Friday, August 18, 2017

All we need is LOVE...and pickles

I suspect this might be a cultivar called 'Madame Galen' although this blossom is prettier than the ones on the internet.
Mrs ERJ and I were walking in town the other day when we stumbled across a trumpet vine growing up the guy wire to a utility pole.

The flowers were beyond stunning, easily three times larger than the species and flat (rather than with petals recurved) so it displayed well.

A six year old kid on a bike commented, "That is my Granny's.  Want me to get her?"

It turns out that the kid, his sister and mom were staying with "Granny" for the duration.  The dad is a SeaBee and had been redeployed from state-side to Guam.

"Granny" grumbled that the Trumpet vines grew like weeds and she was constantly grubbing out shoots and tossing them into the compost pile.

It does not look like much but I am exceptionally gifted at growing weeds.
"Granny" told me to come back and get another if this one died.  The fact that I tucked a $5 bill into "Grampa's" pocket to buy the grandkids ice-cream cones probably did not hurt my Karmic balance.

Always on guard
Protected by Master Lock and Poison Arrow Frogs.
All we need is LOVE

And Pickles
Recently, I learned that Belladonna loves pickles.  Bread-and-butter pickles are her favorite.
This Recipe is the one she asked me to try.

I will let you know if Belladonna approves.
More canning porn

I help a gentleman out by taking on some of the computer "busy-work".   I saw these while walking through the kitchen on the way to the office. You gotta like a boss who cans peaches.  The man has style.

Fake News Friday

This started out as satire and then my sense of responsibility kicked in.  I deleted this installment of Fake News Friday.

The inspiration for this post was that The Daily Mail ran an article about Khalid bin Walid Army (an ISIS splinter group) chainsawed down an innocent acacia tree because some people attributed "luck" to the tree, much as some people pitch pennies into fountains or wish upon shooting stars.

The Khalid bin Walid Army theologians decided that people were coming too close to "praying" to the tree.  Polytheism (acknowledging gods other than Allah) is forbidden by the Koran.  Consequently they took a chainsaw to the tree.  Problem solved.

This "humor" piece was going to imply that many recent migrants to Sweden, Germany, Belgium and France considered Soros, Merkle et al to be other names of Allah.  I was going to say that praying to the Allah of the mullahs and imams resulted in uncles and brothers being blown up at weddings and shot while working in fields.  The "Allahs of Europe" gave immigrants food and shelter and deliver the "infidels" to their service.

After earnest consideration I decided that post was too irresponsible to put on a public blog.

Then, after even more reflection, I decided that the Merkles and Sorros and Löfvens of the world might want to give serious consideration to the "optics" of their actions.  After all, we are talking about people who cut down a TREE, a non-sentient tree, because it might lead pious Muslims into error.
Apologies to Gary Larson.

How much "sloppy" posting on social media would it take to convince The Khalid bin Walid Army (or clones there-of) that recent immigrants do, in fact, consider European princes and tycoons to be Gods?  Let's be honest.  Most of us are not professional writers.  We often transmit messages that we do not intend.

And to consider what would The Khalid bin Walid Army's response be.

Thursday, August 17, 2017

What does 6.8 grains of smokeless powder look like?

Josh's load:  6.8 grains of CFE Pistol
If you look closely you will see at least three "species" of powder.  Manufactures of smokeless powder have the resources to blend several powders of different burn rates to produce a longer, flatter "peak" pressure trace.  Kids DO NOT try this at home.  Not only must the powders be precisely blended, they must not separate during handling.

Adjustments to the running plan

The new running plan is to skip "coffee" on running days.  I will wake up.  Drink my cup of joe.  Do my "necessary" business.  Hydrate with electrolyte and walk out the door.  My thinking is that the microfauna should have depleted the most readily digestible components.  There should not be much for them to work on if I void before taking off on my run.

My plan is to walk to the end of my driveway and then to run five minutes to the left...then return to the end of my driveway.

Run five minutes to the right...then return to the end of my driveway.

Run a wee bit to the right, then make a turn and run about five minutes...then return to the end of my driveway.

There are upsides and downsides.  The major upside is that the furthest I will be from home is ten minutes even if I have to clamp down and stiff-leggit home.  Another upside is that I almost double the "vertical" over running around the block.  I figure I will be climbing (and dropping) 180 feet in the three miles of running compared to the 100 feet I estimated for running around the block.

180 feet of elevation change in three miles in not much if you live in hilly regions, but Michigan is solidly mid-West.  The grades are pushing 10% in places and it is a grind to run them.

The downside is that the run might get boring.  And even this has compensations.  I will be looking at scenery from both sides, now.  And it is amazing how much you miss when you only look at things from one viewpoint.

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Freezing Sweet Corn

Today I assisted Mrs ERJ in freezing sweet corn.

I ran the blanching operation.  The purpose of blanching is to use heat to deactivate the enzymes that would otherwise continue the ripening and spoilage processes of the vegetable you are freezing.

Mrs ERJ put it into quart, freezer bags with other secret ingredients.  The critical secret ingredient is enough water to eliminate air spaces where freezer burn can happen.  Adding water also eliminates air pockets which slow cooling.

Step one:  Wait for the corn to finish blanching.  Five minutes minimum.  The blanched ears go into the kettle of cold water. The starting operation for an industrial process defines the "loafing point".  The loafing point where the operator should be if/when they finish early.  It is good practice to put the loafing point at the bottleneck operation so it always gets "serviced" as soon as it becomes available.

Step two:  When the boiling kettle is empty, move six ears of corn into it taking care to not splash sensitive body parts.

Step three:  Prepare six more ears of corn.  Cut the silk and stem ends off.  Remove husks and silk.  Place ends, husks and silk into yellow tub in upper left corner of photo.

Step four:  The ears of corn that have been cooling in the cooling kettle are now cool enough to process.  Remove ears one at a time.

Step five:  Cut kernels off of ears using knife.  Take your time.  You have lots of corn but only ten fingers.  Throw cobs into yellow tub in upper left corner of photo.

Step six:  When cooling kettle is empty of corn, dump kettle and refill with cold water from hose.  Cold water is cheap.  Electricity for freezers is not.  Return to step one.
General notes.  Turkey fryers are great for semi-production canning.  They can really pump out the BTUs.
If you need to top off the water in the boiling kettle, using the water from the cooling kettle AFTER you pull out the ears will save heating time.

I was able to blanch and remove the kernels from 65 ears of corn in 105 minutes.  That 105 minutes does not include the time to bring the boiling kettle up to heat at the start of the cycle.  We netted 14 quarts of sweet corn kernels from the 65 ears.

Between five and ten minutes could have been saved if I added about a cup of water with each cycle of six ears.  I don't know if it was evaporating or if the cobs were soaking up the water.  I had to add water mid cycle and wait for it to come back up to heat.

Another five or ten minutes could have been saved if I had a more efficient way to cut the kernels off the cob.  I had a fancy gizmo but it was not up to the task, so I reverted back to the knife.

The final "easy" thing that would increase throughput would be to crank up the burner. Given the other inefficiencies in the system, things were fairly well synchronized; until I had to add water or if the ears were exceptionally large.

A minor improvement would be to have cold water "peeing" into the cooling kettle.  It would not be difficult to crack the valve on the hose and figure out an arrangement to hold the dribble over the cooling kettle.

Sticking all the numbers together, it would not be a great trick to process an ear every 90 seconds.

Freezing Green Beans in a few, simple steps

Save seeds from previous year.

Pole beans planted beneath green fencing on right side of photo.
Plant the seeds.


These are purple pole beans.  Purple makes them easier to see.
Ends snapped off and broken in two.  The older, more fiberous ones are cut into one inch pieces.
Blanch for five minutes.  They turn green.
The blanching operation is the bottleneck.  The key to good throughput is to service the blanching operation first and then service the other operations in the five minutes the beans are blanching.

That means dumping the finished beans and water into a colander, returning the hot water back to the blanching pan.  Turning the heat back on.  Adding the new batch of beans to the blanching pan....before moving the blanched beans out of the colander and taking them to the next step...the cooling tray.
Spread out on a cookie sheet to drain excess water and to cool off.

Into freezer bags and into the freezer.  God willing, these will go into Minestrone soup this winter.

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Unforeseen complications

Picture in your head a two liter bottle of Dr Pepper.  Further, picture that it has been sitting in the sun for several hours.  Finally, have a goofy kid vigorously shake the bottle for thirty minutes. 

How would you finish this story?

The garden is in full swing.  We are eating cucumbers, tomatoes, green beans and sweet corn.  We are eating gross-lots of said vegetables.

Vegetables have fiber.  They also have assorted oligosaccharides and higher order alcohols that humans lack enzymes to digest.  Those oligosaccharides and higher order alcohols are a feast for the teeming masses of microfauna that reside in my gut.  They happily live in the constant 98.6 degrees Fahrenheit of my gut and cheerfully metabolize the windfall into biomass, energy, methane and carbon dioxide.

Imagine a fat, old duffer who is getting back into running.  His immediate target is to run for three miles.  Considering ten minute miles to be a decent pace, that means he will be slogging away for, well, about thirty minutes.

Due to unforeseen complications, the running plan will be modified.  Not sure exactly how it will be modified...but something has to change.

Monday, August 14, 2017

ENOUGH! I am a Social Justice Warrior and I will not be bullied...

I love this clip.

Pictures from the middle of August

Looking across the south pasture.  The yellow flowers are Birdsfoot Trefoil
Birdsfoot Trefoil (Lotus corniculatus) comes in two basic types.  One strain is called "Empire-like" and is short.  Empire-like is very tolerant of grazing.  The other strain is called Norcen-like or hay-type.  It is taller than Empire types.  Both self-seed and are self sustaining in the pasture given a little bit of attention.
I still have some white clover blooming.  The giant form of white clover is called "Ladino" clover.  Standard white clover and Ladino clover both combine well with short forage grasses like Kentucky Blue Grass and Perennial Ryegrass.  White clover is extremely persistent as long as you graze the sward down on a regular basis.
This is Red Clover and it seems to combine well with Tall Fescue.  There are some improved cultivars including some that don't have dusty leaves.  Later this year I plan on frost seeding some Medium Red into the parts of the pasture that are mostly Tall Fescue.
Gray Dogwood (Cornus racemosa).
The birds quickly eat the berries.
It is time to start the "Mast Reports".  This is a branch of English Oak (Quercus robur)
Three month old Maximilian Sunflowers.  Maximilian Sunflower is a perennial with good drought tolerance and has been investigated as a perennial "grain" species.  Supposedly, it can produce up to 250 pounds of seeds (tiny sunflower seeds) per acre.  I was impressed that these plants flowered in their first growing season considering how my weed control failed.

1/3 the way there!

From the Daily Mail Online
Now all I have to do is cardio and lift weights!

Sunday, August 13, 2017

Kubota is going camping

Kubota is going camping tomorrow.  He is going with one or two buddies.

They are handling it all.  Menu.  Reservations.  Entertainment.

It is a learning experience to listen to them solve their problems.  The way they go about solving issues is not the way I would attack them.  I suppose it is all good as long as they get a good result and don't hurt themselves or burn down the tent. 

My "help" will be limited to tucking away a few Cliff Bars, a couple of cans of Dinty Moore and some mac-n-cheese into the "kitchen".

Both Kubota and his main buddy are the "babies" of their respective families.  This is another letting-go rite-of-passage.

Saturday, August 12, 2017

Charlottesville, Virginia

First Battle of Bull Run:  Spectators came from Washington D.C. with picnic lunches to enjoy the show.
My prayers are with the demonstrators, counter-demonstrators, the police and their families in Charlottesville, Virginia.

Let us hope that the picture shown above is not later referred to as being from "The First American Civil War".

Stay away from crowds
According to Mental Health by the Numbers, one person in every twenty-five: "...experiences (is diagnosed with) a serious mental illness in a given year that substantially interferes with or limits one or more major life activities."

Professionally, I estimated that one-in-twenty are more than a half bubble off plumb.  Bear in mind that these are people who function well enough (just barely) to hold a job.

The qualifiers, "diagnosed" and "function well enough to hold a job" suggest that the actual percentage is significantly north of 5%.

Also consider that events like "demonstrations" attract the adrenaline junkies.  Expecting "random" sampling at a "demonstration" is as naive as expecting bungee-jumpers to be a representative sample of the US population.

In a crowd of 200 demonstrators you are almost guaranteed to have 20 people who are unable, or totally unwilling to regulate their emotions.

In my humble estimation, going to a "demonstration" as a "counter-demonstrator" is a prudent as going into a honkie-tonk and calling the patrons a bunch of in-bred idiots.  It is not healthy in the long run.

Yes, I know I am perilously close to "blaming the victim."  But would you advise your child (or nephew or a student in the Sociology class you are teaching that they could earn extra credit) to go to a Black Lives Matter demonstration and suggest they call the demonstrators a bunch of n-ggers?  How about going to a La Raza demonstration and hurling slurs at them?

That would be IRRESPONSIBLE.

So why are some parties encouraging young people to counter-demonstrate against alt-Right demonstrations?

Deflation advice

Oldman03 has a very funny post over at 24hourcampfire.

He had to run into town for an imaging procedure.  The protocol for the imaging required that he drink vast amounts of various, foul smelling concoctions.

The procedure took ten minutes and he figured that as long as he was in town he could run some errands.  The only issue was that the foul smelling concoctions made him fart like a motorboat.  Each fart was potent enough to strip paint and knock buzzards out of the sky.  Transacting business became aerobic as he made a dash for the door each time he felt a fart coming on.

Apparently this is not an uncommon procedure.  The winning comment was to pull out your phone as you head to the door.  Most folks don't want to overhear other people's phone conversations so you can have some privacy as you deflate.

Friday, August 11, 2017

Major riots in big cities

So where are all of the huge, urban riots many pundits predicted  for this summer?  After all, Obama was touted as the "Healer in Chief" and the ride was pretty bouncy.  Everybody figured that things would get really sporty with Trump in the saddle.

So far, the biggest Summer 2017 "riot" news is a movie about the 1967 Detroit riots.

  • Did the rules of engagement change for police?
  • Did the Justice Department whispering in the ears of bus companies, hotels and banks and other infrastructure that enabled civil strife?
  • Are the Social Justice Warriors afraid that they will spill their double, soy, latte with extra nutmeg?
  • Is the press choosing to not report the news?
  • Is it not news because riots are old news?
  • Is it being reported through outlets that I am not monitoring?

Granted, violent crime is up in several large cities but homicide is crime at the retail level.  That is, it tends toward one-on-one interactions between folks who know each other.

Inquiring minds want to know.

Fake News Friday

Former president John McCain and VP Dennis Rodman vow to fly to North Korea and defuse the tensions between our great counties.

McCain will sign declarations of intent stating:
  • The United States is on a path to becoming a Socialist Utopia, just like North Korea
  • The United States will give up its war-mongering ways

  • The United States will reduce its use of fossil fuels to match the per-capita usage of North Korea

  • The United States will finance the opening of a take-out pizza place on every corner
  • The United States will let North Korea keep Dennis Rodman

Thursday, August 10, 2017

Josh's Load

Watching the blow-back makes me think that zombie shooters should shoot with their mouths least when shooting zombies that are in the infective stages.  (And yes, I see that he is not wearing eye protection.)

There was joy in Mudville today.  The dogfood bag makes it easier to find the spent bullet.  It also keeps the photographer (me!) a little bit drier. 

6.8 grains of Hodgdon's CFE Pistol did the trick.  We got the 165 grain, Rainier hollowpoint to expand.  Winchester small pistol primer.  1.13" OAL.  Like all loading data on the internet, USE AT YOUR OWN RISK.

This is what happened when I tried to reload the Rainier bullets without flaring the mouth of the case.
The only thing special about loading the Rainier bullets is that I had to flare the mouth of the case before loading.  The plated copper is not very hard and the radius at the base of the bullet is small.

From left-to-right: 1) all copper, 9mm hollowpoint  2) Winchester Whitebox 40 S&W 3) Josh's load 4) Federal 45 ACP
While he was out here he tested his other "carry" loads in the water trap.

I think Stephanie is going to send Josh out here with a bar of soap the next time he tests bullets.

A tip-of-the-hat to Josh's brother, Mack on the advice to try Hodgdon's CFE Pistol.

Not quite steampunk

Mrs ERJ informed me that the driver's side door of the minivan would not open.

The problem was that the door trim pad had been pushed down and the plastic "Christmas trees" that hold it to the door inner had broken/stripped.  The trim pad shingled inside of the flange that carries the door seal strip and caused the door to lock-up.

After a bit of brute force (sorry dear), I got the door open.

The Christmas trees were trashed, and if it happened once it is likely to happen again.

Four, #10 "sheet metal" screws were employed to reattach the door trim pad and Mrs ERJ is back in business.

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

New Pope & Young category

Pope & Young announced a new category for a beast called "Jongun".

Minimum qualifying measurement is 4" between the horns.

Rednecks across the country are making airline reservations for eastern Asia and RealTree is having a run on Sawtooth Oak pattern.

August (September then October) is my favorite month

We are eating tomatoes, cucumbers and green beans out of our garden.

I lost the card reader for the camera so pictures will be scarce until I find it or replace it.

We are eating super-sweet, sweet corn from Pray's down the road, round the corner and a down yonder.

A friend gave us a head of cabbage.

Peaches will be ripe in a week or so.  Then the Nova pears.

Gimme some breakfast sausage, a pan of cornbread and I am happy, happy, happy.

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

In God we trust. Everybody else must bring data.

One of my nephews is very fond of handguns.  He realizes that the human-skills portion is the most perishable link in the chain and is, therefore, the most likely point of failure.

To address that, he began casting about to find less expensive ways to shoot...and then he remembered that Uncle Joe reloads ammo.

He picked an economy, 165 grain, jacketed hollow point for his compact 40 S&W.  I made the executive decision to start with Hodgdon's Titegroup powder.  One reason is that I had a pound of it sitting on my reloading bench.  The other reason is that Titegroup is a very efficient powder.  It has a high energy content (read, high percentage of nitroglycerine) and produces high velocities with relatively small amounts of powder.

Muzzle blast is an issue with shorter barreled pistols.  The sensation of "recoil" is at least partially due to muzzle blast.  Another issue is muzzle flash in low light conditions.  It can be distracting or even blinding to the shooter.  Both blast and flash are made worse by high powder loadings.

Three smokeless powders.  Note:  The bullet my nephew chose was not a Sierra but this data is the closest I could find to his choice.
Compared to Hodgdon's Titegroup, Hodgdon's Longshot uses 53% more powder (by weight) to produce 13% more velocity.  Hodgdon's CFE Pistol uses 33% more powder to produce 10% more velocity.

Following good reloading practice I made ten rounds at the starting load and ten at the maximum load.  They cycled my nephew's handgun just fine.

The problem
The problem was when we shot them into the water trap.

My nephew's plan is to use the same ammo for practice and for every day carry.  That is a fantastic plan because shooting 1000 rounds through his handgun will validate its reliability.  (Note, many people I respect claim that 200 rounds without a bobble is the minimum threshold of "carry" reliability.  At a buck a round that is pricy...especially if the first few you try don't pass the test.)

He quite realistically expects the hollow points to expand.  And the bullets he chose were not going fast enough when pushed by 5.1 grains of Hodgdon's Titegroup to do that.  They plowed through the entire length of the water trap and buried themselves into the wood barrier at the far end.

And that is why we test things.  Theory provides a good starting point and can guide our decisions but results trump theory. 

Note that we did not shoot this over a chronograph.  He does not need to know how fast it is going.  For his peace of mind, he needs proof (data) that it will expand when it gets there.

One question that he asked was "How does water compare to human flesh?"  My response was "Which human flesh?"  Water is about equal to the human liver.  It is more dense than lung tissue but less dense than muscle (heart, thighs) and much less dense than bone.  The ribs are smaller and have less "bony" material than most folks imagine.  So my figuring is that a water trap is a decent compromise for shots that enter the front of the thoracic cavity.  And it is WAY better than guessing.

My next step is to buy a pound of Hodgdon's CFE Pistol and see if another 100 feet per second (20% more energy) can get this bullet to expand.  If that does not do the trick then my nephew needs to pick another bullet, perhaps one of a lighter weight, if he wants reliable expansion out of his compact handgun.

Monday, August 7, 2017


Junior takes Boomer with him wherever he goes.

One of the coffee drinking regulars is 85 years old.  He is not the oldest guy I drink coffee with.  That distinction belongs to "Jack".  Jack was wounded by shrapnel at The Ardennes on December 18, 1944. Jack is 94.

But this is the 85 year old's story.  His name, of course, is Junior.

Junior raised his family on bluegills, called 'bream' down south, and cottontail rabbits.  Junior always has been and always will be a "Beagle" man.

His current beagle, Boomer, is slowing down and at 15 years of age Junior knows that old Boomer does not have a lot of miles left on the odometer.

He surprised us when he announced that he intends to name his next beagle "Aurora".

Aurora!  What kind of name is that for a beagle?
Beagles demand short, masculine names.  Names like "Sam" and "Boomer", "Homer" and "Woody".

"What kind of name is Aurora!" we asked him.  "That ain't no name for a beagle!"

From the other side of the table came a grunt, "When did you start watching Disney movies?" the fellow coffee drinker demanded.

Now you gotta keep in mind that Junior's voice has been strained by 72 years of hollering over the pounding of metal stamping presses, at kids and at bone-headed beagles.  It is hoarse and strained and whispery all at the same time.

"Ya ain't sayin' it right." Junior said.

About that time Boomer, who was sitting in the back of Junior's three-wheeled bike, parked just outside the door, started bellowing.

"Tell me," Junior said, "what does that dog sound like.  Make a sound just like him."

What the heck.  I did my best beagle yodel.

"Yup.  That's the next one's name.  Exactly like that."  Junior said.

He punked us all.  Damned octogenarians.

Reloading 16 gauge shells on a 12 gauge Lee Load-All

It can be done but it is not pretty.

The de-capper works fine.

The male (upper) detail for the primer seating function is just a little bit fat for some of the thicker walled hulls.

The powder throw, wad seat and shot drop work just fine.  After clearing the Red Dot powder out of the loader and putting in some Unique, I found that it was dropping 20 grains.  That was close enough to the 22 grains the recipe called for.

The six point crimp starter worked fine.

The biggest problem was the detail that finished the crimp mushroomed the end of the hull.  Obviously I have more work to do.

Added later this evening...
This is what the hull (Remington) looks like with 20 grains of Unique, wad and 7/8 ounce of #4 shot.

Same hull with a 5/8" over-shot card.

After 6-point crimp starter

I tried using a sleeve of a 12 gauge hull to "shim" the 16 gauge hull in the crimp-finish station.  My thinking was that the hull could not mushroom out if the space between the 16 gauge hull and the side-walls of the detail were filled with something solid.

After finish crimp

Still a little bit of flaring but reduced by about 50%.  I will try a thicker walled 12 gauge hull (Winchester) to see if that helps even more.  Even with the thinner (Federal) hull I had to split the sleeve to get be able to easily slide the "shim" on and off.