16 August 2012

Final Post

Hello avid readers of my grandfather's blog. I am Ken's grandson, Nicholas, and I am really sad to tell you that Ken died yesterday. You know, one of Ken's great pleasures in life was his blog. He loved writing. I'll leave up the blog for all of his fans, but there will be no further blog posts. I think he would've liked for you all to read his obituary, so here it is:

To everything there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven: a time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up that which is planted;—Ecclesiastes 3:1-2 KJV

Kenneth Howard Mueller, born 27 March 1940, died early Tuesday morning at St. Vincent’s Hospital of cardiac arrest. He was fortunate to have said his good-byes to most of the people he cared for. He apologizes to those he missed. He was always grateful for the attention of his many medical and surgical attendants, particularly his lovely and attentive nurses, and his many caring friends and relatives.

He is survived by his long-patient and loving wife of 50 years, Carol Ann LuConic, the best nurse he ever knew; and by his children and grandchildren: Margaret Anne & Patrick Mazzuca of Issaquah WA (Nicholas and Zachary); Joan Marie and Donald McInnes of Novato CA (Matthew and Michael); Peter Thomas of Billings MT; and S. Elizabeth Mueller Gomez of Albuquerque NM (Diego Salvador). His three younger brothers all survive him as well. They are Gerald Ronald of Sun Prairie, WI; Russell Ramon of Baneberry TN; and Thomas David of Fort Lauderdale, FL.

Ken was the eldest son of Walde H Mueller and Joann Rohrschneider, both of Hustisford WI. He was born a little too soon for some, in Harvey Illinois on the south side of Chicago, and spent most of his childhood back in that rural southern Wisconsin village just south of Lake Sinissippi and on the nearby Mueller farm and Rohrschneider cottage of his parents and grandparents. 

One of his earliest memories was the joy and delight he felt when he discovered the Rock River on a map from a filling station—that is where we used to buy gasoline: he knew that was the name of the river that flowed through the village, and saw that it was a tributary of the Mississippi River. So, from an early age he had the urge to see the world outside of that village, and he knew at least one way to find his way to the rest of the world and back; and as irony often has it, spent some of his later years searching for that familiar home.

He was graduated from Hustisford High School in 1957, in a rural part of southern Wisconsin, notable for small towns and dairy farms and of course, rabid Green Bay Packer fans. He remembered particularly Mrs Mahr, his favorite English teacher and Mr Schlicht, the principal and math teacher who labored mightily to teach him the elements of algebra and geometry. He was granted a B.S. degree in chemistry from Carroll College of Waukesha Wisconsin in 1961, primarily due to the good offices of Chemistry Professor AA Sunier. He went on to attend Harvard Medical School, graduating in 1965. 

His early post-graduate medical training was in pediatrics at Children’s Hospital in Cincinnati OH, but finding the practice of that specialty too difficult he switched into laboratory medicine, eventually spending much of his professional time in the sub-specialty of forensic—from the Latin “forum” where public business was conducted—medicine and pathology. 

After finishing his pediatric and pathologic post-graduate studies, he proudly served his country as a medical officer in the United States Air Force,[(see picture to the left) including a tour as an exchange officer with Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth’s Forces at the Institute of Pathology and Tropical Medicine, Bucks, UK, where he was strongly influenced by Group Captain Ken Mason who would later become the Regius Professor of Forensic Medicine at the University of Edinburgh.]

[On returning to to the USA, he studied Forensic Pathology with Russell Fisher at the Office of the Medical Examiner of Maryland in Baltimore and the Armed Forces Institute of Pathology at the Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington DC. After moving to Montana in 1980 he transferred to the Naval Reserve—he always liked the uniform—in Billings and eventually Seattle WA. He was retired from the Navy with the rank of Captain.]

He finally found a city and a home for his family and a pleasant place to work in Billings Montana, having guessed from the people he met on a single 3 day visit that Billings was a good place to raise  a family. He was appointed to the post of Associate Medical Examiner for the State of Montana in the Fall of 1980 and remained in that position until he retired in 2010. He was fond of Billings, its people and places, especially Peace Lutheran Church, St Patrick’s Co-Cathedral, Saint Vincent Hospital, and restaurants too numerous to count. Though he called Billings home, his early years in Wisconsin meant that he was a faithful Green Bay Packer fan: ‘Once a cheesehead, always a cheesehead’ was one of his favorite sayings. He was always on the lookout for something resembling the  brick cheese and summer sausage he remembered from his earlier days in Wisconsin.

He enjoyed playing the trombone with various large and small groups, the Community Band and Community Orchestra, and especially the Al Bedoo Shriners Dance Band and the Billings Brass Society: he was a founding member of the last. He was an enthusiastic, though not especially talented singer in various church choirs. He was sometimes a performer and at other times a listener to the Messiah Chorus. He admired the ensemble sound of the Billings Symphony, in particular the low brass and of course, the splendid woodwinds. Rimrock Opera was one of his regular haunts along with Billings Studio Theatre and Venture Theatre. 

He was a loyal supporter of Little League baseball, Legion baseball, and the Billings Mustangs. If you wanted to find him on a summer evening then you would probably be successful to look for him somewhere at Cobb Field, perhaps just beyond the Mustang dugout, and in later years, somewhere in the shade. He never was persuaded that Dehler Park was better than Cobb Field, though the bratwurst, coming from Wisconsin, and the burgers, especially the ‘Stang Burger’ of Dehler Park, would be hard to beat. 

He enjoyed travel, especially his round the world trips and up and down the Pacific Coast of Central and South America with Semester at Sea, which he viewed as a form of pilgrimage. Visiting his widely scattered grandchildren and seeing what was available at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival at Ashland OR were other forms of pilgrimage.

In his later years he loved to blog away on his favorite Mac computer, usually the latest one. He paid close attention to the obituaries as well as the readings and music at the funerals of friends and acquaintances. Once or twice a year he would add or subtract from his obituary. 

He read a lot of bridge books—as well as a lot of other genres—but did not find time to play all that much, and when he did his bidding was always better than his play of the cards. There was never enough time to read all that appealed. When asked if he had read all the books in his library, he would usually respond: ‘If a man has read the whole of his library, then his library is not large enough.’

In the past year he finally found enough time to play bridge as he and Carol began splitting their time between Billings and Phoenix. They made many good friends in Arizona and he loved his time there taking in as much baseball as could be reasonably digested at Spring Training. 

If you feel the need to make a donation in his honor please consider Billings’ American Legion Baseball, or Rimrock Opera, or Billings Symphony, or Venture Theatre, or Billings Studio Theatre, or even better, all of these worthy organizations.

Arrangements are in the care of Dahl’s Funeral Home. Mass will be held at St Patrick’s Co-Cathedral in Billings at noon Tuesday August 21st celebrating the life of this great, unique man who we loved, admired and cherished. 

16 July 2012

A Few of the Regulars at Dehler Park

Our Senior Cheerleader Barb. She has been here since the beginning of Cobb Field they say. She must have first come as an infant in arms.

This is the current waitress for our section. I don't know what her name is because I am bashful when looking at the name tags of pretty young girls.

Back Yard Visitors

Found these animals eating my flowers one of these too hot July afternoons. They apparently do not care much for the coleus, but they do like very much Carol's geraniums.

13 July 2012

But Are They Pointed In The Right Direction?

I thought Her Majesty's Forces were being down-graded. It appears they are just undergoing a change in priorities. The Royal Navy once kept the peace on the oceans of the world. Now they and their fellow Forces are protecting athletes while they perform at the Olympic Games. I found this picture and others on Ms Geller's blog, Atlas Shrugged. For the young and ignorant, the title of my blog entry is an allusion to WWII and the direction the guns of Singapore were pointed. The Japanese did not come by sea but by land. Now that I look at the above weaponry, it looks fairly mobile.

And Don't Slam The Door As You Leave

These Australian women can be tough when they need to. Check out Jo Nova's response to some asshole or other.

12 July 2012

Civil War Amongst Climate Scientists

I don't know if your brand of job classification doesn't allow a climate scientist to be called a 'denier' or not, similar to the well known and proved idea that African Americans and card-carrying liberals cannot be 'racists.' But it seems as if these folks didn't get the memo. Check them out.

11 July 2012

I knew there was a reason I liked this guy

Because of the possible allusion to baseball in the title my attention was naturally caught. I read the article before I noticed who wrote it.

Of course, it is the same Thomas Sowell who makes so much sense in the fields of politics and economics. I am not arguing that because he makes sense when he talks about baseball history therefore we should listen to him when he argues politics and economics. But there may be a certain pattern to these observations: I am thinking of George Will for example, or A Bart Giamatti, and I am sure many more. Are there people who don't make sense in politics or economics who do make sense when talking baseball? I doubt that very much.

Wandering on the Net

"I like that the Catholic Church is so transparently inept and so plainly filled with such obviously failed and ridiculous people, not only among us laity, but throughout the ranks of its clerics as well. My abiding sense, ever since converting, has been one of relief. In sectarian Protestantism, the question is always whether you are pure enough, whether you are a “real Christian”, whether your “really meant it” when you asked Jesus into your heart, whether your latest grotesque failure means your whole life as a Christian has been one huge fraud.
 The great thing about the Catholic communion is that it begins every single act of worship with the Confiteor in which we all look at each other and say, “Who am I kidding? i don’t belong here any more than you do, so let’s pray for each other and ask the the Graduates in Heaven to put in a good word for us, trusting that God will cut us slack again just so long as we keep cutting each other slack.” It’s a place where there’s room for me: a screwup who can’t tell my butt from a hole in the ground who has no business darkening the door of a Church, much less brazenly walking up there and receiving the Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity of Almighty God, if you please. The whole project is so outrageous from beginning to end that my only excuse is that God tells all these other people they not only can but must do it, so I guess it’s okay that a dubious jerk like me does it too."

I found this at the top of a long blog entry and comments by John C Wright and those he argues with. This one is interesting though it does follow a downhill trajectory after awhile. The first comment and the brilliant refutation by Mr Wright are the best of the lot.

07 July 2012

It Looks Like Billings Has Some Catching Up To Do

This is something called a Faster Bassett Burger from Great Falls, a full pound! of ground beef with a bun too small by far. This notice comes from the blog Greater Falls. They of course call this the best burger in Great Falls and reserve the title best burger in Montana from some place called Square Butte, which is about 6 miles from Geraldine. The last and only time I've ever been to Geraldine had to do with an exhumation a long time ago. I must go again to check out this "best burger" business. Stay tuned my friends.

The Freedom Train

After the revelations emanating from the penumbra of the Supreme Court of the United States in the last  couple of weeks maybe we should resurrect the Freedom Train and build a high-speed track network to take it all over the country. Built by all those who don't have jobs because of President Obama's policies, of course started by Pres. Bush. What good will it do for a civilized country to have free medical care provided by slave labor without a first class free transportation system?

05 July 2012

Maddox Hits 3! Long, High Flies. In Vain

This is an excellent picture by Paul Ruhter, photographer for the Billings Gazette. Maddox has just pulled another pitch over the right field fence at Dehler Park. Maybe the opposing teams could shift one of their players to the other side of the fence. See the accompanying article in today's Gazette, appropriately titled 3 Not Quite Enough.

Clearly the pitchers were not quite up to their usual best or even average on a steamy 4th of July afternoon after a long bus ride home from Missoula. Almost 4 thousand faithful were on hand to cheer their summer heroes on.

Greg Rachac mentions some controversial plays in his article. The one I wondered about was our center fielder apparently dropped a ball while crashing into the wall out there. It looked like everyone was safe but the base umpire apparently thought he caught the ball before crashing into the wall and held it long enough to be counted as an out. At least that is the only explanation I can think of that would make any sense. And yet our talkative announcer, who usually is only too happy to tell us about all kinds of useful companies and their products, when he could really be helpful, remains completely silent. Why could he not give us ordinary folks that pay him to keep us informed a short explanation, perhaps from the official scorer or even from the umpire if necessary between innings? What say you, Mr Roller?

01 July 2012

Gonorrhea Lectim

I don't know if one of the chief opinion-makers at the Gazette, Ed Kemmick, ever reads hometown blogs. I doubt he does but here is another manifestation of the free speech that Kemmick rails against in today's Gazette. The Democrats talk about vote suppression when ordinary people suggest that an ID would be appropriate in order to vote. Kemmick talks about crude and simple humor as if it is the beginning of the downfall of Western Civilization. I wonder if this isn't his own form of suppression of political conversation.

A Portion of our Galaxy

This is a picture by astrophotographer Luc Perrot, of the Orion Arm of the Milky Way, on a Sunday night, from the island of Reunion, a French island east of Madagascar. He says he waited for two years for just the right lighting. I''m not sure how long the universe has been waiting for Monsieur Perrot.

I found this on Pamela Geller's blog: Atlas Shrugs

23 June 2012

Canadian Captures Human Comedy

Canadian playwright Norm Foster continues to please his small and big town audiences south of the border. Maggie's Getting Married just finished its run at Billings Studio Theatre.

So look for the Foster name in coming seasons, extraordinary stories about ordinary people: sure to be entertaining, probably very funny with some parts a little maudlin, and usually some flare for the universal in the particulars of whatever situation he is exploring.

We have a lot of good players here in Billings: Amy Peterson, Angela Fulkerson, Elizabeth Alexander, Shawn Bettise, Zak Kreiter and Jayme C Green all did well individually and especially together, and should be counted among those good players. Their S.O. was well-deserved.

Casey Visser turned in a good job in his first chance at direction. The guys who built the set should be commended. This set really looked like the kitchen of a successful dentist, and the doors were solid, something not easy to do. Way to go guys.

I'm pretty sure we've seen at least one other play by Foster here recently, maybe The Foursome, and perhaps some others but they have slipped my mind.

Oh, I almost forgot to mention poutine. See the picture to the right. Thanks to NPR on Sunday morning I found out that this French-Canadian dish of cheese fries and gravy is fairly recent but now widespread across Canada. If I remember correctly it is used in a different, suggestive if not seductive, way in the play, several times. The context and body language left no doubt as to its meaning, sort of a single entendre. Check out the Wikipedia entry. It looks and sounds delicious.

21 June 2012

Now We Know

Many of us commoners were watching our Washington DC betters play games with each other by inviting Attorney General Holder to hand over some documents that might reveal some dastardly facts about him, his department and maybe even the President. We thought it was just business as usual but then things started turning a little more darkly when those who are said to represent us ordinary folks decided to threaten AG Holder with a contempt of congress citation.

But all is not dark because today Ms Pelosi, former Speaker of the House, opined that the people who were asking AG Holder to produce the documents were the same as those trying to suppress the vote turnout throughout the country. Some of us snorted our morning coffee when we first heard this but then we recovered our wits and all agreed that this was a great revelation and we were very glad to hear about it. Of course, there are a few of us that subscribe to the notion that the Pravda Maneuver applied to anything the Left or their stooges say is closer to the truth—you know—180 degrees from what they actually say.

20 June 2012

The Left

This is an amazing video. I think I will look for the book. Leftism, Islamism, and Americanism: apparently that's all there is. Is that true?

I found the video here.

More From The Boys Of Summer

While our friends and acquaintances in the Washington DC area play with each other in the kind of games illustrated above, the normal people out here in flyover land are paying attention to more important games like rookie league baseball in Montana and nearby states: Colorado, Utah and Idaho. The good folks in Casper WY have been saddened by the departure of their Pioneer League franchise but since the team was owned by the big guys in Denver, their departure to Grand Junction was probably inevitable. This must be one of the most spread-out leagues we have in this country though I suppose some of those in higher divisions might come close. I know that AAA teams tend to travel by plane and A teams by bus. I don't know what the AA teams do. The teams that make up the AA Texas League, the Eastern League, and the Southern League may well be closer to each other than some of the A league teams. Now that I think about it and look at a map, it looks like the move to Grand Junction makes the southern division of the Pioneer League a little more compact.

In any event the branch of the Boys of  Summer here in Billings are celebrating their 60th year here with their usual hoopla and funny old-looking off-white uniforms. One wishes that they would bring their hitting clothes too. In two games so far I counted less than a dozen hits and that included a few doubtful scoring interpretations like the winning stroke last night that most shortstops would have scooped up and thrown out the guy going home.

Pitching was absent Monday night with a lot of wildness and fortunately the 13-3 loss could have been worse but the boys from Missoula were swinging at most anything. When the ball got close to the plate it was usually spanked to the outfield or over it. Last night the pitchers seemed to have their stuff and the home plate umpire changed his mind often enough on the shape of the strike zone to give them the upper hand. Young Bob Stephenson looked good for 5 innings and a couple of big left-handers looked pretty good after that too.

More later. Let us hope our pitchers keep their control and our hitters start withholding their swings at balls more than 6 inches off the plate.

17 June 2012

How Dog Whistles Work

I found this on a good blog called Are We Lumberjacks. Check it out.

02 June 2012

The Boys of Spring 2012

For a discerning summary of last night's Scarlet/Royal game go here.

30 May 2012

Another Opinion on Exotic Marigold Hotel

Check out this blogsite. Everybody gets to have his or her own opinion. I think this guy is a little too serious.

28 May 2012

Grave Stones Stand At Attention

Borrowed this picture from Holger Awakens, an interesting blogsite that I recommend.

26 May 2012

"Everything Will Come Out All Right In The End . . . ."

Just saw The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel (For The Elderly and Beautiful), a movie about changes in old folks and old societies. The old folks are English character actors like Maggie Smith, Dame Judi Dench, Tom Wilkinson and others equally good. The old society, of course, is India, or at least parts of that bewildering, chaotic, amazingly rich and incredibly poor country, which owes at least some of its variety to several hundred years under British colonial rule. My guess is that there were allusions to many parts of British society that are changing as well. One of the ideas made fun of was the idea of out-sourcing from rich Western countries to poor third world countries, even such stuff as medical care and taking care of the elderly.

There are many ironies in the fire in this surprisingly cheap movie.There are a lot of good Indian actors too. Including Dev Patel and others too numerous to mention. Much of this movie must have been filmed on location in India as the sensory input could only be found in the major cities.

Lots of old jokes, visual and auditory: "if she dies, she dies" referring to geriatric sex; many caricatures of course because after all they are British and Indian aren't they. So the uncomfortable trains of India, and the inevitable head wobbles, saying whatever is necessary, and the Brits putting down their Indian caretakers, and yet deciding to stick it out with stiff upper lip in the end. The story lines are fairly predictable but even so, it was an enjoyable afternoon for us old folks.

 ". . . And if it's not all right, then it is obviously not the end." Repeated several times so we wouldn't miss the significance.
I couldn't resist digging out a few old photographs of the splendid five days I spent in Chennai and on the train to Kerala and back a few years ago. If you are going, watch out for the little cabs and the scams they will inevitably try.

[Added later to the title "in the end" Sorry]

22 May 2012

Why Haven't These Been Seen in Montana?

Heinz puts out ketchup in a new container. I'm not talking about the upside down container which was, of course, absolutely brilliant. No, I am talking about a container similar to those they use for jellies and jams at a lot of restaurants, where the ketchup is dippable for your French fries and thus you are less likely to mess up your shirt. According to this blogsite it has been available since 2010, a couple of years ago according to my calculations.

18 May 2012

Another Ice Age To Come? When?

Russ Steele at The Next Grand Minimum may be a prophet crying in the wilderness. They say that the generals are always prepared to fight the last war. It seems our politicians are preparing to fight a non-existent enemy. I suppose the global climate change is a part of the modern day equivalent of bread and circuses. The graph above is not terribly convincing, just worrying.

15 May 2012

Getting Closer to Home

Dinner at Washington state's Kennewick City Grill on April 30. A pleasant stop on the way home from Ashland OR. We drove up the center of Oregon until we hit the Columbia River. There are a lot of windmills on the hills on either side of the river.

Then on to Butte the next day, skipping over Missoula, our usual stopping place, because we got an early start from Kennewick. Very windy at the latter place by the way. Montana Club was magnificent.

Short trip from Butte to Billings on 2 May 2012. Naturally had to include a stop for lunch in Big Timber at the Grand Hotel. We like the table just beneath the lead steer of the 1989 Big Cattle Drive. The food and drink here are very good.

Joke For Tuesday Morning

Go to Intangible Soul. We must thank our friends on the Left for making everything political.

Dog Humor

It's hard to resist copying things like this. Every time The One gets a microphone he becomes even more of a jerk than we knew. I think things will get worse, but I am hoping for the best.

12 May 2012

Forward. Really?

I wonder what the next 5 Year Plan will be about?

02 May 2012

A Lose-Lose Proposition For Us Oldsters

Last week, Medicare’s trustees released their annual report on the program’s finances. The results aren’t pretty.
The new report “reinforces the need for serious reform,” The Heritage Foundation’s Bob Moffit explains.
Leaving the program unchanged requires either dramatic tax hikes or harsh cuts–immediately. “The 2012 report states that bringing Medicare Part A into actuarial balance would require an immediate 47 percent increase in the payroll tax or a 26 percent cut in Part A benefits,” he explains.
The Obama administration’s Medicare plans are a lose-lose for seniors, Moffit continues. “If the Administration’s crude strategy of payment cuts is successful, reduced access to care for seniors is virtually guaranteed. If the provider cuts are reversed, the Medicare financial condition simply worsens.”
From The Heritage Foundation.

18 April 2012

Is this a joke?

Is there such a thing as chicken poodle soup?

15 April 2012

Orfeo ed Eurydice at Symphony Hall, Phoenix

That is Mr Gluck to the right, the composer of this no-nonsense little opera, an opera for ordinary people.

We have not seen or heard this delicate beauty before this last Sunday afternoon. There was no fireworks, either vocal or instrumental. We enjoyed the nice integration of dance and choral music, and only rare big arias.

I was surprised to see and hear Orfeo sung by a mezzo-soprano. According to Wikipedia that started sometime during the 19th century and now it is the usual way that it is done, although counter-tenors sometimes give it a go.

Eurydice was resurrected in the 2nd act and sounded great. If you are going—sorry, Sunday afternoon was the closing for this season in Arizona—you might check out Greek mythology for Dummies.

Symphony Hall in downtown Phoenix isa good place to listen to music whether in the orchestra or in the balcony. Lighting and stagecraft was nicely done.

14 April 2012

From the Wilds of Wisconsin

The MSM doesn't pay much attention to Wisconsin unless the Packers are winning Super Bowls, but they may have something to say in the upcoming recall election. Just a reminder. This will be a hard fought battle. The unions are very worried because they don't have the advantage of being able to count the votes all by themselves.

The Next Grand Minimum

There are some who think that the warmists have failed to make their case. Some argue that agriculture may be affected by cooling. This blog has a sensible way of presenting that argument. The above graphic demonstrates that in a low pressure way. The interesting thing about the changes in agriculture is that they could happen relatively quickly, like a lot less than a lifetime.

12 April 2012

I Am Saddened Too

I have been reading this blog, AWOL Civilization, for some time now. I initially found it a little too much dis-heartening, but I have come around to the position of fully embracing Gary Wolf's depressing central ideas. Check out this entry.

10 April 2012

From City Journal: Growing Out Of Poverty

There are lots of surprisingly good things that have happened in the world in my lifetime. Lifting people out of poverty is one of those things. Check out this article. How did this happen?

06 April 2012

Aging Again

The only names I recognize at the Masters are Fred Couples and Tiger Woods: would you attribute this to aging or not paying attention.

02 April 2012

Windy in Peoria: Moyer is Wild & Gently Whacked by Former Team-Mates

Yes, I said Moyer, Jamie Moyer that is. I thought he had retired a year or two ago but he fooled all of us, checking into a hospital for Tommy John surgery, and then signing a minor league contact with the Rockies. When I saw the familiar motions and number (50) too, I gave a shout of glee at the Mariners v, Rockies game in Peoria this afternoon. 49 years! At this rate Jamie may beat Satchel Paige's numbers.

What a lovely serendipitous pair of starters: Felix Hernandez and Jamie Moyers. The former looked sharp, striking out 6 in 4 innings and as usual getting a little upset when the home plate umpire called an inadvertent quick pitch a balk. He will be the Mariners' ace for sure this year.

Moyers' line didn't look quite as good: 5 innings, 4 runs, 9 hits, no big flies: not really bad but not as good as usual. His control seemed a little off, e.g. he walked 1 and hit the same batter twice. I'm not sure if the decision has been made or not yet but we are for him.

I heard the distinctive plonk of a thrown baseball on plastic helmet today: Future star Mariner Jesus Montero was hit by Edgmer Escalonte and clearly dazed. I hope things work out. As soon as I heard the sound I had a flashback some 60 or so years when I saw and heard my father hit on the head with a thrown baseball in the years before they wore helmets. He dropped like the cows that were dispatched in his slaughterhouse. Eventually he got up and dizzily stumbled to first base, where his manager decided he could not make it any further and replaced him. No wonder we all have to overcome the fear of someone throwing baseballs surprisingly close to us.

01 April 2012

Gatsby Play Grabs Many

Arizona Theatre Company's production of The Great Gatsby was as "titillating, fascinating and shocking" as the F. Scott Fitzgerald novel was in 1925. Thank Goodness there was enough stagecraft magic to keep the show moving as it was meant to be. Of course, the audience was not empathic with any of the characters. If we did we were not paying attention to the author of the book or the playwright both on the same page in my opinion. Still on through this weekend. Worth a trip to downtown.

There was an absent-minded review of the play in the Arizona Republic by Kerry Lengel last week sometime, I think it was 27 March. Apparently he or she disagreed with the campy nature of the hydroplane scene. And then there is this:

"In the book, Fitzgerald paints images of emptiness. But in this production, it's the imagery that lacks substance,"

says Ms Lengel in a final paragraph of wisdom. Hmm. I, for one, have trouble understanding the difference between "emptiness" and "lacks substance." Fortunately, the last Sunday afternoon matinee was well attended and the audience thought the show was pretty good. Keep up the good work AZ Theatre Company. Maybe you just need to buy some advertising to get a decent review.

30 March 2012

Sailing To Salt River Fields

From Sun City West we took the GPS recommended route around the northern borders of the Phoenix metropolitan area to Salt River Fields at Talking Stick, an oasis in the desert east of Scottsdale , and a 45 minute journey at 70 mph from the safe environs of Sun City West. Seemed fairly easy to get to. Parking $5. Surprise appears to be the only place so far that doesn't charge for parking. Mostly pleasant people.

Long uphill walk to the baseball field. Not many golf carts or wheel chairs. The rocks on either side of the walkway are fake. They are really annoying loudspeakers trying to sell you something. See below for more on this last point.

Kind of looks like a smaller version of a major league park, doesn't it. I suppose because it is cheaper the rise on each row is not enough to see over the galoot in front of you. There appear to be some nice shaded seats on the 2nd deck. I forgot to ask if they were available to us commoners. Fairly expensive seats in the sun. Maybe that is what some come for.

I guess I should have been warned by the short lines at this place. I knew I had made a mistake when I was hand my burger with some yellow crap on it the second after I ordered it. Could not finish this.

On the other hand this Asian-looking concoction was very tasty and they were making it on the spot.

We managed to find some shade on the visitors side of the stadium, in today's case that was the Cleveland Indians. As you can see we were "taking time for paradise," as Bart Giamatti recommended. This was  marred by a really annoying public address system. Either they think we old folks are all deaf or the system was set up by a young person who had ruined his hearing by attending too many loud rock concerts.

So then, high prices for the seats and the concessions, $$ parking, and a loudmouth announcer, what more could we want. This is what the true aficionado comes for.

Thistles in Paradise

I woke up this morning to find someone had sown this nasty-looking thing in our front yard. It even has its own drip irrigation device!

I was reminded of multiple episodes in my childhood when my father would drop Gerry and me off at Grandpa Mueller's farm on the outskirts of Hustisford WI to harvest the crop of thistles that came up every spring. My guess nowadays is that they couldn't afford baby-sitters in those days. We wore thick gloves to protect our hands. They seemed gigantic but then I guess we were smaller in those days.

25 March 2012

Good Times at Goodyear

It seems fitting that two Ohio teams, the Cincinnati Redlegs and the Cleveland Indians, join together for spring training in an Arizona town named after Akron Ohio's Goodyear Tires.

Although the Indians had long come to Arizona in the spring (1947 to 1992), they had left for Winter Haven, Florida after the '92 season.  They returned in 2009 when the good folks of Goodyear opened their wallets to build a nice park for them and were persuaded by others that things would be better in Arizona. They were joined by the Reds in 2010.

This place looks familiar. It reminds me of Dehler Park in Billings MT, especially the way it was supposed to look before the suites got knocked off in the name of egalitarianism and the hope of getting enough ordinary folks to vote for it. Of course Dehler doesn't have palms and certainly doesn't have the dopey stretched out baseball looking like a rocket ship that you can see above. Must have been one of Salvador Dali's lesser known works.

There is one less than helpful shield against the sun and rain on the 3rd base side. As you can see in the picture at the top the scoreboard is similar, though the bottom row of info at Goodyear in contrast to Billings is not very readable. They do have a space for pitch speed but it was not used for the Reds' game that I saw. When I asked Gary Roller why we didn't have this info at Dehler, he told me that the Reds didn't like their players to see that info, so at least they are consistent, both in how they treat their players and their fans too now that I think about it. Perhaps the Indians use it at Goodyear.

23 March 2012

Houston's Cause of Death was Accidental Drowning?

Really? Do you mean that she fell asleep in a bath tub full of water? C'mon man, we need a little more thought than that.

It seems to me she must have lost consciousness while in the tub, which suggests to me either some primary central nervous system depression, or the same effect secondary to a loss of cardiac function. Although a fair number of drugs were found in her room and in her body, they were not found in concentrations high enough to be a sufficient cause by themselves.

It looks like the circumstances surrounding the death, i.e being found dead under water; and the drug use history, especially cocaine use; together with an absence of any convincing morphologic cause on autopsy, led  to the coroner's conclusion.

But what caused the loss of consciousness in a potentially dangerous environment? Could she have suffered some CNS or cardiac malfunction because her drug levels were low enough to be dangerous? Could her tolerance for the drugs have sunk so low that even small amounts might be dangerous? What is the mechanism of death in cocaine and poly-pharmacy deaths? If the drugs increased the probability of a sudden CNS or cardiac event, even when still present in small amounts, shouldn't they be listed as the probable cause of death, in that they initiated the process that led to death?

Curious people want to know.

Billings Theatre Expanding

We are starting to look forward to our spring trek back to Montana. Especially when we read in the latest Enjoy that Kelly Martin is going to open a new theatrical venue, the Prince Theatre, in the old movie house on Broadwater. Not surprisingly he plans on specializing in musicals and comedies, both of which he does very well. Both BST and Venture always seem a little small when they do a musical. I can't remember what the stage looks like at the old Cine 7. Let's hope it will work. Wow, three theaters in a town the size of Billings. Next thing we know, someone will get the idea of putting on some Shakespearean plays.

Checking Out the Baseball at Camelback Ranch

Camelback Ranch in Glendale AZ is the spring training home of the Los Angeles Dodgers and the Chicago White Sox. The latter has been doing spring training in many places over the years, including a couple years at French Lick Indiana during the war years, WWII that is. Most recently the boys from the South Side of Chicago have been down in Tucson  for around 10 years and before that they were in Sarasota Florida for almost 40 years. They have been at Camelback for 4 years now.

This feels like a big park, seating around 13,000. I like the architecture, a kind of modern desert adobe look with a large concourse all the way around and relief from the sun in some places but not much of the lower deck. The upper deck is for the elite amongst us, in contrast to what is available for us ordinary folks at Surprise and Peoria. In addition they charge $30 to $40 per ticket for these seats in the sun, a lot more than Surprise and Peoria. Perhaps the folks from Chicago are willing to pay but there wasn't a full house.

I saw the Sox play the Royals on Thursday afternoon; play is not exactly the right word, pounded is what I was searching for: 16-4 was the final score I think. The parking is free and I saw a few wheelchairs being moved around as well. A good variety of concession stands, some mobile, all with major league prices of course.

This is probably the best place to watch the game, in the shade, with an expensive beer in your hand. All the parks I've been to so far feature expensive food and drink.

The view from the left field corner. There are some comfortable seats with shade just to the left of this location overlooking the visitors bullpen. There are scattered areas for grass sitting too, if that appeals to you. The outfielders were paying attention to some of the more scantily-clad fans of the female persuasion.

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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