28 April 2010

Rimrock Opera Does It Again

Of course, I mean La Bohème, first done by the increasingly sophisticated Rimrock Opera Company in 2005 and repeated last weekend. According to Wikipedia it is the second most often performed opera in the USA. Once every five years is probably about right as it takes that long to recover from Mimi's premature death. That is a quick unofficial photo of the poster to the left.

This was a well-done performance, especially the singing of Billings' soprano Amy Logan as Mimi. She hits the high notes with clarity but my  favorite is the fullness of her middle and lower register. What a big voice.

In addition to Logan's singing, she also brought along some well-behaved and talented kids from R.O.C.K. (Rimrock Opera Chorus for Kids) and some Skyview High School instrumental musicians to add to the merriment and confusion of the outdoor scene in Act II.

The baritones and tenors and the other soprano all did well of course. No wonder this is a favorite. Just good singing and joking around at the beginning and then the sad ending. Everybody likes Disease mixed with Desire and the occasional Death of one of the favorites.

One of the differences in this performance was three supernumerary roles played by Jane Van Dyk, Finn Carlson and the astoundingly generous Henrietta Johnstone. The last has provided us with great costumes and sets for some years now. She deserved the part of grande dame. Doug Nagel as General Director should be congratulated every time we see him.

To the right is a portion of our refrigerator. The magnets of the official posters are crowding out much of the rest of our fridge art. The Merry Widow is coming up again this fall and then Tosca in spring 2011. These will be splendid again I'm sure. Get your tickets early.

There are a couple other pictures here, along with the shamelessly copied text above.

THIS COULD BE A GAME CHANGER!

"Soil microbes produce less atmospheric CO2 than expected with climate warming

Key players in the carbon cycle, they multiply slowly when overheated

— Irvine, Calif., April 26, 2010 —
The physiology of microbes living underground could determine the amount of carbon dioxide emitted from soil on a warmer Earth, according to a study published online this week in Nature Geoscience."
This is lifted from a UC Irvine press release found here. Wow, who would have thought that negative feedback could be so important on a global scale.
And an even better summary with a neat graphic is found here.
"This could be a game changer. From the University of California, Irvine press release, a finding that suggests soil microbes have a negative feedback with temperature increase. This has broad implications for the amount of CO2 emitted estimated in climate models. It had been assumed that as temperature increased, microbes and fungii would increase their CO2 output. Globally, this microbiotic contribution is large.  The amount of CO2 released from soils worldwide each year is estimated to be about 8-10 times greater than the amount released by humans."

21 April 2010

What is a Normal school?


These guys look a little older than your average high school graduate. I'll bet they shot their free throws underhand too.

I remember Miss Garbisch, my first through third grade teacher at Hustisford Elementary School had graduated, as I recall, from Dodge County Normal School, which I thought was in Mayville Wisconsin. But most schools turning out teachers were changing their names to Teachers Colleges,  in the 20s and 30s, and then later the Teachers was dropped and eventually almost all tertiary schools became universities, even if they didn't have medical or law schools.

The word 'normal' came from the notion of teaching high school graduates what were the standards or norms expected of elementary and high school teachers and students in those days, usually the latter part of the 19th century until maybe the middle of the 20th century. As usual Wikipedia has some useful information on these schools. Maybe we need to go back to the idea of a standard or norm.

19 April 2010

Guess Who Is Allergic to Easter Lilies?



It turns out that a lot of people are allergic in various degree to the pollens contained within the flowers of many stripes. For some reason lilies are among the worst offenders, though if the stamina—plural of stamen—are removed apparently the pollen count is much reduced. Check this stuff out at Wikipedia.

The above display was just in front of the altar at St Patrick's Co-Cathedral this past Easter Sunday. And also see below. I almost forgot: cats can suffer from many problems from all parts of the lily plant, especially kidney failure.






The baptismal font at the entrance to St Patrick's Co-Cathedral.

16 April 2010

Some Ideas Have Consequences


Some pictures of a Tea Party meeting in Concord New Hampshire.

The Heritage Foundation is always good for useful information. Our so-called representatives in Washington DC should check this site out.

I was talking to a friend from college days who said he was going to a Tea Party meeting in Concord NH. I asked him to take some pictures. See below. But first, just to remind ourselves how this whole thing got started. I mean in recent years, no in Revolutionary times of course. Remember Rick Santelli on the floor of CBOT?



More pictures of the Tea Party meeting in Concord NH.





These people look like fairly normal people to me. No guns. No Bibles here anyway. Just peacefully petitioning their representatives with their grievances. I am pretty sure I went to college with that guy in the blue collared shirt on the right.

13 April 2010

America Has Been Warned

Anthony Daniels aka Theodore Dalrymple, his usual nom de plume when essaying for us fellow commoners, is a retired British prison physician and psychiatrist who makes a lot of sense. He must have a number of secretaries to whom he dictates judging by his output in recent years.

Daniels wrote a short essay a few days ago on Pajamas Media, entitled Sophisticated Incompetence Is Britain's New National Characteristic. Here is a short excerpt in response to some dumb academics:

"It is remarkable that economic historians, of all people, should view the matter so statically, as if the present moment were eternal, not taking into account the speed of the increase in the debt, the ageing of the population, the different place the country now occupies in the world, the uses to which all the borrowing was put, or indeed the crushing and impoverishing size of the debt after the Second World War. Never, it seems, have so many professors learnt so little from so much; sophisticated incompetence is now our national characteristic."—My emphasis on the last sentence. Note the Churchillian cadence in the last sentence.
 I know this is somewhat geeky but it is addressed to geeks of the academic persuasion primarily and and only secondarily to us commoners. Remember when President Eisenhower [president from '53 to '61 for you youngsters] warned us about the military-industrial complex near the end of his term? I guess we did keep our eye on them but missed the ascendancy of the academic-government-media complex.

There are a surprising number of observers all over the world who are trying to warn us Americans. Is it too late?

11 April 2010

Memories from the Masters


I spent most of Sunday afternoon watching the world's best golfers do amazing things with club and ball. It did seem true that much of the game was played between the ears. Of course, my best day on a golf course was hoping for a bogey.

When Phil Mickelson took off his cap I had a flashback to my childhood watching my grandfather in the 1940s come in from the fields of his Wisconsin farm, removing his dirty, sweaty hat before washing up for dinner, the main meal of the day around noon. The bottom half of his face was brown and leather-like and the forehead was abnormally smooth and creamy-white.

When he took his long sleeve shirt off he was white all the way down to the hands, like Mickelson just above the elbow in the picture above. This is what happens when people work in the sun, like farmers and golfers and those who work on the water. I remember a roofer  named Chester who worked in the summer without a shirt or hat. He was coppery-brown all the way down to his low waist. I wonder if the dermatologists ever got a chance to see him in his later years?

10 April 2010

Nearing the End of Tax Season: Would That It Were So

Mark Steyn has some useful things to say about this. Here

If we know that 51% of the voting population can live off the other 49% and eventually worse, why can't we take action while we still have time? Can't we just make it a rule that if we are voting on matters that ordinary people might regard as a conflict of interest then they should recuse themselves from that particular vote.

As usual, the semi-articulate Max Baucus, as usual embarrassing all of us from Montana, had something to say on this matter when he could take some time off from his domestic duties, or maybe someone had hidden his bottle.

Things Are Getting Serious

Can those who do not tell the truth be prosecuted for a constitutional crime against the First Amendment?
If you are protected by the First Amendment and you remain silent, isn't that an actionable inaction? There must be something useful that our abundance of lawyers can give us.

Check out this lady at Big Journalism.

Another actionable inaction here?

07 April 2010

Exciting Baseball



Who says baseball is not exciting enough?

06 April 2010

Out of the South


While  surfing around on climate change websites, like this one, I came across this interesting information. Those of you into NASCAR and bass fishing probably know this guy and the large-mouth fish he is holding. None of that "catch and release" stuff for these guys. I had no idea that professional bass fishing was so lucrative. This guy is the Tiger Woods of bass fishing. Not necessarily the screwing around part of Tiger, rather the dominant position in the bass catching world.

Anyway, it turns out that increasing temperatures actually produce larger large-mouth bass, which is good news for bass fishermen, especially the pros. Here is a longish quote from this article.


OK – you must be wondering what this fish story has to do with climate change, global warming, greenhouse gases, cap and trade, or some other topic of interest to us at World Climate Report. We are guessing you do not read Ecology of Freshwater Fish all that regularly, but if you did, you would have seen an article with the intriguing title “Climate–growth relationships for largemouth bass (Micropterus salmoides) across three southeastern USA states”. The article is by a biologist at the University of Mississippi and the work was funded by the USDA Forest Service, the Georgia Department of Natural Resources, an Alabama Academy of Science grant, and the University of Alabama, Department of Biological Sciences, and the University of Mississippi, Biology Department. Bass in the South is big business!
The research was conducted by Andrew Rypel who was basically interested in how climate variability and climate change might impact the ecology of freshwater fishes, and in his case, largemouth bass. Rypel states that “Adult largemouth bass populations were sampled from six rivers and seven reservoirs throughout southeastern USA during the summer and autumn of 2005–2008.” Unlike the fish caught in the Bassmaster Classic, we learn that “Each fish was measured, weighed and stored on ice for transport back to a laboratory. In the laboratory, otolith sagittae were extracted, sterilised in isopropyl alcohol, and stored in coin envelopes prior to incremental growth analysis.” The sagittae is one of three pairs of otolith that grow just behind the eyes; like tree rings, fish add annual growth increments that can be preserved over the lifetime of the fish. Given a lifespan of up to 20 years, the fish preserve a pattern that is related to their growth rate on an annual basis. Presto! Just like magic, the fish can tell us about good and bad growth years in the past.

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