Monday, July 31, 2023

Summer lettuces and winter lettuces

Summer Lettuce

There is a significant amount of literature about lettuce cultivars (cultivated varieties) that do well in the summer heat.

One paper out of Auburn University (in SOUTHERN Alabama) states 

Cultivars ‘Aerostar’, ‘Monte Carlo’, ‘Nevada’, ‘Parris Island’, ‘Rex’, ‘Salvius’, and ‘Sparx’ performed well in a hot greenhouse and were preferred by consumers (for flavor).

Another paper out of Purdue (southern Indiana) states that the following varieties are suitable for summer harvest 

Bibb: Bambi, Deer Tongue (specialty)
Butterhead: Adriana, Nancy, Pirat, maybe Sylvesta.
Leaf: Tropicana, Panisse (specialty), Green Star.
Romaine: Aerostar, Coastal Star, Freckles (specialty), Green Forest, Green Towers,
Salvius. Summer Crisp: Nevada.

with Green Forest head-and-shoulders above the others in terms of marketable weights.

Winter Lettuce

Winter lettuce differs from summer-lettuce cultivars because the newer, day-neutral cultivars that do well in the summer are daylength neutral. They tend to bolt at 65 days regardless of heat units and daylength (although drought can tip them into early bolting). All lettuce becomes bitter when it bolts.

The issue with fall and winter is that the plant grows slowly and will be tiny at 60 days. One could plant thickly and harvest as mini-greens but the leaves can be little-fiddly things to wash.

Older cultivars without the daylength-neutral genes will hold for 112 days (or more) without bolting under six hours of light a day which allows them to both size-up more and to "hold" in the greenhouse bed until the cook is ready to harvest them.

Unfortunately, sellers of lettuce seeds do not specify whether varieties marketed as "winter" lettuces have or do-not-have the daylength-neutral genes. Lettuces like "Winter Density" and "Rouge D'Hiver" have names that imply that they do well in the late-fall and winter but words are cheap.

What do you guys with greenhouses (Howard? Anybody else?) have to say about lettuce cultivars to stretch out the season into the short days of fall and winter? Any favorites?


My rain-buckets tell me that we had 3" of rain in the last week or so.

The weeds exploded.

Even though it is not "good time management" for the reunion, I will fret unless I get some weeding out of the way.

The carrots are weeded and 90% of the potato patch. That was four hours of work, from 8:00AM until 12:40. The extra 40 minutes was the breaks I took. Liquids on the hour and a coffee break and snack after two hours actual work.

I started with the carrots because carrot seedlings are puny and not capable of competing with weeds. I went to the potatoes next because they are in the home-stretch of packing on the pounds. I did not fertilize my potatoes this year as a trial run for tough times. It is notable that different parts of the patch are showing signs of "finishing" at different rates.

One of the thoughts that was going through my head was the nonsense that children can education themselves with no reference to the needs of society. A garden would have twenty weeds for every plant-of-merit of that is how gardeners and farmers operated.

Hayek suggests that one can lay the heresy at the feet of Rousseau and his "Noble Savage". Rousseau is as good of a person to blame as any, him and every person who it is sure to work this-time.

I have a gallon of iced tea in the fridge and will hit the garden again after lunch. Weeds, Communists, decay, rot, rust and other forms of entropy wait for no man. God willing, I will have the stamina to weed for another four hours today.

Sunday, July 30, 2023

An almost painless lesson in practical statistics


Upper-left, similar populations but different number totals. Upper-right, same distribution characteristics but shifted-mean. Middle-left, same mean but distribution in red crayon has lower standard-deviation. Middle-right, same process but red-crayon has skirts sorted off. Lower-left, a centered bell-shaped distribution and a random but sorted-to-limits distribution.
There are many times we want to know if two populations are "the same" or "are different".

A computationally simple but mathematically robust way to make that determination is to look at the skirts of the two populations that you are comparing. The method is robust in that it kicks out the correct answer for a wide range of ways that populations might differ from each other.

The method entails collecting a fairly large, random samples from both populations. Mark each part so you can identify which population it came from. Then sort them, rank-order, by the characteristic of interest. Let's say we are sorting 18 year-old humans by height with one population identified as "girls" and the other population identified as "boys".

The classical method of performing the analysis is to start at one end and to start counting the "run" that came from the one population. Suppose the short end looked like:


Then going to the opposite end of the rank-ordered list and continuing the count but counting "Not-G"


The first string yields five "G" in a row before being interrupted with a "B" while the tall-end of the list (counting from the right) yields an additional eight "not-G" in a row before being interrupted by a "G". That gives us a Tuckey End-Count of 13.

But what does that mean?

If the two populations that the samples were drawn from were the same, then each position in the list would have an equal likelihood of being a "G" or a "B".

The first one we pick has no influence because we will accept either a "G" or a "B".

But to continue the count we require that the second individual match the first. So the random chance of the second being the same as the first is 50%. (1/2 * 1/2)

The chance of the third matching the first two is 25%.

The fourth matching is 12.5%

The fifth is 6.25%

But then we get an individual from the other population.

Shifting to the other end, if we are interested in shifted means but similar variance, we are not looking for "not-G".

The first "not-G" on the tall end (end-count of 6) will be 6.25 * 1/2 or 3.125% or (1/2)^ (n-1)

Cutting to the chase, we had an end-count of 5 + 8 or 13. (1/2)^(13-1) pencils out to a random chance of 0.02% of this distribution if the two populations were identical for height characteristics.

Many statisticians who work in agriculture will happily accept an end-count of 6 as "proof" that the two populations are different. Sometimes they will fudge and perform an end-count from each end and accept whichever is longer. Essentially, they are hanging-their-hat on the likelihood of the end-count of six being from identical populations as a one-in-thirty-two likelihood. That is pretty good odds.

Kids as young as first graders can sort themselves by height and count up to six and can identify "Boy" and "Girl". This is not very challenging math.

People seeking power should be judged more strictly

Not many of you should become teachers, my brothers, for you realize that we will be judged more strictly, for we all fall short in many respects.   -James Chapter 3

A doctor at a university hospital in New York City was sentenced to 240 months in prison for sexually assaulting 245 women.

Now, imagine if it were an orderly instead of a doctor and that he had "only" sexually assaulted 10 women: It seems likely that he would have received more time than 240 months (20 years).

If we accepted membership into the family of Christ, His Father and the Holy Spirit, then we should strive to judge, to discern, as He does.

As a supervisor in a factory, I was held to a higher standard that the guy on the line.

I don't have a problem with a two-tier justice system as long as those who have been entrusted with more authority are held to a higher standard, not a more lenient one.

Power corrupts. That warning in James was inverted to give advantage to the powerful.

Saturday, July 29, 2023

July 28 Barbecue: After-action-Report

Handsome Hombre continues to amaze.

He got the "lawn ornament" riding lawnmower running and mowed the front yard.

The wood for this weeks BBQ had been rained on and was reluctant to start and once started was shy about settling down into coals.

A nest of bumblebees that was located beneath the south cinderblock that held up our grill took exception to our heating up their home. The Great Battle of Eaton Rapids ensued. The side with air supremacy did not win that battle but only because the good-guys resorted to chemical warfare.

Handsome Hombre loves beef. He only remembers having steak twice while he was growing up.

The winning formula seems to be to buy round steaks. Round steaks are typically an inexpensive, tough cut of meat with little waste in terms of trim-fat or bone. I buy them on Thursday morning when there are usually mark-downs for steaks that are approaching their sell-by date. I take them out of their packages and sprinkle both sides with Adolf's Meat Tenderizer and then place both of them in the same gallon, ziplock baggie and put them in the meat drawer for the Friday evening cookout. I flip the baggie over a few times because that makes me feel better.

Handsome Hombre comes from a culture that incinerates their meat. I think it might be related to the shortage of refrigeration and thorough cooking provides a modicum of protection against food-poisoning. High heat degrades some of the toxins and kills all of the bacteria that might want to rip your guts to shreds.

I about cried the first time HH cooked some $16-a-pound steaks. By the time he was done they had shrunk to the size of hockey-pucks. So, I buy $7.99-a-pound steaks that don't shrink. Feedback about toughness stopped after adding the Adolf's Meat Tenderizer step.

Family Reunion

Mrs ERJ and I will be hosting our extended family's reunion this year.

Traditionally, it was held at Mom and Dad's cottage. That property is in estate and there is a good chance it will slip out of family hands.

Low turnout is expected. One of my cousins on the East Coast died this week and nobody from that branch is expected due to funerals and so on. The southeast Michigan cousins are mostly doing their own thing as they now have grandkids and such.

We will have to get creative about parking. The closest commercial parking is almost three miles away which is viable for shuttling. The visitors unload gear, food and passengers and then moves vehicle to parking. A designated shuttle driver shuffles them back-and-forth.

The plan is to keep it low-key and to keep expectations low. We can hold about 40 between the house, garage and front porch if we get rain.

The menu will be simple: Sloppy Joes, baked beans, sweet corn. Maybe water melon and potato salad.

Our house and grounds are not refined or fancy. But nobody else stepped up. Relationships and traditions are fragile and need frequent nourishment. If I have one superpower it is that I am willing to look like a fool.

Bonus image

The transplanted Romaine lettuce seedlings are now large enough to be visible in the photos.

Friday, July 28, 2023

Cause or Effect?

It can be surprisingly difficult to tease out which variable is the "cause" and which is the "effect". It is naive to assume one way or another.


My father passed away of dementia. It is not one of the better ways to go.

Consequently, I am starting to pay attention to things I can do to reduce my risk of dementia.

As I read the popular-press articles, I get the twitches; what if most of the smart-money had their causality reversed?

For instance, a typical article might state "Data proves that people who are more socially active are less likely to suffer from dementia!"

My dad became increasingly paranoid as he slipped into dementia. He did not relish spending time socializing with strangers. My experience was that the causality was the reverse of what all of the smart-people say. My experience was that people sliding into dementia avoided socializing. People who were not sliding into dementia were less resistant to new social situations.

In a similar way, Dad pulled away from new cognitive challenges and let go of Sudoku as his cognitive abilities slipped away. So do "new cognitive challenges" prevent dementia or is it evidence that it hasn't started to sink its claws into the subject?

The question might seem fussy and academic, but it is not.

Professional and career success

I am engaged in an email discussion with a brilliant person who contends "I.Q. is very highly correlated to professional achievement, therefore IQ is critical for society"

I don't quibble with the correlation between the echelons of upper-management being higher than the general public but I see that another hand might be in play.

High scores on college entrance exams, the ACT and SAT are accepted by MENSA as proof of high I.Q. Ergo, it is difficult to get admitted to a competitive, high-prestige university without high ACT and SAT scores.

To punch into the ranks of middle-management, it is almost mandatory to have a graduate degree, preferably from a high-prestige university. To get admitted into graduate school, one needs to take either the GRE and the GMAT. Both are accepted by MENSA as valid I.Q. tests.

My point is that there are several layers of filters that weed out people who do not have a quick grasp on those types of material that is most amenable to testing. Surely, every student has had the "Ah-ha!" when they realized a tidbit the professor dropped in lecture was going to be on the test because it was a shoe-in for the timed format of the test or the A.B.C.D.(None of the above) format.

It would be totally weird if the usual measures of career success did NOT show strong correlation between IQ and success because it is the primary means used to select and promote with nepotism being a very distant second-place. So generalizing from "Highly successful people have high I.Q.s and therefore society will collapse unless the people with the very highest I.Q.s continue to run the show." contains a bit of circular logic.

Perhaps as important as quick recall of "testable information" is the ability to entertain multiple interpretations of data.

People used to tell jokes. A typical joke involves a quick sketch of the situation and a picture is painted in the listener's mind. Then one additional bit of information is added that invalidates the "obvious" picture and the listener must be able to abandon the literal, obvious interpretation and embrace one of the other scenarios that reconciles the new information with the original (but misleading) word-sketch.

It is tragic that people no longer feel safe sharing jokes. The younger generation has been deprived of a tool that teaches mental agility and society will suffer as a result.

All progress in society is due to passionate people


One of my family members (an in-law) sent me this newspaper clipping.

Her grandfather cut a hole in the floor of his shoe-repair business so he could continue to grow a citrus tree that he grew from a tangerine seed. New York state in the 1940s.

Passionate people don't accept excuses.

Fake News Friday: Hunter wants to "hang" with Ghislaine

In an exclusive interview granted to ERJ News, First Son Hunter declared that he is not afraid of going to Federal prison. In fact, he heard it was "quite nice".

He also revealed that his daddy told him that if he "spilled his guts" he would get to hang with Ghislaine Maxwell.

He said that he can hardly wait to turn State's evidence!

Thursday, July 27, 2023

Hey, Grandpa, what's for dinner?

I am glad you asked.

14 cups of gazpacho

Gazpacho is an Andalusian word for "chopped up, random garden-vegetables and served up as cold soup". OK, I made that up but it is a fine functional definition.

There really is no recipe. It depends on what is ripe in the garden: Cucumbers, yellow zucchini, tomatoes, onion, garlic, basil, lemon juice, maybe some shredded carrots. It is a fine use for over-ripe cucumbers if you strip-out the seeds and the jelly around them.

As a note for next year, Easy Pick Gold zucchini is superior for Yellow Fin. The Yellow Fin never wanted to shed the spent flower and suffered from blossom-end yuckiness. No such problems from EPG. I like yellow zucchini better than green ones. I can see them so they don't get over-mature and shut down the plant's production.

Vegetables, lacking fats and proteins, it is common to add olive oil or serve with sour cream (the Eastern European variants). I will serve it with bread-and-butter and chicken fingers tonight. I used V-8 juice for the liquid and a bit of lemon juice.

Gazpacho is a great way to keep the heat out of the kitchen and still maintain the illusion that we are high-class people rather than peasants/dirt-people.

Cottonwood Farm


The Roman Catholic Diocese of Lansing (Michigan) has a magazine that is published about 8 times a year.

In the most current issue they have an article about a group of like-minded, young families who decided to move to a group of four houses on five acres. They have been making a go-of-it since 2019.

One of the money-quotes was "All we are trying to do here is about living well and restoring many things that modern industrial life has robbed us (of)"

"...we live in closer community because it means that more relationships and closer relationships develop...knowing that to be in right relationship with God is at the heart of community."


"Cottonwood is not a monastery, religious community or commune. here are no vows, promises or covenants."

"We are just living in houses that are close to one another and attempting to create the "historically ordinary life as lived by people in any hamlet or village..."

Part of that reconnecting to that "historically ordinary life" is to raise some of their own food...gardens and orchards and farm animals.

The point guy is an Air Force brat whose father was stationed in 18 different places, many of them over-seas. He is not a pie-in-the-sky academic.

Mrs ERJ et al Back Home

Mrs ERJ, Southern Belle and Quicksilver are back home.

I drove down to Detroit Metro yesterday afternoon.

I connected with I-94 in Jackson at about 3:30 and it was clear that I was following a line of stiff T-storms. There were branches (pulped to toothpicks by traffic) on the road. Checking just now, it looks like Albion which straddles I-94 picked up 2" of rain.

In the airport I noticed what seemed to be a number of women of large stature. The first one I saw I thought "I bet she would be a great track-and-field start or volleyball player." And then it occurred to me that "she" might be a dude. That thought popped into my head every time I saw a woman more than 5'-11". I wonder if we will see a preference for young guys to date shorter women to avoid the possibility of an awkward social interaction.

The trip back was uneventful except for the power outages. It is hard to find a restaurant that is open or a place with a working bathroom when the power is out.

I have not checked my rain-buckets but suspect I will have between 0.5" and 1.0" of rain.

The docket for today was intentionally left open. I will probably get some chicken feed at the elevator. Mrs ERJ might want to stretch her legs and go for a walk or to the gym.

Everybody has their unique ways of displaying stress. Mrs ERJ, SB and QS clearly were run through the wringer over the last few weeks and need to decompress.

Wednesday, July 26, 2023


As we approach sporky times, it becomes increasingly clear that no one person, no family, no matter how talented, can do-it-all.

It is not a failure to "spill" tasks that are not within our personal cone-of-expertise to others more suited, by temperament or talent or resources for those tasks.

Conversely, if we have a valuable talent, say tanning leather or breeding dogs or constructing artifacts of semi-precious metals or growing-and-preserving food; then we must resolve to be prepared to supply our immediate family and neighbors with the fruits of those talents in exchange for the fruits of their unique talents.

The good news, such as there is, is that old, rural people are not considered important by the policy makers. We are an afterthought to an afterthought. A wart on the left-hind-leg of a flea on the stray dog.

Even the oldest and most infirm can watch the traffic on the road in front of their house and raise alarm.

Slightly more capable can watch grand-children and pull weeds in the garden for 30 minutes each day.

God created us and knows that we are woefully imperfect. He asks that we have Faith and that we Strive. And sometimes we must flow out of our comfort-zone and play out-of-position. That is when we become heroes.

Part of my coming out of my comfort zone involves paring down my "collection" of scrap metal. Some of it is very bulky and I now have a higher use for the under-roof storage space.

I love iron. To me it is the miracle material. It bends, it welds, it comes in many interesting shapes, it is strong and stiff and heat resistant. Some kinds can be softened for drilling and shaping and then hardened. And some of it is bulky.

I have to keep working on the harmony...

Tuesday, July 25, 2023


Richard Tease, weather-guesser extrordinaire, promises us 0.4" of rain tomorrow.

Handsome Hombre and I drove to Lansing's South-side Menards (a big-box building supplies store) to pick up some shop-lights. Putting in the racks for the lumber in my garage messed up the lighting plan and Menards had 7000 lumen, LED shop lights for about $14.

It was notable, the height of the corn around my house (much of it 24" tall due to the drought) and the height of the corn on Vermontville Highway a scant few miles north of here. It is over 60" tall and tasseling.

What was also notable was the temperature difference between the Long Convention Center in Holt at 91 degrees and the temperature of our thermometer beneath the shade trees in rural Eaton Rapids at 82 F.

Another second replant

I had a replant fail. I tilled it up and replanted, again. It is getting late in the season. I planted turnips, kale, rutabagas and "Green Meat" radishes

The row of beets looks OK but a little starved for nitrogen. I mixed up a little urea and a pinch of borax in five gallons of water and gave them a drink. That might perk them up.

I also started spreading straw around the strawberries...about three weeks late.

Everything happens for a reason. This gardening season served to teach me humility.

The first flat of Romaine Lettuce seedlings

Planted on approximately 3" by 5" centers.

The tray is approximately 2' by 4'.

Detail of the corner of the frame. The plywood beneath the 2-by-4 is not part of the frame.

A rake

Deer meat

Handsome Hombre frequently works with a young man who is very passionate about hunting deer.

HH struggled a bit with "deer", "does", "buck", "8-point", "dink", "fawn", "venison", "deer-meat", "back-straps" and "tender-loins". By his count there were at least five species of big game invisibly wandering around Eaton Rapids.

I had to explain that they were all the same species and much like Eskimoes have 50 words for snow, deer hunters have many words to describe "deer" and "deer meat".

I also reassured him that our orchard would be a magnet for deer if he wanted to try his hand at hunting them after the season opened. I have a cross-bow that he can use and we can throw together a ground-blind.

Pre-pubescent trans surgery

I present this as information and am going to try to not interject judgement.

I recently was included in a conversation with a person who is much closer to the "trans" community than I am.

I found his insights thought provoking even though they were not in alignment with my values.

It was his contention that going through a sexual transition is widely recognized in the LGBT community as being correlated with a spike in suicide rates. His explanation is that changing your sex after your "first puberty" is at least 2X more violent than the puberty God programmed. You are not transitioning from androgynous-to-male or androgynous-to-female with androgynous being a blank canvas. You are getting yanked from male-to-female hormonally or female-to-male.

He speculated that the huge push to pull sex-change therapies ahead (pre-pubescent "gender affirming care") was to avoid a huge +2X spike in suicides that might reflect poorly on the LGBT community.

One can only imagine the suicide rate for misguided souls who trusted their parents and doctors and went through a sex change only to discover that their "gender" was not the cause of their unhappiness...and they go through a third bout of puberty knowing that the people who should have most defended his/her interests were more interested in....something other than them.


The garage at my parent's house continues to yield treasure.

The latest find are the beds that were at the cottage when I was a wee-lad. The head-board and foot-boards look like solid sugar maple.

My earliest memory of them is circa 1969 but they may have been there much longer.

It got me to thinking about the (sad) fact that beds like that are no longer a desirable item.

Kids want "branded" products that have images of the-latest-cool-thing stenciled on their surfaces. "Frozen". "Marvel". "Dr. Fauci". The actual bed is pressed sawdust and printed-paper but young people (and we were once young) are incapable of conceptualizing time and durability and...consequently...enduring value. They want to have status in their tribe and have little appreciation regarding the costs.

Ironically, they are the same ones that a few years later are dunning us for our "throw-away" society.

Public Service Announcement

I assume that some of my readers enjoy recycling artifacts made of semi-precious metals and vintage polymers (like they used to make billiard balls from).

Some of the components can be recycled many, many times. Other parts are consumables.

Of the consumables, some can be replaced with home-made parts and a shortage of store-bought is not a game-stopper. A couple of the other consumables, "components" to some people, have no reasonable, home-made substitutes.

I want to point out that those components, the ones with no reasonable, home-made substitutes are in reasonably good supply and the prices are probably not going to get lower.

If you have a few spare dollars, it might behoove you to see if your supply of the little sparky things is in harmony with your supply of propellant and to rectify any glaring imbalances.

From the comments

 "Too many children today do nothing and therefore feel like they are nothing"

I want to play with the idea that many of the activities they do engage in are over-supervised by adults.

Consider fund-raisers for summer-camp and other causes. For the most part, they have been "taken over" by adults. How can a kid have any sense of ownership?

Back-in-the-day, it was a couple of kids going door-to-door selling popcorn, cookie-dough, "Tom Watt" merchandise, magazine subscriptions...or a swarm of kids with leaf-rakes doing the same.

When was the last time you saw kids playing unsupervised ball in a vacant lot or seining wild-life out of a local creek? Those kids were learning the life-lessons they would need later in life.

I don't have an answer but I am pretty sure it is not giving your kid an upgraded, hand-held electronic device. It is letting them have a tool-box with real, adult quality tools. It is letting them make mistakes. It is doing your darnedest to find like-minded parents so your kids have peers to armor them against those who will mock them.

It is also learning to say "No." firmly and when it is appropriate.

"No, you are not going to North Carolina for spring training with your JV high school team."

"No, you are not joining a travel-league which will tie-up every weekend of the year for our family."

"No, you cannot go on that co-ed, over-night trip to the concert.",,

The last batch


Remnants of the last batch of green beans. Sauteed with caramelized garlic in butter. Sprinkled with fine, "pop-corn" salt.

Fine Art Tuesday


Photo: Brown Trout in a British chalk-stream
Today is a theme based gallery rather than focusing on a single artist.

Myles Birket Foster

David Fulton

John Gilbert Graham

James Wallace

Walter Dendy Sadler

Monday, July 24, 2023

Green beans are "in"

If an eagle were to fly to the summit of Mt Everest once a year and to pick up a single grain of sand and carry it away, before eternity had passed, Mt Everest would be leveled down to sea-level.

I am sitting in a lawn chair on my front porch, waiting for the water I am using to blanch green beans before freezing to come back to a boil.

I picked one side of one row and netted about five pounds. On sale as frozen vegetables it would cost about 99 cents for 16 oz....12 oz...10 oz....

Hardly worth my time.

But skills are perishable and education is expensive.

A couple of tangents:

Tangent One

I was quite taken by the fact that Old Belivers (Russian Orthodox who live in deepest Siberia) have a summer home and a winter home. The extremes in their climate put such demands on their dwelling that no one structure can serve in both summer (+100F) and winter (-65F).

They all have summer kitchens out on a porch. What a fabulous idea!

I have a single outlet on my front porch wired to 12 gauge wire and with a 20 amp breaker. I have a card table holding a small toaster oven, a crock-pot and a 1000W, single-burner hot-plate.

The toaster oven will quite handily cook a 12" pizza or enough chicken parts for a meal.

The crock is the cat's meow for tough meat, stew or chili.

The hot-plate if for pasta, rice or potatoes. Today it has been pressed into service to blanch the green beans I picked. I picked half of a row. I have two rows of green beans. I netted about five pounds.

Tangent Two

Blanching is the process where vegetables that are to be preserved by freezing are heated to the point where the enzymes that drive ripening are destroyed but not hot enough or long enough to "cook" the vegetables.

A temperature of 170F will do-the-deed although nobody actually measures temperature. It is more of a dump-in-boiling-water-stir-and-drain-in-X-minutes.

The bottleneck is waiting for the pot of water to come back up to boiling. I am using 3 minutes to blanch the green beans but it is taking about 12 minutes to come back up to heat.

The table. Beans process from left to right. Five hand-fulls go into the pot in the left-upper corner.

After stirring for three minutes, the water and blanched beans are decanted to the colander and kettle. The water is returned to the heating pot and the beans cool until the next batch when the are moved to the bowl on the right.

I intend to get one last use out of the hot water. I plan to serve venison and mushrooms over spaghetti for dinner tonight. Nobody will taste the green-beans in the water I used to cook the spaghetti.

Yep, sure enough. Us guys are roughing it with our wimmin folk gone. But we are stoics...yes we are.

...which leaves us with just yoga pants

 There are three things that don't lie:

  • Drunks
  • Children
  • and yoga pants.

But drunks are delusional and never stop lying to themselves about how much they are hurting themselves and the people around them.

Children learn at a VERY young age how to lie to their parents, learning to lie both by omission and by active prevarication.

...which leaves us with just yoga pants.

For the most part, the talk during my "boys out" weekend carefully stayed away from politics. But it did veer, for a very, very short time, into trans-gender issues and the parents' right to know.

One of our party supports the rights of teachers over the rights of parents. He stated "I don't have a problem" with teachers who actively aid transitioning of kids and hide it from the child's parents.

His rational, which he insisted on telling us after agreeing that this was a third-rail topic that we could not discuss, was that the parents had already failed their child because they did not know what the child was thinking. He believed that the parents no longer had a "say" because of that perceived failure in communicating with their child.

In my limited experience, his line of reasoning is fraught with issues. Primarily, that parents are not capable of reading minds. Kids tell lies and most parents attempt to walk the line where they allow kids some degree of privacy by not snooping through all of their things like the STAZI or combing through their communications looking for evidence.

In other news that might be related

Enrollment at public schools is crashing.

Houston Intermediate Schools lost 27,000 students and is cutting 2300 administrative positions to balance their budget. Source.

That is a lot of featherbedding! 187,000/2300 is 1-in-80 which seems like a lot of administration...and those are just the ones they are cutting-loose. The over-all staffing rate was 1-to-16 which included classroom teachers and custodians.

Is it possible that parents are losing trust in public schools and are making other choices?

Hat-tip to Mike.

Sunday, July 23, 2023

A few quick notes about my vacation

Long marriages

Sitting around the table at dinner last night I realized we were an oddity: Five guys all still married to our first wife.

We had a sixth who had to beg-off because his wife was in the hospital. She was also his first wife.

(1/2)^6 = 1/64 = about 1.6% chance for a random group of 64-year-old people to still be married to their one-and-only. That implies that maybe the group of people was not random.

Our host married when he was 29. He met his wife when he did her taxes.

The person sitting next to him married when he was 36. He met his wife when they were doing Karaoke. She was a little bit country and he was a little bit rock-and-roll.

The person next to him met his wife when they worked at the same place. He was 27 when they married.

The person next to him met his wife because they went to the same mega-dorm at college and they both worked the front-desk to stretch their dollars. He was 24 when they married.

Our absent companion met his wife at work. He was over 30 when he married.

I met my wife at a dance. I hate dancing but it was a target-rich environment. I was 27.


We sallied forth out of Bay City, Michigan upon the broad shoulders of the Saginaw river.

We were boarded and inspected by the Coast Guards. "Yes officer, here is my driver's license and registration (in a ziplock baggy)."

We had been prepped on the location of the Personal Flotation Devices (six each beneath port and starboard, bow seats). The skipper was asked about the throwable flotation ring. It was produced. Fire extinguisher? Check.

The most humorous part of the safety check is that we were heading up-river and there was a twenty-four foot big-water boat heading downriver as it approached us. It was listing between four and five degrees to their starboard. I helpfully pointed that out to the Coasties and as they looked the big-water boat started to swerve.

The head Coastie hailed the vessel's captain "Do you know you are listing severely to your starboard? Are you taking on water?"

The captain yelled back, "My party is all on that side of the boat. We are fine."

As we passed we saw a very, very large woman near the stern of the vessel and she shifted from the starboard side to the passageway beside the cabin on their port side. The wide-beamed, tall, 24 foot power-boat took a 5 degree tilt to the port as she (the passenger, not the vessel) lumbered forward.

The listing was very notable because of the exceptional height of the vessel. The top deck was probably 6' above water level and then there was a bridge and on top of that was a sunning deck with a rail and an antenna mast.

I commented "That has to be embarrassing!"

The Coastie shushed me. "Sound travels really well over water. He might have heard that and he could report us to the station...thinking WE said that!"

I apologized.

Our captain aced the inspection (flipping his running lights on/off and tooting the horn) and the Coast Guard gave him a chit that he could show the next time he was stopped for a random inspection. If it was less than a year then he could show them his "Pass go, collect $200".

It pays to prep your fearless crew.

Saturday, July 22, 2023

A boat named "Moo"


...if not for the courage of the fearless crew...

If all goes as planned, I will be out on the water on a friend's boat when this post "drops".

I have no details about the boat but I suspect that it is longer than 12'. He keeps it at a marina. And, unlike some boat owners who use their vessels as stationary party platforms, my friend informed me that we shall sally forth upon the water.

One of my high school buddies decided to start organizing a lunch every few months. Another buddy wanted to have it on his boat. And so, here we are. A bunch of old geezers catching up on the last 45 years.

After careful consideration, I will not be taking any adult-beverage. It is a new environment and loose-lips-sink-ships. Booze and boats make sunburn and dehydration occur and, sometimes, divorces and the enrichment of endemic languages with Scandinavian words.

A high of 80 and 5 mph winds are predicted to day.

My buddy says he knows about a secret island that is an easy, three hour tour from the marina...

Friday, July 21, 2023

Listen to the first 18 seconds...


Do you suppose that if it had been a Republican who had mocked the other candidate "....the 1980's called and they want their cold war back..." that the media would be playing it 24/7?

But, nope. It was Saint Obama. It was memory-holed.

It is a pity that the spineless Republicans don't play the first 18 seconds of this clip every time the Democrats demand another BILLION dollars to support Ukraine's fight against Russia.

This is a comment that did not age well.

Does non-intermittent charity inevitably create resentment?

Is it inevitable that those who survive on the charity of others will resent that charity even to the extent of destroying the system that feeds them?

Living on charity is a precarious thing. A skilled tradesman knows that if times get tough in Michigan he can move to North Carolina or Florida and ply his trade and make a living. He recognizes that he has some control over his destiny.

The person living on charity...not so much.

That lack of control on the part of the person who receives charity makes them hyper-sensitive about many things. They are sensitive about their "dignity" and about people "not respecting" them. They are sensitive about any threats to the stream of resources passing through their hands, sensitive to the point of being overly responsive to the threat and producing lots of collateral damages in their response.

How else can you explain rioters burning down their housing and the shops they depend on? Yes, people in a rage cannot think. But why are they enraged?

Off-the-wall analogy

One of the images that has been swirling around in my head is the model of an atom and its "electron shells".

If you apply energy to an atom or a vibrating molecule, you can kick the electron up to a higher orbit (visualize planets orbiting the sun) or cause the molecule to vibrate at a higher frequency.

Because nature likes to have systems rest at the lowest permissible state of potential energy, the electron eventually drops back down to the lower orbit. The energy that it had been storing in the higher orbit is dissipated as light. The frequency of that light exactly matches the amount of energy that had been stored.

That is why we can identify elements by their spectral emissions. That is why aluminum-oxide lasers doped with chromium have red light.

Popular thinking holds that the current state of things is the new normal and the lowest-potential-energy-state. That is a testable hypothesis. Stop paying the Dane Geld and see what happens. Stop molly-coddling the perpetual malcontents and see what happens.

The Electron Shell model suggests that once the energy subsidies are removed that the electrons will drop out of their orbits and they will release energy.  Places with the highest density of malcontents-per-square mile will burn.

I think it is an interesting question: Will the system grow legs and remain...will it demonstrate a capability to sustain itself? Or will it burn?

From the comments...

 Interesting history regarding Sound of Freedom movie:

1.) When DHS cut off funding for agent Ballard in his S American snare ops and he quit his job just 10 months from vesting his Fed pension, Glenn Beck stepped in and funded it, ultimately saving hundreds of children. This is NOT mentioned in the movie.

2.) Once Angel purchased the movie rights from Disney’s M&A activity gone flotsam and jetsam, no Hollywood studio or executive producer would step up to fund the making of the movie. Who did? The CEO of GOYA Foods became the executive producer. He must have been keenly aware of what was happening to kids South of the border.

May God sort out the perpetrators who enslaving children and punish them justly. We as a society can’t even deal with a presidential crime family as evidence boils up like oil on Jed’s farm, much less save kids from being sold into horrible torture and abuse. Sad.

ERJ notes: The CEO of GOYA Foods is a fricking HERO!!!

Thursday, July 20, 2023

Grab bag

Flour corn on the left, hazelnut bush on the right.

The raspberries are almost done fruiting.

The single apricot tree that I never got around to cutting down is almost done. 

Illinois Everbearing Mulberry has been a dud due to the dry weather. Since it excels nine-years-out-of-ten it gets a mulligan.

I am starting to get fire-blight strikes on my quince. I cut them out.

I had two apple trees die. I spread the limbs of the Gros Romanesc plum tree that had been shlepping along in their shade. It had a few blossoms this spring but did not set any fruit.

I cut black-knot out of the Seneca plum and the Gros Romanesc. It seems to be easier to stay ahead of than fire-blight on quince.

We got 0.1" of rain today. We need 0.2" per day to keep up with evaporation.

I am behind on weeding the garden. I have other responsibilities, ones I am not at liberty to discuss on the blog, sucking up my time. If the fertilizer ever impacts the impeller, those issues will vaporize.

Tomorrow's agenda looks like un-discussable responsibilities (2 hours), hardening the new paddock the cattle are in, burning wood scraps, continuing to empty out Mom and Dad's garage and barbecuing meat for our Friday feast.

Counting the minutes

God willing, Mrs ERJ, Southern Belle and Quicksilver will be landing in Detroit Metro in about a week. 

Handsome Hombre and I miss them a great deal. It is like a pianist playing a favorite piece of music and three of the keys don't work.

Things that are better today than when we were kids.

Shoes (they come off the shelf blister-free now)

Electronics (no explanation needed)

Small gas motors (They start more easily and generally last longer)

Fuel injection in automobiles (fiddling with carburetors used to be a regular thing)

Dentistry (Night and day difference. The only thing I miss about the old days is being able to spit)

Prescription eyeglasses ($25 a pair instead of hundreds of dollars)

Drugs for mental/emotional illness (still not great but better than a lobotomy)

Price of meat (after adjusting for inflation)

Range of foods at common grocery stores (even after Covid. Many exotic products)

Sweet corn, apples (Red Delicious has almost disappeared off of the shelves)

Amazon or its clones (the closest thing was the Sears catalog)

Access to like-minded people (the internet and the universe of bloggers and video producers beats the crap out of the three major networks on TV) 

Flashlights (better batteries, LED bulbs, headlights)

Canteens (disposable bottles for soda-pop and sports drink are better than the canteens available when I was a kid)

Please feel free to add to the list!

I moved the cattle to a new paddock today

Today's big task was to move the cattle to a new paddock.

The good news is that they handled the move like the old-pros that they are. I had to walk them across fresh grass to the opening to the new paddock because the paddock they are in is not adjacent to the paddock they were moving to.

That is one of the reasons I feed them a little bit of corn. They know what corn is and the love it.

I had some issues with the fence in the new paddock but Mickey Moused them to good enough for now. I need to address the issues but I don't want to stir up the critters any more than the moved got them excited.

A cow with a couple of her buddies, water, fresh graze and a salt block is usually pretty happy to not test the fences.

Hollywood Strike

Neither side has a particularly strong case.

The movies coming out of Hollywood for the last thirty years have been as cutting-edge and as imaginative as pulp, romance novels. You know the kind. The author makes a copy of her last novel and uses the auto-change feature in her word processor to change Danielle to Debbie, Brad to Brent, Dallas to Denver, Architect to Astronaut, Bentley to BMW and so on.

And they are afraid of "Artificial Intelligence" writing scripts?

The movie Sound of Freedom is crushing the box office and it has almost nothing in common with the Hollywood establishment.

A pox on Hollyweird and their ilk. Get the money up-front because the wild-world of the wired world makes it very difficult and expensive to defend intellectual (?) property.

A few videos that I enjoyed

Notable for the frugality where the house-wife (not a slam, she is at least half of the household economy) does not discard the greens of the beets but adds them to the soup.

Also notable because it is clear that she "did" her nails before recording the video. 8-)

Recorded in September in Russia. Cute kids show up at 7:15 mark if you want to see the audience she was preparing the food for.

School lunch in Japan.

Japan is an unusual country. In general, they are very thoughtful and deliberate as one might expect in a domain where resources are scarce and children are rare and precious.

Lunch is not a quick re-fueling and a vacation from supervision. It is a learning opportunity.

Doing much with little.

A little bit of flour, yeast, eggs, greens, poppy-seeds....

We have tools that dwarf everything available to da Vinci and Michelangelo and we still cannot approach their genius.

Art and creative genius is not the tools. It is the hands and the heart of the artist!

I find videos like this to be calming. There is nothing frantic or spastic in these videos.

Things take less time when you take the time it takes.

Wednesday, July 19, 2023

In defense of Joe Biden

The Harry formerly known as Prince and his tootsie Markle put the squeeze on Biden (and indirectly the US taxpayer) to give them a pro bono lift back to the states.

Biden's "people" said "Go fish".

I am OK with that.

Even a blind hog finds an acorn every once in a while.

...pleasures less fraught with guilt...

There are few pleasures less fraught with guilt than an icy-cold, dill-pickle on a hot day.

Mission Creep: Free s4it is never free


Not the greatest picture. I will update when I have a minute. Alternating 2x4 and 2x6 horizontals with 24" spacing.

I continue to go over to Mom's for loads of lumber. Correction, I made trips until I ran out of places to put it.

Dad had much of it stored in racks that hung from the floor joists of his two-story garage.

Figuring my dad was pretty smart, I decided I needed a similar rack.

$100 later I am pretty close to done. I did some calculations after the first-go-around and decided that I did not want to be beneath it if I loaded 1200 pounds of wood into the 60" wide by 16" high by 12' long space.

I doubled up on the horizontal supports and used 2X6s for the added horizontals. I should have used 2x6s for all of the horizontals.

Maximum load. Dead load at exact center of 60" span

No wonder the big guys can break a chord on a standard truss when they walk in attics. The engineering design limit suggests that 190 pounds is the limit for a 60" span of Douglas Fir and I know that a lot of guys weigh more than that.

I used the center loading instead of the more precise distributed loading because it is more conservative and because the math is much easier.

In a perfect world, four 2X4 beams and three 2X6 beams could support a bit over 1600 pounds of center load in simple bending.

I would appreciate it if any of the engineers out there wanted to double-check my math. I have not done these kinds of calcs since 1994.

"When in doubt

Make it stout

Of stuff you know

A lot about."

Tuesday, July 18, 2023

Did Trump supporters die of Covid in disproportionately higher numbers than Liberals?

I had my twice-a-year coffee date with Ken. Ken identifies as neither conservative or liberal but as an American.

Since he knew I liked to dink around with numbers and with data, he asked if I had any insight into the contention on the Left that Covid was more lethal in the counties that voted for Trump.

It was the first I had heard of it. I told Ken that I don't have opinions but like to look at the data and interpret the data.

"Fair enough" he said.

We agreed that in Michigan, Liberals are more likely to be found in higher percentages in more urban areas and in lower percentages in rural areas. That does not necessarily hold true in all parts of the country. For instance, the Mississippi Delta is very blue and very rural.

One difficulty that immediately suggested itself is that urban areas also tend to have a younger demographic. Young people perceive cities as "cool" and to have more employment opportunities. Rural areas tend be somewhat richer in mature citizens. So any analysis would have to wash out the effect of demographics, especially age.

With no further ado:

In round numbers, every additional 10 years of age tends to increase the death-rate per 100,000 by a factor of three. That is not too different than the factor of 2.5 for Influenza and Pneumonia.

The same data but shown on a log-scale. Large Central Metro areas had the highest mortality rate across the board. The straightness of the lines suggests that the ratio between age-buckets is close to constant.

Using age-adjusted data and degree of urbanization (2013 data) as a proxy for right/left leaning, it is impossible to reach the conclusion that "People who voted for Trump" died of Covid in disproportionately higher numbers.

All data supplied by the CDC.

Liars figure but figures don't lie.

Random thoughts on inflation, interest-rates and the death of government (as we know it)

One of the more unfortunate delusions spawned by "cheap money" is the pernicious idea that money doesn't come from work and public funding does not come from tax-payers.

By "cheap money" I mean lenders chasing consumers attempting to induce them to take on more credit: One more credit card, buy on time with first-six-months free and so on.

Leverage (debt) can be a powerful enabler on the upside and is a grim reaper on the downside.

A city or state that is growing economically used to be able to borrow $20 for every $1 of anticipated increase in tax revenue. They sold bonds and use the proceeds to build durable infrastructure.

Somewhere along the line, a bright-boy in the back room figured out they could spend the $20 on social programs and as long as they recovered more than $1 on increased sales and income taxes they were ahead of the game.

This where/when government believed they were uncoupled from productive tax-payers and stopped fixing the streets.

Debt exploded. Government stopped living on "taxes" and now live on "debt" with the understanding that the original principal will be rolled-over into perpetuity. No debt will ever really be paid-down. This happens at EVERY level of government.

What could go wrong?

Death spiral

At the micro level, too many people decided they did not have to work. Or, if they were employed that they did not have to be productive.

Inflation is too much money chasing too few goods and services.

When people don't work but get compensated anyway, there are fewer widgets and cans of White Claw produced, fewer plumbers fixing stopped up toilets and hurried staff boxing up and shipping the wrong parts. BANG! Inflation.

The classic fix for inflation is to shrink the money supply via raising interest rates. Fewer people opt to borrow money (if they have a choice) and the fractional-multiplier effect from the telescoping of loans partially collapses. The decision makers monitor the economy and hopefully catch the cooling economy before it drops into a full-blown Depression.


Remember that plan to never pay-off a loan but to keep rolling them over?

Every government entity has a "ladder" of loans coming due. Every year they have to refinance the ones that are scheduled to roll-over.

Two year T-bill rates
Suppose a city financed operations by issuing bonds at the 2-year T-bill rate + half a percent. Suppose the bonds were of two year duration. Please don't quibble that no city would ever do that...this is for the purpose of illustration.

In the depths of the collapse in the economy in response to Covid, suppose that they borrowed a brazian bucks in 2021 at 0.75% interest. In fact, money was so cheap they went whole hog and went on public works projects to provide money to their underemployed.

Very noble of them, no?

Now it is 2023 and they must refinance their 0.75% loans but their formula, two-year T-bill + 0.5% has them shelling out 5.25% which is 7 times more.

Even at 5.25% the loss of one tax dollar results in the loss of the ability to "service" $19 borrowed dollars. There is still a huge leverage but now it is whacking them about the ears on the downside as businesses and productive tax-payers flee the cities and blue-states. Every dollar that leaves California, for instance, reduces their ability to roll-over $19!

If they "limited out their credit card' based on their tax revenue, and if their tax revenue did not increase by a factor of seven then they are toast because they have very few options.

They could auction off public property to make up the difference. They can privatize the garbage collection and water/sewage services as a one-time stop-gap. It would end up costing many government jobs so that is extremely unpalatable.

They could become junk-yard dogs sniffing out tax revenue that somehow slipped through the cracks. Maybe they can tax prostitution and the illicit drug industry.

They could declare bankruptcy and tear-up the contracts with the employees and retirees and the people who owe them money.

Bet on the last alternative because even if the city dialed its expenses down to ZERO they still have an obligation to roll-over the debt. They already spent that money. They cannot un-spend it. The only way they can shake the bugger of that debt off of their finger is through bankruptcy.

At the Federal level

This problem impacts all levels of government. They have their sensitive body parts  in a wringer.

The way the Federal government "declares bankruptcy" is to deliberately and grossly inflate the currency. Rather than becoming something to avoid, inflation is deliberately encouraged.

That results in the theft of savings that are denominated in dollars and distorts (in a positive direction) durable assets that will not need to be purchased with the debauched currency.

Ironically, the younger generation has been brain-washed to value "experiences" which are the polar opposite of durable assets. They have also been brain-washed into valuing rapidly-evolving-technology (smartphones, game systems) which retain value about as long as a bouquet of roses does. Boy, they will be in for a shock!

Me? I am investing in seeds, hand-tools, fence posts and human capital.

Fine Art Tuesday


Charles Spencelayh born 1865 in Kent, England. Died in 1958.

In his later years he concentrated on pictures that captured the humor, pain, diminishing eyesight and other facts of aging. Who has not endured the humiliation of not being able to read the printing on the label of a medicine bottle?

He has an enormous "catalog".

Not all of his pictures were of old men

Needs longer arms

The first thing I noticed was the empty chair and the picture and table-clothes that needed to be straightened.

Dang it! Where are my cheaters and why is the lighting so dim?

20% alcohol. Maybe it won't fix my problem but maybe I don't care

Apprentice at a cobbler's shop. I guess him to be between 12 and 14 years-old.

Folks pay extra to buy pants like this lad's.

Painted in 1914

Maybe a life-long bachelor?

Monday, July 17, 2023

A few memes I could not resist


I heard of "Redbone Hounds" but these are the first Rednecks I ever saw.

The .303 Brit was one of the first incarnations of a light, anti-personnel round. It was introduced as a blackpowder cartridge with a 220 grain bullet when everybody else had 400 grain-to-500 grain behemoths. It is almost ironic that the 7.62X51mm NATO is dimensionally close to the .303 Brit but it has straighter teeth (less draft angle to the case).

I saw a woman with a hair-doo that reminded me of the old mines they used to drop into harbors. Same thing but stouter.

Veterans from Gettysburg circa 1913, at Gettysburg.

My first house cost $20k. I sold it six years later for exactly the same price. My house-payments (less taxes and insurance) were $180 a month.