Friday, June 30, 2023

Hobo stoves and tying up tomato vines


Action shot. Bricks in draft trench to slow heat. Chicken thighs around perimeter of coals to prevent charring of surface.

Off-angle shot showing fire, kindling and fuel.

Photo aligned with trench for the draft.
Southern Belle liked this set-up. The rim of the steel wheel was 4" above ground level and the grill was 4" above that. The inconvenience of bending over and cooking at ground-level was more than made up for by the heat control. Bricks were available to lift the grill another two or four inches if desired.

Tying up tomatoes

Tomato clips are about six cents each and work great. I carry them in a carpenter's apron while puttering about the garden. But sometimes I am out in the tomato patch and either ran-out or misplaced the bag that contains the master supply.

The following method is robust, is quick, does not require exceptional dexterity and is really inexpensive.

Take common baling twine and cut a 15"-to-20" piece. Fold it in half as shown in the picture.

Go to the shoot on the tomato vine that you want to support. Pass the looped end behind the shoot and then pass the cut-ends through the loop. Grasp the cut ends and gently pull out the slack.

It will look something like this.

Go to the "dropper line" that you are using to suspend the tomato shoots. Make a simple slip-knot slightly above where you tied on to the tomato shoot with your short piece. DO NOT TIGHTEN THE SLIP KNOT. leave it loose.

Most folks can make this knot with their eyes closed.

I cunningly used orange line for the dropper line and blue for the line connecting to the tomato line.

Take both cut ends of the connecting line and pass them through the part of the slip-knot on the right side of the knot as photographed.

Take slack out of the blue-line until it looks right, then firmly pull the lines on both sides of the slip knot.

Since the double blue-line is flexible, it does not stay straight but gets pulled through the overhand-knot portion of the slip knot and forms something like a sheet-bend where the simple loop is the double-blue line.

Obviously, this uses much less than 15" of line in the finished product but the amount of line can be finessed as the knot-tier becomes more proficient.

Now I have to try it with my UV resistant rubber bands which I can buy by the pound and are very compact to carry.

My apologies for the blurry photos. I will try to up-grade them.

Fake News Friday: Eaton Rapids Joe for US President 2024


It is with great sadness that I am compelled to announce that I will be running for United States President on the Garden Party Ticket.

Events forced my hand. I am compelled to run because the name "Joe" will be otherwise be eternally associated with the very worst two-term president in history.

The ERJ Platform:

You don't have to be a Fascist to make the trains and planes run on time.

It is possible to have a functioning brain and still have a heart.

The US will disengage from foreign, military entanglements. It will be done intelligently and not to a pre-announced time-table.

Subsidies to "Green Energy" (which are determined by Congress) will be administered with a very sharp-eye to ensure fraud is detected and prosecuted rather than rewarded with endless funding.

All Federal agencies will be relocated to field-offices in places where their agencies are most needed:

  • HUD will relocate to Baltimore, St Louis and Oakland
  • Ag will relocate to Omaha
  • Immigration to Brownsville, El Paso, Tuscon and San Diego
  • Energy to Houston
  • EPA to Flint
  • and so on and so forth

Universities will be required to present a financial summary of projected economic advantages/costs (Net Present Value) for every degree they grant. The opportunity costs of not working for the average duration of pursuing the degree is to be included in the analysis. The discount-rate is to be the interest rate of the ten-year T-bill plus 3%

Substance abuse impairs judgment and is implicated, directly and indirectly, in the deaths and illnesses of many Americans. Choking-off the river of drugs flowing into the US will be a major focus.

Executives within the DOJ and IRS who oversaw harassment law-fare against US citizens will be fired.

Not only does ERJ intend to run his election campaign from his garden, after he is elected he intends to run the country from it. It is where I do my best thinking.

Thursday, June 29, 2023

Be careful arguing for your limitations: They will eventually own you

There are multiple video clips from "Pride Week" of giddy demonstrators chanting "We ARE coming for your children!"

Let's up-pack what that means when seen through the lens that LGBT people see themselves.

LGBT people merit protected status because we were born that way and cannot change...

Modern criminal justice theory holds that every felon can be redeemed. Sadly, the rate of recidivism suggests that the belief is more theory than practical. Decisions about sentencing, parole and early-release are strongly influenced by legal professional's judgement about the felon's risk to society; that is, were they redeemed? Did they change?

So if somebody is caught on video or is otherwise recorded as saying "We (I) are coming for your child" then combined with the "I cannot change" suggests premeditated, remorseless, unredeemable behavior if/when something happens.

It is also worth noting that this rational, that some people cannot be redeemed, is one of the prime justifications for the death-penalty. I am not threatening anybody. I am merely observing historical facts.

The tongue, though the smallest of organs is the most powerful. Like the button on your computer's mouse, whither the cursor-clicks, there goes the browser and credit card. (Apologies to James)

What we say publicly in the heat of the moment becomes what we defend even when it is indefensible.

LGBT people tell us "Believe what we say. We are the ultimate authorities in all things LGBT." The temptation is to keep doubling-down to prove the veracity of what they are saying.

LGBT peoples are not a monolithic whole

There is a suspicion on the part of many non-LGBT people that part of the attraction of the LGBT life-style is that it can be a statement that the norms and rules of "regular" society have no power over the LGBT person. Furthermore, the evidence suggests that some LGBT people take great joy in making normies as uncomfortable as possible. "See: You have to follow the rules but I don't because I am special." They appear to delight in rubbing regular people's noses in their life-style choices.

If this is part of the "rush" of publicly and flamboyantly demonstrating your gayness, then what other norms and rules of society will be breached?

If so, that does not bode well for older, wiser heads in the LGBT community advising the young-hotheads to cool their jets.

Oh, deer!


A 30" tall sunflower plant that got its top browsed

Evidence of deer in the garden.

Mrs ERJ and I are refining out plan for the time-slots we care for Quicksilver.

Mrs ERJ hits the gym Tuesday and Thursday mornings. The new plan is that I will work into the garden until she must leave. I will leave the bedroom door open so she can hear Quicksilver when she starts to complain. Mrs ERJ will care for QS until hand-off time.

Mornings are a grand time to work in the garden. The only downside is that some tasks, like hand-weeding beans and cucumbers is contraindicated. Conventional wisdom holds that diseases are easily spread from one plant to another when the gardener manipulates those plants.

The soil is just a bit damp for tilling due to the sprinkler two nights ago. Perhaps it will be dry enough by mid-afternoon.

Wednesday, June 28, 2023

Back to the grind

I sprayed my fruit trees and tomato vines with calcium. 45 grams of calcium nitrate in 1.5 gallons of water, plus 15ml of 80:20 surfacant. It took 3 gallons to cover the trees I wanted to cover. That amount will increase over the summer as the fruit gets larger and more visible. The goal is to get at least 50% wet-out on all fruit.

I went through a gallon of 2,4-d spraying various weeds. Given our continuing dry conditions, I am getting serious about discouraging vines. Vines out-compete trees because they do not need to invest resources in stiff stems. They are the welfare-queens in the orchard. I used up the left-over herbicide in search-and-destroy for Canadian Thistle.

The rutabaga and carrot seedlings are up. No pictures. Without a good macro-lens the tiny plants disappear.

Southern Belle has several gigs lined up through the summer: A summer-camp job, two house-sitting gigs and so on. HH is working 40 hours a week. 

One thing I did not anticipate with a grandchild is that I will never have to hire a food-taster. Quicksilver keeps a very close eye on me. If I grab a plate or a bowl or open a package I feel tugging on the hem of my shorts. She can  be very persuasive.

Todd Marriott, one of the local fixtures in the Eaton Rapids community passed away this past weekend. Both of Todd's kids were very active in sports. It was a rare athletic event where Todd, his wife Patti and his grandparents were not in attendance.

Mr Marriott worked at the VFW National Home. He was 60 at the time of his passing and will be missed by many.

Tuesday, June 27, 2023

Judo is the art of using your opponents' momentum to your own advantage

The post on cascading failures generated about three times more comments than the typical post.

One recurring theme was that the "grasshoppers" will home-in on the "ants" and attempt to steal or destroy the "ants" preparations. To be very specific, those who are not prepared and have a strong entitlement mentality will follow the sound of a generator to its source and steal the generator and possibly kill those who object to that act.

One complication, as a person who strives to be prepared, is that society will have one foot on the dock while the other foot in the canoe as we teeter on the brink. Cold, rational countermeasures to the scenario described above will be perceived as "booby traps" and will cause endless pain for the person trying to protect their property and their family's security.

Suppose a fella wrote fiction, what would his hero do?

Well, I suppose he might record the sound of a generator running on a cheap smartphone. He might play it on a loop and he might plant that cheap smartphone in the middle of a natural hazard. They call that "baiting" in the hunting biz.

Quicksand is hard to come by in most places but thickets of vicious thorn-scrub is commonplace nearly everywhere. Boggy-swamps can be found in many places. Old sheds infested with yellow-jackets are a seasonal opportunity but can be entertaining. Many old farms have a steep-sided "dump" filled with old tangles of barbed wire, broken glass and boards with rusty 16d nails protruding from them. Running wires up-and-out of the decoy site is a nice touch.

As the target of looters, I am not creating a booby-trap. I am putting bait in one that already exists...bait that can be quickly removed. It is a subtle distinction but it could be an important one.

This essay is offered for entertainment and mental stimulation purposes only.

Not newsworthy?


Fifteen seconds.

Joe Biden says, on camera, that "I sold a lot of state secrets and a lot of important things..."

Why is this not in the news? It is not a matter of opinion or hear-say.

Cascading failure

(Playing a riff on this post over at Bayou Renaissance Man)

Risk cannot be destroyed. It can be shifted. It can be diluted or shared which gives the illusion of risk mitigation, but it can never be totally destroyed.

What is risk?

Risk is uncertainty or roughness or variation. Activities that depend on weather are "risky" because there is much uncertainty with regard to the weather.

At a micro-level, risk can be mitigated by pooling or coupling outcomes. This is the entire foundation of the Insurance industry.

Poor grain yield in Ohio can be offset by record yields in Iowa. As long as there are functioning grain-markets and enough transportation the unevenness is invisible to 99.99% of Americans.

Another example is "mutual aid" for emergency services. If an Eaton County cop is not available a Jackson County cop might respond to your call even though you are 10 miles away from the Jackson County line. A big fire in Hamlin Township might have rigs show up from four different agencies.

A third example is to tax those who are "lucky" to help out those who are experiencing a run of bad luck.

So how can I write that risk doesn't disappear...I just showed how it did

Secondary and tertiary effects make the risk a whack-a-mole enterprise.

For example, policy makers and politicians look at "mutual aid" and decide to not fund emergency aid efforts or other critical infrastructure because they expect a neighbor to do so.

Tax-payers decide to Go-Galt when they see money siphoning out of their wallets to support the SLL (Slackers, Layabouts and Lazy).

Businesses shutter their doors or move when they see DAs wink at theft (which they see as a casual tax on successful businesses) and assault. Large cities twist arms at the state capital and force WOKE laws statewide to stem the flight of tax-donkeys. That results in productive people/businesses relocating across the state line rather than just one-county outside of Seattle or Chicago or wherever.

Lurking in the weeds

If you remember back to yesterday's post, I discussed how a crack in a Liberty Ship's deck could circumnavigate around the entire hull due to the all-welded construction. Coupling systems together creates systemic risk. The odds of systemic risk are numerically lower than the risk of a failure at any given local level, but the consequences of systemic risk are orders of magnitude higher.

One example of this might be the tax subsidies for electric vehicles. Progressives are in LOVE with the idea of EVs but at this point they are failures as a stand-on-their own enterprise. They are not viable without massive resource transfers from the non-EV universe. Pushing EVs past what is technically viable while starving and legislating against the viable parts of the economy is the equivalent of basing your economy on a perpetual-motion machine to power might appear to work as long as their is a motor tucked way where it cannot be seen.

And as multiple "grids" of systems are interconnected, we face the theoretical possibility of "cascading failures". A failed bridge reroutes a part which gets lost which causes a power-plant to go off-line which causes a black-out which shuts down natural gas distribution which.....

So what can we do as individuals to armor our homes and families?

Time is the ultimate commodity. Figure out what it takes to hunker-down while the dust settles. Becoming a refugee is almost never the right answer...unless you live in an extremely affluent enclave in a sea of poverty or are downwind of a breached nuclear reactor or have a wild-fire or tsunami about to knock on your front door.

Run the mental exercise: Could you survive on your property for three weeks and not have ANYBODY leave? No take-out food. No meds. No water.

Could you do it if the grid was down? Hint: Life will become intensely physical. Lay in a supply of socks (including compression socks to provide a slip-layer between your cushy, work socks), work-gloves, hats, work-boots, bandaids and Tylenol. There will be no electronic entertainment. You might want a few books printed on paper.

If that is not possible, could you make it if you were able to visit your closest neighbors or access resources within a 1/4 mile or 1/2 mile of your property?

If you are feeling peppy, run a two-day trail. Drop all of the breakers in the breaker-box and see if you can last two days and two nights.

Who would you allow to bunk-up with you? Your children? Your in-Laws? How about unmarried significant others? How about cousins and nephews and nieces? These can be brutal questions. It is better to have an outline in your head BEFORE you see their headlights in your driveway.

Have preps. Have a plan. Make test runs. Get more physically fit.

Fine Art Tuesday


Salvador Dali born 1903 in Spain, died 1989. One of the leading members of the "Surrealism" school of painting.

His paintings became icons of the LSD-and-magic-mushroom generation even though many of them had been painted forty years prior.

Editorializing: Not my cup of tea, but some people enjoy these paintings.

Monday, June 26, 2023

We got a tiny bit of rain


Richard Tease promised us an inch. In the cold light of morning it was somewhere between a tenth and two-tenths of an inch. Like the old joke goes: Men are much better at reading maps because they can look at an inch and believe that it is twenty-five miles.

The system was traveling northeast and we slid through the gap between the serious rain clouds.

It was enough to get this scion of Oswego Pecan to push a bud in the middle of the stick. I am up to one Kanza and two Oswego grafts that appear to have taken.

Red Clover with pink flowers in top of the frame with Birdsfoot Trefoil with yellow flowers in the bottom. Both species are doing surprisingly well in the pasture in spite of the dryness. It helps that the cattle are over at Sprite's.


White Clover looks burned out in most places.

A closer look shows that they are setting a heck of a seedcrop.

Milkweed with pink flowers. They smell wonderful. No Monarch caterpillars though.

Rutabaga seeds went into the ground a couple of days ago. Beets and Korean Radishes will get planted around July 4th.

I am still watering. We could easily absorb 4" of rain if it came over 48 hours. A simple rule-of-thumb is that soil can easily hold 25% water by volume. So if you have three feet of soil that is accessible to your plant's roots it can hold 9" of water. The caveat is that the plants can never quite drain the soil to zero.

I am going to bank water when my flour-corn gets a little bit taller. Some of the stalks will grow so tall that the impulse sprinkler on the Tee-post will not evenly distribute the water. So, when the corn is about 5' tall they will get two nights in a row  of 12 hours.

Fracture toughness

A tip-of-the-hat to reader Brenda who suggested that I look into porcelain-fused-metal crowns. I talked to my dentist and he was fine with the option.

It was funny, though. He kept trying to nudge me into ceramics. "They are three-times stronger, now..."

"Strong" is an ambiguous term

For example, Liberty ships in WWII were welded together out of first-generation High Strength, Low Alloy steel as a means to conserve steel for the war effort.

If you cut a sample of first-gen HSLA and put it in a tensile test machine, it might withstand 50,000 PSI compared to 30,000 or 36,000 for the more common structural steel in general use.

Several issues converged in the Liberty ships. Those steels had lower toughness than the more common steels. A crack, once started, grew rapidly.

Another issue is that the first-gen steels became very brittle at low temperatures which would not have been an issue if the convoys took more southerly routes to Europe and back but was a major issue in the North Atlantic.

A third issue is that the loading hatches had square corners rather than rounded-off corners. That was a concession to expedite manufacturing.

A fourth issue is they were all-welded construction. A crack in a plate on a riveted ship would grow to the edge of the plate and then stop. A crack on a welded structure can keep right on growing all the way around the ship (including below the water line!).

Many Liberty ships sank in the North Atlantic in WWII in part because a "stronger" steel was selected for the application.

In personal life

I had a client back in my working days who was "releasing" a tension strap. It swivelled on one end and had a "D"-ring rigidly affixed on the other. The client had looked through a catalog and picked the highest tensile strength steel listed and was having difficulty passing the "pull" test. If memory serves, the material the client committed to using had a tensile strength of 180,000 psi (six times garden variety steel).

It was a frustrating experience for both of us. The engineer was sure I was lying when I suggested that "the strongest" steel was the problem.

One issue was that the client specified a square-hole and a rivet to keep the "D"-ring from spinning. Square holes in brittle materials are a bad idea. There was no evidence of stretching in the force-deflection trace from the test machine. The fracture was sudden and catastrophic.

Their next effort was to MIG weld the D-ring to the strap. Unfortunately the very high tensile strength of the material was completely destroyed by the heat of the weld. It was not tough but lacked the tensile strength required.

Suggestions to use a tougher grade of steel in a thicker strap were rejected. The client had already committed to the very-thin strap and other engineers had snapped up the real-estate.

Our working relationship became toxic at that point. I think the client eventually got the part to pass by making the strap twice as thick and using a short-slot with round ends for the rivet hole.

Bottom line

"Three times as strong..." does not impress me unless the material has proven to be tolerant of imperfections in geometry or manufacturing execution.

Sunday, June 25, 2023


It was my turn to make dinner on Saturday (before Handsome Hombre had fixed the compressor).

My main motivation was to heat up the kitchen the minimum amount possible.

I opted for a Quiche Lorraine type dish baked in the microwave.

Substitutions were made. Bacon...there is no substitute for bacon. Shredded sharp cheddar and cottage cheese instead of Swiss. Sauteed onions were easy enough. Lambsquarters greens instead of spinach.

That caught Handsome Hombe's attention.

"This is just like 'bledo' back home. It is delicious!"

...later that day...

I was on the internet and looked up 'bledo'.

It is one of about fifty or sixty species of the genus Amaranthus. Amaranthus presumably evolved in the Western Hemisphere and was spread to the Old World before Columbus "discovered" America. Yeah, there is significant evidence that Columbus didn't so much discover America as much as he had the best PR team contesting the claim.

Amaranth is commonly called "Pigweed" in the US. It is a common weed. How common? The lambsquarter greens were harvested from the three northernmost rows of sweetcorn while the weeds dominating the three southernmost rows are dominated by Redroot Pigweed: Amaranth retroflexus.

Ecological niches

Shamelessly anthropomorphizing, a weed has to decide which ecological niche it will dominate. It can invest resources in defense: Thorns, toxins, hairy surfaces, unpalatable chemicals. All of those defenses come at a cost. Or it can be the "rabbit" of the weed-universe and rely on pure, reproductive efficiency to outrun predation.

Most amaranth opt for the rabbit model. No toxins to gum-up photosynthesis. No thorns or bitterness. Like a 1969 Dodge Charger with a Hemi, it was a straight-line 1/4 mile rocket from seed germination to making more seeds.

Three species were domesticated in pre-Columbus America

  • Amaranthus cruentus
  • Amaranthus hypochondriacus
  • Amaranthus caudatus 
  • and maybe Amarantus hybridus

Other species were domesticated in the Old World, notably

  • Amaranthus tricolor
  • Amaranthus viridis

One characteristic of domesticated crops is that the seeds and leaves are often much, much larger than their wild progenitors. There is often a trade-off between time to maturity (longer for domesticated) in exchange for higher yields. That results in the domesticated Amaranthus species offering lush "greens" for a longer period of time than the wild species.

Is it worth planting domesticated Amaranthus?

Heck if I know. I think the answer is "Absolutely yes" if you want a grain crop.

The benefits are less clear for "greens". Wild greens are almost free, available for just the labor of picking them and time invested in knowing which ones are desirable. Planting some domesticated varieties and letting them go to seed might have some advantages to upgrade the seed-bank but one must weight the advantages of making one's weeds more vigorous against the advantages of better pot-herbs in a total go-to-hell situation if vegetable seeds became totally regulated.

A few links:

Kitazawana Seeds

Native Seeds (of the Southwest)

Baker Creek

Every hair on your head is numbered...

Hey, a big shout-out to all of those guys who are making God's job a little easier.

Yep, I mean those of you with perfect heads, those of you who had a late growth-spurt where your scalp ended up at a higher elevation than your split-ends.

God certainly has His hands full with the rest of us clowns. Your efforts are appreciated.

Rich, white trash

Jerry Springer is probably up in heaven crying. Just think of the shows he could have aired.

Saturday, June 24, 2023

Starting to feel like Dr Frankenstein

Once again the 45 year-old A/C compressor was jolted back to life.

Handsome Hombre did the heavy lifting. I quietly swirled the ice-cubes in my drink and made dry, witty comments.

HH found at least three issues and very swiftly set them right. A wire that had been chewed up and was grounding to the cabinet, crud had sifted between the contacts on one leg of the magnetic contactor and he found a broken 1/4" spade fitting on the control-wiring side.

He was very safe, checking voltages every time I dashed into the house to freshen my drink flip off the breakers.

My name is once again inscribed in the Hall of Heroes...right below Handsome Hombre's. He is a very easy guy to work with.

Both of our wives were amazed.

A passing thought on Juneteenth

Some brave, WOKE academic suggested that White people not celebrate the Federal holiday Juneteenth.

He said white people should go to work while POCs took the time off.

You know, I am OK with that.

But would I be stirring the pot if I suggested that there are Federal Holidays that commemorate "white people" being freed? Maybe Independence Day.

So I am fine with Federal employees who are People-of-Color having Juneteenth off as long as they come in and deliver the mail and keep the banks open on July 4th.

Of course, the whole Juneteenth thing ignores the people now known as "essential workers", you know, the staff at the Emergency Room and the dude stocking the shelves at Walmart and the Hispanic single mom cleaning rooms at the local hotel.

Hope springs eternal


Richard Tease, weatherman, is at it again.


Orange Icicle


Other garden pictures

Potatoes went from 75% canopy to 95% in about a week

I was able to rescue about 50 persimmon seedlings from the bag of seeds.

I visited a community garden

Many of the plots sported trellises to get pole beans, cucumbers and melons off of the ground

The quality of the wood used for the structures was as-found and not the best

For the most part, the allotments were well cared for; weeded, watered and planted at appropriate densities. From an anthropology standpoint, it would be fascinating to interview some of the gardeners to learn their histories.

I was a little bit surprised at the amount of onions, potatoes, corn and cabbage. I guess those gardeners are interested in pounds of production

The thrifty condition of the majority of the plots speaks well of the garden coordinators. They set the tone.
In their orchard

I did not expect to find five, twenty-year-old persimmon trees planted in a small orchard on the east side of the garden. The two eastern-most trees are males. If the trees were all from suckers collected from the same parent tree, then they are all males. I need to visit in the fall with the fruit, if any, is ripe.

The community garden is hosted by North Elementary School. Ironically, North Elementary is on the extreme, south edge of Lansing.

They also have mature cherry trees along the perimeter fence to the garden which is unusual. I assume the cherry trees predate the garden.

I might be looking for another phone carrier

In 1980, General Motors had enough cash on its books to have bought both Toyota and Honda AND the magazine Consumers Reports.

And while it might be entertaining to consider how events might have unfolded if GM had the foresight to buy those two competitors and the thorn-in-its-side, it seems highly probable that it still would have gone bankrupt in 2009.

The major piece of evidence supporting bankruptcy-anyway is that GM had a joint venture with Toyota in California. Part of the deal was that GM executives and rising-stars would cycle through the California plant and bring Toyota's expertise in manufacturing back to the mother-ship.

Which they did, in bits-and-pieces. They did not bring back the parts that made people uncomfortable.

It was like stealing the plans for a great engine and transmission but deciding that the nuts-and-bolts that held them together were optional.

One minor example: To rise to mid-management in Toyota required a stint as production supervisor. Not just two-weeks. Not some random job in the factory. You had to supervise workers on the main-chain for a year. And before you got that job you had to be able to perform at least one job in every team in that section of line at the level of mastery. You had six months to be able to perform every job (for eight hours if necessary) at that level of mastery or you got bounced out of your job (a black-mark in your portfolio) and YOUR boss was disciplined for not making it happen.

Extremely demanding. And the jobs were very competitively sought because your career went nowhere at Toyota unless you had tagged that base.

GM decided that was unnecessary. GM figured it only hired "really smart people" who could watch the jobs for a couple of minutes and understand everything they needed to know. The top-management in the Plants supported GM's decision that management working production jobs was not important.

I suspect that the real reason is that rising-stars are identified very early in their careers and their paths are made smooth. It would be a major disruption for those fair-haired boys to have to run back and tag first-base and many would balk at spending a year of their time in a dirty factory. Top management was sure that GM would fail if THEIR protege left the company.

From the Plant management standpoint, the Toyota system also required that every manager who worked in the plant work one-day-a-month in a production job. The jobs are physical and people who are not work-hardened have a lot of muscle-pain the next couple of days. People who have let themselves go are hammered by having to perform physical work for eight or ten hours. Many of the people in top management in GM Plants were in poor physical shape. They did not want the pain. They did not want to lose a day of work a month. They did not want the headache of having every person on the support-staff learn production jobs.

Cellphone carriers

So the fact that Tracfone was purchased by Verizon does not fill me with awe and wonder.

Will Verizon's bloat and cost-structure poison Tracfone? Will Tracfone be Verizon's red-headed step-child that gets sucked dry as a cash-cow?

Maybe time to look for another carrier. Lots of carriers have solid coverage in south-central Michigan.

Friday, June 23, 2023

Phones: Down the rabbit-hole

So, I asked my buddy Jim "Do you think Com-China installed kill-switches in the smartphones they manufacture?"

What a can of worms.

If a fellow was the least bit paranoid and disliked change, if he needed a new phone and just wanted one that will work with a minimum of hassle and no is a cluster-festival.

Jim said "Get an iPhone"

Most Android platforms only offer system updates for two years. After that, if a security issue is uncovered you need to buy a new phone since the old system will not be "patched". For Apple, it is more like five year.

For what it is worth, my current phone is a 2014 model.

Some players in the Android universe are pushing the system updates to three, perhaps even four years. Samsung and Qualcomm (maker of Snapdragon processors inside of many smartphones) are examples.

A complication is that mid and lower-tier Android phones are shipped with older releases of Android (Android 11 or 12) while the $500-to-$800 dollar, bleeding-edge phones are released with Android 13. Android will not be maintained for two years after you purchase your phone. It will be maintained for two-years after it was released.

Another point if Apple's favor is that Apple is much slower to share data with government entities. Google (owner of Android) is much more aggressive about sucking up personal data and selling it.

That is entirely different issue than the kill-switch that might, or might-not be in phones shipped from China.

There are not very many mid-range phones NOT made in China. Nokia makes some. Kyocera makes (or made) some.


I switched from Verizon to Tracfone because Verizon was expensive and I my communication needs were easily met with a $20/month Tracfone plan.

In looking at new phones I learned that Verizon purchased Tracfone and now only supports Verizon capable phones. That vastly shrinks the phone models that Tracfone will activate and support. For instance, there are almost no "rugged" phones that will run on Verizon.

Pretty much painted into a corner

I really don't want to change carriers because I am not sure I can take my phone number with me. Informing friends (all two of them) and family of a new phone number is a pain.

I don't want to have to pay $250 for a "rugged" flip-phone that is Verizon compatible (although I have nothing against flip-phones).

I don't want to have to learn a new operating system (Apple).

I am turning into a grumpy, old man.

Fake News Friday: The best name for a child at risk of being abducted

Vulture chicks vomit as a defense mechanism

Experts inform us that the best name to give a child who you fear might be abducted by terrorists, Cartels, non-custodial parents or hungry raptors is "Bud Light".

Fake News Friday: Free Plane Tickets to Kyiv


A beach in Crimea on the Black Sea

Progressive European Nations are simultaneously showing their WOKE values and supporting Ukraine by enticing recent arrivals from Africa and the Middle-East with FREE plane tickets to Ukraine!

Mayor Adams of NYC and Mayor Johnson of Chicago are taking notes. Xi promised Putin he would match one-for-one with Uyghurs after Biden gives the go-ahead to Adams and Johnson.

Thursday, June 22, 2023

Pictures from around the yard

The netting is green. The hole is outlined in yellow.

I saw Zeus sniffing around the garden fence this morning. I started to walk away but then decided that it might be worth my time to see WHY Zeus had a new-found interest in garden fences.

It appears that a rabbit had chewed a hole in the fence! Zeus was not sniffing the fence, he was smelling the rabbit.

That explained the bunny that I found inside the fence a couple of days ago (unreported event).

Dogs are amazing creatures. It is a wise man who attends to what his dog is trying to tell him. 

This is a pecan graft that is starting to push its buds. This is very exciting because it is Kanza and it is up-wind of the mature pecans lining my driveway.

A pile of sumac and Black Locust poles. Nothing very large but they obstructed travel and presented a fire hazard if left in place.


I start from the premise that the news has a vested interest in spinning the story to match some narrative. All editorializing is polluted.

What has been reported, quite breathlessly, is that the Ukrainians retook about six villages in the last three days. The one that received the most inches of reporting was P'yatykhatky in Zaporizhia Oblast. 

There are at least three different locations that simply putting Pyatykhatky into a search engine will take you to. One of the Pyatykhatky is a town of strategic importance with a rail-switching yard. That is not the Pyatykhatky that the Ukrainians retook. This one is.

The Ukrainians retook a town of about 90 households and 300 inhabitants. No railroad. No major highway. No bridges or dams. It appears to me, a non-military guy, to have the strategic importance of Onondaga, Michigan (one church, two bars and a gas station).


If this is the kind of luke-warm spit that the press is spinning into "important victories" then the Ukrainians ran out of gas. They might have hardware but they are running on empty with regard to human assets.

Picture two, fat, old drunks in the 115th round of a bar-room brawl. Both so fatigued that they can barely raise a hand to strike the other. Panting and sweating and cussing.

That seems to be an accurate analogy for the forces fighting in Ukraine.

The conventional wisdom is that to take ground the invading force must pack logistics close to the point-of-departure. They must be able to muster a three-to-one numerical advantage over the defenders. The defenders should be "softened" with artillery and then the invaders must flood the area before the defenders can reconstitute their defenses.

The reason for packing the forward position with material is so it can expand like a jack-in-the-box into the newly occupied territory.

That sequence might change with technology but the three-to-one ratio probably does not. What technology can do is to provide a temptation to expand the conflict by attacking out-of-theater targets that have little to do with the campaign at-hand. In other words, to escalate the scope of the conflict which is entirely different than winning a conflict.

I would love to get "schooled" by those who know more about these things.

Some pictures of local fields taken this morning


Many bare patches in this corn field. Some seeds germinated. Many did not.

The tallest corn in this field is 8" tall


Same field, different angle.

The deer are really hammering the soybeans. Soybeans are prime browse for deer this time of year and when the plants are this small, one hungry doe can take out a huge number of plants.

Ironically, this low spot has a bumper crop of tadpoles.

Wednesday, June 21, 2023

A little bit warm today

The temperature inside of our house peaked at 76F. That is a high for 2023.

The outside temp peaked at 88 today.

We have yet to run the A/C this year. We open windows in at night and run the fans to pull air through the house. We can usually pull it down to 68F but because of over-night cloud-cover we could only get down to 70F last night.

We have ceiling fans in our living room and bed rooms. 76F and low humidity is not a hardship if you can move the air around.

We left Miami on April 30 and they were running A/C at 6:00 in the morning.

Cheap dates

Handsome Hombre had good news when he came home from work. His boss will be selling one of the "work trucks" and will offer it to workers first. Based on what I know about the vehicle, he is offering it to employees at 40% of what a dealer would sell it for on the used car lot.

We celebrated the (probable) purchase of another set of wheels by going to town and painting it red.

Four adults and one toddler racked up a bill of $19 (after tips) at the ice-cream emporium. Then we walked around and looked at the every-Wednesday car show held in Eaton Rapids throughout the summer. That is a pretty inexpensive date.

Handsome Hombre has a soft-spot for old hot-rods where the V-8 is open to the air. He likes headers and 1930s body-styles. Who would have guessed?

A head-scratcher

"Two is one and one is none" so the saying goes.

I stumbled across another water pump in the barn and it might be my primary.

The one I set up had a defective switch. I made the assumption that it was my primary...BUT...the one I found looks more like what I remembered.

Tomorrow I will plug it in and see if it runs. It will be handy if I can run two impulse sprinklers at a time.

Persimmon seeds

I noticed seedlings pushing through a ripped plastic, ziplock type bag when I walked past the sawdust pile.

I have a weakness for plants you cannot kill.

I will pull the bag out of the pile tomorrow and plant any seedlings that are still alive.

Kinetic Energy Attracting Person


Idaho contributes another euphemism for "Pedophile" to the language: KE Attracting Person.

It is common knowledge that if you don't want to get hit by lightning then you best not shelter beneath a tall tree in an electrical storm...or hold up metal sticks on a golf course.

Lots of little chores

The day-before-yesterday there were three ripe raspberries.

Yesterday the number of ripe raspberries was beyond counting.

Southern Belle was impressed. Quicksilver, who is now walking and has six teeth was very, very impressed. A very ripe raspberry is easy eating for a child with no molars.

Small fruits like strawberries, raspberries, blackberries and grapes are a great thing to plant if you have new property because they are quick to come into bearing compared to fruit trees and can be extremely resilient in the face of animal pressure.


My hopes of having a Blue Racer on the property were dashed. I suspect that I have the Eastern Ribbon Snek equivalent of Speedy Gonzales.

For the record, I cannot tell the difference between a Garter Snek or a Ribbon Snek. They belong to the same genus with the Garter Snek being Thamnophis sirtalis sirtalis and the Ribbon Snek being Thamnophis sauritus septentrionalis.

Southern Belle demonstrated her ability to levitate when she saw our Milk Snek (Lampropeltis triangulum triangulum). It was longer than I thought at 36" and extremely maybe it had just laid eggs. One can hope.

Greenwood grafting

Greenwood grafting is a term used when grafting non-dormant material. There are many different "flavors".

The one I used was similar to T-budding but rather than using a dormant bud and a leaf-stem, I used a short, flexible shoot or "feather". This seems to be a good method for species, like hazelnuts, that produce abundant feathers. AND I just happen to have a couple of varieties that I want to propagate rapidly.

Time will tell if I was successful.


No unexplained feathers suggesting a chick was nabbed by a predator. I think I may have solved the issue.


I am pretty sure I broke another ceramic crown. The first one split from stem-to-stern.

Based on how this fracture feels, a large, shell-shaped piece spalled off the inside of the crown. I have a call into my dentist to have it looked at but it is summer and they are running short-handed.

The crowns are a zirconia based ceramic and are supposed to have trace elements added to increase their toughness. I wonder if the trace elements were out-of-balance or if the crowns are missing some kind of heat-treatment.

A Hand-me-Down

Mary is about 40" tall and solid concrete. She probably weighs a good 200 pounds. She had been in my parent's back-yard pushing-back against all of the gay-pride flags and Woke yard-signs.

She is facing the sunrise and glows like a flare in the morning. This is the angle  when looking out the living-room window. She is currently beneath a persimmon tree. I am going to have to spruce up her location. Can't have Mary looking shabby.

Today's punch-list

  • Move 8' posts from the pasture to the barn
  • Water orchard, cattle
  • Hoe potatoes
  • Hand-weed in fenced garden
  • Clean garage
  • Wash clothes
  • Mix old paint with floor-dry for disposal