Tuesday, October 31, 2023

Idle threats


Biden told Organized Labor "I don't work for you." in 2020.

Organized Labor injects mountains of money into Biden's party and represents about 10% of the voters. Muslims represent less than 1% of the voters and because they are not forced to pay "dues" they donate significantly less per-voter than Organized Labor.

Biden told Organized Labor to pound sand and he still got elected. It was almost as if he could conjure up however many votes he needed at-will.

For those reasons, Muslim voters threatening to withhold donations and votes are unlikely to get much traction with Biden.

Fine Art Tuesday


I started Fine Art Tuesday out of respect for Remus (believed to be deceased) who was the author of The Woodpile Report.

It seems fitting to have a Fine Art Tuesday post displaying woodpiles. Mundane circumstances cannot quench our beauty within.

Monday, October 30, 2023

Buddha say: Seek the Middle-Ground

Concealed or open?

I am not sure there needs to be a divide between the two positions.

According to Michigan Law (as I understand it), it is legal to "open carry" in almost all public venues and if you have the permission of the property owner it is legal on private property as well.

"Open" means that some portion of the firearm is visible. While one could argue that it could be one-square-millimeter viewed from one very specific direction, from a practical standpoint it will be much easier for your lawyer to argue your case if the entire grip or half of the slide is visible. Pigs get fat and hogs get slaughtered.

If you are open-carrying, then you might be doing it because you can pull your handgun out of its holster and bring it to bear more quickly than concealed-carry, be it to shoot a squirrel, grizzly bear or a crack-head. Consequently, the entire grip of your handgun is likely be exposed.

No point rubbing their noses in it

If you open carry, there is no profit in rubbing people's noses in it.

Kydex holsters are relatively cheap. How hard is it to cut some denim from an old pair of jeans and to use spray adhesive to glue it to the visible portions of the holster?

If you sometimes wear black-jeans, then how hard is it to spray-paint the holster with matte, dark-slate gray paint and simply have it become invisible? No shine. No contrast.

In a similar way, the grips on firearms can be changed. Wearing a denim shirt? You can buy blue-gray Micarta grips for your 1911. You don't HAVE to leave the BBQ-gun grips on your 1873 Colt Single-Action or 1911 when you are toting it around in the pucker-brush or swinging through the farm-supply store on your way home.

Sunday, October 29, 2023

Physical fitness report and thoughts on brooms

The good news is that I was able to run 4.5 miles yesterday in 53 minutes. I would love to get down to 10 minute miles but just being able to crank out 4.5 miles (with an additional half-mile walk-down) was thrilling.

In other good news, I found a neighbor who is willing to take the steer to the slaughter house and is interested in keeping the two heifers for breeding stock. He is even willing to coordinate with the butcher-shop so I don't have to get in the middle of playing "telephone". Life just got much, much better for me.

The bad news is that the ticks were active with our unseasonably warm weather. That will come to a screeching halt tomorrow.

"...empty, swept clean and put in order..."

 “When an unclean spirit goes out of a person it roams through arid regions searching for rest but finds none. Then it says, ‘I will return to my home from which I came.’ But upon returning, it finds it empty, swept clean, and put in order. Then it goes and brings back with itself seven other spirits more evil than itself, and they move in and dwell there; and the last condition of that person is worse than the first. Thus it will be with this evil generation.”   Matt 12:43-45

I chose to write about this passage because I think it might contain practical tips for dealing with the demons of our times.

This passage is ambiguous and can be read many different ways. Depending upon the way it is read, it will lead the modern reader into very different places. Consequently, most people studying this passage skim over it and put it aside for later study.

The reason the passage is ambiguous is because the author assumes that the reader has access to context that was obvious to those who were listening at the time and was probably ubiquitous to the time-and-place when Jesus said those words. Where I need to tippy-toe is that I will be speculating with regard to what cannot be known with certainty. What follows in this post is speculation about particulars that are not key matters of faith. If that bothers you, please stop reading.

Mental Health

It seems probable to me that "...demons..." were frequently referenced when describing why people with major, mental-illnesses behaved the way they did.

Even today, "...demons..." is about as useful of an explanation for some illnesses as what modern medical science offers: Bipolar, Multiple personality disorders, Psychosis (hearing voices) and so on.

Mental illnesses are perplexing to treat because one dysfunction seems to trigger other dysfunctions in a cascading avalanche of failures. ADHD triggers Anxiety which triggers Depression which triggers Oppositional defiance disorder which triggers Bipolar which...

People living in Biblical times would be keenly aware of the other people living in their village. Economically (as in calories/day) the vast majority of people were living on the knife's edge of just-enough and any neighbor who became possessed by demons represented a major threat to their economic lifeboat. Remember, one impulsive emotion-triggered thrust of a burning stick could burn down the entire village or destroy a ripe field of grain.

Standard of Care for mental illness, circa Year Twenty-five Common Era

I believe that the lost bit of ubiquitous information is that the cleaning of the house and putting in order was the "Standard of Care" for mental illness in the Biblical era.

Seen through the lens of what we think we know about mental-illness, it is not a bad strategy.

Simple, repetitive tasks like sweeping or counting or reciting the multiplication tables act as a metronome and slows the rapid-fire, staccato, over-revving mind and anxieties. Marsha Linehan called this "getting into 'wise-mind'".

The tangible act of sorting the important from that-which-should-be-discarded is a physical analog of what needs to be done mentally and emotionally. Frankly, how much mental illness is triggered or worsened by toxic, legacy relationships that should have been  discarded decades ago or by items that trigger guilt that is impossible to resolve (at this point)?

The cleaning-and-sorting process is also therapeutic because two objects cannot occupy the same space on the shelf. Likewise, two objectives cannot share the same priority. One cannot have one's cake and eat it at the same time. Human minds lock-up when the owner of the cake cannot decide which priority is more important. The act of cleaning informs us that we have to pick ONE item to put on the shelf. We can live with it for a while. We can change our minds at a later time. But to clean the room we have to make a decision NOW.

But what about the seven other demons, more evil than the first?

Even with modern therapies and modern drugs, treatments for mental illness do not always work.

I think the "seven demons more evil than itself" is a description of the cascading avalanche described a few paragraphs earlier.

At the level of society?

The strategies might be scalable to address the craziness we see in the streets of our nation.

Water cannons can be used instead of brooms. Those who attack the people cleaning the streets are not bulletproof. Access to entitlements should be swiftly denied to those who fail to behave in civilized ways. If they have children, the children should be placed in homes where the adults are civilized and the entitlements should follow the children.

If the people who are violent in the streets work in the public sector, they should be summarily fired. If they cannot be fired due to contractual reasons, then funding from the state and federal levels should be removed to the extent of 2X that persons gross cost of employment.

The difference between the village in the time of Christ and the cities of today is that it would take lot longer to rebuild the cities of today and the body count would be much, much higher.

If men of good character do not step-up then the demons will prevail. Fixing this is not difficult. Discarding toxic beliefs and fuzzy, feel-good theories that we cherish is what is difficult.

Saturday, October 28, 2023

Food banks, Age-related hearing loss and Mental Health advice

Number of searches for "Food Banks" on Google since 2004.

The sequence is very periodic with the points of the teeth being the week of Thanksgiving. The two fliers were April of 2020 when the economy was shut-down for Covid and Thanksgiving of 2020.

Over the last year, the top five states for rate-of-inquiries have been Washington, Montana, Alaska, Delaware and Arizona. The five lowest were Wisconsin, Mississippi, South Dakota, Minnesota, and New Yawk.

For those families who are likely to visit the food-bank just before Thanksgiving, I have it on good authority that Radio Station WKRP will be distributing turkeys at local Kroger stores.

Three trips to Lansing last week

I made three trips to Lansing for routine medical visits.

You will be pleased to learn that my hearing is about what you would expect of a geezer of my vintage. I have more degradation in my left ear than my right one. For most of the "banana" my degradation vis-a-vis an average 18 year-old is on the order of five-to-10 dBA. That means that my threshold for hearing requires three-to-ten times higher energy levels than required for a teenager.

The end that shows the highest loss (about 20 dBA) is in the 8000Hz range. That impacts my hearing of the letters "F", "Th" and especially "S".

Those letter-sound are not make with vocal cords but by buzzing/whistling. Try it!

"S" becomes "Sh" by moving your tongue farther back in your oral acoustical cavity which adds lower frequency content.

Upper-crust British "S" sounds have much higher high-frequency content than the softer, lazier US "S" sound. Listen to a member of "Parliament" say the word "Issue". The "S" sound comes hissing out.

My audiologist "suggested" that I could improve my listening skills by having face-to-face conversations. The shape of lips and the visibility of teeth are markedly different between "S", "F" and "Th" so my ears are good enough to discern that there is 5k Hz sound but not good enough to parse out exactly which letter-sound. That can be done visually.

As the "sender", I can improve my transmission by dwelling on "S" and "F" so the listener has more time to decode. This is possible because "Buzz/whistle/hiss" can be extended indefinitely unlike percussive letters like "P" and "B".

I can also soften the "Th" and substitute "D", i.e. "Dat" rather than "That" because the "D" sound has more mid-range content than "Th"

Gratuitous Mental Health advice

You can only have ONE priority that is Number One.

You are not responsible for things that happen that are outside of your control.

You are responsible for how you respond to those (unexpected) things that happen outside of your control.

People who are angry, hungry, tired, rushed or drunk make a lot of stupid decisions. Take care of yourself. Give yourself enough time. Wear shoes that fit well enough that you can walk three miles in them. Eat enough fiber and drink enough water.

Friday, October 27, 2023

Foraging (Cumberland Saga)

At breakfast, Sarah informed Blain that she was probably going to give him a new assignment at mid-morning, so he should organize his work for the day so that he could walk away without it all unraveling.

Blain felt put-upon, but he was not going to complain.

He spent the early morning dragging vines and branches from where Sig and the others had been cutting wood over to the nascent gully that was growing into Sarah’s garden allotment. He made separate piles for the vines and for the branches. He made separate piles of the straight sections of limb suitable for cutting into stakes and the poles for the chevrons to divert the flow. He staged them so the items he would need first were closest to the gully and the poles for the chevrons were further away.

A little past mid-morning, Sarah and Mary (Sarah’s six-year-old daughter) came out to where Blain was working. Sarah was pulling a nearly-empty garden cart. Blain recognized the wheels of the cart as the wheels-and-tires from a mountain bike. The combination made for a versatile all-terrain garden cart!

Sarah handed out snacks while she explained the game-plan. “It was windy last night and it knocked a lot of nuts and persimmons off of the trees. We are going to collect them, and while we are at it, we will mark any of the trees that have exceptionally good nuts or persimmons and Sig and the crew will spare them as they clear new ground.”

Blain nodded as he ate the winter-pear dumplings that Sarah had crafted out of some of the pears Blain had brought home from Sally’s. The transformation had been magical. Most of the pears were as hard rocks when Blain put them into the bag. Sally said they could sit on the grass for months before the frost softened them up or before they even started to think about rotting.

Sarah had chopped them finely, sauteed them in butter and mixed them with a bit of precious sugar and cinnamon and then wrapped them in dough. The result was spectacular!

It didn’t hurt that Blain was ravenous hungry from working three hours without a break.

After swigging some of the spring water that Sarah had brought, Blain said “Let’s go!”

Sarah said “Not so fast. Are you comfortable carrying and using a gun?”

Blain’s shock must have shown as he took a literal step back.

“Why?” he asked.

“Hogs and deer aren’t stupid” Sarah said. “They know that the wind knocked down persimmons and hickory nuts and they will be out there, too.”

Blain looked at Sarah quizzically.

“They will be out looking for persimmons and nuts, too. It is cold enough to cure meat and that is what animals are made of: Meat!” Sarah said.

Then she scowled. “Hogs also eat meat, especially from young animals that cannot out-run them” Sarah said as she looked, significantly, at Mary.

Those were dimensions that had never occurred to Blain.

“I never shot a gun” he said, lamely.

“We are going to have to fix that, but not today” Sarah said, shifting gears.

Picking up the handles of the garden cart, she said “Follow me” as she pulled it another hundred yards to the edge of the woods where Sig and the crew had been felling trees.

Parking the cart, Sarah started unloading it. She gave sacks and rope to Blain, a backpack to Mary and she picked up a long gun and made some adjustments to the sling before squirming into it with the gun slung diagonally across her back.

“Carrying it this keeps my hands free” she said to Blain.

Blain was star-struck. The sling angled diagonally across her chest and highlighted her bosoms. Not just any bosoms, but magnificent ones.

Blain had never noticed. Because of Sarah’s habit of dressing in layers of long, baggy, shapeless skirts and tops, there was no way he could have noticed. But God had blessed Sarah, and blessed her generously with very womanly breasts.

Sarah was oblivious of the impact she had on Blain.

She was giddy with joy, almost like a child. She was outside. She was collecting “free food”. And she was with Mary and a guy she was sweet on.

Blain responded to her joy.

Sarah showed him how to tie the parachute cord to a bottle half filled with water and throw it underhand up, into the persimmon trees. Then, slowly pulling it up until the bottle snagged on the bottom of the branch it had looped over. 

Repeatedly yanking on the rope shook the branch and made ripe persimmons tumble to the ground. Once the branch was freed of most of the ripe persimmons, it was a simple matter to let the cord play out through his hands and let the bottle drop down to the ground. 

Then Blain would pick out another branch and do his best to lob the water-bottle over that one.

Lather. Rinse. Repeat.

Sarah ate a couple persimmons from each tree. Some she spit out and said, “Let’s skip this one”. Others she would say “Lets collect some of these.”

There were only two of the trees that she marked by tying a bit of twine around the trunk. She insisted that Blain compared the “common” persimmons with the better ones. At first he didn’t notice that much difference, but after she had coached him, he was able to discern the ratio of seeds to pulp, the flavor and the smooth, luscious pulp of a "keeper" versus the pasty, juicelessness of some of the others. 

Sarah also cracked a few hickory nuts from beneath each tree. A few of the trees had nuts that popped out with minimal persuasion. Others clung tenaciously to the shell. Sarah marked five of the hickory trees as "keepers".

Walking down the spine of the slope toward a saddle, Blain noticed something white pushing up through the leaves. Curious, he drifted off the trail and pushed the leaves aside with the tip of his shoe. “What’s this?” he asked Sarah.

Blain could see Sarah’s eyebrows shoot up as she walked closer. “Puffballs!” she said.

“What are puffballs?” Blain asked.

“Edible mushrooms!” Sarah said.

For the next half-hour, Blain got an educartion on the importance of edible fungi (and sour cream) in the cuisine of Eastern Europe. He had no idea that his casual find was going to be celebrated by the entire population of Copperhead Cove.

Sarah had them put persimmons in one set of bags. Because they were “squishy” she tied them shut when they were only a quarter full. The hickory nuts, because they were heavy but immune to crushing were tied shut when the bags were half full. The bags that held puffballs were tied shut when they were half-full even though they didn’t weigh all that much.

Sarah was almost dancing. The puffballs were only slightly larger than softballs, which Sarah said was “prime”. Blain had been proud to find one the size of a basketball, but Sarah refused to put it in the bag. “Too big” she said.

Over the next several hours, Blain got a Ph.D level, crash course on foraging. Sarah made notes of where the squirrels were. Blain learned that Sarah refused to waste a shotgun shell* that cost almost a dollar to collect a pound or two of meat when she could send Lliam back later and have him collect the squirrel with a pellet that cost three or four cents.

He learned about Chicken-of-the-Woods and how if they were harvested without damaging the “roots” they would produce again as long as the tree lived. He learned that some hickory trees never produced much but some produced prodigious amounts most years.

Blain saw an entirely different side of Sarah than the Sarah-in-the-house. For one thing, she was moving and smiling and stretching. She caught him "looking" at her a few times when Blain thought it was safe to look. Inexplicably, he was mesmerized by her fluid motions and quite enchanted by trying to figure out what her body looked like beneath the rags she was wearing.

Blain never had that reaction to the girls in the college towns. There was never any mystery since they wore yoga pants or short-shorts and skin-tight or translucent tops. They "displayed" and preened in front of the guys whether they were interested in them or only teasing. Nope, there was never any shortage of women to look at in a college town.

Sarah was...different. Unlike the college-town girls, she did not take ten "selfies" a day to practice her merchandising skills. She just lived life.

And now, that meant bending over, stretching and reaching, picking up heavy bags and other motions that stretched the baggy clothing tightly against assorted, muscular body-parts. Parts that had suddenly become objects of fascination to Blain. The quick glimpses of small arcs and curves of her shape presented a challenge, a puzzle. Blain's brain would not let Blain leave that puzzle unsolved.

Catching Blain "looking", Sarah dimpled a smile and blushed...turned away and kept picking up hickory nuts.

Totally absorbed by the novel circumstances, Blain did not notice that Mary seemed quite taken with him. Sarah’s joy was a beacon that Blain had tuned into and Mary, in turn, resonated with both of them.

Mary was not a shy, retiring soul. She was a BIG personality in a small child’s body. Already, she was was a person who spurned half-way measures. She was either all-in, or all-out.

And with Blain, she was all-in.

Blain did not notice.

But Sarah did.

*For those who are curious about minutia, Sarah was carrying a single-shot, 12 gauge with a Foster slug in the chamber in case they encountered deer or hogs. She is also carrying a couple of rounds, loose in her pocket of bird-shot in case they came across turkeys. They are worth burning up a shotgun round on.

No, she does not have a hunting license. 

Next Installment

Hey Grandpa, what's for supper?


Last night's supper. The kielbasa did not come from our property but everything else did.

We had a flavor shoot-out between Carillon and Merlin beets. Merlin won.

The advantage of cooking vegetables in the oven as opposed to boiling them is that dry air intensifies flavors rather than leaching them away.

If you eat this way you have to make an effort to ensure that you are eating enough fat. One way to make that happen is to coat the cabbage wedges with butter or bacon grease before baking them. Sprinkle with garlic powder or black pepper and you have a feast fit for a king.

I marvel that 25% of the people who responded to this survey lacked the discretion to keep this opinion to themselves. I don't answer surveys. I don't know who is on the other end of the line. I don't hand out ANY information. None. Not how many windows my house has or its square-footage. I don't volunteer how many kids I have or their locations. I don't put up yards signs or decorate.

If they need to know, they can issue a subpoena and they can depose me and I will show up with my lawyer.

And you all know that I am a warm, caring, peace-loving American. Words can be twisted.

Thursday, October 26, 2023

Bleg (Sweet Sorghum)

Sweet Sorghum is the temperate climate analog of Sugar Cane.

While the juice from well-grown Sugar Cane will typically tip the scales at +20% sugar (mostly sucrose, the sweetest sugar), well grown Sweet Sorghum might tip the scales at 15% sugar with only a third of it being sucrose.

By comparison, the sap from a Sugar Maple tree might have 3% sugar.

What that means in practical terms is that a fellow in Vermont making maple syrup might have to boil away 18 gallons of water to make a gallon of maple syrup while a fellow in the tropics might have to boil off three gallons of water to make a gallon of cane molasses and the fellow in Missouri might have to boil off five gallons to make a gallon of sorghum molasses.

Early enthusiasm about biofuels generated a great deal of interest in using sorghum as a feed-stock for ethanol production. Minnesota seemed to be the hot-spot for the research. They developed several lines of sorghum that were well over 16% BRIX and were well suited to production in the eastern United States.

The fickle finger of fashion moved on. Direct use of sorghum juice was discarded as not-economical probably because of the short season it was available. Most people forgot about the Minnesota sweet sorghum varieties. A few seeds remain in freezers in USDA facilities.

Other sources of interesting sweet sorghum genetics are from Ethiopia (Gambela cultivars) and India (Juar cultivars). For the record, there is a Sudanese cultivar called Coral that is very similar to the Ethiopian genetics that is available in commerce.

I don't know if any of my readers have ever grown sweet sorghum or have a friend who has a cousin who...knows somebody with access to some of these seed lines. But if you do, I would love to hear about it.

Shotgun choke


Shotgun of known choke on left. Mystery choke on right. Two "hanging chads" on bottom of card on left were NOT counted.
One of my neighbors showed up with a shotgun with a screw-in choke insert. He did not know what "choke" it was and wondered if I had any way to measure it.

I think I confused him when I told him "Choke doesn't kill rabbits, pattern does".

We sometimes get carried away measuring proxies for what we really care about. There are times when it is more straightforward to measure the result that we actually care about.

I folded a 3"-by-5" card in half and taped it to a cardboard box and then paced off twenty paces. By my figuring, the heart-lung area of Peter Cottontail is about half the size of a 3"-by-5" card.

A shotgun with a known choke was fired at the first card and I counted six pellet holes in each half. By my figuring, three pellets through the H-L of a rabbit is sufficient for a humane kill.

The shotgun with unknown choke was fired using the same loads and I counted 7 holes in one half and twenty in the other. My conclusion is that the mystery choke throws a tighter pattern than the known choke.

The difference between the two halves of the card for the mystery choke is not a big deal. There are a boatload of factors influencing the uniformity through the center of the pattern and how much the fringes scatter. By any reasonable approximation, the mystery choke will be able to whack red squirrels (cross-sectional area of about the same area as a full 3"-by-5" card) with authority at 20 paces and humanely take rabbits out to 35 or so paces.

Good "science" would involve a larger grid of rectangles and many more rounds down the tube(s), but this demonstration was enough to give my neighbor confidence that his garden-defense tool was going to be a veritable death-ray for anything threatening his cabbages.

Storage unit auctions

Hi Point 9mm Carbine. Selling price of $195 Auctioneer website

Sears model 200 shotgun $115

Manhattan Arms SxS 12 gauge, $195

Mossberg 500 $170

SIG 229 $270

If you are keeping precious things in a storage unit, make sure you keep up-to-date on your payments.

Because you might get tied up or bonked on the head, make sure you have a back-up person lined up to retrieve the goodies BEFORE it goes to auction.

If you are looking for something to ballast your canoe, these are the kind of firearms the kids call "Fudd Guns", that is, older technologies, less fashionable calibers, economy or "house-brand" models, dowdy furniture. They tend to be available at reasonable prices. Let the buyer beware as some might not be safe to fire.

And before you ask, nope...I did not buy any of these firearms. If things get sporty I intend to go magnet fishing from a bridge across the river.

Winchester 670 in 30-06 $270

Wednesday, October 25, 2023

The Book of Esther

The Old (Hebrew) Testament book of Esther has particular challenges to scholars who want to translate it into modern, vernacular languages.

One of the major challenges is that there are two "competing" versions. There is a surviving manuscript that is slightly more senior written in Hebrew (circa 250 BC) and there is a slightly younger surviving manuscript written in Greek (circa 50 BC).

Most translations use the significantly slimmed down, senior document and make no reference to the "competing" version written in Greek. That is probably the correct choice BUT there is a possibility (however faint) that the older Hebrew version was abridged due to the expense of parchment and the Greek version might-maybe be the unabridged version.

One passage from the junior manuscript in Chapter 8 of Esther that is positioned after Esther 8:12 in the senior manuscript follows:

The great King Ahasuerus to the governors of the provinces in the hundred and twenty-seven satrapies from India to Ethiopia, and to those who are loyal to our government: Greetings

“Many (administrators) have become more ambitious the more they were showered with honors through the bountiful generosity of their patrons. Not only do they seek to do harm to our subjects but, incapable of dealing with such greatness, they even begin plotting against their own benefactors. (Benefactor being the Chief Executive)

Not only do they drive out gratitude from among humankind but, with the arrogant boastfulness of those to whom goodness has no meaning, they suppose they will escape the stern judgment of the all-seeing God. 

“Often, too, the fair speech of friends entrusted with the administration of affairs has induced many placed in authority to become accomplices in the shedding of innocent blood, and has involved them in irreparable calamities by deceiving with malicious slander the sincere good will of rulers. 

This can be verified in the ancient stories that have been handed down to us, but more fully when you consider the wicked deeds perpetrated in your midst by the pestilential influence of those undeserving of authority. 

We must provide for the future, so as to render the kingdom undisturbed and peaceful for all people, taking advantage of changing conditions and always deciding matters coming to our attention with equitable treatment.

Regardless of whether you think the passage is Divinely inspired and merits inclusion in the Biblical Canon, you must admit the passage has a timeless quality about it. That passage could have been written yesterday about the Deep State and it would ring every bit as true as it did when first inked onto parchment.

Tunnel vision (Cumberland Saga)

On Monday, Sally showed Blain the work that needed to be done to stabilize the approaches to the gully. Sally had Blain dragging logs and laying them down in inverted-”V”s or chevrons. Sally made a big deal of making sure the logs were laid parallel to the slope and leveled so high-water would spill evenly over the tops of the logs rather than be funneled to the ends where it would gouge two new gullies.

Not only did Blain have to cut and drag the poles, he had to pack clay beneath them and lay in stone on the uphill side. Then he had to pound stakes into the ground on the downhill sides to keep the water from floating them off in the event of another hurricane. 

It was hot just hard, dirty work. It was fussy to boot.

Sally make a grocery run after he got Blain started. The work was simple and did not require supervision.

Blain fumed as he worked alone. He had been looking forward to being able to vent that he had struck-out with regard to fertilizing the fields of Copperhead Cove. Instead, Sally had dumped the job on him and gone running off.

Sally was back a couple of hours before sunset and he was carrying a mason jar partially filled with a clear liquid. He smacked his lips after taking a long sip and handing it to Blain. “A working man deserves his wages” Sally announced.

Blain had a pretty good idea what it was. He took a very cautious sip. “I reckon you cut this with a little bit of water” he ventured.

“Yeah. I ain’t tryin’ to hurt ya” Sally agreed, pausing to take another long swig. “That is about four parts water to one-part sqeezin’s.”

After passing the jar back-and-forth a few times, Sally asked, “So, didjya talk to Sig about the fertilizer?”

Blain sadly shook his head. “Yep, I did but it was a no-go. He said they tried it twice before and it was a disaster.”

Sally nodded his head. “Yep. I sorta remember that now. The corn blew over.”

“If you knew that, why did you send me on a fool’s mission?” Blain asked angrily.

“What did Sig say about the potatoes?” Sally asked, changing the subject.

“Potatoes?” Blain asked, mystified.

“Ya did ask him about the potatoes, dinchya?” Sally asked.

Blain shook his head “No. What was I supposed to ask him?” 

"Fertilizer, ya dummy. Ya coulda asked him about fertilizing the taters."

“I didn’t even think about it” Blain admitted. Then, after a pause “Why, would fertilizer help the potatoes, too?”

“Damned straight it would” Sally said. “A trailer load an acre might not double the crop but it sure wouldn’t hurt it any.”

Blain's shoulders slumped. “Sig said not to bother him until I got all the details figured out. Said he didn’t have time or energy to hold my hand on this.”

“Sorta sounds to me like he is doin’ ya a favor” Sally said.

“How do ya figure?” Blain asked, bitterly. From his viewpoint, Sig wasn’t doing him any favors at all.

“Yer's to manage. If you get it all figured out it is yer success. Its yer's to sort out if ya fall on yer face. At least ya won't have nobody else stirring the pot screwin things up” Sally said. "And the way I see it, he is treating you like a grown-up man."

“But I don’t have a truck or a trailer” Blain said. “I don’t know where to get the ground limestone. I don’t know none of that stuff.”

“Stop lookin’ at what you ain't got. Do you know people who have trucks-n-trailers?” Sally asked.

“Well, yeah. I know you. You know that” Blain said, exasperated that Sally was asking questions with obvious answers.

“So what do you have to trade?” Sally wanted to know.

“I got a little bit of money saved up?” Blain said, thinking of his bank-roll from doing odd-jobs in town.

“That ain’t what I asked. What do you have to trade?”

“My time?” Blain guessed

“Now yer cooking” Sally informed him. “Lotta widder-wimmin in these hills. They got chores that need doin and I ain’t gonna get up on no ladders or runnin’ no chainsaws for them.”

“You-n-me take care a them widders for a day and I will let you borrow my truck and trailer for a day. Even-steven” he said.

That got Blain to thinking. If he could convince Lliam to help him, he could run back-and-forth from the chicken-farm to Copperhead Cove. The two of them could shovel the chicken-shit into a farm trailer and Lliam could drive it out to the field and unload it into a pile to be spread later. Between the two of them they could move a lot of chicken-shit in a day.

“What about the limestone?” Blain asked.

“You go with me and load the bags for both of us and I will truck them for free. But I will let ya buy your share with some of the money you have” Sally said.

That seemed fair.

“So now all I have to do is to convince Sarah and Sig to let me work for you for a couple more days” Blain said.

“That ain’t too hard” Sally said. “Next time it looks like an all-day rain, tell them you and me gonna fix leaky roofs for the widder-women. Can't find leaks when it ain't rainin' and you can't be workin' in the fields either. Unless it is a Sunday, they will let you go.”

The more Blain thought about it, the more possible it seemed.

“So how do I convince Sarah and Sig?” Blain asked. “They pretty much slammed the door shut.” 

"First of all, ya keep yer yap shut until everythin is set up and ready to rock-n-roll. They say "Yes" ya wanna be able to make it happen 'fore they can change their minds" Sally advised.

“Once yer all ready ta pull the trigger, tell’em you been thinking on it. Ask them if they ever had a problem with anybody fertilizin’ the taters. Knowin’ Sig...tell him you wanna run an experiment and maybe just fertilize some of the tater patches.” Sally said.

Sally insisted that Blain fill a gunny-sack with the hard, winter pears from the tree in his yard. "We ain't gonna eat-em all." Sally said by way of explanation.

Blain suspected that Sarah would be in a good mood when he brought home fifty pounds of free food. The frosting on the cake was that Sally gave him a ride home in truck so he didn't need to figure out how to balance the gunny sack on his bike.

Next Installment

Tuesday, October 24, 2023

Fine Art Tuesday


Gunnar Mauritz Widforss Born in 1879 in Sweden. Died in 1934 in the United States. Widforss specialized in painting subjects from the wilderness in watercolor. 

I am not 100% sure this is a Widforss but I think it is.
A tip of the chapeau to the tireless Lucas

Supreme Court to review Chevron Doctrine

The Supreme Court is scheduled review a case with extremely far-reaching implications, implications that impact you and me.

The specifics of the case is that a US Federal agency mandated that fishermen in the Atlantic install electronic monitoring equipment and that the fishermen pay for it out of their own pocket.

The fishermen sued claiming that the agency had no authority to make that mandate because there is no language out of Congress that specifically gives the agency that power. That is, the authority to force the target to install electronic spying devices on the target's property on the target's dime.

Lower court decisions have been split with many citing the Chevron Doctrine which holds that Federal agencies have the authority to create mandates sans legislative review if the agency believes that those mandates are helpful in executing directives that were defined in legislative language.

To point to how intrusive and ridiculous this could become, a strict interpretation of the Chevron Doctrine means that the U.S. Department of Transportation might determine that installing speed limiters on all automobiles in the United States would save lives and they could mandate they be retrofitted on every vehicle on the road at the owners' cost, all without review by Congress.

The reason the case brought by the fishermen is so creepy is because if the Supreme Court rules that the Federal agency's actions were within the law, that sets a precedent giving the U.S. Federal government de facto authority to mandate that citizens place smart-devices in every room of their house. Devices with microphones and cameras. Devices with logic to process words and search for key phrases. Devices to call first-responders if they sense a lack-of-wellness ("Alexa, call 9-1-1") or sense hydrocarbons from gun cleaning products or hear certain frequencies that suggest a crying baby.

If the Feds have the power to mandate, they have the power to punish you if you do not comply.

So in a very real sense, this case is about giving the Metastasizing Surveillance State a green-light to force citizens to place "bugs" in every room of their living quarters.


Comprehensive Employee Manual

Jerry, the character in the last story, is an idiot savant. He has an inhuman ability to remember and recall data but no ability to exercise softer skills like judgement.

Jerry is the future. Jerry is AI.

Monday, October 23, 2023

"Would you kill another human to save your child's life?"

 Not every mother said "Yes!"

Chojuro and Niitaka as parents in Asian Pear breeding


Red are named pears out of Japanese breeding programs with Chojuro as one parent. Blue are pears with Chojuro as one grandparent. Green are pears with Chojuro as one great-grandparent. Cyan are pears with Chojuro as a great-great grandparent. Aqua is a pear with Chojuro as a great^3 parent.

Pears bred in Korea

Source of graphic
Niitaka shows up as parent in 7-of-9 pears released by breeding programs in Korea. That contradicts the parents of record in five-of-six cases.

Niitaka has Chojuro as one of its parents.

Prepotent breeders are a two-edged sword. The breeder produces high percentages of seedlings with desirable characteristics but over multiple generations there is the risk of an ever-narrowing genetic base for the crop.

Comprehensive Employee Manual (Short Fiction)

I stood in front of the Manager’s office in a modified Parade-Rest posture. It was a fine place to keep a finger on the pulse of the Muy Verde Grocery store. It was right beside the Convenience Center where customers could make last minute impulse purchases of booze, lottery tickets and tobacco. 

The Convenience Center was a drop-in-the-bucket in terms of square-footage but it generated as much profit for the store as the entire line of cashier stations that processed general groceries.

Immediately to my left was the rotating rack that held the individual servings of vodka, gin and rum, known as "minis" in the trade. That four-square-feet had by far the highest profit/square-foot in the entire store. It was also had the highest shrinkage rate.

Muy Verde was very progressive and was right on top of all of the scientific management practices.

The bright-white terrazo floor had a subtle "X" worked into the seemingly random pattern of aggregate. That "X" indicated where the manager should be standing when not otherwise occupied.

I was standing on the "X".

Unfortunately, one of other progressive practices that Muy Verde was proud of included the idea of The Working Manager.

It was right at the beginning of my regular working shift. My dark gray cargo slacks were still crisply creased and my button-down oxford was immaculate. Shoes shined and my belt had the ideal two-holes showing. With all due modesty, I looked like I had stepped off of a recruiting poster. More accurately, I was almost an exact replica of the illustration on the inside cover of the Company's Comprehensive Employee Manual.

Standing there, I could not help but notice the angry customer prancing toward me. Eyes blazing, he stopped three feet in front of me and demanded “Are you the manager?”

“How may I help you today?” I asked. One of the leading-edge practices that Muy Verde was proudest of was their egalitarian, universal “Associate’s Manual” that was given to every employee from CEO to the lowliest, part-time associate in Produce. “How may I help you today?” had been scientifically proven to be the least offensive and most profitable way to greet customers in every situation (Page 14, second paragraph). I lived and breathed the manual.

“My pronouns are Shey/Shem/Xir” the customer led off.

Your cashier misgendered me and then your cashier made it worse by mocking me by using a non-preferred pronoun. I am so mad that I cannot even remember WHICH pronoun he used”  the customer hyper-ventilated.

“Oh dear!” I emoted empathy. The manual advised that we emote empathy and sympathize with our customers at all times.

“Either one of those transgressions is an offense that will result in the associate being fired. It says so in our employee manual and every employee, from top-to-bottom receives 80 hours of mandatory training every year on the contents of our employee manual and we are tested afterward so there is no excuse for misgendering” I informed the customer.

“First, I need a couple of details. What is your name?” I asked. On page 53 the company manual informed us that asking for the customer's name creates a bond and fosters trust.

“Now we are getting somewhere!” the customer crowed. “My name is Kevin McCandels.”

“Thank-you Kevin. And which of our cashiers misgendered you and then failed to use your preferred pronouns?” I asked.

The customer pointed at Josh, a flamboyantly gay man in his mid-twenties. Josh shrugged at me with a “shit happens” turn of his hands.

“OK, Karen, let me get this straight. You came in here to buy some groceries and now your day will not be complete until you get Josh fired. Do I have that straight?” I asked with a neutral, information seeking tone.

The customer’s name snapped backwards. “What did you just call me? Did you call me KAREN!!!???”

“I don’t have the time or energy to keep your silly, made-up pronouns straight and I will be fired if I get them wrong. So I just go with proper names now” I informed him.

“You called me Karen!!!” he huffed.

I rolled my eyes. Page 54 of the manual informs us that mirroring body language deepens emotional trust bonds. I was a bit proud that I was dialing into the customer's middle-school level body-language so quickly.

"Mirroring body-language" did not seem to work in this case.

“I am sorry if using your first name was too familiar, Candlestick” I apologized. I pulled a stick of Wrigley’s Doublemint out of my shirt pocket unwrapped it and pushed it into my mouth. This was shaping up to be an entertaining evening.

The customer’s partner came over to see why Candlestick was getting loud and starting to strut like a randy rooster.

Usually, in these kinds of situations, one of the couple is markedly more masculine than the other. It always struck me as odd that non-traditional couples who were bravely striking off to find their own, personal reality worked so hard to jam their pentagonal prisms through round and square holes. Never-the-less, we must redouble our efforts to ensure that every customer feels they have a home at Muy Verde (Page 5, 15, 25,…,135). But I digress.

I could not tell which of the two was the masc and which was the fem. Both had patchy facial hair. Candlestick was wearing yoga pants, a tutu and sparkly slippers while partner had on a cowboy hat, pronounced mammary development, a spangly sash with a tin-plated rodeo buckle, "Where's Waldo" striped socks and wing-tips.

They both smelled strongly of cannabis.

“So, Karen, policy dictates that I tell you to fill out the on-line complaint form and it will be processed in eight-to-ten business days.”

“You called me Karen!!!” he said with eyes snapping. He was really stuck on that.

“Yeah, well. I would get fired if I used the wrong pronoun but there is nothing in the manual mandating discipline if I don’t use your preferred first and/or last name. I know because I looked” I said with a tired sigh.

“So Candlestick, why don’t you and your buddy take your bags of munchies and toddle on out of here so good, hard-working people like Josh can go about their jobs and ensure that the citizens of this fair city have food to eat and a libation to unwind with after dealing with difficult people?”

Page 78 of the employee manual suggested that re-framing roles in terms of overarching objectives and reiterating how everybody must cooperate collective to meet the needs of society is the most productive method to defusing conflict. Also pursuant to defusing conflict, I maintained eye-contact with him while explaining the overarching reasons for Muy Verde reason for existence.

Candlestick was spitting mad and was starting to stamp his feet. His buddy was close behind. Empathy and all that.

“If you need help filling out the on-line form, I am sure you can find a 13 year-old somewhere who is familiar with the internet” I added. “On second thought, maybe you should find a 19 year-old. Yeah, in your case, a 19 year-old would be a much safer choice.” 

The manual points out that while creating empathy bonds are the first step, the issues brought by customers must be resolved. Clearing my throat "You know, in recognition of the fact that your self-esteem is so bruised by a gay dude refusing to play your childish, Simon-Says pronoun game, maybe you should consider using the self-checkout lane in the future..."

Fifty-two seconds later, I pulled out my smartphone and tapped in 9-1-1.

“You again, Jerry?” Anthony sighed from the other end.

“Yeah. Sorry. We have two customers destroying the Convenience Center and assaulting our cashier. Can you send Law Enforcement?” I asked.

“On the way” Anthony said.

“Do you want me to stay on the phone?” I asked. The company manual is very firm on staying cool and maintaining command-and-control during crisis situations.

“No, we got this” Anthony said, the quintessential professional he always was.

Maggie was giving as good as she got. She was a farm girl from the valley. The company manual mandated a 30 day suspension “for investigative purposes” when there was an employee-customer altercation. Seeing how Maggie had an uncle who was an attorney I had no doubt that in Maggie’s case it would be 30 days PAID leave and that she would be reinstated. The security video would show that the customers had instigated the altercation...totally unprovoked by Maggie.

And then Big Mike waded into the fray. Big Mike used to be a bouncer, back in the day and he still lifted. He had been in back mopping up a huge spill of orange-juice. Muy Verde was deeply committed to the environment and used glass packaging as much as possible to save the oceans and because glass was recycleable (Page 83). Unfortunately, dropping a case of orange juice made for a sticky mess that would get tracked all over the store if it was not dealt with immediately.

Boy! Big Mike certainly knew how to throw a straight-arm. This was not Big Mike’s first rodeo by a long shot. He knew how to game the security cameras and it LOOKED LIKE he was simply throwing up a fore-arm to defend against the aggressor’s swings. You had to be watching to notice that the arm continued to accelerate after it had batted away the ineffectual swing. The straight-arm clothes-lined Candlestick’s anorexic buddy and in Candlestick’s rage he was unaware that it was now two-against-one.

The kerfuffle ended seconds afterward.

Walking up to the managers office and kicking away through the 50ml minis from the stand the couple had up-ended, Big Mike asked “What are you doing here?”

“The company manual states that terminated employees are to present themselves to the manager one week after termination to receive a box containing the personal contents from the employee locker they had been assigned” I said. Then I helpfully added “Says so on Page 137 of the manual.” 

Sniffing the air, I said "You might want to run through the shower and put on some fresh clothes. They must have broken some whiskey bottles in the scuffle." Muy Verde graciously supplied a small, uni-sex locker-room that almost nobody used.

“Jesus, Jerry” Big Mike said with a tired shake of his head. “I wish I could have kept you because you are a hard worker but you just seem to rub people the wrong way.”

“The manual says on pages 23 and 69 that customers are very empathic and can pick up on associate’s emotional state. I guess I am just soured on humans. They are all bastards and cannot be trusted.”

Big Mike nodded in agreement. “That they are. Indeed, that they are.”


---Author's note: Written in the first person because this is how I feel many days. This piece was also an exercise in using "tags".---

Sunday, October 22, 2023

Beef, Sports-ball, Coleslaw, Pears, Pellets and Tags

I started several posts for this weekend. I even finished a couple. But I did not publish them. Puzzling.

I am finding myself more attached to the characters in the Cumberland saga than to the short-stories. Consequently, it is unlikely that a short-story will drop on Monday.

Mrs ERJ has several errands tomorrow that are not-negotiable so I will be watching Quicksilver.

On the positive side, I got the cows moved to a new paddock. I have 24 cow-weeks of forage standing in the pasture and three cows. The bottom line is that I need to depopulate at least two of the beasts and turn them into meat. The bottleneck is the coupling between needing a trailer and needing to secure a slaughter date(s). Each is contingent upon the other. 

The go-to-hell plan is to turn at least one of the beeves into a hanging carcass about Nov 10. By then, it should be cool enough to hang as quarters and then whittle away into freezer meat. Frankly, this is stressing me.

College sports

Father Dwight, pastor of where I attend church, is a University of Michigan fan. I went to Michigan State University. They competed in football yesterday.

"So, Father Dwight, do you know what MSU and U-of-M have in common?" I asked him this morning.

"Hard to say, Joe" he ventured, warily. (It is not like this is the first time we have had these kinds of exchanges).

"They both have perfect records in the Big Ten" I replied. MSU has a perfect record of all losses while U-of-M has a perfect record of wins.

Father Dwight nodded sagely. "Good way to look at it" he agreed.


The first recipe we tried, 50:50 oil:vinegar and two teaspoons of sugar per cup of O:V, plus a bit of garlic and dill leaf was a home-run.

The cabbage was Deadon savoy cabbage. Carrots and a tart apple were also shredded and added to the mix.

Being a glutton, I will manfully try the other submissions.

Pear trees

I transplanted six pear rootstock on Friday. Five of them went into the food-hedge to be grafted over. One went into the "serious orchard".

I convinced Mrs ERJ to eat Asian Pears for her breakfast fruit so I can collect the seed. The downside of grafting for a food-hedge is that the plants take a beating and revert back to the rootstock.

One of the rabbit-holes I went down involved SSR DNA investigations of Asian Pears. It comes as no surprise that the DNA contradicts what the breeders claimed were the parents of many varieties. Chojuro and Niitaka pears are much more highly represented in fact than in the published records. Plant breeding is highly competitive and breeders have been known to be misleading in which parents have been most productive for them.

In my orchard I have both Chojuro and Korean Giant which has Chojuro as a parent. One of my Korean Giants is surrounded by European Pear Potomac which might be an interesting pollen donor. A bunch of Korean Giant X Potomac seedlings might be great trees to have in a food-hedge.

I like late-ripening Asian Pears. They are extremely productive, precocious and trouble-free. They are almost the perfect home-orchard fruit.

.177 Pellet guns

My Beeman pellet gun has shown a very marked preference for RWS Meisterkugeln 8.2 grain pellets.

I thought there was something wrong with the weapon or my technique. I just could not get it to "hit".

I finally worked my way around to these pellets and it was as if a light-switch was flipped. Shooting chipmunks at 15 yards sounds pretty mundane but it is a big deal if you went from shooting patterns to whacking three-out-of-four.

For the record, a 8.2 grain, .177" pellet launched at 1000 fps is enough to smoke a Fox Squirrel at 10 yards. In my humble opinion, a Fox Squirrel is at least three times harder to kill than a full-grown Cottontail Rabbit.


One of the bits of advice I was given by Alma Boykin was to consider using a few more words to picture-frame my dialog to lead the reader and to help provide frame-of-context and a mental picture.

I am playing with that and it has been hard.

The writer jargon for that picture-frame is called "tags". Instead of "Blah, blah, blah" ERJ said. it could be something like "Blah, blah, blah" ERJ trumped while pirouetting atop the obelisk as lasers slashed downward from each of his lightening fast hands upon the infidels below.

Yeah...be gentle. I am new at this.

In response to TB's comment on the previous post

TB wrote: Well, on the bright side, the second article is an activity that is pretty much cost free. Which is important in these troubled economic times...

Q: How can you tell if somebody has an MBA?
A: "It depends"

Maybe "free" for people in our age cohort as long as we enjoy it with our spouse. Kids are expensive. Divorce is even more expensive.

Saturday, October 21, 2023

A couple of articles to brighten your week

Viagra could cut the risk of Alzheimer's disease by 60 per cent in men and 45% in women, study finds

Sex Appears to Protect Brain Health in Older Adults, Scientists Say

The money quote: 

Among those aged 75 to 90, the frequency of sex appeared to be key. This group was found to have significantly better cognitive function five years on if they were currently having sex at least once a week.
A tip of the toque to Coyote Ken.

Gadgets, technology, prices, cabbage and other stuff

I am not a big "gadget" guy but they can make life easier.

I have a backpack that I put Quicksilver into and we take walks. It has been good for my physical and emotional health to get outside and walk for two or three miles. Quicksilver seems to enjoy it as long as there are birds, squirrels, dogs and cats to look at while walking.

I have a blinking LED light that I put in the mesh bag on the back of the pack for visibility. I simply turn it on to "heartbeat mode" and drop it in. That gives me peace of mind.

I added a solar-powered passive, IR driveway sensor to our bristling array of defense-in-depth. Handsome Hombre drops Quicksilver off at various times depending on when he is expected to show up at work. The sensor chimes that somebody comes up the driveway. Last night at 1:08 a half-dozen deer walked through and woke me up, but that is the price of progress.

The official blogging lap-top

The official ERJ blogging lap-top had a near-death experience a couple of days ago. It stopped charging. The battery icon would show it was charging but it never gained charge in the battery.

Quicksilver is as enchanted with this device as I am. She watches me as I plug things into the various ports on the device. She mimics me. Carrots, pacifiers, tableware, pencils...all manner of non-standard hardware have been tested for Windows 7 compatibility. When Quicksilver gets too kinetic, I put the lap-top into "time-out" to keep it safe and as a mild form of discipline (both Quicksilver and I suffer).

I was beset with anxiety. I did not panic but I priced out a new battery and charger. My anxiety increased when I undid all of the screws on the bottom of the keyboard and could not pry off the cover plate.

The problem resolved itself when I was transporting the lap-top and charger out of time-out. The connection between the 120V cable and the step-down transformer was loose. I firmly seated the 120V cable into the transformer and now everybody is happy.

Big sigh of relief!

Technology giveth and technology taketh away

My ability to comment is still mysteriously not working.

Reader Michael commented that the US population in 1850 was about 10% of our current population. He also noted that when the technology fails that we will likely see a horrific famine. Michael is implying that access to the inputs needed to execute those technologies are likely to be impaired for any one of dozens of reasons.

I mostly agree with his premise AND I want to add some nuance. Some "technology" is as simple as dates penciled on to the door-frame of a garden shed. Or selected land-races of various crops. Or the idea of growing multiple crops in the same field or a crop-rotation that includes nitrogen-fixing crops. Or the concepts of vitamins and complementary amino-acids in various foods.

Same for food-storage. Dry foods last a long time. Sprouting grains and other seeds are a way of "making" vegetables in the winter that don't involve South America and Boeing 747s. Root-cellars, clamps and mulching root crops will keep many vegetables in eatable condition until spring-time. Pickling and fermentation can both preserve foods and increase some vitamins.

Technology that is "knowledge" can be scaled very rapidly and can be very durable. The key phrase is ...can be. Many of our recent failures in technology were due to atrophy of the skill-base. The water treatment plants in Flint, Michigan and Jackson, Mississippi as well as countless data breaches in the cyber realm come to mind. 



I had the opportunity to eat breakfast in real restaurants twice this week.

The first was at Truckin' Good Diner in Lansing. $15 for a pulled-pork sandwich and a half-handful of french-fries. Throw in a beverage and a tip and you were looking at a $25 bill. Yuppies and hip-young people were a steady stream of showing up and then walking away because there was a fifteen minute wait to get into the restaurant.

The second time was at a more local diner and with the tip it was $25 for a single two-egg omelette (which we split it three ways), a side of coleslaw and a cup of hot-chocolate (Quicksilver's first taste). 

---An Aside---

My plan for today is to go out to our garden and pick a head of cabbage and turn it into $60 worth of coleslaw with fifteen minutes of work.

I will consider it a great favor if any of my readers want to volunteer recipes for their favorite dressing for coleslaw. I like shredding in carrots and maybe even some tart apples. I favor non-creamy dressings that are not super-sweet but I will read all of the comments. I should have enough shredded cabbage to attempt several different batches of dressing. 

---End Aside---

The hip-young people will never have positive net-assets as long as they value "experiences" as much as they do.


I am building some shelving to fit along a wall of our basement. I am enjoying the mental exercise. I will NEVER be a finish carpenter but it is shelving and it is going into a basement.

The specifications are for the shelving to span 12'  to be 16" deep and to have shelves at 16", 32", 44-3/4", 57-1/2", 70-3/4" height above the floor.

Mrs ERJ's enunciation

Strangely enough, Mrs ERJ's ability to enunciate words took a remarkable turn for the better this week.

Friday, October 20, 2023

History of population growth in Europe

Blogger will not let me comment.

Reply to Roger from earlier post: Regarding Ash seeds. We have very heavy Emerald Ash Borer pressure here. If I plant ash trees it will be Manchurian Ash which co-evolved with EAB and has demonstrated field-resistance. Thanks a million for your kind offer.

A short-history on the population of Europe over time

Europe's population increased at an average rate of 0.2% a year between 1400 and 1600. At that rate, it takes about 350 years for the population to double. As a frame-of-reference, much of sub-Saharan Africa's population is increasing at 3% a year (25 years to double).

All population numbers are by-guess-and-by-golly as census taking was not a priority in the middle-ages.

The Black Death is credited with wiping out between 25% and 40% of the population.

Recovery was very slow due to high infant and maternal mortality. The population grew about 10% every fifty years.

Population flat-lined between 1600 and 1700 due to the Little Ice Age depressing agricultural production.

Introduction of corn (maize) and potatoes led to 100 years of impressive growth between 1700 and 1800.

The Industrial Revolution super-charged that growth. Something as simple as using a windmill to saw timber into lumber for ship-building had a huge impact on being able to harvest seafood and shipping salt for food preservation and guano for fertilizer.

In the north, the Hanseatic towns faced intensified competition from the Dutch, who from about 1580 introduced a new ship design (the fluitschip, a sturdy, cheaply built cargo vessel) and new techniques of shipbuilding, including wind-powered saws. Freight charges dropped and the size of the Dutch merchant marine soared; by the mid-17th century, it probably exceeded in number of vessels all the other mercantile fleets of Europe combined. The English competed for a share in the Baltic trade, though they long remained well behind the Dutch.    -Encyclopedia Britannica


Consider the amount of waste involved in using a froe or adz to create a plank out of a split log. Consider the amount of labor required to put two men in a saw-pit to hand-saw multiple planks out of a log. Further consider the metallurgy of the era, the saws were made of wrought iron and the teeth were stubby and quickly dulled.