31 October 2008

Where did this red state/blue state thing come from?

This is a red/blue map of the USA showing the voting patterns by county in the Presidential election of 2004. I always thought that traditionally the further to the left the party was the more red their color. When I looked this up on Wikipedia I found this to be true but somewhere around 2000 our media masters decided to change colors. Why?

Actually, if you magnify the above image you see that wherever there is a concentration of population the color gets bluer, or more leftish/Socialist/authoritarian. Why? Does stupidity rise with population concentration? Seems unlikely. Do elitist parts of the population increase in these areas? Yes, but there aren't that many professors, media, feminazis, GPs, etc, are there? Wait a minute, maybe the GPs—government people—are multiplying faster than we realize. Local, county, state, federal, —yes that may explain this puzzling color pattern. Maybe we should have some sort of way of identifying these folks.

Another thing that has puzzled me and may be related to this population concentration. Have you ever wondered why some states are one-party states? Could it be that they are really one party cities whose population overwhelms the rural parts of the state? I would offer Maryland as my first example.

28 October 2008

Who Is Juan Soler?

I know we should be wondering Who Is John Galt? in these difficult days, but this is what I see at the local grocery store. Whatever happened to the athletic stars of yesteryear? I seem to remember a guy by the name of Bruce Jenner who was the Decathlon winner at the Olympics back in the 70s, I think. Shouldn't we be expecting a picture of Michael Phelps on our Wheaties?

27 October 2008

More Good Restaurants in Billings II

These are two restaurants with the same name. I don't know which came first. I think they are owned by the same people and that they started in the Heights on Main Street, where else in the Heights; and that the one downtown, around the corner from the Police Station, was a metastasis from the Heights place. Soup and Such is the name. The one in the Heights, the first four pictures above, features 1/2 sandwiches and soup or salad, one or the other but not both, unless you pay more I suppose. The one downtown has a more rigid menu: you get soup and salad, and both of these are very good by the way, as much as you want, just take a clean bowl or plate each time you approach the groaning food table. You get a little more variety if you take it out, but not much. Decorations in both places are fairly basic with the novelty of clocks set at different times on the wall of the Heights place, all saying Time for Soup in the local language.

26 October 2008

What To Do On Sundays In October In Billings

You could go to Briarwood, excuse me, I mean The Briarwood, for lunch. See above. Not many playing today as it was a little chilly and it was the opening day of the deer season in Montana.

I had an excellent Reuben and Carol had an unusually good burger. The latter featured Angus beef of course, just like at Hardee's. The ambiance is a little nicer than Hardee's.

You could go to Albertson's for food if you were still hungry or to buy a costume for Halloween. See above.

But first of all there is a choice of churches. That is the sanctuary of Mount Olive on 24th St above. And below is the steeple of Saint Patrick's downtown.

So then, to Saint Patrick's at the beginning of the day, well, of course I mean the 10:30 Mass because that is when the choir sings; and at the end of the day too for a lovely concert. See below. The High Plains Chamber Singers are some of the best singers in town, often teachers in and around Billings. We are lucky to have them get together in public several times a year. It is true of course that they are individually very good but even more true that together they sound super wonderful, maybe even heavenly. Why is there so much really good religious choral music?

24 October 2008

Contribution from John the Viking

Thanks for the tips, J the V

K the P

On Oct 26, 2008, at 1:36 PM, greenakres@juno.com wrote:

At some point you have to give up the "DAISY DUKE" shorts !!


Many of us "Old Folks" (those over 50, WAY over 50, or hovering near 50) are quite confused about how we should present ourselves.

We are unsure about the kind of image we are projecting and whether or not we are correct as we try to conform to current fashions. Despite what you may have seen on the street, the following combinations DO NOT go together and should be avoided:

1. A nose ring and bifocals

2. Spiked hair and bald spots

3. A pierced tongue and dentures

4. Miniskirts and support hose

5. Ankle bracelets and corn pads

6. Speedo's and cellulite

7. A belly button ring and a gall bladder surgery scar

8. Unbuttoned disco shirts and a heart monitor

9. Midriff shirts and a midriff bulge

10. Bikinis and liver spots

11. Short shorts and varicose veins

12. Inline skates and a walker

And last , but not least

13. Thongs and Depends

If there are more to be added in a discreet fashion of course please feel free to do your own thing.

Ken Mueller
406-248-3024 home
406-698-5316 cellular

"A fine remedy for anxieties about insignificance may be to travel—in reality or in works of art— through the gigantic spaces of the world."—Alain de Botton

“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

"Don't hold your farts back as they will travel up your spine and that is how you get shitty ideas."—Author unknown

"Outside of a dog, a book is man's best friend. Inside of a dog it's too dark to read."—Groucho Marx

23 October 2008

Witless Protection Program

Is there anyone out there who would like to apply. Go to The Curt Jester If you cry when you laugh it still is real, or the other way around too.

22 October 2008

A Quick Trip To Butte America

On the way to Butte America

The original settlers apparently couldn't see the rocks lying just below the surface dirt. Some of these pictures were taken from a moving car.

Our Lady of the Rockies, the BVM, broods over Butte.

The former downtown Butte is now the uptown Historic District. It has a way to go before it is ready for prime time.

This is the Mike Mansfield Federal Building and U.S. Courthouse. Another hideout for our masters in government, this one in uptown Butte. There was a certain amount of unpleasantness here. Somehow the jury managed to put up with it, probably like many of us put up with our political masters' TV ads.

21 October 2008

Say It Isn't So, Brett

What with all the lying by politicians and media these days this one might have slipped by if not for attentive Wisconsin football fans like Dad29. Check it out, especially if you are a cheesehead in diaspora.

20 October 2008

Spread the Wealth

And maybe the misery too.

I started wondering why no one pointed out that "95% of working folks would get a tax decrease" seems awfully unlikely. I'm not surprised that McCain didn't say it. Of course, a fair number of good people pay no taxes anyway so they didn't even hear it said. Most of us that would have benefitted if the statement were true knew that it wasn't but thought that it would be just adding to the media noise to say the obvious. So then, it finally dawned on me when I heard the famous phrase "spread the wealth" around that of course 95% getting decrease really meant that 5% were going to be punished for just being successful, to remind all of us who our masters really are. I also remembered a portion of an interview with Charlie Gibson I think where Charlie, in a warning voice, slowly repeated his question " You mean even if the government takes in less revenues with [some] tax you will still be in favor of it?" And Senator Obama just as clearly said "Yes, of course, it is a matter of fairness." So I guess "fairness" is a code word for sticking it to your political enemies.

19 October 2008

Notes For An Upcoming World Series

I watched an unlikely baseball team, the Tampa Bay Rays, win the 7th and final game of their play-off with the Boston Red Sox tonight. I think they were fairly lucky. But baseball is that way. So the Rays go from last place to first place in the American League to face the Philadelphia Phillies, another unlikely team, in the World Series of 2008.

This takes me back to 1950 when the Phillies were the unlikely winners of the National League pennant. They faced the usual winners in the American League, the hated New York Yankees. I was 10 years old and had lied my way into a Milwaukee Sentinel paper route, so I had a few dollars in my pocket in those days: maybe $30 a month, supposedly to be used to get badly needed orthodontic work. I guess the dentists were a little cheaper in those days.

That was the year that Murphy Dornfeld, the only barber in the village of Hustisford, and the proud owner of one of about a half-dozen TV sets in the village, moved his television set from the apartment above to the shop below, somehow balancing the giant piece of furniture with a probable 10 inch black and white screen on the row of chairs that the customers and kibitzers normally sat in. I’m not sure who was brave enough to get a haircut while the games were being televised as Murphy was an excitable guy. A bullshitter too. But he knew more about baseball than I did.

When I suggested that I would bet $1 on the first game, with Jim Konstanty on the mound for the Phillies against Vic Raaschi for the Yankees, he had no trouble welcoming a mark into his shop. For some reason or other the Phillies ace, Robin Roberts, was side-lined until game 2. [When I look it up they said he had done a lot of pitching in the last week of the regular season. Even so, Konstanty pitched a brilliant 4 hitter and lost 1-0, a heart breaker for the anti-New York crowd in rural Wisconsin. I had a fairly unsophisticated view of statistics in those days, so I felt certain that a double or nothing bet on game 2 was a sure thing, especially with Roberts going against Allie Reynolds for the Yankees. That was $2 on a game that was tied 1-1 after nine innings and won by Joe Dimaggio with a home run in the 10th. He made it look easy hitting too.

In keeping with my view of statistics I naturally doubled my bet with Murphy the barber once again. That was $4 on game 3. A long shot, Ken Heintzelman, started for the Phillies against Eddie Lopat for the Yankees. The Phillies and Heintzelman led 2-1 into the 8th inning (they didn’t use as many relievers in those days), got two outs, and then walked 3 straight batters, Konstanty comes in and the shortstop, Hamner, makes an error allowing the tying run to score. And then Gerry Coleman, the 2nd baseman hits a homer in the ninth to win the 3rd game in a row for the Yankees.

So, in desperation, and feeling sure that the baseball gods and the mathematical gods would bail me out, I doubled my bet once more on the 4th game. That was $8, about 30% of my monthly income in those days, on one game, or a total of $15 for the whole Series, half my monthly income. Of course, the fact that I was a 10 year old kid didn’t mean anything to Murphy. I paid off; and as soon as another barber opened a shop I stopped going to Murphy for my haircuts. Whitey Ford was pitching for the Yankees and should have won 5-0 but Gene Woodling dropped a flyball in left field and two runners scored for the Phillies but they still lost 5-2. Ever since I’ve been wary of statistical arguments that you can’t see with your eyes on the data.

18 October 2008

Studebaker Commander from the '50s Seen in Billings

While returning from a CostCo run I saw a slim, elegant automobile near the corner of Grand and 24th that started a twitch somewhere in one or both temporal lobes of my gradually shrinking brain. It looked like the one above which I snatched from somewhere on the Web, as I couldn't get my camera out of my pocket quickly enough.

When I was a kid in the 40s and 50s the photographer that most people used for graduations and weddings and such lived in an old cheese factory, precursor to loft apartments these days, converted into a home and studio, on the outskirts of Juneau WI, a Mr Norman Rambow. Whatever ever happened to that good name Norman?

Looking back most of us would now instantly recognize him as a gay man, but in those days we had not yet received the enlightenment of out-of-the-closet gaiety; we just thought them different and perhaps a little queer in the usual old-fashioned sense of that word. In any event, Mr Rambow bought this beautiful Studebaker after the company had been producing fairly ho-hum models for some years. He would drive slowly to give all those he passed a chance to admire it. He sometimes waved at the young men, though most of us were playing baseball and dreaming.

Studebaker apparently made wagons to start with, and made a handsome fortune during the Civil War, but eventually they made various kinds of cars, but by the 50s they were mostly fairly plain vanilla as I remember them. I sat and sweated in the backseat of one from the 40s being driven by a daredevil by the name of Walton Schuett. It was winter and slippery on the back roads, all gravel in those days as I recall, so you drove down the middle of the road unless you met someone coming in the other direction. I’m pretty sure we didn’t have seat belts either. In any event, once in awhile Studebaker would make a really fancy car and that is what I saw while driving home from CostCo, and what was stored away somewhere in my brain for lo these many years. A Studebaker Commander I think: at least 50 years old and in very good condition, the car, not my brain.

17 October 2008

A Couple More Good Places To Eat Lunch

The Mustard Seed has been here on the corner of 15th and Grand for at least 5 years, so there is a fair chance it will be there for awhile. Good plain Asian food with a few fancy dishes. Good wine and beer too. We had their usual excellent shrimp fried rice, one order is plenty for two; and some glazed little ribs and a couple of California rolls for afters.

This is the view from the inside of the Grand Bagel Company at the corner of 4th and 30th, just across from John Henry's Restaurant, a pretty fair restaurant too, built in an old house. That is the First Interstate Building seen through the window. We had an excellent Reuben and a spicy and very good tomato bisque.

16 October 2008

The Glorious Voices of Cantus

We heard a marvelous concert at the Alberta Bair Theatre this evening. The crowd was a little thin on the ground but they were extra enthusiastic to make up for their numbers. Cantus is a male vocal ensemble from the Twin Cities. If they come near you, drive a long way to hear them.

At times you forgot they were singing. They were just pure beautiful music. Maybe that is what we humans were originally created to do. To sing that is. Wasn't that how Aslan created things, by singing them into existence? So then, perhaps choosing not to sing was the Original Sin. But a few have regained or maybe retained, who knows, the ability to sing and this group shares in that loveliness. My wife Carol thought surely they were all Lutherans.

15 October 2008

A Modest Suggestion On Why Catalpa Trees Grow The Way They Do

This will serve to remind you of what my beautiful catalpa tree looked like in the middle of this past summer. You know, very tall, thin and stately with large leaves resembling elephant ears, and lovely clusters of flowers for only too short a time—reminding us I suppose of some humans we all know.

This is what it looked like on Saturday, 11 October 2008, more or less in the middle of our annual Fall snowstorm. The multiple injuries are obscured by the snow.

And then this is what the poor bedraggled thing looked like on Monday, 13 October 2008, after the worst was over. This tree was assaulted in the vilest way and left for dead. Perhaps we should keep in mind Flannery O'Connor's observation: "In the absence of faith we govern by tenderness. And tenderness leads to the gas chamber."

And this is what it looks like today, Wednesday, 15 October 2008. Things don't look good. This same brutish act of Nature happened a few years ago. Mother Nature is a bitch, and a recidivist too.

13 October 2008

More climate change

Shazam! Look what a day can do. The sun makes everything look better. The riff-raff will start drifting back I'm afraid to say. Is that mean?

These big evergreens remind me of Russian heavyweight weightlifters at the last Olympic games. This snow is very heavy but they just stand there and support it. No wonder they last so long in these part. Natural selection at work.

I forget the name of this very nice tree with deep maroon leaves. I will ask my local arborist. It does look a little better than it did yesterday. Let us keep our fingers crossed.

The same maroon tree from the other side. Heavy sticky snow.

The evergreens did suffer some casualties, probably amongst the older generation. Nature's way of trimming the excess.

This is what things in Billings, especially on Ramada Drive, look like on Monday, 13 October 2008. This is almost miraculous as the DJIA was rising from the ashcan 900+ today! Thanks heavens we are back in the template of global warming, and an ever-rising market, so our journalists will feel comfortable, another triumph for climate change theory. Is that too mean? I usually don't try to argue with fools because of the well known hazards.

12 October 2008

No Wonder They Call It Climate Change

How many years of temperature decreases do we have to record before the global warming truth deniers will change their mind? This is what it looked like just outside my front door on Saturday, 11 October 2008. An average sort of autumn snow fall. One nice thing about October snow storms like this is they tend to keep the riff-raff out. Or sometimes encourage them to move to California or Washington.

This is what it looked like outside my back door on Saturday, 11 October 2008. I'm not sure why we cover the chairs. It looks like we have moved. Sorry, I should have looked at what I blogged about yesterday and the day before too I suppose. This is what happens as one ages.

And this is what it looked like one day later, Sunday 12 October 2008. Same old stuff, with more snow. It was very sticky and of course caused a lot of tree damage as most of the trees still had their leaves on. Believe it or not this will all be gone some time next week. Well, it won't be gone, as it will be absorbed by a grateful earth, and sent on its way down the Yellowstone eventually to the Gulf of Mexico.

This is what it looked like on Saturday, and below is what the same tree looked like on Sunday. I have no idea whether it will be able to rebound or not. Watch this space.

This is what my favorite tree looked like on Sunday morning, 12 October 2008. Just outside our front door. The leaves turn from green in the spring to a lovely maroon color in the summer and fall. Perhaps this is Mother Nature's way of trimming her trees.

This is the evergreen tree that guards the entrance to our driveway. They seem to stand up to the weight of the snow better than the aspens.

This is what our side streets looked like on Sunday morning on the way to church. Attendance at mass was less than usual. The choir numbers were also fairly slim.

This is what I saw on some of our main streets on the way to church Sunday morning, 12 October 2008. Above is some of the trees they are trying to grow just outside the entrance to the Alberta Bair Theatre, where we attended a lovely mixed fiddling/ mandolin/guitar and Billings Symphony concert on Saturday evening. I'm not sure what the multi-colored horse is doing standing out in the snow.

11 October 2008

October Snowstorm in Montana

This is what we woke up to this morning. Last night it was just cold and rainy. I almost got stuck backing out of my driveway. This blog entry will serve as a Warning to friends and relatives in the Mid West.

10 October 2008

Here are some places I visited while thinking about the decline of the DJIA

This is what I saw from our sunroom windows. The first snow of 2008 at least in Billings. Not surprising because it was cold and rainy last night when I took Maggie out for a pee.

I stopped in at St Vincent Hospital to finish an autopsy report on a young man who died suddenly and unexpectedly. Unfortunately the tox report was also negative; so, in addition to being sudden and unexpected it was also unexplained. A fatty liver and evidence of previous pancreatitis just didn't look convincing. The coroner hates that. I say Nil nisi veritas.

One of the hallways had a display of paintings by a friend who lives just down the street and across Rimrock. I have one of her paintings from some years ago similar to those seen above. Apparently supply and demand have played their inevitable part because the prices are considerably higher these days. I say Hurrah for Maggie. Check her out either at Yellowstone Medical Building or at the Frame Hut.

We went to Pet Smart to look for a substitute for some high-priced food sold only at the vet's office. I always enjoy looking around here. These are the rows of tropical fish, but there are all kinds of creatures large and small in addition to the usual dogs and cats. I didn't see any horses but they do sell stuff for horses and riding. Interesting thought, Pet Smart is actually much larger than Toys 'R' Us, which may have something to do with how our society views children.

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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