Saturday, June 22, 2024

Stone-Cold-Killer (of Poison Ivy)

Today's mission was to go out to The Property and spray Poison Ivy. I put four gallons through the sprayer.

I started spraying at 9:30 AM and was done by 10:30. Rain is predicted for 10PM so the active ingredients will have 12 hours to soak in. The label says that the product is "rain fast" after four hours, so I should be good-to-go.

Two of the three ingredients are "ester" formulations which are much better at penetrating the waxy cuticle than the "amide" formulations. So far, Gordon's Brush Killer has been an impressive product.

I need to wait about a week and touch-up where I missed. There is a LOT of Poison Ivy in places where people will be.

There is an old shooting bench on the property and a 108 yard range with markers at 25 yards, 50 yards and 108 yards. The bench was wobbly and I added some bracing to it. Portable generators are a blessing!

In case you haven't guessed, one of my compensations for improving the property is that I already have permission to hunt it.

Bonus Video

Hat-tip Lucas

A crisis of incompetence?

One of my buddies just sent me a text.

A couple of months ago he had a new, heat-pump HVAC system installed. It was supposed to be the coolest thing. It is what the Norwegians have been using, almost exclusively, for the last several decades. Of course, Norway is rich in hydro-electric power so it makes lots of sense for them.

The installation was problematic from the beginning. The unit that was supplied would not fit into the crawl-space beneath the house. Maybe somebody didn't know how to run a yoyo?

No problem. They installed it in the attic.

My buddy turned it on after the installation. It did not start.

Owner of company showed up. All of the control-boards had been blown. Somebody had botched the power-hookup.

A month goes by while new control-boards are found and shipped. Maybe from Norway?

The owner of the company "ate" the cost of the new control-boards.

The system ran OK through the cold weather. Hot weather showed up. Buddy flipped it into A/C mode and water started dripping through the ceiling. My buddy made another service call.

Crew showed up and spent a few hours in the attic clanging-and-banging, then they left.

Buddy started it up in A/C mode. Still leaked. Buddy called again.

Same crew, more banging-and-clanging. They tore apart the 1/2" PVC drain-line and re-gooped every joint and reassembled. Then they left.

Buddy started it up again. It leaked again.

Company owner showed up and determined....his new (and now former) crew-boss had installed the unit upside-down. So presumably, the PVC drain line was installed to the TOP of the unit as it had been installed and the condensate was following gravity and flowing downward through the unit.

Crew + company owner took six hours to disconnect electrical and refrigerant lines, spin unit, re-duct, reconnect electrical and refrigerant lines and recharge system. They finished just before midnight.

And that is what happens when somebody in a position of trust does not check their work. EVERYBODY makes mistakes. Competent people check their work as they go along. Finding a mistake is not an admission of incompetence or inferiority. It is part of life.

Friday, June 21, 2024

Judge Ōoka Tadasuke

Judge Ōoka Tadasuke was born in 1677 in Japan and died in 1752. Judge Ōoka Tadasuke was legendary for the wisdom of his judgments and stories about his cases are an integral part of Japanese culture.

In one of more celebrated cases, he solved a case that had been festering for more than 100 years. Two very powerful families contested an ambiguous will. Each family interpreted the will as bequeathing several fields to THEIR family and not to the other. Since the families were both powerful, whichever family lost the judgement would become powerful enemies of the judge who rendered the judgement.

Ōoka Tadasuke agreed to hear the case. His rivals were sure he was going to create enemies. He called senior representatives from each family into his courtroom and he told them that they both had strong claims on the fields and so he was going to solicit divine guidance. He told them that each family was to raise a crop of red beans (presumably what we know today as adzuki beans) and whichever family produced the highest yield (on a per-area basis) was the family chosen by the gods to have the fields.

At that time, as a nation based on a rice-and-seafood economy, protein (and fats) were always in short supply.

Both families were very good farmers and were proud of that fact. They were both sure that they would win.

The family that won had been growing the red beans on a trial basis and had learned how this kind of bean was different than rice. Additionally, adzuki beans will cross with wild-beans which makes finding good seeds problematic if you don't produce them yourself and isolate them from wild-types. They won the trial by a very wide margin.

Everybody agreed that letting the gods decide was wise.

At a deeper level...

Granting the land to the farmers who were most proficient at growing this emerging, high-quality protein source was the right thing to do for Japan as a nation. It increased the resource base for the nation. Using red beans as the test and linking it to divine intervention legitimized the growing and eating of that particular food.

Many, many years later, Dr Taguchi postulated that "quality" and "specifications" had to be comprehended in the context of maximizing value (and minimizing waste) at the societal level and not just the level of the factory-floor or the accountant's ledger-book.

The Japanese industrialists were quick to absorb the message.

I am willing to bet that Dr Taguchi and the Japanese industrialists were all intimately familiar with the stories of Ōoka Tadasuke.

Reality is a rare commodity in social media

As planned, I roto-tilled the corn patch yesterday.

It looked like hell before I roto-tilled it.

Now it looks like hell with ADA (American Disabilities Act) compliant aisle-ways.

No photos were taken. You will just have to use your imagination.

Collapse: Haiti vs Dominican Republic

Dominican Republic compared to Haiti

One key to wisdom is to make things a simple as possible, but no simpler. That is harder than it seems

Unfortunately, there is a temptation to take one bite of the meal and assume you experienced the entire meal. People remember the parts of a book or story that are in alignment with their beliefs and rapidly memory-hole the parts that conflict with those beliefs.

Haiti on left, DR on right

In the book Collapse, Diamond compares Haiti, which is a dystopian hell-hole, with the Dominican Republic which shares the island with Haiti. By comparison, DR is organized, law-respecting and avoided the worst of the environmental degradation that impacted Haiti.

The lesson the Political-Elites gleaned from this was that D-R's authoritarian policies worked. What they failed to comprehend was that the worst of the environmental degradation was avoided because the "strongman" supported the supply and distribution of LP gas (a petroleum product, GASP!) for rural cooking. Another factor that somehow eluded the Political-Elites is that the rule-of-law and clear property laws helped avert the tragedy-of-the-commons scenario in DR.

In Haiti, for instance, it is possible to have six families with a claim to a single parcel of land. When Port-au-Prince started to build a sewage treatment plant (paid for by foreign grants), construction kept getting held up as families kept popping up out of the woodwork with a deed to property they needed to continue construction. Undoubtedly, many of the claims were fraudulent but multiple claimants are so common that it was just easier to pay off the claims as they arose. Never-the-less, it did slow down construction.

From the perspective as a North American who identifies as a conservative, the one of the core messages is that dilution of property rights leads to chaos and destruction.

Thursday, June 20, 2024

"Collapse" by Jared Diamond, a 40,000' flyover report

Jared Diamond published a book in 2005 titled Collapse: How Societies Choose to Fail or Succeed. The book made such an impression on the Power-Elite* that it has its own Wikipedia page.

Diamond presents the book as a series of case studies where he explains how the following four factors interacted to cause certain societies first expand and then to collapse:

  • Climate
  • Interactions with neighbors including collapse of essential trading partners
  • Environmental issues
  • Society's response to external stresses

The centerpiece of the book is the discussion of the Norsemen who first settled Iceland and then Greenland.


The first successful settlements on Greenland coincided with a many hundred-year-period of historically much-warmer-than-average temperatures. Difficulties compounded when the temperatures reverted back to the mean.


The settlers were not self-sufficient. They traded narwhale tusks (ivory) for iron, wine and other items that were not economical for them to produce for themselves. To this day, there are no commercial vineyards on Greenland!

The Norsemen, Vikings, were pugnacious and did not have cordial relationships with the neighboring indigenous peoples. Diamond makes that point that since indigenous people lived there before the Norsemen and still had settlements on Greenland long afterward, albeit very small settlements and widely scattered, the Norsemen SHOULD have been able to hang on since they also had agriculture to supplement the hunter-fisher-gatherer technologies of the indigenous peoples.

Environmental issues

Trees grow very slowly in harsh climates and can easily be over-harvested for roofing beams and for firewood.

Responses to external stresses

The discovery of elephant tusks and the development of trade routes hugely reduced the demand (and prices) for narwhale ivory. Forays into the west (Labrador, Newfoundland, New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, New England) for iron and berries suitable for making wine produced meager amounts of materials at the expense of exposing the men of the settlement to attacks by natives.

One response which remains baffling to anthropologists is that there is no (as in ZERO) evidence that the colonies consumed any seafood. Not a single fish scale or clam-shell. The North Atlantic around Greenland is one of the most productive fisheries in the world and (apparently) the Norsemen did not take advantage of that source of rich, oily fish.

Fast Forward to Today


Everything is all about the climate. You cannot escape it. "Man Made Climate Change" is going to make humans and all of the plants and animals on earth go extinct...or so we are led to believe.

Interactions with neighbors

Donald Trump pushes the Power-Elites' buttons. He is a Viking. He is pugnacious. He does not craft nice-nice, win-win, roll-over-and-wag-tail treaties with other countries. His default is to negotiate from strength.

Environmental Issues

The Power-Elite pay lip-service to environmental issues like overuse of fertilizers and agricultural pesticides but pay poor-people to carpet-bomb their personal lawns and parks with toxic chemicals to make them story-book green and bug-free.  Of course, that poor dude who speaks Spanish is the guy who soaks in pesticides and fertilizer all day long.

Responses to Stresses

For whatever, irrational reasons the colonists of Greenland would not eat fish even though it was abundant, high-quality food. Those are the same reasons, word-for-word, that we are given for eating bugs.


The book Collapse by Jared Diamond looks a lot like the playbook used by the Power-Elite and probably provided some of the framework or paradigm for how they perceive how events interact and unfold.

*Power-Elite: If it helps to have a human face visualize Bill Gates and/or Mark Zuckerberg although much of the Power-Elite are anonymous bureaucrats.

Presented without comment


Wednesday, June 19, 2024

Guys being guys

Peak temperatures have been lower than expected. We topped out at 83 today vs. an expected high of about 90. We typically run 2 degrees F lower than the City of Eaton Rapids (chortle, city!) and 5-to-10 degrees below Lansing.

The dog-days of summer arrived a little bit early

The highest heat-index that I experienced while involved in prolonged, physical effort was a heat-index of 97. OK, I can hear the readers from Texas and Louisiana snorting in laughter. In my defense I was walking from Eaton Rapids to Indiana and knocked out 25 miles the first day and 26 the second. That was in July of 2018. So while the heat-index was not that impressive, the fact that I was out in it, walking for ten hours counts for something.


The tomatoes and cucumbers really like the heat.

Pleasant surprises

I got a text from my youngest brother who had started his new job a month ago. Today was the first day he was not scheduled to work. "Do you want to have lunch?" he asked.

His first free day in a month and he wants to eat lunch with me? Hell ya!

We ate at C&R Homestyle Cafe and our bill came to $22 (including drinks).

After lunch, we went out to the property I am managing and we took very dead woodchucks out of Conibear traps. Then we extended the height of the welded-wire mesh deer protection on some young orchard trees from 48" in height to 66" in height. We enhanced the protection of 11 young apple trees.

Once that stopped being fun, we drove over to where Shotgun was fishing and drank a beer or two, told a few lies and ate Shotgun's pretzels. Being a jerk, I caught the only fish, a 10" bullhead.

For the record, I used a strip of sunfish that I soaked in soy-sauce. To a fish in fresh-water, Salt + Protein = Edible. I think you could catch fish with the tongue of an old sneaker if you soaked it in soy-sauce.

Tomorrow's plans

God willing, I will run a mile and then brag about it.

I will plant some cabbage seedlings.

I will roto-till the corn-patch

Music, Covid vaccine and Radicals

Does music improve plant growth?



"Strangely, plants’ musical tastes show a remarkable congruence with those of the humans reporting them."

— Daniel Chamovitz

I would have expected "Rap" to excel seeing how it is pure fecal excrement.

Covid vaccine

5-way + Coronavirus. Canine Spectra 6 is a 5-way canine vaccine that includes protection against coronavirus. Canine Spectra 6 aids in the prevention of disease caused by canine distemper, adenovirus type 2, hepatitis, parainfluenza, updated parvovirus Type 2b, and coronavirus. Modified live plus killed coronavirus...

A traditional vaccine. Not intended for humans.

A list of radicals, naming names


I was looking at the stats for this blog and saw that it popped up on a Google search for "Radical+site+Blogger". This section is a deliberate "troll" for people who make those kinds of searches.

No Bag Limit (Cumberland Saga)

The supply truck had been staged a quarter-mile from the entrance to the driveway. It had backed into a two-track that was access to a wooded area. Lliam and Eddie had been busy. They had supplied four potential locations for the supply truck to loiter.

Four minutes after radio contact, Fred and the crew heard the truck turn into the drive a quarter mile to their east. As promised, the truck moved at a pace only slightly faster than a walk.

Approaching the gully, it braked and the driver flickered the high-beams three times before resuming forward motion.

Samson had chosen to put the roadblock at the gully because the drive barely had enough room on each side for someone to replace a flat tire. Then, to either side, the drive plunged steeply to the bottom where a culvert provided a path for run-off.

There was no possibility of turning a vehicle around nor was there much risk of a passenger bailing out and flanking defenders. Basically, a road-block would make the vehicle a sitting duck.

There were no trees of sufficient girth and mass in the middle of the stretch of drive across the gully but the clump of basswood trees would work just fine.

After the truck had passed Fred’s crew, Fred asked Lliam to hold his light while he started cutting the stem he had selected. The key would be to leave a strap that connected the stem to the stump. Then, even if the returning truck tried to push the stem out of the way it would likely damage the grill and radiator of the truck.

After cutting ¾ the way through the stem and vigorously applying sledge to wedges, the basswood stem groaned and shook and finally toppled.

Shortly afterward, Samson and the other raiders with military experience showed up. They tapped the “lumberjacks” out of their positions and suggested that they sack-out while they could. They had done their part for the night.

Samson wanted the fewest eyewitnesses for what was likely to happen next.

One nice thing about an enemy who you know will be arriving in a vehicle is that you don’t need to exercise strict noise discipline. The men were able to chat with each other and keep each other awake.

After about a half hour, Samson called Lliam and Eddie. “What do you guys think of making breakfast for the crew in the morning?” Samson’s watch told him it was about fifteen minutes after midnight. He needed to make sure that most of the crew got at least four hours of sleep. He would sleep in the morning.

Lliam said “I would but we are about out of grub.”

“I reckon Miss Shannon has got plenty of supplies. I want you and Eddie to head up to the house and rack-out for the rest of the night. Make sure you give a hollar when you get within 100 yards. I’ll let them know that you are coming.”

“Sure. Sounds like a plan” Lliam said with a big yawn. The idea of sleeping inside a house suddenly had an irresistible appeal.

Ten minutes before 1:00 AM, a truck pulled into the drive and started toward the roadblock. Due to minor snaking of the drive and ups-and-downs, the driver was not able to see the fallen tree until he had started across the causeway that spanned the gully.

The truck slowed as it approached it and then stopped.

Samson could see the occupants of the front seat clearly in the glow of the instrument panel.

The engine idled while the passenger and the driver argued. Apparently, the driver won the argument because the passenger got out of the truck and was cussing up a storm. He walked over to the trunk and gave an unimpressive “push” against it to move it.

Samson heard the power window lowered and the driver yelled “Ya gotta push harder than that!”

“Fuck you!” the passenger screamed back. “You think you can do better, you get out and help.”

Neither man seemed to think the fallen tree was unusual. Sudden storms were not uncommon in eastern Tennessee and due to the mountains, some of them were very local.

The driver made no move to get out of the truck. On the other hand, he also didn't send anybody to help which led Samson to believe that they were only dealing with the two of them.

Shooting through windshields is tricky business. It tends to deflect bullets upward and there is always the risk of the bullets hitting the steel insert inside of the rim of the steering wheel.

The proper response is to use a larger caliber firearm if it is available. If the only firearm is 5.56mm NATO, then the proper response is to use enhanced penetrating rounds like military surplus M-855 and to do a mag-dump.

As Samson was servicing the driver, the other two former-military hosed the passenger. It was slaughter, pure and simple.

The two bodies were tossed on top of the booty from the night’s raid.

Samson had to beat a peep-hole through the windshield with the hammer. The impact of the bullets had broken the safety-glass of the windshield into thousands of tiny pebbles that were held together by the plastic film between the two sheets, rendering the windshield opaque.

One of the other team members cut through the strap of wood holding the tree-trunk to the stump and then topped out the tree. He sent a runner to get the supply truck. With a tow strap, they were able to pull the log off of the drive and Samson got the job of driving the looter’s truck up to Miss Shannon’s house.

They opened the garage door. There was nobody in the garage. After turning off Miss Shannon’s vehicle and letting the garage air out for ten minutes, they turned on the lights and much of the merchandise that could probably be identified by its rightful owners was thrown into the bed of the truck. Then Billy and Billy’s girlfriend’s bodies were tossed in. It was a very full load.

Finally, Samson spray-painted “LOOTERS” in white, 10” tall letters on one side of the truck-box. On the other side of the truck he wrote “OPEN SEASON ON LOOTERS” and "NO BAG LIMIT". Due to lack of planning he had to make the letters smaller as he got close to the end.

Since the back of his jacket was already blood-soaked, Samson drove the truck to where Chapel Road “Y”ed off of Hendon Road. He made sure that he positioned the truck so every person traveling southeast on Hendon got a very good look at the signage.

Then Samson loped back toward Miss Shannon’s house.

Tuesday, June 18, 2024

Catbirds and Hognosed Snakes

Just a couple of the less common types of wildlife I saw today.

The Gray Catbird is a solid ID. The snake is still "iffy".

Milk Snake


Hognose Snake

At first I thought the Hognose Snake was a Milk Snake but the pattern was much more uniform and finer/smaller pattern. He jumped out when I was looking at some blackberry bushes and I got to practice my levitation skills. Contrary to what Mr B and other experienced aviators claim, there is plenty of "lift" in hot, humid air if the flier is sufficiently motivated.

Hognose Snakes can flatten their heads to look like a pit-viper. They can also play dead and can even eject a putrid smell that makes them smell like they have been dead a long time. The snake I saw had a small head...that is something I look for. He was also shy. He went west as I went up.

The temperatures were 10 degrees lower than predicted today but the humidity was extremely high. My glasses fogged up when I walked out of the house and my tee shirts (I went through several today) quickly soaked through with sweat.

What does food production in a dysfunctional country look like?

We don't have to reinvent the wheel.

Link (I skipped ahead to cut out 3 minutes of bread-making)

For instance, Lebanon has been a dysfunctional country for the last 30 years. The 2020s have not treated it well. An enormous explosion leveling much of the port of Beirut on August 4, 2020 kicked off the decade. Covid happened. The government gridlocked. The currency crashed. Fuel became unavailable.

Currently, the southern part of the country is getting pounded by the Israeli. No judgment. Just one more thing to make life of the little people harder.

People adapted. There are lessons that can be learned, pain that we can avoid if we are smart.

The link shown above is to a video of an extended family collecting and preserving food during the summer and early autumn. If time is tight, then scroll ahead to the 7:24 mark and watch five seconds.

I learn something new in most of these kinds of videos. In this one, the men are using poles to knock the ripe walnuts off the tree. I imagine this frustrates the squirrels and more walnuts end up in the store room.

I also see things that make me shudder. For instance, they are filling glass jars with hot, rendered tallow over the open container of tallow. If the jar breaks, then the tallow in the pot is contaminated with shards of broken glass.

Between this video and two other "Lebanon village life", I identified the following locally grown foods:

  • Tomatillo (!)
  • Figs (lots of figs)*
  • Apples
  • Jujubees (a guess based on shape and size)
  • Grapes
  • Citrus (lower elevations)
  • Walnuts
  • Wheat (shown as flour)
  • Pine nuts (cones for sale at a market)
  • Olives (lower elevations)
  • Peaches and Nectarines
  • Cucumbers
  • Tomatoes
  • Eggs
  • Mint (?)
  • Broccoli (chopped, salad with yogurt for dressing)

I get the sense that most village people don't try to grow EVERYTHING they can grow but focus on a portfolio of heavy-lifters that produce abundantly in their location and tag all of the nutritional bases. For example, even if it were possible to grow oil-palm, coconuts, avocado, olives, hazelnuts, walnuts and pecans at the same location it only makes sense to specialize in the one that grows/produces best and maybe have a few plants of a back-up species.

Lots of cats. Very, very few dogs. Chickens are fed kitchen waste as one last chance to glean a few more grams of protein and a few more calories out of food that would otherwise end up on the compost pile. 

---Added later---

Hose included for size reference


We picked our first Illinois Everbearing Mulberries yesterday. Quicksilver approved. I dug some new-potatoes today for one of Mrs ERJ's friends who is on a restricted diet. I wish she liked nettles, rabbit and raccoon meat. I could supply her with a LOT of that.

Canadian Thistle, Chicory and St John's Wort starting to bloom. 950 GDD b50.

*Figs: one of the remarkable things about figs is that once they start producing in the season they produce a steady supply of fruit until frost shuts them down. That means you can have fruit with every meal for 4-to-6 months without having to store it. When you have a super-abundance, it dries well in climates that are not humid. Figs are not a viable option in much of the US due to short summers, cold winters or excessive humidity. But they are rock-stars where they can be grown.

The endless night (Cumberland Saga)

Fred Yeager felt like a pack-mule as he walked north on the driveway with the two other men. A very tired pack-mule. The emotional roller-coaster of a full day’s work and training, the sudden decision that “tonight is the night”, the night-march cross-country to the objective, the huge adrenaline surge of being in the stack and hearing gunfire from the next room all added up.

And now he and his two “buddies” were staggering down the drive to drop some trees over it so the rest of the team could have time to harden up the compound.

Fred’s eyes had become accustomed to the dark, he could see woods to his right; from the sand-table exercise, he knew that was the gully that had been dammed to create the pond east of the compound. It was also the gully that the drive passed over just east of the 90 degree bend where it turned toward the public road.

As they neared the elbow in the drive, Fred looked ahead and saw Lliam illuminate a small circle at his feet to tell the men his location. It was the only time during their camping trip that Lliam had used the flashlight.

Lliam was standing at the base of a clump of basswood trees. “Is this what you are looking for?” Lliam asked.

Fred appraised one of the trunks that leaned in the desired direction by slapping it. It did not sound hollow. “It will do. If it doesn’t, well, we gotta ‘nough gas to cut as many as we need” Fred said.

Then Fred pulled out his walkie-talkie and turned it on. “Gate-to-truck. Gate-to-truck. Can you hear me?”

“Truck-to-gate. I can hear ya fine. Ya ready for a delivery?” the person on the other end of the radio replied.

“Yep” Fred said. “Do me a favor, come slow and when you get to the gully, stop and flicker your high-beams so we know it is you. We are getting kinda ragged on this end.”

“10-4. Come slow. Stop and flicker high-beams” the disembodied voice repeated.

“10-4. You got it” Fred confirmed.

Fred was getting antsy. If they had encountered the goblins coming back from a raid while walking up the drive, they had been instructed to step ten paces off the drive and to lie with their faces away from the drive until after the goblins had passed. Since there was so little traffic with the fuel rationed, Fred and his crew would have heard the goblin truck coming from quite a distance away, as would the sentries outside of Miss Shannon’s house.

But they hadn’t encountered the goblin raiders' truck and the only really dicey moment would be if it showed up before the supply truck.


Rosa found some black, plastic trash-bags in the cupboard beneath the kitchen sink. She pulled them down over the heads of Billy and Billy’s girlfriend, pulled the drawstrings tight and tied them to secure the bags. At least they wouldn’t have to look at them while moving their bodies.

Rummaging around, Gregor found a shower-curtain and repurposed it. They spread it on the carpet and toppled Billy’s girlfriend onto it and then rolled her into a cadaver-burrito.

The plan did not work as well as Gregor hoped. The soft vinyl of the shower curtain tore and it was not nearly as slippery as a poly tarp would have been. It was totally shredded by the time they got her dragged out the front door. And she was only 200 pounds. Billy was at least 300!

Rosa and Gregor were catching their breath when Samson came to check on their progress. Looking around the room he asked “Why didn’t you use the Hoyer Lift?”

“The what?” Gregor asked, confused.

“The lift” Samson repeated. “Looks sorta like an engine hoist on wheels. It is in the second bedroom. Didn’t you see it?” 
Gregor HAD seen it but didn't recognize it as something that would be useful.

A minute later, Rosa and Gregor rolled the lift into the living room. Miss Shannon had used it to help move her mother from recliner-to-toilet-to-bed after an operation but hadn’t needed it after physical therapy had been sufficient to help her mother regain mobility. It was rated for 400 pounds.

The only difficulty was sliding enough of the fabric sling beneath Billy so his body would slide into place when he was lifted. Then it was a short roll to the threshold of the front door.

While Gregor and Rosa were dealing with the two corpses, a crew was setting up to install the new exterior door the supply truck was bringing. The goal was to have Miss Shannon and her mother installed in their home and the nucleus of the security team dug-in within 24 hours. Most of the team did not know it, but Miss Shannon’s mother was in rapid decline and some of that was due to not being in her own home.

Monday, June 17, 2024

Adventures at a Big-Box Store

Two types of ring-terminals were purchased. I expect HH will use the "easy" ones to trouble-shoot and then "borrow" some heavy-duty crimpers to install the proper ones.

I went next-door to another Big-Box store and determined that the Kel-tec P-17 has very nice sights and is a super-handy size but the grip is quite long from backstrap to front-of-grip so it will probably not appeal to Mrs ERJ although it pointed very well for me. I also tried  on several pairs of Teva sandals and determined that they are generously sized in the front of the sole and toe-box. That means that I could wear size 11 instead of size 12 if I ordered them on-line (at 65% of the price).

I am only slightly torn about not purchasing locally. The store is always running sales and I could probably catch them at that price if I wanted to work at it. It galls me that they don't set their prices at a level they can make a profit and not constantly change them. One of their competitors is just as bad. They have items that are on sale Saturday-thorugh-Thursday but never on Friday. Go figure.

Then I went to the next Big-Box store to stock up on coffee and oatmeal and chocolate bars and ibuprofen and toothpaste. While I was unloading the cart, the young man who was smoking a cigarette in the vehicle next to where I was parked finished and got out. To make conversation, I complemented his vehicle.

After a few sentences, I guessed he spoke Arabic...and I was right. He was from Jordan. The vehicle was the second one he has owned since immigrating. His first was a Jeep.

After another minute or so, it belatedly became clear to me that he couldn't speak English or understand English. His phone was translating from English-to-Arabic and he was reading what I was saying from his phone screen.

Ponder that for a moment. He has been here for years and survives based on a phone App.

Now consider that the supplier of the App is almost certainly tracking his GPS positions and that he probably agreed to it when he accepted the privacy statement.They have a log of that info stored somewhere. Also consider that the developer marketing the App is probably selling that information to every group that is willing to pay for it.

Neatly broken down by language. They might even be able to break it down by region based on dialect or how they pronounce "Marhaba" and other "tell words"...

I had a great Father's Day

I had a great Father's Day (and birthday celebration). Due to  scheduling conflicts of my kids' work schedules, it made sense to combine my birthday celebration (I was born in June) with Father's Day. Even so, only three of the four were able to attend.

Gifts were very low-key. I received some music, a couple of shirts and two expanding file folders. Mrs ERJ got me the folders to organize my garden seeds by the month that the seeds are to be planted. I guess she felt-my-pain as I rummaged around trying to find the seeds to plant THIS month.

Life was lovely until about midnight when the first of 3-or-4 thunderstorm cells swept into the area. That was unexpected. Zeus does not like thunder and he let us know about it.

So...birthday boy got to sleep on the couch last night because one of my "kids" is afraid of thunder. Mrs ERJ got to sleep in the bed because she put on a FABULOUS party.

Weather look-ahead

The daily highs will be about 15 degrees (F) above average for the next few days. The humidity will be low and there will be large day-night temperature swings. That means we can play-the-bounce and run the A/C starting at sunset and turning it off at sunrise. Then closing most of the curtains in the house and letting the temperature "coast" through the daylight hours.

I was very surprised by the rain. We picked up about an inch of rain. I had an impulse sprinkler running all night. That patch of garden is very well watered.

That amount of rain means that running the tiller is not an option for about three days. Tilling is a Goldilocks proposition when it comes to moisture. Completely dry makes a lot of dust and the soil can be rock-hard. Too much moisture means the soil will first turn into wet concrete and then will not be fluffy when it dries. Experience taught me that three days of dry weather after a significant rain are about perfect with regards to easy and effective tilling (for MY soil in MY climate).

Today's plans

I need to make a trip to a Big-Box building supply store to purchase wire terminals. Handsome Hombre has a piece of equipment that will not start due to the ring-terminal to one of the battery posts fatiguing. He is working 10 hours a day and I am not.

While I am at the Big-Box I might buy a box-fan.

There is a store next to the Big-Box I want to visit but it does not open until 9:00 so I will time the trip so I will hit the parking lot of the Big-Box at 8:30.

I might take Zeus for a swim to help him beat-the-heat.

I need to run a finer-mesh fence around the bottom of the fence enclosing Mrs ERJ's garden. I (almost) caught a rabbit red-handed but it squirmed-and-wormed its way out through the 2"-by-3" mesh. It wasn't a very big rabbit but it was big enough to wipe out a row of young lettuce plants.

I might put a little bit of fertilizer on the patch that received a double-dose of water. I will dissolve it in some water and side-dress the plants. I will do that at mid-day to give the dirt time to firm-up.

Sunday, June 16, 2024

A Modest Proposal

Let the kids run.

Donald Trump, Jr


Hunter Biden


They don't even need to reprint the ballots. Just a bit of white-out here-and-there.

Happy Father's Day (and other stuff)

Happy Father's Day to all!

In particular, my hat is off to those of you who are "fathering" kids who are not your biological kids and those who are busting their hump trying to father kids they no longer have custody of.

You throw a long shadow.

Something that made my ears perk up

"Before you know it, it's gonna be illegal to plant so much as a potato in your yard" Kubota grumbled the other day.

That caught my attention for a few reasons. He works in construction and I don't know how tuned into politics they are. For another, the crowd Kubota hangs out with are more interested in diesel trucks, girls and beer (not necessarily in that order) than in gardening or backyard-chickens.

Did he know something?

A quick trip to the internet revealed that it is illegal to plant a potato in Idaho; more specifically, it is illegal to plant potatoes with uncertified seed pototoes (like the ones you saved from the year before). In other places, laws are in place that authorize officials to destroy "uncared-for fruit trees" as "nuisances" since they attract stinging insects, raccoons, bears and serve as reservoirs for diseases and insect pests.

The primary motivation in both cases involves the risk they pose to commercial operations. Med Fruit Fly in California and Citrus Greening in Florida come to mind as examples.

In other places, zoning ordinances are exist to protect the value of the housing stock. Many of those ordinances focus on aesthetics. Not every would-be-house-buyer is enchanted with the frowsy, exuberant, bustling, in-process aura of a working garden. Or, they might allow "gardens" but it has to be done by a professional selected from a curated list which sort of undermines the garden if the goal is to increase self-sufficiency.

In other gardening news

"Golly, why isn't that impulse sprinkler working?"

Raccoons, raccoons, raccoons! I am not going to give a lot of details, but if you decide to trap nuisance raccoons then make sure the trap is well away from any garden hoses.


Motherswort is an introduced species and it is one of the weeds I casually encourage in my orchard. I encourage it because it hosts a wide range of pollen consuming insects (including predators of orchard pests), produces large amounts of pollen over a wide time horizon.

The bumblebees and honeybees are visible in this video. There were many, smaller pollinators as well. The primary thing I want you to walk away with is the SOUND of the video. This clump HUMS with bees.

Saturday, June 15, 2024

Artificial Intelligence "Apps" I would like to see


An app that combines GIS topo data and Google Street view and assesses the visibility and whether a delivery truck should backed into a driveway or if it can be driven into nose-first.


More and more merchandise is being delivered and there is much turnover in delivery drivers. Some of them are under tremendous time-pressure. Using data to determine visibility takes most of the human judgement out of the equation and result in less risk to delivery drivers, motorists and (especially) motorcyclists.


Requires maintenance (fresh street views) as shrubs grow but that would justify a subscription.


An app that looks at daily pictures of your feet and flags if there are signs of significant health issues developing.


Many health issues effect the extremities and the feet get hit hardest, diminished blood flow, for instance. Cracks in skin and the septic nature of the skin's surface means that many infections start in the feet. It is difficult for some seniors to inspect their feet due to flexibility and focus issues.


A good inspection requires a tactile check.

Inconsistent angle and lighting create challenges and so does the difficulty of taking images of the bottom of the feet and between the toes. A good "fixture", perhaps with mirrors and lights would go a long way to minimizing those issues.


Identify "weeds" as an array of spray-heads moves over a lawn or crop. Activate the head that sprays the most effective herbicide for that particular weed. Example, if the optics saw Palmer Amaranth (which has developed glyphosate resistance), spray 2,4-D. If treating a lawn, spot spray weeds and leave areas covered with grass unsprayed.


Minimize herbicides released to the environment. Reduce the cost of the herbicides used. Slow down the spread of resistance to glyphosate.

Downside: Optics need to be cleaned to be effective.


Few things demonstrate priorities more starkly than decorating in front of the Day Care with Pride Month Banners* (as always, you can click on the picture to enlarge it.)

He (Jesus) called a little child to him, and placed the child among them.  And he said: “Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Therefore, whoever takes the lowly position of this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. And whoever welcomes one such child in my name welcomes me. “If anyone causes one of these little ones—those who believe in me—to stumble, it would be better for them to have a large millstone hung around their neck and to be drowned in the depths of the sea.   -Matt 18:2-6  NIV

"...unless YOU change and become like little children..." not "...hyper-sexualize little children so they are like you..."

Priorities are binary. A church either ferociously protects their children's innocence and moral rectitude or their children are expendable, little more than pawns or tokens to be traded for coolness-points.

*I am not going to identify or "call out" this particular church. There are at least two of them in every small town and correspondingly more of them in larger towns and cities.

Friday, June 14, 2024

Guilt by association

A quick review of the concept of "Guilt by Association" or "Birds of a feather flock together".

If a small group of people act together and commit a felony then they are all guilty of a felony. The driver of the get-away car. The "look-out". The safe-cracker. The fence.

Any one of them could have stopped the commission of the felony either by withdrawing their skills or support or by "ratting".

When somebody breaks into his Granny's house to steal her pain meds and he does it when Granny is home then it is reasonable to assume he intended to "shut her up".

If four people are breaking into Granny's house, then all four of them are guilty of home-invasion.

The tricky part

In some jurisdictions if one of the perps dies...he falls through a painted-over window or the home-owner shoots him, it is considered a First Degree Murder BUT the other parties participating in the commission of the felony are the ones who are guilty. Think about it. The small party planned the crime (premeditated). The deceased party is dead. He would not have been dead if his "friends" had not been participating.

In the West, we have been very wealthy and we can afford jurists who argue about how many angels can dance on the head of a pin. They split the hairs exceedingly fine as they wring the concept of individual guilt of every last drop of juice.

The concept of Guilt by Association comes with certain efficiencies. If times get tough we won't have the luxury of splitting hairs or counting angels. 

Home invaders and squatters are not owed warnings or the benefit of the doubt. Being pushed out of your house is an existential threat in most of North America if there is no place for you to go. Things like climate, access to clean water, insects and so on. Home invasions and squatting are not victimless crimes.

Rodeo Time! (Cumberland Saga)

...The woman was squinting and trying to look at Rosa. Due to the intensity of the weapons light she was totally blinded.

Gregor saw the elbow of her right arm start to straighten and her shoulder drop. She was plunging her hand between the edge of the cushion and the arm of the love-seat.

That is when Gregor shot her in squarely in her apple-dumpling face.

Rosa’s training kicked in and she instinctively fired twice into Billy. Her department's policy was to alternate 65 grain soft-points and 62 grain “enhanced penetration rounds” and they were directed to always have a soft-point staged first and to always fire two-rounds. Rosa never saw any reason to do anything any differently with her own, personal weapon and magazines.
The soft-point dumped most of its energy in Billy’s skull and although it didn’t “explode” it did blow his eyeballs out of their sockets and they were dangling by their optical nerves.

On the way out of his skull, the soft-point punched out a hole the size of a nickel and much of the hyper-pressurized and pureed brain-tissue chased the mushroomed slug out of the hole. The enhanced penetration round following a tenth of a second afterward needled through Billy’s partially vacated head and made a nice, neat hole through the back of his skull and was just starting to tumble as it hit the wallboard behind him.

Rosa stroked the trigger so quickly it was almost one, continuous concussive wave that hit Gregor.

If there was going to be a rodeo then she needed finish-off this bull and find the next one before it found her. She felt exposed with her back to the archway that connected the parlor to the rest of the house while Hell was coming to breakfast.

Samson started saying “Fuck, fuck, fuck….” as the three shots boomed through the structure in one rolling crash of thunder. He said it loudly enough for this team-mate to hear him. There was no element of surprise left. Their job just got 10 times harder.
Leadership is rarely easy but one of the greatest test is when everything in the environment screams "GO! GO!! GO!!!" and you and your men resist the urge to jump the tracks.
Each senior member of the two-man teams had "time-standards" based on Miss Shannon's reports of what was in each room. The team could go more slowly but going faster meant that they were missing hiding places. And that increased the chances of missing a goblin and having him pop up BEHIND the team, an event that would likely result in mass casualties and was to be avoided at all costs. The senior guys checked their stop-watches. The junior guys SAW them do it.

The guys posted at the outside got twitchy and one of them started to hyper-ventilate. But they both stayed on their post. Both remained vigilant and continued to scan their sectors.
Samson and his men passed the test. They didn't jump the tracks. They worked the plan.

Belatedly, Rosa stuck her arm and flashlight through the archway and “wrote” a circle on the ceiling and then yelled “CLEAR!”. Gregor saw her lips move but could not make out what she was saying. The team in the kitchen accepted the "Blue-coming-through signal even though it was on the ceiling rather than the floor.

Methodically, the teams cleared the rooms, one-by-one. They found no more goblins.

Reassembling in the kitchen, one of the men asked “Is it time to do the garage?”

The garage had been a topic of much debate. Interior rooms are relatively simple. A garage with a vehicle in it and with stacks of supplies (and loot from other heists) was was much larger than any interior room and it presented a lot more complications in terms of where goblins could be hiding.

Blain had been the one to propose the solution.

The door from the garage into the kitchen opened into the house since exposed hinges are a security risk. That meant that the door into the kitchen could be blocked with short 2-by-4s and a handfull of deck-screws, just like he had done to the front door of his house before “Lightning” and his thugs had shown up.

After barring the door high-and-low, a skeleton crew of 2 stayed in the house in a position that was away from the door. The rest of the men were deployed at 30 paces to cover the overhead garage door and the man-door on the side of the garage. Pains were taken to ensure that nobody was downrange of the other team.

Then Samson fished Miss Shannon’s key-fob from the pocket of his tactical backpack. First he locked the doors of the vehicle and then he started Miss Shannon’s CRV Honda. He had no way of knowing how much gas was in the tank and many of the men were skeptical about the carbon monoxide production of a vehicle with modern electronic controls and catalytic converters*.

Samson’s response was terse. “It doesn’t matter what you think. What matters is what the goblins think. Would you want to stay in a garage for very long if the motor was running and you couldn’t figure out how to stop it? No? That’s what I thought.”

Samson figured that if there were goblins in the garage they would PROBABLY make a break for one of the doors in the first five minutes. If they didn’t, he would leave the motor running and post guards but reassign most of the men to the next set of tasks.


Checking his plan, Samson pulled out his walkie-talkie and turned it on. It was preset to the channel Lliam and Eddie were using. “Team Blue to Observation Post, Team Blue to Observation Post: Do you have your ears on?”

“Ten-four. Pretty exciting down your way. What do you need from us?” Lliam responded.

“I am sending a couple-a-three guys over your way. They have a chainsaw and ropes. They might want ya to hold the light for them.” Samson said.

Then he slapped the three “lumberjacks” between their shoulder-blades to get them moving. They carried their weapons on slings and were loaded down like donkeys (a burden that had been passed around every 10 minutes while they humped in).

They trudged down the two-track, too tired to double-time.

The original plan for clean-up had been to put the bodies (if any) into the goblin’s vehicles (if any) and to write “Looters” on the vehicle with spray paint and to abandon the vehicle a mile-and-a-half up the road at the corner of Hendon and Chapel roads.

They had the bodies but no vehicles...yet.

Samson asked “How are you two doing?”, directing it to Rosa and Gregor.

Gregor held out his hand and it was shaking. There is a difference between shooting somebody in the dark and not seeing the trauma and shooting people at three feet and watching their brains paint the wall behind them.

“I don’t think you can count on me for any precision work” Gregor commented. “But I think dragging these two outside might take the edge off my adrenaline.”

Rosa nodded in agreement. Gregor out-massed her by 50% but he was going to really struggle moving Billy by himself.

"Drag them out through the front door. That will keep you out of the kitchen" Samson directed them. Samson would have bet money that there were no goblins in the garage but he wasn’t about to wager his men’s blood.

“If you run out of things to do, you might as well drag the love-seat out into the yard” Samson observed. It was drenched with human blood. “We might as well start a burn-pile.”


*Miss Shannon's CRV would produce virtually no CO if all of the sensors related to emissions were functioning. The most common sensor failure (one guaranteed to generate a Check Engine Light) is the O2 sensor in the exhaust. Loss of that sensor typically results in the engine running "rich" and CO is produced.

At idle, her vehicle produces about 6 pounds of CO2 an hour which will raise the CO2 content in a typical, 2-car garage 1% an hour. The CO2 content of the air in our lungs is one of the triggers that makes us breath more quickly. At about 2% CO2 (2 hours), that starts to become a factor. It feels like you are running out of air even though there is still plenty of oxygen to sustain life.

The "running the car" is primarily a psychological weapon intended to flush any goblins out of the garage. In actual terms, it is not very effective at disabling them.

Second Author note: Rosa and Samson would be likely to have electronic hearing protection. That is one reason why they were doing command-and-control. Price-points for entry-level models start at about $60.

Thursday, June 13, 2024

Something I noticed yesterday


The two holes identified with red arrows are ideally spaced to slide on the "whiskers" of the trigger for a 110 body-grip trap and they don't slide off easily

Smear the clothes pin with peanut butter and you are in business.

Some garden pictures

Cucumber seedlings with 8" spacing

Tomato structure in foreground, onions in rear

Kale on the right and miscellaneous greens on extreme left. Peppermint patch in background growing in the middle of the region of the garden destined for root-crops (other than potatoes)

Wednesday, June 12, 2024

Getting "real" on how well people can (or cannot) shoot


Youtube video, 20 minute run-time with an ad in the middle.

The challenge was to hit a target the size of a quarter at a known distance of 100 yards, five-times-out-of-five. Not just a 1" group. You had to hit the target!

Shooting off a bench. Sandbags were available.

The thing about "Shooting one-inch groups all-day-long" is that you can shoot all day and all five dice will all come up snake-eyes at random intervals even with a poor weapon and mediocre shooter. Walking up to the station with a "cold" firearm and putting your first five shots at 100 yards into a target very slightly larger than a quarter is an entirely different challenge.

"Maximum Point-Blank Range"

One factor that did not turn out to be a factor, much to my surprise, was shooting high at 100 yards because shooters had tuned their scopes to maximize point-blank range.

 "Point-blank range" means that you can aim at the center of the target and still connect with some lethal region thereof. If one were shooting at deer-sized targets, then the size of the heart-lung region can be approximated with a paper-plate or a gallon milk-jug.

If you know from practice that you shoot 4" groups at 100 yards and you need to land the bullet in a circle that is 8" in diameter, it would be rational to dial in your scope so the bullet hits 2"-to-3" high at 100 yards. The thinking is that if your group-size is +/-2" and you are two inches high, then if you aim for the middle of the chest (8" diameter) the worst case scenario has you still landing (just barely) in the lethal region. At longer ranges, you still hold in the center of the chest and the amount of "grace" due random variation increases as the probable impact area drops.

The general public's ability to estimate range

People will think "Yeah, I know what a football field looks like. I attended a game seven years ago."

But in real life, there are no hash-marks stenciled on the ground with white latex paint.

In many cases, there are no humans standing in full-view to provide a frame-of-reference for range.

It is my unscientific believe that nearly everybody (including most outdoorsmen) grossly over-estimate range. As a rough rule-of-thumb, divide any range estimate by 2.5 and you will probably be close. An estimate of 100 yards is often only 40 yards. An estimate of 500 yards is 200 yards and so on.

Why does this matter?

Suppose you are shooting a 6.5 Creedmoor (a popular choice) and your load is a 140 grain bullet that leaves the muzzle at 2600 fps. If you dialed in your scope to be 2" high at 100 yards then at 200 yards you will be a half-inch low. Basically, you will be centered on the target...unless you make the classic error and decide your trophy is ax-you-alley 500 yards away. Then you will dial in over four feet of "hold over" and shoot over your trophy's back.

This is a case where over-thinking things is not helpful. If you can see the target and keep the crosshairs of the scope on its chest, it is probably within range. Center the crosshairs and focus on breath and trigger control. Done and done.


As range stretches out, the divisor grows. Ranges of 400 yards are often estimated to be a mile (divisor of about 4). Ranges of 600 yards are often estimated to be two miles (divisor of 6) and so on.

The practical consequence of these predictable errors is that shooters are MUCH more likely to aim high (to compensate for increased bullet drop) and shoot over the target.


Rather than dumping $1200 on a great scope, pay $200 for a decent 3-9X (Vortex and blem Loopies come to mind at that price point) and spend the $1000 you saved on ammo and range time. Or, if you are totally addicted to gadgets, buy a range-finder, use the hell out of it until you can estimate range to within 25 yards...and then sell the range-finder on Craigslist.

Apple-Dumpling Surprise (Cumberland Saga)

Much to Lliam’s surprise, he missed his family by the middle of the middle of the fourth day. He missed his mom, his girl Peggy...even his pesky sister Mary and his new dad, Blain.

Eddie was a fine guy but they weren’t spending that much time together. One of them watched the drive while the other was off being a kid.

It was Lliam’s turn to cook supper and the meal was biscuits, bullheads and mixed milkweed and turnip greens. Milkweed was one of the few wild greens available this time of year that didn’t need any taming down.

Lliam had poached the turnip greens from the food-plot. He came at it from the backside, away from the house and used the rolling of the land to stay out of sight. The 10 acres closest to the house had been tilled and by the look of it, had just been planted before everything went pear-shaped. Another third was pasture and Lliam was glad to see that whoever had invaded the property had turned the animals out onto it, probably to shut them up. Miss Shannon would lose some of her chickens but some of them would survive. The other animals would be fine as long as they didn’t run out of water.

The data-dump of the fourth day came with a surprise. Blain had ridden his bike and he brought supplies. There are few things that can raise the spirits of a neophyte mountain-man higher than a pan of his mom’s chocolate and peanut butter swirl brownies. It wasn’t just the calories. It was the proof that she hadn’t forgotten him.

Blain also handed Lliam some used, disposable grocery bags from Walmart. “We need to have you do some advance scouting for us” Blain said.

“See if you can find some trees leaning over the driveway. They need to be seven or eight inches at the base. The plan is to drop them across the driveway to prevent visitors from showing up after we are secure the property” Blain said. "Put a rock in the bag and put it at the base of the trees. Ain't nobody gonna look twice at a Walmart bag blowin' in the wind."

Lliam had just the trees in mind. They must have been browsed by a deer or a cow as small saplings. They had responded by throwing up three or four trunks after the growing point was nipped and they were just the size Blain was looking for.

“When is this going to happen?” Lliam wanted to know.

“I can’t tell you because I don’t know” Blain said with a sigh. “Samson and Rosa are kind of playing it by ear. That, and if nobody is sure then nobody can spill the beans.”

“It could be tonight or it could be ten days from now. We just keep putting one foot in front of the other” Blain said.

Just before he left, he handed Lliam a letter his mother had written and a Bible that Sig wanted him to have. “Your Uncle Sig thinks you might have some time on your hands and that it might pass easier if you had something to read. Sig said he marked passages that he was most fond of.” And with that, Blain pushed off and started pedaling away.

Looking at the Bible, Lliam noticed that only one of the passages had been marked with a ribbon while the others were marked with scraps of paper.

He opened it up to the ribbon. It opened to Deut 13 and verses were highlighted starting with verse 7.

The infiltration went off with minimal issues.

The team was dropped off beneath the power-line right-of-way two hours after dark. Lliam and Eddie’s reports were that the truck was unlikely to be returning for another two hours, and more likely four.

They humped their way in for a mile, the gear making more noise than anticipated in the darkness.

Three hundred yards from the house, it was clear even though the curtains were closed that there was a TV running in the parlor.

One hundred-and-fifty yards from the house, Samson was able to connect with the house WIFI and put the security systems into “loop” mode where they replayed the last thirty minutes of images.

Before the team swung wide of the house, around to the backside of the house, Samson planted Steve and Larry on the northeast corner. Even though they knew their assignments, Samson repeated them. Samson also reiterated the “Blue coming Through” sign which was a handheld light pointed downward and painting circles on the ground. If somebody came charging out of the house or around the corner without doing that, it was either a goblin or some really bad shit was coming down.

The back door into the kitchen had not been repaired but the screen door was closed, which did little to hold out the night chill.

Based on the dialog from the TV, whoever was in the house was watching vintage, Spring Break porn. A short blast of chain-lube on the hinges of the screen door...and then it was swung outward without a telltale squeak. Even without the lube, it is unlikely that the squeak of a rusty hinge would have seemed out of place with the shrieking and squealing of the over-the-top sound-track of the movie.

The team, less Steve and Larry stacked just inside the door.

Rosa held her AR at low-ready as she slid her feet sideways and eased toward the archway that joined the kitchen and the parlor. Gregor was right behind her, holding his shotgun. She led. Gregor supported. Once Rosa and Gregor were in position and on the verge of entering the parlor, they stopped and signaled the next two teams of two who repeated Rosa and Gregor's movement staged in the middle of the kitchen.
One team stayed in reserve and kept eyes on the door between the garage and the kitchen.

Rosa rolled through the archway and illuminated the couple sitting on the aptly named love-seat with her intensely bright weapon-light. Both of them were as naked as jay-birds although they had a quilt pulled up over their laps in deference to the cool evening. “Put your hands where I can see them!” she barked in her command voice as she trained her weapon on the person closest to the arch.

Gregor slid in right behind her and kept his shotgun at low-ready but pointed at the second person, a frowsy, obese, younger woman with saggy breasts and apple-dumpling cheeks. He could hear the pounding feet as the other two teams ran down the hallway and started kicking in bedroom doors. He knew that one of the reserve team had moved to the head of the hallway to provide over-view in case somebody popped out of one of the rooms on the left side of the hall.

“Well, if it ain’t Dippity Dawg” the man drawled, not bothering to remove his hands from his “date’s” breast. “Unless you gotta warrant, yer gonna just have to leave.”

“Well I do declare” Rosa mocked him “If it ain’t little Billy Glossup. Whaddya doing here, Billy?” 
"My Memaw Maisy give me this house when she done moved to Florida" not-so-little Billy Glossup responded. "We coulda made this a threesome iffen you had called ahead but you-all ain't invited and you are just gonna have to leave."

Gregor had been watching the woman like a hawk. She had not complied with Rosa’s command to bring her hands into sight. Her left hand had clearly been stroking Billy’s manhood beneath the quilt but the other was not visible.

The woman was squinting and trying to look at Rosa. Due to the intensity of the weapons light she was totally blinded.

Gregor saw the elbow of her right arm start to straighten and her shoulder drop. She was plunging her hand between the edge of the cushion and the arm of the love-seat.

That is when Gregor shot her in squarely in her apple-dumpling face...

Tuesday, June 11, 2024

Four honest hours of work a day...

I got a good, honest four hours of work in today. Yahoo!!!

Pro-tip, when you walk out the door, be sure to turn on your stop-watch. Otherwise you might find yourself doing more than four hours work and only getting credit for four hours.

I finished fencing in Mrs ERJ's kitchen garden.

I sprayed poison ivy while she mowed.

I used the bill-hook to "scythe" down tall weeds slated for July 4 planting to root vegetables.

I used Mrs ERJ's push mower to mow the areas I scythed down.

I transplanted almost 100 persimmon seedlings that had the audacity to germinate without my direct involvement. They were growing around our statue of Mary. I-115, Morris Burton, Lena, K-6 and Prok are the likely female parents. Papa was likely to be Szukis or F-100 which are bisexual persimmons and their progeny are very likely to be females (fruit rather than pollen producers).

I transplanted Buttercrunch lettuce and "Callaloo" into Handsome Hombre's garden. The Florida Broadleaf mustard seeds I purchased on eBay had 0% germination.

The recent cool spell seems to have stopped growth in the garden. Nothing looks like it is growing.

Sweet cherries are ripe (or almost ripe).

Raspberries are ripe. Maybe my memory is failing, but they seemed sweeter in the fall.

Peppermint is going crazy.

Snails. Snails everywhere. On nettles. On mint. Everywhere. Snails are an alternate host for liver flukes. It makes me leery of drying mint, oregano, catnip and other herbs for later use.

I got the mower running again. The air cleaner needed cleaning.

I haven't started tomorrow's installment of fiction. Consequently, it might drop a bit later than usual.

I believe that this place could look pretty decent if I could put in four honest hours of work most days of the week.

Words of Wisdom from "Griz Greenfield"

Griz was the third-shift, skilled-trades, alternate Committee man in one of the plants I worked in.

He explained to me why getting 5 hours of work out of a skilled-tradesman on a weekend was almost impossible.

"Ya see, Joe, it's like this. The electricians come in at 6:00 and stand around by the office while Doug finishes up the job assignments. He sends them to the printer and gets them organized, then he walks out to hand out the work at 6:45."

"He calls out the electricians, one-at-a-time. They raise their hand and then walk up to Doug. Doug reads the assignment off the page he printed and then hands them the page. If they had any questions, they had nothing to write on and Doug ain't gonna print out two copies because his job review marks him down if he makes too many copies."

"Nobody can leave because most jobs require at least two people because SAFETY. So you gotta know everybody who is on your team."

"Doug gets all of the work handed out by 7:20 and released the tradesmen who all amble over to the tool-crib and then the parts-crib to get the special tools and parts they need for their assignment. Of course, Ken in the tool-crib had no idea which tools Doug specified so he has to hunt them down, one-by-one. Ditto for Martini in the parts-crib."

"If you are lucky, everybody is ready-to-go at 9:00 when first break starts. Since Saturday is time-and-a-half everybody takes 30 minutes for the 20 minute break. On Sunday, double-time, they take 40 minutes."

"At 9:40 the tradesmen start wrenching on whatever work they were given."

"Lunch follows the same rules as break. A half-hour lunch is 45 minutes on Saturday and 60 minutes on Sunday."

"Half-way between the end of lunch and the start of the last break, tradesmen start shutting down the work. They have to hand in their special tools because Doug might give the continuation of the work to a different shift or other tradesmen. They have to return the special parts they didn't get installed for the same reason."

"A slacker can go through the motions for two hours and get paid for 12 on Saturday (8 hours times time-and-a-half) or 16 on Sunday (double-time) and most of it is because you, management, can't find your ass with both hands."

"If you get five hours of work out of a tradesman on a Saturday or a Sunday you are hitting grand-slam home runs."

"Griz" told me that in the late 90's. It got better after that. Management started handing jobs out on Thursday and "kitting" special parts and tools in bins and prepositioned at the work and to be returned on MONDAY.

The point of the shaggy-dog story is that getting four hours of work done is a significant amount of work, especially for an old-geezer.

Bonus video (music)

Presented without comment