Summer-time…. When Mosquitoes Are Hungry…

Like to go outside? Don’t like to be on the menu for mosquitoes? Check out this site.

This site tells you things like what is it about you that mosquitoes find attractive. (No – it’s not your blue eyes or your long eyelashes! ;-D)

It has detailed information on what repellants are effective (and what’s not), and other useful information… such as the information that bug zappers do more harm than good, killing predator species while NOT affecting mosquitoes. In fact, mosquitoes are more attracted to you than to the bug zappers! (I know… “But it’s fun to listen to the ZOT when a bug hits the grid!”) 😀

“Catnip has been noted for years as possessing repellency against mosquitoes.”

Go! Read! Learn! Have a nice summer and stay off the mosquito menu!

Reprint from May 27, 2011

Why do a reprint? ‘Cause I thought it was funny. So now you have to put up with what *I* thought was funny. who knows? Maybe you’ll agree?

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In the Nature of Things

Ink pens are communal creatures. You put them on your desk, and one by one, unobtrusively, they wander off. When the last is gone, you go in search of them and find them in a heap on the dresser, or on the clothes drier, or in the center console of your car. If they had a water cooler, it would make them lots easier to find.

Did you ever wonder why, when someone loses their virginity, they don’t take out a “lost and found” ad in the paper?

The best way to find an extension cord is to 1. not need one, and 2. don’t watch where you’re dragging your feet.

One of the qualifications to be President of the USA is you must be a moron or an idiot, as evidenced by the number of people who think the President is one or the other.

The solution to the gasoline shortage is to change the shape of tires. If they were square, or even octagons or hexagons, we’d drive much less.

Why are there trash cans in paperless offices?

How do people know when you go to sleep, and then call you 5 minutes later?

Why are the boxes full of cords, connectors and other things always the wrong size for the one you need and why does the store that you go to to buy one close 5 minutes after you get there but the door is already locked?

The likelihood of a flashlight’s batteries being dead is directly proportional to your depth of need for a light.

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Father’s Day

This is a little story I wrote… and am posting here in honor (or horror?) of the coming Special Day. Enjoy it while it’s here ’cause it will disappear on or around June 28th.

by Michael E Picray

Bornac, Guardian of the Western Reaches, rolled his lean trunk toward the back of his den as he slept and shifted his pseudopods so that they were comfortable. The den was a hole small enough that no predator large enough to eat him could get in, yet big enough to feel roomy. Outside there were skitterings… there were stirrings… there were noises that roused him enough to be aware, but not enough to fully awaken him. The noises didn’t concern him. He was safe as long as he stayed inside. The noise abated and he slept deeply, dreaming of his work.

His title sounded impressive, but like most jobs with titles, the title was a lot more impressive than the job. All he had to do was patrol the boundary between The Others and his people without being caught by either. If They, the Others, caught him, he would be eaten. If his own caught him, he would be eaten. He liked catching The Others. They were so slow it was almost unfair to eat them. But they were also very salty. They went well with an evening of listening to the daily Gatkor hunt… from inside his den, of course. The Others were also partly crunchy. Bornac liked crunchy.

The dawn was well advanced and it was quiet outside as his awareness level rose above sleep. Whatever had been making the noises outside was apparently gone. Good. That way he didn’t have to chase it off. It was about time for a meal and The Other’s remains in the corner were almost gone. All that was left was a slightly putrid “leg” and a funny shaped “head” with an eye dangling on the floor by a stringy bit of stuff. The brain was long since eaten. Cracking these hard “heads” was a challenge, but the reward was worth the effort.

He oozed from the floor and extended a pod toward the doorpool. Pausing there, he sensed no foreign presence and so dipped his pod into the water to drink. The white water slammed into his brain with soul searing intensity, waking him fully and causing his eyestalks to quiver. He sucked in a deep breath and felt invigorated. Now. He was ready for a day of patrolling.

He extended a pod outside and sensed the air. Normal. Nothing but his own scent. Good. He next extended an antenna and felt for vibrations on the swampy ground. Nothing. With a deep breath, he hunched forward and rolled through the opening. His roll across the little clearing was a blur of motion that stopped at the tree he always stopped at to look around before moving further. But he didn’t quite stop. He sort of squished against a brown slime that covered the tree.

What was this? It looked like the tree, but wasn’t! It was…
…too late. The 37 smaller versions of Bornac devoured him before his third brain could even register his death. They were not only smaller versions of him, they were genetic copies. He’d bred them by parthenogenesis almost three cycles before and now they were back. One of them looked at another and they communicated.

“Do you think he forgot?”

“He must have. He was never this easy to catch before. We always lost many of ourselves. He was getting old, but I will miss the fun.”

“He should have stayed in today. It was not a good day for him to be out.”

“No. When I become an adult, I will remember. I will lay up a store of food and hide for a week before and a week after.”

“Yes. That is a good plan. After all. Father’s day only comes once a year.”

When An Advanced Degree Isn’t Enough

I recently purchased two books on the subject of Austrian economics. The first was, in my opinion, eminently readable and highly informative.

The second was not.

So while trying to slog my way through the first chapter of the second book it occurred to me that:

If one sets out to write a book on a particular subject there are two prerequisites that must be met. First one must intimately know the subject matter. And second, and most important, one must be capable of writing.

If one has the first, but not the second, no one will be able to tell that the writer has either.

A Radical Idea for Insurance!!!

Okay… so… all the insurance companies will hate me for this. If the people in the government and the people running for government offices claim this plan as “good” and work to make it happen the future of what is now “insurance’ will disappear and it won’t matter.

Presently we have “insurance” of different kinds. If you wish to drive a motor vehicle, you have to have insurance covering various things like you have to pay for insurance for injuries caused by you or your car, physical damages to other vehicles and things, etc. To obtain such you need “automobile insurance” for which you must pay a “premium.”

If you want to get medical care and are not rich, you presently can get “basic care” for “emergencies” whether you have medical insurance or not, but after a few days the hospital can declare you medically “stable” and toss you out the door… UNLESS you have a lot of cash or medical insurance. With the advent of Obama “care” you can now have “insurance” that pays for your medical expenses after they exceed the amount of your “deductable” (which will probably amount to an amount higher than you’d pay for a new car – and which most people cannot afford so since they never pay the “deductable” to the providers, the government never has to pay off on the “insurance” they mandate that you “buy.” (Just figure that it’s a tax, and the government won’t have to pay out on most people’s “insurance.”)

And of course there is now insurance for just about everything that can happen to you in life. Fire insurance. Yep. Mortgage insurance? Yep. And lots of other kinds of “insurance.”

Where do all these kinds of insurance come from and why do they exist?

1. Most people are insecure. In a world where most people are “just getting by” they consider it essential to have a way to hold on to some value even in the face of a personal disaster. (For example a house/apartment fire that burns up everything they own.)

2. Put that together with the fact that due to their insecurity you’ll find that – People are risk-averse. (That means they are afraid of risk!)

In their minds they think that if something CAN happen, it’s a certainty that it WILL happen… sooner or later… to someone… somewhere… and what if it’s THEM? (many people are almost CERTAIN that it will be them.) It doesn’t matter that out of the millions of home owners in the US a miniscule (teeny tiny) percentage will have a fire that destroys their home and the stuff they own. It seems to me that most people will spend their entire lives paying for insurance policies and never, that’s NEVER collecting anything back for a “loss.” And even if they do collect on a loss, over their life spans they will pay in far more than they collect – that’s why insurance companies are so profitable. ie the ODDS of them having to pay out more than they collect are non-existent!!! But the insurance industry spends $millions of dollars convincing people that if it can happen to SOMEONE, that someone will be YOU and gee… what would you do THEN? (Thus you NEED insurance, and the siren song of the insurance industry enlists governments to FORCE you to buy certain kinds of insurance and make them rich, and to be risk-averse.)

Actually, in regard to the things that insurance can pay for, if you lost everything in a fire and had no insurance you’d probably do very well. If you have a job, you’d keep getting to work somehow (a co-worker would maybe give you a ride?) and you’d keep bringing “home” your pay. (Where ever “home” is – staying with relatives for a while or in a cheap motel) So you’d find another place to live so you could start visiting the Meca of America (WalMart) to accumulate more junk just like the junk that burned up… only THIS would be NEW junk – all shiny and spiffy! (But the insurance companies don’t want you to figure that out.)

So… here’s the plan… the alternative to the current MegaScam that’s called the “Insurance Industry”.

The government pays for your losses.


No, it’s not welfare. It’s not Socialism. It’s where you pay in an appropriate percentage of your pay from work/business profits/etc to the

US Insurance for Everything Fund.

It would be like a voluntary tax. But you ONLY pay in if you want to collect in the event of a personal disaster. And there would be NO deductable. The government pays for everything you lost… after adjusting the amount for “wear and tear” (ie you don’t get a new 52″ color TV to replace the 19″ B&W set that burned up.)

And if over a period of time the government fund pays out less than it collects, the people could opt to get a proportionate refund of premiums paid in or leave the excess “on deposit.” If the fund pays out more than it collects, those paying in would have to pay more.

Medical care would be paid at 100% (+/-) of government cost with a nominal fee which could be waived for the indigent and elderly – ie model it on the VA Medical Care system. Hospitals and doctor’s offices would have no “profit” – and pay no taxes. Drug companies would be paid for actual expense (including reasonable R&D) – but not a DIME for “promotions” or advertising. There would be NO middle-man insurance companies!!!

And so on. Along side of the government system could be a “private” system that the rich could use if they wanted to. They would pay 100% of their medical bills and absorb all personal casualty losses from all adverse occurances – ie not a DIME from the government, and no tax deductions for medical costs or losses due to hazards.

And the best part of the plan – you would have an individual account and when you die, your family or relatives (your “beneficiary”) gets an amount equal to the total that you paid in less the amount that you collected in insurance “payments” plus interest. (If the govt paid 4% interest and the going interest rate was 6% or 8%, then the govt recovers plan administration expenses via interest payments.) So if you wanted to pay in more than you had to (see above) – you could look at it as being government sponsored life insurance… you pick the beneficiary.

If you collect more in “insurance” payments over the course of your life, then the govt subsidizes your “insurance” and picks up the bill – which would be a form of what is currently called “welfare”. Of course, your family would get no “life insurance” – but hey… that would be an incentive to work harder to provide something for them after you’re gone.

So… we get rid of the predatory insurance industry, and we can stop worrying about risk and the losses that MIGHT come our way as a result of life happening to us.

And my phone stops ringing and interupting my life with BS and lies.

An Interesting Day… and it’s not over yet.

A day in the life… This morning was church… then on the way home I stopped at the store. Not much interesting about that, eh?

But after I got home, I had things to do. First I printed out a draft copy of a novel I wrote called “No Credit.” Well… the title makes a sort-of sense since I used to be an accountant, but it has little to nothing to do with accounting.

The book is about 86,000+ words of Science Fiction/adventure. The title comes from the meeting between a woman who runs a junk yard and a space alien who needs a part for his space ship. It turns out that the part he needs can be replaced with a part from an old Chevy straight 6 engine. And the story goes on from there.

While I was doing my stuff, my wife was working on a bee project – making swarm catching boxes so we can maybe add to the population of the apiary without spending a bunch of money and driving all over creation to get short-weighed bee boxes. Then I wandered around our place looking for appropriate places to put our swarm-catchers once they are made.

Then I did my first inspection of the ten new bee colonies I brought home a couple of weeks ago. Being used to the bees I had last year, I didn’t bother to wear a bee suit. While working in the second hive, a bee rocketed out of the middle frame, landed on my left wrist (the sensitive underside, of course), and nailed me. (AHHH!!! I Die for Queen – defendng her and the hive from foreign human invader!!!)

So I got my first sting of the year. (I only got two stings all last year and most of the time, didn’t wear any bee equip.) So I guess I’ll have to wear bee gear for a while until they get to know me better.

The inspection went well… mostly. One hive that was under strength to start with was empty, The “3# package” was awfully light when we picked it up! I’m not sure if the queen escaped during her release, or if she just got robbed out of existence since we had a bunch of feral bees attacking and robbing hive 5 – and hive 5 was in deep doo-doo before I could get control of the situation. So I have an empty hive now. But I did stop the ferals from attacking any other colonies.

As a sort of balancing thing, hive #4 had most of 9 frames of comb built and was working at filling it – so I put another deep super box on top of the brood box. If the weather’s okay tomorrow for a while, I need to put second deeps on hives 6 and 7 too.

Most of the rest of the hives are 1/3 to 1/2 filled with comb and bees – so I’ll have about a week or two before I have to add another deep to them, and then start stacking the honey supers atop of the deeps.

One of the reasons I need to be sure the comb is being built straight and strong in the brood box is that I lost a colony last winter because they had cross combed and then when it got cold they couldn’t get to their honey stores and so died.

So now we’re getting a tornado watch. The angle the storm’s coming in at means no tornado for us. When the thing reaches the updrafts from the 120 foot loess bluffs between us and it – well… it will just start lofting over us, break-up, and then re-form on the down wind side of us, like they always do.

By then, I plan to be in bed asleep, ’cause tomorrow’s another day – and I have lottsa work to do.


Spring Chickenz

It’s that time of the year. Time to collect eggs and put them into the incubator. We collected eggs for 5 days, held them in the fridge (42F ) then put 48 of them in the hot box. Thursday they began to hatch. Out of 48 slots we have had 39 hatch so far, and there are a couple that may yet hatch as the shells are pipped or have broken shells. That’s a bit over 80%.

We took the egg turner tray out when they started to hatch so the little birds would have room to run around a bit and wouldn’t get caught in the moving parts. We were supposed to take it out on the 19th day of incubation, but according to the machine that was Thursday and 4 had already hatched before we got the tray out. The incubator has an automatic timer that’s supposed to tell us what day of incubation we are on (day 1, 2, etc) but it’s made by the Chinese… who apparently can’t count. But it worked out anyway, since I pay attention. (In another post, I mention that I have a Chinese pocket watch that has 360 “degree” marks around the watch face like you’d have on a compass, but the numbers only go up to 300.)

Today I cleaned out the smaller of the chicken house pens (6′ x 9′) and set up our “chick corral”, which is a 24″ wide roll of sheet steel that we unroll and set on edge. (Three thicknesses of steel and the circle makes the corral walls stand up without supports). So it’s really easy to set up, and when the chicks are big enough to not need the protection of a high wall, and big enough that they can’t squeeze through the pen fence, it’s easy to take down. (Just tighten the roll and set it in the corner until next year.)

So the little birds are all fluffy and running around eating their feed and chasing each other over the piles of dried grass from last summer that I had in old feed sacks.

An interesting thing – to me anyway – is that we have two roosters which are different colors. One is mostly white, the other a dark red, and both of them are Brahmas. (Presumably White Brahmas and a Red Brahma.) So far, the chicks have come out one color except for a single chick that is a different color. We’re waiting to see which of the roosters is mostly shooting blanks. Anyone good at doing a real Coc au Vin with a year-and-a-half old rooster? I may have a properly aged rooster available soon… ;-D

National Geographic Article, “The War On Science”

Early on in the article, NatGeo poses a question: “Why Do Many Reasonable People Doubt Science?” I may be able to enlighten the author, Joel Achenbach, on the subject.

The article as written by Mr Achenbach is not written very well. One subject with which I am well acquainted is the issue of “global warming” or “climate change”- but global warming and climate change is not and never has been an issue. For somewhere around 3 or 4 Billion years (+/-) the climate has been changing. It gets warmer, and cooler and warmer and cooler, over and over again with absolutely no involvement or causation coming from human beings.

So to tidy up his sloppy terminology, I will say that the issue in question that is causing all of the fuss is neither of these terms. The issue is “ANTHROPOGENIC GLOBAL WARMING” (AGW) – which is much more specific and controversial. What AGW means is that the climate is changing because things that humans are or are not doing is changing it. That is the part that is in question.

On this specific issue, I will now state that whether the climate is or is not changing is not resolved.

Neither are the issues of how it may be changing and what may be causing it to change. So to put it crudely, anyone who maintains that AGW is happening is talking out of his/her ass. There is absolutely no evidence that AGW is occurring. There may be evidence that weather may be trending towards warming or cooling. And here we should point out that in the ’70s the climate hissy-fit crowd was screaming about the impending ice age – also apparently caused by humans.

Climate can be simply defined as “weather over a long period of time.” Climate change is when an area that has been cool and wet and green for a few hundred or a thousand years, changes and becomes dry and barren over a few hundred or thousand years, or similar long term radical changes. The AGW proponents are claiming “AGW” is happening after a period of only 25 years of observation. (Since there has been zero meaningful change in recorded temperatures for about 20 years they apparently based their conclusions on a sample period of only 5 years.) In real climate change terms, this is the time it takes for a person to blink their eyes. *blink* oops! Ya missed it!

The article accuses many of not being “scientific.” In keeping with being scientific, may I ask you Mr Achenbach, by what metric you determined this? I await your numbers and the specifics of your procedures.

When AGW first hit the news, I waited until IPCC Report #2 was released, then read both #1 and #2. There were things that I did not understand in them, but as a person who has a firm grounding in the practical sciences (including steam engineering, basic nuclear theory, hydraulics, & etc.) and especially in the scientific method, I noticed a few glaring problems in these documents.

First we’ll look at how the IPCC determined “Solar Forcing.” (The amount of heat rise in the Earth’s system caused by the Sun). Now, I can’t quibble with the IPCC’s numbers… but I can certainly quibble with their methodology. They started out “estimating” (not measuring) solar forcing at around 50%. After they’d run some numbers they changed their minds and decided that 50% was too high, and so arbitrarily lowered the amount of solar forcing to 25%. It should be noted that neither of these numbers were obtained by measurement or via application of the scientific method!!!! So…. the IPCC’s solar forcing number is pure unadulterated BS.

Then I looked at how they proposed observers around the world should gather data – you know – the numbers that they tell us prove AGW? (Things like temperatures, levels of atmospheric gasses, etc.) As I recall, there were three levels of collectors and thus collection of data procedures. One level was for urban and advanced areas, like the USA where there were no significant impediments to data collection. Another was for areas where there were some levels of difficulty expected in collecting data… things like mountainous terrain, etc. And the third level of difficulty was where it was nearly impossible to collect data without endangering life and limb, or areas that were virtually impassible like dense jungle filled with hungry wildlife.

I interpreted these differing levels thusly: Area type 1, go read the data. Area type two, go read data that is convenient to get and guess at the rest. Area type three, make up what the data might be and pretend it’s real. All such data was then reported as factual.

After reading these first two “reports” I decided that whatever the IPCC was, it certainly had no intention of being in any way “scientific” or that it was even vaguely familiar with that thing many of us refer to as “the scientific method.”

I think that the above goes a long way in answering the question of Why Many Reasonable People Doubt Science. When “science” ceases to be scientific, it becomes an agenda driven political movement, or a cult. The IPCC is a political cult. Nothing more.

Also Mr Achenbach doesn’t seem to understand that there is a vast difference between “science” and “belief.” He displays an obvious bias against scientists who do not “believe” in the areas he indicates as being validated truth – thus “scientific.” I consider some things as being as yet “undetermined” – such as “evolution” – in my mind that’s unproven one way or the other. (Many of the “fossil proofs” have later been found to be fabrications, and as to the Biblical creation story, it seems to me as plausible as evolution.) Not being considered is the possibility that we were evolved. But at any rate, it’s not my area. Do I believe that it’s possible? Eh. Not that important to me. ;-D

Are vaccines bad? Well… as Mr Achenbach indicates like so many others I sometimes base my “beliefs” on personal experience, and based on my personal experience I’d say many of them are good. Others are clearly in the “questionable” class. So to me, it depends on the vaccine. When our kids were quite young, there was some problem with the whooping cough vaccines – our Pediatrician was a vaccine expert – and he advised us to not get that one for the kids at that time, which advice we heeded. The rest of their shots, they got.

Fluoride? There has been some recent evidence that the stuff actually decays some ethnic people’s teeth instead of protecting them. True? Dunno. If that is true, then the people so affected should be provided with non-fluoride water, or the stuff should not be put in the public water supply. As the Hippocratic Oath put it, Primum non nocere, “First do no harm.”

Moon landing? I’ll buy it.

GMO food? If for no other reason I’d ban it because it is causing the establishment of a food monoculture – which is BAD!!! And I have a visceral objection to being forced to consume known poisons in any form or concentrations, especially when the chemical/herbicide/pesticide companies are sneaking around like weasels and refusing to allow scientific testing of their products (except by them… and can we trust their results? If they won’t let it be tested by independent labs, whether true or not it appears that they have something to hide so I’m doubting they are trustworthy.) All I know is that the stuff they put on crops these days is killing bees… evidence enough for me that it’s not good for us.

Yet despite the weaknesses of the piece, I find that accidently or deliberately, the truth is contained near the end of his article.

Towards the end he puts a quote from geophysicist Marcia McNutt. In regard to asking questions about science issues, she said, “Everybody should be questioning. That’s a hallmark of a scientist. But then they should be using the scientific method, or trust people (who are) using the scientific method, to decide which way they fall on those questions.”

Thank you Ms McNutt. Now all we have to do is figure out how to teach the nation’s politicians, schools and teachers what the scientific method is and how to teach it and use it, and that’s not going to be easy.