Posted by: bkivey | 12 July 2021

“In The Shuffling Madness”

Local businesses have pretty much stopped requiring masks, to the point where businesses that do obligate their customers are at a competitive disadvantage. A large grocery store chain went mask-free during the Memorial Day weekend, and didn’t exactly advertise the fact. They just took down the mask signs a month before the Governor made it official. In my view: no sign, no mask. And for the month of June I would be the only person in the store maskadaisical.

People are also finding out how much power the Federal government has to dictate behavior. Mass transit requires masks, due to Federal funding making up a large part of ‘local’ transit funding. Any long-distance conveyance requires masking. And that, folks, is looking like ‘temporary’ coming up on ‘semi-permanent’, and sliding into ‘permanent’. I will not wear a mask on transit. That particular imposition has gone from ‘maybe acceptable’, to ‘irrational’. If someone needs to see me badly enough, they can wear the mask. It truly would not bother me not to step onto a commercial flight again. Not an absolute mandate, but I am really resistant to the idea.

The post was motivated by an AP article today concerning California’s public school masking rules for the upcoming academic year. The People are not impressed. Governor Gavin Newsom is already facing a recall election, and rather than take a decentralized approach, he has gone to his roots as a Liberal, and decided Everyone Is The Same. When you can’t think, you have to rely on rules and tropes. Which got me to thinking about a song. With sincere, and maskless, apologies to Ian Anderson (‘Locomotive Breath 1971 Jethro Tull)

In the stifling madness

They have the COVID breath

And just by breathing

They are dealing death

They’ve got the Fauci gospel

Open at Page One

You thought you were American

But they’ve got you on the run

You’d better just mask up

Midway (2019)

A friend had a duplicate copy of this movie, and I took a look. I’d seen, and have, the 1976 production, so was interested to see how this fared.

I was impressed. A superior effort to the earlier movie, mostly in the pacing and the nearly-equal inclusion of the Japanese side. ‘Tora, Tora, Tora’ and ‘D-Day: The 6th of June’ come to mind as similar treatments. The history is mostly accurate, including a scene showing director John Ford filming for a movie during the battle. That little tidbit wasn’t in the 1976 film.

There were about six months between Pearl Harbor and Midway, and the movie represents that compressed timeline. It’s not all military; there are some scenes from the home front, but the movie never drags and the plot is advanced, as well as giving some motivation to the characters.

As there isn’t a lot of WW II equipment laying around, the ‘scenery’ in the movie is nearly all CGI. I have complained about the comic-book effect of wall-to-wall CGI, but in this case, like ‘Apollo 13’, the animation serves the story. Still, there is an awful lot of it. It’s very good, and not particularly distracting, unless you realize what you’re looking at. No help for it, and necessary to this type of movie. For all the hardware available, WW II movies may as well be ‘Star Wars’.

Acting is good, and dialogue is credible and naturally delivered. Everybody is smoking. In bed, in the office, at the table, in quarters, at the gas station (probably). I liked that the officer’s clothing had a rumpled appearance, as if they were living in their uniforms. And at that time, likely so.

32 producer credits. 32. For this particular movie, all of the crew should take a bow. A well-done effort.

Freaky Friday

Last Friday I was driving a company vehicle (a van) on US 26 East, minding my own business in the left lane in bumper-bumper traffic, when a violent event happened close aboard the starboard side. I’d been hit, and not gently. I’ve been in enough car crashes to know what happened, and pulled over to the meager shoulder next the barriers. Engine off, flashers on, and got out to have a look. I thought they’d hit me from the rear, and as there is a substantial bumper, and I only saw small dent, thought things weren’t that bad. And then I saw the right side of the van. Looking to the right, I saw what was left of the car that hit me. A good chance it would be rejected by a junkyard; not much salvageable. The left side of the Honda Civic was crunched, and the left front wheel tucked under.

No photos, because I was in a mild state of shock (car accident), and taking pictures is what law enforcement does. And four (!) of Beaverton’s finest did roll up. I was concerned with sorting out the commitment I now could not keep, and figuring out how to ameliorate the situation. The van was a loss, as the cargo door was forcibly impacted to the body, and now useless. Limping it back to the office, It seems the frame is bent, and no surprise there. It’s totaled.

The offending car was blocking the center lane, and I coned off the van and the car before police arrived. The driver was laid across the seats, unconscious. The airbags had gone off, but his face was going to need work. I didn’t feel real sorry for him. I was going to feel a hell of lot less sympathetic in the next few minutes.

A couple of people stopped; one guy just to make sure everyone was breathing, and another guy who witnessed the accident and stuck around for the 5-0. Emergency response was fast, and the scene cleared in about 20 minutes. US 26 is the main east-west artery connecting Portland to the communities west of the Hills, and first responders get plenty of practice.

I still did not know what happened. The Honda approached from the right rear, and I never saw it. I asked the witness what happened, and he barely told me before the police snagged him for a statement. It seems the car was in the right lane (3 lanes at this point), and came barreling across three lanes of traffic and hit the van. As the driver was bundled into the ambulance, an officer told me that he’d said he was subject to seizures (on medication), and remembered getting in his car, and nothing else.

The police provide forms to exchange information, and this driver had the infamous ‘NONE’ insurance.

Let us recap:

  1. An individual with a known history of blackouts drives a car
  2. They do not have insurance

My only recourse is to a) file a claim with my company, in essence, filing a claim against myself, or b) don’t file a claim. Now, I check all the insurance boxes, because it’s cheap enough, but my rates go up because this asshole can’t be bothered to insure themselves. I have to replace the vehicle. I have to rent a vehicle until a replacement can be found. I have had to move jobs around; which is a fun exercise. The burden is all on me, here. Yeah, this cat is doing jail time, but no consolation, here. He ran into me, and I’m the one paying for it. Does that seem right, to you?

On the side, a former employee happened to drive by the scene, and sent me a text. Judging by the condition of the Honda (3000 lb car, meet 6000 lb van), he thought I might be seriously injured. No. I drove away, and Shawn Rene Maricoli didn’t. I call that a win.

Posted by: bkivey | 7 July 2021

Cat Scratch Fever

A neighbor and friend had bought another car, and invited me over to see it. I knew that he’d recently acquired a Ford Bronco with removable hardtop, and was looking to flip it. Given used car prices lately, he’ll make money on it. I’d like to buy it, and a reasonable price, but not a priority at the moment. That was not the car.

A couple days ago he bought a 2001 Jaguar XJR. Black-on-black, and after he told me what he’d paid, I offered double, on the spot.

“Here’s the keys. Take it for a drive.”

“Want to come along?”

“No. But if you break it, you have bought it.”

I have not even ridden in a Jaguar of any spot, let alone driven one.

“Sure”

British cars are not my specialty. Detroit Iron, and a foray into Japan, sum up my car interest. But, Jaguar.

Comfortable interior. To my eye, a soothing cabin layout. I didn’t manipulate any panel controls, so can’t say how ergonomic they are. Wiper and headlight controls in the expected positions. The seats are first-rate. I could easily see 600-mile days in those seats.

The fuel indicator showed 1/8th tank, which isn’t much. This drive would be limited. I had no problem with buying gas, but I’d been handed the keys while I was sans wallet, phone, and anything else. It was take the keys and go.

And the car sucks gas, for sure. A supercharged 370hp engine provides what feels like smooth, constant, power on demand, but there is a penalty. No turbo lag from low rpm; just a firm nudge in the backside, and leaving everyone else at the light. In style. It’s a Jaguar.

Brakes were solid, with no chatter or pull. I didn’t get to drive enough to check fade. I did do a burnout to check the 0-60 time. It’s respectable, and fresh tire marks on a public street. But, polite, British, ones.

On this car, the front end needs work. The steering wheel has to be held to starboard to run straight, and some chatter above 60 mph. The 5-speed automatic shifts unnoticeably. It just works.

On return, I told my friend I wanted to take the car out on my ‘reference’ road: OR 47 to Vernonia, and then Timber Road back. I have been promised stick time, and look forward to driving with a bit more gas in the tank.

Posted by: bkivey | 5 July 2021

More Than Meets The Eye

Last week I parked at a local supermarket, and on the retaining wall next to the space was this book:

The Illustrated Encyclopedia Of Feng Shui: The Complete Guide To The Art And Practice Of Feng Shui By Lillian Too - Used (Good) - 1435110773 By

(Too 1999 Element Books Ltd)

Directly next to my door. It’s as if the Universe dropped it on me. Hey, a free book. So I picked it up.

My knowledge of Feng Shui is limited to “a method of placing items in relation to each other and the environment in such a way as to ensure harmony and good luck.” Regular blog readers may have noted that the books “The Dancing Wu Li Masters” (Zukav 1979 William Morrow) and “The Tao of Physics” (Capra 1975 Shambhala Publications) inform my perception. I read both in my teens, and the idea of different takes on the same Universe, along with a Southern Baptist upbringing, gave me the idea that maybe the Real World is real enough, but maybe not all there is.

As noted, I’ve had technical and liberal educations, and I’ve noticed that technical folks tend to dismiss the application of physical principles to human behavior. And why? Humans are part of the physical Universe; would not our actions be governed by the same laws? ‘Desiderata‘, and all. It appears the only thing that gives us a sense of superiority is our Pre-Frontal Lobes, and that’s a thin piece of tissue to hang from.

Back to the book. It seems rather complete; to the point you might be able to read and absorb it and set up practice. The book is lavishly illustrated, and of generally high quality. I’m looking forward to reading it.

Out And About

Took the Mazda out for a spin, because nothing says American Independence like bombing around the countryside in a Japanese sports car. Honestly, a nice day, and days off this time of year are hard to come by. The Mazda is fun, and the weather has calmed down to more seasonal temps. Got behind a motorcyclist who was apparently learning the bike, but that’s cool. In a year they’ll be ripping the same road. Everyone was new, once. Space and time, they’ll be fine. Very nice, and fun, drive in the country.

Posted by: bkivey | 15 June 2021

Repost: “Let Me Tell You How It Will Be. . . “

A reader recently navigated to a post from 15 April 2010 where I talk about some of the ‘hidden’ taxes in everyday life. As I just mailed a respectable sum to the State and Federal governments, I thought the post relevant.

I’m proud to be paying taxes in the United States. The only thing is – I could be just as proud for half the money.

Arthur Godfrey

Another Tax Day is upon us, the day when many Americans, to paraphrase Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr., assess whether the civilization they are buying is worth the price they are paying. For the 53% of Americans that actually pay income tax, the answer is increasingly: not so much. What many productive people see is government at every level not only holding a gun to their head with one hand and sticking the other in their back pocket, but becoming more intrusive and aggressive in the action. Most people understand that a level of taxation is reasonable and necessary, but it’s harder to understand why more and more money is needed for every pet political program under the sun. A politician might promise, but it’s you that’s got to deliver, and you don’t get a say. Sure, you might be able to throw them out of office next election, but the damage has been done.

I live in Oregon, and the median annual income in 2008 was $35,956. That’s not a tremendous amount of money. If you made around that amount you would have the privilege of paying 25%, one dollar in four, to the Federal government. In Oregon the maximum state income tax bracket of 9% kicks in at $7,150, so your income tax liability is 34%. One dollar in every three that you earn is going to government, and we’re just getting started. Some counties charge a local income tax, and I have lived in one city, San Francisco, that charged a city income tax.

So after the Feds and the State and possibly the County and the City have taken their cut, the rest is yours, right? Well, no. Because you are going to be subject to one or more of the following taxes as you go about your business:

Building Permit Tax

CDL License Tax

Cigarette Tax

Corporate Income Tax

Dog License Tax

Federal Unemployment Tax (FU TA)

Fishing License Tax

Food License Tax

Fuel Permit Tax

Gasoline Tax

Hunting License Tax

Inheritance Tax

Inventory Tax

Intangible Tax

IRS Interest Charges (tax on top of tax)

IRS Penalties (tax on top of tax)

Liquor Tax

Luxury Tax

Marriage License Tax

Medicare Tax

Property Tax

Real Estate Tax

Service charge taxes

Social Security Tax

Social Security Tax

Road Usage Tax (Truckers)

Sales Taxes

Recreational Vehicle Tax

School Tax

State Unemployment Tax (SUTA)

Telephone Federal Excise Tax

Telephone Federal Universal Service Fee Tax

Telephone Federal, State and Local Surcharge Tax

Telephone Minimum Usage Surcharge Tax

Telephone Recurring and Non-recurring Charges Tax

Telephone State and Local Tax

Telephone Usage Charge Tax

Utility Tax

Vehicle License Registration Tax

Vehicle Sales Tax

Watercraft Registration Tax

Well Permit Tax

Workers Compensation Tax

I’m not a tax expert, but I would bet that our hypothetical person making the per-capita income is going to spend close to 50% of their gross income in taxes. In states that have an income tax and a sales tax I would think that they would spend more than half of their income in taxes. That’s ridiculous. And the health care reform law will bring additional taxes to a paycheck near you, as well as forcing you to buy health care insurance, which in itself is a tax. There have been members of Congress who have floated the idea of a new consumption tax, the VAT, as a way to pay for the greatly expanded Federal government that compassionate people everywhere are so fond of. For a look at how that has worked in Europe, you can check out this article in The Wall Street Journal.

What we have is an unholy trinity of a near-plurality of people who don’t pay income tax and have no stake in the system, government at the State and Federal level that is so obviously hellbent on governing against the will of the people, and a vocal and intolerant minority that believe that their compassion for ‘the poor’ should trump the laws of economics. Is it really any wonder that the bare majority of Americans that pay income taxes should feel a wee bit put upon?

I would propose that a good start to restoring some rationality to the system is not to levy additional taxes on ‘the rich’ and the middle class, but to levy taxes on those the left is fond of calling ‘the poor’. Yes, the 47% who do not currently pay income taxes. I am not advocating the same level of taxation that I used in the earlier illustration, but does not everybody in this country enjoy the benefits provided by those who pay taxes? Why should a society expect a lesser degree of committment to the common welfare from those of lesser means? In an equitable society, it is vitaly important that all members have some skin in the game. Lack of participation, lack of investment and committment; these are the true inequalities, and the more they are encouraged out of a misguided notion of compassion, the weaker the society.

KMHD

The local jazz station, and unlike many jazz stations, a 24-hour deal. I have been several places where the Classical and Jazz genres shared the same radio station. Portland is fortunate in that it has a station each dedicated to the particular musical form, and I support them.

Because I don’t have TV, the radio is my primary entertainment. KMHD provides a master class in jazz each week through it’s dedicated programming. DJ’s who are knowledgeable and passionate about their specialty. If you’ve had a teacher excited (jazzed?) and competent in their field, it’s like that. You can learn in spite of yourself.

Word Watch

A neologism occurred to me last week. Perhaps not original to me, but I haven’t seen it prior, and no reference comes up on the internet.

‘Maskadaisical’: Casual about masking.

Posted by: bkivey | 3 June 2021

Random Thoughts In June

Hey! Remember Normal?

To the surprise of many, Oregon Governor Kate Brown did not see fit to extend the Office’s emergency powers. Businesses may now allow mask-free customers, provided said customers have been vaccinated,

The business community has refused to police this, leading to a patchwork of permissiveness. Some businesses have removed signs and shields, some have removed signs but shields up, and others, no change. If I approach a business, and don’t see a sign, I’m not wearing a mask. If I am familiar to the proprietor, I won’t wear a mask, even if signs are up. On Memorial Day I was the only one in a major supermarket without a mask. No one said anything, although I did get side-eye from the cashier.

Everyone has been talking about ‘getting back to normal’. Well, mask-free is what it looks like. Remember?

Hawk v Crow

And the hawk coming off badly. Parked, eating lunch, and saw about a dozen crows assaulting a hawk. I don’t know the hawk’s transgression, but it was continually assaulted by a murder of crows (and giving reason to the name . . .). The hawk was flying away from the scene, but not fast enough to suit the crows, who took turns dive-bombing the hawk, and making good contact.

The scene looked very much the ‘furball’ that people use to describe ‘dogfights’ between aircraft. Which is curious, because dogs have hair, and cats have fur. Don’t want to dive into English idioms too deeply, apparently.

Nephew Graduating

My youngest sister’s son, Cooper Bourdeaux Slough, is a 2021 HIgh School graduate.

Chapeau!

Posted by: bkivey | 20 May 2021

Heart On Sleeve; Mask On Face

There was a discussion at work about the Virtue Signal points that may be awarded to various maskings. With vaccine widely available, and drug stores trying to give the stuff away, anyone who wants a vaccine can readily get one. So why are people still wearing masks?

Masking became more-or-less the norm about 14 months ago, but some applications remain a mystery. Even at the height of the epidemic, why wear a mask alone in your car? I cannot figure this out.

I also cannot figure out why the State mask campaign features people in solitary situations wearing masks. ‘Masks Save Lives’ is the tagline, but if you are alone, what’s the point? BTW, masks don’t save lives; vaccinations do.

The point is, and always has been, Virtue Signaling. If you are not symptomatic, masks do exactly Jack and Squat. And if you are symptomatic, you are going to stay home,, especially now. Yet we have allowed a society where people must discomfit themselves in order to appease other people’s desire for conformity. Sound like anything historical?

For the Masking Virtue Signal (MVS), we’ll assign wearing a mask in public a base value of 100. We will assume people in public are asymptomatic. I haven’t mapped it, but the scale is likely logarithmic. There is an inverse relationship between mask-wearing, and rationality.

Wearing a mask on the street: 100

Wearing a mask on the street (vaxxed): 300

Mask in car (alone): 2x

Mask in car (alone and vaxxed): 3x

Spring Weather

Warm weather earlier in the week, then a cold front. The cold air came in off the ocean, and tried to sink down into the valley, while the warmer air tried to rise. Lot’s of convection activity. Thunderstorms are rare here, and relatively tame when they occur, but unsettled weather during Spring and Fall is not unusual. No thunderstorms, but some intense rain columns, and hail. It is open enough here to see this happening, which is cool.

Posted by: bkivey | 10 May 2021

Burn, Portland, Burn

On 23 April, Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler ” . . . urged the public to safely stand up to the black bloc group of violent demonstrators who continue to plan “direct actions” around the city that routinely end with shattered windows, fires and other vandalism.” 

I was going to write something else here, but every time I read that sentence, it sounds like an apology. To the rioters. ‘May we please be allowed to ‘stand up’ to you?’ The term ‘milquetoast’ may be too weak. Back to the program. 

I’ve noted that Portland has gone right the hell downhill the last 3 – 4 years. Graffiti, homeless camps, and trash have become the greeting on roads into the city. Now you can add a boarded up and graffiti-marked downtown, because businesses are leaving due to the rioting, and people don’t feel safe downtown. In the last 24 months, the attitude of natives and long-time residents has gone from ‘Portland is Great!’ to ‘What happened to my city?’ to “I don’t go into Portland anymore if I don’t have to.’ And with business and government offices closed, not much reason to. 

How did Portland reach this state of affairs? Portland didn’t become Riot City USA overnight. I would argue that Portland’s decline began with the tolerance city government afforded the 2011 Occupy Wall Street protestors. That tolerance for violating civic norms has been ongoing in the city’s handling of the ever-growing homeless population. Mix in the soft corruption that is part and parcel of daily city government, and sooner or later, you’re going to have real problems. Like now. 

Portland mayor Ted Wheeler was up for election last year, and after federal agents were deployed to Portland to protect federal property, Wheeler joined the protestors. The political calculus appeared to be that his Socialist challenger was gaining ground in the chaos, and he wanted to show that he was down with the struggle.

Except city officials aren’t’ paid to be down with the struggle, they’re paid to maintain an open and relatively safe environment in which a free society can conduct it’s business. That can’t happen amidst social unrest, and it is certainly not the job of elected officials to exacerbate the situation. Ted Wheeler got tear-gassed for his efforts, and that’s a bit of karma I can get behind.

Karma proved, indeed, that it is a beeotch when protestors attacked the building in which Wheeler lived. You literally cannot get any closer to home. Joining and encouraging those protests maybe not such a good idea, huh, Ted?

So now the fist-pumpin’, protestin’ Mayor of Portland is calling on the citizenry to do what government can not: protect themselves. Huh. Tell me again how great Progressivism is.

Related Reading

Politicians Behaving Badly

Good Intentions and Magical Thinking

You Say You Want A Revolution

Occupy Footnote

Keep Your Eye on the Sparrow

Standing on the back porch a couple evenings ago, and saw a bird execute a high-speed, low-altitude, contour-following pass. Altitude appeared to be about 8 inches, and the wings were in afterburner, I would guess. The bird twisted and turned through the trees without slowing down, until it got to the creek. I thought something was chasing it, but nothing followed. Maybe the bird, like people, just likes to let it rip, occasionally. If you can fly, may as well have some fun with it. 

 

 

Posted by: bkivey | 12 April 2021

The Great Asian Co-Op

I have noticed the past six months that Asians are now referred to as People Of Color (POC). Asians have ‘historically been denied’ the opportunity to join the POC grievance group, as Asians tend to ‘do’, rather than ‘demonstrate’. I would estimate that the percentage of Asians on any sort of government assistance is very small. I, personally, have never met one, or seen one in a welfare office.

A large part of that is because getting here from Asia and India is rather difficult. Anyone immigrating is going to have the resources (money/ability/connections) to be self-sufficient. And, like Europeans, Asians come from a culture of achievement. They are not ones to sit around waiting for others. Thus, America appeals to them: they can achieve to their heart’s content.

It is apparent that The United States as a unified country is done. Sides are being picked, and the POC would like some allies. Allies that White people are seemingly comfortable with. And, as far as the Left can see, Asians have some real grievances with White people.

  • Vietnam
  • WW II
  • Japanese internment
  • Chinese labor on the railroads
  • Commodore Perry
  • Beijing Occupation
  • The Raj

Now, I don’t ever recall a single American of Japanese ancestry demanding privilege and compensation for the internment of their ancestors. Indeed, thousands of Nisei volunteered for military duty, even as their parents were held in internment. About 1500 of them volunteered while in internment. I don’t recall any Jewish combat units fighting for the Nazis. The 442nd Infantry Regiment became one of the most highly-decorated units of the war. Seriously, go read the article. It’s damned impressive.

And every single Vietnamese that could, fled the country after the Americans left. To come to America. If someone is oppressing you, then leaves, you don’t go live in their house, do you?

There are large Chinese communities all over the globe, and an active Chinatown is a frenzied den of commerce. The Indians took what the British offered during the Raj, and used it to their benefit. After they kicked the British out, the knowledge and achievement-oriented influence remained.

All over the Eastern world, people embraced what the West had to offer. And while there was the usual friction when accomplished cultures meet, the East saw that the West could help them. The Western libertarian philosophies and organized approach to problem-solving could complement the ability and discipline of the East. Even the most restrictive society on the planet has realized that, to a commercially and politically successful point.

So, how does that fit in with the POC? It doesn’t, really. Which is why the POC need to involuntarily co-opt the Asians. Part of that effort are stories in the media purporting to show an increase in anti-Asian sentiment. There are, seemingly out of nowhere, support groups for Asians and groups formed against anti-Asian sentiment. What is going on, is that the POC is trying to fabricate a ‘crisis’, so White people will have something else to feel guilty about, and so become even more easily manipulated.

Presumably the POC political calculus considers that China is full of Asians, and the long game may be to get China supporting the POC, which would make geo-political life very difficult for the US. Not a certainty the POC are looking for that, but a reasonable consideration.

While I cannot begin to speak for anyone but myself, as someone who comes from a culture of achievement, I can say that I would highly resent being drafted into someone else’s destructive hysteria. Especially when I am doing just fine without you, thank you very much for asking. I would also be highly annoyed if a group of whiners tried to hitch themselves to the coattails of my success.

I have only really noticed this the last six months, and it may have gone on longer. But given the seeming lack of interest among Asians, it’s probably still early in the social cycle for this development. Maybe folks will notice, and oppose the effort, or maybe they will decide the POC is the winning horse. Given history, that seems unlikely, but then, a lot of unlikely things have happened recently.

Related Reading

Somewhat Related Reading

A Warning From The Universe

The weather lately has been great: mid-50’s and blue skies. Time for some fun.

Saturday I was out hooning the Mazda, when I came upon an Oregon State Patrol trooper parked at an intersection in the middle of nowhere. Now, I had been a little sloppy on a curve with traffic a couple miles previously. No one was in danger, but maybe you’re not expected a red car screaming around the corner. I don’t think the trooper was called, but a mindful coincidence. I went to the junkyard over the weekend for parts, so maybe time to do some work on the car.

Posted by: bkivey | 7 April 2021

Rat-A-Tat-Tat

There has been a rat on the property the last several weeks, and on-going efforts to render the property politician-free. Kidding. It’s a real rat. Or was.

The property backs up to woods, and there are the usual amount of woods-critters present. Until recently, cats kept all but the boldest (opossums, raccoons) at bay. And with the cats away. . .

The first incidence came when I got home and found the grease bottle (quart milk jug) gnawed through and grease on the counter. The rat had gotten a good fill of kitchen grease. At this time, I knew that:

1) A rat’s ass had been on my kitchen counter.

2) Nothing was safe.

I have respect for rats. They are smart. They have been living with humans since time began. And while they are reputed to make good pets, this was a wild rat. Ratas v Hombre. Of course, there could only be one outcome, but I expected the rat to be a tough opponent.

The initial attack was with a standard rat-trap, smeared with honey on the bait area, so the rat would have to approach and lick, rather than knock the bait off the stage. The rat (I imagine) laughed. The trap was never touched. I added a bait trap near the recycling bag (where the rat had gnawed), and a bait tray under the sink. I was surprised and disappointed that I couldn’t outright purchase strychnine. Throw some in some kitchen grease in a bowl: done. Which would have been nice, because the rat conspicuously ignored all the traps.

I cannot have a rat in the house. A trip to Coastal Farm & Ranch, catering to folks who work for a living, yielded sticky traps. These are about 5 x 12 inches and coated on one side with a very sticky glue. The idea is that the rodent will get stuck, and can then be dispatched. By this time the rat had been around for a couple of weeks, so I knew where it liked to go. The sticky traps were 2/$5, and I put them in front the of the cabinets the rat liked to use.

And, sure enough, the rat came out of a cabinet, tried to leap the trap, and got it’s tail caught. I was up with the pipe, and the rat ran behind the stove with the paper stuck to it’s tail. It ran into a support channel for the stove, but couldn’t get any further, because of the trap stuck to it. I had buoyed the shark.

Tilting the stove forward, I could see the rat, and that it wasn’t going anywhere with the paper stuck to it. I didn’t know if this was a hard-core rat, and would gnaw it’s tail off to escape. I did not want to handle a pissed-off rat with unknown health history, alone, so I called a neighbor, and he came over with a BB rifle. Donning leather gloves, I fished the rat out of the stove. As expected, it was plenty feisty. My friend administered the coup de grace, and that was it.

The Nerdiest (And Coolest) Thing I Have Seen This Year

I didn’t go to engineering school to learn to how to do a specific type of engineering, particularly, but it did offer a way to figure stuff out. I think it’s cool to analyze a situation and come up with a (possible) solution. I have, in fact, analyzed TV commercials and movie trailers to see if they would ‘work’. It’s a useful approach (‘don’t guess, know’), and is, well, fun.

Over on the Jalopnik site Senior Technical Editor David Tracy published an article analyzing a home-built engine crane from a photo. He does the full mechanical analysis by the book, the same way a student, or very junior engineer, would do it. It is the kind of thing that makes mechanical nerds squee.

The conclusion is what most people would intuitively know: that while the wood will stand up, the connections won’t. The remedy is equally apparent, even without the analysis. You might think, ‘Well, that’s obvious.’, and it is. But, now we know. And now that the analysis is done, other improvements might suggest themselves.

Yes, a lot of (pointless) work for a temporary structure built for one job for a short time; which the author points out. But, it is fun.

Posted by: bkivey | 8 March 2021

Random Thoughts in March

The Mazda

One of the neighbors (jokingly) observed that the Mazda didn’t get driven very much. Well, it’s Winter. Roads are wet, and the car is optimized for dry road. Took care of that this week. More fun, and since insurance was due this month; motivation to get some money’s worth. That car makes me smile just pulling out of the driveway.

Birds

I mentioned earlier that robins hadn’t yet appeared, but were expected soon. And going outside early one morning, there was a fat example on the stairs. There seems to be a pair nesting in the woods close aboard. Size-wise amongst songbirds, robins appear to come in between sparrows/wrens, and crows. I have seen robins battle owls, and other songbirds harass them, but have not seen crow v. owl. Guessing the owls don’t want a part of that.

You can hear the Mallards as they fly in and out of their ‘spot’ on the creek. Sometimes see lone Canada geese overhead, and wonder why they are honking. My understanding is that geese honk to encourage others in the flock, but if a goose is alone, what’s the point? Maybe they are avian ‘maskers’.

Days Longer

So we can go to about 1830 now with daylight. My goodness. We are a quarter through the year.

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