Saturday, November 29, 2014

Home is Where the Home Is

We are in our third year in Montana now. Today we didn't blink when temperatures dropped from 45 degrees at 9:00 am, down to 12 degrees by 3:00 pm. The weatherman cautions of below zero temperature readings coming overnight. As the thermometer plunged today the heavens blessed us, blanketing the fields all about with a fresh sparkling white coat. This is our home. We love it.  

Before Bozeman, Montana there was Arlington. We spend less and less time thinking about our years in Arlington, Virginia, and if the truth be known, don't miss it very much. But our German exchange high school student is curious about other locations in the United States, so I thought I would show her our old home in Arlington on Google Maps, and point out a few things about our old neighborhood and the DC area. I typed in our former home address and there it was.

In an early blog post, we had looked back at the house we called home. We saw Google Maps had updated the street view during the four week period between when we accepted a contract for sale and closed the transaction in June 2012. Here was the view.

Google Maps street view of our former Arlington home, June, 2012.
Two Januarys back I noted, "I wish Google had waited a few months to refresh the picture because I would have liked to see the front porch with the railings, side extension and stairs down to the driveway, which I understand the new owners have built in." 

This time around, sure enough, in a July, 2014 street view there they are.

Google Maps street view of our former Arlington home, July, 2014.

It looks like the new owners have taken advantage of the county sidewalk, curb and gutter replacement program to cut a side deal with the concrete contractor to replace the walkway to the front stoop and the driveway, both much needed improvements for the structure's 75th year.

The front porch now is now fenced in and the stairs have railings, excellent safety features, if creating a somewhat less open and inviting space. There is a new stairway at the right for accessing the driveway. The front pathway that wrapped around the porch and the big oak tree to the right to the driveway is no longer needed and is now gone.

We can see the two huge oak trees have had a major trim, thinning their crowns and removing branches that jutted over the house. Most of the perennials and all the annual flowers we planted to spruce up the front are gone.  

I remember when I had a yet more extensive tree trimming done on the oaks shortly after moving into the house in November 1998. Both oaks had a  couple of huge limbs overhanging the house no more than two feet above the apex of the roof. A big ice or wind storm and the roof and attic would have been trashed, leading to God knows how much more damage below. I got a full season of firewood supply out of that trim.

We are pleased as punch that our successors have kept up the iron works, with the candles, on the front porch rear wall. We bought that from Williams Sonoma and put it up when we listed the home because we thought it added an interesting touch to what was otherwise boring blank space. It fit so well, that we left it behind when we moved hoping the new owners would appreciate it as much as we had. It appears they have!

Have a nice day and good luck to all.

Friday, November 28, 2014

Hillary Clinton's University Tours

I am sure you all are dying to know how your next Presdent of the United State is sustaining herself and her political team while between jobs. 

Look at what she scored for a recent appearance in La La land.
Hillary Clinton reading from a teleprompter at UCLA.
When officials at the University of California at Los Angeles began negotiating a $300,000 speech appearance by Hillary Rodham Clinton, the school had one request: Could we get a reduced rate for public universities?
The answer from Clinton’s representatives: $300,000 is the “special university rate.”
She is fifty thousand upping Bill.
In 2012, former president Bill Clinton delivered the inaugural Luskin lecture at UCLA for $250,000. Upon learning that Hillary Clinton’s fee would be $300,000, Guy Wheatley, a UCLA development official, wrote in an e-mail: “Wow! She get’s $50K more than hubby!” 
Luskin told a university official to make sure the event raised at least $100,000. The university sold more tickets — which ranged in price from $250 for one seat to $2,000 for two seats, a photo with Clinton and access to a post-lecture reception with the college deans — and provided fewer free tickets to students.
Remember how "dead broke" they were? The Clintons had to get "mortgages for houses" and "make double the money because of obviously taxes." It's great to see she continues to make progress. 
Perhaps recognizing the awkwardness of her financial gluttony your next president offered what must be her super university rate at the University of Las Vegas in October, dropping the fee to $225,000. I think I understand why. It would not have looked good to look greedy when giving a speech criticizing the high cost of college tuition.
"Higher education shouldn’t be a privilege for those able to afford it," Clinton told a crowd of approximately 900 people. "It should be an opportunity widely available for anybody with the talent, determination and ambition."The former secretary of State said that many students are affected by student loan debt "that can feel like an anchor dragging them down," and praised President Obama for increasing federal Pell grants by $1,000.
Hillary Clinton on the Teleprompter at UNLV.
Her speech fee itself, though, was controversial. Clinton first made headlines in June for the address when it was revealed UNLV was paying Clinton the steep rate to speak at the foundation's ritzy dinner at the Bellagio hotel and casino. 
UNLV students protested her visit, insisting the university instead spend the money on scholarships -- as tuition at the school will increase by 17 percent over the next four years.
“You could give scholarships to thousands of students, benefit research on campus, give more students grants for research and studying,” Daniel Waqar, student relations director for the UNLV Student Government, told Nevada political journalist Jon Ralston in June.
Hillary had a big message, a very important message, certainly worth 225 smackers to the university community, don't you think?
In the end, the politicians who scream the loudest about the high cost of college do the most to pay off their cronies, drive up input costs, and add non-essential overhead that inflates tuition, sucks money out of student pockets and imposes burdensome debt. Thank you our next President Hillary Clinton, we appreciate your leadership.
Have a good day and good luck to all.

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

A Thanksgiving Medley!

Join in and sing praises of Thanksgiving. Precious be our blessings and the joys of celebration with family and friends. A Happy Thanksgiving to all.

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

We Give Thanks to Our Forefathers (and Mothers)

On this Thanksgiving Day, 2014, we give thanks to those who came before us, pioneered and led our families to this fruitful and abundant land. They crossed fitful oceans and sailed into the great unknown, relentlessly pushing ahead ahead on a tide of hope and optimism and little else.

We thank our maternal grandparents, Elsa Rydin and John Stuberg, who sailed across the Atlantic Ocean from Sweden.. They made their their way to and through Ellis island, from thence traveling on to and settling in Chicago, where Elsa was a domestic and John was a master brick mason who was drafted into the US army as a resident alien during World War I.. 

We thank our paternal grandfather, Isaac J. Foster, who left his youth behind in eastern Canada to take up the life of a pioneer settler in the Dakota territory. He was farmer, rancher, insurance and real estate man, auctioneer and lawman. We thank grandfather Isaac's parents, Margaret Sanderson, a Scottish immigrant, and William K. Foster, a farmer and logger, who emigrated from Ireland in the company of his siblings and widowed mother to escape the potato famine and start new lives in the New World. 

Great grandfather and great grandmother Armstrong
are buried in Nashville. Minnesota
We thank our paternal grandmother, Laura Elizabeth Armstrong and her parents (my great grandparents), John Adams Armstrong and Laura Valeres Hollembeck Armstrong, whose in-country family roots go back to before the American revolution. The Armstrongs picked up stakes again and again, moving west and settling eventually in Bathgate, Dakota territory to make a better life. 

Today we offer special thanks to relations who were architects and builders of our prosperous country, R. D. Hoskins and Florence Mabel Armstrong Hoskins of Bismarck, North Dakota. 

Thanksgiving was always a day of gratitude and particular remembrance for R. D. and Florence because they were married in Bathgate, Dakota Territory, 130 years ago on Thanksgiving day, 1884. R. D.'s friends at the Pembina Pioneer Express made note of the event. 

Monday, November 24, 2014

SECDEF Hagel Resigns

Dude is on his way out.

Chuck Hagel, resigning as Sec. of Defense.
Now that the news has broken, more details are beginning to leak out of the White House concerning Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel’s departure, first reported by the New York Times. 
According to NBC News Pentagon correspondent Jim Miklaszweski the White House forced Hagel to resign, having lost confidence in his ability to manage the Pentagon in the face of chronic foreign policy challenges. 
“He wasn’t up to the job,” said one administration official, speaking, natch, on the condition of anonymity.
All I can say is don't paint us surprised.


Sunday, November 23, 2014

Democrats Confiscate Your Savings

For those of you foolish enough to believe Dear President's exercise of executive power on the immigration question is a good thing, always remember and never forget, Democrats have used that lever to confiscate the citizenry's precious and hard earned savings.

It was 1933. socialist thug Franklin Delano Roosevelt issued Executive Order No. 6202, confiscating the gold holdings of the American people.
Franklin D. Roosevelt

34 - Executive Order 6102 - Requiring Gold Coin, Gold Bullion and Gold Certificates to Be Delivered to the Government
April 5, 1933
I, Franklin D. Roosevelt, President of the United States of America, do declare that said national emergency still continues to exist and pursuant to said section do hereby prohibit the hoarding of gold coin, gold bullion, and gold certificates within the continental United States by individuals, partnerships, associations and corporations and hereby prescribe the following regulations for carrying out the purposes of this order:
Section 1: For the purposes of this regulation, the term "hoarding" means the withdrawal and withholding of gold coin, gold bullion or gold certificates from the recognized and customary channels of trade. The term "person" means any individual, partnership, association or corporation.
Section 2. All persons are hereby required to deliver on or before May 1, 1933, to a Federal Reserve Bank or a branch or agency thereof or to any member bank of the Federal Reserve System all gold coin, gold bullion and gold certificates now owned by them or coming into their ownership on or before April 28, 1933.
.... Whoever willfully violates any provision of this Executive Order or of these regulations or of any rule, regulation or license issued thereunder may be fined not more than $10,000, or, if a natural person, may be imprisoned for not more than ten years, or both; and any officer, director, or agent of any corporation who knowingly participates in any such violation may be punished by a like fine, imprisonment, or both.
The gold grab was at an arbitrary, low ball, non market price of $20.67 per ounce. The COMEX spot gold price at the November 21, 2014 closing was $1197.70 per ounce. That's 5,700 percent appreciation in the pockets of the welfare state, purloined from the pockets of the American people. Any wonder why you can't get ahead and provide for your future?

Have a great day and good luck to all!

Friday, November 21, 2014

You Heard it Here First

I have not heard this uttered in the media yet, so I am going to say it here and now. Look for the grand jury verdict in the Michael Brown, Ferguson, Missouri case to be announced Wednesday afternoon -- can't blame the authorities for timing it that way to enhance the prospects of keeping the peace.

If You Want to Know Why Gasoline Prices are Down -- Way Down

U.S. oil production has risen by two-thirds since its 2006 low.

Dear President had warned that we can't drill our way to lower gas prices, and castigated those who said so (which would include me) as bullshitters and liars. 

Thank you Barack Obama for your reserve, level headedness and respect.

Good luck to all and have a great day!

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Ice Cover on the Great Lakes

On January 5th of this year, when the Great Lakes ice cover stood at just over 22.7 percent, we made an early call. "Epic freeze coming for the Great Lakes," we said, continuing, "Lake Erie, with its shallow waters, is virtually certain to freeze over this winter. Lake Michigan may be headed for 90 percent plus ice coverage."

We pretty much nailed it. For the winter season, the Great Lakes peaked at 92.2 percent ice coverage in early March, setting a record for that month and achieving the second highest coverage recorded for any date in the modern era of satellite observation. Lake Michigan's ice coverage peaked at 93.3 percent. Lake Erie got up to 96.4 percent. Gale force winds that broke up, pushed and stacked ice floes one on top of the other, were the only thing that stood between Great Lakes waters and record ice coverage in each of the lakes.

Around Buffalo, people are
opening garages to this!
We frequently small talk about the weather, because it is a relevant and (at least formerly) a noncontroversial topic. So we engaged in discussion at the swim center earlier this week with a gentleman originally from Buffalo, New York, about the six, seven and eight feet of lake effect snow the locals in various locations around the eastern city are being buried by this week. Later on in the winter, the ice coverage on Lake Erie will moderate the lake effect, which is why snowfall in Buffalo usually peaks early in the season. 

This got me thinking about this year's Great Lakes ice coverage

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Since Democrats Hate Energy

And don't dispute it ...

Democrats want America to be energy independent. As long as it doesn't involve the pipeline. Or fracking. Or any new dam, coal plant, nuclear plant or oil refinery. But wind is good, as long as it isn't near any beach used by a Kennedy. And solar is good, even if it does set birds on fire.

    Let's put it to a test this winter. Create a national regulatory system that requires Democrats to heat their homes with wind, solar and burning corn cobs this winter, period. What is good for the goose, is good for the goose.