December 2016


If the First Rule of Holes...

...is to stop digging, does that mean the first rule of postholes is to stop posting?

One of the neighbors who will also benefit from the mailbox moving project volunteered himself and his son to dig the postholes for three new mailbox posts — for his place, us, and the neighbors in between — and now all I need to do is set the new post, pour in the Quikrete, add water, and hope the stuff sets before it starts raining tomorrow.

We still haven't been given a date for when the new mail delivery route goes into effect, but that's supposed to be the only remaining formality.

While it did take some time for the request to reach the postmaster in charge of our area, once she got the request she responded with alacrity. It's a common jape that the U.S. Postal Service has two speeds, neither of which is Fast, but on this occasion at least it's far from accurate.

Update, a few hours later: The post seems pretty well set but I'll give it some more time, probably until morning, before covering the concrete with dirt.

The hole originally was a few inches too deep, compared to the old box across the road, so I grabbed a spare rock and dropped it into the hole. That boosted the post just enough to put the bottom of the new box's mail slot at exactly the same height as on the old box, and the mix braced the post just fine all by itself.

I'll wait to mount the box until it's almost time for the route change. It's already got nice big reflective numbers on both sides, which will make the numbers on the cheapo wooden posts I pounded in a few years ago superfluous. They're already trying to peel off anyway.

Friday,  December 30, 2016  McGehee

If the Montana Move Happens...

There are little "casinos" all over the place out there.

To my knowledge they don't have any big resort casinos, just little places that frequently have gas pumps out front. And it seems almost every place with gas pumps out front has gambling on the premises. It's like Nevada would be if Bugsy Siegel had never been to Vegas.

Mrs. McG and I have enjoyed a sojourn or two at the slot machines in our day, and we have a system: we decide before we go in what's the most we'll play during our visit. In the long past when I lived in Sacramento and work sometimes took me over the mountains to Reno or some such place, I could limit myself to a half-roll of quarters because the time would be limited between finishing the job and having to head for home. It helped that I was satisfied with single-coin plays.

Once in Carson City I was not far into my playable funds (a whole roll of quarters!) when I hit a couple of really good wins. I took enough out of the winnings to replace what I'd initially staked myself, and spent the rest of my time there risking the house's money instead of my own. And I ended up taking some of it with me.

Obviously the convenience of dropping coin at a Montana "casino" carries some additional risk. You really can't have fun at it if you only play however many quarters you got in change for your store purchases, but if you run through five extra bucks every time you stop for gas it's going to add up fast — even if your car gets really good mileage.

It would be an interesting challenge to work out a viable adjustment to my system, though.

Wednesday,  December 28, 2016  McGehee

Merry Christmas

A thrill of hope, the weary world rejoices
For yonder breaks a new and glorious dawn

Christmas Day,  December 25, 2016  McGehee

Gentle Reminder

It's not about Santa Claus or "a season of peace."

It's about a great gift and sacrifice that God gave, to show his children a way back to Him from this world of sorrow and venality.

We don't exchange gifts because of gold, frankincense and myrrh. We exchange gifts in echo of His gift, which is our salvation.

Christmas is a season of hope, symbolized in the light of the star that led the wise and the humble to Bethlehem, as Christ's message is a light to lead us all to God.

Saturday,  December 24, 2016  McGehee

We Disinterrupt This Background...

I've decided to bring back the Wyoming background image I was using before. The excessively warm colors in the windmill pic only served to emphasize that I'm in a part of the world that almost never really gets winter and, when it does get it, doesn't "get" it.

Update, a few days later: Still no bad news. The sadists.

Saturday,  December 17, 2016  McGehee

Let's Get a Few Things Straight

Donald Trump is not yet President of the United States.

In fact technically, he is not yet even President-Elect of the United States.

The process of electing a President only begins with the votes being counted on the night of the Tuesday after the first Monday in November. Those are unofficial totals. They don't become official until the Secretary of State or equivalent official in each state and D.C., where the 51 separate elections for President are conducted, certifies them.

Once the totals are official, each state's slate of Electors is notified, according to the laws of their respective states, which will be called to cast a vote for President. Maine and Nebraska apportion Electors both statewide and by congressional district; all other states and D.C. go winner-take-all. Since the Constitution empowers state legislatures to decide how Electors are to be chosen, either option is legitimate — as would be letting the sitting legislature at the time name Electors without consulting voters at all.

Once the 51 slates of Electors have been named, they are called to their respective state capitals (or appropriate venue in D.C.) to cast their ballots next Monday, December 19.

Once cast, the votes are then sent to Washington to be counted before a joint session of Congress, which is set to occur on January 6, 2017.

For all but two weeks before the Inaugural Ceremony on January 20, there is no "president-elect." There is a presumed president-elect, and given the stability and predictability of the process over the centuries we have grown accustomed to acting as though the presumed president-elect is, in fact, the president-elect. So far it has worked out that way.

Only after the President of the Senate — in this case Vice President Joseph R. Biden — announces the result of the Electors' votes will Trump (barring some surprise) actually become President-Elect. As a result, at 12:00 noon Eastern Standard Time on January 20, 2017, he will become President of the United States.

Under the Constitution as amended, the term of the incumbent President ends at precisely that instant and he loses the powers of the office immediately; there is no circumstance under which, constitutionally, he can retain them. His successor cannot take up those powers until he has sworn the Inaugural Oath, but he already holds the office.

If the shit hits the fan and there is no President-Elect by noon on January 20, there are provisions in place dictating who shall exercise the powers of President after that time, and what must be done, if anything, to finalize the succession. Again, the outgoing incumbent can't continue in office if he is not the President-Elect.

One of the more contentious elections of recent times took place in 1960, in which Senator John F. Kennedy, Democrat, ultimately defeated his Republican opponent, Vice President Richard M. Nixon. Despite mutterings about election fraud favoring Kennedy, Nixon solemnly carried out one of his last constitutional duties on January 6, 1961, announcing his former election opponent as President-Elect of the United States.

Wednesday,  December 14, 2016  McGehee

Cowboy Christmas

The 2016 National Finals Rodeo went its last go round Saturday night, and the world champions have been crowned.

In my earlier rodeo post I mentioned the Canadian team ropers, one of whom has a full mountain-man beard. Well, they won, along with fellow Canadian Zeke Thurston, saddle bronc rider.

The 2016 world champion barrel racer is 68-year old Mary Burger. to whom I referred in the earlier entry. Clearly this is one area of female competition where dewy eyes and perky ... personalities aren't much of an advantage.

Meanwhile two-time bull riding world champion Sage Kimzey made it three-time. Despite having a merely good run at the finals, his spectacular earnings during the season kept him ahead of his rivals' better go-rounds in Las Vegas. Kimzey finished third in the NFR averages, but it pays to have a lot in the bank before the big year-end show; he's the one who got the championship saddle.

I would have gathered the rodeo circuit takes a bit of a break now but I've seen references to, for example, the 38th Annual Montana Pro Rodeo Circuit Finals in Great Falls in mid-January. Which, if Great Falls had an indoor rodeo arena I could imagine it better. Maybe they're counting on the Chinook.

Update: Just discovered Great Falls does have an indoor arena they use for rodeos. I guess everything's up-to-date in Electric City!

Monday,  December 12, 2016  McGehee

Please, Ms. Postmaster

When Mrs. McG and I moved in at these home acres, it was not the first time we'd had a mailbox beyond the end of our driveway. Our home of four years in the outskirts of North Pole, Alaska received its mail at a mailbox cluster around the corner. But traffic on our "street" and the cross "street" the mailboxes were on, was never particularly active.

Here our mailbox, though merely across the road, is across a road that is an increasingly busy (and speedy) commute corridor — and one that the county will be promoting as such in the coming years, although hopefully not until we've moved out west.

We and our same-side neighbors have petitioned the local postmaster to have our mail route adjusted so that we can move our mailboxes onto our own side of the road. I don't know how long it will take but having the postmaster in our corner don't hurt.

Our neighbors had seen a lot of accidents on this stretch of road even before we'd moved in, and we seem to be the only ones who haven't yet needed to replace a mailbox. Though our mailbox could sure use replacing just from ordinary wear and tear. Getting the go-ahead to have it on our own side of the road is as good an excuse as any.

Even if (see previous entry) we're only able to use the replacement box for a few months, it'll be good to leave things safer for whoever lives here next.

Friday,  December 9, 2016  McGehee

We Interrupt This Background...

The Wyoming focus of this site's background images is going away for an indeterminate period of time.

There are a million things that could throw a monkey wrench into this, but at least this time the worst-case scenario (har!) is that our existing plans to retire to Wyoming in years would remain in place. Meanwhile, Mrs. McG is pursuing an opportunity that could see us moving out of Georgia years sooner than planned — to Montana.

The downside to doing this would be that it isn't Wyoming. And that it would be a place that gets a whole lot colder in the winter (with interruptions thanks to some schnook) (er, Chinook), and has no schools in the Mountain West Conference. Also the flag is boring, one of those state-seal-and-state-name-on-a-blue-background flags I've managed to avoid living under in my five-and-almost-a-half decades. And they have a state income tax.

But both UM and MSU are in the Big Sky Conference, as is my alma mater, Sacramento State. So I might get to see the Hornets play on TV sometimes. Wait, am I calling this an upside or a downside?

My mother was born and raised in Montana, and my parents' firstborn, who died in 1946 at age ten months, is buried in Missoula. I haven't seen that grave since I was four years old.

Montana is bigger than Wyoming, with more people but also more open, empty space. It currently has a Democrat governor, and one of its two U.S. senators is likewise a Democrat — as are all but one of the statewide elected officials. Come to think of it, that's how Georgia was when we first moved here.

If we do move to Montana, odds are that's where we'll stay after retirement, but we can always visit Wyoming from there.

Anyway, given the possibilities, it makes sense to use more generically Western themery on this site, hence the current background.

Afterthought: It's just occurred to me that Montana doesn't have a single iconic image everyone associates with it, other than the outline of the state's shape on a map. Wyoming has the bucking horse and rider logo you see in the previous entry; Colorado has the "C" shape thing from its flag; Utah has the beehive.

You can identify South Dakota from depictions of Mount Rushmore, New Mexico from the Zuni sun symbol on its flag, and Arizona from a saguaro cactus.

Kansas has the sunflower; Nebraska has Chimney Rock. For that matter, Wyoming and Arizona also have iconic flags. What does Montana have? When you think of Montana, what image pops into your mind?

Then again, Idaho's kind of in the same boat. And you notice I didn't mention North Dakota at all...

Afterafterthought: My cell carrier, currently, is Google's Project Fi. There are some awkwardnesses about dealing with Google that would get in the way of continuing to use them if we move to Montana. I'm assuming Fi uses the same pool of phone numbers as Google Voice, which has no local numbers in the town we'd be moving to.

It looks like I'd have to go back on AT&T with Mrs. McG for my cell service.

Update: I've done something to short-circuit the suspense: ordered a Montana coffee mug. We will almost certainly know we're not moving by the time it arrives.

'Nother Update: Mug has arrived, bad news hasn't. Don't know what to think.

Wednesday,  December 7, 2016  McGehee


CBS Sports is covering all ten daily rounds of the National Finals Rodeo in Las Vegas, continuing through next Saturday.

Of course the event I'm most interested in is once again bull riding, but since a key character in my latest attempt at fiction writing is a former steer wrestler, I'm paying attention to that event as well.

Before I started watching these events on TV I couldn't have explained the differences between bareback and saddle bronc riding (hint, there's more to it than the presence or absence of a saddle), but I've learned enough to recognize that the event depicted in Wyoming's "Bucking Horse and Rider" logo (you'll see it on the University of Wyoming's football helmets as well as on Wyoming license plates) is saddle-bronc riding — because of the rider's upright posture and the presence of a rope connected to the horse's bridle.

I have yet to see a saddle-bronc rider in one of these rodeos waving his hat during the ride, even among those who still wear hats instead of helmets.

As a rule, rodeo cowboys have tended not to have facial hair, but I've been seeing beards and mustaches on some — and in Thursday's first round of team roping the heeler on the winning team sports a big mountain-man beard. Well, they're from Canada. No telling what goes through their minds. They placed a little lower in Round 2 last night though.

Barrel racing, professional rodeo's only women's event, has the widest age range in the sport; one contender in the 2016 NFR is 68 years old, nearly three times the age of your typical post-college rookie professional. Of course rodeo has college, high school and even junior high school levels, as well as "Little Britches." At those levels you'll also see girls compete in goat roping and breakaway calf roping.

It's a shame those latter two events don't afford opportunities at the professional level, since unlike barrel racing a roping event actually showcases a ranch skill that many a working cattlewoman may use on the job.

Saturday,  December 3, 2016  McGehee



December 2016


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