Friday, December 6, 2013

Updated picture

Remember the other day, I posted a picture of the Big Hole starting to ice over? Yesterday I started the truck around 3pm and wanted to drive it a bit to charge the battery. It had warmed up to a balmy 2 above. So I drove to the same spot and took another pic, slightly different angle.

The next 4 days are supposed to be sub-zero, down to -33 on Sunday. The ice will continue to thicken on the surface, but underneath it's flowing water, and has no place to go except downstream and upward, pushing the ice surface, causing fractures in the ice, and ice heaves. 

In a month or so, it could look like this (taken a previous winter).

Saturday, November 30, 2013

Email from my daughter

I got this the other day and thought I'd pass it along. I'm so proud of  all my kids, but this is pretty special. When one of your children do this, you know you've done something right.

Sounds delicious!  If the pie turned out well, perhaps I can convince 
you to make it for Christmas?

This year, I'm grateful for Whole Foods.  We've all been sick so much, 
and with the exception of Fiona, we're all still a little sick, so it's 
quite a load off not to be cooking this year.  And we ordered both 
pumpkin and pecan pies.  A pecan pie with NO CORN!!!

One thing I'm doing new this year is submitting a letter to Your Holiday 
Mom. They publish one letter, with audio 
and picture, every day from Thanksgiving through New Years.  They're for 
the LGBTQ kids who are rejected by their families during the holiday 
season.  Did you know that the AVERAGE age of homeless LGBTQ youth is 
14???  That means there are 12 year olds who are living on the street 
because their parents couldn't accept who they are.  Heartbreaking.

I hope you guys have a delicious meal and a great day.  Give David and 
Helen my love.



Oh, and here's the letter I wrote for Your Holiday Mom:

My dear one,

My name is Kate, and I'm a mom of 3.  I knit, snark on the internet, 
read and watch sci-fi, cook, and fail to clean my house like a Proper 
Mother(tm) should.  My husband and I and our middle child, who is 
genderqueer, are active in sci-fi fandom in our area.  My youngest, who 
is only 3, reflects our family culture pretty well. She loves Doctor 
Who, knows all the permutations of gender-neutral personal pronouns, and 
has expensive taste in cheese.

I'm writing to tell you I love you.  (Yeah, I love YOU.  You, 
specifically.)  And to tell you that the spirit of warmth, light, 
rebirth, and celebration, all belong to you.  I hope this letter finds 
you well, but if it doesn't, please know I'm holding you in the light 
all through these dark nights of the season.

This season can be a hard one to feel different, when we see families 
around us all drawing close, and honoring their oneness and their 
traditions that bind them.  I do know some LGBTQ adults who still feel 
apart from their families, and they've made their own traditions, with 
friends-who-are-family.  We usually have a number of them at our house 
for Thanksgiving, for what is usually called an Orphan's Thanksgiving, 
meaning, a bunch of people who don't have their own big family 
gathering.  But we do consider each other a big family, and one of my 
foster kids is an actual orphan, so we prefer to call it Geeksgiving.  
Everyone brings something, I cook for days, and we have a houseful of 
warmth, among people we love, and are so grateful for all the love that 
we've welcomed into our lives with our created family.  I'm going to set 
a place for you, because we love you, and we welcome you.

I'll be holding you in my heart on December 2, when the Christmas Season 
begins in our home.  See, December 1 is the birthday of one of our 
family, and one holiday at a time, thankyouverymuch!  So on Dec. 2, when 
we crank up the carols, and if the cleaning got done after Thanksgiving, 
we start decorating.  When I put up lights, I'll be thinking of you, and 
holding your unique and wonderful soul in the light.  When we assemble 
the plastic tree, I'll be grateful that you're the real you, not a 
pretense of you.  When I sing Joy To The World, horribly off-key, I'll 
be wishing Joy straight to your heart.

When you hear your favorite carol, imagine it off-key, in a loud alto. 
  That's me, singing to you about the joy and love and hope of the 
holidays.  When you need a hug, close your eyes.  I'm probably thinking 
of you right then, and sending you a hug from my soul to yours.

I want you to do something for you - for me - this season.  Do one thing 
you love.  Give yourself an afternoon to just appreciate who you are, 
who you have been, and who you will be.  Or go get a manicure.  Or that 
hat you've been wanting.  Ride a carousel.  Sing at the top of your 
lungs, do a cartwheel, or immerse yourself in music that makes you feel 
good about yourself.

I love you,

Mama Kate

Friday, November 29, 2013

A Modest Dinner

With the likelihood of not being here in 70,000 years when the next confluence of Hanukkah and Thanksgiving occurs, my buddy and I had a suitable dinner. We both agreed that turkey was not inspiring either of us, and we both like duck, so with that in mind we prepared. Last week I got two ducks, frozen. After thawing for 4 days in the fridge I put them in a brine on Tuesday. Wednesday I delivered them to David for smoking, then yesterday they were baked and served.

They turned out so good I thought I'd share the recipe. 

First, the brine:
I used a 5 gallon stainless steel pot, probably 4 gallons of water, to which I added:
1.5 cups kosher salt
several cloves of mashed garlic
soy sauce, maybe .5 cup
fresh sage, oregano, rosemary and thyme, chopped 
.5 cup red wine vinegar
about 2 tablespoons of Tom Ka Gai soup paste my daughter gave me (adds a Thai spin)

The ducks sat in it for 24 hours, sitting on my cold back porch. (note: a buddy of mine did a similar thing last year near here, he put the container in his back yard overnight and made a black bear very happy)

I cut some alder branches for the smoking wood, David smoked them for 16 hours at around 120f. 

When finished smoking, they went into a 475f oven for 20 minutes, then sat out to rest. 

Accompanying the ducks at dinner were latkes, local potatoes shredded with the usual egg and flour, also as a nod to the Southwest, some of the hatch chilis I had a run in with earlier in the year, fried in a cast iron skillet. Green beans, steamed then sauteed with various herbs and duck fat, a sourdough Challah with poppy seed crust, cranberry with port wine, and it was washed down with a nice Malbec. 

Full though we were, we were obligated to have a piece of my squash and ginger pie:

We talked about our kids and times past, the time we made them go camping on thanksgiving and cooked a turkey in a dutch oven, and the 40 years we've known each other. We missed the kids, but, as David reflected, "at least we didn't have to make them a separate pie". 


Monday, November 25, 2013

Sunday trip to the river

I drove a half hour to the Big Hole river yesterday, hadn't been in a couple weeks. No thoughts of fishing, breaking ice out of my fly rod guides was unappealing. I just wanted to see if winter had started to settle in to the river.

Ice is forming along the shore, in a couple weeks it probably will be across the river. The picture does not show it well, but there is drift ice floating in the open water. 

On the way back along a frontage road a small herd of antelope were grazing the brown range grass.

Not much snow yet, but it'll come, rest assured. 

Tomorrow I start preparations for the combination Thanksgiving and Hanukkah, after all the next time the two coincide will be in 80,000 years, and I might not be around. My buddy the cook down the street and I are having it together, first time in a couple years, it used to be an annual event. This year we're doing duck, I'm going to start brining two of them tomorrow, on Wednesday I'll deliver them to him for smoking, then Thursday we'll probably try pressing one of them for a Chinese style, the other will be slow baked.

Enjoy your holiday. 

Monday, November 11, 2013

Veteran's Day 2013

This particular veteran is in Iraq in the first photo, Afghanistan in the other two on another deployment. Between deployments he was stationed for awhile in Alaska. He sent me an email telling about a training mission where they loaded his company on a jet in full gear, flew for 12 hours, then jumped at 1,000 ft AGL. As  he was floating down under his parachute he saw jungle, rice paddies and farmers in black pajama's. He said his first thought was "Am I having one of dad's flashbacks??". They hadn't told them their destination, he jumped into Thailand on a training mission. 

He's now at university, and his family love and appreciate him very much. 

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Scientific Imagination

Most of you have read about the Higgs boson, or Higgs particle. A elemental particle thought to be pivotal to the standard model of particle physics. How the physical world is put together and works. It was theorized in 1964, but only as a possibility, and not confirmed for nearly 50 years. The theory was based on circumstantial evidence, and were it a criminal trial the defendant would be said to be not guilty. It was also based on scientific imagination......the cumulative result of knowledge from the past and present, then the undefinable "Eureka!".......the "I can't prove it, but it's gotta be...."

There are many other examples of this, but the one that occurred to me was that of Marie Krogh.

Marie Krogh (1874-1943) was a scientist and physiologist living in Europe. Around the turn of the century the theory of how oxygen got to the cellular level to be used in metabolic process was active secretion of oxygen by the lungs, it's adherents were the chief scientists of the day: Bohr and Haldane. To disagree with them about their theory was tantamount to professional suicide, similar to a first year undergraduate telling his Nobel Laureate department chair he was wrong in his work.

Marie Krogh, working with her husband August, published a paper in 1909 in the scientific journal Skand Arch Phiol refuting Bohr's active secretion theory, claiming oxygen actually passed across the alveolar-capillary membrane by passive diffusion; that the partial pressure of oxygen, higher in the alveolus, passed to the lower partial pressure present in the capillary. 

Then she did something that to me was remarkable: she described a test that could test the theory by delivering a small concentration of carbon monoxide to the lung, measuring the percentage inhaled and exhaled, and calculating the amount passed into the blood stream. She also calculated a 'constant', a mathematical factor that would be needed for the calculation of the transfer factor of oxygen. 

The rub was that there was no way at the time to determine if she was correct. There were no mechanical devices or sensors that could perform the test. 

In 1957, a noted pulmonologist, C.M. Ogilvie, read her paper published nearly 50 years earlier, and decided it could be done. Her theory and even the mathematical calculation of the constant turned out to be correct. 

She didn't live long enough to see her theory proven, but I'm sure she had no doubts.   

Friday, August 2, 2013


While I consider this my hometown now, it's an odd place in some ways. Identity is very important here; you were either born here, and therefore 'from' here, or not. Local politics are almost exclusively based on that identity, few officials are not 'from' here. Here are some of the things I see every day as I drive around my hometown.

A little music to listen to while you look.

(open in 'new tab', otherwise it screws up the pictures)

Maybe the reason I like it here is it's like me.......seen better days, a little shabby, but still here. And, like me, it's hoping for better days. 

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

An Ode to Wurst/or, Our Minds are Bigger than our Stomachs

Happened to be going by the one remaining good butcher shop and stopped in. They were just bringing out some Bratwurst from their facility in back. They don't list ingredients.......(Maw, I ain't seen Timmy since this morning....). They looked good, a couple went with me.

I them Chicago-style.

First, you grill the buggers.

When I think they're done, I wait a minute more, then in they go.

The bun was from a local bakery.......onion roll, sort of. No crust, flavor ok. But hey....

The buns are wiped with a great mustard sent to my by an 'anonymous' comment author (only one of those, hint hint)

Put a piece of lettuce, then bring on the brats. 

But, it's a Chicago Dog, right? So there's a bit more......

What you have is on the brats a layer of sauerkraut, some yellow spicy mustard, a couple kosher dills, and you got it. 

I already have two reviews for you:

1.  I rate it a 3 napkin status. 
     Joe Bob
2.  (from the author) My kids can tell you I'm a neat eater, never a stain on my shirt. This one......I used a towel, and it just barely did the trick. 

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

And I thought text messaging was tedious

There are a limited number of people who text me, mainly it's the daughters, or during football season it's how my son and I kibitz the games. Once or twice I've gotten 'wrong number' texts, but it's usually quickly resolved with a simple 'wrong number' response. Then there was yesterday late afternoon........

Around 5pm, my phone gave the double click that signals the arrival of a text. I read the following:

Hey hun you still coming over tonight? Cant wait to see you (:”

I puzzled over it for a moment, the only time I'm called 'hun' usually involves getting a cup of coffee and a menu. It was a area code for my state. I called, a youngish female voice answered, and I told them the text message just sent was to the wrong number. They said OK, and I thought that was that. Then, about 15 minutes later the following two texts appeared in quick succession: 

“Hey babe, I know I have the right number..jessica just checked her phone to. If your out cheating on me don’t even think about comig home cause your shi”

“t will be on the porch. By the way im 3 weeks pregnant with your kid.”

Well! Who woulda thought, at my age!! I could feel my street cred rising immediately. So I did what I always do when technology and I go awry: called my oldest daughter. 

She started riffing on it, imagining calling the person to welcome her to the family, on and on. There was an undertone of hilarity to her voice I found disquieting, but......

So I've changed my mind about texting, it's quite entertaining. And I'm going to call my buddy the Urologist who did a painful procedure on me 20 years ago and have a chat about outcomes.  

Monday, July 15, 2013

My Jury Experience

The recent headlines have made me recall when I was chosen for a jury. I've only gotten a notice for jury duty twice, once for municipal court, the other for superior court. The first lasted only a day; I was chosen for a 6-person jury in a drunk driving case, the trial and deliberation lasted half a day. One person on the jury stated at the start of deliberation she 'hated cops', and was going to vote to acquit no matter what the evidence was. The case was dismissed, the judge seemed bored when the other members of the jury complained about her.

The other was a different story, and I don't know if it's typical, rare, an anomaly, or what. What I do know is it took over a month, around 6 weeks as I recall. I was unable to get to my office or clinic until 5pm most days. I realize jury duty is a necessary part of every citizen's role, but at that time I was a busy diagnostician, and resented the time required. Not a good excuse, I know.

The case had major coverage in the press; it was a teen girl found murdered in a old school bus that had been converted to a  sort of 'crash pad' for street kids, sitting near a Seattle park. The accused was a man in his 20's, apparently well-known in the 'street' for carrying around a large staff. Large, blonde, not pleasing to look at, not that that should have any bearing, but we are none without our personal prejudices.

I thought from the start I would not be chosen; around 100 of us showed up at superior court and were herded into a large room. Someone explained to us we would be given a form/questionnaire, to fill it out and return the next morning. I don't remember exactly what was on the form, but it was mostly to find out if we had any connection with the case through friends or relatives. I had neither, or so I thought at the time.

I should say I had no desire to be on the jury, the case was disturbing, I had a daughter around the murdered girl's age and wanted no part of the details.

The next day we all showed up, were given numbers, and filed into the courtroom, taking seats in the audience. I was in the last 20 of the potential jurors, and thought I'd be back at my office by the afternoon.
12 jurors were to be chosen, and two alternates. The voir dire started, questions by the prosecution and the defense, some about if we would find seeing graphic evidence of a girl's murder disturbing, other questions about science, and DNA. The attorney's could excuse a juror for cause, or a certain number without cause. I listened to the questioning, and after a while decided I could discern no pattern to the jurors rejected by either the defense or prosecution.

It took 3 days just to work through the potential jurors to get to me. I was amazed and somewhat dismayed. I never thought it'd go this far, but there was one to go when they called me up to sit alone in the jury box for questioning. Both the prosecution and the defense had a go at me: "Do you have children?" "Yep". "Do you find this case disturbing?" "Sure do", "Will seeing the evidence bother you?" "Yes, I don't want to see any pictures of a murdered girl.", "Are you knowledgeable about science?" "I use scientific methods every day in my work." "Do you know what DNA is?" ......after a couple minutes hearing me lecture about deoxyribonucleic molecules they cut me off. The prosecution said "No objections, your honor", the defense lawyers said the same. I was shocked.

The trial started soon thereafter, and I'll try to condense the over a month long spectacle. The average day saw us get there at 8ish, led into the court around 9. The defense or prosecution would start, after about 15 minutes one side would say "Objection, your honor." The jury would be taken out for from 15 minutes to an hour, then led back in. Then it would happen again, out we would file, then back in. Some days we were in the courtroom less than an hour. Day after day after day.

Well, the jury started getting somewhat unruly, and after a few weeks flatly ignoring the judges admonition to not discuss the process until deliberations. "Did you hear that shit?" one would say as we were leaving the courtroom after another objection. We started talking about it in the jury room over lunch. The poor bailiff would shake her head and once covered her ears, saying "I can't hear this."

The DNA evidence was overwhelming, the accused's DNA was found on, in and around the body. Witnesses placed him with the girl before the murder. The defense offered no alternative (that we were allowed to hear), and would allude to us that they were not being allowed to, causing yet another jury exit from the room by the judge. Unpleasant photo's were passed around, graphic testimony heard, etc.

Finally it was over. I would guess that the jury spent less than 3 full days in the courtroom in all that time before we were sent to deliberate around 9am on the last day. We were supposed to elect a foreman. We were going to start that process when someone asked "Does anyone think he's not guilty?" All shook our heads. "Well, it wouldn't look good if we went back out there after 5 minutes." We agreed to stay in the room until after lunch. A bit later the bailiff came in to find us playing cards, reading and chatting. She shook her head and left quickly.

After lunch we went back in, announced the guilty verdict, and were quickly excused back to the jury room. The judge came in and looked at us in silence for a minute, then said something to the effect of "You are going to have attorneys, people and the press want to talk to you. I'm going to suggest to you that you not do that, for a long time to come." and left.

During the trial, my daughter had told me that she knew some of the witness, and knew of the defendant. Also, that what the defense wanted us to know was that after the girl had been murdered, her body was in the bus for a couple of days before police found it. During that time, it had been 'viewed' by many people, street people mostly. It had been on display, so to speak. I imagine the defense wanted to use this as evidence there was no way of knowing when the defendant's DNA had gotten in and on her.

So, did we convict the right person? Probably, but I can't be sure. Was there a 'reasonable doubt'? Again, I don't know.

A couple years later I ran into the lead prosecutor in the elevator in my office building. He recognized me, we talked a bit. "Yeah, we really wanted you on the jury." he said.  

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Scanning Pictures

I've been scanning some older pictures, and it isn't going as I had hoped. The images are not as sharp as the original pictures. The pictures were taken from 3 to 12 years ago. I have a medium quality scanner, a 6 year old Lexmark.

Any suggestions?

A sample:

The last one is not cropped (nor were the others), and I puzzled over it. Why did the person who took it not include what was on my right??  Then I remembered........I was fishing with my buddy, I'd also taken a supermodel along on the trip, and he was pissed, so he cut her out!!