Friday, December 31, 2010

Let's Postpone Tax Day

Your Schedule A forms won't be ready until mid-February. It's Congress's fault, and The Wall Street Journal has a suggestion.
Since tax forms are going to be six weeks late, the new Congress ought to pass a law postponing tax filing deadline for six weeks, to May 31, 2011. Republicans have vowed to create a more taxpayer-friendly environment in Washington, and this would be a good start.
Sounds good to me.

Thursday, December 30, 2010

We Got A Little Snow

snow_family_2010_thumb.jpgMarielle always gets out early to enjoy it.
snow_day_2010_thumb.jpgTomorrow's forecast looks like nice weather so we might head up into the hills.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

This Blog Is Not Dead

Moribund maybe. Hibernating.

We have added a new link in the news bath, one to Taki's Magazine, a place where people who may be a bit too cranky for the p.c. right seem to hang out. John Derbyshire led me there.

Other than that, big yawn. If any of those “worst of” lists shows up and meets my standards, I'll link to it. If any politician does something unexpected, I might mention it. Otherwise, like every other grouchy old bear, I'll hunker down and wait for spring.

Lock the door on your way out. Thanks.

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Gingerbread Shanty

gingerbread_shack_ne_thumb.jpgOn Christmas Eve the kids and their cousins decorated a little gingerbread shanty.
gingerbread_shack_se_thumb.jpgWhile Dad daydreamed about sitting on the porch in the evening watching the moon rise and listening to the lonely coyote howl.

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Merry Christmas

christmas_morning_2010_thumb.jpgWe all slept in until 8:30 this morning. A few years ago that sentence would have read "until 5:30" — if we were lucky.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

At Badger's Table

When supper was really finished at last, and each animal felt that his skin was now as tight as was decently safe, and that by this time he didn't care a hang for anybody or anything, they gathered round the glowing embers of the great wood fire, and thought how jolly it was to be sitting up so late, and so independent, and so full; and after they had chatted for a time about things in general, the Badger said heartily, "Now then! tell us the news from your part of the world. How's old Toad going on?"
That's how we've always known when to stop: when our skin is as tight as is decently safe.

Update: Red-Dog-Blog supplies the illustration:


Wednesday, December 22, 2010

The Heart of the Story.

Random Acts revisits the Nativity scene.
... When he got to the town, she was in labor. There was no one to take them in, no place to stay. Just to get shelter they went into a stable.

Now a lot of us don't have farm animals anymore, and unless you do, one rather pungent fact might escape you. Stables stink. ...
Read the whole thing.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Foggy Eclipse

lunar_eclipse_2010.jpgI stayed up late enough to see the eclipse begin, but the weather prevented good photography. About 1:40 I woke up and stepped outside to see the other side of the earth's shadow. Still foggy.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Tom and Jerrys

This is my recipe for Tom and Jerrys.

If you're hosting a larger group you'll need to double or triple the recipe. You can even whip it all up in a great big pitcher, but I've found they turn out better this way, made one mug at a time.

You'll need an egg, cinnamon, cloves, allspice, and nutmeg or mace. Also rum, brandy, half-n-half, and sweetener.

tom_and_jerry_2.jpgStart a teapot of water.

Separate the egg.

To the yolk add the sweetener and cinnamon, cloves, and allspice. About one-eighth teaspoon total.

I mix up a small jar of spice in advance — it's easier that way.

tom_and_jerry_3.jpgtom_and_jerry_4.jpgBeat the egg white to a froth.

Beat the yolk and spices to a light and fluffy yellow.

tom_and_jerry_5.jpgFold the yolk into the white. I just use the beater on low speed.

tom_and_jerry_5_a.jpgDivide the batter among three to five mugs.

To each mug add one ounce of rum and ½ ounce of brandy.

For the kids, substitute half-n-half. For the ladies — the works!
tom_and_jerry_6.jpgAdd piping hot water while stirring briskly.

Leave the spoons in the mugs.


Dust with nutmeg or mace.


Now that smells like Christmas!

Friday, December 17, 2010

Gloria In Excelsior

floor_to_ceiling_tree.jpgWe put up the tree today.

My job is to measure and prune and cut and install the stand, a complicated old-fashioned affair with eyebolts. The living room ceiling is 103 inches from the floor, so the tree must be no less than 102 inches, preferably 102½. With the tree in place I retire to the kitchen to address Christmas cards.

Leslie's job is to put the lights on which requires planning and persistence, an artistic eye, and a willingness to settle for less than perfection. We have all tried but only she can do it. When she has done she sets out the boxes of ornaments.

Charlie and Marielle distribute the ornaments with much discussion and debate. Charlie prefers to lie on the couch and supervise while Marielle manages the mechanics of hooks and step-stools.

And then finally, I lift Gloria up and place her in the top-most branches.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

New On My Wish List

farnsworths_rhetoric.jpgFarnsworth's Classical English Rhetoric
by Ward Farnsworth.

Reviewed by Henry Hitchings in tommorow's Wall Street Journal.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Insurance Mandate Is Unconstitutional

We knew that already.

But it's good to see a District Court judge agree with us. Richard Epstein, whose book Simple Rules for a Complex World I highly recommend, says that Virginia had to find a way around Wickard v. Filburn (one of the Dirty Dozen), and they did.
At this point, no District Court judge dare turn his back on the ignoble and unprincipled decision in Wickard. But Virginia did not ask for radical therapy. It rather insisted that "all" Wickard stands for is the proposition that if a farmer decides to grow wheat, he cannot feed it to his own cows if a law of Congress says otherwise. It does not say that the farmer must grow wheat in order that the federal government will have something to regulate.
So they can regulate how we play the game but not whether we choose to play. I see broad application of this rule.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Christmas Tree Harvest

christmas_tree_harvest_2010_thumb.jpgWe went up Highway 230 about ten miles this side of Diamond Lake to cut our trees this year. After dragging them down the hill we planted them in three feet of dense, wet snow for a photo op. The tall one behind us is four our living room, the smaller one next to Charlie is for Leslie's mom, and Marielle got a little one for the family room upstairs. Forest Service tree permits are still only five dollars, and even when you toss in pies at Beckie's and half a tank of gas, you still beat retail.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Congress Please Go Home

garfield_naughty_line.gifYou're gumming up the works.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

No Comment On That

I do not like the news today,
The reason why, I will not say;
But this I know: it's not OK.
I do not like the news today.
Yeah, I know.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

The Science of Christmas

Tom Chivers of the Telegraph interviews Professor Ian Stewart, Warwick University maths professor on the crucial subject of whether — or rather, how — reindeer fly.
Reindeer have a curious arrangement of gadgetry on top of their heads which we call antlers and naively assume exist for the males to do battle and to win females. This is absolute nonsense. The antlers are actually fractal vortex-shedding devices. We are talking not aerodynamics here, but antlaerodynamics.
There's certainly more to it than you might think.

For the definitive treatment on the topic he refers us to Can Reindeer Fly?: The Science of Christmas by Roger Highfield, available in all fine book stores.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Our NHS Inductee

marielle_nhs_induction_thumb.jpgMarielle was inducted into the National Honor Society tonight. Scholarship, character, leadership, and service. With Marielle it's mostly scholarship and character. She's not big on the leadership and service stuff.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Mister Groundhog

I looked at the news today. I didn't like it.

I'm going back to bed.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Christmas Lighting OCD

thirty_seven_lights_1.jpgA standard string of C-9 lights is twenty-five bulbs. When you need thirty-seven to deck the dormer, one string is not enough and two strings is too much.

thirty_seven_lights_2.jpgGo down to the hardware store for some Polyolefin Heat Shrink Tubing. Keeping the bulbs spaced 12 inches, allow 2½ inches for the splice.

thirty_seven_lights_3.jpgIf you were ever an eleven year old geek, this part is easy. Otherwise you may need to practice a bit.

(Don't forget to put the shrink tubing on first!)
thirty_seven_lights_4.jpgStagger your splices and you're guaranteed not to have any short circuits. My dad taught me this trick.

thirty_seven_lights_5.jpgSlide the heat shrink tubing back over the splice and apply a little heat.

There! A thirty-seven bulb string — perfect.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Drawin’ A Blank Here...






A big, big blank.

Tomorrow I'll put up Chrismas lights. Maybe that will inspire.

Thursday, December 2, 2010


thundercell_heavey_cropped.jpgMan sometimes the weather in Montana really draws.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Thinking Maybe Just A Trim

thinking_about_getting_my_hair_cut.jpgMalum Nalu, one of the more unusual bloggers I follow, reports that Bobby Yangom has set his mind on cutting his hair this Christmas, which will relieve him of two and one-half pounds of dread weight.