29 June 2010

Yellowstone Pathology Picnic in the Park 2010


A warm Monday evening in late June seemed a good time for Yellowstone Pathology Institute to have a Picnic in the Park. That is a part of Veteran's Park above with a truck from Fuddrucker's Catering supplying the food. The burgers were very good, the brats less so. It also seemed like a good time to celebrate my retirement, which has been an ongoing process for some years now. They very kindly treated me to some nice words and even nicer gift cards to Barnes and Noble Book Store.

Here are a few pictures from that event.

28 June 2010

Music at Pioneer Park


This is from Pioneer Park last Sunday afternoon, 27 June 2010. As you can see most people elected to sit way back in the shade, unless they were getting some ice cream or hamburgers. They claimed that beer and wine was available but I didn't see it.

A good crowd showed up for the Community Band at 5pm and the Symphony at 7pm. Some said there might be as many as 10,000 people in Pioneer Park but I doubt it. More like 5,000 according to my count. The Symphony people said it cost $40,000 to bring the Symphony for the concert. I guess they pay musicians better these days.


This was a young 13 year old cellist conducting the Symphony. She did well. I thought the selection and sound quality of the Community Band was at least as good as the Symphony. They have a lot of good players on the inside color parts. Even with significant amplification some portions of the Symphony concert were not received over the ambient noise. It's a concert in the park folks. That means crying babies and snores and the usual noisy atmosphere of a small city. Delicate oboe sounds tend to get lost.

Fuddrucker's burgers were very good. I finally saw some of what the "folfers" were talking about. The areas around the baskets look fairly worn but it doesn't look out of place.

27 June 2010

Three of five Grandsons Eating Cookies


Tres amigos y primos

Updated Dr Seuss

I do not like this Uncle Sam,

I do not like his health care scam.

I do not like these dirty crooks,

Or how they lie and cook the books.

I do not like when Congress steals,

I do not like their secret deals.

I do not like this speaker, Nan ,

I do not like this 'YES WE CAN.'

I do not like this spending spree,

I'm smart, I know that nothing's free.

                                      I do not like your smug replies,

                                      When I complain about your lies.

                                     I do not like this kind of hope.

                                         I do not like it, nope, nope, nope!

Cleaning up after the storm


There is a nice pictorial summary of the Father's Day Storm here in Billings in today's Gazette and online as well. Good pictures that are artfully framed and tell a story by themselves.

25 June 2010

Mustangs v Great Falls Games 1-4: Need To Work on Fundamentals

The first home stand of the young Mustang season is now history. They looked fairly good in the first game but then found a number of different ways to lose the next three games.

Much of Dehler Park remains the same as last year: the sun is still brutal on the fans in most places, and especially for the 1st baseman and right fielder in the early innings, the food is pretty good, especially the Johnsonville brats and the Stang burger, though they may be cutting some corners on the Philly cheesesteak: it was fairly dry and the cheese was not even softened. I saw one poor guy lean over and the cheese dropped off the sandwich!

Only one of the four games was interrupted by clowns trying to get our attention. That's pretty good for a minor league game. With a full house why mess with pathetic extra attractions?

A good selection of beers is available including some very nice local brews. Thank Heaven someone finally turned the volume down on the announcer, at least in the infield, and he seems to have more or less gotten over his cheerleader phase. The wide concrete plaza all around the park is perfect for looking over the opposite sex while strolling around, and for having a conversation with your friends over a beer. Or to meet up with characters from Custer's Last Stand in the 19th Century, see right.

It would be nice to have a place on the scoreboard for the speed of the pitch. They do that in Missoula and Great Falls and other places too I hear.

The Mustangs seem to have some strong infield players though they all seem to have a problem with the wooden bat, that is, instead of standing close to the plate as most metal bat players do, in order to reach the outside corner, now they must stand further back in order not to be sawed off by an inside pitch and do a sort of lunge in order to hit the outside pitch. This is not an easy thing to do. It takes practice.

And the pitchers need to get up enough courage to pitch inside, seldom done in metal bat circles, because even the weak hitters can bloop the ball over the infield when jammed. So this takes time too and is not always easy.

Infielders fielding seemed pretty reasonable, and only their batting could be criticized (see the first paragraph above). It would have been nice to see a safety squeeze on the first pitch of the suspended game—one out, men on first and third—when it restarted the next afternoon. It would have been over with the Mustangs winning. Especially when the batter is having trouble with the strike zone. Instead they slowly bleed to death with feeble tentative swings and pitching that couldn't quite close the door until the 14th when it mercifully ended. So maybe that was a manager error.

Some of the outfielders seemed unaccustomed to those positions, or maybe the big sky made it difficult to pick up balls off the bat. A few accurate throws would have saved a few runs, you know, to cut off men etc. As you can see above there is a lot of room to cover in the outfield so perhaps those of us in the grandstand should be more forgiving.

I was pleased to see some aggressive running on the base paths, i.e. from 1st to 3rd, running and hitting, even an occasional steal, but I was puzzled by the lack of finesse in decision making in some of those same situations. I guess there are a lot of things to learn when you first turn pro, but I thought basic base running was taught in high school and college and even in the Caribbean.

The season and the team does not look hopeless. I like the catchers and I think some of the pitchers will come around because they seem capable of getting it up there at 90+ mph. Pitcher Daniel Tuttle looked good in the opener, and Billy Hamilton, the shortstop, looked like a surprisingly strong arm. He could be a closer if the real pitchers fail. Donald Lutz of Regensburg Germany, the first baseman, looks like he has some pop in his bat. The Caribbean contingent needs to work on their skills; they seem willing to run.

There is more to say about the Mustangs but this entry is getting too long. By the way, I have seen a sports blog here in Billings. It looks worthwhile. Go here.

Vietnam Redux?


From a recent  column of George Will in the Washington Examiner:

It is difficult, and perhaps unwise, to suppress this thought: [Gen. Stanley] McChrystal’s disrespectful flippancies, and the chorus of equally disdainful comments from the unpleasant subordinates he has chosen to have around him, emanate from the toxic conditions that result when the military’s can-do culture collides with a cannot-be-done assignment. In this toxicity, Afghanistan is Vietnam redux.

George Will is a pretty smart guy. He even wears bow ties. This is very worrisome.

21 June 2010

Shelby Steele Wisdom: Modernity is now the measure of man.

"The most interesting voice in all the fallout surrounding the Gaza flotilla incident is that sanctimonious and meddling voice known as "world opinion." At every turn "world opinion," like a school marm, takes offense and condemns Israel for yet another infraction of the world's moral sensibility. 
"If the Palestinians got everything they want—a sovereign nation and even, let's say, a nuclear weapon—they would wake the next morning still hounded by a sense of inferiority. For better or for worse, modernity is now the measure of man. And the quickest cover for inferiority is hatred. . . In other words, my hatred is my self-esteem.

Check out the whole article in Monday's Wall Street Journal (21 June 2010) 

20 June 2010

Israel and the Rest of the World


Here is a useful summary of some recent history. How is it that our kids didn't learn this essential stuff? This website is often useful and usually right.

19 June 2010

Billings Has Two! Custom Hat Makers


How many towns in this country of around 100-150K souls can boast of two full service custom hat makers? These are not mad hatters either. Soon after we moved to Billings I bought a pair of cowboy boots. I wore them on ceremonial occasions but my feet got tired, especially while standing at the autopsy table. I gave them away after coming across them in a dusty, dark part of my closet some years ago. As I continue to age my feet seem to be getting larger: I guess gravity is winning out after all, so softer and more comfortable shoes are highly sought after by me.

Not only my feet, but my head seems to be enlarging too. I'm pretty sure I wore a 7 1/4 size cap when I was a boy and that was with hair too. Now it seems closer to 7 1/2. So again I started looking around for a nice hat soon after we arrived in Billings. I think some of the clothing stores we had back then actually sold hats too, but eventually I steeled up my courage to have a look at a custom Western cowboy hat. The only place in town in the 80s was Rand's. I still remember the sticker shock when I first started looking.

In fact, I bought one of their really nice custom hats a year or two after we moved here in the summer of 1980. It served me well for quite a few years. The good people at Rand's cleaned it once and stretched the hatband a couple of times because I tend to sweat a lot, especially on my head. I even had my own private hat peg in one of the funeral homes that I used to perform autopsies in. Rand's Custom Hats has been around for about as long as I've lived in Billings. By the way, they have a nice website to give you an idea what they have available and tell you a little about Western hats too. Worth having a look at but nothing beats going to the shop in person. The sticker shock is probably a little steeper at Rand's compared to Law Dog.

A friend of mine from England visited us about 15 years ago to recuperate in the nearby mountains from a case of tuberculosis. Since he worked in their National Health Service he was somehow able to talk them into some considerable time off in addition to the drugs to combat his illness. He liked my hat so much that I felt obliged to give it to him, figuring that he might not have that much time left and who knows, it might help him with his illness. He is still wearing it as far as I know, and apparently cured of his TB. The parking lot, above, in front of Rand's is often filled with pickups.


So I've been cowboy hatless for some time now. Just recently, after reading an article in the Gazette about Randy Rains, another young hatter in Billings, I felt the urge to look for another nice hat. Because I've got an odd-shaped and fairly large head I thought I'd look at the custom made options once again as the off-the-shelf varieties just don't seem to fit right. Both shops are pleasant places with personable people willing to help you out. Rand's is larger and apparently has some outlets scattered around the western USA.




I was a little surprised to hear that a young guy that used to work at Rand's had started his own shop on Main St in the Heights, on the right as you get close to the turn off to Roundup.

Law Dog Hat Company is a little more recent addition to the specialty stores in Billings. Both tell me that they are doing well in this worrisome economy. The name comes from a movie, but I forget which one. Lots of posters from old movies are scattered around this one man shop.

Randy at Law Dog was very helpful, as was Luke at Rand's. I still haven't made up my mind as there are a lot of styles and colors to look at, though I do favor the softer and less cowboyish styles.

16 June 2010

Something Very Strange Is Going On Here


This is an image that heads up a short essay by Ben Stein, a sensible and normally mild-mannered man who usually does commercials and says funny things. This is worrisome.

13 June 2010

From Electric City Weblog

From Rich Lowry's email via our friends in Great Falls.

In response to your stated preference for the genuine, emotionally reserved Obama to the fake, “kick ass” Obama on display earlier this week, may I offer Bart Simpson’s response to Homer’s efforts to be a more active and engaged parent: “No offense, Homer, but your half-assed underparenting was a lot more fun than your half-assed overparenting.”

I wonder why Billings doesn't seem to have the perceptive blogs that the Electric City has.

12 June 2010

World's Favorite Sport


This is from Sigmund, Carl and Alfred, a very useful website.

09 June 2010

New at Hardee's


I couldn't resist sampling a new breakfast on the menu at Hardee's. It is called Loaded Biscuit and Gravy which includes two eggs, two sausage patties and a nice biscuit underneath and covered with sausage gravy. The above is what it looks like on the ads. Below is what mine looked like. This is delicious.

Hardee's on Urbanspoon


Please Sir, Can I Have Some More?

Does the CO2 cause the temperature rise or does the temperature rise cause the CO2 rise? Which is cart and which is horse?


Here is a blogsite that might be helpful.


More on this connection between carbon dioxide and temperature can be found here.

08 June 2010

Importing Canadian Funny Stuff: The Long Weekend

Norm Foster is a prolific Canadian playwright, according to Wikipedia. The playbill said that BST had done one of his plays a few years ago but I couldn't remember which one. I gather they are all fairly similar. Light and funny, usually about ordinary people and their problems, capable of being done well by amateur companies, seems a reasonable summary.

The Long Weekend is playing at Billings Studio Theatre with four of our best actors, Bobbi Hawk, Vincent Ray, Vint Lavender and Lisa Halpin They play individually well and especially well with each other. The first act makes fun of a variety of young and not so young urban professional stereotypes and the second act does the same, with a few predictable changes, and it ends by making fun of the audience as well. It reminded me of an academic playwright given the assignment of doing an extended version of a Seinfeld episode, which was suggested by Jaci Webb in a recent Gazette review. There are a lot of good laughs and many smiles.

It is playing Thursday through Sunday this week and Thursday through Saturday night next week. Go see it.

Curiouser and Curiouser: Strange Things Going On

I've long wondered why it is that most liberals include a knee-jerk hatred of Jews in their repertoire of rhetorical flourishes. I could never see the connection with all their other far left notions. But I might have found something that makes sense in the recent Helen Thomas gaffe. I have known that for a long time she has been a far left progressive and an anti-Semite but I always thought that one led to the other, that is, from progressive to Jew hatred. But her recent outburst, captured so readily by a curious rabbi, clearly showed me that she is deep down a Jew hater as her primary problem and that for a variety of reasons this led to the progressive side of the aisle on other matters.



Can this be the connection I have long wondered about? All this time have I been confusing cart and horse. That is a troubling thought because it naturally leads me to wonder if it applies to our President. It's bad enough that some on the left are wondering if he is competent enough to be POTUS, but now I am wondering if he is basically a Jew hater that was persuaded by his teachers to adopt his left slanted agenda.

07 June 2010

Deep In The Gulf



These are surprisingly good pictures of some of the things that our technological friends are up to in the Gulf of Mexico. Maybe those game players will be helpful too. For some of the other things going on deep in the Gulf go here for a quick summary by Daniel Foster in National Review Online.

06 June 2010

The Longest Day


Actually, for many on Omaha on that day, especially the first waves, it was a fairly short day. Some units suffered more than 90% casualties. A guy who was there a few hours later than this picture told me that he couldn't remember a thing except the noise and trying to not shit his pants.

04 June 2010

It's Baseball Season: Take Time For Paradise



The above is just to get your attention for the following Wikipedia entry, something I tend to do near the beginning of nearly every baseball season these last few years. I learned something new about Bart Giamatti when I re-read the Wiki entry this year. Remember the movie Sideways ? Well, somewhere in the movie is a photograph of Miles Raymond with his father, the former played by Giamatti's son, Paul: this is actually a picture of Paul and Bart Giamatti.

03 June 2010

A Pro-Israeli Point of View

From the American Thinker. This is why I tell my grandchildren they must understand and practice theatre, no matter what else they do. In the land of TV only good theatre will succeed.


June 03, 2010

What should Israel have done?

James Lewis
We just saw a classic example of Martyrdom Theater off the coast of Israel. It was scripted to make Israel look bad. White hats, black hats, your basic Western B movie. The usual left-fascist media going ape, as per script, and suckering millions of the brainwashed, the way they always do.
There they go again, as Ronald Reagan said to Jimmy Carter in that famous television debate. Everybody knew what he meant. We need to go on pointing it out, because many people still don't get it.

My question is, What would you do if you were Israel, and you saw this piece of theater going down? You could see this one coming, and the next martyrdom boat is now on the way from Cyprus. These are "peace" activists with murder in their eyes, and they are predictable.

The IDF is prepared for a firefight but not a propaganda fight. This is political theater, even if it leads to real deaths. It's just like the 15-story mega-mosque they want to build on Ground Zero in Manhattan. Or the UN denunciation of Israel's nukes two days before Iran says it has enough uranium for two nuclear weapons. Propaganda works when it is allowed to go unanswered.

Here is my modest proposal: Consider meeting theater with theater, because that's what the media are thirsting for. The question is how to flip the storyline against the terrorists and their media. It must be possible, because these are not geniuses. Intelligent and decent people can outsmart them.

Idea 1. Safety first.

Next time you see a boatful of wannabe martyrs don't risk the lives of your young soldiers. Keep the wannabes away with tear gas, high-decibel rock music, fireworks, water cannon, smoke bombs, tugboats, Louisiana oil spill berms, floating barriers, sugar in their gas tanks, whatever. If they want a fiery martyrdom they will have to do it themselves. Real suicide bombers are still killing civilians every week in Iraq and Afghanistan, and the media are bored with it. They want their white hats fighting their black hats to make political theater. Don't give it to them.

Idea 2. Beat their theater with bigger theater.

What if Israelis sent their own peace flotilla to meet the martyrdom brigade? Israel's boats could be called Real Peace, Stop Hate Propaganda, or The Six Million. Or maybe Free Gaza from Hamas?  In 1948 they called their ship the Exodus. Capture the truth in two words and name your flotilla after it. As a side benefit it will drive the media nuts.

Israel and the West have the web, the biggest stage on earth. Anybody can make a YouTube video. Tell the truth over and over and over again until it sinks in.

Idea 3. Make the media the story.

Who's the wizard behind the curtain? Yes, it's them again. The media are always trying to convince us they're not the story. That is a lie. The media are staffed with agit-prop artists with one line. They are the only story they don't tell. Our job is to tell the truth, starting with the biggest media lie. They are the message.

Idea 4. In political theater you can win with laughter.

There aren't many occasions in real life when humor wins battles. This is one of them. Get all the comedy writers you can find together --- the funny ones, not like Bill Maher --- and work out all the gags that will make these wannabes look foolish.

Comedy is hard, dying is easy, goes the old theater line. Here's a chance for the good guys to flip that one around. All it takes is a good imagination.

01 June 2010

Memorial Day Weekend Baseball in Billings

In Billings, on Memorial Day Weekend, in addition to honoring our veterans, especially those who have died defending our country, our kids traditionally play baseball, against each other and nearby towns and scattered villages. Under the guidance of the local American Legion Baseball Board a three day smorgasbord of baseball is served up at some of our local parts of paradise, Dehler Park, Pirtz Field and Urbaska Field.

These are almost pre-season games as none of them count in conference play. It looks like the bench players on the Scarlets and Royals get a chance to show their stuff in game situations. And the smaller towns get to play against teams that might have some better hitters and pitchers, the only formula I know for getting better. And I almost forgot, Billings is blessed with a surprising number of really good umpires, not perfect mind you , but surprisingly consistent. They do not get in the way of a good game. To the left above is the cover of the nice brochure put together by the Legion Board.

First of all, we have, of course, the Royals and Scarlets and their younger colleagues, the Blue Jays and the Cardinals from here in Billings; but wait, we also are fortunate enough to have an All-Star Big League team, an older version of Little League; and finally, not one but two independent teams, the Halos I and II, sponsored by our friends at Emmanuel Baptist Church, ably directed by Hal Anderson. So that is seven teams from Billings. To that were added the excellent Laurel Dodgers, winner of MT state A championship last year and surely a contender to repeat; and the Powell Pioneers, the Riverton Raiders, the Lewistown Redbirds, and the Gallatin Valley Outlaws. All of these compete on the A level except for the the Scarlets and Royals. The crowds were a little thin for many of the games but they did show up for the Royals v. Scarlets game early evening Monday at Dehler Park. See above right.

Baseball is a difficult game, much easier watched than played, but unless you have actually been on the field it is difficult to appreciate the variable strike zone with different umpires and the exquisitely correct distances from base to base, and just how courageous it is to stand at the plate with some guy, maybe slightly wild, throwing baseballs fairly close to you.

Halos II and Riverton looked a little weak on offense and defense, but the latter was missing a few guys because of family trips and graduations. I didn't see the Redbirds or the Big League Stars. Powell and Laurel looked good and Halos I will certainly be competitive and probably improving. The Blue Jays and Cardinals are young and have a lot of learning to do this year. We are lucky here in Billings to have the coaching staffs we have now and have had in the past. Above is a Cardinal pitcher on the mound and a Halo batter at Pirtz Field.


Yellowstone Veteran's Cemetery, Laurel MT: Memorial Day 2010

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