Monday, May 31, 2010

On dealing with Toimi sand

I dreamed up this ditty yesterday, but it didn't quite fit in my entry "Life in the land of 10,000 rocks".

You mow sixteen acres and what you get,
Another day over and deeper in sweat.
If you see a bump coming
You step aside.
If the root one don't get you,
The stone one will.
St. Peter don't you call me 'cause I can't go,
I gotta mow just one acre more.

Titanic and BP

We watched the DiCaprio/Winslet "Titanic" last night.  We haven't learned much since the Titanic about the hubris of relying on our technology to handle all contingencies.

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Life in the land of 10,000 rocks

I get a kick out of the ads for yard equipment.  They often show middle-age or even senior women easily pushing a weed cutter or such on a former plowed field.  The reality for many is Toimi sand.

What is Toimi sand?  Northern Minnesota was plowed up by glaciers which moved a lot of stuff around and broke it up.  Some places this is ridges, some places it is gravel pits, some places it is great outcropping of rocks.  In the Brimson-Toimi area in the Superior National Forest, it is sand in grains from fist-size to the size of a riding mower.

Some may be flush with the surface and no bother.  Some may stick up so far that one must walk around them.  Some may stick out just enough to trip the unwary walker.  Some may be like an iceberg with seven-eighths of their mass below ground level.

Whatever the amount Toimi sand sticks up out of the ground, it makes running any wheeled equipment very difficult.  Wheelbarrow, cart, trimmer, mower, or snowblower.  These last two are more vulnerable; a rock could chip a blade or snap a shear pin.

To make work easier one has to work a lot.  Today we tackled a rock that was sticking only about three inches out of the ground.  I had to run a lawnmower around it one too many times.

I got out our big pry bar to have a go at this troublesome rock.  I was able to jam the pry bar down along side the rock about nine inches and jiggle the rock.  Going around the rock to several spots and using another rock or a log as a fulcrum, I was able to lift the rock a couple of inches but I just couldn't get it out, and the rock would fall back down.

I found some smaller rocks and dropped them along side the big rock.  I was able to get the big rock up about an inch.  I called my wife to help.  I'd lever the rock up and my wife would drop a smaller rock down along side it and sometimes she could push it under the big rock.  Up more and more.  With me pushing the pry bar and bending it, my wife, of all people, pulled the rock up and out with her bare hands.  The darn thing was the size of three footballs.

I took a ten-pound hammer to the rock.  Arrowheads and flint knives flying all over the place.  Wham! A big piece cracked off.  More little pieces flying.  Wham!  An eighth of the rock cracked off.  More little pieces flying.  Wham!  A bigger piece cracked off.  Now over a third of the rock had split off.  I tried hitting what looked like a fracture.  No go!  Again and again.  Still no go.  It is now lunch time.  That's enough.

I tried lifting the bigger piece with the idea of carting the pieces off to dump in a hole.  I couldn't do it.  So, the rocks will sit there to another day.  Or year, like two other big rocks in our cabin yard that I've gotten a bit out of the ground and then no further.  And they too seem to be immune to cracking more than a chip at a time.

And poor Jean Valjean had to bust rocks all day with few, if any, breaks.  It gives new meaning to being sentenced to years of hard labor.

Saturday, May 29, 2010

How did I type Japanese?

You may have guessed, since I didn't write all of my Japanese message in Japanese, that I don't really speak Japanese.  You're right!  I know a few hundred words and a few grammar points.  Not really enough for a conversation or to order in a restaurant other than "nippon birru, kudasai!"  "Two beers, please!"

If you have a Mac, you can switch languages with a click of the mouse.

I was going to give you a long, possibly incorrect explanation, but I'll let your Mac give you a better one.

Go to the Finder and click-hold Help on the menu bar.

Type "foreign" next to "Search".

Click on "Typing in another language" and follow the directions.

Now, if you select Hiragana as the language to type, then type "nippon birru kudasai" you will get


You might have to start typing on a separate line.

BTW, if you are using TextEdit, you have to be careful when typing in English,  I typed "nippon birru kudasai" and it became "nippon bird kudasai".   Proofread!  Proofread!

Friday, May 28, 2010

The ultimate abortion machine

I was pleasantly surprised to learn that the Republican Party is not as hawkish as many of its opponents believe.  The 2008 Republican Party platform includes the following under "National Security":

"The U.S. should lead that effort by reducing the size of our nuclear arsenal to the lowest number consistent with our security requirements and working with other nuclear powers to do the same."

Let's hope that "the lowest number consistent with our security requirements" rapidly approaches zero.  This would be consistent with the large section in the 2008 Republican platform titled "Maintaining The Sanctity and Dignity of Human Life", which includes, "At its core, abortion is a fundamental assault on the sanctity of innocent human life."  After all, the use of nuclear weapons, or any other weapons taking the lives of non-combatants, "is a fundamental assault on the sanctity of innocent human life."

In other words, nuclear weapons are the ultimate abortion machine.


Welcome and thank you to my Japanese subscriber.  I hope you can read my blog entries often.

住みません!私は日本がわかりません.  Wow!  I didn't expect my Mac to give me Kanji too!

See also "How did I type Japanese?"

Välkommen till min svensk läsare

Tack så mycket för ditt besök till min blog.  Hoppas att du hittar mycket av intresse här.

Moderate Republicans do exist, sort of

When I searched for material for another entry, I came across the Moderate Republcans group.  It has only 11 members since 2009-11-19, the eleventh joining today (not me).  It has only three entries, one being an announcement for the candidacy of Colonel Oliver Wimbledon Pepper IV Esq. for President in 2012.

I think the originator of the group had more serious purposes: "A group that has no set view on issues. We view a majority of the Republican Platform favorably. A minority of views, we may differentiate, but we all find ourselves between the far-right conservatives and centrist political spectrum."

If you're tired of the choice between the Republicans who dream of a country that never existed and the Democrats who dream of a country that will never be, maybe you should drop in on this group to give the more serious members some encouragement.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Which teacher gets pay for performance for our granddaughter?

Our son, his wife, and their daughter Kayo visited Minnesota from Tokyo recently.  Kayo stayed with us a few days while her parents took some relief from her high energy.

I consider Kayo a normal almost three-year-old.  Lots of energy and lots of rest.  Eagerness to please and obstinate to do things her way.  Curious about almost everything from books with lots of words and pictures to nooks and crannies she shouldn't get into.

She can recite the English alphabet and my son says she knows most of the Japanese syllable chart (100+ syllables).  I do know she knows the horizontal vowel sounds, but she never did the vertical consonant sounds for us.  She can count to 20 in English and Japanese.  She recognizes words in books.  Of course, the key words for a page are bold and in a different color, but she points at the word and says it.  She can switch back and forth between English and Japanese, but she speaks mostly in Japanese because her playmates speak Japanese.

Her parents don't hold fast to the "rule" of each parent speaking his or her native language to the child, but her mother speaks mostly Japanese to her.

What kindergarten or elementary teacher who was paid for performance wouldn't love to have Kayo in his or her class?

If Kayo is so normal why does she have such extraordinary skills?  Simple, she has a stay-at-home mom who has her own specials skills.  Kayo's mom has ten years of experience in early childhood development.  Now  instead of helping a roomful of toddlers and pre-schoolers, she has only one student.  Class size does matter.

Now consider the effort made by a teacher with a class of thirty, many who may not even have seen a book before.  That teacher probably should be paid extra for even trying.

So, if we are to pay for performance, should stay-at-home parents get paid if they spend a lot of time stimulating their kids' minds?  It will never happen.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Wise political move or dumb technical move

The Republican Party has started a web site to solicit opinions based on "the priorities of the people".  It is "America Speaking Out".    For one summary, see "Republicans' new Web site not exactly what they hoped it would be", Dana Milbank, Washington Post, 2010-05-26.

I went to it with the idea of submitting the proposition that the three greatest Republican Presidents were the ones that made major investments - Lincoln and railroads, Teddy Roosevelt and the National Parks, and Eisenhower and the Interstate highway system.

When I clicked on the button to add a suggestion, the sign-in was overlaid on the current window:

If these people want to run our government efficiently, can't they at least run their own web site efficiently?

Will moderates be returning to Minnesota state government?

I don't have any great hopes for seeing this happen in a big way soon, but a wedge has been put in to create an opening.  Margaret Anderson Kelliher, the DFL-nominated candidate for governor, has chosen John Gunyou as her running mate.

John Gunyou was Finance Commissioner under Arne Carlson, the last state-wide moderate Republican.  He has written many op-ed pieces for the Star Tribune criticizing the many ideologues in politics, especially Republicans.  I've saved five of them.

One of my favorites is "Taxpayer's League's model for governing", Star Tribune, 2006-06-15.  Sorry, it's no longer available online.  His opening is priceless:

"Here's a civics question to start the day. Who provides your public services like police and fire protection, education, parks and roads? Is it: (a) cities, counties and schools, (b) Uncle Sam & Cousin Tim, or (c) the Minnesota Taxpayers League?
Listening to the Taxpayers League and their political sycophants crow about our state's drop in tax rankings is a little hard to take for those of us actually responsible for delivering the services those taxes pay for. It's a whole lot easier to pontificate about downsizing government when you don't have to figure out how to stretch shrinking resources to patch crumbling streets."

Among other things he points out is the Taxpayer's League doesn't consider that the price of asphalt has gone up but the cities's share of the unchanged gas tax has not gone up.  As citizens' two biggest concerns are speeding and road repair.  Gunyou proposed that his city solve these with less taxes by having inverted speed bumps.  He had a couple of other tongue-in-cheek ideas for getting something for nothing.

If you are a Minnesota voter, I highly recommend looking up his commentaries in your nearest public library.  That is, if it is still open and at a time convenient to you.

I was planning to cast a blank ballot in the August primaries, but now I will be sure to put an X next to Kelliher/Gunyou.  Also, after I post this I'll make a small contribution to the Kelliher/Gunyou campaign.  Note that I am still a Party of One and do not contribute to parties.  Oh, the Coffee Party might be an exception.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

A Plug for a Writer Relative

My wife's brother-in-law is a more prolific writer than I am, at least of books.  He has started his own website about himself, his works, and some friends.  If you are interested in fantasy fiction, drop in to his WordFactory.

If you do, please say I sent you.

The Velcro controversy - equal opportunity satire

Jim Heffernan is at his best when he satirizes public figures (or himself or other journalists).  He really takes on many politicians of different persuasions in "Disaster feared as worldwide Velcro failure spreads".

Be sure to read Jim's latest blog entry sitting down in a chair with arms.  Neither Jim nor I can take responsibility for anyone falling out of his or her chair laughing.

Monday, May 24, 2010

A pragmatic conservative

I call Ross Douthat a "yes but conservative".  He has a considered approach to politics rather than following an ideological checklist.  His analysis of Rand Paul's follow-through on Paul's Kentucky Republican primary upset is a great example of Douthat's thinking.  His column, "The Principles of Rand Paul", New York Times, 2010-05-24, has many wonderful, quotable statements.  I'll give you this teaser: "In an age of lockstep partisanship, there’s a lot to admire about this unusual constellation of ideas, and its sweeping critique of American politics as usual."

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Has a new, moderate party gotten closer?

David Brooks speculates in "The Story of an Angry Voter", New York Times, 2010-05-21, that given the extremes that both parties seem to be moving to, the pragmatists in government will have no choice but to start a new party.  Although he doesn't see it happening in the near future, I hope that he keeps writing about the possibility.

Don't play golf with a bear

Bears are very impolite golfers.  They don't replace their divots.

All along one path at our Brimson place there are many gouges.  A bear or bears have come along looking for grubs and other goodies under ground.  It couldn't be truffles, could it?  Anyhow, the path looks like a mess.

One advantage is that the bear may help me select rocks that I could move off the path.  This path is strewn with big rocks that make pulling a cart of firewood a lot more effort than over smooth ground.  The bear dug along the edge of some of these rocks.  Those rocks may be candidates for lifting out with a pry bar.

Or the rocks could be like in the cartoon: A man is digging a rock out of his yard and says to his wife, "I'll be in for lunch as soon as I get this rock out."  However, the rock is so huge that it goes under the house.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Shall we boycott BP?

What if several thousand people stopped buying gas at BP stations?  Would BP notice?  Would a boycott have any effect on its safety practices?

It's easy enough for me to say; there are not that many BP stations in my area.  Also, the gas sold at them probably is not refined by BP.  Retail gasoline is generally refined locally by a few refineries and blended according to formulas provided by each retailer.

However, would a boycott of BP give a message beyond BP, say to politicians who have knee jerk reactions to any interference in the so-called "free market" or to wimpy politicians who live in fear of such reactions.  For how much time has been wasted see, "Obama and the Oil Spill", Thomas Friedman, New York Times, 2010-05-18.

I thought of doing a mashup for YouTube of testimony of how safe offshore drilling was combined with news footage of the spill.  To save myself the trouble I did a search of YouTube for "BP oil spill rainy" where Rainey is an executive who testified before the Senate on how safe offshore drilling was.  I hit pay dirt with "Play him off, Keyboard Cat (Sarah Palin, BP Oil Spill, Senator McCain) FAIL!!!!"

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Those who can…

Most of us know the saying, "Those who can do; those who can't teach."

Given all the legislation being written to micromanage education, I would like to add to the saying, "Those who can't teach, enter politics."

The irregularity of the Irregular Blog

Regular subscribers to the feed of my Irregular Blog and those who read it directly surely have noticed that I may write two or three entries in a day and then none for a few days.  It is not because I've run out of ideas, I have a long list.

It is more because of time and/or energy, especially on weekends.  When I go to our cabin, I spend a lot of time preparing firewood, clearing brush (I wonder if George W. Bush would like to help me now that he has free time), and chipping it to put on trails.  If I go without my wife, I have to work three times as hard with these tasks, meal preparation, fire-building for cabin or sauna, and many other little chores.

When I come into the cabin to sit a spell, I often would rather do a Sudoku puzzle on my iPod or read a novel than do anything that even resembles work.

On top of all else, the patience-trying speed of 24Kbps internet access, makes even checking my bank balance a long chore, the same for uploading a new blog entry.

When I started the Irregular Blog, I recognized that I wouldn't have daily entries and named it accordingly.  I started it partly because I had more ideas than I could put in a bi-weekly Reader Weekly column.  Of course, I couldn't put what I planned for the column in the blog; that would be stealing my own thunder.

Once I stopped writing the Reader Weekly column, then I was free to write what and when I wanted to for the blog.  I also was not constrained by size, I could write two words or two thousand words.

Like a regular column, a blog writer has his or her regular fans, and one writes as much for these fans as oneself.  It is to these fans that I apologize for the irregularity of the Irregular Blog.  Even when there are only about twenty fans of this blog instead of the probably over two hundred there were for my "Party of One" column in the Reader Weekly.

Please keep checking and let others know about this blog.  I do have a long list of ideas, including about a bilingual three-year granddaughter who is proof that it is difficult to rate teachers on their performance.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Did jobs ever return?

Did jobs ever return?
No, they never returned
And their fate is still unlearn'd
They may ride forever
'neath the halls of Congress
They're the jobs that never returned.

Actually, the fate of many jobs has been learned, but not by those in Washington who think their posturing and speeches are going to bring them back.

Changing technology keeps changing the jobs needed.  The railroads put lots of cart drivers out of business.  More powerful locomotives with more safety features moved more freight with fewer and smaller crews.  Computers reduced the need for typists and all kinds of other office help.  The Internet reduced the need for printing, sales people, and order processors.  I think most of us over 50 can make, in less than an hour, a list of 100 jobs that no longer exist or whose need is greatly reduced.

Politicians think that tax cuts or business incentives are going to bring jobs back.  But the hiring of the unemployed is going to be minimal.  More than likely the target businesses are going to hire people from other firms with the required "experience" or "skills".

That is another factor that makes creating jobs so difficult.  Once upon a time, companies hired workers with some general knowledge about the work and trained them on the job for the needed specifics.  Nowadays, if you don't have the required "skill set", fuhgedaboutit!  Some of these skill sets are so detailed that it is a wonder that companies find anybody.

See "The New Poor: In Job Market Shift, Some Workers Are Left Behind", Catherine Rampell, New York Times, 2010-05-12, "Dentistry and the economy", "Forget jobs, create opportunities",  and "Where have all the jobs gone?"

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Nuclear power is safe and clean?

If nuclear power is safe and clean, why do bugs around some nuclear plants mutate at ten times the rate of bugs elsewhere.  And that's not ten times a very small fraction.  The overall rate is three percent, but one scientific illustrator found the mutation rate can be 30 percent around nuclear plants.

See "Swiss Artist Catalogs Mutant Insects Around Nuke Plants", Wired, 2010-04-19

Could these be another form of canaries in the mine?

See also "Nuclear weapons and climate change - is there a connection?"

Monday, May 10, 2010

Another biased poll

Today I received an envelope labeled "REGISTERED DOCUMENTS ENCLOSED", "REGISTERED SURVEY NUMBER: …", and "RESPONSE REQUESTED WITH 72 HOURS".  Wow!  Important sounding!  It was from the Democratic National Committee.  I was tempted to put it where I put most other surveys.  Looks like "liberals" aren't all that interested in "saving trees".

But, my curiosity got the better of me.  Just how biased are the survey questions?

It is called "2010 PRESIDENTIAL SURVEY", it has my name and address at the top, and it has my "DNC MEMBERSHIP #".  Gosh, when did I join the Democratic National Committee or the Democratic Party.  I've contributed to candidates, but I haven't contributed money to a party since I was a Republican precinct finance chairman.  My term ended in 1981 and I never went back.  I guess they never read my Reader Weekly columns, "Party of One".

Also, the first page says "PLEASE COMPLETE AND RETURN BY: May 28, 2010.  Hm! May 28 is more than 72 hours from today.

"SURVEY INSTRUCTIONS" include reviewing the questions, answering "to the best of your knowledge or ability", and using the proper ink color.  Then, the true purpose:

4. Complete your DNC contribution form.
5. Return your completed survey, along with your contribution, in the envelope provided.

That was almost enough to trigger the second attempt to "save a tree".  But my curiosity wanted to know if the questions were any less biased than in the survey I wrote about in "URGENT Poll on Obama Care"

The first section was on "PRESIDENT OBAMA'S PERFORMANCE".  The questions seem straight-forward with a choice of Excellent, Good, Fair, Poor, and Undecided.  But those answers are ambiguous.  A Democrat might rate Obama poor on health insurance reform because Obama didn't do enough, and a Republican might rate Obama poor because Obama did anything at all.  Of course, how many Republicans will return the form.  They might "save a tree" and a stamp.

The "NATIONAL PRIORITIES" section asks the respondent to rate the relative importance of thirteen issues.  Most seem innocuously worded, but one could see a bias in the selection of some.

The "DEMOCRATIC PARTY PRIORITIES" is partisan with items about raising funds and electing Democrats, but the real partisan item is "Combating Republicans' Obstructionist Tactics".

That item is a real problem, but maybe it could be minimized by promoting fewer thousand-page bills trying to do everything at once.

I'm tempted to return the form with the link to this blog entry, but I think I'll "save a tree" and a stamp.

Save a tree, don't use electricity

Our Brimson property has an easement for power and telephone right-of-way.  The telephone line is underground with relay or junction boxes every few hundred feet.  The power lines are on poles.

To be sure that the power lines are accessible, the power co-operative has all the brush cut every few years.  We thought it was every eight to nine years in the non-winter months.  In the intervening times we've taken out a few ten-foot birch and replanted them elsewhere on the property.

We were surprised when the brush was cut this winter.  And it was the messiest that we ever saw.  Hacked, splintered stumps of alder and other shrubs and trees all over.  It looked more like a battlefield than a right-of-way.

We generally don't drive by the east half because we come from the west.  Saturday we took a walk on the road along the east half.  We noticed that several good-sized trees had been knocked down: a ten-inch birch, a few smaller birches, and a few 6-8 inch aspen.

Well, we can't let those go to waste.  We might as well harvest them for firewood rather than cut down other trees.

The first job was to make a path to them through all the splintered brush stumps.  That was lots of fun considering how uneven and rocky the terrain is.  More fun yet because the wheeled trimmer cuts too high because of the unevenness and then is difficult to get over the little stumps.  Heave, grunt, groan, heave, back off and try again.

The second job was clearing a safe workplace around the downed trees.  Almost everyone fell into the brush outside the easement.  That took long-handled nippers and a lot of bending.

I won't describe the delimbing process and which part of which of the three criss-crossed trees I did in which order.  Eventually we had enough for two small loads of bolts or rounds in our SUV.  I don't remember if we took all the usable firewood from that spot or left some.

I do know one of my first tasks next weekend is to cut up and split the wood we took back to our cabin.  Then I'll go back to harvest some of the other trees.  Without cutting down a single tree, we'll be well on our way to having some nice, dry wood for the 2011-2012 heating season.

It is sad, though, to think of all the trees on other easements that are just going to be left in an unsightly jumble to rot.

Next time you feel good about all your recycling or other efforts "to save a tree", consider that when you flip a light switch, you may be taking down a tree.

Thursday, May 06, 2010

My WikiQuote unquoted

I checked on my WikiQuote entry that I wrote about in "If you can read this, thank a teacher".  It was denied.  I won't go into the reasons why here.  I don't know if I'll give it another try or not.  At least not this week.

Government is bad; government is good; make up your mind

Many think that free enterprise can do no wrong and that government can do no right.  Facts don't seem to sway such ideologues that companies can really screw up and that government can do many things right.

Many complain that the government didn't respond fast enough to the Gulf oil spill.  Many forget that it was BP that acted in some careless way that the spill occurred.

Many complain that the government didn't respond fast enough to the Times Square bomb incident.  Many complain that the government made many mistakes.  Many forget that the government acted very quickly and found many wide-spread clues in a little over two days.  That mistakes were made doesn't surprise me.  Consider the volume of information that has to be sifted through and the quick judgments that must be made to determine what information is important.

Free enterprise is no different in making judgments on information.  One department of a bank is working with a borrower to change the terms of a loan; meanwhile another department of the same bank is working to sell the house at auction.

But when it comes to war and terrorists, many think the government is always right.  "The President knows more than we do."  Oh, yeah!  Many assume that if the government says that someone is a terrorist then that person is a terrorist and should be tried in a military tribunal without any of the usual legal protections.

Aren't some of these people who believe such also calling for us to follow the intent of the Founders?  The Founders didn't want unbridled power in any branch of government.  That's why we have separation of powers with an executive branch, a legislative branch, and an independent judicial branch.  With a military tribunal, we are having the executive branch acting as prosecutor, judge, and jury.

How do we know that Faisal Shahzad wasn't just caught up in some strange circumstances and was accused just to show that the government was doing something about terrorism?  We readers of newspapers are probably seeing enough information to have some assurance that Shahzad is the perpetrator, but we can't make a life or death judgment on that basis.

That's why we have trials before judges where the government states its reasons to believe that the accused is guilty, where an accused lawyer's attempts to prove otherwise, and a jury of the accused peers weighs the arguments to determine the truth.

If we have it otherwise, any one of us could be falsely accused and be judged guilty solely on the basis of an accusation.  When that can happen, there goes the "Freedom" that many claim to defend.

Wednesday, May 05, 2010

If you can read this, thank a teacher

This week is "Teacher Appreciation Week".  I didn't know it until I saw the Huffington Post article "Teacher Appreciation Quotes: Famous Sayings For Teachers And About Teaching".

My favorites was

"In teaching you cannot see the fruit of a day's work.  It is invisible and remains so, maybe for twenty years." - Jacques Barzun

If this isn't a rebuke of merit pay and the idea of easily measurable teacher performance, I don't know what is.

However, one of the commenters (LeoWong) to the article wrote that Barzun didn't write this, but about the artistic or intellectual life.

I looked and looked for a more direct attribution but could only find the same quote over and over again with no source citation other than Jacques Barzun.

So, I wrote a WikiQuote entry to ferret out some more information.  We shall see what happens. [It was deleted.  I won't go into the reasons here.]

Tuesday, May 04, 2010

Have we become like imperial Rome?

Sometimes I wonder.  Bread, circuses, and foreign wars!

When I read about all the jockeying to get the public to pay for yet another stadium in the Twin Cities, I wondered about our future.

We are paying a lot for welfare for the less fortunate and even for the more fortunate.  We are paying huge sums to athletes and even more to build huge, luxurious stadiums for games.  And we fight wars around the globe; wars that hardly touch the vast majority of our population.

And many of the extremely wealthy are going to extremes to not pay for any of this.  If and when our empire collapses, will these same people plunder the public buildings for materials to build their country villas?

Is National Day of Prayer a National Day of Hypocrisy?

A federal judge has ruled that the National Day of Prayer is unconstitutional.  Strict secularists are overjoyed and those in favor of public prayer are undeterred in holding National Day of Prayer events.  Many politicians of the right and the left plan to participate.

But are those who are in favor of a National Day of Prayer going to respect the following:

And when thou prayest, thou shalt not be as the hypocrites: for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and in the corners of the streets, that they may be seen of men. Verily I say unto you, They have their reward.

But thou, when thou prayest, enter into thy closet, and when thou hast shut thy door, pray to thy Father which is in secret; and thy Father which seeth in secret shall reward thee openly.
Matthew 6:5-6 (King James Version)

Monday, May 03, 2010

What I thought I saw wasn't a puddy tat

As I was driving back from our cabin yesterday, I saw a medium size dog crossing the road.  But it didn't look quite like a dog.  It was too heavy for a fox and it was dark brown.  It had a black tip on its tail and a short snout.  I wondered if it was a wolverine.

I pulled over to take a picture, but I was too slow.  Almost as soon as I stopped, it went into the line of trees and into a clear cut area.  I really could see it among all the left-behind debris.  This was along Hwy. 44, probably between Pequaywan Inn and the North Star Fire Dept.

When I got home, I looked up wolverine and chose the Wikipedia site.  The picture at the top right of the page looks very much like what I saw.  Click on it for a bigger picture.

I misled myself yesterday because I scanned through the text without that picture registering in my mind.  Two later pictures show a couple of pelts and a wolverine in rocky terrain.  All three show lighter fur that I didn't see as the wolverine crossed my path.  When I noticed the picture today, it was an ah-ha moment.  It definitely was not a puddy tat!

Sunday, May 02, 2010

Darn slow dial-up

The New York Times had "A Moment in Time" request for photos today.  I read about it at our cabin this morning but I didn't read carefully.  I thought the photo was supposed to be taken at 11:00 EDT this morning, and so I took one at about 10:00 CDT.

I wasn't about to get back online to submit my photo from the cabin; no way am I going to send a photo at 24kbps, and I am very reluctant to get on more than ten minutes a day.  It really tries my patience to wait and wait for pages to download.

Now I'm back in Duluth and looked up "A Moment in Time".  Aarrgghh!!!  It was for 15:00 EDT, not 11:00 EDT.  The Times will forgive a minute or two variation from the "Moment", but not four hours!

Of course, some of you will say I should have read the article more carefully.  I guess you'r right.  But after waiting for five minutes for the front page to load…

Oh! Oh!  I'm saved!  The article said 11:00 but the submission FAQ says 15:00 UTC!  That translates to 10:00 CDT!  My picture was taken at 09:59:59 CDT.

Look for it in The New York Times soon.

And since I retain the copyright, I may put it on Flickr, but not tonight.  This has been enough excitement for the day.