Saturday, August 31, 2013

Slow Play in Syria

Obama changes his mind.  Do cruise missiles have a rewind? Never mind until September 9.

Syria has gone way beyond the issues. Ain't gonna do our country no good, no how, no matter how the votes turn out.
By mid-afternoon, Obama emerged in a steamy White House Rose Garden, surprising lawmakers, reporters and the public with news of his plan.
"I'm ready to act in the face of this outrage," Obama said. "Today I'm asking Congress to send a message to the world that we are ready to move forward together as one nation."
Then Obama and Biden left the White House by motorcade to play a round of golf.
Members of Congress, forgive me for playing out of order -- it's your turn now, of course, please. NATO, how about we play a scramble? We could use more involvement here. Fore -- President Assad! Incoming! I said fore, did you hear me? Duck! Vladmir, sorry to have distracted you as you were preparing to putt in. Israel, you can go hide in your bunkers. Iran, maintain your stance and play through whenever you are ready. 

Golf etiquette, that's no answer to this entire bloody mess. 

Saturday Pictures

Saturday Pictures
August 31, 2013
(click to enlarge)

Rain plume crosses Gallitan Valley at Four Corners.

Hay bales stacked looking down the Gallitan Range from Painted Hills.

How do you stack 'em?  Nothing runs like a Deere.

Green flag start. Gallitan International Speedway (aka dirt track), Belgrade, Montana.

White barn.  Not fall -- yet.

Looking up the Bridgers -- note neighbor's firewood stash, stacked.

Sequester as in Scare-Quester -- Montana Style

It's everywhere. The mainstream media is working against the factual grain, trying to scare up support for more spending and ending the sequester. The scare tactics have spread out west.

Early last week, a Bozeman Daily Chronicle page 1 story raised the specter of fiery destruction at the hands of the sequester. The headline reads "Wildfire suppression efforts suffer under budget cuts." Local fires in what is collectively referred to as the Miner Paradise Complex fire were listed in a sidebar -- North Eightmile fire (containment at time of publication, none), Horsetail fire (containment, none), Emigrant fire (containment 5 percent), Sheep fire (containment, none), and also three fires in Yellowstone. All are lightening caused.

Emigrant fire smoke plume.
Wildfires are inevitable and naturally occurring phenomena. Burns maintain balance and ensure diversity in the ecosystem. Elk herds, for example, graze in summer at elevation in areas where shade trees and brush have burned away and grasses flourish. Bears and buffalo like the more open habitat as well. Certain conifers have (serotinous) cones which require the intense heat of fire to open and release seeds for the next generation of growth. When wildfires are suppressed, this causes dead trees and dried wood and other organic debris to accumulate to the point where the build ups fuel intense conflagrations that completely denude the landscape, leading to soil erosion and dangerous mudslides. The resulting fires are so intense and uncontrollable that large numbers of structures may not survive. 

Sequester No Problem When It Comes To Syria

When the sequester went into affect Barack Obama announced curtailment of naval deployments to the Persian Gulf, fronting Iran, with its nuclear ambitions and an announced policy of annihilating Israel, and site of the Straight of Hormuz, where 35 percent of seaborne oil and 20 percent of worldwide crude passes through. Yet Obama and friends are surrounding Syria, which other than a buffer has essentially no geopolitical strategic value, has no net oil exports and is a direct threat to no one outside its borders, with a broad array of military assets.  

Boy that sequester, it's a helluva problem, isn't it?

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Ka-Ching: More Million Dollar Bus Stops On Their Way

In the land of the million dollar bus stop an emergency fix was needed for an existing shelter because it was rusting and missing a panel. The progressive loonies of the People's Republic of Arlington replaced the old stop with a new enclosure, including seating, protection from the rain, trash receptacle and bus schedules. And there's a Washington Post vending machine for anyone so inclined. The bill was way too low, $12,500, or 1.25 percent of the million dollar extravaganza installed a few blocks up Columbia Pike.

New serviceable and functional $12,500 bus stop.

Oh my, it doesn't have the real time bus information which you can get for yourself on your cell phone if you have the inclination and you are willing to trust the frequently out of date and incomplete data. This week on a local Arlington Listserv a super stop user said,  
I would add ... that during our excessive hot couple of weeks we had, having used that stop, the real time was useless as the screen got too hot. When it rains that new stop, albeit pretty does nothing to protect you from the elements.
But do not fear, a million dollar super stop is still coming to this very location in front of Rappahannock Coffee Shop too. No sweat, it's your money. That's how spending works inside the Beltway. Nothing is too good or too expensive for your precious civil servants. Do not concern yourselves. Carry on.

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Get Going!

Rise above it. Never let culture and conformity hold you back.

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Late Summer Banner Photo

We have a new picture of our house on the masthead. It's our end of summer shot. Recent rains cleared out wildfire smoke and haze to the point where we could get a decently clear picture.

Bozeman Deaconess Hospital across the fields.
We rotate the banner pic when the spirit moves. The photographs have been either of our home or views from our property. We have mountains on three sides and hay fields and pasture on the fourth, with town proper a mile and half distant across the fields. The intervening land is owned (and leased to farmers) by the hospital, which is visible in the distance. Someday the full landscape will be developed. 

On the other three sides of home sweet home, it is pretty much what you see is what you get. We are above and outside the city water and sewer service area, so lot sizes need to be large enough to support septic and yield reliable well water supply. The lots closest to home along the three mountain view vistas are already built out; we can see over or around the man made intrusions. Above are views of steep mountains and hillsides, state and federal lands that will never be developed, except for an odd privately owned parcel here and there at densities not greater than one residence every 20 acres.

Red barn and small white barn.
The small white barn with the rusted corrugated sheet metal roof, visible to the right of our house, is on common land, property under the control of our eight parcel homeowner's association. It's land that cannot be built on because it includes the community drain field that services the septic systems on association properties. White barn will stay there as long as the homeowner's association allows, which hopefully will be for the duration. A neighbor says it is an attractive nuisance.  If so, potential intruders should beware of the appeal lest they disturb and surprise the family of skunks which lurks within.

Red Barn Lot with White Barn (lower right)
The red barn is on a lot held back by the farmer who subdivided his land. The fellow who services our irrigation system says when he was growing up he came out our way to camp out with a childhood friend who lived in the farmhouse. He recounts they set up their pup tents, went inside to get some food and returned to discover cattle had trampled the tents. The farmhouse obviously has been expanded and modernized multiple times. There are three other large out buildings on what appears to be about a 2 acre lot.  

Well, that's about it.  We now have our late summer picture. It will stay up until we replace it with a fall scene. This is Montana. That won't be long.  And then winter.  Here's what red and white barn last looked like last then.

Winter Scene, Red Barn and White Barn

Saturday, August 24, 2013

Barack Obama Disses Pigs

How could you elect this man? I mean, we know that he knows about pigs. He called Sarah Palin one. Didn't he?

Barack Obama has never had a real job -- a job that designs, locates, extracts, processes, manufactures, finishes, repairs and/or maintains products or assets of value. It's not only that he hasn't dirtied his hands or worked up a sweat from anything more strenuous than elocution, it is that his prep school background and Ivy League education never gave Obama an honest view of how value is produced and the economy works. But others of us are not so encumbered. We can detect his BS. (In my case I worked in a cardboard box factory, a culvert factory and a plastics factory, I was a caddie, a dishwasher and a janitor, all before I received a fancy pants law degree). Those in the know understand that virtually every economically driven business relationship and set of producers relies on webs of suppliers and partners, which while mostly invisible to the ultimate customer, are essential in the value chain that drives the economy and serves us all.

From his background of inexperience and ignorance Obama makes false claims like the Keystone XL pipeline will produce only dozens of jobs -- a claim that he emphasized in his New York Times interview with a smug, arrogant chuckle. We blogged earlier this year on the absurdity of Obama's left wing, kill-affordable-energy-at-any-cost claims, referencing government data documenting hundreds of thousand of jobs supported by the pipeline industry. We looked at Obama's ridiculous claims from the perspective of a relation employed as a pipeline controller. Constructing, monitoring, operating, feeding, maintaining and repairing pipelines is not a simple store front enterprise. The companies that own and operate the pipelines day-to-day are but a fractional part of the the industry. Let us explain further.

Pipeline Pigs
The reference company website lists 55 companies alone under its oil and gas pipeline "pigging" category. Pigging is the process of inserting a pressure driven station (referred to as a pig because back in the day the original pigs squealed as they traveled down the pipelines) into a pipeline to perform a range of tasks including, cleaning, detecting corrosion, measuring thickness, detecting cracks and weld defects, and flushing pipeline contents, as the pig flows along.  Pigs are are also used as barriers to separate different fluids (such as crude from different oil fields) flowing through pipeline systems.  In Barack Obama's world pigs not only don't fly, they don't exist.  There is no design, manufacturing, engineering and pigging service workforce even though they are an essential part of every modern day pipeline operation. lists 145 pipeline contractors, companies engaged in manufacturing pipelines and components, and in building, inspecting and maintaining pipelines. These are companies that re-mediate pipeline spills and upgrade pipeline safety with protective liners. These are companies that weld, build and maintain pumps, and clean and map pipelines. Work in these areas counts for nil in Obama's contorted calculus. 

Cups and Discs for
Pipeline Pigs

There are 42 companies that specialize in pipeline plugging and repair, activities which are inevitably required to maintain pipeline integrity and protect the environment, once pipelines are built. Imagine building a road and forgetting about it. Cracks develop. Potholes develop and grow, and the surface begins to disintegrate, leading to the creation of ruts and a waffleboard surface. Eventually the road is so bad the roadbed is abandoned and allowed to return to its natural state by erosion, corrosion and invasive plant growth. The same principle applies to pipelines. Continuous investment is needed to maintain operability. In the world of Obama, the tooth fairy does this work.

The FERC and CFTC Chairmen sign a pact to create
even more jobs for lawyers.
My God, even the lawyers get in on the act. The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) regulates the interstate transportation of oil and gas, including the rates and practices of pipeline companies engaged in interstate transportation, establishing equal service conditions for pipeline transportation and establishing reasonable rates for transporting petroleum and petroleum products by pipeline. Washington, DC is crawling with FERC lawyers and FERC consultants. I would at least have thought that JD Barack would have caught on to the employment opportunities that pipelines afford to his highbrow lawyer and consultant pals.

An even larger impact ignored by Obama is the crude oil production and refining.  For oil to have value it needs to be transported and processed into usable form. The Keystone XL pipeline design has a 100,000 barrel a day on ramp in Montana.  At today's crude prices that is $10,000,000 a day of domestic cash flow.  No jobs associated with that eh, at least if you listen to Obama. 

We'll leave it there for now. You have elected an economic ignoramus. If only it weren't so.

Friday, August 23, 2013

How About That Golden Parachute?

We blogged earlier this year about Intel and Microsoft being joined arm in arm in a long death march. So it should come as now schock that leadership changes are in order.

According to the latest available proxy statement, Steve Ballmer, CEO of Microsoft, holds a beneficial interest in 333,250.990 shares of the company.  Upon Ballmer's announcement of his retirement decision earlier today, to occur sometime within the next year, Microsoft's stock surged seven percent or $2.25 a share.  That translates into a tidy $750 million gain for the Microsoft insider -- a heckuva thick pad from the blow of the ownership wanting the guy out so badly. 


Well at least this means interest rates will stay low and the investing class will continue to make out like bandits in their stock portfolios.  You ordinary, hard working Americans will be left further and further behind. 
Sales of new single-family houses in July 2013 were at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 394,000, according to estimates released jointly today by the U.S. Census Bureau and the Department of Housing and Urban Development. This is 13.4 percent (±14.5%)* below the revised June rate of 455,000...
As we said in February, there will be a recession in the 2nd term. Here's to all the hopey, changey idolitors feeling proud about their rejection of fundamentally sound economics. 

Doing It All For You

As Seen on TV
In western New York McDonald's restaurants are giving away Big Macs this week to celebrate its 45th anniversary. The purveyors are pushing a little viral marketing to promote the event.  The Leo Burnett Dubai agency developed an anniversary 45 advertising campaign. There is even a stab at associating the Big Mac's introduction with the eventual tearing down of the Berlin Wall. Which reminds us that we were among the first to the party, before it even opened. Still, it is not so big an event. If you Google "Big Mac 45th" most what you get, page after page, are franchise locations on 45th Street, 45th Avenue and 45th road.  It'll be five years 'til the biggie.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

We Need Snow!

Smoke and haze at 10,000 feet.

August 23:  Since this post we had rain, Thursday night, Friday afternoon and Friday evening.  Thanks for the response.  The snow can wait. 

New Life

Paul Bunyan is not just for Bathgate any more. He is making a comeback, this time to promote Obamacare.
The $9 million ad campaign is supposed to get 1.3 million Minnesotans in the tent to sign up for health care. But critics call it false advertising. 
Paul Bunyan outside of Bathgate, North Dakota
Close enough in movie land to stand in for Brainerd,
because Bathgate had snow.
“The biggest travesty here is that $9 million of taxpayer money has been spent coming up with Paul Bunyan and Babe,” GOP Rep. Peggy Scott said. 
Scott says MNsure’s marketing studies, costing millions, are missing MNsure’s target audience: healthy young people. 
“How many young healthy people even know who Paul Bunyon and Babe are?” Scott said.
Ironically, the ads promote Obamacare by showing Bunyan and Babe the Blue Ox incurring traumatic but survivable injuries that physically active young people would logically want coverage for, such as through the low cost age-rated catastrophic care policies that effective October 1 are prohibited by the misnamed affordable care act.

I don't think there's anything Paul or Obamacare could have done to save the poor dude who was being wood chipped in "Fargo.". But betcha the ad does more to revive interest in "Fargo" than to promote the not so affordable health care act. Better yet, maybe it will draw attention to Bathgate. If you stop by, poke your head into Reiny's Bar and say heh.

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Our Job Denier in Chief

Energy is the elixir of a strong and growing economy, a key driver of employment growth, a generator and multiplier of good jobs and economic security. It is to the economy as a whole, what water is to the American West.

Meanwhile, reflecting ignorance and perverse priorities, Barack Obama has mocked, laughed and snidely dismissed claims that the Keystone XL would be a significant job creator. 

Obama recently told the New York Times,

Well, first of all, Michael, Republicans have said that this would be a big jobs generator. There is no evidence that that’s true. And my hope would be that any reporter who is looking at the facts would take the time to confirm that the most realistic estimates are this might create maybe 2,000 jobs during the construction of the pipeline -- which might take a year or two -- and then after that we’re talking about somewhere between 50 and 100 [chuckles] jobs in a economy of 150 million working people.
So I see, Republicans said it. Funny, very funny. Ha, Ha! This guy is a real clown, maybe when his gig runs out in 2017 he can start a new career appearing in rodeos since he is so good with the bull. But look at what his own experts and allies say, even with their inherent biases.
The State Department reported that the pipeline would directly create 3,900 jobs per year, and 42,100 jobs if indirect jobs are included. Even the Sierra Club, one of the leading groups campaigning against the pipeline cites the 3,900 jobs figure — higher than the president’s unsupported numbers.
Consider neighboring reality instead of Obama's political straw man. Sections of the country near the proposed route of the XL Pipeline are about the only parts of the country beyond the inside the Washington Beltway government debt and spending bomb, where anyone can get a job, a decent full time job at a decent salary, due to natural gas and oil development and transport.     

Take Williston, North Dakota for example. Even at the bottom of the economic ladder, the local Walmart has advertised starting pay of $17.00 per hour.  At times, a local McDonald's has restricted business to its drive up window because it can't keep its operation well enough staffed to serve the dine in crowd, despite paying well above minimum wage. Unskilled workers can earn $50K or more working in oil and gas, while skilled workers command from $70K or $100K or more. I have neighbors here in Bozeman who work the North Dakota oil patch, two weeks on, then two weeks off, earning big and salting it away. It's an economic boom -- something that Barack Obama has no understanding or comprehension of. 

Obama's low-balled job estimates are a joke. He is outlandish.  He is an extremist.  He is a denier.  

In the same interview, Obama highlighted his views about the role of the Fed in the economy.

And when unemployment is still too high, and long-term unemployment is still too high, and there’s still weak demand in a lot of industries, I want a Fed chairman that can step back and look at that objectively and say, let’s make sure that we’re growing the economy, but let’s also keep an eye on inflation, and if it starts heating up, if the markets start frothing up, let’s make sure that we’re not creating new bubbles.
So real economic activity doesn't count for anything. But yes, Barack Obama thinks the road to high employment is paved by the Fed's printing presses -- unfrigging believable.

We've blogged previously about the strong employment and high pay in the pipeline industry. We reported on the extraction and refining opportunities that would be opened by building the XL, big job and high pay generators as well. We blogged on the burgeoning oil reserves in North Dakota that have to get somewhere, somehow, and that the Keystone XL has an on ramp for that oil. It all fits together, but the addle minded ideologue you elected to the White House is lost in a fog of ignorance.

To get to a ground up example, yesterday, it came to my attention that I have a relation who is employed directly and substantially in the pipeline industry. The job is Pipeline Controller. Think of it something like being an Air Traffic Controller but for transport on the ground, someone who is constantly monitoring capacity, movements and flows, ready to intervene, redirect or initiate emergency action on a moment's notice.  

Pipeline controller in Williston, North Dakota
near the proposed route of the Keystone XL Pipeline
Just to mention a few, Chevron employs them, Shell has controllers on staff as does Praxair Inc.. Enterprise Products and Sunoco Logistics are in the pipeline controller space as are Williams Energy and Epic Energy Holdings, as is Phillips 66.  The much hated ExxonMobil and Koch Industries are dutiful employers as well. Then there are employers such as Enbridge, Conoco Phillips and Kinder Morgan -- you get the idea. 

Not surprisingly, if unlike the President you understand how business and industry work, you might also realize there are people who train Pipeline Controllers. Pipeline personnel training and development is big business. 

Then there are the software packages and systems that controllers use, the engineers, technicians and laborers on call to address problems as they arise, security staff and the folks who are involved in upgrading, improving and otherwise securing pipeline safety and performance. Preventive maintenance is a must. It is a pyramid of jobs, not the isolated employee or two that Obama in his world of distortion and denial would have you believe.  Don't believe a word that comes out of that man's mouth -- nothing at all.

Saturday, August 17, 2013

Top July Posts

July rainbow at the foot of Mt. Ellis,
Bozeman, Montana
Along the Gradyent's top July posts poured in as follows:
  1. Leading the July pack is "Barack Obama Stands with Defense Contractors." reporting the role the Obama administration and the President himself played in putting a false view forward on the sequester's impact on defense preparedness. A month after this post Obama doubled down on his protect defense expenditures at any cost theme when he told a captive audience of Marines he will "keep on working to get rid of the sequester." The Commander in Chief weirdly linked sexual assaults in the military to the spending diet. We have been reporting on the Obama administration's half truths, lies and distortions concerning the sequester all along, from that first fateful morning in February, when using a bunch of police officers, fire fighters and EMT's as live props, Obama projected, that among other horribles, our homes would be reduced to ashes, the streets would be flooded with hardened criminals and critically injured would be abandoned to die in the streets if the sequester was permitted to go forward. And this is someone you can't clown around about or mock? Right! He spews so much bull, we need to be protected from it.
  2. Picking up on our back to our roots theme we put together a photo gallery from our childhood home town, "Morton Grove 4th of July Parade -- The Shriners Return."  The Shriners love playing with and displaying their conveyances, every one of them.  If you haven't already, check it out.
  3. We got hoodies, we got would be burglars, and we got a dead guy too, in Montana -- "White Guy Shot Dead."  And the Helena police aren't charging the shooter.  Wonder what the racial animus is there?
  4. Yuck! I have to type it again. "I Agree with Elizabeth Warren." The big banks should be broken up along functional lines, split into the safe, comfortable world of government backed commercial banks and the wild, wild west of investment banks. It worked for 70 years. So roll it back.
  5. Then comes "Phony Furloughing for the Sequester." Under the sequester soldiers, sailors, aviators and marines are protected from furloughs -- always have been. But the Obama administration decried the impact on non-uniformed civilian employees, said they would be furloughed for 22 days, then 11 and then finally six, which is like temporarily losing a step increase but still getting your COLA in a protected for lifetime job. Awwwww.  
  6. Stop the conduits. They are evil. "No Pipelines." Thanks to the greenie weenies' preferred transportation mode, Lac Megantic, Quebec burned to a crisp and 47 souls are lost. Warren Buffet and his BNSF train subsidiary are thankful for the anti-pipeline movement.
  7. Montana is a big coal state. Obama, a genuine clown, mocks and dismisses those who want to tap this natural resource as "flatlanders." But look down Mr. President, look down. We got mountains.  "No Flatlanders Here."
  8. An interesting and telling contrast -- Obama and the White House are all over the unrest in Egypt, ensconced in "The Situation Room," real time and right on top of it.  Not so in Libya, where the unrest was directed at an embassy and American personnel with tragic and fatal results.
Thanks to all for their support!

Friday, August 16, 2013

Will the Real Clown Please Stand Up?

Rodeo clowns clown around in the name of safety and security. They distract the bucking bulls that otherwise could stomp and stamp riders just hurtled off their backs. A rodeo clown in Missouri was castigated and curtailed for wearing an Obama mask and clowning around. Apparently only real clowns are permitted -- like Obama himself. Looks like NBC took down its video of Obama himself with clown mask -- it figures.

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Earthquake! Or How Quake Lake Was Formed

Just prior to midnight on August 17, 1959, 54 years ago, an earthquake measuring 7.5 on the Richter Scale struck near Madison River Canyon, in southwest Montana, its epicenter just west of Yellowstone National Park. 
Missing Mountainside, Fell into
Madison River Canyon, 8/17/59

The epicenter, the point directly above where the quake occurred, was located near Duck Creek and the junction of Highways 287 and 191, eight miles north of West Yellowstone, Montana. But the quake was powerful enough to be felt in eight states, across 500,000 square miles.
Madison River Canyon before the earthquake.  Note
fault line that defines the zone where mountain cleaved off.

The quake cleaved off 80 million tons of rock 16 miles downstream, literally shearing off the side of a mountain, which dropped at 100 miles per hour into the gorge containing the Madison River, and drove debris 300 feet up the other side. The landslide stopped the flow of the Madison River.
Portions of Hwy 287 sheared
off into Hebgen Lake
An area of 38,000 acres, the [Earthquake Lake] reserve is testimony to one of the most violent earthquakes that shook the west on Aug. 17 1959 at 11:37 p.m. At that time, the Red Canyon fault and the Hebgen fault, both in the Madison River area, moved simultaneously and triggered an earthquake that measured 7.5 [since revised to 7.3] on the Richter scale. That earthquake forced a massive landslide that screamed down mountains and hills at about 100 miles per hour. Tons of rocks and earth crashed into Madison Canyon. The results were catastrophic. The force of the slide caused a flood and high winds swept a giant wave downstream. Five people died in the flood alone. The landslide killed another 28 people. It also dropped the north shore of Hebgen Lake 19 feet. Cabins on the shore washed into the water as huge waves crested over Hebgen Dam. Three sections of Highway 287 fell into the lake, the dam cracked in at least four places and hundreds of campers were trapped. The landslide eventually stopped, essentially damming the Madison River and creating Earthquake, or “Quake Lake,” a 190-foot deep, six mile long lake stocked with German and Brown Trout.
Nineteen of the deaths resulted from the rock slide obliterating Rock Creek Public Campground at the bottom of the side. These victims remain entombed beneath 200 feet of rock. Upstream at the dammed Lake Hebegen, the drop along the fault line caused a seiche, sloshing a 5 to 10 swell of water over the dam built in 1915. The dam cracked in several places but survived sufficiently well to continue to hold back Hebgen Lake waters.

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Government Employees Report to Work After All

Earlier this month we blogged about the phony and exaggerated sequester furlough claims that came out of the Defense Department and the Obama administration, vis a vis non-uniformed DoD civilian personnel.

Official notice of phony sequester claim.
Furlough days were dropped from the original 22, down to 11 and ultimately to six. But the story telling wasn't limited to Defense. Phony furlough claims were made government wide, where the ultimate impacts were less, much less, than at the Pentagon. Many departments managed their budgets to dodge furloughing altogether.

The earliest examples came from departments that told Congress they would have to furlough employees, but ended up backtracking. The Education and Justice departments fall into this category. The Agriculture, Transportation, and Homeland Security departments all received authority to transfer funds between agency accounts, and were therefore able to cancel planned furloughs. The Commerce Department promised furloughs at its National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, only to cancel them in May.
Other departments reduced the number of enforced days off.
Several agencies have relied on “internal reviews” of their financial conditions, during which they discovered cost-cutting measures had made their situations less dire than originally anticipated. This, in turn, allowed them to cut required furlough days.
The Treasury Department, for example, originally said it would furlough all 90,000 of its Internal Revenue Service employees five days, but has since cut the number of days to three. The Housing and Urban Development Department also recently canceled two furlough days. In May, the Environmental Protection Agency cut furloughsby three days. The Interior Department warned of 12-14 furlough days for the U.S. Park Police, but ultimately ended the furloughs after employees took less than half of the expected total.
The loyal to the end administration leaders at Labor Department and HHS are equivocating, claiming they still don't know if employees will be furloughed, even though as a practical matter it is too late in the fiscal year to implement widespread reductions.  Of course, truly independent federal agencies like the Postal Service (the largest non-defense federal employer) and the Federal Reserve were never affected by the sequestration at all.

The omnibus federal employee union acknowledges that Obama's furloughing claims were political gamesmanship at their inception, never based in reality to begin.

The American Federation of Government Employees attributes the furlough reductions and cancellations partly to the success of its negotiations.
“We showed the agencies there were numerous alternatives to dealing with sequestration,” said Jacqueline Simon, public policy director at AFGE. “It was across the board and our union responded in every one of these situations.”
Federal employees protesting exaggerated
and non-existent furloughs.
Simon added the bloated estimates were a “political calculation,” with federal employees dangled as sacrificial lambs to demonstrate to Congress the potential fallout from sequestration.
Translation -- Obama and his minions have lied to promote unnecessary spending and additional debt. They were called on their false claims when the sequestration went into effect in February. It's time they stopped bluffing the American people altogether.

Sunday, August 11, 2013

Posting Scarcity

We live in Montana. One of the impacts is that our posts have been scarcer. shorter and more scantily researched through June, July and August. The days are long but the summer is short. We need to live it. Come September we will get our first frost.  By sometime in October we will get our first snow (last year it was October 3rd). By early November we can expect continuous snow cover lasting until sometime in mid or late March.  When summer is here we experience it, mostly as it was lived long before the Internet.  Thanks for sticking with us. We have big plans for the winter (which will be here sooner than most wherever you are reading from). Hope to see more of you then.

Walk to School Day, October 3, 2012, Irving Elementary School Bozeman Montana.

What I Don't Miss About Arlington

One thing I like about no longer living in Arlington, Virginia -- no longer having to hit the streets to demonstrate why the servile sycophant county staffers should stop being so stupid.

Citizens hitting the streets to demonstrate these lights really suck.

What I Miss About Arlington

What I miss about Arlington? Living a block down from the pig races at the Arlington County Fair.

Pig Races, Arlington County Fair, Thomas Jefferson Park, Arlington Virginia.
Though with its livestock show arena, cattle barn, pig barn, horse barn and the chickens, sheep and goats, plus the mud bog, the roundup ranch rodeo and pig wrestling, the Gallitan County Fair has plenty of features to make up for it.

Ranch Roundup Rodeo, Cutting and Calf Roping, Anderson Arena, Gallitan County Fairgrounds, Bozeman Montana

Mud Bog, Gallitan County Fairgrounds, Bozeman Montana

Saturday, August 10, 2013

Steeper and Deeper

The last time we looked at this the lines had just crossed.  How do you spell T-R-E-N-D?

Work to Welfare

Obama suspends work for welfare requirements so able-bodied 29-year old dude can surf and lounge on the turf.  No lie. But heh, you do what you got to do to get the votes.

Saturday Pictures

Saturday Pictures
August 10, 2013
(click to enlarge)

Yellowstone River from the 3rd Green, Livingston Golf Course, Livingston, Montana.

Yellowstone River, from the 4th hole, with Absaroka Mountains in the background, Livingston Golf Course, Livingston, Montana.

View from Old Clyde Park Rd., Park County near Livingston, Montana.  Yellowstone River in the foreground.  Absaroka Mountains in the background.

Escarpments just north of Old Clyde Park Rd., Park County near Livingston, Montana.  

Sweetheart girl enjoying Wilcoxson's Twist Sundae, mmmmmmm, Rosa's Pizza, Livingston, Montana, home of Wilcoxson's.

Map of Old Clyde Park Rd.

The Pit and the Pig

Leash them, chain them, corral them, fence them in, but do whatever it takes to keep the snout nose porcine revelers in check. A Butte, Montana pig was not so restrained.
BUTTE - Four men were able to save a small pig before it fell into the Berkeley Pit on Friday.
Chris Fisk says he was driving near the Finlen Hotel when he spotted a black pig running down Arizona Street.
He realized it was a household pet when he saw three young boys were chasing after it, he said.
The pig, named Oggy, eventually found its way toward Montana Resources and crawled underneath the fence, Fisk said.
Fisk followed the pig under the fence and notified Montana Resources.
Jay Clark, Jim Holman, and Nate Gelling, who work for Butte-Silver Bow, were inside the Kelley Mine Yard when they noticed Oggy walking on the north rim of the Berkeley Pit, Holman said.
Fisk feared Oggy was about to fall 300 feet to his death, he said.
The Berkeley Pit is a defunct open pit mine, a gargantuan excavation, dug out of a mountainside starting almost six decades back.

In 1955, mining in Butte saw the light, literally. Excavation on what would become the Berkeley Pit, named from one of several nearby historic underground mines that the Pit would later engulf, began that year in a transition from underground to open pit mining.
The Pit would, in the next decade, swallow Butte neighborhoods like Meaderville, Dublin Gulch, and McQueen. The transition to open pit mining, a highly industrialized form of mining, also meant fewer jobs for the city’s miners. But mining had always been the lifeblood of Butte, and so the community embraced the new mine, and there was little objection to the sacrifice of some of the city’s neighborhoods.
The pit miners burrowed 1,780 feet into the earth's surface; when they turned off the pumps the pit eventually filled with more than 1,000 feet of water. It is more than a mile and one-half across and four miles around in circumference. Back to the pig.

Three Men with a Pig
Clark eventually tackled the pig on the west side of the pit without harming him, according to Fisk.
Fisk noted, "This thing ran like lightning," Fisk said. "I guess that pig was showing me exactly who was fat and who wasn't, ya know. Put me in the dirt."
Oggy is now safe at home.
A big "oink" out for that.

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Aetna Drops Out of Health Insurance Exchange in Home State

We repeatedly warn people to judge government programs by actual impacts, not by stated intentions or the rhetoric that's dreamed up to sell the beast.  This is an especially important caution for the Obama administration which is expert in deploying programs that have the opposite of the advertised impact. The poster child for this cautionary note is Obamacare.

Looking at what is happening in Connecticut.  Aetna, the Hartford based insurer, is dropping individual insurance coverage in its home state.

HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) -- The Hartford-based Aetna Life Insurance Co. has informed state insurance officials that it has withdrawn from Connecticut's health insurance exchange, which is poised to begin open enrollment this fall. 
In a letter to the state's Insurance Department, released Monday, the insurer said it "reluctantly" decided to withdraw from the insurance marketplace for 2014."Please be assured this is not a step taken lightly, and was made as part of national review of our Exchange strategy," wrote Aetna's senior actuary, Bruce Campbell. 
Correspondence posted on the Insurance Department's website shows Aetna and the agency disagreed over how Aetna had calculated its proposed rates for the insurance marketplace.
When Barack Obama gave his nationally televised healthcare address to a joint session of Congress in September 2009, here is what he said.

 [T]his plan will finally offer you quality, affordable choices. (Applause.) If you lose your job or you change your job, you'll be able to get coverage. If you strike out on your own and start a small business, you'll be able to get coverage. We'll do this by creating a new insurance exchange -- a marketplace where individuals and small businesses will be able to shop for health insurance at competitive prices. Insurance companies will have an incentive to participate in this exchange because it lets them compete for millions of new customers. As one big group, these customers will have greater leverage to bargain with the insurance companies for better prices and quality coverage.

Obama speechified that the healthcare exchanges were set up so insurance companies would compete for your business.  You could bargain!  But what Obamacare actually is doing is quite different.  It eliminates options and takes away consumer choice.  It sets up requirements and regulations that push out suppliers and restrict competition, quite the opposite of Obama's misleading and distorted rhetoric.  I don't know to what degree Obama's description was foolish and how much of it was dishonest. Either way, the result is the same.  There aren't real choices.  There won't be real competition.  And there won't be low and competitive prices.  Good luck to all.  Aetna, too bad you left us.

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Mildly Painful, Painful and Very Painful -- Texas Cactus

Hi!  Mrs. Grady here again, guest blogging. I hail from Texas -- born and bred in Odessa and raised in Huntsville. Studied at North Texas State and Sam Houston State universities, which explains this post, perhaps.

Texas has cactus. There are many stories and more than a little folklore about cactus: break one open and eat it if you’re wandering in a desert without water, for example. Wait, don’t do that unless you are a botanist. Another is that cactus juice can help arthritis pain. Botany books devote lush photos and Latin terms regarding cacti and their blooming habits.  Hollywood glorifies the blossoms.

Cultivated Cactus Flowers
Personally, I think you’d have to be crazy to cultivate cactus. However, the Cactus Viper margarita at Zuni’s Grill on the Riverwalk in San Antonio (my favorite restaurant in the world) may be the best reason to keep succulents on the menu. Well-behaved dogs on leashes are allowed at Zuni’s, but leave your horse at home.

Some crazy person cultivated this cactus at the Zilker Botanical Garden in Austin, Texas. As if Texas doesn’t have enough cacti already. Head on over 31Aug-1 Sep for the Cactus and Succulent show. 

Saturday, Aug 31, 10am to 5pmThe Austin Cactus and Succulent Society's Fall 2013 Show and Sale 
The 2-day event is free and open to the public with paid admission to ZBG. It is very popular with gardeners of all ages. The show offers visitors a chance to see rare and beautiful cacti and succulent species from around the world. Vendors from Texas, Oklahoma, and New Mexico will sell native and exotic cacti and succulents, and hand-made pottery at reasonable prices. There will be a daily silent auction and hourly plant raffle of rare and collectible cacti and succulents. Educational information, literature, and expert advice will be available. Come and bring a friend. For more information about the Austin Cactus & Succulent Society and its programs, please visit

Zilker's Koi Pond
Buy exotic and native cacti during the silent auction as well as learn about cactus care. It’s is quite a highfalutin’ event! But there is no valet parking for your horse. Why doesn’t their website have tons of photos of their cactus auction? Hmm? I tell you what, this here photo of Zilker's Japanese koi pond sure don’t make me want to buy cactus. Now I’m in the mood for sushi.