Tuesday, April 30, 2024

That and this

Primers for reloading

Many different brands and "sizes" are available. That might not be the case after the election. Pack your own parachute.

Physical work

I went to the property I have been asked to manage and put in 4.5 hours pounding in fence posts, mowing grass, spraying herbicide.

I set the alarm on my phone to go off in an hour. I take a five minute break, drink some water and eat a snack if I am hungry. Physically, I could have gone longer but the wind picked up (15mph steady) and my next set of tasks involved herbicide, so I will hit it again tomorrow.

It is projected to be just as windy but I will be as fresh as a daisy and will be better able to attend to all of the little details.

The value of medicine?

Is the value of medicine its cost at the local pharmacy or is the value of medicine what it might cost if it were unavaiable?

One of my family members had porch pirates steal a package from between her storm-door and her main closure. The package was small. It contained pills.

So if it were valued based on the typical transaction price, it would be a misdemeanor.

If it were valued based on possible consequences the "value" would be much, much higher. She had a coronary event when she was 39 and suffers from migraine headaches and her firm can bill $150 per hour when she can see clients.  (No, not Mrs ERJ)

The "yutes" walked off with pharmaceuticals that might have been valued at $60 but in a worst-case scenario could have resulted in my family-member having a heart-attack or stroke or being incapacitated by headaches (and snarling up the scheduling at work).

I propose that any porch-pirating event that involves prescription drugs be considered a felony regardless of its nominal, retail value.

It seems a near-certainty that we will have another "pandemic shutdown" some time in the future. It seems equally certain that many people who rely on prescription drugs will respond by ordering on-line and having them delivered. Stevie Wonder can see that the growth will be explosive...and so will the rates of theft.

And as long as I am dreaming, why don't we write the laws so anybody over the age of 15 will be charged as an adult? Can you imagine the horror of watching your child die for want of an epi-pen...a device you KNOW they pitched into the trash as soon as they realized it had no street value?

Fine Art Tuesday


Louise Rayner born in Derbyshire, England in 1832 and died in 1924.

Many of her paintings were from Chester which is fifteen miles south of Liverpool.

Interesting because Lucas (an internet friend) sent me an image, artist unknown and we attempted to play Sherlock Holmes.

Image, unknown artist

Same image as above some features highlighted

Louis Rayner image

One of the quirks of European architecture is that it was shaped as much by tax collection schemes as it was by climate and availability of materials.

For example, one common tax scheme was to base property taxes on the Width + Depth of the ground floor times some multiplier. The assumption was that addition was within the reach of even the most simple-minded nephew and that upper stories would be the same size or smaller than the ground floor. See the features circled in red on the highlighted image.

In very short order, the ground-floor interior shrank to reduce the tax bill. Upper stories, the "private" part of the building was supported on posts and a substantial portion of the ground-floor was given over to expansive "porchs".

Some cities taxed the windows which resulted in extra windows being bricked closed. see the feature circled in black in the highlighted image. The fact that the LOWER windows were bricked up suggests that crime was an issue with, in turn, suggests that there is either a very large transient population (port city) or is very, very large.

If the image was painted in England, it probably came from the "Wet" or the west side of the country.
The third feature that is circled is the vegetation growing on the roof. That suggests a very damp climate that is pretty much year-round and not seasonal.

The final feature that might narrow down where the unknown city might be located are involves the slope of the streets. 

I am tickled when I see people making rational decisions to avoid onerous taxes.

You can still see this (in Michigan). Most "townhouses" and new student housing are 2-1/2 stories high. The missing half-story is 48" or more below grade (even if they have to bulldoze fill up to the walls). The motivation is the avoidance of fire-suppression equipment that is mandated starting with buildings of three-or-more stories in height.

Tax avoidance is world-wide. In some countries, the assessment that property taxes are based on are not raised until construction is finished. The property owner will have the contractor pour a few vertical beams for "the top floor" but then suspend construction, thus avoiding higher taxes. Images like the one shown above are common in Nepal.

More paintings by Louise Rayner

A common feature of Rayner's paintings was a recognizable, church steeple in the background. Signs on buildings come-and-go but iconic steeples are points of pride for communities and probably made it easier to sell paintings.

And while the image painted by the unknown artist might not be Louise Rayner, it was painted in the same style and of the same environs.

Monday, April 29, 2024

This and that

The attempt to root some MM-106 was a dud. They were too moist and molded. Nothing venture, nothing gained.

Sculpture in public places

This particular dynamic-sculpture is above the lounge for surgery admissions at U-of-M (E. W. Sparrow) Hospital in Lansing. It is dedicated to the lawyers who specialize in malpractice torts and is titled "Post Nasal Drip". Who said that there was no professional courtesy shared between the medical and the legal professions?

My brother had a procedure today and I kept my sister-in-law company for three hours.

Okra seeds

I started the Okra seeds today. I hope I have better luck with them than I did with the MM-106.

Somewhere in Israel before 2012

M1 Carbine accessorizes well with a black handbag

Miscellaneous images

Tour guides in Israel carrying more M1 Carbines

At the beach

Not "Safe Queens"

Check out how they duplexed (triplexed?) the mags

Planting the 'tater patch (Cumberland Saga)

Lliam ran the tractor over the garden plots before Blain and Evan worked them. He pulled the disc parallel to the rows to comb out the stalks. Then he went perpendicular to the rows so the individual discs could chop the corn stalks and pumpkin vines into lengths short enough that they would not wrap around the shaft of the rotary tiller.

Then he went back to the lumber mill and building project.

“Why don’t we just plant the potatoes over there?” Evan asked Blain, pointing to last year's potato-patch that the disc had fluffed up and leveled out quite nicely. In contrast, the field that had been planted in corn the year before was still in-the-rough, even after Llaim had tilled it both ways.

Blain had asked Sarah the same question. It seemed like make-work to plant potatoes, the first crop of the year, into the fields that needed the most work.

“Did you ever hear of the Great Potato Famine?” Blain asked Evan, sharing the info Sarah had given him.

“Maybe. Wasn’t that in, like, the 1970s?” Evan asked. For him there was no difference between 1970, 1870 or 1470. They were all impossibly long ago.
“Nope. It was in the late 1840s. Between starvation and people leaving Ireland, it almost emptied the country” Blain said.

“They planted potatoes in the same plots of land year-after-year. And they planted nearly all of their plots to just potatoes. A disease that killed potato plants came and there was nothing to break the cycle of disease” Blain said.

“For five years in a row, all of the potatoes in Ireland turned to slime before they could be harvested” Blain said.

“Big deal” Evan said. “So they didn’t have any potato chips to eat. Why didn’t they switch to corn-chips.”

Blain looked at Evan to see if he was joking. He wasn’t.

“They didn’t have corn to make corn-chips. You are missing the fact that maybe ¾ of the calories they ate came from potatoes…just potatoes and nothing else. It would be like me only letting you eat half of your breakfast and then expecting you to work all day without anything else to eat” Blain said.

Evan shrugged. “I still don’t see why it was a big deal.”

“Day-after-day?” Blain asked. “You would lose three pounds a week and would be dead in months.”

Now it was Evan’s turn to frown. “But you said there were still people alive after five years. How did THAT happen if they would all be dead in half a year?”

“Some of them lived in port cities and they could buy food brought in by ships. Others lived by the ocean and maybe they could catch fish or dig clams or eat seaweed” Blain speculated. “Others might eat grass growing beside the road hoping they could get some nourishment from it.”

“There were still rich people in Ireland. Poor people probably went through their garbage looking for scraps of food. Or they might steal grain from the barn that the rich people were going to feed their animals” Blain said.

“OK, I get the picture. We don’t plant potatoes in a field where we grew potatoes the year before because diseases would wipe them out” Evan conceded.

Evan was able to till ground faster than Blain could follow up with planting the potatoes. Sarah insisted that the rows be precisely spaced so there would be plenty of room for the tiller to pass between them. She also insisted that the plants be 24” apart within the rows so the potatoes would be large enough to make them worth peeling.

Evan shut down the tiller when he finished tilling the plot and walked over to Blain and asked “Where do you want me to till next?”

“I want you to help me plant potatoes” Blain said.

“But I like tilling” Evan whined.

“Nope. We finish this plot before we move on. Besides, you need to learn all the parts of planting, not just running the tiller” Blain said.

Sarah was very firm on planting the pieces of seed-potato with the skin-side-up. And since that is how Sarah did it, that is how Amira’s (and Walter, Abe and Evan’s) plot was planted as well. There were faster ways to plant potatoes. Blain had even seen a gizmo in Roger’s shed for planting potatoes but the pieces were not inserted at an even depth nor was there any mechanism that ensured they were skin-side-up. So they did it the slow way.

“I still don’t get why I can’t keep running the tiller” Evan badgered.

“You can, after we finish planting this field” Blain said for what felt like the tenth time.

“But what is the point of finishing before moving on?” Evan asked.

“Do you watch football?” Blain asked.

“I have a video game that I play. Why?” Evan asked, taken off guard.

“Do you get points for moving the ball to the five-yard-line?” Blain asked.

“No, stupid. You have to punch it into the end-zone or kick a field goal. Everybody knows that” Evan replied.

“It is the same deal with this patch of potatoes. We can put all kinds of work into it but it really isn’t worth anything, as far as feeding your family, until it is completely planted. Getting the ball to the five-yard-line isn’t good enough” Blain explained.

Evan grudgingly marked the rows of potatoes by placing a rock every 9th hill in case they needed to be tilled for weed control before the plants poked their shoots above ground.

Evan had just started tilling the next patch when the rain started...


Modern, commercial potato farmers plant much closer together than that. For "new redskin" potatoes or for potato chips they might plant as close together as 6" apart in the row. For those market outlets, large size is a defect and planting close together limits the size of the tubers to what the market wants.

For baking potatoes, they might plant at 12" apart in the row. Again, different markets want different sizes. Home owners might want smaller sizes that microwave quickly while restaurants desire a size that fits nicely on the serving platter.

Subsistence, low-input farmers will plant farther apart so each plant has a greater volume of soil to "mine" for nutrients and moisture.

Combining the wide plant spacing with the poultry manure fertilizer will result in rampant vines that sprawl and make tilling difficult. It will also result in very large tubers, many will be knobby and some of them will have a defect called hollow-heart.

The upside is that if they had been getting 1000 pounds of potatoes per 70'-by-70' plot they might get three times that with the additional fertility.

Sunday, April 28, 2024

Not snowflakes


High-end parenting

Micro eye-rolls


Borrowed from Irish at The Feral Irishman
Malcolm Gladwell in his book "Blink" talked about a training video where behavioral scientists pointed out "tells".

In one case, they showed Mr Gladwell a banal scene between a woman and a man where they were discussing a puppy. They asked Mr Gladwell "Do you think they will still be a couple in 6 months?"

"No clue" was Mr Gladwell's answer.

The researchers informed him that they would not be a couple in six months. And then they slowed down the video. "Do you see it NOW?" they asked.

"Nope" said Mr Gladwell.

They slowed it down even more...and then more...and then more. Finally, he saw it.

Then they showed it at full speed. He was still able to see it once he knew what he was looking for.

Look at the bottom of her gray of her irises. You see white rather than gray as her eyelids descend. She is rolling her eyes.

Eye-rolling is a sign of contempt. Micro-eye-rolls are where the person (often a woman) starts to roll her eyes as she is closing her eye-lids. She doesn't want to start a fight but she wants you to know that she thinks you are beneath her and that she holds you in contempt.

The woman in the animation does a classic micro eye-roll the first time she blinks in the looped animation. Go back and watch it until you see it. It will change how you view people.

At a deeper level

There are probably tens of thousands of snippets of video of pretty women eating popsicles and ice cream cones posted to the internet every year.

Why did this one of a woman who is signaling contempt float to the top of the Darwinian, virtual jungle that is the Internet and make it to Irish's blog?

Is it the implied power-dynamics that reduce this beautiful woman to doing something that she finds degrading?

Saturday, April 27, 2024

Wild weather this morning but this afternoon turned out well

The "corn patch" was tilled today. It is approximately 60' by 35'. It was in sod which I sprayed with glyphosate about two weeks ago.

It was a brutal job as the tines caught on tussocks of orchard grass. But, we got it done.

I subscribe to the belief that God and the agents of decay are the true tillers of the soil. My job is to discourage weeds. In this case, the weeds are grass (mostly perennial ryegrass, if that matters).

The rough tilling probably undercuts about 70% of the sod. It is my belief that roots that are cut rot more quickly than grass roots that are not cut. In a few days, weather permitting, I will make another pass in the opposite direction (which would be clockwise) and try to undercut the remaining 30%. Then I will leave it alone for two weeks, till again and then plant corn in mid-May.

Not a lot of windows of dry weather in the coming week

The "weather permitting" part is that I need three dry days after a significant rain before the ground is dry enough for me to run the tiller. If I didn't "get on it" today I would have to wait until mid-week before I had another bite at the apple.

The corn-patch will also get okra, a first time crop for us and I will inter-plant more heavily with pole beans and "pumpkins". I intend to practice what I preach. The sweet corn will be on the west end of the patch and the various strains of field corn will be downwind of that.

I want to plant a row of sweet sorghum. I have seeds for both Mennonite and Della.

I have no plans to grow sunflowers this year but will grow zinnias again. The California Giants were butterfly magnets. I want to try some Benary Giant Purples.

Do any of you favor any "tall" plants, either food, medicinal or ornamental that might fit with corn?

The tee-pee with vines growing over it was a dud. I will not try that again.


Dinner was Chicken ala King over brown rice.

Five chicken thighs. Sauteed sweet onion. Being a heretic, I added green beans, peas and carrots. Mushrooms. Some hot-sauce and some chicken bouillon. Simple food.

Slowly, every so slowly, we seem to be shaking the cold that has been going around.

Sneaking in an off-topic question

Hamas invaded Israel on October 7, 2023.

One of their targets was a very, very soft target: The Supernova Music Festival.

It begs the question, how many or what percentage of the participants in the Music Festival could have turned the tide of events if they had quick access to 9mm carbines similar to the ones that Copperhead Cove will soon be equipped with?

If 5% of the participants had one locked in the trunk of their personal vehicle, would that have made a material difference? 10%?

What if they were carrying them?

Those events played on my mind as I wrote the last few installments of the Cumberland Saga. But for the fickle finger of fate (and another decade of feckless immigration policy) that could be any one of us.

Ignoring the 800 pound gorilla in the room

A large study in Denmark found that transgenders have a seven times greater risk of attempting suicide than people who accepted the gender God gave them at birth. For those who like the minutia, the transgender subjects in the study were 3.5 times (not percent, TIMES) more likely to die due to suicide than the non-transgender subjects.

The SSRI black-box warning regarding suicides were developed due to some (not all, there have been mixed results) studies suggesting that there was an elevated risk of attempting a suicide in the first thirty days starting (and discontinuing) the regimen of that class of antidepressants.

When these types of studies are reported in the popular press, they preface the results with pedantic editorializing. They tell us that LGBT people commit suicide because they are not accepted by society.

That chain of causality seems unnecessarily convoluted to me. Show me the proof.

Isn't rejecting your natal gender a concrete statement that you did not accept yourself?

Isn't suicide the supreme statement of rejection the reality of who you are?

Therapy to develop coping skills and to broaden personal acceptance would likely have better results than genital and hormonal mutilation. But it would be far more difficult to skim the profits from that kind of treatment.

Blowback designs: Back of envelope calcs

Picture in your head that you are sitting on a motionless platform in the middle of a perfectly flat, level floor. The platform is resting on ball-bearings. You hold a spud-gun in your arms.

For the sake of simplicity, let us suppose that you, the spud-gun and the platform weigh 222.2 pounds and further, let us suppose that the potato in the spud-gun weighs 2.2 pounds.

For the sake of convenience, we will define the center-of-mass for your universe (everything above the floor) as the "zero" of our coordinate system. No matter how you wiggle-and-jiggle atop the platform, the center-of-mass of that universe does not move from the zero which was the creator (me) painted on the floor.

Getting bored, you raise the spud-gun to your shoulder and launch the 2.2 pound spud horizontally at 100 inches per second. The seconds tick off the clock. The center-of-mass of the system remains stationary while the spud moves off at 100 feet per second and you+platform+empty spud-gun move in the opposite direction at 1.0 feet per second.

Counter-intuitive? There were no external forces exerted on your universe so the center-of-mass which was stationary remains stationary even though the individual pieces are moving through space.

Hold that thought...

The CCArms LGB series PCCs

Rounding up, it might be capable of launching a 147 grain bullet and the gasses produced by 7 grains of powder at 1100 feet per second.

An extreme example of a case that bulged in the region where the barrel was notched out to accommodate the extractor and/or feed-ramp.

The residual pressure in the barrel just before the bullet clears the muzzle will be on the order of 7000psi-to-10000psi so there is still the potential of the brass case rupturing if it is unsupported by the cylinder. The tricky part is that it can be partially unsupported and the thin brass wall will bulge and carry the pressure load in membrane mode but it will rupture if the distance is too much or the pressure is too high.

Another, less severe example of bulging

It is assumed that the pressure of the hot gas in the barrel will evacuate very quickly after the bullet's base clears the muzzle.

Skipping a bunch of math, if the head of the case can only move backwards 1 millimeter (0.40") then the bolt must weigh about three pounds. If it can move backwards 2 millimeters then the bolt must weigh about 1.5 pounds. If it can move back 3 millimeters then the bolt can weigh about 1 pound.

Increasing the barrel length to squeeze out a few more fps forces the designer to use a heavier bolt to meet the (admittedly arbitrary) 3mm extraction criteria. The heavier bolt requires a longer receiver and increases the likelihood of the plastic parts being damaged when the weapon is dropped.

In a similar vein, making the barrel shorter would allow the designer to use a lighter bolt, making a lighter and shorter firearm but at a loss of velocity/energy of the bullet.

Secondary factors:

There will be friction between the case and the walls of the chamber. That might reduce the thrust by 15%...or it might reduce it by 0% or by 50%. Friction is goofy and the wise designer doesn't hang his hat on it being reproduceable.

The 147 grain load is not very common. The most common is 115 grains but many shooters like 124 grains. The lighter projectiles will result in less movement of the bolt as the projectile clears the muzzle.

Back to calcs

You will notice that there has been no mention of springs. That is because of the very small distances traveled.

The energy stored in a spring is 0.5*K*d*d where "K" is the stiffness or spring-rate and "d" is the amount of compression from the free-state.

In theory, you could design a mechanism with the spring at its fully extended, free-length when the bolt has the head of the case fully inserted into the chamber BUT nobody ever does that for various reasons.

So you are looking at an energy formula of  0.5 * K * (d2*d2 - d1*d1) where d1 is the less compressed distance and d2 is the more compressed (bolt back) state.

That energy will equal the kinetic energy of the bolt as the bullet clears the muzzle. In our example that would be 1/2 * mass * velocity * velocity. In metric, that would be 1/2 * 0.5kg * 6.8m/s * 6.8m/s or 11.5 Joules. In our example, the backward speed of the bolt is 1/50th the speed of the projectile by virtue of their relative masses and conservation of momentum. You can pencil it out or you can play around with parts and spacers (to adjust pre-compression of the spring) to make it work.

One of the beauties of a carbine is that you can absorb all (or nearly all) of the recoil in your spring. The packaging and handling constraints make that impossible in a handgun. If you made the spring stiff enough to absorb all of the energy in the limited length of travel, it would be impossible to rack. Consequently, much of the energy is dumped into the frame when the slide hits the stops at the end-of-rearward travel. That impact plays hell on the frame due to the stresses it creates.

Friday, April 26, 2024

...it is their right, it is their duty...

The lovely Mrs ERJ and I were listening to some music from 1970.

My beautiful wife suggested this piece

Good stuff.

And isn't it odd that quoting historical documents that were key to the formation of our nation are now likely to get one added to a terrorist watch-list?


Potatoes are in the ground

Potatoes are in the ground.

90 feet of Kennebec. 45 feet of Red Pontiac. 135 feet of potatoes pulled from storage that had not sprouted very much and were sound. Varieties not known but some were probably Russet Burbank.

I was aiming for 200 feet of row and ended up with 270, which is half as much as last year. They are in a very good spot and if I do my part with fertilizer, weed control, Colorado Potato Beetle control and irrigation when needed, they should do well.

AND....the tulips are blooming.

Liberty apple trees are in full bloom. 187 Growing Degree Days base-50. By comparison, 2023 was 149, 2022 was 118, 2021 was 205 and 2020 was 72 GDDb50 on this date.

3-D printed 9mm video

A guy "running" one at a Falling Steel Match. 2.5 minutes long. No dead-time.

PLA resin is one of the industry work-horses and is not the most expensive resin.

PCC (Cumberland Saga)

Amira's challenge was outside of Samson's expertise. His specialty was LONG distance, precision shooting, not bar-room brawl distance shooting. He needed to consult with some experts. He wasn't going to deliver something that didn't address the issues Amira had pointed out.

The next morning Samson walked to the eastern edge of the Cumberland Plateau and found a position on the cusp of the Tennessee River Valley where he could visually see the eastern suburbs of Chatt. He was a quarter mile east of the official boundary of Copperhead Cove.

He moved around a bit until he had three bars of signal on his cellphone and then started typing...

Launch App: Rypt_Cord Server

A spinning clock icon appeared on the display of his phone. Then...

....Encryption achieved.....





Samson tapped on the icon for "Start new Thread" and then tapped out

Subject: Advice needed re weapons for indig personnel

Background: Twenty small-stature to very-small-stature potential combatants need weapons with following characteristics

  • Accurate enough to hit paper-plate at 50 meters with minimum training
  • Very low recoil and muzzleblast
  • Detachable magazine
  • Enough projectile mass to disrupt central nervous system from frontal center-of-mass hit at 50 meters
  • Compact, lightweight (six pound max)
  • Low cost platform and ammo. Many potential combatants, low funds.

Need recommendations.


Trip1805 wrote: Hello NotMarine

Have you considered M1 Carbine. Designed to replace M1911 .45 ACP handgun for use by cooks, truckdrivers and REMFs.

Sounds exactly like what you are looking for.


NotMarine wrote: Cost and availability?


Trip1805 wrote: $1500 for used, not matching serial numbers. $2000 for new with +6 month waiting list.


Not_Marine wrote: That is not going to work for me. I need 20 copies in less than a month.


WndwLiqr wrote: Have you considered .22LR semi-auto like 10/22? Can be had for $400.


Not_Marine wrote: Great weapon. Not sure it can punch through chest or beer-gut, hit spine and disrupt CSN.  Also, twenty copies at $400 way above budget. Can you suggest something between M1 Carbine and 10/22?


Time passed and much internal discussion within thread. The various plusses and minuses of several semi-auto platforms were discussed. Then...

DieTrd wrote: How about Pistol Cartridge Carbine? 9mm PCC approximately 3X .22LR mass and performance. Simple blow-back. Price about $400 per copy for cheapest option.


Not_Marine wrote: Price still too high.

Looked at M1 Carbine. Magazines are junk. Need robust magazines.


Even more time passed

Md_scntst wrote: If I remember correctly, you have access to 3D printing. Many designs for PCC available on the graynet. Some use Glock magazines. PM me for details.


Please advise regarding projected cost.


Looking at a bulk buy for CHMSL barrels, roughly a C-note per copy.


PM sent.


End Session:

The prototype showed up in six days and was tinker-toyed from many AR parts because they are abundant and ergonomically excellent. For example, the fire-control groups were scrounged from the builder's parts drawer. Triggers are one of the items most frequently upgraded from "stock" ARs and "stock" was plenty good-enough for Amira's specification. Ditto for the buffer-spring that powered the bolt which the builder had fabricated from laminated steel, similar to the core of a low-voltage transformer.

Samson was delighted with the additional AR parts. He saw them as inventory-on-the-hoof. They were fair-game to cannibalize should the high-end weapons need those parts.

The 6" 9mm Luger barrel was pressed into a 16-1/2" long tube to make it legally a long-arm. The receiver was 3-D printed and it even had a serial number on it (CCArms, LGB-A001) to make it legal. The mag-well accepted Glock magazines and the forearm had a dovetail for a light and posts for a sling. The sights were on the barrel-tube, a tall ghost-ring rear and a simple, hooded post in the front.

Samson took the weapon out for first firing and he encountered some short-stroking. He determined that the bolt had some burs on it that were scraping the molded-in metal guides that trapped the bolt. He stoned the bolt to slightly chamfer the rough edges and reran the test with only two failures of the bolt to travel far enough back to pick up a new round. 

Samson reread the notes the builder sent with the "build" and learned that there were spacers in the buffer-tube to increase the preload on the spring. He started playing around by removing spacers and deliberately "limp-wristing" the wimpy, generic, white-box 9mm ammo in an attempt to make it not-cycle. He stopped removing spacers when it ran ten-in-a-row even in limp-wrist mode.

Once he was happy with how the rifle was tuned in, he filed the front sight to raise the point of aim to a 75 meter zero and then invited Amira, Sarah and Sig to shoot it.

Bracing the weapon against a tree trunk, simulating shooting from a doorway, Amira was able to keep ten shots at fifty meters in a group no larger than a softball.

Sig suggested that the front post should be thicker for better low-light visibility. He also suggested that wooden butt-stocks could be fabricated in Copperhead Cove to reduce cost at a penalty in weight.

"How soon can we have all 20?" Amira asked.

Samson frowned. "There are always bugs that don't show up until the lead units get enough exposure to several different shooters and different types of ammo. I want to make five and get them out to shooters of different heights and get some rounds through them."

"After we bubble-up and solve the issues on those, I want to make another batch of five" Samson replied. He had anticipated the question. "Point being, if we have the parts in-hand, they are much easier to modify as loose-parts. If I build them into working rifles then we risk damaging the receivers if we have to do a full disassembly. The receiver is just plastic, after all."

"I want one of the first ones" Amira said.

"If it is alright with Sarah and Sig, you can have the one you are holding" Samson said.

That brought a BIG smile to Amira's face.

"The next question is, where are we going to get $2000 for the parts and another $1000 for ammo, extra magazines and other odds-and-ends?" Samson asked.

---Note to my readers---

 Thank-you for all of your comments on the previous Cumberland Saga post!

This is a work of fiction and undoubtedly many of my more sophisticated readers are already thinking..."but it doesn't work that way...". My challenge as a writer is to produce vaguely technical sounding text that seems plausible and paints pictures in the reader's heads while not strangling the story with excessive detail.

I will be disappointed if some commenters don't take me to task, though.

9mm seemed like the only choice. It is the cheapest centerfire ammo and really does replicate .22LR ballistics with three times the mass out of a 6" barrel. Longer barrels only gain about 100fps compared to a 6" barrel according to Ballistics By The Inch.

Ballistics: 2" high at 50 meters with a 75 meter zero and 3" below the line-of-sight at 100 meters. With a muzzle velocity of 1100fps, velocities of 1020fps at 50 meters and 960fps at 100 meters. Getting plunked in the noggin or heart/lungs by 124 grains at 960fps will quickly end the party for you, even if the bullet is going too slowly to expand.

The final nail in the coffin of 9mm vs .22LR is that most centerfire arms are less likely to be damaged by dry-firing than most rimfire arms. When ammo is dear and noise is to be avoided, dry-firing is your friend. It makes flinches disappear.

To the Marines out there: Samson was not a Marine but is allowed to be on the ring by virtue of being able to shoot as well as a Marine.

---End notes---

Thursday, April 25, 2024

"Shingled" time-horizons for inherent resilience

One of the recent sub-themes in the Cumberland Saga is the use of "shingling" or overlapping time-horizons to create resilience.

Amira observed something like "There will always be another crisis coming along. It is just a matter of time."

The idea comes from the strategy of having a "ladder" of Certificates of Deposit of varying maturities to supply a steady flow of income. If the income is not needed, then they can be reinvested like a link in a caterpillar track.

The people in Copperhead Cove expanded their short maturity food crops and applied fertilizer to maximize yields. They also invested in cows which have a much longer time-horizon than annual crops. A cow can live five-to-fifteen years depending on care and upon the owner's willingness to tolerate lower milk production in later years.

The small-fruiting bushes are even longer-horizon than the cows. They will start fruiting in their second year in the ground and some of them will spread on their own. A thirty-year life span in a home garden is not unreasonable. Small fruits are also very resilient with respect to the weather. Given a little bit of snow-cover, most of them can sustain -30F.

Reportedly a 700 year-old Sweet Chestnut tree

The chestnut orchard is the investment with the longest time-horizon and it occupies the least desirable land. They might start producing nuts in four or five years (if fertilized and weeds are controlled). Some will die of blight but others will have resistance. On a favorable site, a single chestnut tree can live and produce human-quality food for hundreds of years. Nut pines, Black Walnut trees, oak with sweet acorns, persimmon, olives and pear trees can last just as long. Apples are a 30-to-50 year enterprise. Most stone-fruits are 5-to-20 year enterprises.

Wednesday, April 24, 2024

Small projects

The rabbits are already hitting the apple root-stock I planted. I am surprised that they are eating the MM-106 but left the G.214 alone. That might change.

I tooled up with a length of pipe, a stack of copy paper, glue stick and "white glue" to make temporary shelter for the vulnerable root-stock. Putting a fence around the enterprise is on my list of things-to-do. I got my cycle time down to around 15 seconds per copy by the time I was done. I could probably squeeze another five seconds out if I had to make another thousand.

I purchased some steel T posts at a salvage yard. They were charging $3 each which was not a great price but it was a fair price. I only had $60 cash in my wallet so I bought 20.


Approximately 1/6th scale

The church that I attend has a food pantry that supplies supplemental food to people who ran out of pay-check before they ran out of food.

The distribution point is WAY back in the extreme opposite corner of the parking lot from the entry way and it is masked by other buildings.

I committed to making a stencil to be used on the pavement to indicate the directions to the distribution point.

The Ichthys symbol seemed appropriate. My current plan is to make the "fish" thirty-six inches long from nose-to-end-of-tail with the lines 1-1/4" wide and painted with white pavement marking paint. The fish will be supplemented with an arrow indicating actual direction the vehicle should travel.

The Ichthys symbol not only represents a fish (food) but was an early symbol for Christ and evangelization (John 21:11). The 153 fish may have represented the entire, known world since it was believed at the time that there were only 153 species of fish in the world.

"...the requirements" (Cumberland Saga)

Samson and Heddy almost missed the drive into Copperhead Cove. It looked different with the dead brush stacked up around it, almost hiding its existence.

Putting the pickup into reverse, Samson backed the truck and trailer 25 feet and then swung into the drive. It never paid to lock-up the brakes when pulling a trailer. Samson’s truck had been built in 2017 and had most of the bells-and-whistles (no turbo, though) but Samson still drove as if he didn’t have technology for a safety-net.

Pulling into the drive, Samson saw Lliam urgently flagging them down. He clearly did not want them to continue up the drive.

Shutting down the rig, the two adults got out of the truck to see what was going down.

“Mom just had her new cows delivered” Lliam told them. “She is walking them up the drive and they are as skittish as all get-out.”

Heddy gave it some consideration. “How long you think it is gonna take?”

“Hard to tell” Lliam said with a sigh of resignation. “None of them is halter-broke so Mom brought along Bossie who IS halter-broke. She is leading Bossie and the three new cows are following Bossie and Blain is up ahead and shaking a bucket with a little bit of corn in it.”

“You could always walk up the foot-path” Lliam offered.

Samson’s vision of a triumphant return died with a whimper. The gifts and gee-gaws in the trailer would just have to wait.

The new cows didn’t settle down until sunset. They had never been outside before. In their feeble minds, it was as if they had teleported to an alien universe filled with weird noises and smells and food.

Sarah had staked out four picket lines with Bossie’s in the middle. Bossie was the rock, the anchor. Bossie was the key to making it all work.

Heddy got Agnes, their two-year-old, settled into Roger and Alice’s house. It was the house Heddy had grown up in. Alice fussed like an old hen as she pulled linens out of wooden chests and dusted and made beds and filled vases and… Samson twiddled his thumbs. Just like the military; hurry up and wait.

Samson accepted Roger’s invitation to the nightly “planning meeting” that took place on Sig’s patio.

Samson was a firm believer in the axiom that one should gather intelligence before taking action, so he was content to watch the interplay between Sig and Amira.

He remembered Sig from previous visits to Copperhead Cove. In fact, one of the hurdles to proposing to Heddy was to pass inspection from both Heddy’s father (Roger) and by Sig.

Samson was properly nervous, a fact which spoke well of him in Sig’s mind as did the fact that Samson was not intimidated by complicated familial relationships or idiosyncratic religious practices.

Samson came from western Virginia. He played ball with kids whose parents handled snakes, drank muddy river water or walked across burning coals (which Samson had seen with his very own eyes). Summer tent revivals where people stayed awake for days were a yearly feature. Catholic Mass sung in Latin still happened. Yeah, Copperhead Cove just barely made the needle twitch into the "Quaint" region of the dial although he was not fond of outdoor toilets.

It was an article of faith among the matrons of Copperhead Cove that the young women who left CC repelled men who were not Godly. God cast a veil over them and their beauty was apparent only to those men who had been called to enter through the narrow gate.

The fact that Heddy brought him home for “inspection” meant that her hand was his to lose.

He did not fail. When he was unsure of the relationship, he defaulted to addressing the speaker as Aunt or Uncle until he was told “Just call me Sarah” or the equivalent.

Samson recognized “Amira” as a traditional, Muslim name, something he had picked up during his deployments. He could hardly wait to hear THAT story.

Amira, who he had never met or even heard of, was asking Sig where she could plant some chestnut trees.

“I think they should be at the edge of the new pasture where it is just starting to get too steep for pasture” Amira proposed.

Sig rolled his eyes. Samson could tell that Sig found Amira to be vexing. Never the less, Sig had enough respect for her to give her a full hearing.

“I don’t know why you insist on planting nut trees” Sig grumbled. “It will be twenty years before they produce a single nut. Besides, we are leaving lots of MATURE nut trees in the pastures.”

“It might be true that it takes twenty years for walnut trees to start bearing, but these are chestnut trees. They can have nuts in five years if they are cared for” Amira replied.

“And you and everybody else will be gone in five years” Sig shot back. “So what is the point?”

“I hesitate to bring this up” Amira countered “because I know how everybody reacts when they hear “Well, we did it this way in California” or “We never did that in New York City”, but when my mother and I moved in with my aunt back in Bosnia, the chestnuts that grew up in the hills are what fed us through the winter.”

“Some of the chestnut trees in those old orchards were over two-hundred years old.”

“Sarah told me that there is a crisis every ten years: 1987, 2000, 2009 and now. And they keep getting worse” Amira continued.

“So what is the downside? If this is another false-alarm, there will be a ten-year-old chestnut orchard churning out thousands of pounds of nuts the next time there is a crisis. The worst that can happen is that you will fatten the hogs on them.”

“We don’t have the manpower to plant them” Sig said, his objections weakening.

“I didn’t ask for help. I asked you where I could plant them. Walter said he would help” Amira pressed. "It is something he can do, planting seed nuts."

“How far apart do they have to be planted and how many seed nuts do you have” Sig wanted to know.

“My plan is to plant them in a grid with seven paces between each tree in both directions and then thin them out based on nut quality so they are roughly fifteen paces apart” Amira said. “ and I have three-hundred seed nuts.”

“Center your planting down-slope from your house and plant in both directions. You can use the sixty feet closest to the tree-line for your trees” Sig said.

And that was the end of THAT discussion.

It was a demonstration in relentless, but respectful, grinding down of objection-after-objection. Relentless.

Sig looked over at Samson and said “Welcome.”

Samson nodded in acknowledgement of the greeting.

“I had been communicating with Gregor. He told me that you need upgrades in your weapons. I brought some gifts that I want to give you.”

Everybody’s ears perked up at the word “gifts”.

“I brought 4 AR and ample magazines and ammunition” Samson said.

Then, looking over at Sig “And I brought you a bolt action rifle that uses the same ammunition as the AR rifles.”

Samson had indelible memories of Sig’s reaction to the AR platform. “Too many tiny springs and itty-bitty parts. Thin, wire springs rust and break. I prefer Mausers.”

To Samson’s amazement, Sig shook his head in the negative. “I am a shotgun man. Give the bolt action rifle to Blain. He has nothing.”

Samson would learn later that Sig’s eyesight was failing. That, and the fact that Sig could run his shotgun without thinking and didn’t want the complication of another firearm to confuse things.

Amira piped up without being asked “What did you bring for the women?”

“Oh, Heddy brought all kinds of clothing” Samson misunderstanding her question.

“No. What kinds of weapons did you bring for the women?” Amira asked.

Samson shrugged. He hadn’t given it any thought. “I didn’t bring them anything. They can use what the men don’t need any more after they trade-up to the AR rifles.”

“That’s not good enough” Amira said, catching Samson off-guard.

“What do you mean?” Samson asked.

“Cast-offs don’t meet the requirements” Amira said.

Samson’s eyebrows furrowed in consternation. “Don’t meet the requirements?” He was uncertain. He had never heard of “...the requirements”. “What are the requirements?” he asked.

“Every woman in Copperhead Cove needs to have her own, personal weapon” Amira started out, ticking off the requirements on her fingers.

“For the record, every girl who has seen her eleventh birthday is a woman.”

“The weapon must be accurate enough so that she can shoot the man raping her mother from a distance of fifty paces.”

“It must have enough firepower so that it can stop the rapist’s two wing-men when they attack her from that same distance.”

“It must have low recoil. Not all eleven-year-old girls can take a lot of recoil.”

“Ammunition must be cheap so that we can practice” Amira concluded.

Samson pondered the VERY specific nature of the requirements. He had been in the sandbox. He could easily imagine why Amira saw a need for that kind of weapon. If not her...then somebody very close to her had needed that weapon.

Samson did not argue about the impossibility of finding such a weapon, much less finding fifteen or twenty of them. All he did was respond “I will work on it.”

Tuesday, April 23, 2024

Paging Mike Mulligan! Paging Mike Mulligan! Clean-up in Aisle Three

Old steam-shovel found in bottom of Michigan lake after dam burst. Two minute run-time


Hat-tip to MTV. 


Bonus video of a steam shovel in action

"But they will cancel Sesame Street!!!"

The Progressives are (predictably) running around with their hair on fire. Conservatives want to cancel funding that subsidizes "public broadcasting". Public funding of leftist, "public" broadcasting is one of the Left's sacred cows.

Their go-to is to scream "But they will cancel Sesame Street!!!" the beloved child-oriented show that airs on PBS.

So what?

Looking at it rationally, there are 5435 Sesame Street episodes "in the can". Have any more letters been invented or are we still sitting at 26 letters, just like when Sesame Street debuted.

Have the phonemes associated with those letters changed in the last 100 years?

Have any more integers been inserted between Zero and Twenty? Does 2 + 2 still yield 4?

Are Red, Yellow and Blue still considered "primary colors" and Orange, Green and Purple still considered "secondary colors" that can be produced by mixing Red+Yellow, Yellow+Blue and Blue+Red respectively?

Has the advice on washing hands changed in the last five decades?

So, being totally rational here, if Sesame Street has not been able to create footage that effectively presented these concepts in the first 5435 attempts, we should pull the plug because we are throwing money away. They are not going to suddenly become effective in attempts 5436-through-6000. If they didn't get it done in the first 5435 swings at the pinata, why should we pay the circus barker for any more swings?

If they HAVE created ample amounts of footage presenting those concepts, then there is no need to continue recreating the wheel and we should pull the plug because we are throwing our money away.

The Good Shepherd

Abel, brother of Cain, is the first reference to a shepherd in the Bible. He is an innocent who is slain by his brother who was motivated by envy. He is one of the first precursor of Christ*.

A ram is substituted by Abram at the last moment (as directed by God's angel) and sacrificed in Isaac's place (Genesis Chapter 22)

David was a shepherd out with the flock when Samuel came to anoint the future king of Israel. At that time, lions, leopards, wolves, bears and human thieves roamed the Holy Lands and considered unattended sheep to be fine table-fare. David had a sling, a few rocks and a six-foot long stick with a sharpened bit of iron or bronze on the end of it to defend the flock. Contrary to Hallmark Card images, shepherds were certifiable bad-azzes you did NOT want to mess with. (1 Samuel Chapter 16)

David wrote the 23 Psalm, one of the most iconic bits of prose in the Bible. "The Lord is my Shepherd, I shall not want..."

Jesus in John, Chapter 10 says "I am the good shepherd..." and he uses the image of the shepherd laying down his life to protect His sheep while the hired man (who only cares about his daily wage) runs away. His immediate audience were all devout Jews who would instantly thread-all-the-beads listed above.


I think Marx had it exactly backwards.

Ownership of property is fundamental to morality as we know it in the modern world.

The Japanese are horrified by "waste". It is inculcated within them from a very young age. Their culture evolved on a rock with very, very little arable land and few mineral resources. Within that hot-house environment, there was a very short line of evidence connecting waste or misuse of a resource and a family member's baby starving or freezing to death.

A hired man breaks a tool-handle because he sees that he will get to sit down for thirty minute. A small-holder gently uses the tool because he sees that he will lose a half-day of productivity as his efforts are diverted into fixing the tool. He will lose a half-day during prime planting season or a half-day during harvest.

Some crops are exquisitely sensitive to harvest timing. Soft fruits like ripe grapes split and rot if not harvested at their prime or if the picker does not beat a rain storm. Small grains like barley, wheat and rye are very sensitive to wind-gusts and hail.

Other crops are sensitive to planting time. The ground must be warm and dry so it can be worked and walked upon, but it must still be moist enough that seed that is scattered will germinate and grow quickly enough such that the birds don't eat it all.

In both cases, the farmer is in a fast-tempo dance (tango?) with the weather.

Wanton waste and destruction entertains the evil men because they feel joy in the misfortunes of those who have more than they do.

And these are the same evil men and women who tell us that we will have nothing and we will like it. Misery takes comfort in having company, I guess.

But mark these words: Destruction of ownership removes a foundation to moral behaviors and loss of infrastructure (both cultural and material) will have long-lasting and devastating consequences.

*Jesus has been called "the new Adam" by some theologians. Adam lost it. Jesus yanked off the grating and jumped down into the storm sewer to get it back. But that has nothing to do with the "shepherd" metaphor.

Jury Duty and a random thought

It is my perception that crime is relatively low in Eaton County. I base that on the fact that I received my first notice that I have been selected for potential jury duty.

When I lived in Ingham County (home of Lansing, Michigan) I got selected about once every five years.

According to the internet, only 2% or 3% of criminal charges go to trial. The rest are settled via plea-bargains. It is almost always in both party's best interests to "settle". The presumed perpetrator benefits by the reduction in uncertainty and the possibility of potentially copping a plea to a misdemeanor rather than being convicted of a felony. The court benefits by avoiding expense and the potential of failing-to-convict which would dilute the deterrent to those contemplating committing crimes in the future.

If you follow that line of reasoning, then one naturally segues to a prominent political figure that seems to be lurching from one jury trial to the next.

With that particular political figure all tangled up, there is much less pressure on "the other guy" to campaign in public. And maybe that was the strategic goal of the (clearly) politically motivated legal warfare being waged: To legitimize a repeat of "the other guy" campaigning from his basement.

And then there is the spoiler, RFK. He might be the unicorn-horn that sucks the energy out of that strategy. "The other guy" might still have to campaign and speak extemporaneously because of him. Interesting times.

And in other news...

An advanced degree from Michigan State University qualifies woman for a job picking lemons in Florida!

Let's Go Spartans!!!

Fine Art Tuesday


Gary Drostle born in Britain in 1961 and still alive.

Famous for mosaics.

"River of Life" mosaic under construction

Close-up from "River of Life" in Iowa showing level of detail.


Hat tip to Lucas Machias for suggesting this artist.

Monday, April 22, 2024

Shuffling forward

I once used to work with a Tire Engineer named Hugh Scott. He was a Black man from Virginia and very, very low-key.

I bumped into him at a discount tire store where I was having new tires put on my Firenza. Uniroyals, if memory serves.

While killing time in the waiting room, we made idle conversation.

Hugh observed that anybody can move forward when everything is going well. The key to long-term success, in his opinion, was to make progress, any kind of progress however microscopic, when the universe was resisting your every effort.

Not a flashy guy. But he was profound.

A robin built a nest on the mini-platform I built in hopes of attracting barn swallows. The horizontal ledge is 5.5" below the ceiling and the flats are 5.5" square.

Unknown bird species building this nest. The bird is smaller than a robin but it is very early for swallows.

This is one that has no tenants yet.

Our birds are not fussy. This is a mourning dove sitting on her nest

This is a robin nest about 10' away from the mourning dove's nest.

Another robin's nest about 75' away from the one shown immediately above.

A fallen-apple that is in recovery

The fallen apple's sister tree. Toppled by wind-gusts.



"Sarah's Violet"

Sarah is my niece. We lost her when she was 22. She liked pink.

We are still fighting off colds. Quicksilver was a stinker today.

While she was napping I grafted twenty Liberty scion to some 6" long pieces of MM-106 apple root-stock. It is theoretically possible to root hardwood cuttings of some of the dwarfing root-stocks like quince and (maybe...fingers crossed) MM-106.

When a fruit grower purchases root-stock, they typically ship rooted, dormant plants that are between 18" and 24" tall. It was not a big deal to trim a few of them back since I plan to bud or graft about 4" above ground level.

Root initiation is facilitated by total darkness, 80 degree F temperatures and humidity. The experiment is double-bagged in bread wrappers and totally wrapped in aluminum foil to exclude light. It currently is sitting on my germinating, heat-mat. I might peak at it in a week to see how it is doing.

It cost me nothing more than my time.

Search-and-destroy missions

I was working on Box Elder and Oriental Honeysuckle today.

Inch-by-inch. Row-by-row. We are going to make that garden grow.