Friday, January 30, 2015

Romney Is A No Go

Drats! I won't get an opportunity to not vote for him a fourth and fifth time. 




Now if a few more, washed up, useless, double talking and posturing politicians withdraw, maybe there can be a real race. Jeb and Hillary, are you listening?

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Anniversary of the Space Shuttle Challenger Explosion

It didn't take long before everyone knew what an O ring was. The understatement of the decade, "Obviously, a major malfunction."



The next day I flew down to Florida on business, where I had a window seat on the left hand side of our US Air flight. I looked down on a checkerboard pattern in the Atlantic formed by the wakes of dozens of recovery ships, each circling within their segment of the search grid. It was a sad and sobering sight.

RIP Teacher-in-Space payload specialist Sharon Christa McAuliffe; payload specialist Gregory Jarvis; and astronauts Judith A. Resnik, mission specialist; Francis R. (Dick) Scobee, mission commander; Ronald E. McNair, mission specialist; Mike J. Smith, pilot; and Ellison S. Onizuka, mission specialist.

Monday, January 26, 2015

Carly Fiorina

Back in the day when she was a rising star at Hewlett Packard I knew people who were buddies of Carly (they had attended an advanced management program together at Harvard or Sloan, I forget which) who I did not think a whole lot of. So I kind of -- no, I totally disregarded her. But I watched this speech the other day. I know now that I was completely wrong. 

At 18:00: 
"Like Hillary Clinton, I too have traveled hundreds of thousands of miles around the globe. But unlike her I have actually accomplished something. You see Mrs. Clinton, flying is not an accomplishment. It is an activity."
Check it out beginning to end.



Saturday, January 24, 2015

Some People Should Be Immortal

Normally when someone in their eighties on up dies I get a warm feeling inside, and make a statement to the effect that the departed led a long and wonderful life. Today when I got that news, it drew more than a tear or two to my eye, for Ernie Banks is dead. That's hard to imagine. I hope at his funeral they play this song so we can all have a smile or two as well. 


Here is the full tune.



Good-bye and god bless Number 14.




Tag, You're It

On Thursday, the European Central Bank joined the United States Federal Reserve and the United Kingdom and Japanese central banks in jumping on the Quantitative Easing (QE) bandwagon.
FRANKFURT—The European Central Bank ushered in a new era by launching an aggressive bond-buying program Thursday, shifting pressure to Europe’s political leaders to restore prosperity in one of the global economy’s biggest trouble spots. 
Investors cheered the ECB’s commitment to flood the eurozone with more than €1 trillion ($1.16 trillion) in newly created money, sparking a rally in stock and bond markets and sending the euro plunging.
The elites love it. Cheers were roused among the über rich and politically powerful in Davos, Switzerland at the World Economic Forum, a resort town where they lolled this week while beneficently charting our futures.
The reactions to the central bank’s move rippled widely through the world’s trading floors, corporate boardrooms and European capitals. “It’s one piece of getting Europe back to growth, and we should see an impact,” Joe Jimenez, chief executive of drug giant Novartis said in an interview in Davos, Switzerland, where the political and economic elite are gathered for meetings of the World Economic Forum.
Also in Switzerland, Larry Summers, former White House economist under Obama and Treasury Secretary under Bill Clinton, spoke up, issuing the always at the ready progressive endorsement.
Former U.S. Treasury Secretary Larry Summers described the ECB’s move as a “broadly responsible central bank action,” but said governments still need to make policy reforms. 
Policy reforms in Summers/Obama speak means higher taxes, more government spending and larger, more intrusive government. Sweet.

Producing money and incurring debt to stimulate the economy is like sowing dandelion seeds and laying manure to stimulate your lawn. For sure you will get a spurt of growth, but at the end of the day, you cheapen the result, develop deeply rooted problems, foul the runoff, and choke out the good in the favor of the bad. 

QE is a debt and inflation enabling mechanism. QE increases the money supply by creating money out of thin air to effect purchases of government bonds. Since the amount of money in circulation is increased without actually producing anything, QE, aside from enabling deficit spending, inflates prices. 


Donald Trump, "People like me will benefit from this."
For those who own and live off of financial assets (i.e., the rich), general price inflation is a good thing since throwing more money at their assets increases the monetary (as opposed to real economic) value of their wealth. But for ordinary working stiffs, inflation is bad because it creates artificial price floors and/or drives up the prices on things workers buy and consume in order to support themselves and their families. Also, QE squashes interest earnings on payroll savings. Ultimately as well, taxes will have to go up to pay for the enabled debt. 

The ECB president is Mario Draghi. You and I have a different world view. We like paying less as opposed to more to heat our homes, drive our cars, to eat, and to transport goods and services. But the bankers, and the big government progressives (including all Democrats in the US), want to reflate prices. They don't like it when we live less expensively, such as currently with declining gasoline prices.
Consumers and businesses are welcoming the fall in oil prices and lower inflation but today low inflation is seen as a trigger by central bankers including Draghi, the ex Goldman Sachs banker, to print money to buy government bonds.
We are not the only ones who are on to this game.  
Economist Anthony Randazzo of the Reason Foundation wrote that QE “is fundamentally a regressive redistribution program that has been boosting wealth for those already engaged in the financial sector or those who already own homes, but passing little along to the rest of the economy. It is a primary driver of income inequality.”

Donald Trump – not usually one for distributional analyses of monetary policy – said on CNBC yesterday that “People like me will benefit from this.”
We may be right, but we are in the minority in openly scoffing the absurd money printing policies. 

Read, reason and learn.

Have a great day!

Monday, January 19, 2015

Dear President Saves Me Again

So Barack Obama is gonna play the Robin Hood thing again, this time announcing his plan at the State of the Union, to save me from poverty and penury, relieve me of tax obligations and pass the burden along to the rich. How sweet it is! 

And deserved? You be the judge.

When I get around to filing our federal tax return our tax bill will run about three percent of our adjusted gross income. By my standards we live pretty high on the hog. No debt. No mortgage (or mortgage interest deduction). We don't have to work. And we live in a 4,200 square foot home with gorgeous mountain views on an acre lot. By my standards, we live pretty high on the hog.

One of the reasons our federal taxes are absurdly low is something called the child tax credit, which we fully qualify for. Obama says he is going to triple the child tax credit which would negate our tax liability altogether, and assuming it remains refundable, could result in the federal government cutting us a check. The income tax system would pay us -- not vice versa.

I looked into the history of the child tax credit, courtesy of the "nonpartisan" Center of Budget and Policy Priorities. 

The Center has been broadly praised by the left and right -- wings of the Democratic party that is.


What Others Say About the Center

  • “[The Center’s] statistical work is absolutely impeccable. If you care about [fiscal issues], check CBPP’s site regularly for updates.” 
    — Nobel Laureate and New York Times columnist Paul Krugman
     
  • “[I]n a political environment rife with ideological warfare and poisoned by partisanship, the Center’s knack for getting things done sets it apart from  . . . well, from just about everybody else in Washington.”
    — Steven Pearlstein, Pulitzer Prize-winning Washington Post columnist 
     
  • “The invaluable Center on Budget and Policy Priorities … [has] been the go-to resource for consistently reliable analysis on matters of budgets and fiscal policy at every level of government.”
    — Vice President Joseph Biden
      
  • “[CBPP’s] staff includes not only some of the most reputable federal budget analysts in Washington, but the analysts that other analysts go to for information, advice and reality checks. They’re highly experienced, credentialed and credible. Even those who disagree with the CBPP’s politics seldom, if ever, argue with its understanding of the budget process.”
    — Stan Collender, leading budget expert and Roll Call columnist
     
  • “In a year that was all about budget issues, the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities lived up to its name. Whether you were looking for the latest numbers on state budget cuts, a quick analysis of Rep. Paul Ryan’s proposals, or simply an introduction to where your tax dollars go, CBPP lived up to its reputation as the fastest, fairest, and smartest policy think tank in Washington.” 
    — Ezra Klein, Washington Post, in naming CBPP as Think Tank of the Year (2011)

The Center says the child tax credit is about "helping low income working families." Sweet. They laud the program for allowing working families to "owe little or no income tax in a given year" and claim the credit is "a powerful weapon against poverty." That would implicate us child tax credit recipients as poverty stricken and in need of charity, I guess. We love progressives, even if they don't have a brain.
Also, research suggests that boosting working families’ incomes can expand opportunities for children, such as by improving school performance. Lifting low-income families’ income when a child is young not only tends to improve a child’s immediate well-being, but is associated with better health, more schooling, more hours worked, and higher earnings in adulthood, research has found.
Just give me money and my kids will do better in school. Of course! How brilliant is that? Give me yet more money and my kids will be Einsteins. This tax policy is better than a miracle drug.

Fact is that my three percent tax rate is the norm for the bottom fifty percent.



High income tax payers are already paying seven times my rate (the ratio will be larger for 2014). 

And the top half of taxpayers are paying 97.2 percent of all income taxes.



Everybody should have some skin in the game. I guesstimate that, including other changes, Obama's plan will relieve up to half of the lower fifty percent from paying any income taxes whatsoever.

Obama apologists, thanks but no thanks. I don't want or need your support. It's not good for our society. It's not good for our economy. It's not good for our future. Period.











Thursday, January 15, 2015

Addendum to the Lincoln Tavern Post

Earlier this week, when we linked to our Lincoln Tavern post on the We Grovers From Morton Grove group on Facebook, we were invited to join the Morton Grove Historical Society group as well, and did so promptly, where we came across a post that linked to an aerial shot of Morton Grove, said to have been shot in 1938-39. Here is the aerial shot.

One of the reasons I like this overview is it shows that Chick Evans (nee Northwestern) golf course actually had some sand traps back in the day. Further, it showed the golf course layout and bunkering at Glen View Club were exactly then as during the 1960s and 1970s when I caddied there. At the time, much of Morton Grove was an abandoned development (roads cut through and sidewalks installed), much like many of the recession ghost towns sprinkled throughout the United States following the 2008 financial meltdown. There are lot of other interesting gets, like seeing that much of the area that is now St. Paul/Miami Woods was farm land at the time. But this post is about Lincoln Tavern.

To make some sense of the aerial photo in terms of seeing what the Lincoln Tavern looked like, I enlarged and cut out the local portion, wrote in street names and edited in a pointer to the tavern. Here it is.



Note how large the Lincoln Tavern was. The building, plus the ample frontage off of Dempster, took up half the block. On the northeast corner of the same block is the building that was the Dempster Inn and then the Stumble Inn during the Depression, which later became Val's Tavern. Although Poehlmann Bros. bankrupt florist business had been long shuttered, greenhouses remained at that time in the area north of Dempster and west of the Lincoln Tavern, where Park View School and Harrer Park are located today.

Note that on the northwest corner of Austin and Dempster, you can still see the footprint of The Dells back in the woods, though it is hard to say how much of the building remained. Note also, across the street, on the northeast corner of Austin and Dempster, is Murphy's steakhouse, which was in the frame white building there, very much the same through the 1950s and 1960s, when I grew up in Morton Grove. One of the buildings across from Murphy's on the block southeast of the Austin and Dempster intersection housed Club Rendezvous, location of the deadly fire on March 24, 1935.





Slow Down!

If you doubt the need to slow down and be careful in snowy and icy conditions, just check out the carnage in this social media video of the 193 vehicle accident aftermath in Michigan last week.


Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Great Lakes Ice Coverage Above Normal

We are not going to challenge records this year like we did last year, but season-to-date Great Lakes ice coverage is well above normal. Here is the latest graphic progress chart from the Canadian Ice Service.



The US Great Lakes Coastal Forecasting System has some great graphics too. Here is Lake Erie, as of today, depicting 79.9 percent ice coverage.



Click this link to watch the ice coverage grow.

Really cool, and not something you will find reported in the media because it does not support the doomsday global warming theories that are favored by the smart people and all the scientists on the take.

Hope you all are having a great winter. Cheers!




On the Road to Bathgate: Uncle William Adams Foster

This is a rewrite and republish for along the way, some how, some way I noticed when doing research a few weeks back that I had accidentally deleted the post I wrote last year. It is all just as well because I have uncovered a couple of new sources. Here is the new post.

Though he lived up in North Dakota and never came to visit, I met my uncle Adams several times in my youth. Adams was born November 17, 1893 in Bathgate, North Dakota, the third child (of eleven) and oldest son of Isaac Jarvis and Laura Elizabeth Armstrong Foster. His full name was William Adams Foster -- William in honor of his paternal grandfather, William K. Foster, and Adams in honor of his maternal grandfather, John Adams Armstrong.


My aunt Charlotte related in her family history that Adams was a sick baby for a spell.



The Houston farm would later be stage for a pivotal event in Adams' life.

Aunt Charlotte counted Adams among the Foster children with brown hair.


Here is a picture of part of the brood.
Adams, Herb, Jim, Charlotte, George, and Bryant Foster.

All the boys, Adams included, worked hard on the farm come threshing time.



A sheaf is a cut bundle of wheat. Sheafs were shocked (stacked upright against one another) to give the wheat an opportunity to dry before the grain was threshed out.

In a comical vein, Adams and his brothers nursed an orphan colt, to the chagrin of Mrs. Stelzer.




William Adams Foster draft registration, World War I.
According to his 1917 draft registration card, Adams was of medium height and medium build. He self described as having brown hair and gray eyes. He claimed no disability.

The story about uncle Adams was that he had fallen from a horse and hit his head. I never knew quite whether to believe it. In my youth I wondered whether that was cover for some congenital condition. Adams lived with his parents right up to the time of their deaths in 1934, which would have made him 40 years old. The uncle Adams I knew had no real comprehension of money or ability to support himself. 

The story about the horse it turns out is absolutely true. Here is the January, 1913 published report.
Pembina Pioneer Express, January 31, 1913


Almost a Fatality.
Adams Foster, oldest son of Sheriff Foster, met with an accident on Thursday evening which nearly proved fatal. The sheep had strayed away from the ranch in the storm in the evening and Mr. Foster and Adams started in different directions to round them up. Mr. Foster returned about 8 o'clock and found the horse Adams had been riding standing loose by the barn. He took his hounds and collie dogs and started out to look him up and finally located him in a straw stack on the John Houston farm. The horse had turned sharply and thown Adams near the stack, rendering him unconscious for a time and when he came too he crawled to the straw stack and covered himself as well as he could. When found he was in a torpor which would probably have been his last sleep had he not been found withing a short time. He suffered no serious results although he was frost bitten on the hands, feet and face. -- Pink Paper.
Grandfather Ike had well trained bloodhounds courtesy of the state penitentiary who favored him with the same because he was county sheriff.

The incident was reported across state lines in Bemidji.
Bemidji Daily Pioneer, January 27, 1913

Down in the state capital, the Tribune made note of the incident as well.


Bismarck Tribune, January 25, 1913

Grand Forks picked up the report too.


The Evening Times (Grand Forks. N. D.), January 24, 1913
The newspaper claim of no serious results proved inaccurate. After his parents passed during the Great Depression, Adams became resident at the Grafton State School (previously the Institution for the Feeble Minded) 35 miles south of Bathgate. On visits we would check him out and take him to the county fair, to visit Bathgate or just down to a local brook for a nice little picnic. Beyond a point in time, Adams would say he was getting tired (he was in his 70s at the time) and he wanted to go home. 

Adams later moved to a nursing home in Grand Forks where he died on March 21, 1977.

Cavalier Chronicle, March 25, 1977
ADAMS FOSTER
Adams Foster, 83, Grand Forks (formerly of Bathgate, died Monday, March 21 at a Grand Forks Hospital.
Funeral services were held Wednesday, March 23 at the Jensen Funeral Home in Cavalier, Rev. Anthony Adams officiated at the service. Burial was in the Bathgate Cemertery. Arrangements were with Jensen Funeral Home in Cavalier.
Mr. Foster was born Nov. 27, 1893 to Mr. and Mrs. Isaac Foster at Bathgate. He spent his early life in the Bathgate area. For the past four years he had been a resident at St. Anne's Guest Home in Grand Forks.
Survivors include four brothers: Herbert and George Foster of Chicago; Bryant Foster, Fresno, Calif., and James Foster, Salem, Ore.; two sisters: Mrs. Margaret Cameron, Evanston, Ill., and Mrs. Roy (Charlotte) Von Alman, Little Fork, Minn. Several newphews and nieces also survive. 
He was preceded in death by his parents, three sisters and one brother.

Adams' tombstone in Bathgate Cemetery.

God bless William Adams Foster. may he eternally rest in peace.



Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Morton Grove Before the Baby Boom: Life and Times at the Lincoln Tavern

The Lincoln Tavern is the third establishment we feature in this Morton Grove roadhouse series.

I grew up in Morton Grove in the 1950s and 1960s in a house on the corner Austin Avenue and Davis Street. From kindergarten through eighth grade, I attended Park View school. 

Most school days in seventh and eighth grade, I participated in after school intramural sports, and then detoured on the way home. I cut across Harrer Park or walked up Moody Street to Dempster Street, turning east on Dempster down to Austin. Along the way I sometimes stopped for a treat at Yadron's Deli (candy or a chocolate milk), Jean's Bakery (a chocolate eclair) or at the counter of a small diner style restaurant (a chocolate milkshake) whose name I have lost in the fog of time. That was my self indulgence. All the rest of the money I made caddying went into the bank for eventually funding college and starting a lifelong habit of saving and investing.

I did not understand it at the time, but my homeward route looped along Morton Grove's prohibition era roadhouse row. 

Previously we recounted the drama and contretemps surrounding fights for control of  the Lincoln Tavern's near neighbor, The Dells. We re-published contemporary reports on the deadly fire that consumed Club Rendezvous, one block further up Dempster Street. Now we feature the Lincoln Tavern. The Lincoln Tavern was notable among Morton Grove roadhouses for its huge capacity, sultry entertainment and the prominent performers who were featured therein. 

Introducing The Lincoln Tavern.  

Location, location and location were behind it. The roadhouse district along Dempster Street in Morton Grove was near enough to the Chicago Loop and the ritzy residences on the Gold Coast and up to the north shore suburbs to be accessible, but sufficiently distant and isolated to have an air of mystery and country cachet. Tavern offerings were illicit. Local and county police were complicit.

Friday, January 9, 2015

A Number You Gotta' Like!


Meanwhile....

The police have been very, very active in Montana -- five incidents, four dead, nobody except the cop was armed. It is not a matter of race. Get the least bit angry or upset and they believe they are justified in shooting you. The police is always right. Be careful out there.













Thursday, January 8, 2015

The Suspects in France

So the kid who allegedly drove the getaway car was homeless and unemployed. According to the New York Times, when he did work he had "menial jobs."
Libération, a French newspaper, described Chérif Kouachi as an orphan whose parents were Algerian immigrants. It said he was raised in foster care in Rennes, in western France, and trained as a fitness instructor before moving to Paris, where he lived with his brother Said in the home of a convert to Islam. He held menial jobs, working at times as a pizza delivery man, shop assistant and fishmonger.

Doing real things that serve real people is menial -- the arrogance of the liberal establishment revealed.

The Times also tells us:
According to the authorities, the third and youngest suspect, Hamyd Mourad, 18, drove the getaway car. Mr. Mourad turned himself in late Wednesday at a police station in Charleville-Mézières in northern France. Le Point, a leading French newsmagazine, said that the two brothers had both been known by the intelligence services, and that Mr. Mourad was unemployed. It said that the police had identified the suspects after one left his identification papers in the abandoned Citroën vehicle used to escape after the attack on Charlie Hebdo.
If I was in a getaway vehicle I would have left identification papers too -- someone else's. Just saying. The authorities are justified in trying to track these guys down, but they should not have blinders on.



Tuesday, January 6, 2015

The Spring Festival Cometh

If I tell you I am a Libra, ho hum might be your response.

But I tell you I am a snake in the grass, then your ears would perk up.

One thing we've done each year in Bozeman, when the time comes, we preside over a Chinese new year presentation, craft project and celebration in our youngest child's elementary school class. Last year in Mrs. Crawford's class she said our presentation was the best of the year. This year we are looking forward to repeating in Mrs. Schaefer's class. We are motivated and planning -- spurred on by the welcome positive feedback. 

In China the new year's celebration is more commonly referred to as the spring festival. We were in Beijing in the year 2000 during the week leading up to it. It was a glorious time of sharing hothouse flowers, employers lavishing workers with sumptuous repasts and family members travelling from far and wide to their ancestral homes for reunion. In the People's Republic of China it is a 7-day holiday. 

This will be the year of the sheep or ram -- specifically the ram respected by the others. Sheep is one of the twelves signs of the Chinese zodiac, the others being monkey, rooster, dog, pig, rat, oxen, tiger, rabbit, dragon, snake and horse. The signs rotate on a twelve year and sixty year cycles, each showing up five different ways during a sixty year cycle.


We involve the kids by having them identify which sign or signs they were born under. We circulate our our twelve volume set of the Chinese Horoscopes Library so they can read about the sign they were born under and others that might interest them. We give them background on the history and practice of the new year celebration. Then we have the entire class engage in a relevant craft. Finally, the celebration begins. We pass out little red envelopes filled with tokens and chocolate coins in lieu of gold specie and then simulate the classic Chinese firecracker celebration by covering the floor with bubble wrap. The kids to jump up and down to pop the bubbles -- they love it!

I was born in the year of the snake -- specifically snake in the grass, which in keeping with the sixty year cycle was repeated last year. Last night I opened up the Chinese Horoscope Library volume for the horoscope reading on snake in the grass. The passage begins thus:
You are full of energy and are very clever, but that does not always lead to an easy life. It is beneficial for you to pay considerable attention to your relationship with your elders, for you are linked to ancestor worship -- keeping the dead happy.
My oh my! In the last year or two, I have extensively researched and written several dozen extended blog posts on long since dead ancestors. How could Kwok Man-Ho have known that when he wrote this horoscope in 1994? The Chinese are very wise.




No Chains in Arlington

Ah yes, the good old days in Arlington, Virginia. They got a few inches of snow and the stalwart parents in the federal spending enclave are going ballistic because officials didn't shut down their schools. Now in our third school year they have shut down or postponed school here in Bozeman, Montana, exactly zero times because of snow. Back in Arlington, I wonder if they could not find room in their $19K per student budget to buy tire chains for the buses or whether their union contracts prohibited drivers from installing the same. Either way ridicule is well earned.  





Monday, January 5, 2015

2014 In Review

Courtesy of NOAA.





Sunday, January 4, 2015

NCAA Basketball in Bozeman

It's an oxymoron. But let me say how we got there.

When we were considering places to move after retirement I insisted on two criteria. 

First, to match with our reduced income stream, the new locale had to have a lower cost of living for our family than our then place of residence, Arlington, Virginia. That turned out to be hardly binding, because property values, taxes and cost of living in general inside the Washington, DC beltway were wildly inflated by the massive growth of government and federal spending. Criterion one eliminated some tiny enclaves, and Manhattan and Silicon Valley -- not much else. 


Looking southwest over the Montana State University
campus to the Madison range.
Second, our new location had to be in or near a large urban area or preferably college town, the theory being that in and around a university you could find at some level most every amenity and activity you could find in the big city. So here we end up in Bozeman, Montana, where we have more than twice the house for a fraction of the Arlington price, and the dominant institution in town is Montana State University, plus views and fresh mountain air to kill for.

Which sets up this rambling reminisce. 

Thursday, January 1, 2015

December Top Ten

December was a great month for us and ours in Bozeman, Montana. These last two weeks real winter has set in real hard with multiple snows, below zero temps, stiff winds and hoary frost. The snowmobilers, ice fishermen and skiers are loving it. 

On the internet, monthly page views were dominated by nostalgic looks at the past, including several in the On the Road to Bathgate series. We imagine if we authored on the roads to Dallas, New York, Los Angeles or Minneapolis series, we could increase our readership ten or twenty times over. But we prefer the stories interesting, the research fascinating and our writing fun. Here are December's top ten. 

Golfer and two-time US Open champ, Retief Goosen, promoting "The Goose" fine wines.
1. Even though the Golf Channel has been nothing but reruns these last ten days, this blog's perennial most read, The Golf Channel: Spouses Guide to Sanity, was our most viewed post again in December. Mike Weir and Retief Goosen are featured in this jam packed post about everything golf and some things not. Given the state of the Canadian's and the South African's golf games, it is fine and proper they picked out a profitable and mind numbing sideline. Check it out. 


Paul Bunyan welcomes to Brainerd?
2. A bloke who administers the Cavalier Area Chamber of Commerce Facebook page in Pembina County, North Dakota, linked to several On the Road to Bathgate posts. On The Road to Bathgate Act 1: "Fargo" the Movie, was shared and re-shared leading to its position as number two December post. It turns out that Bathgate and Brainerd have something in common. 

3. Growing Up In Morton Grove presents a nostalgic look at our youth. Morton Grove is still there. We are not. But the memories linger on. By virtue of this post a reader sent us the name, fifty year old address and age of his birth mother, who grew up in Morton Grove, asking for help locating her. That's all the information he had. I recalled a same last-named classmate who resided in that section of town. It turns out my classmate was a younger brother. Via that connection, our reader was able to track his birth family down. Sadly, he reported back that his birth mother is no longer with us in this world, but he was able to speak with and introduce himself to his birth grandmother, who was quite pleased with the closing of the loop.

4. If your goal is to author a highly read and widely circulated blog, then you should write about bureaucrats, consultants, politicians and government contractors in the Washington, DC metropolitan area. There are hundreds of thousands; they love reading about themselves. We aligned with that strategy in our post, Lining Up Postal Data: A Tale of a Career and Two Calendars.  For the efforts we put in through the years, and various achievements -- real and imagined -- we earned an honorary doctorate of philosophy degree -- one that Dorothy's scarecrow friend would be proud of. Before Jonathan Gruber there was Jerry Hausman. In response to publishing this post, we have received positive private feedback from highly placed sources, who have asked they remain anonymous because of the sensitivity of the matter and that they are not authorized to speak on the topic. Really.

Norville Baptie jumping barrels.
5. Our friend from the Cavalier Area Chamber of Commerce and an octogenarian erstwhile resident of Bathgate have been driving web traffic to On the Road to Bathgate Act 6: Norville Baptie, Champion Skater. Whether it was speed skating, barrel jumping, figure/fancy skating or ice show productions, Norville Baptie was the premier skater and ice skating promoter of the early 20th century. Norville hailed from and is buried in the hamlet of Bathgate, North Dakota.

6. Our latest addition to the On the Road to Bathgate Series, On the Road to Bathgate, Act 4i: Robert Dimon Hoskins -- Editor, Public Servant, Lawyer and Merchant, debuted late in the month.  Great uncle Rob Hoskins rose from small town editor and lawyer, to clerk of the supreme court in Bismarck, North Dakota, and merchant, who started a business empire that eventually spawned Meyer Broadcasting, owner and operator of KFYR radio, KFYR television and a TV network covering the western half of the state. This post covers R. D.'s first forty years, when the seeds of the family business empire were sown.

7. Beware the Avalanche tells the tragic story of a Bozeman man who lost his life a year ago today, with advice and information on avoiding and surviving (don't depend on it) avalanches weaved in.
On New Years Day, three men rode snowmobiles into the northern Gallatins, planning to spend all day in the mountains. The group started at 9:30 a.m. from the Portal Creek trailhead, seven miles north of Big Sky on U.S.191. 
They were Ken and Kenneth Gibson, father and son ages 46 and 19, and Kenneth’s friend Zachary Walker, also 19. Ken Gibson was an expert snowmobiler, familiar with the area and aware of avalanche hazards, according to Staples. The younger men were experienced riders, as well, and Walker had been out riding with the Gibsons a few times prior. 
Aerial picture of the avalanhce site, from the
Gallitan National Forest Avalanche Center.
All three had avalanche beacons, probes and shovels, and were familiar with their use, and both Gibsons wore airbag backpacks. As the group traveled through the backcountry, they passed crown lines from recent large avalanches. 
Just before 2 p.m., they rode into the north end of Onion Basin, a remote area south of 9,948-foot Eaglehead Mountain. 
Kenneth got his snowmobile stuck, but because he was in the back the other two didn’t realize they’d lost him. Debris from a recent natural avalanche was visible on one of the steep, 500-foot slopes encircling the basin, and they kept what they thought was a safe distance from the slopes above, Ken riding up into a gentle meadow, and Walker continuing out across it. 
Walker saw the avalanche out of the corner of his eye just before it hit.
On January 1, 2014, Ken Gibson, as an experienced and well prepared snowmobiler you can find, was buried in Onion Basin, near Big Sky, Montana. That day, his wife lost a husband and his two boys lost a father. Our prayers to his family. May he rest in peace. God bless them all.

Checking out the right front wheel that
got too close to the culvert.
8. When I said,
I admit it. I can't drive, walk or ride by a culvert without swiveling my neck, inspecting and visually evaluating the structure, judging condition, materials and construction and looking at the drainage to see how well, or if, it is performing its intended function.  
in Caring About Culverts, I did not foresee the trip we took up Hyalite canyon a couple of days after Christmas. When avoiding another vehicle Larry drove off the road into a culvert inlet hidden by the blowing and drifting snow. Back in the 1970s we built culverts in Madison, Wisconsin, but probably not that one. 

Seattle World's Fair promotional poster.
9. My first time in Montana was on the way to the 1962 Seattle World's Fair. The exposition had a space age theme and gave us the iconic Space Needle which is Seattle's signature structure to this day. On the way we journeyed through Billings, Helena, Missoula and probably Bozeman too. As we were descending into Billings on July 6th of this year, I had a deja vu, 52 years ago moment, when memories of that trip flooded back. Read about them in Seattle World's Fair or Bust.


10. The lore of the caddie strike lives on -- so says a former caddie master at Glen View Club who linked up to this old post on Facebook. 
I began caddying at Glen View in the fall of '73. I remained at the club for 18 years as a caddy, caddy master and assistant pro. I was also fortunate enough to earn the Chick Evans caddy scholarship. You could say the my years there were the main influence in my life.

The story of the strike lived in GVC caddy lore for many years. The chats of "of hell no we won't go" still live on whenever some of us old loopers get together. Thanks for allowing me to relive some great memories.
It does our heart good when we can spin a yarn that injects fond memories into someone's day. So it is, that The Caddies Thank You Dr. King

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Pictures, December 30, 2014

Temperatures never rose above zero today. Over the mountains it was as if there was floating frost fog -- very different. I took the pictures below.







Sunday, December 28, 2014

Saturday Pictures on Sunday

Saturday Pictures
December 27, 2014
(click to enlarge)

Hitched a ride with a neighbor up Hyalite Canyon yesterday in his jacked up Jeep Renegade.



Vista across the frozen reservoir.


Mountains making their own weather.


We pulled over to allow an oncoming vehicle to pass only to learn the pile of snow on the right filled in and had covered a ditch. Good thing for the winch, cable and towing strap extension, and for the lone tree (left center) for attaching to the same and to get us pulled out.



Front view.


Larry's right leg is planted where the right wheels of the Jeep had been extracted. Thanks for the ride!

Saturday, December 27, 2014

A Cubs Fan Fantasy and Lament

One hundred years later there is still no difference.
Pembina (N. Dak.) Pioneer Express, November 6, 1914.


Friday, December 26, 2014

On the Road to Bathgate: Want Land? I. J. Foster, A Younger Visage

From the Pembina Pioneer Express, March 4, 1898.



Do You
.... Want Land?

Cheap as dirt. Every farm a bargain, even as an investment. Every farm if rightly treated will make itself a present to the buyer. A good home given to good men. Call in and talk with me, and I will prove it by my sales book of lands already sold. These lands are all near schools, churches, towns and railroads, most of them near timber and water. Don't go homestead 40 miles from any where when I can sell you good farms in Pembina county for less outlay and cost than you can take up Goverment land. Look over this list:

*****

One good crop will pay for almost any farm on the above list at these prices. Small cash payment or crop contract to good men buys them. No acre on this list will be for sale by anybody for less than $10, and most of it cannot be bought for $25, not counting improvements, within the next ten years.


I. J. FOSTER
        Bathgate, N. D.

Money to Loan on Farm Security.

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

I'm Dreaming of a White Christmas

As per usual we have it in Montana with more of the dreamy white stuff coming tonight. We wish everyone, everywhere else a wonderful white Christmas as well, including our friends in Hawaii, who need only hike up the slope to commune with the same.
Skiing on Mauna Kea.
HONOLULU (AP) — A blizzard warning is in effect for the summits of Mauna Kea and Mauna Loa on the Big Island of Hawaii.
The National Weather Service says up to 8 inches of snow could accumulate above 11,500 feet. The warning is in effect until 6 p.m. Wednesday.
The weather service warns of strong winds, bitter cold, blowing and drifting snow, and lightning. Temperatures in the upper 20s and lower 30s are expected, as are 45 to 65 mph winds with gusts over 90 mph, leading to whiteout conditions.
Merry Christmas and God bless everyone!


Monday, December 22, 2014

Happy Anniversary to Me -- Top Thirteen Since Inception

We are two years into it now. Today is the second anniversary of Along The Gradyent. 

What does a second anniversary call for? I looked it up. It's cotton. A travel website recommends gifting beach towels for a beach vacation. I have plenty of towels. Though the rugby striped blue towel I take with to Bozeman Swim Center every day is getting a bit ratty, I'll put off passing the hat until the fifth anniversary, when airline tickets and a cruise are the recommended gifts. I could actually use a mid-winter vacation.

This was going to be a top ten post. But then I thought (for absolutely no reason) let's promote the best bagels in town. We recommend Bagelworks on West Main, squeezed in among the honky tonk bars. The big morning seller for the drive by office crowd is a baker's dozen mixed bagels. If you can't make it to the works stop by locally owned, locally sourced Heebs grocery on East Main for a package of six.

So the top thirteen it is. Here is what I really think of the most viewed posts of our first two years. If you don't think about these posts the same way I do, that's Okay -- most of the time I don't either.

1.  Mix the Golf Channel, fine wine, Refrigerator Perry, underwear models and Katie Perry. Only in the world of oenology are Mike Weir and Retief Goosen getting better with age

2. I am a baby boomer.  I grew up in Morton Grove, Illinois, a suburb due north of Chicago and about five miles in from Lake Michigan. It is still there. I'm not.  



Brainerd it ain't, you betcha.
3. Bathgate North Dakota, population 43 according to the 2010 census, is located on the Tongue River, in the broad, fertile and frigid valley of the Red River of the North. Where else would the Kohn brothers shoot their movie? I wonder where they got the wood chipper.

4. The senior senator from Montana is a dirt farmer. He knows trucks. You don't. He knows what's good for you by god.

5. Walk the talk. We fill out the financial sector of our investment portfolio with small bank stocks. Out biggest position therein is in a bank that is a collection of separately operated community banks

6. It is a classically simple formula. Increase overhead expenses by hundreds of percent. Drive up input costs to make every special interest happy. And then saddle young adults with a trillion dollars in debt to pay for it all. Elizabeth Warren for President!


Uncle Lyn, a real American.
7. The mob is in Las Vegas. The mob is in New Jersey. The mob is in Chicago. But the mob was run the hell out of LA. Thank you Burton Fitts, Leo Raymond and uncle Lyn!

8. Everyone in Washington, DC is working hard to make your life better, especially the lobbyists, whether they are promoting Fannie Mae or Obamacare. They hide in plain sight. They are the fellas across the street.

9. Build culverts young man, build culverts. That's what we did Dear President -- you didn't have a damn thing to do with it. Hey people, how about one of these days electing someone who along the way has made a living by the sweat of his or her brow.


Big Sky area avalanche, January 1, 2014.
10. I've said more than once that the most dangerous weapon in Montana is a pick-up truck cornering too fast, too late at night. Check that. It's a snowmobile traversing an unbroken snowfield at the bottom of a steep, wind loaded slope. 

11. Johnny Bench, Joe Pepitone, Manny Mota, Fergie Jenkins and Bathgate? Of course!

12. Every fishing resort and hunting lodge in the upper Midwest claims to have hosted Al Capone and his gang in season at one time or another. During the rest of the year they hung out in my hometown of Morton Grove.


Former NSA golf ccourse.
13. How grand! Our self sacrificing president allowed a DC metro area military golf course to be plowed under to serve the greater good.

We look forward to year three.