Saturday, February 25

I was hoping for 25, but it was not to be ...

Today was the Dick Dailey Memorial Cup, a fundraiser for Eagle Mount at Showdown. I competed in the Alpine skiing competition.

This was really my first time ski racing. It was a lot of fun, and I recommend it to all of you as a worthwhile way to spend a Saturday next year.

Anyway, it was a best-of-two competition; where you race down twice and your best time is used for final tabulations. I skiied with a group called the "Montana Camelbackers". For my first run down, I posted 29 and change.

For my second run down, I posted 27.312 seconds. Actually, not too shabby for an old guy.

Friday, February 24

A Few Thoughts on Gardening

This will begin another subject here on TSJ. As you may have guessed from my regular diatribes against the evil rats-with-bushy-tails (see here and here), I putter around my garden during the warmer months.

I have little experience in this endeavor, and thus far, very little actual edible foodstuffs have been produced by my little patch of tilled earth in the backyard. Of course, most of the fault behind that lack of production can be sourced to my friends Chip and Dale.

However, this post is not about that subject. I would like to discuss a mistake I made; namely planting too early. Hopefully it will serve as a cautionary tale for any other budding urban gardeners reading these words.

This year, I thought I would get a jump on the season and start my vegetables from seeds, grown in little plastic tubs in the windowsill, covered with saran-wrap to make little greenhouses. I bought the little cardboard pots, and planted the seeds about two weeks ago.

Unfortunately, the radishes are already about 8 inches tall. You can practically watch them grow they move so fast. The Swiss Chard is about the same. Even most of the tomatoes are at least 1-2 inches tall.

It is only February. I started way too early. Next year, I am not going to start the seeds until March.

To keep the plants from dying, I am going to start transplanting them into larger plastic pots which I will put in the windowsill. With enough TLC, hopefully I can keep them going indoors until Memorial Day, when I plan to stick them in the terra firma.

Anyway, the planned crop this year consists of carrots, celery, swiss chard, radishes, pumpkins and (of course) lots of different varieties of tomatoes. In separate pots, I will also grow the various herbs I use to putter around the kitchen. This year, those pots will contain cilantro, flat-leaf and Italian parsley, a couple different varieties of basil, dill, oregano and mint.

Thursday, February 23

Thirteen New Inches ... so far ... This Week at Showdown!!!

Well, we got a little skiff here in the Electric City. Nothing to sneeze at, but just a skiff. It's all melting off as I speak (why did I bother shoveling this morning?)

But up by Neihart, it is a different story altogether. As of 2 p.m. today, 13 inches in the past two days. And it is still snowing!!!!

Click on the link over to the left and take a look. Better yet, I will meet you on Muley on Saturday morning for a run down the freshies!

Wednesday, February 22

Logically Concatenate unrelated Tables in MS Access

OK, I am at a bit of a brain freeze, and thought that I would turn to you, my brilliant readers, for a bit of help. I have a series of unrelated tables in MS Access. They all have identical field structures, but there is no relation built into them.

I would like to construct a query that will return a result that concatenates all of these tables. I don't want to just append all of these tables together; I want to keep them separate.

Ideas? Solutions?

Monday, February 20

AIPAC Prosecution Attempts to Criminalize Investigative Journalism

Wherever you stand on AIPAC, I think this post on Secrecy News raises some very troubling questions.

At what point should it be illegal to receive information? What sort of prior restraint on publication should the government be able to mandate? The exercise of this kind of power over publication makes me pretty uncomfortable.

The government should not have the power to force a prior restraint on any speech. If they can exercise that kind of power, it goes as far as revoking the rights afforded by the First Amendment.

Sunday, February 19

Arroz con pollo

Been a while since I posted a recipe, but this one pot wonder worked out well this weekend.

This is a basic rice with chicken recipe. Play around with it to have it deliver the flavors you like.


  • Dark chicken pieces (legs, thighs and wings), about 2-3 lbs.
  • 2 cups long grained rice (the flavors you want to impart should color your choice of rice here. If you want a dish with Indian flavors, use basmati. Oriental, use jasmine. The choice is yours!)
  • One onion, diced
  • 3-4 cloves garlic, diced
  • 4 cups flavorful liquid (this is going to be one of the most important flavor components of the dish. Don't just use H2O here, it doesn't bring any flavor to the party. I like a mixture of chicken stock, turkey stock and white wine. Don't be afraid to experiment.)
  • 1 can diced tomatoes
  • NACL and black pepper
  • Spices (tailor your spices here; cilantro and jalepenos would be traditional for a Mexican dish; an Indian dish might use cumin, coriander and cinnamon. Be creative!)
  • Olive Oil
  • 1 Cup Chiffinade of fresh herbs (again, experiment with the flavors. Cilantro would be traditional. Italian or flat leaf parsley would be also be fabulous. Basil would also work well, because of the tomatoes in the dish.)


Preheat your oven to 350 deg. F.

Liberally season the chicken with the NACL and pepper. Add two tablespoons of oil to your largest dutch oven, over high heat. Sear the chicken, about 5-6 minutes per side. Remove the chicken and set aside.

Pour off some of the accumulated fat in the pan, leaving about 3 tablespoons. Saute the onion until it is transparent, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and other spices and saute another 2-3 minutes. Add the uncooked rice and toss so that all the grains are well coated. Cook another 2-3 minutes.

Deglaze the pan with about 2 cups of the liquid, scraping the bottom of the pan with a wooden spoon. After the fond is all dissolved, add the remaining liquid. Add the chicen back into the pan and stir. Cover.

Place the covered pan in the oven and bake for 30 minutes. Right after you take the dish out of the oven, stir in the herbs. Serve and Enjoy!

Tribune Quotes Brilliant Great Falls Accountant

The accountant quoted in this article happens to be my beautiful wife!

Thursday, February 16

SIX new inches at Showdown!

-----Original Message-----
From: Showdown News []
Sent: Thursday, February 16, 2006 1:59 PM
Subject: This Weekend at Showdown

This Weekend at Showdown...

As of Thursday Afternoon, SIX inches of new snow since Sunday, with more in the forecast.


Tobbogan rides from the top of the mountain from 10 am to 3 pm - Minimum $5 Donation per ride - To Benefit Eagle Mount's Adaptive Ski and Snowboard Program.


Tom Marino will be playing in the Saloon at Showdown Saturday Afternoon, Feb 18


It's a holiday, so we'll be open all day and the bus will be running from Great Falls - Lift Tickets $30.


Saturday - Sunny, high of +6 degrees.

Sunday - Mostly Sunny, high of +11 degrees.

For more information, call 800.433.0022 - or Check out


Despite what they say in the International Press, Hamas is not made up of nice people

With the news of Hamas' upcoming trip to meet Russian President Putin, I thought that it would be useful to see what Hamas was saying in Arabic to the people of the Middle East.

As you can see, from planning to kidnap Israeli soldiers to "drinking the blood of Jews," the message being delivered is not one of peace.

Don't fall for what they say in English.

Wednesday, February 15

More Addictive than I Could Possibly Imagine

This weekend, a "friend" started me out on what has proven to be a new habit that I don't think I will be able to kick.

From what I have heard about meth, it doesn't even begin to touch the addictiveness of this vice. Without even a first cough, I find myself on a multi-grid a day habit.

My new addiction? Sudoku.

Have you heard of it? 91 little squares in a nine by nine grid. Using logic, patience and persistence you fill out the empty squares. The goal is to fill in the empty cells, one number in each, so that each column, row, and region contains the numbers 1–9 exactly once.

When I am not playing, I am thinking about the last unfinished puzzle.

Anyway, there is a link to a good site in my blogroll, over to the left.

I .... Can't .... Stop.

Israeli Anti-Semitic Cartoon Contest

There is a reason, after all, that Hollywood's famous comics were all MOT.

A group of Israeli cartoonists have taken the lead from Iran, and have announced their own anti-Semitic cartoon contest.

One of the contest founders, Amitai Sandy, the proprietor of Tel Aviv-based Dimona Comix, explains "We'll show the world we can do the best, sharpest, most offensive Jew hating cartoons ever published! No Iranian will beat us on our home turf!"

Thanks to Drawn! The Illustration Blog » Blog Archive » Israeli Anti-Semitic Cartoon Contest
for the tip!

Tuesday, February 14

Sarpy Sam offers us some basic Truth

Kudos to Sam!

I agree completely;

Valentines day is a made-up holiday that has no useful function in the real world. (quoting Sam)

Oh, for the comments that I expect to get; I love my wife. She knows I love her. A silly gift-giving opportunity of a holiday just provides an venue to separate our family from hard earned dollars. We are quite good enough at that, without Hallmark's help.

Monday, February 13

Cheney's Hunting Incident Good Opportunity to Remember Hunting Safety

As we have all heard by now, our Vice President accidentally shot a fellow hunter this weekend. Now, I don't think that Cheney is guilty here of anything. However, he was almost certainly negligent of basic gun and hunting safety rules.

This incident bears remembering the common-sense rules that I, along with almost every Montanan I know, were taught during hunting safety class. First among those rules is to always keep your weapon pointed in a safe direction, and make it your business to know where everyone in your party is located.

A basic refresher on some of these rules can be found here.

Accidents happen, and in this case no one was seriously hurt (apparently). However, the Vice President should use this incident as an opportunity to exhort all of us to refresh our hunting safety skills.

Cartoon Controversy Contrived?

I have been thinking a lot about the controversy over the Danish cartoons. All the hooplah doesn't quite add up in my mind.

Let's review:

  1. Back in September, an obscure Danish paper published a few cartoons that depicted Mohammed; noting that his message was being appropriated by fanatics.
  2. As reported by Dry Bones the other day, those same cartoons were republished by an Egyptian newspaper in October. No hooplah or controversy erupted at that time.
  3. In the intervening months, a number of stories gripped the press and began to make the Islamists look, shall we say, less then totally reasonable. These stories included the election victory by Hamas; the insane, intolerant and scary rantings of Iranian kook-in-chief Ahmadinejad; more relevations about the Syrian assassination of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri, etc.
  4. Just as these stories were reaching a fever-pitch, suddenly the Islamic world explodes in an orgy of offended violence because of those obscure Danish cartoons. Like a poof of smoke, everyone stopped talking and writing about Hariri, Hamas and Ahmadinejad and started covering this vile offense against Islam.
Doesn't this look a bit too convenient? Just when the story would do the most good for the opinion of the Islamists among the apologists among us, the story surfaces. Too convenient for my tastes. Less convenient than contrived, I say.

Don't fall for it. The Islamic world needs to be pressed on its intolerance and violence.

Preposterous Polling Place Plan ignores Popular Will

OK, my "headline" overstates the case here. The movement by the county election office is grounded in a reasonable desire to follow the law and accomodate the less fortunate among us.

I stand with the county in a desire to accomodate. As the good book says, "thou shalt not put a stumbling block before the blind." However, our goal here should be to accomodate the less fortunate while still maximizing everyone's convenience when exercising the franchise.

I submit that it is possible to do both. Leave our polling places as-is, and open the fairgrounds as an alternative for anyone who so desires or requires the accessibility of that location. Make copies of all county ballots available there, with maps and other information so that individuals can be given the correct ballot.

If the law does not allow for such a common sense solution, then the law is unduly restrictive.

Tuesday, February 7

Hooplah Over Danish Cartoons is Just More of the Same

Radical mullah's rioting because they disapprove of the statements made by others in the Western press? Must be Tuesday.

Seriously, this is nothing new. Remember Salmon Rushdie? Sixteen years ago, we saw almost the same thing after he wrote a novel that the Iranian mullah's decided was disrespectful of Muhammed.

The leader of Hizbullah is even calling on Muslims to be shameful over not executing Rushdie. He blames the free-thinking West for not being afraid enough, because no Muslim woud kill the novelist.

One of my favorite editorial cartoons, Dry Bones, has a nice analysis of this up on his blog.

Friday, February 3

Last Post of the Week

I am on the road to the URJ Small Congregation Conference in Everett, WA. See you Monday!

Do you see what is wrong with this picture?

OK, the first person to note the screw up in this article will win a day pass to the Nat. Hint: Look at the picture and accompanying caption.

Fascinating Entomology

This is fascinating. Disgusting, but fascinating.

Thursday, February 2

Pst ... Wanna See Some Cartoons?

First, I have the utmost respect for Islam. However, the hooplah over the Danish cartoons is a bit much.

Both the Torah and the Koran prohibit graven images of Hashem. However, this prohibition on images of Mohammed seems to be a sort of a deification; a definite no-no in both our faiths.

Anyway, the cartoons can be found here. (Link has been very busy lately).

UPDATE: This link seems to be more consistent.

Wednesday, February 1

How Gullible Are We?

According to an article published January 20 in the Guardian, Hamas has hired a media consultant to give them a "softer" image before the world.

Well, I guess this is as good a time as any to see how gullible we are as a society.