31 May 2010

Vets at Attention: Memorial Day 2010 in Billings Montana



I visited the Yellowstone Veterans Cemetery in Laurel today. I was last there on Veteran's Day last year, and earlier in the year on Memorial Day 2009 when I took the picture above.

The dignitaries were many and included Senator Tester and Rep Rehberg. The latter gave a pretty good speech and the former played a nice Taps on a trumpet, not sure whether borrowed or not. Really he did. We are not that many that we can all be highly specialized here in Montana. 

I saw him get up at a time that seemed a little odd. I thought he was just going out to shake a few hands but the next thing I know I hear Taps and sure enough, there is Senator Tester playing away. He did a good job too. That is him on the end with trumpet and blazer and red tie and prominent gut so he would fit in with the rest of this mixed military firing squad.






29 May 2010

New on the Menu at Red Robin


I found this very tasty macaroni and cheese on the menu at Red Robin Restaurant in the newly refurbished West Park Plaza. It needed a little pepper. This gives Enzo's a good run for their money in the Mac & Cheese category. The accompanying salad and bread was pretty good too. And of course, the whole thing was washed down with some excellent Pig's Ass Porter fresh from Belt MT, from Harvest Moon Brewing Company, just outside Great Falls. There are a lot of other good things on the menu. They have some decent wine and beer and they are kid-friendly too. Good for lunch or dinner.

Red Robin America's Gourmet Burgers and Spirits on Urbanspoon



28 May 2010

What does this mean?


I saw this gas-guzzling SUV parked alongside Grand Ave as you approach Shiloh going west. It seemed like an in-your-face way of attracting the attention of the environmental wackos. I didn't immediately see the subtitle "Conservative Republican." But when I got a little closer I did note this modification of an ordinary Republican candidate, perhaps a little redundant, but then I am an old fuddy-duddy. Since then I've noticed a few other signs on the roadside and quite a few radio ads with the words "conservative" and "common sense" mentioned. The name Kennedy might get confused with another Kennedy who has not yet made the jump from relatively conservative local Democrat to the usual far out leftist Democrat suitable only for serving in Congress. But with the other signs and ads I think this might be a harbinger of future events, e.g. the House of Representatives moving decidedly to the right and perhaps the Senate finally getting rid of a few seditious old farts on the Left. You know who they are. This should be interesting.

26 May 2010

A Modern Version of Who's On First?



Very funny.

Death of the Post-Modernist Political & Economic Dreams

Dr Victor Davis Hanson, see picture left, continues to bless us with his insightful wisdom, often with benefit of his knowledge of the classical era and how lessons learned from that time might be applicable in these interesting times.

But not always; in this little essay in National Review Online, he just uses ordinary reason or common sense, which is not as common as we might think.

Dr Hanson writes convincingly whether in short or longer form. Check him out.

Guess Who A.S. Is

Seen a few years ago at a mall in Houston TX. If you could read the date, September 11, and noted that Ali was an Imam, then you probably guessed right when you said that he was one of those killed on September 11, 2001 in New York NY. but could it possibly be one of the Muslim pilots? That seems a little far-fetched, but in this case far-fetched is correct. This is chutzpah of a high order.

After A Little Poking Dr Muskett Rises Again

Today's Billings Gazette, perhaps to balance the usual crap from the Associated Press (AP), publishes some wise observations from Billings' own cardiac-turned-plastic surgeon, Dr Alan Muskett. Employing his usual acerbic but gently ironic wit on his and his friends practice of surgery he tells us, perhaps sub-consciously, a good deal of what our surgical friends are thinking about as they take care of the witless ones among us.

Physicians, especially surgeons—I hope that the surgeons will not object to being included in the larger category of physicians—have long taken care of people that don't pay them, perhaps balancing this with a slightly larger bill to those who can pay; and then more recently they accept the government's stingy reward of quite a bit less than the going rate for surgical care for us old geezers, without charging more to those who can pay—most of them even take the laughable amount that Medicaid offers. But in telling us what they are thinking while taking call for drunks and other less than sterling citizens, I suspect that Dr Muskett is asking us to read between the lines. There may be a line between the lines that we are getting closer to than we care to admit, especially when our DC lords and masters get done reforming the practice of medicine.
Paging Dr John Galt.

In any event, any column by Dr Muskett is always a good read. He entertains us, he instructs us and he warns us of our many follies.

25 May 2010

A Couple of Good Articles in Today's Wall Street Journal

Not many people write about this since C Northcote Parkinson's classic article in The Economist, November 19th, 1955. But now Paul C Light, Professor at New York University's Robert F Wagner School of Public Service, writing in the Op-Ed pages of Tuesday's Wall Street Journal, tells us, I think with a straight face, that we have a $1 Trillion Opportunity to streamline our federal government.

I have often fantasized about having an Open House in the many federal, state and local government offices we have in Billings. Wouldn't it be informative for all the government offices in the city to have one day a year in which the public is invited to see exactly what they do, and perhaps compare and contrast the output of an office with the number of people that allegedly work there. for example, to the left is a demonstration of what our fire department does.

The Law that Professor Parkinson puckishly came up with after lengthy study of the British Admiralty was: Work expands to fill the time available for its completion. And related to this is the corollary of the rate at which bureaucracies expand over time, explained by the observations that "an official wants to multiply subordinates, not rivals," and "officials make work for each other." 

I remember very well going to some office here in Billings to get my passport renewed and noting that there were two people to do the work that quite a bit less than one person could do easily. I remember making those same observations while visiting offices in Washington DC and doing something very similar when I was in the Air Force.

The other article I found fascinating was the revocation of the license of the doctor who first mused on the possible relationship of Measles, Mumps and Rubella Vaccine with subsequent autism. Apparently he was arrogant enough to think that he would never be caught out by reality, even though it took them at least 12 years to do it and multiple injuries and deaths from actual measles infections.

Why Are Raincoats Yellow?

From a friend.



Any more questions?

23 May 2010

It's Not Easy Being Green



I think they are lying. They have read the law and know that admitting it would surely lead to troublesome questions and answers.

22 May 2010

On Our Way to the Owl Cafe


If you take a left off the first Laurel exit on I90 you will go right by the Big Sky Nursery and Green House.

Be sure to stop as they are full of flowers and seem quite reasonable too. The help is very nice and helpful as well. 

Remember those red wagons we used to drive around making thrumming noises pretending they had motors? Well, apparently there still a few left and the Big Sky Nursery makes good use of them. We picked up some stunningly red geraniums and some more modest coleus. This is a place worth going back to. 





I thought they had an A&W Root Beer stand on the way in to Laurel from the interstate but I couldn't find it. Tempus fugit.

Laurel is known as a railroad town, the place where you turn to go to Red Lodge, last year their Legion baseball team won the state championship, and they have some decent restaurants too. What more could you ask? We were looking for a restaurant known for being a good steak place but we noticed The Owl Cafe first as we were driving down Main St.


This was a nice, large, well-lit place with some stools at the counter but mainly a bunch of tables of various sizes. The waitress was very pleasant and we thought the menu was really well done, noting carefully where the meat had come from and what the cattle and bison ate. See some of it below.

They had some smaller and fancier dishes calculated to appeal to your date and some really nice salmon chowder. The customers, even the early shift, seemed fairly diverse and they all knew each other, so this must be a place popular with the locals.




Owl Junction Diner on Urbanspoon
While we were heading out I noticed a chalked invitation to some kuchen, a lovely German type of cake. We found out they made it in Bridger at a place called, naturally enough, The KuchenHaus. We took some home and made a note to check out that bakery in Bridger the next time we are through there.

If I had to pick out one thing that has really changed in the 30 years we've been living in Billings it would be the surprising number of good restaurants that have opened their doors, and of course, a few that have closed their doors too.

All American Girls Professional Baseball League

I saw a tiny mention in the Gazette this morning of Dorothy Kamenshenk, an 84 year old lady who died a few days ago in Palm Desert CA. That is her in her heyday of the 40s. Apparently she joined the Peaches as a 17 yr old. I always think it is a good idea to show a picture of the deceased in their younger days. Isn't that how we remember people anyway?

She had been a member of the Rockford Peaches, equivalent to the New York Yankees, of the All American Girls Professional Baseball League (AAGPBL) for about 10 years from 1943 when the league was formed until it folded in the early 50s.

The role that Geena Davis played in A League of Their Own was said to be based in part on her. But if you remember the movie you know that Ms Davis played a catcher and according to the records and this picture to the left, Ms Kamensheank was an outfielder and a very good first baseman. This really short note led to Google and a nice and more complete obituary in the Washington Post. The foul-mouthed alcoholic manager of the team was played by Tom Hanks with his famous quote—"ARE YOU CRYIN'? THERE'S NO CRYIN' IN BASEBALL!"

Because I grew up in rural Wisconsin, about half way between Madison and Milwaukee, and learned how to read with the help of my grandfather Rohrschneider and the daily newspapers, I knew about—though I never saw a game—the Rockford Peaches, Racine Belles, Kenosha Comets and the South Bend Blue Sox. These were the original teams that made up the league, sponsored by Phil Wrigley, when the boys started going off to war. Later on, they were joined by the Fort Wayne Daisies, Grand Rapids Chicks, Muskegon—later the Kalamazoo—Lassies, and Peoria Redwings. The Minneapolis Millerettes and Milwaukee Chicks were fairly short-lived teams despite their larger populations. The Springfield Sallies and Chicago Colleens played for a couple of years too, though I think they were regarded as minor league training teams for the other more established teams until the whole league closed down after the 1954 season. There is a nice history of those days and some pictures too here. And of course, Wikipedia has some useful stuff to contribute here. Like the boys who went to war in those days these ladies are getting a little thin on the ground.

19 May 2010

"I think it p-ss-s God off . . . ."


In Alice Walker's 1985 book and the later movie, The Color Purple, Shug says to Celie: "I think it pisses God off when you walk by the colour purple in a field and don't notice it."

So here is my notice of some lilacs on Poly near Rehberg, see above, and some more lilacs in my own back yard, see below. Like a lot of living things it seems like their window of opportunity is achingly short.

16 May 2010

This is the kind of politician we need!

The Boys of Summer Return

I managed to see at least a couple of innings of two American Legion games on Saturday afternoon. The Blue Jays—the younger A level team for the AA Royals—were playing the Laurel Dodgers at Pirtz Field, just beyond Rimrock Mall. See the picture to the left.

I probably should say that Laurel was thrashing the Blue Jays unmercifully. It was 16-1 when I left in the 5th inning. The boys from Laurel look strong and may well repeat their State A Championship from last year.

One good thing at Pirtz Field is the excellent cheeseburgers and other sandwiches they do there. They also have a double sized burger called the "Thickburger"which looked pretty good too though I didn't try it. You have to be really hungry to order that one.

On the way to Dehler Park I passed a batting cage, also in Stewart Park. That looked like fun and would also enable you to mark off one of a Baseball Fan's Bucket List.

Driving down Central I saw some softball action at the Lady Broncs Field and a Little League game on the corner of 8th and Central. Saturday is a big day for bat and ball games in Billings.

After that I retreated to Dehler Park to see what the Scarlets were up to. It was just as hot there. No relief from the sun in either place.

Both the A and the AA teams were kind enough to let in for free the under 12 year-olds and the over 60 year-olds. That is a good idea. I might even make a donation to the program if they would only ask. They didn't have any team souvenirs or scorebooks yet but I was promised that this would be fixed soon.

As usual Kurt Prchal was slaving away getting the concessions ready the the coming season.

The Scarlets looked like they were in trouble until they broke out in a rash of runs in the bottom of the 4th inning thanks to wildness on the part of the Great Falls pitcher. He hit a few batters and a few more walked and then some bats came alive to the tune of 8 runs. Joe Barta looked good on the mound. The hitters need a little more practice, especially to replace some of those big hitters from last year.

According to the Gazette the Scarlets managed to sweep the Chargers fairly easily in both the afternoon and early evening games. Another 8 run outburst in the 2nd game put that one away as easily as the early game.

The Scarlets and Royals will be pretty busy at Dehler Park on weekends 'til they get out of school and then will alternate with the Mustangs starting in late June. Check these games out. Good baseball.

14 May 2010

Protesters On Grand

On my way to Arby's to pick up one of their excellent Reuben sandwiches and their even better Jamocha shakes on Friday about mid-day I came across a small group of normal-looking people waving signs in front of Computer Village and Denny Rehberg's branch office here in Billings. I'm guessing they were not big Obama fans See the picture to the left.

By the way, I must recommend as highly as I can Arby's Jamocha shakes. I'm pretty sure they played a major part in healing my abdominal incision after a diverticular perforation back in February. That and my nurses, Carol and Kellie, and of course my surgeon, Dr McKenzie.

They have all agreed to give me a discount after this advertising.





I asked the guy in the blue shirt above what the occasion was. He said that some of them were from the Sierra Club but I don't think they were waving the sign "Drill-Baby-Drill." Maybe they were trying to infiltrate the tea party protesters who showed up after the Sierra Club folks.

I saw one of the Sierra Club walk away kind of angry looking, probably because her sign was so lame. See it on the sidewalk to the right. The tea party people seemed to be having a good time.

Maybe Denny Rehberg is running for office this early and called on his ace quick responders. I don't think we've heard the last of these good folks, though the main stream media probably won't have much to do with them.

13 May 2010

More Of The Same

Golly, this oil spill sure leads to a lot of unintended consequences, doesn't it? See also the other cartoons of a similar nature from a few days ago.


11 May 2010

Who Says Wyoming Folk Are Not Funny?


This is from a retired sailor who writes to the Northern Wyoming Daily News of Worland of at least some of his service to his country. In case the reader has problems seeing this, Mr Hargraves says: "I object and take exception to everyone saying that Obama and Congress are spending money like a drunken sailor. As a former drunken sailor I quit when I ran out of money."

This comes from an interesting blog called Are We Lumberjacks?

10 May 2010

I Never Metaphor I Didn't Like





I guess cartoonists are allowed to recycle just as much as the rest of us. I sell my medical advice, fairly handsomely too, but I still have it, so I sell it next week to someone else. No one complains.

06 May 2010

Wine Like Climate Continues to Change



For those who regard CO2 as a poison, whether through stupidity or crafty knavery, here is a website to have a look at.

Is This True?

Check out this recent information from the US Geological Survey. That is from our federal government, isn't it? I wonder how much oil would leak into North Dakota or Montana if there were a catastrophic rig ?accident, such as occurred recently in the Gulf of Mexico. The article and the FAQs didn't say how deep the oil was just that it was "technically recoverable." I must be missing something. I thought we elected the smartest man in the world to be president.

01 May 2010

May Day: A Day of Remembrance

This sounds like a good idea. Check it out here. Victims of Communism, both past and present.

Boston Brass at Alberta Bair


Logo for the Boston Brass

I was fortunate to have looked around at the box office when I bought some Rimrock Opera Company tickets about a week or two ago. I noticed a flyer for the Boston Brass for Friday night, 30 April, at the Alberta Bair Theatre.

Simply put, they were magnificent.


Everything one could ask for and more: a light touch on the tuba when required which is most of the time, a horn that can come close to the trumpets and trombone in volume which is much of the time, two trumpets of equal skill and sound, and both playing fluegelhorns as well, and an aggressive  fat-sounding trombone player who also plays euphonium superbly.

These were some of the best quintet arrangements I've heard. I especially like the jazz and big band numbers. They all live in different parts of the country so one wonders how they manage to play together so well. Practicing on the Internet seems impossible.

These guys had a light touch on the teaching and history commentary which was much appreciated. Even their vocal encore was light and funny on the ears. They said they had played numerous times in Montana but couldn't remember playing in Billings before. Be sure to ask for them to come back.

Mamacita's Becomes Cafe DeCamp

















The newest restaurant on our feeding frenzy itinerary in Billings was Cafe DeCamp on 6th Ave, very close to the turn off from Main St in the Heights. If you are coming from that direction you need to move over to the left quickly. Actually, since 6th Ave is a one way street headed toward downtown Billings, that is what you need to do anyway.

Most of us foodies remember this place as Mamacita's which used to serve some good Mexican food in a very small place. The space is not any larger but the food has certainly become more diverse. I had some very good soup and some quiche as well while wife Carol had a down home meatloaf sandwich. The potato chips were close to very thin fried potatoes and very good. On pleasant days in the spring, summer, fall and winter they do have some outdoor space in the back. We went for lunch but they are also open for dinner. Beer and wine served.

Cafe DeCamp on Urbanspoon

Tragedy in the Gulf of Mexico



Pictures and authoritative text on this unfolding tragedy can be found here.

Downtown Billings in the SummerTime

Downtown Billings in the SummerTime
At The BrewPub on Broadway

Downtown Phoenix

Downtown Phoenix
Downtown Phoenix in the Winter Time

Good Cheese Here

Good Cheese Here
Vermont Cheddar & Minnesota Blue

TAKE TIME FOR PARADISE

TAKE TIME FOR PARADISE
Dehler Park, Billings MT, July 2008 This is what Bart Giamatti recommends for good mental health.

Me and Joan

Me and Joan
Early elderly and middle middle age: We May Know Something You Don't

Mrs America

Mrs America
Fortunately these girls had a good-looking mother

Rimrocks @ Billings MT

Rimrocks @ Billings MT
“In beholding old stones we may feel our anxieties about our achievements–and lack of them–slacken . . . Vast landscapes [and seascapes] can have an anxiety–reducing effect similar to ruins, for they are the representatives of infinite space, as ruins are the representatives of infinite time, against which our weak, short-lived bodies seem no less inconsequential than those of moths or spiders.”—Alain de Botton in Status Anxiety

Easter Sunday at St Patrick's Co-Cathedral

Easter Sunday at St Patrick's Co-Cathedral
12 April 2009

Pleasant Hillside at Hustisford, AKA The Grassy Knoll for you conspiracy buffs

Pleasant Hillside at Hustisford, AKA The Grassy Knoll for you conspiracy buffs
A Lot of Muellers Are Buried Here