a restaurant that fries everything...not so much.

Blaise dealt with curious locals by saying “My folks moved around a lot so I come from a lot of different places. Where do you think I come from?”

Then he would agree with whatever they guessed. “Yep, that is one of the places I lived as a kid…” and then he would claim to not remember a thing about the place.

He bought a used mountain bike with tip money from delivering food. He used the bike to explore the local area, pushing 30 miles up and down the valley. Anytime he saw seasonal work, he stopped and worked it, cash-at-end-of-day.

If he saw a place that looked interesting, he was not above knocking on the door and offering to cut the grass or help with slaughtering the chickens. No job was too onerous or unpleasant. Many of the small-holders were delighted to have an extra pair of hands. Fall is a very busy time of year.

Blaise evacuated Dayton when he saw strangers starting to show up. Some were like him. If you knew what to look for you could see that they were busy keeping a low profile. Others acted like they wanted people to look at them and took a lot of video and still pictures.

Ten miles south of town and almost as far west was a small enclave of back-to-the-landers. Blaise met them when he was hired to dig potatoes. He spent two days with them in cold, wet, back-breaking work. They had put-him-up over night in a Conex container that a previous member had turned into the roughest form of housing. But it was out-of-the-weather and had a wood-stove.

Blaise remembered the food as homemade, simple and extremely plentiful. Firewood was abundant and based on the mountains he assumed cell-service was non-existent. In fact, the man who picked him up where the driveway met the public road told him “Put your phone in that box” while pointing at an old, metal ammo box in a shed beside the drive.

Blaise responded “I don’t have a phone”. That made Sig, the man, smile which Blaise was to learn was a rare event. The ride up the two-track from the public road to the cluster of shacks was almost a half-mile.

At any rate, Blaise's dogged determination to help in every way he could and his taciturn nature had earned him the invitation to come back any time.

As far as Blaise could determine, they were some kind of Amish splinter group. They had a very, very strong aversion to “graven images”, which is what they called photographs. That suited Blaise just fine.

They knew him as "Blain" which was plenty close enough that it got "Blaise's" attention when they called him.

Sunday, September 24, 2023

Sunday Thoughts

Today's Gospel reading at church was of the land owner who went to the center of town to hire day-laborers for his vineyard. He went back several times over the course of the day and kept hiring whoever was available. At the end of the day, he paid each laborer a full-days wages regardless of whether they had worked one hour or ten.

My belief is that most of Jesus's parables referenced some recent, local event. They were not academic exercises but were very immediate and concrete to the people who first heard them.

It is not just possible but perhaps likely that the event very similar to the one the outlines in the parable had just happened locally. If that were so, then let me sketch out how the locals heard Jesus's message.

The only time in the annual cycle of caring for a vineyard where large numbers of day-laborers would be hired would be for the harvest. 2000 years ago people making wine did not have access to cane sugar or chemicals to control acid levels. Nor did they have fungicides.

Grapes, when they are ripe, have between 20% and 26% sugar. Due to osmosis, the will suck in rain and split (explode) if wetted. If they split, they will immediately start rotting. In the case of an imminent storm, it makes all kinds of economic sense to throw huge amounts of labor at getting the grapes picked and under a roof if a rainstorm threatens.

The traditional homily for this reading is that we can be saved in the 11th hour and if we die in a state-of-grace then we will still go to heaven.

Ironically, I think that is the exact opposite of how the people standing around Jesus heard the parable.

They would have heard this as a call to exercise every means possible to become "righteous" as the thunder-heads loom. It is likely that the owner of the vineyard did not get all of his crop under cover in time. The economics of humans is not the same as the economics of salvation.

I never attended a seminary or studied theology, but I have watched neighbors running wheat and baling hay into the wee-hours when lightning was flashing on the horizon.

Pack your own parachute. Make your own decisions.

Cluster C Personality Disorders

It is considered jolly good fun in some circles to suggest that public figures have various personality disorders or mental illnesses based on their public persona. 

This is not as stupid as it sounds. Some people are so needy that their symptoms bleed through no matter how many coats of fresh paint are applied and how much editing is done to their work.

It is harmless entertainment, like going to a flea-market and trying on clothing for Halloween costumes.

Like Halloween, though, there can be some scary parts. Like what happens if that person has access to the Nuclear Football?

Kamala Harris

Avoidant personality disorder is characterized by feelings of extreme social inhibition, inadequacy, and sensitivity to negative criticism and rejection. Avoidant personality disorder causes significant problems that affect the ability to interact with others and maintain relationships in day-to-day life. About 1% of the general population has avoidant personality disorder. (from WebMD)


  • Not being able to handle criticism or rejection
  • Avoiding work or social activities with a lot of interaction
  • Avoiding new activities or meeting new people
  • Fear of disappointing others
  • Feeling timid or shy and preferring to be alone
  • Avoiding intimate relationships to avoid mockery or shame


Dependent personality disorder

  • Feeling dependent on others to an extreme
  • Clinging or being submissive toward others
  • Not being able to make your own plans
  • Being unwilling to do everyday activities alone
  • Seeking support and encouragement at any cost
  • Avoiding disagreeing with people
  • Remaining in abusive or unhealthy relationships
  • Feeling the need to start new relationships if one ends

 In either case, the person with the disorder makes a fine sock-puppet.

Saturday, September 23, 2023

Tips to reduce risk of developing dementia

Although Alzheimer's Disease and vascular dementia have traditionally been viewed as distinct disorders, it is now generally agreed that the two rarely occur in isolation. Both types of dementia share many risk factors and pathologic features with atherosclerosis. In addition, the presence and severity of cerebrovascular pathologic findings appear to increase the risk and stage of AD for any given level of AD neuropathologic findings Thus, the modification of vascular risk might reduce the risk of dementia regardless of type.

Traditional cardiovascular risk factors such as hyper-tension, dyslipidemia, and diabetes appear to increase the risk of developing dementia in old age, with several possible mechanisms...   Promising Strategies for the Prevention of Dementia

At the risk of oversimplifying, if most heart attacks and strokes are due to crud building up in veins or arteries which causes clots which break loose and float downstream to lodge in the heart or brain then most dementia is crud building up the arteries' walls choking off blood-flow in the brain and/or a series of micro-strokes.

A full-court press controlling the factors that (over the long-term) increase the risk of ischemic heart attacks and strokes will also reduce the risk of developing dementia.

A key point that is often missed in the popular press is that a person can lived with "plaque" closing a large percentage of their heart's arteries for a very, very long time. It becomes an acute problem when a clot starts to form. The current thinking seems to be that inflammation is a major trigger for clot formation which then becomes a self-perpetuating phenomena that snowballs. Look out when the clot detaches from the blood vessel's wall and goes downstream.

If this is an accurate model, then a robust approach is to take steps to ensure minimum plaque build-up and steps to minimize inflammation.


These items are listed roughly in the order of how quickly they will be effective in reducing risk from dementia.

Talk to your doctor before doing anything crazy, but that daily 81mg of aspirin is both an anticoagulant and an anti-inflammatory. 

Inflammation, exercise: Inflammation is linked to excessive blood-sugar levels. Exercise builds muscle and nothing can strip excess glucose out of the blood stream faster than muscle. Most people are aware that glycogen (who the body stores glucose or blood-sugar) is stored in the liver but for most people, five-times as much glycogen is stored in the muscles. Even modest increases in muscle mass greatly increase your body's ability to buffer blood-sugar spikes regardless of your status as diabetic or non-diabetic.

The majority of current research supports the belief that exercise has a beneficial effect on inflammation (even though specific muscles and joints will hurt in the short-term).

Inflammation, diet: The majority of the research suggests that increased sugar increases inflammation. Ditto for trans-fats and fried foods,  and large quantities of  starchy foods and/or alcohol. The research is divided with Keto-good while "red meats, cured meats and over-cooked meats and Omega-6 fats" bad.

The advice Paul gave to Timothy is worth following: All things in moderation.

Inflammation, infections: Oral hygiene is your friend. If you have an ear-ache, attend to it. Don't bite your fingernails. If you lack sensation in your feet, get a mirror and do daily checks. Always wear substantial footwear when outside. Any additional advice in the comments from the medical profession will be much appreciated.

Inflammation, diabetes:  Many of the pathological manifestations of diabetes (poor circulation, blindness, infections) are due to damage to capillaries from high blood sugar. You can add increased risk of dementia to the list of manifestations. One more reason to watch your diet and blood-sugar like a hawk.

Inflammation, obesity: Obesity is a tough nut to crack because body-weight does not change overnight. Realistically, body-weight will take care of itself if you burn an additional 200 Calories a day via increased exercise and eliminate almost all of the empty calories in your diet, your body weight will take care of itself.

Other factors 

Graphic from Daily Mail. While the contents of this post mostly repeats this information it is presented in the context of a structure that shows how they are connected

Social contact: Regular social contacts is generally recognized as slowing the onset of dementia or reducing the likelihood of getting dementia. Some of the causal mechanisms that have been proposed seem to be a bit of a stretch. Personally, I recognize that guys are stubborn and sometimes we need a kick in the backside to seek professional, medical help; whether it is to see a dentist or an audiologist or to visit a sleep clinic.

Smoking: If you smoke, then be deliberate about it. Some people smoke on auto-pilot. Just saying that if you are going to smoke then be sure that you enjoy it and it isn't automatic. I will not be a nag because there is nothing I can say that you have not already heard 100 times before.