22 December 2006

Xmas Travel 2006

We are off to ABQ at 6am! Returning at 10pm 25 Dec. So we need to be there about 5am, so up at 3am. Will take car and park it in long term parking and then pick up on Xmas Day in the late evening.

09 November 2006

One child and One dog per family

The Associated Press, perhaps in a follow-up to an earlier misleading article, reports from Beijing that "an effort to stamp out rabies has prompted authorities to limit families in Beijing to only one dog."

This article refers to an earlier campaign against rabies in which "tens of thousands of dogs were killed to fight the disease." The picture accompanying the article which appeared sometime last summer was that of a dog being beaten to death with blunt objects. The suggestion was made that this was the fate of all dogs in China, for the very good reason that as many as 3000 deaths per year in China are due to rabies.

When I visited China in September I saw lots of dogs, none mad that I could tell thank Heaven, and when I asked those who spoke English about this anti-dog ordinance they said they had not heard about it. So it looked as if a picture of a primitive way of dealing with a rabid dog in some rural location was generalized to the whole country. Only about 3% of the canine population has been vaccinated against rabies, while some 69,000 people sought treatment for dog bites last year in Beijing alone. I doubt we know the whole story on this matter.

But then this later AP article comes out with further information relating to the dog population and rabies. It will be interesting to see if this "one dog per family" campaign is as successful as the "one child per family" campaign was. By the way, the few young people that I talked to said that the latter was being modified in that if you were unfortunate enough to live in the country you could legally have more than one child, and furthermore, if you were unfortunate enough to have a girl, you could apply to the authorities to have another child, even if you lived in the cities. And I think twins are OK too.

So, it sounds as if the "one child" and perhaps the "one dog" policy will be flexible, and perhaps depend on who you know. Will there be a "one cat" policy too?

Re: End of the Revolution

Dick Armey, former House majority leader, wrote an interesting op-ed piece in the Wall Street Journal of Thursday, 9 November, 2006. I gather that he and many of us are pleased that now, finally, we will be blessed with good and capable government leaders. And of course that Michael J Fox will finally be cured of his Parkinson's Disease. Perhaps Christopher Reeves will rise up and walk again too.

A pull quote from the middle of his article captured my attention: "I've always wondered why Republicans insist on acting like Democrats in hopes of retaining political power, while Democrats act like us to win." (emphasis on "retaining" and "win" in the original)

17 October 2006

Mid-October Wet Snow in Montana

Woke up early this morning to take Maggie the Dog (MtheD) out for an early AM amble and found the ground covered with wet slushy snow and the trees groaning with the extra weight. I'm glad I don't have to drive in the high country today.

We seem to be having a fairly wet autumn with a lot of snow in the mountains, which should be good for nearly everyone come next spring. Maybe our long drought has come to an end. Of course, the beet farmers are having trouble getting their beets out of the ground. The "natural park" across the street is showing a nice second crop of grass though this snow may slow it down a little. The resident herd of deer are getting fat and sassy, even the does are standing up to MtheD.

I think I will head east to North Carolina along with my brothers to celebrate the wedding of nephew Tim and his fiancee, the lovely Joelle.

I am still working on my China trip blog. Today might be a good day to read about a wine trip to the Northwest or Seattle though today's WSJ brings the latter into question: Would we trade Seattle for Seoul?

Wait a minute there, but then the WSJ is probably the most honest paper in the USA these days. Even their letters to the editor are very good. Check out the one today on a "flat earth."

24 August 2006

Adventures with Matthew

Matthew McInnes and his grandparents of the Mueller persuasion shared a couple of weeks together in mid-August 2006 in Billings MT. This was after our trip to Ashland OR, when we swung down to Marin County CA to say hello to the McInnes' and to pick up Matt for a 3 day odyssey through the Nevada desert, the righteous religious of downtown Salt Lake City, and the mountains of eastern Idaho and western Montana.

Here we are at the Fair (upper left), getting ready to hurl our stomach contents on unlucky friends and relatives. Matt is looking for victims in a bumper car (right).

I was grateful that Matt rode most of the rest of the rides by himself. The Fair is a fascinating place as we discovered by just walking around.

We learned something about the joys of canning, the ?thrill of hanging upside down, and how much fun it is to just walk around and look at people and things. This latter is a well-recognized management technique too.

Probably the most unexpected fun we had was when Carol heard a strange noise in the middle of the night and naturally woke me up to investigate this noise: I heard some water running but couldn't see anything out the window so I carefully went outside with large flashlight at the ready: I found a fountain of water, which looked like a geyser in Yellowstone Park, in the middle of Ramada Drive. See below.

I called the water people, and had a little trouble convincing the night guy that we really had a leak, and then they eventually figured out where to turn the water off, put some warning lights up and waited for daybreak.

Lots of really nice and noisy equipment arrived early the next morning. Hard hats and standing around watching machines do the work were the order of the day.

Of course, Matt watched carefully all the activity all day long.
The high point was being invited into the cab of the Deere backhoe.

We visited ZooMontana and we also checked out the dinosaur exhibit at the Museum of the Rockies in Bozeman.

10 August 2006

Another Great Western Circle Aug 06

We planned a three day trip from Billings to Ashland OR via Spokane WA and Portland OR, four day's worth of plays while in Ashland, then a leisurely trip to Marin County to pick up Matthew McInnes, and then a long three days sailing east on the 80 and north on the 15 back to Billings via Reno, SLC and Dillon MT. Matthew McInnes had been sentenced to two weeks with his grandparents for uncertain offenses.

Below might have been close to the view that Lewis and Clark and friends might have had of the mouth of the Columbia, minus the bridge of course, and minus the buildings, and plus about two hundred years.

We started at a reasonable time on Saturday, 29 July 06 and sailed along the 90 past Bozeman, then got delayed in Butte for lunch. I forgot where Perkins Restaurant on Harrison actually was. Finally, barely saw Missoula because of fire-created haze, as we raced past it still on the 90. We finally put out the anchor in Coeur d' Alene for the evening. Our hotel was not much to brag about as the Resort on the Lake required a two day stay, but the Beach House Restaurant (see the view from below right) was fine.

The lake looks like it nourishes a large collection of fair-sized boats. We should spend a little more time here one of these days, maybe if the Mazzucas jr move to Spokane we will?

Mass at St Thomas in CdA Sunday morning, miraculous as usual, then through Spokane and down to Columbia River via the I84. Southeast Washington looks prosperous and Tri-Cities is booming, all on account of the grape vines I suppose.

We got as far as Vancouver WA Sunday evening for an excellent stay at the Heathman Lodge. Good prices and fabulous food. Next day checked out the waterfront in Vancouver and on to Astoria (see above) for more waterfront at the mouth of the Columbia and some downhome food at a downhome Andrew and Steve's Restaurant. One of the advantages of taking a lot of pictures is that if you forget some special place your pictures are often enough to remind you of it and its name.

We started down the Oregon Coast through Seaside and quickly decided that was too crowded, and thus headed toward Portland, actually toward McMinnvile in the midst of the Willamette Valley, but we decided to stop earlier (because we were tired) at Forest Grove which also has a McMenamin's place at a former Grand Lodge for retired Masons and their fair Ladies.The gentlemen shared the bathroom below.

It had an olde worlde feel, kind of European, though surprisingly laid-back in that we had a great meal but had to go down the hall to use the facilities. I imagine it was the latest thing in 1920, now it is just quaint but fun if you are in no hurry and don't mind being reminded how our ancestors used to live. Sort of like taking a horseback ride once a year just to remind yourself how thoroughly miserable our great-grandfathers and earlier were when going from place to place. Well, I'm not sure if one can be miserable when there are no other options for travel. [Of course one can!]

On Tuesday, 1 Aug, we headed on down the 5, very crowded even during the middle of the day practically all the way to Medford. We heard a pleasant bong and saw the message that we should check the pressure in one of our tires but we were almost in Roseburg and hungry. We ate at an abandoned railroad depot rescued by, who else, the McMenamin's group and made into a snazzy restaurant. We forgot to look at the tires until we had filled our bellies and then were dismayed to find a very flat rear left tire. Called the AAA, they were there in 5 minutes and had the spare on in another 20 minutes and we were off to Ashland. Stayed at the Windmill Inn in Ashland.

We saw the Merry Wives of Windsor in the outdoor Elizabethan Theatre on Tuesday evening, fairly long, but all the good players were in it and played it to the hilt.

Wednesday AM I found the local Les Schwab tire place a couple of blocks away and within 30 minutes they had everything put right and NO CHARGE. Only a nice guy saying "Come back and buy some tires from us, OK?" Wow!

Saw Bus Stop on Wed afternoon: Very nicely done, probably better than the movie. If you can imagine real people who are also caricatures at the same time you can imagine this neat little play set in the 50s in small town Heartland, USA. The part played by Marilyn Monroe in the movie was not done so heavily and so all the other characters had a little more room to breathe.

On Thursday evening we again headed toward the outdoor theatre, rented a blanket which we didn't need, and had a good laugh with all the rest of the audience at the Two Gentlemen of Verona, not quite so long as the MWW. Again the first rate players doing everything well.

Friday afternoon we saw King John in the New Theatre. Lots of things to think about, perhaps too many ideas to get our minds around but still very timely. It was vaguely set in the early part of the 20th century and had many useful parallels with Middle-Eastern problems of today. Perhaps that is why Shakespeare continues to make us wonder and we keep coming back for more.

We left Ashland on 5 August, heading south on the I5, probably one of the best parts through northern California, arriving in Novato in late afternoon with the usual curious GI-like traffic movements (I think bolus is the word that comes to mind) on 80 between Sacramento and San Francisco. Had a good visit with Joan, Don, Mike and Matt. The plant to the left is a fast growing sunflower planted by Matt.

All of the hotels in the Novato area were full on Saturday so we stayed in Larkspur, not that far down the 101. Star Restaurant in Novato is still doing well.

We took off for home on Monday, 7 August: east on the 80, around Sacramento, stopping in Reno for lunch, and on into the dread Nevada desert until our horses got too dry. Stopped for the night in Elko NV, not much to recommend there, but still it was there when we needed it. Matt is posing in front of some of the one-armed bandits we found along the way.

Tuesday morning we headed for Salt Lake City, on the way we were of course amazed at the Bonneville Salt Flats, and then we stopped in Temple Square about mid-day.

Must have been a special on wedding photos with both brides and grooms in their usual finery, at least 6 couples in various poses around the Temple, so inviting I even took a few shots myself.

Eventually we got to Pocatello in the late afternoon where we found the SandPiper Restaurant a fine place to eat and drink.

On Wednesday, 9 Aug, we sailed up the 15 through Dillon with its very nice brick college building, and through Twin Bridges and its fly rod maker, R L Winston, stopping in Bozeman for a late lunch and finally arrived in Billings at about 1700hrs, glad to be home. Mentioning brand names like Winston reminds me of Ian Fleming in his James Bond series.

25 July 2006

Ironies in the Fire

Got an email today from a friend who talked us into an archaeology trip to Israel some 9 or 10 years ago. That's Carol sifting dirt to the right.

She, that is, the lady friend, not Carol, has been trying to persuade us to go back for a repeat of the incredibly hard work we did on the earlier trip. We usually put her off by reminding her how dangerous the area is, rather than admit we are too lazy. We would be up at around 5am to beat the heat of the day, then quit about noon for lunch, long shower to get rid of the dirt, and then a long nap because we were so tired. It was nice to sit beside the sea of Galilee and dream later in the afternoon while the professors would go over the pottery finds for the day.

Today she reminded us that a lady that went to Israel with her group in 2000 AD and returned without a scratch was struck by lightning in Billings MT and died as a consequence a couple of days ago.

My correspondent wondered which was the more dangerous place, Billings or Bethsaida? I couldn't answer because I didn't know the likelihood of being struck by lightning in Israel or Billings for that matter. The probability of being struck by a rocket or other explosive device is probably about the same in Billings and Jerusalem, or maybe just very slightly higher in the latter.

Some of the ancient walls, perhaps repaired, and one of the scattered gates or entrances to the old city of Jerusalem to the left.

18 July 2006

SummerTime and the Living is Easy

Summertime is dandelions,

admiring Clydesdales on parade,

eating bratwurst and drinking beer,

admiring back yards and hollyhocks,

celebrating with friends, and checking out cemeteries,

baptising grandchildren, watching baseball,

playing the trombone, exploring SummerFair,

buying watermelons,

drinking lemonade with iced tea, growling at squirrels,

drinking wine,

street-walking on Montana Ave,

family reunions,

watching the Middle East boil over on the television,

and remembering,

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


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
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