Thursday, November 30, 2023

Presented without comment


Shaun the Sheep Episodes recommended in comments

Government Inspector shows up

Snoring Sheep

Grandpappy's Official Website, a blast from the past


Back-in-the-day, I got a lot of information and enjoyment from Grandpappy.

I stumbled across it again this morning when I was wondering how much investment Peter and Andrew abandoned when they left their cast-nets to follow Jesus. How many man-hours and how much material had been sunk into each net? It was undoubtedly a non-trivial amount* in those days before automatic looms and net-making machines.

The first leg of my "research" indicated that many fish caught in a cast-net are entangled in the mesh similar to how a gill-net works. The mesh size is directly related to the cost of the net since a smaller mesh means more line, more finely woven line and many more knots.

Figuring that medium-sized suckers would be about the largest fish that might be loafing near the shore, I went on-line to see what size gill-net one might use to catch suckers....and BOOM! There was Grandpappy's page.

For the record, 1-1/2" mesh is a good starting point if you were going to make a cast-net to catch suckers. In my mind's eye, I could see that a net with a 12' diameter and 1-1/2' mesh size would be possible in a pre-industrial world. Possible but not cheap.

It is great to see that Grandpappy is still producing content even if he is not churning it out like he did ten years ago. His material aged well and is still applicable.

If you are interested in throwing a few dollars in his direction, he sells books on Amazon including a cookbook on Campfire Survival Cooking.

* A cast net with a 12' diameter and mesh 1-1/2" on a side requires about 7200 knots.

Wednesday, November 29, 2023

Here we go again...

There appears to be another virus in China that produces catastrophic damage to lungs. Second link.

Some folks are reading a lot into the possibility of this being Covid: Act II and I want to discuss a very tiny sliver of that possibility.

Some of the more inflammatory folks are already discussing the possibility of Martial Law being declared in the United States. Personally, I think that for that to happen several low to moderately-low probability events would have to align. That said, it is still a possibility.

The range of the details of how Martial Law might be implemented is astronomical but there are a few thoughts I want to toss out there.

Each person's situation will be unique. Each person, each family will have to find their own sweet-spot in how they adapt.

One translation of the Bible reads "Avoid even the appearance of impropriety". That is very, very good advice. Dogs chase people who run. They bark at people who walk funny. Don't run. Don't walk funny.

One major fork in the implementation involves the possible delegation of powers to non-military. If it remains purely military, then there are only enough resources to batten down (maybe) the D.C. Beltway, NYC and one west-coast metropolitan area. Very few soldiers are "peace-keepers" and their skill-sets don't bend in that direction.

If they delegate it gets a whole lot uglier. Some of the people who volunteer to enforce Martial Law will not be motivated by their pure hearts. If I can offer one piece of advice, avoid showy displays of wealth as envy is already at toxic levels.

The predators pick their victims from the fringes of the flock. They pick the weakest because they are the easiest to pull down. They pick the rams because they are proud and fat and the slowest runners.

The second piece of advice I offer is to start considering everything you commit to electronic communication. Every email. Every post on social media. Every blog essay. Words that you consider hyperbole or rhetorical invective or were written after a couple of glasses of wine will come back to haunt you.

The third piece of advice is a painful one. We are rarely betrayed by strangers. We are betrayed by the people we trust: By family members, by friends, by trusted co-workers.

You will even be handed over by parents,
brothers, relatives, and friends,
and they will put some of you to death.
You will be hated by all because of my name,
but not a hair on your head will be destroyed.
By your perseverance you will secure your lives.
   Luke Chapter 21

You don't have to make it easy for them.

As a believer I will not deny Him. But I do not need to casually share exact details of activities that MIGHT be considered suspicious.

Some will say that there is no point in exercising "trade-craft". They might say "The Feds can collect every credit card record you ever made. There is no way you can hide that you purchased 100 1X fired .380 ACP brass in 2014."

I do not dispute that point.

The point that I am attempting to make is that if Martial Law is declared and if authority is widely delegated, ordinary citizens will be living in an environment in which threats loom from multiple axis. Action from any one of those axis can get you dead.

The Feds are unlikely to give a flying Freddie about 100 .380 ACP cases but a local with a grudge against you might see that as sufficient basis to settle a grudge against you.

To repeat the wisdom of W.E.B. Griffen, "If you cannot be perfect then the next-best option is to be invisible."

Sad dogs, concrete work, glasses for night driving

Our dog is not very mobile today.

One of the issues might be that it was icy yesterday and he could have done the "splits" and now he is sore.

The other is that he is old. A third possibility is that he might be afflicted with the mystery respiratory disease that seems to be spread by dogs. This last option is the least likely. We don't have much contact with other dogs. But the fact that this ailment is out there makes us reluctant to take him to the vet.

Having anybody in the house feel under-the-weather takes joy out of my life. And that includes the dog.

Concrete work

I poured a small concrete slab today to secure an appliance. Not my best work but not my worst, either. Now I need to ignore my work for three days so I don't mess it up.

Concrete work is a bit like acne. There comes a point where picking at your zits only makes things worse. It is similar with concrete. If you get within a 1/2" it is good enough for many projects and a 1/4" is golden for most work.

Yellow, polarized glasses for night driving

Neither Mrs ERJ or I relish driving after dark. That becomes more limiting when we only have eight hours of daylight.

Mrs ERJ was at her book club and one of the other ladies was singing the praises of her yellow-tinted, polarized "sun glasses" for night driving. So much so that Mrs ERJ gently suggested that I purchase a pair for her.

I reckon that means I am done with my Christmas shopping.

Any readers out there who can speak to the effectiveness of yellow-tinted, polarized glasses for night driving? Is there something better?

Tuesday, November 28, 2023

Fine Art Tuesday

I have been watching "Kiddie Cartoons" because I am watching Quicksilver.

She is drawn to Shaun the Sheep.

As I watch, I cannot help but admire the dry-stone construction of the barn, the fences and so-on.

It does not fall under the definition of "Fine Art" but not everybody lives in Vienna or Florence or Vienna where there is an art-supply store on every corner.

All of these images were taken in the Cotswolds/Lakes region of England where limestone obligingly breaks into very workable flags. The stone is cream-colored when new but ages to a mottled grey as lichens grow on them.

What defines a man's character? (Very short fiction)

Jana was enjoying the vibe of the end-of-semester party. Jerry was one of her favorite grad-students and the party had a relaxed-and-mellow vibe.

Part of the attraction was the music. Lots of throw-back tunes from the Seventies. The last twenty minutes had been rhythm-and-blues and now Roberta Flack's rich voice quietly crooned through the speakers.

It was small as these kinds of parties went, only ten or fifteen people. Jana only knew a few of them since she was working very part-time. It was a wonderful venue for conversations, and for people watching.

The thought flitted through her mind that while we should not judge a book by its cover people nearly always announced their contents by the uniform they chose to wear.

Jerry was completely absorbed in a conversation with another grad-student. The student had very little body-fat and high cheekbones. Her hair was pulled back in a simple pony-tail. She was wearing flannel, jeans and wafflestompers. If Jana had to guess, she would guess Field Biology was her specialty.

The bogs around Asphodel were famous for their biological diversity. Jana harbored a suspicion that all bogs are diverse but the ones closest to Asphodel had been lovingly surveyed on a square-foot by square-foot grid so it was a matter of better records than of a unique amount of diversity.

A third student approached Jerry from the side and Jana heard him ask, "Hey Jerry, can I try one of your beers?" pointing at the cooler by Jerry's side.

"Sure. No sweat" Jerry responded.

Jana didn't recognize the label  and assumed it was some craft-brew from out-of-state. Many of the better craft-brews prohibited out-of-state sales which (intentionally) added to their mystique and allure.

The music switched to a song that Carly Simon had made famous. Jana didn't recognize the artist but the timing was slower and the lyrics more pensive than the original.

The singer was wistfully singing of "clouds in my coffee" as an undergrad (Jana wasn't sure how she could tell) who was as cute as a button walked up from behind Jerry and opened the cooler. The bottles must have clinked because Jerry said loudly enough to be heard everywhere in the room "PUT THEM BACK!"

The undergrad didn't even hesitate but said "I am just taking these two" as she turned and started to walk away from the cooler with a bottle in each hand.

"I don't fucking think so" Jerry growled, just loud enough for Jana and Miss Wafflestomper to hear as he turned and pursued the thief.

The room in the 1920's vintage bungalow that Jerry and his roommates rented in the student-ghetto was tiny. Jerry and cute-as-a-button arrived at her knot of friends at the same time.

"Put the beers back" Jerry demanded.

"But I just took these two" the undergrad blew him off. "And you are making a scene."

"Put them back" Jerry persisted.

"But I am thirsty" the girl insisted.

"I have water you can drink. Put them back" Jerry bored in.

By now, all of the other conversations had stopped and EVERYBODY was looking at Jerry and the girl.

With ill-grace, the girl thrust the beers into Jerry's hand. "You take your own damned beers back" little-miss-precious snarled.

Jerry didn't turn away. "When you want something that isn't yours you ASK, and it is customary to say "Please"."

"I am going to help you out" he said. "Do you want these beers?"

"Hell no. I wouldn't drink them if they were the last beers on earth" the girl spat.

"So you are not only a thief but a liar. You just said you were thirsty so were you lying then or are you lying now?"

The girl's eyes were flashing like lasers.

"You and your friends need to leave" Jerry said.

The girl grabbed the hand of the boy next to her and stormed out of the house. The boy looked as surprised as a newly landed fish flopping in the bottom of the boat.

Jerry came back and was about to resume his conversation with Miss Wafflestomper when Jana piped up. "You know that you probably made an enemy for life."

"Sorry you had to see that" Jerry said. "I certainly didn't invite her and I doubt that any of my roommates did, either."

Then Miss Wafflestomper impressed Jana. She said "A man's character is revealed by the quality of his enemies more than by the masses of men who tolerate him."

"That is wonderful" Jana said. "I don't recognize the quote. Who said that?"

The young lady blushed. "My dad said that."

Jana smiled and nodded and then said quietly to Jerry "This one is a keeper".

Jana had forgotten how acute young ears are. Miss Wafflestomper heard Jana's judgement and the tiniest trace of a smile formed on her face.

Monday, November 27, 2023

Germinating persimmons, Security monitors, Garden seeds and Blister Beetles

One of my buddies asked me if I knew of any tips to get persimmon seeds to germinate. He had planted a boat-load of them and the germination was slow and erratic.

I went on and learned that EVERYBODY has a hard time germinating persimmon seeds. They tried all of the standard tricks like gibberellic acid and scarifying and hydrogen peroxide and force feeding them to possum and...

Nothing consistently showed any improvement over stratifying cool-and-damp for 70 days and then planting in very-warm potting soil. The seed-coats are waxy and shrug-off attempts to hasten their germination.

I suppose the bottom line is to move the seeds from the stratifying basket to the germinating heat-mat two-to-four months earlier than "normal" seeds. It seems likely that some seed-parents are more willing germinators that others. Alas, I do not know which seed-parents those might be.

A bigger window

We recently upgraded to a smart TV. That meant I had an extra 32" flat-screen monitor. I removed the tiny 18" monitor that we displayed our security video on and repurposed the old 32" dumb TV. It is mounted on a wall where if it were possible to place a window would have pretty much the same perspective as the security camera. That is intuitively pleasing.

Garden seeds

I am making a list and checking it twice...

Bodacious Sweet Corn
Merlin Beet
Aspabroc Broccoli
Bandit Leek
Deadon Cabbage
Green Forest Romaine Lettuce
Stuttgart Onions (from sets)
Diplomat Melon
Wilson Sweet Watermelon
Some kind of Japanese Cucumber
Neal Paymaster Field Corn
I have some seeds saved from my tomatoes, Stocky Red Roaster Sweet Peppers and Blauhilda pole beans. I also have seeds from Piggott Cowpea that I will grow again.
Easy Pick Gold II Zucchini
Winter Squash will probably be some kind of Curcubit moschata or mixta.

I could probably get by with just tomatoes, potatoes and green beans but that is not much fun.

This list is by no means complete

Blister Beetles

I first learned of Blister Beetles from Peter Carrington. He was teaching a class on Wilderness Survival and he informed us that if it was meat (i.e. it moved when it was alive) it was edible. Except for Blister Beetles.

Peter's super-power was that he could draw images that were more representative of the species than a photograph. He left out ubiquitous detail and subtly emphasized the unique features that identified the subject-at-hand. It is a gift.

Male Blister Beetles synthesize a toxin called cantharidin that is smeared over the eggs by the female Blister Beetle to poison predators. That toxin has been used as an aphrodisiac (called Spanish Fly) as it seems to accelerate serotonin re-uptake in the ganglia gaps between nerve cells. That is, it makes stimuli excruciatingly intense. As a toxin, it results in an excruciatingly painful death and is reputed to have been used by Count de Sades on a couple of local prostitutes.

Many species of Blister Beetles feed on grasshopper eggs in their larval stage and the flowers of plants like alfalfa, goldenrod, sunflowers and squash as adults.

Second week of Deer Camp Part II


Sunday, November 26, 2023

Deer Hunting non-update

Be ungovernable

Part of not being complicit in the metastasizing State is to not feed the beast.

That can mean configuring your life to minimize the taxes that you pay.

It can also mean not providing the State with any information that might be used against you at a later date. Remember the story of Jesus's birth? His parents were traveling to Bethlehem for a Rome could figure out the maximum level of taxes and conscripts they could extract.

The performance of the State during Covid only confirmed the most pessimistic opinions about what the State will stoop to when they have information and power.

We mock the home-boy who posts pictures of his pistol and drugs and wads of cash on social media. And then we post pictures of the animals we slayed and brag about how much food we put in our pantries. Is there much of a difference?

Consequently, should I be fortunate enough to harvest a deer, I will not be documenting that fact on this blog.

Deer season

I have been asked how it is that I manage to go deer hunting in spite of my firearm having been lost in that canoeing accident near Battle Ground, Indiana.

The answer is that I use a little-know method called "Uglying them to Death". This method was widely practiced in the days of market hunting but was strongly discouraged in the years when deer were scarce.

It involves jumping out of the blind and making an ugly face at the animal you want to harvest.

Deer are timid creatures. The sudden appearance of the hunter causes damage to their hearts and they fall over dead.

There are limitations to the method. It must be light enough that the animal can get a good look at your face. You must ensure that your target animal is looking in your direction but that all of the non-target animals are looking away.

Another limitation of the Ugly-them-to-death method is the impracticality of jumping out of a tree blind or an elevated blind.

The final limitation is that not every hunter can use this method. Mrs ERJ cannot. She is totally unsuited for this method in the face department, if you get my drift.

Rumor has it that all references to this method as a legal-method-of-take were eliminated from DNR literature because of the FIBPACs (Friendly Illinois Buckaroos Pulling a Camper) who started coming to Michigan to hunt.

The meat processors were the first to complain. They started getting carcasses that when they opened them up, the meat and entrails poured out all over the floor like ten gallons of tomato soup and they were left holding a skeleton and a bag of skin.

It took a while to put two-and-two together. Finally, somebody figured out that the friendly buckaroos from Chicago were so naturally endowed for this method of hunting that they were tearing up the meat something terrible.

I keep this story in mind while hunting. Just because your scope can dial up to 9X does not mean that is the best setting for every-day hunting. Just because I have the equivalent of a .577 T-Rex face for this kind of hunting does not mean I have to turn up all of the wattage.

If you attempt this method, I suggest you start with small animals at close range. As with all hunting, be aware of items in the background that you don't want to damage. Be particularly aware of plate-glass windows. Not only are they fragile but they are reflective and you might be hurt by the ricochet effect of your reflection.

As always, Your Mileage Will Vary.

Rethinking my retirement strategy

I may have been wr.... That is I may have been wr..., a wr....g. ...I may have made a sub-optimal decision.

The conventional wisdom with regard to Social Security is that if you suspect that you will die young (family history, heart disease, history of cancer, general pessimism) then you should start claiming Social Security as soon as you can which is 62 in most cases.

The conventional wisdom also claimed that if you come from long-lived parents (both of my were over 90 when they died), are in general good health and are an optimist then you can maximize your lifetime benefits by deferring the start of Social Security benefits. At this stage, my benefits go up about 6.2% for every year I defer the start.

The thinking is that the person who out-lives the breakeven point (life expectancy of the general population) used to determine SS benefits will maximize benefits by taking less earlier but more later on.

The stick-in-the-spokes of the bicycle wheel is that Social Security benefits, while partially indexed for inflation, has been showing a growing gap between the monthly benefits and the actual pain we feel in the grocery story, gas pump, pharmacy and showroom.

From Shadow Stats website

The 1980 methodology consistently shows an 8% higher rate of inflation than that of the current methodology that has been "cooked" to not embarrass our policy makers.

Using the Rule-of-72 to estimate the time required to diminish the buying-power of a dollar, at 2.5% inflation the buying-power of a dollar is cut in half in 30 years while at 10% inflation the buying power is cut in half in 7 years.

Phrased another way: If the Social Security Administration doubled benefits over that thirty years based on their statistics, your actual costs would have doubled FOUR TIMES. That means that the buying power of your monthly benefit's actual buying power would have diminished by a whopping 87%.

The gap between actual inflation and reported inflation seems to be accelerating.

Several secular trends like the de-dollarization of global trade, low-wage countries moving their production base up-scale and the gutting of our domestic production base, the dearth of children being born suggest the trend will continue to accelerate.

Playing around with the numbers in a spread-sheet using the Net Present Value function, my actual age and the Social Security website's values for early distributions vs waiting until full benefits, and assuming I live to 87, it looks like the break-even between pulling the trigger now (two-and-a-half years after I could have started and two years before 100% benefits) is a 4% gap between actual inflation and the CPI used by the Social Security Administration.

My impression is that the gap is significantly MORE than 4%.

The flip side involves comparisons between the return in my 401-k and the nominal 6.2% annual increase in nominal benefits in Social Security. I have been harvesting money out of my 401-k to make up the shortfalls in our monthly budget so the funds from Social Security would minimize those withdrawals.

If I was making money hand-over-fist in my 401-k it would be a no-brainer. Protect the capital and pull the trigger on the SS. Looking at the previous 12 months, it looks like I only made 4.5% so the opportunity costs of not pulling the trigger on SS is not very great unless I had a better place to put the money.

Alternative investments

At one time the answer would have been to diversify into "real" assets like rental housing to shelter against inflation.

That option soured for a couple of reasons. For me, the biggest issue is that governments and courts demonstrated that they can shut-off rent payments whenever they want. Even though they shut off the rent they still demanded that the property owners continue to pay property taxes. And of course, many of the landlords had borrowed some of the money to purchase the property. The bank still expected to receive monthly payments.

Another issue is that property values are tanking (in real terms) in core cities where most of the rental property is available. The reason it is on the market is that the owners are bailing out. Too much maintenance. Too many taxes. Too many aggressive inspectors. Too hard/expensive to find tradesmen willing to park on the street while performing maintenance tasks.

We live in interesting times.

Saturday, November 25, 2023


The importance of identifying "How much?" is "Enough" is difficult to over-state.

That question came up when Belladonna (a lifter) asked if I had given any thought to my "target" for dead-lifting. The reason it came up is my aggressive increases in weight are kicking my ass with regards to delayed onset muscle pain.

In fact, I have given a great deal of thought to my target for dead-lifting goals.


Data in how strong and how fast the "average" American is almost impossible to collect.

Cooper collected some information on Law Enforcement Officers and that has become the de facto standard. Cooper's standards are not perfect because they body-weight oriented exercises that are gender and age "adjusted". A malefactor does not care if you are a man or a woman, or if you are 27 or 57 when you get into a tussle. That is why a 120 pound, 55 year-old woman officer might ace her Cooper standards and still get her ass handed to her when trying to subdue a suspect.

But the Cooper standards are something and any data beats no data.

The "standards" for deadlifting are even harder to come by. It seems likely that the "average" American male might be able to deadlift 80% of his body-weight as a single-repetition maximum which corresponds to ten-repetitions at 60% of his body-weight.

But is that an average 30 year-old? Is that an average American with a BMI of 25 or less? Does the average include people with back injuries?

The thing that makes the information on the Internet loosie-goosie is that anybody who shows up at the gym and accepts instructions on lifting is a very-small, self-selected population. Even a "beginner" is way ahead of the general population in terms of technique and strength.

And those "average" numbers are probably based on the beginners who show up at the gym.

Another totally different thing to consider is that muscle-mass comes at a cost. I used to work with a gentleman named E.T. His other nickname was "Big". He could not walk up a flight of stairs without breaking into a sweat and panting. Muscle mass is mass. Admittedly there is a possibility that he had an underlying heart condition that might account for his shortness of breath.

After considering all of these factors, I decided that if my body is capable (at age 64) I want to be able to dead-lift 100% of my body-weight for ten repetitions. That extrapolates to 130% of my body-weight for a single repetition-max which according to the internet puts me somewhere between "Beginner" and "Novice". 

It also suggests that I would be 65% stronger than the "average" 200 pound US male (whatever that is) regardless of age.

Sort of like that beat-up Dodge Dart with the smokin' hot Hemi. It ain't the paint job that wins races.

In other dimensions

How much money is "enough"?
How big of a house?
How pretty of a wife?
How many quarts of canned tomatoes in the pantry?
How many bushels of potatoes?
How many deer in the freezer?
How many pea-shooters?

Genichi Taguchi, a Japanese quality guru had the insight that more is not always better. Like E.T., more-than-enough comes with costs even if those costs are not as visible as the costs of not-enough.

Did more money come at the cost of your relationship with your wife or your peace-of-mind?

Did the large house come at the expense of totally depleting your discretionary money?

Did your trophy wife come at the expense of your becoming irrationally jealous?

Did canning 150 quarts of tomatoes consume all of your jars and lids and shelf-space?

Did growing and digging 1500 pounds of potatoes mean that you threw out 1000 pounds of rotting potatoes in May?

Did having your freezer full of meat mean that you could not capitalize on a screaming deal on blueberries or strawberries or Large Rifle Primers?

Did having more than X number of pea-shooters come at the cost of your never having mastered the manual-of-arms for any one of them?

This might be the most important lesson we can teach young people

More education is not always better.

More money is not always better.

More friends on social media are not always better.

More     fill-in-the-blank       is not always better.

Realistic expectations and terminal ballistics

 If you don't ring the Central Nervous System's bell...

.350 Legend has about 1960fps velocity and 1400 ft-lbs of energy at 75 yards.
By comparison, 9mm has a velocity of about 1100fps and 300 ft-lb of energy at bad-breath range. .357 Mag has 1250fps and 550 ft-lbs. .40 S&W 1150fps and 480 ft-lbs. .45ACP 830fps and 350 ft-lbs of energy.

One of our party shot a six-point with a scrubby rack. It was probably a 2.5 year-old animal and it weighed as much as an average high-school player on the JV basketball team. The distance between the shooter and the animal was about 75 yards when he pulled the trigger.

The animal left no blood trail. ZERO blood. It was recovered 80 yards, as the crow flies from the point of impact. For the math challenged, that means that the deer traveled at least 80 yards and probably closer to 100 yards before it tipped-over and became in-op.

As you can see, a mammal's heart is really two pumps. The first stage takes unoxygenated blood and pressurizes it so it can pass through the lungs. Then the second stage pressurizes the oxygenized blood to send it out to the rest of the body, including the brain.

The reason for the total lack of blood trail became apparent upon field dressing of the deer. I asked the shooter if I could take a picture of the deer's heart he pulled out of the chest cavity.

The reason there was no blood trail is because the buck had a catastrophic loss of blood pressure. The bullet cut the heart into two pieces and compromised both ventricles.

And the deer still was able to function long enough to run 80 yards.

There is no cartridge chambered in a practical defensive handgun with more energy than the .350 Legend out of a long-gun. It is hard to imagine more damage being done to a heart. 

And it still had enough oxygen in its brain to run 80 yards. If it had been a human aggressor, it lived long enough to inflict mortal damage on you or a loved one.

If you look at sections through the human torso, there is about a 20% chance that a center-of-mass hit will also impact the spinal region. While a round like the .22LR has sufficient penetration to perforate the heart, it does not have enough momentum to ensure it will inflict enough trauma to the spine (after penetrating the chest) to drop your attacker, to cut the puppet's strings so-to-speak.

This is common knowledge in the defensive-handgun circles but there is nothing like a picture to make it "real".

If you do not inflict enough damage to the central nervous system, then your attacker can keep attacking. Keep pulling the trigger EVEN IF you know you got a solid shot on him. Keep pulling the trigger until your attacker is no longer a threat or you are out of ammo.

Friday, November 24, 2023

Isador, Is not a door

I spent Thanksgiving in Isador in Michigan's Leelanau Peninsula.

Isador and Is not a door (aka, Cedar) have a very proud Polish community. Isador is a Spanish saint. Forensic scientists analyzed Isador's bones and determined that his skull suggested that he had a great deal of African ancestry. Isador is the patron saint of farmers.

I sailed through the event by bird-dogging Quicksilver. That freed up Southern Belle to yak-it-up with her cousins and made me look like a saint.

There were three people under the age of 25, QS, an infant of 11 months and a 21 year-old. Then there were about 10 people between the ages of 25 and 40, nobody between 40 and 60 and another ten people over age 60.

The hotel we were staying in (Baymont on M-37 just south of Traverse City) did not have a secure WIFI channel. The "Terms" clearly stated that others could monitor user inputs. I decided to not use their network. That is why today's post is so late.

Deer hunting

Our hunting party was able to get out this afternoon. Report to follow.

Our friends in Jackson County did well. My buddy sent me several pictures. It was the first year that he had three generations of his family hunting on his property. I cannot share the details of their success except to say that my phone was three pounds heavier after I downloaded the JPGs he sent me. BIG deer!!!

Another young man collected his first buck a couple of days ago. He was hunting in a "two-holer" blind with one of his buddies. They are both right-eye dominant and the buddy took the seat on the left. 

After a bit, the buddy said "Hey, look over there!"

Our intrepid hero (not me) said "I can't see anything."

"Stand up" said the buddy.

IH stood up "I still can't see anything!"

"Lean forward" the buddy said.

IH leaned forward and said, "Gee Golly*. That looks like a six point."

Then, leaning forward, shooting off-hand with his left hand on the trigger and using his left eye, he shot the buck in the neck. He paced it off afterward and it was a 60 yard shot. Another good reason to practice shooting with your weak-side.

*He might have said something else, but "Gee Golly" is close enough.

Thursday, November 23, 2023

Gratitude is the foundation of happiness

Being thankful is the cure for being unhappy. Unhappy people focus on what they do not have while thankful people focus on what we DO have.

I can hear the perpetually-unhappy whining "Oh, great. So you want me to be happy by accepting that misery and grinding-poverty and death is the base condition of humanity."

Frankly, yes. That is exactly what I propose. How can you be happy if you try to build your life on a fantasy-foundation of whipped meringue and sparkles? Fantasies may be entertaining but they are not durable.

You cannot "command" happiness but you can be grateful and happiness is a byproduct of being grateful.

My list

I thank God that:

  • I am alive
  • I am healthy
  • My mind still functions well enough
  • I am married to the woman I love
  • By all appearances, she loves me
  • All of my kids are alive
  • All of them live less than an hour's travel away
  • All of them are employed and on-their-own
  • I get to see my granddaughter nearly every day
  • Six of my seven siblings are still alive
  • My house is sufficient for my needs but not so big that it is too expensive to heat and maintain
  • I have food in the pantry and heating oil in the tank
  • I have enough standing firewood to heat my house for the rest of my life and enough stacked and under cover for the next two years
  • I have the means and ability to grow food to eat
  • I have enough money to pay my bills
  • Society in my area is still civil. 
  • I get along with my neighbors.
  • The electricity still flows in the wires, the roads are adequate, I know several good mechanics and tradesmen.
  • I can still worship according to my choice
  • I can still exercise my First Amendment rights by posting this blog

Thanks for reading!


Wednesday, November 22, 2023

Surviving Thanksgiving

"Safe" topics for Thanksgiving conversations:

  • University of Nebraska's Women's volleyball team
  • Michigan State University's search for a head football coach
  • The high lysine content of oatmeal
  • Dried mushroom as an economical source of umami flavors in cooking
  • The superiority of fresh herbs (rosemary, mint, oregano, sage...) in cooking
  • The wisdom in the belief that "There is a season for everything"
  • Long monologues on your quest for the optimum pressure for the tires on your mountain bike (reserved for bores). Bonus points for taking more than twenty minutes to describe the scandium fiber-reinforced, welded carbon joints of the frame of your OLD bike.
  • "I might have COVID and I just took a double-dose of Nyquil...I can barely stay awake..." Also good for bores.
  • Detailed comparisons between the 6.5mm Creedmoor and the .270 Winchester's ability to buck cross-winds at 800 yards.
  • Ask how many Tattoos the other person has. Then, after hearing the answer, ask "How many danged dwarfs do you need to have shout "De plane! De plane!!!"." Bonus points for observing how tramp-stamps resemble the handlebars on choppers.
  • Randomly start singing lyrics from songs from 1969.  "Build me up, Buttercup baby..."
  • Favorite Youtube channels. Stick to humor. Shaun the Sheep and Charlie Barron's channels, for instance. "Reaction" videos are acceptable Example.
  • Favorite Far Side comics (Gary Larson).
  • The enduring appeal of Scotch Tape.
  • Marvel at how 16th century Italian opera was SO far ahead of their time, castrating boys so they could sing soprano their entire, natural lives in spite of biological programming. On second thought, maybe not. 

Being boring is not a liability. It is a feature.

Onya Marx....

Life continues to be "bouncy".

I drew the short-straw and got to drive to Detroit Metro Airport AGAIN. That is three times in four days.

Skipping the gory details, long pickup trucks and tight turns in parking ramps are not a happy combination. 

My passenger had cargo in a vehicle parked in 3D. She had a picture she had taken of the bay-post. My mission was to collect the passenger and then transport her to the vehicle to collect cargo and then transport both to a destination.

My mission coughed up a hairball because there are TWO separate parking structures at the airport. One is in the The Big Blue Deck on the north end and the other is McNamara on the south end and the stencils on the columns do NOT specify which structure the picture was snapped in.

There are bay-posts labeled "3D" in both structures. A misunderstanding regarding the airlines involved resulted in my being in the wrong parking structure. No shade on my passenger. She had multiple transfers and there were four separate airlines involved in her travels. Moving from one parking structure to the other on the busiest day for air-travel of the year pegged my ability to tolerate stress. It was not my finest hour.

A tip of the hat to Ted and Onya for helping us get our chaos straightened out. I checked, Onya's last name is not Marx.

The good news...

I got back to Eaton Rapids early enough to donate blood. I started donating again after Southern Belle gave birth to Quicksilver because she needed some transfusions during the event. I felt an obligation to pay it back. Counting this last donation, I have now paid back the number of units SB needed.

A big shout-out to Paris, Texas. One of the Plebby-techs at the blood drive was originally from there.

The Lieutenants by W.E.B. Griffin

It is my opinion that the book The Lieutenants (Brotherhood of War series) by W.E.B. Griffin is one of the very finest works of fiction ever written.

At one point in the story Craig W. Lowell, through a series of highly-irregular but totally believable circumstances finds himself in a "hot" civil war in Greece, a conflict that he is perhaps the least prepared person in the post WWII army to be involved in.

During an unanticipated battle, Craig's one strength, his ability to hit the target he aims at serves him well. His chaperone is KIA mere feet from his battle position. Craig kills seven or eight of the attackers. He also craps-his-pants during the battle.

A week later, one of the HQ weenies visits Craig and is amazed that the Greek fighters have no problem understanding Craig's horrible, 100 word Greek vocabulary (with mangled pronunciation with improper tense and gender) and enthusiastically support his efforts while West Point graduates with flawless Greek linguistic skills are misunderstood and the WP grad's plans founder.

It was not so much that Craig mowed down the attackers as much as the fact that he invested in his position and stood his ground, shoulder-to-shoulder with the Greek fighters. He was there on the ramparts when the lead was flying while the WP grads were in a hotel in town with feather beds, linens, dinner, fine wine and pretty girls.

After all of the superficial trappings of civilization have been boiled off, what remains is equity-of-character. Such are the bones upon which epic stories are constructed and the foundations of unbending loyalty.

God willing, should events demand such, I pray that I will be able to demonstrate character equity.

Presented without comment


Tuesday, November 21, 2023

Fine Art Tuesday


Look at her toes. Marble. Water flowing over them. That is amazing detail work.

Giovanni Battista Lombardi born in Italy in 1822, died in 1880.


Not bad for a bird-bath

Veiled woman. Executed in marble.

A Thanksgiving Prayer


Psalm 141 (NIV translation)

A psalm of David.

I call to you, Lord, come quickly to me;
    hear me when I call to you.
May my prayer be set before you like incense;
    may the lifting up of my hands be like the evening sacrifice.

Set a guard over my mouth, Lord;
    keep watch over the door of my lips.
Do not let my heart be drawn to what is evil
    so that I take part in wicked deeds
along with those who are evildoers;
do not let me eat their delicacies.

Let a righteous man strike me—that is a kindness;
    let him rebuke me—that is oil on my head.
My head will not refuse it,
    for my prayer will still be against the deeds of evildoers.

Their rulers will be thrown down from the cliffs,
    and the wicked will learn that my words were well spoken.
They will say, “As one plows and breaks up the earth,
    so our bones have been scattered at the mouth of the grave.”

But my eyes are fixed on you, Sovereign Lord;
    in you I take refuge—do not give me over to death.

Keep me safe from the traps set by evildoers,
    from the snares they have laid for me.
10 Let the wicked fall into their own nets,
    while I pass by in safety.


The Cost of Daycare (in the United States)

Cost drivers

  • Hourly wages of Workers
  • Salary of Director
  • Rent
  • Uneveness of labor demand

I am going to try to not make this a book.

Wages of care-givers

Michigan regulations with regard to the ratio of care-givers to children is based on the ages of the children. 

For instance: 

If all of your charges are older than 1461 days old then you can have a ratio as low as one caregiver for every six children.

If all of your charges are between 548 and 1460.99 days old then you can have a ratio as low as one caregiver for every four children.

If all of your charges are younger than 547.99 days old then you can have a ratio as low as one caregiver for every two children.

It becomes irrational when you have mixes of ages. For example, it is permissible to have two children below 547.99 days old, another two between 548-and-1460.99 days old and ANOTHER two who are older than 1461 days old.

The official minimum wage is about $10 an hour but the actual market-wage is somewhere between $15/hr and $18/hr. Using the lower, $15/hr number and 1:6 ratio, and 4.5 weeks/month at 50 hours per week,  the cost of direct labor per child is $560 per month. And while you might quibble about the 50hr/month, remember that most workers have a lunch embedded in their eight-hour work day and there is commute time between drop-off and workplace and at the end of the work-day from workplace to pick-up.

Salary of Director

The position of Director is a full-time position* and includes benefits. Assuming a salary of $40k/year and healthcare insurance premiums of $24k per year...and 24 children as customers, that works out to $64k/24/12 or $220 a month for administrative expenses.


The Federal Government directs States to set rules that cover certain, basic aspects of child-care. The Feds don't set the rules so there will be differences from state-to-state.

Michigan requires 35 square-feet per child of indoor space. That does not include bathrooms, closets and other storage areas, office space or space dedicated for worker lockers and other sundries. Those sundries can easily double the space requirements.

At the time of this writing, you can probably find commercial space in a small, Michigan town for a monthly rate of $3/square-foot. $3/square-foot .TIMES. 70 square-feet = $210/month/child in rent. I do not know if that price includes utilities.



Compare two scenarios.

 One: Six children show up at 5:30 in the ratio of 2:2:2 of the three classes of children. Then twelve children show up at 7:30 in the same ratio. Finally another six show up at 9:30. They decant in the same ratios at 3:30, 5:30 and 7:30. If the director knew this would always happen, she can schedule one care-giver at 5:20, another two at 7:30 and a fourth care-giver  at 9:30 and peel them off the same way.

Two: Six children show up at 5:30 but they are all in the oldest age-class. Twelve show up at 7:30 and they are in the oldest two age-classes and finally six children show up at 9:30 and they are all the youngest age-class. At the end of the day they leave at 3:30, 5:30 and 7:30 in the same order they arrived in.

Miscellaneous notes

The director often covers lunch-breaks which must be staggered. In our scenario with 24 kids staggering the four care-giver's breaks would eat up two hours in the middle of the day.

There were no costs included in this analysis for consumable materials. One day-care in Florida charges $700 at enrollment for those costs. So, amortized over 6 years that ends up being about $10 a month.

No costs for food were included in this analysis. At a meager $3 for lunch cost, that adds about $60 per month.

Time must be allocated to sanitize toys and surfaces at the end-of-the-day. The State of Michigan is specific about the kinds of toys and educational materials that must be used.

Labor retention is a big deal. The pay is not great. The work involves dealing with human excrement. One of the director's tasks is to manage scheduling so the workers never qualify for "full time" benefits and the worker's schedules can be chaotic. On one hand, that results in several costs being externalized. On the other hand employee retention suffer.

Because the workers never end up qualifying for healthcare insurance, the government ends up subsidizing healthcare insurance costs via Medicaid.

Daycare workers, other than the director, will never make a "living wage"

The cost of daycare is exquisitely sensitive to the cost of prevailing wages because it is so labor-intensive. The degree of labor-intensiveness is mandated by the State. Violating the mandate results in the loss of the license.

If you roll the big chunks of cost together you get $990/month.

Locally, many of the daycares are hosted by churches and there must be subsidies with regard to rent and director salary. The average cost of day-care in Eaton County is about $540/month.

The true-cost of daycare (+$990/month) means that somebody making $15/hour must work 66 hours in a month for the gross to cover that cost. At $540 a month, they must work 36 hours for the gross to cover that cost. 

Given the tight linkage between prevailing wages and the cost of daycare, increasing minimum wages has very modest impact on the number of hours that young workers must work to cover the cost of daycare.

Daycares manage the high labor-cost of toddlers by throttling the number of spots they allow for them. Parents of the youngest children not only have cost issues but also availability issues. Sometimes they have to drive a long distance to their daycare provider.

Because of the issues listed above, there are desperate parents who opt to leave their child with the nice lady who lives next door. Southern Belle told me of one horror story where "Aunt Methany" dosed each kid with antihistamines (an adult dose of diphenhydramine to be exact) as soon as the parent's back was visible and the kids slept the entire time they were under her care. That was one of those cases where the State imposed ever-more-onerous regulations and drove the children into TOTALLY unregulated care.

Married couples often have the spouse that leaves for work later drop off the child and the spouse whose work-day ends soonest pick the child up. A child who is left at daycare overly long is cranky. From a staffing standpoint, daycares benefit from the later drop-off and earlier pick-up.

Single parents do not have that option. Furthermore, there is more economic pressure to leave the child there as long as possible so they can do their shopping and other errands without the distraction of watching their little darling(s) while doing so. Daycares cannot count on early pick-ups when single parents are caring for their children and that hits their bottom-line due to having to retain more staff at the end of the day.

*The position of Director involves generating audit friendly documentation that verifies that the 32 pages of regulations were scrupulously followed for every hour of operation.

Iggle #2 is in the Nest

Handsome Hombre is now home after a successful trip to Miami.

Monday, November 20, 2023

Iggle #1 Has Landed

Mrs ERJ walked through our main entrance door at 12:32 AM this morning. I am mighty glad to have her back.

Iggle #2 is expected to be wheels-on-the-ground at Detroit Metro at 1:30 AM Tuesday.

Pineapple upside-down cake is in the oven to celebrate both events.

Sunday, November 19, 2023

Chronic Wasting Disease


The CWD agent is shed from infected hosts in urine, feces, saliva, blood, and antler velvet (Figure 3) and can occur in preclinical and clinically affected animals (). CWD prions are also present nearly ubiquitously throughout a diseased host, including skeletal muscle; cardiac muscle; fat; a wide range of glands, organs, and peripheral nervous tissue; and in the highest concentrations in the CNS (,). Thus, CWD prions will enter the environment through shedding from diseased and deaths animals (carcasses). Although quantification of infectious CWD titers in excreta and tissue is challenging, the total titer shed from an infected animal during its lifespan may be approximately equal to the total titer contained in an infected carcass ().

Environmental transmission of the CWD agent was reported in studies demonstrating that an infected deer carcass left in a pasture for 2 years could transmit the agent to immunologically naive deer (). Exposure of naive deer to pasture previously inhabited by an infected deer also led to CWD transmission, as did cohabitation of naive and infected deer (). Naive deer exposed to water, feed buckets, and bedding used by CWD-infected deer contracted the disease ().   Source
One of the signs that deer hunters use to determine if there are bucks in the neighborhood is to look for scrapes or scrape-lines. That is where bucks paw up the ground, pee on it and poop on it and then paw it up some more. This is how they tell the girls in the neighborhood that they are studly dudes, kind of like an 8th grader dousing himself with Axe Aftershave.

Less well known is that above the scrape there is almost always a "licking stick" that the deer rub their preorbital scent glands on and lick and sniff at. It is the equivalent of dogs peeing on the fire hydrant. The so-called licking stick is used year-round. My gut feel is that licking sticks are a major cause of the rapid horizontal transmission of CWD.

CWD positive areas at the granularity of Townships

Looking at Eaton County. Eaton Rapids area circled in Cyan

The Michigan DNR is pouring a lot of money into collecting deer heads to monitor the spread of Chronic Wasting Disease in deer. It would be a whole lot cheaper to collect licking sticks and they would have samples from a larger sample size than an individual head.

I suspect that licking sticks could be identified by using UV light. Saliva and other protein-rich body fluids glow under black-light.

Just an idea.

They Clang!

I have been reluctant to share pictures of my lifting apparatus because, well, because it is so humble and home-spun.

Two bags of concrete, 1" black iron pipe ended up weighing 130 pounds.

The first ballasting was near the ends of the bars and added another twenty pounds.

Then I added a single ten-pound plate in the middle. Today I added a second, ten-pound plate in the middle for 170 pounds. Yes, Virginia, by the grace of God I was able to pump out four sets of ten dead-lifts.

Now for the fun part. The weights in the middle "Clang". I want those of you who know what a dead-lift "looks like" and to visualize WHERE they are when they clang.

I think this arrangement has commercial potential.

Poverty in Ireland one hundred years ago

Southern Belle, Quicksilver and I watched a short movie on Friday night.

Southern Belle picked it out. It was Angela's Christmas which is an animated short set in Limerick, Ireland circa 1910. The backdrop for the movie is a grinding poverty that we associate with places like Port-au-Prince, Haiti.

A few quick searches on the internet suggest that the poverty was not exaggerated. In fact, the rooms were probably much smaller, more crowded and less well lit than shown in the movie.

Just a very-quick comparison between Haiti and Limerick, Ireland before 1940. I apologize for not finding data that matches up exactly to the movie's time-frame but this is close and it is more recent so we can assume it was pretty bad twenty years earlier than the earliest data shown.


According to the most recent estimates by UNFPA and partner UN agencies, a woman in Haiti has a one in 80 chance of dying due to pregnancy or child birth, compared to the region-wide risk of one in 510. The infant mortality rate is 59 deaths for every 1,000 live births, according to the country’s most recent demographic and health survey (DHS).   Source



85 deaths per thousand births in Irish cities. That is one-in-twelve babies not seeing their first birthday. It is worth noting that the rate did not start coming down until 1946. Source
In the rural areas, the infant mortality rate was 30% lower than for urban areas.


Causes of infant deaths in Ireland.
The paper suggests that many deaths coded as "Congenital" issues were the result of in-utero and post-partum malnutrition. Convulsions were likely driven by fevers from infections, including gastroenteritis.

The up-spike during World War II was due to the Irish economy dying-on-the-vine. Even though Ireland declare itself neutral during WWII, the north-Atlantic blockade by Germany effectively shut off food and industrial materials shipped to Ireland. Furthermore, goods that would have been shipped to Ireland from Britain (like coal) were diverted to the war-effort.

One scene in the movie is telling. Angela's brother is running to the outhouse to relieve himself. There is no means of washing hands in the primitive facility. That means that soiled hands touch the door-handle and everybody who enters the house afterward is getting (potentially) contaminated fecal matter on their hands. The paper referenced earlier ties rapid spread of diarrhea (and other illnesses) to "shared facilities" that is, communal outhouses.

If you find yourself in a refugee camp, have every person in your tent wash their hands immediately after visiting the toilet before they enter the tent.

Saturday, November 18, 2023

If Dr Theuth wath a Mathematithian


Those of us with little-ones in the house will appreciate this

It's the Economy, Stupid

But it is the economy that we live in, not the economy of cooked-numbers that mesmerize the policy makers.

Typically, inflation monkey-hammers folks on fixed incomes. That would be most people on pensions. 

This Bidinflation is a little different. It is also hammering people just starting out in their careers with the cost of housing taking a HUGE bite out of their income.

Historically, policy makers got their arms around inflation (too much money chasing too few goods) by destroying money via feathering the interest-rates upward. That cooled demand and the stars would come back into alignment.

Think of "borrowing" as spending money you haven't earned yet. Raising the interest rates reduces the amount of money people can borrow and that limits demand.

This time around inflation seems very resistant to raising interest rates, like a patient with Type I Diabetes suddenly becoming resistant to injected insulin and now is both a Type I and Type II Diabetic.

Just to throw a few items out there:

The Biden Administration continues to squander resources on wind and solar farms, gobbling up large amounts of raw materials.

The Biden Administration allowed somewhere between five-million and ten-million people across the border in the 2.5 years he has been in office. I am sure most of them are fine people BUT how does Biden propose that they can become productive workers? Or are they doomed to be leaches...shrinking the supply of goods that productive people could be buying. 

This is the leading example of stupid policy destroying per-capita-supply every bit as quickly (or perhaps more quickly) than rising interest rates is shrinking the money supply.

Housing: The cost of regulations adds over $90,000 to the cost of the average new house (Source). Since many of those costs are "fixed" there is relentless pressure for builders to make larger and more expensive houses to recoup those costs. That totally excludes most people under the age of 30 from home ownership. The non-value-added costs also shrinks the supply of housing coming onto the market.

The Biden Administration has been picking winners-and-losers. Keystone Pipeline: Loser. Burlington Northern Railroad and Warren Buffet (bigtime Biden donor): Winners. People who buy gasoline and truckers who buy diesel: Losers. "The Market" is awesome for efficiently allocating resources but Biden's team of social engineers insist on putting their thumbs on the scale.

Education: Human capital being squandered by diversion into horrible majors that will never be productive. DEA initiatives that take the educator's eye off the ball of teaching basic skills like reading and arithmetic and science.

Even though it is as plain as the nose on Biden's face, they cannot see it. They are too giddy playing God. I doubt that He is amused.

Treading water...

One marker of maturity is being surprised when things go according to plan.

I was not surprised.

I had planned to be hunting this morning but Southern Belle is feeling under the weather, perhaps she has a case of what afflicted Quicksilver.

SB is snug in bed sleeping off the bug while I watch the (apparently) healthy QS. Perhaps I will get out this afternoon.

And while it might sound like I am virtuous, it is cold outside and I can look out my window. Maybe a thurdy-point buck will want to commit Suicide by ERJ.

Thursday, November 16, 2023

Random observations

I parked near an old foundation when I was hunting yesterday. The owner started building and then contacted the county for a permit. The county took a dim view of the liberties he took (no perkable land for a drainfield, for instance) and refused to issue the permit until he presented documentation that he had permission to pump his septic to a perkable site or had installed a suitable mound above grade-level.

The builder abandoned the site.

Next to the abandoned, three-hole, 8" cinderblock foundation is a Bitternut Hickory tree, Carya cordifomis. It looks like it was a banner year for production.

I saw three red squirrels playing on the foundation. It got me to thinking that the perforations in the cinderblocks might have been acceptable to the squirrels for cacheing mast. That is something to think about. Concrete blocks are not that expensive and are easy to find.


Hope is the antidote to fear.

While I was in the deer blind I noticed that I had left a Bible in it. The year had not been kind to it. Paper, moisture, time....

I asked Belladonna if there was such a thing as "weatherproof Bibles"?

Funny thing, if you ask the right questions, you get interesting answers.

Waterproof Bibles, printed on polymer pages. Sorted by Customer Reviews.

They aren't cheap unless you amortize them by the number of minutes of counseling $60 can buy.

Battered and beaten (and then deep-fat fried with hush-puppies)

Between the dead-lifting program, isometrics in the deer-blind to forestall hypothermia and life in general, I feel battered and beaten.

MTV, one of my high-school friends, informed me that you have to lean into the soreness. Most people stop and wait for the soreness to go away. Bad decision.

It never will. If you are not sore from working out then you will be sore from not-working-out.

You can either be sore due to reasons you can identify and have the solace of imagining that the shoulders of your shirts are getting tight. Or you can roll over and die with a whimper-and-whine before your time.

I tried to do some lifting during Quicksilver's outdoor time. I was able to get four reps in before she disappeared from sight. Once I got in six reps but I was going too fast to have good form.

I don't know how many reps/sets I got in but I was able to squeeze in two honest sets of ten reps later in the day. 

And this too will pass.


Handsome Hombre's work trip was extended and his return has been delayed until early next week.

Mrs ERJ is still on track to return late this weekend but due to the timing of the flights she will be jet-lagged and need time to recover.

And this too will pass.


I installed a sensor at the end of our driveway to inform me of when HH pulled in to drop off QS.

It went off multiple times in quick succession in the wee-hours and I was curious as to what manner of beast or spirit was traversing our driveway. So I purchased a cheap ($40) trail-cam.

It is a cat with a tail striped like a raccoon.

Who could have guessed?


I have a brother who used to be a fire-fighter. At some point in his career he was assigned a specialty. Every fire-fighter wants to specialize in extrication because it is the glamor specialty. Unfortunately, my brother drew one of the short straws and got Toxic Spills.

He informed me that at least nine-times-out-of-ten the correct decision is to tell residents to shelter-in-place. Usually, they will be told to seal their windows-and-doors to the best of their abilities and to relocate to the highest floor in their domiciles. He also said they will be told to turn off their clothes drier (which actively pulls in outside-air) and switch off their furnace.

It is a very hard pill for most Americans to swallow, to hunker down and let ventilation, sunshine and biological agents to detoxify the environment. We are conditioned to DO SOMETHING, to DO ANYTHING!!!

Sheltering in place is pretty much the order of the day for nuclear fallout. Stuff plastic grocery bags into air-leaks around your windows (butter knives and pizza cutters work a treat on this job), fill all of your empty containers with water (you are likely to lose pressure) and depending on the nature of the detonation, either camp-out on the second floor of your house or in your basement with as much concrete between you and the ambient environment as you can manage.

People in high-rises are actually in pretty good shape (as long as their city was not the target). Particulate and water-soluble radio-active isotopes will be mostly at ground level. The danger will be in people going nuts and the urge to evacuate and thereby expose one's self to said dangerous people.

If you are one of "those" people who likes to be prepared, then have a plan to hermetically seal your house (duct tape, plastic and so-on) AND landscape the area +6' from your foundations to aggressively kick any rain run-off away from your house. Many of the elements that a designer of a dirty-bomb might salt the device with produce to produce biologically active, radio-active compounds  are water soluble (sulfur and phosphorous and iodine). 

Storm-tracks are moderately predictable at certain times of the year. From one perspective it makes sense to use that tracking information to deliver the fallout. For example, tropical storms tend to track up the eastern US coast in September and October. If this were a game of Clue, I would bet on dirty-bomb in Del-Mar-Va or No-Fulk, Va in October in a hollowed-out pallet of gypsum-board in a CONEX container from Algeria.

Slug Guns

My nephew has a very fine, 20 gauge shotgun with rifled barrel. It is his primary deer hunting gun.

With the recent changes in Michigan firearm hunting regulations, it is a dinosaur. He had a hard time finding ammo.

I COULD help him reload a life-time supply of ammo. Or, since it is an NEF single-shot, help him find a 45-70 barrel for it.

The 45-70 case is too long to qualify under Michigan regulations but the brass can be trimmed back to 1.75" and to qualify. If push came to shove, the .45-70 could be reloaded with home-made blackpowder, slugs cast from sinkers and wheel-weights and lubricated with lard.

For a little bit more money, he can purchase a Savage Axis or Mossberg Patriot in .450 Bushmaster or .350 Legend.

For a bit less money he can buy an insert and change his 20 gauge into a .44 Rem or .357 Magnum.

Decisions, decisions, decisions.