31 July 2010

St Patrick's Co-Cathedral, Billings MT: 18th Sunday in Ordinary Time

The first reading from the beginning of the book of Ecclesiastes: Vanity of Vanities, . . . Vanity of Vanities, All things are Vanity. I wonder what the psychiatric diagnosis would have been had the writer consulted a physician for what ailed him.

Then the Gospel from Luke 12, the parable of the foolish rich man who wondered what to do with his riches, with Jesus saying that we should not be worried about building new barns to hold all our stuff in this world as it is with another world that we should be concerned. The homilist, Father Grosch at St Patrick's Co-Cathedral in Billings MT, reminds us that St Basil the Great reminded his listeners that the extra coat in their closets really belonged to him who was naked.

This is part of the argument that our friends on the Left, you might call them the left-over Socialists, beat us silly when they covetously look at our bank accounts and say Ah Hah, that money belongs to him who has less than you and we will take it from you and give it to him, less, of course, the handling fee that we call government.

Showing their chutzpah, they use this argument even if they are not particularly religious, in fact, now that I think about it, the ones who use it the most are often atheists or close to it. But surely to covetously and forcibly take from one person and give it to another of your favorite charities cannot be virtuous for either the one that it is taken from or the one who takes and then gives some of it to others.

I think the 2nd reading from St Paul  to the Colossians had something to say on this matter also, and not surprisingly, the general prayers and intercession mentioned something about the government making sure that the resources we all possess in common are distributed or maybe it was allocated fairly. Wow, that is a lot of stuff to think about. No wonder Father Grosch started his homily by saying that if we weren't uncomfortable after the readings we probably were not paying attention.

This Looks Like my Patron Saint for Now

This is said to be St Erasmus (or Elmo) during one of his many tortures. This one is of his bowel being wound around a windlass. This may have something to do with him being the traditional patron saint of sailors. He died ca 303 A.D. after undergoing many tortures for his Christian faith. Check out Wikipedia.
Thanks to daughter Peg for this information.

30 July 2010

Cutting For Stone: Verghese

I read this quickly but in spurts because it was a good story. When I was tired I put it away and then later would often re-read the parts I had finished a day or two earlier. As usual, because it was a paperback I dog-eared sentences or paragraphs that were particularly good or I wanted to come back to for some other reason. There were a lot of these.

I have not read any of Dr Verghese's other books or his shorter works found in places like The Atlantic, The Wall Street Journal etc. But I probably will because he is so enjoyable to read and tells such a good story. He combines a little of Homer's Odyssey, from India to Ethiopia to the USA and back to Ethiopia; some of the stories of expatriate Indians scattered all over the world; some interesting doctor-in-training stories; and a good deal of medicine practiced in the 3rd world and finally, some characters we really care about along with medicine practiced by 3rd world characters in the 1st world.

There is some political and medical history deftly mixed in but it is the story of the men and women and kids of Kerala come to Ethiopia that really grabs your attention. How is it that so much good fiction in English is being written by Indian expatriates? The author is kind to his readers by giving a nice bibliography and especially for acknowledging the source of a lot of lines and ideas. He may spend more time reading than he does writing.

Cutting for stone is explained in Wikipedia. One of the dog-eared pages, near the end of the story, gave advice for surgeons and everyone:
 "The world turns on our every action, and our every omission, whether we know it or not." 
but my favorite was:
"Try not to operate on the day of death."
I am hoping my surgeon feels the same way.

Coming Up 27th St Billings MT

A rehabbed building with Walker's Tapas Place on the ground floor, some other commercial space on floors 2 and 3 and condos on floors 4 and 5. Pretty close to the railroad tracks. Might be noisy.

Anthony Watts to the Rescue of the PhytoPlankton

I should have been more skeptical in my previous post. Summary of his advice is:

'So we know that phytoplankton have survived for billions of years in a vast range of climates, temperatures and CO2 levels. Apparently they have become very sensitive of late – perhaps from all the estrogens being dumped in the oceans? Or maybe they have been watching too much Oprah?
The standard cure for hyperventilation is to increase your CO2 levels by putting a bag over your head.'
The whole article is worth reading. 

Where Has All The PhytoPlankton Gone?

Those Germans, my cousins, are always warning the rest of us about problems in their early stages, though this one appears to be surprisingly advanced. How come we find out about this now?

Go here.

A Useful Website

I like to point out what appear to be useful or helpful websites and weblogs that I have stumbled upon. The above top-bar was borrowed here. Our friends on the Left take the lower road, that is, they fight fiercely against various sites and blogs that are trying to aim at the truth. Where do we go to complain when we have been given bad information?

29 July 2010

Obama on View

Can anyone say with a reasonable degree of certainty what was the purpose of President Obama's appearance this morning on The View. That was certainly a waste of time for his viewers and probably for himself. Or was this a recently discovered tape left over from his campaign for president in 2008. But he himself pointed out that his hair was grayer so it appears to be a recent show.

I had thought that his body language or his smile when he talked about jobs created or saved in the past usually signaled that he was being ironic on the saved part, but now I am convinced that he believes fervently his own B.S. Maybe he just owed a favor to Barbara Walters that she decided to call in. I had thought that presidents eventually reached a point where they could say no to even their most avid supporters. Maybe he did say no to Ms Behar.

28 July 2010

Perusing the Papers

As usual these mornings at the beginning of my eighth decade, along with taking my coffee and toast, I peruse the Billings Gazette and the Wall Street Journal, looking for articles to entertain or educate me. Oddly enough, in today's Gazette I found a serious column by the usually humorous Dr Alan Muskett, and conversely, a funny article in the Wall Street Journal, a normally strait-laced paper of record these days now that the New York Times and Washington Post have relinquished that title.

Dr Muskett writes about excuses in the fashion of Lord Chesterfield's Advice to his son, on men and manners: or, A new system of education. In which the principles of politeness,the art of acquiring a knowledge of the world, with every instruction necessary to form a man of honour, virtue, taste, and fashion are laid down in a plain, easy, familiar manner . . . but better and more succinctly. 

He is honest enough and without any noticeable irony to write this sentence: "I've had the privilege of reaching deep into the earth and snatching people out of the grave." And then he goes on to admit to mistakes and losses that might pull an ordinary man deep into a grave of self-pity but a really good surgeon will "give that loss a place in your life that is tolerable . . . to learn, to get better . . . to remember . . .[he] must remember." This is very good stuff. I hope he is saving these little essays to put them into a book one of these days.

And then I turned to the Sports section of the Wall Street Journal, yes there is at least a Sports page if not as much as a whole section. It is usually on the back page of the Personal Journal. I tried to capture part of it on camera, see above and below, but it is worth going over the whole thing by yourself. 

Probably some lawyer wrote a warning about the danger of concussions "following helmet to helmet contact and/or contact with the ground, object or another player." This is supposed to be posted in a prominent place in the locker rooms of National Football League teams. I hope Brett Favre reads it before he makes up his mind to return for another season. Anyway, Matthew Futterman thought it would be helpful to have warning signs for other sports. Here is another one to the right.

By the way, there is an interesting obituary in today's Gazette too. A guy by the name of Reber, born in 1919, what a life. He was born at just the right time. I wished I could have had a beer or two with him.

27 July 2010

Mustangs Bomb Ghosts in 4th: Rain and Hail Subdue Both in 5th

Soon after I took this picture a few drops of rain were felt along with a lot of grumbling in clouds with some lightning as well. I decided it was time to leave as my car was parked in the far reaches of the Deaconness Medical Center parking lots. I just made it to the car in time, fortunately the Mustangs had retired the Ghosts in the top of the 5th, making it an official game. The Ghosts just couldn't get the Mustangs out in the bottom of the 4th, not a lot of power, just a lot balls just eluding the infielders, some bleeders in the infield, some wild pitches, a balk and the result is 9 runs. Very discouraging if you are a Ghost.

While the Mustangs were batting in the bottom of the 5th they were deluged with both rain and hail and thus they called the game, at least for awhile, at 8:36pm according to Joe Bloch, official radio guy for the Mustangs and the best one we've had in a long time. They don't have a ten-run rule in this league but maybe they should. And according to the Mustangs website it was called a game fairly early. The Mustangs are on the road for the next week. The Great Falls Voyagers not surprisingly beat up on the Idaho Falls Chukars and thus are the winners of the first half of the season. That means the Mustangs need to continue to play as well as they have been recently through the rest of the season in order to get into the playoffs.

26 July 2010

Reading the Fine Print

While doing a variation on the theme of doing one's duty I stopped to read the backside of some flushable toilet and body part wipes. I don't usually read the fine print on anything since they are written by lawyers and furthermore are impenetrably dense, or occasionally dopey to the point of silliness. The above is the front side. Below is the back side, not photographed all that well. The lighting is hard to do while you are doing your duty.

Sorry dear reader(s), in order to read this I had to magnify it. Like everything else, these wipes are made in China but I simply can't believe that the fine print was written by somebody in China, unless, of course, it was a person who was born and grew up in San Francisco and then moved to China as an adult.

Just to be sure everyone understands, I will repeat what was written in English in the upper left part of the backside of this plastic container of wipes.

          ". . . .When cleaning several bathroom surfaces, we recommend wiping down the toilet seat last.  Duh. Simply discard wipe in the toilet bowl and flush. Don't go all crazy and flush more than one wipe at a time. . . ."

This is remarkably clear and concise and funny all at the same time. Couldn't possibly have been written by a lawyer or even Homer Simpson.

I don't read French but it looks like "Duh" translates as "fini." Does that make sense?

I suspect the English part on the upper right side was written by a woman.

25 July 2010

Rodriguez Rips Walk Off Homer in 11th

Yorman Rodriguez, 17 year -old outfielder from Venezuela and hitting over .500 with runners in scoring position did not wait for runners to get on to end this extra-inning game. He hit a walk-off home run in the bottom of the 11th inning Sunday afternoon at Dehler Park. That is him leading his teammates off to the clubhouse. We have not witnessed this much excitement this season. Curiously enough, he warned the pitcher by hooking a high fast ball on the previous pitch just foul down the left field line before whacking another high fast ball to the scoreboard in right center on the next pitch.

Here is the scoreboard that most of the 2300 or so fans that stayed to the end saw after Rodriguez' blast over the right centerfield fence just below the  scoreboard.

As can be seen, the starting pitchers, Gagnon for the Ghosts and Gerson for the Mustangs were stingy with hits and runs and so too were the guys from the bullpen.

Fielding looked pretty good. Manager and pitching coach seemed relatively serene after being thrown out of the game the night before for arguing a little too strenuously with the umps in the top of the 10th. The runner obstructed the catcher, apparently not seen by the home plate umpire but visible to all the rest of us. Perhaps the uncertainty of the strike zone throughout the game may have contributed to the argument.

Unfortunately the Great Falls Voyagers also won today so the Mustangs are still two games out of first place with 4 games to play in the first half standings.

Driving Down Central Ave.

I think this might be called a store-front church, not meaning to put down this organization in any way, of course. It is on the left as you approach 24th St from downtown, just before the Mongolian Grill and Bob Smith's Lincoln Mercury place. I couldn't read the fine print as I drove past so I turned around and found the following information tacked up on the front door of the Toddler Escape, all deserted on a Sunday morning:

           Tuesday Bible Study 7-9pm

            Friday Sabbath 6-10pm

            Saturday Torah Study 2-4:30pm

When I looked up Lion of Judah, of course, I was reminded that the Jewish scriptural Judah was represented as a lion; and that the Lion of Judah in Christianity is Jesus; and that the Lion of Judah has some Ethiopian connections as well. There are a lot more entries in a Google search on Lion of Judah, sometimes part of an Assembly of God gathering and sometimes under the auspices of a Baptist Church. I couldn't find an exact replica of the picture included in their sign above but this outfit in Olympia WA might be close.

There is an animated movie coming out this summer with the same title.

Probably the easiest way to find out what is going on here would be to stop in on Friday evening, or Saturday afternoon, or Tuesday evening.

23 July 2010

Morgan Freeman Does Away With Racism

This YouTube 55 second video and sound bite is a good answer for all those who try to hobble their opponents with the charge of racism. Thanks Mr Freeman. Keep up the good work. Oh, sorry, I almost forgot: I found it on an excellent website called The Other McCain. I wonder if Freeman picked up the idea from Bob Newhart's famous Stop It! recommendation for various neurotic complaints.

Mustangs' Pitchers Strong-Arm Chukars

They have allowed only one run in two games. Night before last the Mustang hitters managed 7 runs so they shared top billing but last night it was all pitching almost all the way, including 5 strong innings from Tanner Robles to start, then three sterling middle innings from Daniel Wolford, and finally the 9th from Pat Doyle. Final score 3-0. You can see more details on the individual games or players here.

22 July 2010

Dispatches from Dehler: The South Invades the North

This is what the scoreboard looked like before the game Wednesday evening between the Billings Mustangs and the Idaho Falls Chukars. By the way, in case you were wondering, a Chukar is a kind of partridge, native to parts of Europe and Asia but now introduced and apparently doing well in the Rocky Mountains and New Zealand and other places too.

The picture is from our friends at Wikipedia. The other hint as to what a Chukar is came from the picture on the scoreboard when they came to bat and also on their caps. There doesn't seem to be any explanation of why a partridge would be the logical nickname of the Kansas City Royals rookie league affiliate in Idaho Falls. Perhaps it was picked by the fans.

The Mustangs took care of the Chukars very handily on Wednesday evening. RHP Clayton Schunick started the game for the Mustangs and apart from a shaky first inning, allowing one run and three hits, looked very sharp indeed. He allowed no hits or walks for the rest of his 6 innings of work and took the win when his teammates hammered out 13 hits leading to 7 runs. No home runs but most of the team seems to be hitting singles and doubles which is good. In addition to the good hitting there was some good play in the infield with Oliver Santos nabbing some sharply struck ground balls as well as gobbling up the little squibbers. He looks like he is a natural 3rd baseman. Both Billy Hamilton at 2nd and Devin Lohman at short look like they know what they are doing in the field with a nifty double play in the 8th started by the razzle-dazzle Hamilton. Not everybody got the memo about going from first to third but they are still running fairly well.

The game finished in about 2 hours, just in time for the fans to make a dash for their cars, taking a fair amount of wind and dirt but avoiding the worst of the drenching rain that mad for difficult vision on the way home. Joe Bloch did his usual excellent summary of the game too.

I forgot to mention in earlier Dispatches from Dehler that they sell bags of little doughnuts which are very tasty. See right. And that they have someone don a horsy outfit as the official mascot with the appropriate name Homer, to assist Barbara in the fans' cheering by spelling out M-U-S-T-A-N-G-S. See below.

Oh Yes, Casper beat Great Falls 8-1 last night, Helena lost to Ogden 7-3, and Orem beat Missoula 2-0. So then the Southern Division, in spite of the long trip north, cleaned up the Northern Division, except for Billings.

Perhaps the long trip north for the Northern Division was just as wearying for the Northerners. In any event, Billings is tied for 2nd place in the Northern Division, 2 games out of first place. About 8 games left in the first half.

A new guy from the Arizona League joined the team: Dominic D'Anna. Been there at 1st base for three games now. By the way, the website for the Mustangs has a lot of useful info on it.

21 July 2010

Lunch @ Hog Wild Cafe

Some friends recommended this small cafe on the North Side, corner of 22nd and 2nd Ave, open for breakfast and lunch Monday through Friday 'til about 2 pm or so.

We gave them a try and came out good. Carol had a decent hamburger with just the fixings she wanted, and I had a ham salad sandwich that reminded me of the ones my mother used to make, together with some pretty good though fairly thick potato soup.

Lemonade and iced tea were excellent. A free scoop of Wilcoxson's ice cream, from just a few blocks away was much appreciated. Good friendly service and reasonable prices were noted too. I will go back for what looked like a good breakfast menu.

I don't think I've ever seen any advertisements for these folk and I forgot to ask how long they have been in business.

Give them a try.

Hog Wild Cafe on Urbanspoon

Below is the front of the breakfast menu.

And They Said "Let There Be Higher Wages" And There Was But It Was Not Very Good

From Don Boudreaux's very lively and informative blog, Cafe Hayek—Where Order Emerges
I especially love the term "economic creationists." I guess this would be a form of argumentum ad absurdum.
"Writing in today’s Baltimore Sun, Marta Mossberg correctly argues that a proposed “living-wage” bill for Baltimore will hurt the poor.  This unintended effect is the inevitable result of prohibiting workers from accepting any wage lower than $10.57 per hour – a wage well above the hourly value that many unskilled workers are capable of producing for employers.
So why are so many people enthusiastic about statutes such as this one?
Proponents of such legislation are economic creationists.  They do not grasp the fact that beneficial economic arrangements emerge – and emerge almost exclusively – without being designed by an altruistic higher power (supposedly, government).  Widespread prosperity and economic order are taken on faith as resulting from the conscious intercession of a sovereign superior whose incantations, ceremonies, and commands work miracles.  And, too often, persons who challenge this creationist dogma are accused by its True Believers of being devils sent from the underworld to disrupt the heavenly work of the creating angels."

20 July 2010

Signs of the Apocalypse?

What are the signs of the Apocalypse? Here is the WikiAnswer. That seems fairly reasonable. What did the fall of the Roman Empire feel like to the Romans? What did it feel like to be Germans and Japanese in the latter stages of WWII? Supposedly the victors write the histories but surely the losers can write memoirs. Who writes the revisionist versions?

The above signs were said to be posted somewhere in Kansas. They came to me in my email this morning. Is this a version of the Country rising up to deal with the Rulers? Are these interesting times?

19 July 2010

Bits & Pieces from Here & There

While looking up "Dunning-Kruger," used in the context of an apparently intelligent person saying something completely stupid, not just for a sentence, but a whole paragraph, I managed to run across the term Ig Nobel Prize. So then I had to look that up too. Is Wikipedia pulling our leg? The Wikipedia entry on "Dunning-Kruger"seems fairly helpful too. I will, in future, expect my correspondents to be aware of these phenomena.

Author of The Skeptic's Handbook Reports Almost Incredible News from Europe

On this website JoNova reports that the European Court of Justice may make climate change skepticism a criminal offence. Are these not interesting times?

18 July 2010

Summer Festival Time and the Livin' is Easy

Doug Nagel and friends provided late Sunday afternoon's entertainment with two delightful one-act operas. Early Sunday afternoon the Scarlets were playing baseball at Dehler Park, though they seemed a little sleepy for the first four innings.

Leonard Bernstein's Trouble in Tahiti, set in the 1950s we all of a certain age remember. Fairly jazzy instrumental voices (keyboard, drums and clarinet) mix with an also jazzy American suburban East Coast unhappy husband and wife who show some nice vocal chops while lamenting their situations, backed up by a jazzy Greek chorus of three that were very entertaining, musically and elsewise, reminding us of what might have been. The story isn't much, sort of Seinfeldian, but the music is very nice, reminding us of Copland and West Side Story. The singers fit well with the characters and the venue.

William Mouat and Michelle Berger are Sam and Dinah and the chorus is Julius Head, Janie Rife, and Nate Liptac. They did this at the Babcock Theatre Saturday night and then again at United Methodist Church on Shiloh Sunday afternoon, both fairly intimate and well-suited settings for what turn out to be fairly low-key stories told operatically.

Gian Carlo Menotti's one-act opera, The Telephone, is even more Seinfeldian than Tahiti and just as funny as Elaine and George doing their thing. You know this takes place in the 40s or earlier as the baritone has to catch a train. Mouat as Ben and Jacquelyn Marie Weitz as Lucy were excellent. The female voices, Berger and Weitz, were perfect for the small church setting on Sunday afternoon, Mouat's was a little too big in places, though it suited his masculine character in both of the operas.

We have a lot of operatic talent here in Billings and elsewhere gathered together by Doug Nagel. Don't forget The Merry Widow, 25-26 September. Both Head and Rife will be singing in that production. And of course, Puccini's Tosca will be here 30 April and 1 May next year. Mouat will be Sacristan and Doug Nagel will be singing the part of Baron Scarpia. These should be very good.

Monday, 19 July 2010 UPDATE: The Scarlets did come alive soon after we left with a 10 run outburst in the 6th inning according to this morning's Gazette. Final score 14-10 Billings Scarlets over Helena Senators.

Tidbits from Billings' SummerFair 2010

This year SummerFair, July 17-18, was celebrated at Veteran's Park. It seemed smaller than in the past, but the exhibitors and the food were their usual very good stuff.

The cast of Billings' Venture Theatre Hair were on stage with most of their clothes on, singing a few songs from their upcoming musical. It opens August 20th. Looks and sounds interesting.

I wonder who drinks mead? I wonder what it tastes like? What is it made from? From honey according to Wikipedia. Enquiring minds want to know.

In case you need some birdhouses these were all on sale. I didn't see any birds looking but I did see a few very hot dogs.

17 July 2010

A Real Man

From the desk of a friend

Subject: A Real Man
 A real man is a woman's best friend. He will
never stand her up and never let her down.
He will reassure her when she feels insecure
and comfort her after a bad day.

He will inspire her to do things she never
thought she could do; to live without fear
and forget regret. He will enable her to
express her deepest emotions and give in to
her most intimate desires. He will make sure
she always feels as though she's the most
beautiful woman in the room and will enable
her to be the most confident, sexy,
seductive, and invincible.

No wait... sorry... I'm thinking of wine.
Never mind.  

16 July 2010

The Unbearable Usefulness of George Orwell

"To know and not to know, to be conscious of complete truthfulness while telling carefully constructed lies, to hold simultaneously two opinions which canceled out, knowing them to be contradictory and believing in both of them, to use logic against logic, to repudiate morality while laying claim to it, to believe that democracy was impossible and that the Party was the guardian of democracy, to forget, whatever it was necessary to forget, then to draw it back into memory again at the moment when it was needed, and then promptly to forget it again, and above all, to apply the same process to the process itself -- that was the ultimate subtlety; consciously to induce unconsciousness, and then, once again, to become unconscious of the act of hypnosis you had just performed. Even to understand the word 'doublethink' involved the use of doublethink." - from George Orwell's 1984

From The BlogProf. Thanks. Maybe we shouldn't have sent those Russian spies packing so quickly—which reminds me—how come it is almost impossible to send home other undesirables or at least takes a very long time? The Russian spies might have been useful in instructing us commoners in the way of reading Pravda in order to get at the truth.

Rob Quist and Great Northern

This group gave a 90 minute concert at the big gazebo at St John's enlarging campus on the corner of Shiloh and Rimrock on Thursday evening. Quist played mainly banjos and did most of the singing, along with a piece of his front porch, and a really fine and accomplished acoustic guitarist, a competent bass player and a painfully thin lady of a certain age who played a nice subdued fiddle, when Quist asked her to.

[Sorry, I lost my program so I don't remember the names of the sidemen, or sidepeople I guess one says when they are a mixed company.]

St John's being an old folks home, it probably was not surprising when the kids were joined in front of the gazebo by a guy and his girl having some fun. He moved up the main aisle relatively slowly with a cane, which he pointedly put down on the gazebo cum bandstand, and then started swinging his partner in earnest. Got a big hand from all of us.

This was a lot of fun, mostly bluegrass with a few other things thrown in. I can understand why Quist's bands are so popular. He mentioned that his Mission Mountain Wood Band was blown away on the Sunday of Father's Day by the tornado and accompanying winds and storm we had here in Billings but that they were planning on coming back some time in August.

The food was good, the grounds well cared for, the people fun to talk to, and the music was very well appreciated by a large audience (?500 to ?1000). That is just part of it above. Many tried to stay out of the sun around the periphery. The ever-present Rimrocks in the background, of course.

15 July 2010

Get Your Union Suits Early and Often

This splendid piece of propaganda was lifted from The BlogProf. I suppose I should mention that it is from the 1970s in case you are not paying close attention.

14 July 2010

From A Truck in Marin Co.

I hope I am not ratting out my daughter and son-in-law when I publish their discreet little bumper stickers. They could probably be hauled in for hate speech. If not today, then wait for a few months or years.

Up close this is what you see. But you have to be in the box in order to see it this clearly.

But in traffic this is what you see. I guess you are safe as long as you don't park the vehicle anywhere near a progressive gathering place. Now where would that be in Marin County?

13 July 2010

A Death in the Family, Sudden

I am often surprised by the extremely well done articles in the Wall Street Journal that have nothing to do with Wall Street, or business, or politics, or the usual things one expects to find in a daily paper with the name Wall Street Journal (WSJ).

Today is no exception: this article in today's WSJ, by Amy Dockser Marcus, is about the demographics of sudden cardiac death and what can be done about the small number of unexplained deaths in this category. There is a nice graphic in the article, taken from the Mayo Clinic's Sudden Death Genomics Lab. Out of 350,000 sudden cardiac deaths occurring each year in the USA, about 10,000 occur in people between the ages of 1 and 40 years. Of those, about 2/3 have reasonable physical abnormalities that explain the death. You are left with 3300 (a little less than 1% of the original number of deaths—but 33% of young people) cases of unexplained death in relatively young people. And of those, if you are willing to spend between $1000 to $10,000 per case on genetic testing, about 25% will have a recognizable abnormality that probably explains the death and may be useful to the families of these unfortunate patients. The rest remain unexplained. Read the article, either in print, or online as this is only a very minimal summary.

One of the reasons this caught my attention at the breakfast table is that I have seen a few cases each year for the past 30 years here in Montana that fall into the category of sudden unexplained cardiac death. The article also mentions those below 1 year of age, though it does not go into detail, other than to mention that about 10% of these deaths are due to genetic mutations affecting the heart's electrical system. These are usually categorized as SIDS or Sudden Infant Death Syndrome.

And of course, there must be more than a few cases in the original 350,000 that though there appears to be a recognizable physical explanation, they too have died from some heretofore unexplained out-of-the-blue abnormality, but now probably genetically induced electrical abnormality.

By the way, one of the reasons our medical care system spends more per patient than anywhere else in the world, is that we are willing to spend $16.5 million dollars in order to tell 800 families per year that their loved ones died from a recognizable genetic abnormality. That is around $20,000 per case.

Another 5 Year Plan

From USA Today and other Obama administration media outlets we learn of yet another 5 Year Plan, this time to "launch comprehensive HIV/AIDS strategy."

I always wonder if the media flacks for the administration are aware of the delicious historical ironies when they announce grand 5 Year Plans. Probably not as the schools don't really teach enough modern history that would remind us commoners about the numerous failures of the old Soviet Union's 5 Year Plans. And of course, our friends in the media, the "drive-by media" as Rush Limbaugh calls them, would, of course, not even think of reminding us of those plans either.

I suppose it is possible that the administration apparatchiks are so confident that they are purposely telling those who have read a little history about these 5 Year Plans just to rub our noses in them. Nah, I doubt it.

12 July 2010

Burgos Throttles Mustangs for Seven Innings; Mustangs Erupt for 8 runs in 8th Inning. Amazing.

Daniel Tuttle was apparently going to take the loss, though he didn't do that badly, 2 runs and 7 hits in 5 innings. The real responsibility for the loss should have gone to the Mustang hitters. They just couldn't solve Señor Burgos' offerings. In 7 innings he allowed only 3 hits, and struck out 10 with a variety of speeds and a biting slider that was effective against both right and left handed batters.

The outfield was apparently a little slippery or maybe some of the players were unfamiliar with the positions they were playing. This was true of both teams.

Behind 4-0 going into the bottom of the 8th the Mustangs managed two hit batsmen and a walk and an error in the 8th which led to their first run. Another error with the bases loaded led to two more runs. Sean Conner then walks instead of striking out to load the bases again. They managed to bat around without a hit, scoring three runs, bases loaded, and two outs. Then Sr. Santos gets walked to tie the game 4-4. This leads to the 2nd pitching change of the inning, Robert Currie coming in. Sr. Burgos is in the dugout, softly cursing, having just been removed from a possible win and a league-leading 3-0 record. Cristobal Rodriguez hits the left field wall and clears the bases with a double. Score 7-4. What a fantastic explosion of an inning. Another hit by Theo Bowe scores Rodriguez. Mustangs 8-4. This brings up Hamilton who strikes out. What an inning. 8 runs, two hits, two hit batsmen, two errors and 3 walks.

Now I simply must listen to the ninth inning as the Mustangs are trying to win their 5th game in a row. Though the Mustangs were out hit 13 to 5 the game is decided on runs not hits and bad bullpen pitching and a couple of critical errors for the Brewers. Pat Doyle pitched the ninth and mowed them down. The Mustangs are falling all over themselves with glee at the outcome. Tomorrow they get a day off to travel to Idaho Falls. I would imagine Head Coach Delino DeShields will be buying the beer tonight. Joe Bloch calls another great game.

11 July 2010

Brewers' Hurler Lowers ERA Drastically

On a previous outing, Thomas Keeling, a thin tall 22 yr old left-hander pitcher for the Helena Brewers walked 7 batters in one inning, and gave up a couple of hits as well, with 6 runs being scored. That meant his earned run average was a whopping 54.00, which should warn you that statistics with small samples are hazardous for many purposes. He walked three more Mustangs to start the bottom of the 6th inning, including a couple of wild pitches and managed to get out of the inning with only one run scoring when some of the Mustangs started swinging more wildly than Keeling was throwing, and the Helena right fielder, I think it was John Bivens, throwing out Cristobal Rodriguez, a recent addition to the Mustangs roster, as he tried to score on a sacrifice fly to right, to complete a 9-2 double play.

To his credit, Keeling came out for a couple more innings and managed to get the Mustangs out 1-2-3 in the 7th, and then struck out the side in the bottom of the 8th. So his ERA dropped from 54.00 for one inning to 21.00 for 3 innings and even lower after that last inning:  whatever 7 runs in 4/9 of a complete game is, probably around 15.00 or 16.00. Pretty good work for three innings. We left at the end of the 5th inning, as the sun was starting to creep into our location, and we are delicate creatures of course, and the Mustangs had a good lead.

So this is from Joe Bloch, ace announcer for the Mustangs. The Mustangs are ahead in the 9th, 9-4, with one out and the Brewers manage to load the bases and Porfirio Martinez is trying desperately to get some outs. Two outs and bases still loaded. Cody Hawn, Pioneer League leader in RBIs, comes to bat and Mr Martinez strikes him out with the bases loaded. The Mustangs win their 4th game in a row and move up to 2 games behind Helena.

Tanner Robles started the game, was very wild, and finally had to be removed when he walked three guys in a row, despite having a big lead. Daniel Wolford pitched three runless innings in the middle, and should get the win and Martinez should get the well-earned save. Blaine Howell looked good for two innings too. Right fielder Juan Duran looked good at the plate and the infield turned 3 double plays. These guys are all looking good. Over three thousand again was the attendance including a lot of kids with gloves and hot dogs and a good imitation of collective ADHD, see to the right. They had lots of fun. It might have been a birthday party. Not sure.

I really like the excerpted highlights that Joe Bloch manages to pick out and play at the end of the game. Where did this guy come from? He is the best I've heard I've heard in a long time.

10 July 2010

You Never Know What You Will Find Surfing the Internet

I don't remember what I was doing when I came across this splendid website on the Internet. Now I know that there are at least two custom hat makers in Montana, both of them located in Billings; and at least two custom coffin/casket makers in Montana, one of them just south of Red Lodge and the other in Kalispell.
The latter is called Sweet Earth Casket Company and the former is called Cowboy Coffin and Pine Box Company. I have written about the Cowboy Coffin outfit before, here and here. Rand Herzberg is still going strong.

The folks at Sweet Earth Casket Company do similar things, though they do offer some ideas on DIY funerals, calculated to stir up our undertaker friends no doubt, and they offer ideas on what to use your casket for in advance of its eventual and final need. The idea that caught my attention was using your casket/coffin as a bookshelf 'til needed. Check them out. They also put on a 4 day casketmaker school.

While I'm thinking about it, have you ever wondered what is the difference between a casket and a coffin? I always thought they were pretty much the same, but when you look them up it turns out that you have a lot of choices: One source says"coffin" is the British term and "casket" is the American term for the same thing, i.e. a container to bury the dead in. But then others say that a casket is a fancy coffin. And this site makes a distinction on shape, that is, the coffin has the traditional wide shoulders shape and the casket is oblong. There are some pictures on the last site mentioned. Come to think on it, the British did usually go for the traditional wide shoulder shape.

Cellar Dwellers Battle for Third Place

The Missoula Osprey and the Billings Mustangs, now gradually improving from a fairly disastrous start, were tied for 3rd and 4th place—each having 7 wins and 11 losses—in the northern division of the Pioneer League. Last night the Mustangs managed to break out with a rash of extra-base hits and found a starting pitcher who could keep the opponents down, to win convincingly 10-2.

By my count they had 15 hits and 10 runs in 7 innings of play—they were up 10-1 after the 7th so I went home—and of those 15, three were triples and five were doubles. The fences were rattling and the bases were crowded. They might have had a few more but Missoula managed to throw out a couple of guys at the plate. It's fun to watch them take chances and routinely go from 1st to 3rd on a single. Even the big slow guys have to learn how to run the bases.

Clayton Shunick looked sharp, no-hitting the Osprey until the 6th inning when he allowed a home run and a single. Since he only threw about 60 pitches in those six innings he came back in the 7th after watching his team bat around in the bottom of the inning and got two outs in the 7th before finally being lifted for Ryan Smith. Not surprisingly, Shunick got a standing ovation as he left for a well-earned shower.

Here are some pictures of some of the loyal fans found at Dehler Park most every night. They seem to draw 3-4000 each home game. For a low minor league game that is pretty good, heck that's good for some AAA games. The Mustangs host the league-leading Helena Brewers for the next three nights. See you at the ball game. What are those guys looking for below?

07 July 2010

Why Rimrock Road is Closed

Just down the street from my house on Rimrock Road they are replacing some of the infrastructure that keeps our toilets working and drains our lawn sprinklers and all sorts of other things I'm sure. The ratio of pieces of equipment—big boys' toys—to human workers is probably close to 1:1.

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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