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The Norwegian Girl and the Cigar Bar

July 18, 2011

Somehow last Friday night the Frugal Norwegian broke character and consented to go out with me, to, of all places, a wine/cigar bar.  I’m still trying to figure out how that little trip came to pass, since I’d really enjoy repeating it with her again.

I suspect that it had something to do with my finally getting around to taking a picture of the blooms on the wild flowers she and her grandson planted this spring, and maybe something to do with me gimping around waiting to see the knee surgeon; and her fondness for wine probably helped too.  But now that she’s seen the place I have doubts about her enthusiastically accompanying, let alone approving of me making another visit.  Especially since she found out what the cost of a cigar runs  in place where they hand you a cigar clipper with the wooden matches.  We’re not talking granddad’s William Penns here.   Nor was she overly impressed with the leather chairs and couches.  While she did enjoy the wine and was impressed with the host’s knowledge of his inventory, she did not seem overly content watching me relaxing and smoking a cigar.  But the place does book jazz acts on weekends, so — who knows?


I guess can always suck it up and go to a fern bar and watch her drink wine.  If nothing else, that   should give me leeway to sneak off for an occasional solo smoke in a soft leather chair.  And it occurs to me that I now have a place to show Berg, should he ever decide to come out from Minnesota to coffee.  He’s done that before.  


— Margadant

The Missouri River Flowing on Down to the Sea

June 30, 2011

We’ve been so smug  for so long  about how Pick-Sloan controlled the flooding on the Missouri River– but then who’da thunk that the climate would start going in for extreme-sports.  These were taken June 22nd around Pierre and the Oahe Dam.

The first photo is of some golf course properties.  No one ever suspected they’d end up in a flood zone — the River had been controlled; couldn’t happen unless the entire dam washed out.

The second is of Farm Island, a hugely popular state park recreation area.

The third is the Stilling Basin at the dam.  I thought it was just over-engineering, the dam would break before it would ever be used, kind of like building a house out at the golf course.

Fascinating Things at the Office

June 28, 2011

Yesterday I had a client come in with some items of personal property that needed to be valued in his father’s estate.  What he laid on my desk took my breath away.  I got to heft and hold them, take some pictures, and learn some history.

Item I:


And Item II:


A bundle of old papers was then produced and I learned the provenance of these medals.  Given to early Lakota chiefs the medals had been handed down in the families.  According to a statement dated 1911, written in pencil by a survivor of the Wounded Knee Massacre, the Polk Peace Medal was there on that field.  So much for the “Peace & Friendship” sentiment.

— Margadant

A Sea Change

June 21, 2011

I’ve heard it called a sea change – the ebb and flow of the tides, but that’s just smearing honey on it.  In fact it’s just advancing age.  I don’t adapt as well as I used to.

I’m three months down the road in a new law office, wondering whether this was such a smart move just to beat the pervasive boredom born of my two month stab at retirement.  This time around things are different.  I don’t have an older attorney down the hall chuckling as he sent down the cart with the broken office equipment and the files he was sick of.  Clients are slow to appear and I am only comforted by finding from my conversations with the few that have appeared that, like riding a bicycle, I still seem to know how to do this.

Two weeks ago I went to Washington, DC, and joined some other Sierra Club volunteers from around the country to lobby some of our Senators and Representatives.   It doesn’t seem that policy matters so much, nowadays we’re down to just trying to explain why we like to live in clean land and have our kids drink clean water.  At any rate, it was much more interesting than fun, therefore a valuable experience and a good trip. 

 My favorite highlights were running into the Navy Band giving an evening band concert on the rear of the Capitol building and finding a place in Union Station where you could still get a luxurious shave with a straight razor.  But they quickly took second place to my knee.  It blew all to hell from constant walking on concrete and marble, swelling and stiffening up nicely.  I got home late Wednesday night and was in the doc’s office by 8:00 a.m. the next morning.  He scheduled me to see a cutter next month, the dance of the artificial joint begins.

And finally, the unkindest cut of all.  The daughter moved off to be with her soldier husband.  And they had the temerity to take their son along.  I’m out my little buddy; not there to ride shotgun in the truck, order blueberry muffins with, hunt for trains with, or wander in the park with.   










I’m told I’m lonesome; but I think I’m just getting old.

— Margadant

Button Finds Spring

April 3, 2011

Yesterday the  mom’s gathered to go shopping and the Button decided it would be a great day to go for a ride in Grandpa’s truck.  We set off and made our way over to Canyon Lake Park to inventory the geese and Mallards on the lake and in the park.  Geared up in his fireman’s boots and bouyed by65 degees tempuratures, the kid ran himself ragged.

Delighted at being turned loose, he stalked the Canada geese . . .

charmed strange ladies and kissed their dogs . . .

spent 15 minutes chucking rocks into to Lake, learning the valuable life-lesson that when thrown, dried goose crap does not carry well and makes a very disappointing splash when it hits the water . . .

and, that Canada geese are absolutely irresistable when you’re 2 years old.  All in all, a most instructive and enjoyable spring day. 

I’m sorry to add that a snow squall is presently busy painting the yard white — maybe next weekend?

— Margadant




Had I Known, I Would Have Paid More Attention In Biology Class

March 28, 2011

Here’s a little stunner The Wildlife Society passed along from Live Science.  I wonder what a good taxonomist makes?

Cost to identify all unknown animals: $263 billion

Only a fraction of the world’s animal species have been identified by science, and getting to know the rest could cost about $263.1 billion, one study estimates. So far, about 1.4 million species have been catalogued, and an estimated 5.4 million remain unknown to us, scientists say. But the main impediment to identifying these unknown creatures is a shortage of qualified taxonomists, the biologists who identify organisms and place them within related groups, write the authors.

HR 1 — “. . . a negative impact on the nation’s economy while harming fish, wildlife and sportsmen.”

March 17, 2011

In the current issue of Field & Stream, Bob Marshall provides an appraisal of HR 1, the GOP budget bill designed to tackle the deficit.  Things might not remain so good in the backcountry.  — JM

March 14, 2011

How the Budget Bill Will Decimate Conservation

A Special Report by Bob Marshall, Conservation Editor

Unlike their counterparts at hard-line environmental groups, leaders of sportsmen’s conservation organizations tend to measure their words. They avoid hyperbole, don’t hyperventilate, and never hint that the sky is falling.

That changed when they got a look at the budget priorities unveiled recently by the House of Representatives. Now they’re all looking nervously at the sky and using words like disaster, eviscerate, and destroy.

The reason is “HR 1,” the GOP plan (it got no votes from Democrats) to begin reducing the nation’s budget deficit. It takes a deadly axe to fish, wildlife, and sportsmen’s programs while leaving unscathed habitat-consuming industries like oil and gas. In fact, many sections will not lower the deficit but simply take aim at environmental laws that polluting industries have opposed for years—laws that sportsmen’s groups support because of their ultimate impact on fish and wildlife habitat.

In sentiments echoed across the outdoors community, the Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership said while sportsmen understand the critical need to reduce the deficit, they could not support this bill because it would “eviscerate funding for conservation programs critical to fish, wildlife and the future of outdoor recreation in America.”

Among the more odious features of the bill for sportsmen:

• Eliminate funding for the North American Wetlands Conservation Fund, which has contributed almost $872 million—and has leveraged private funds of more than $2.64 billion–to protect 25 million acres of wetlands critical to waterfowl. Ducks Unlimited leaders say this move could cripple waterfowl hunting.

• Reduce the Wetlands Reserve Program by 50,000 acres.

• Cut options for the Conservation Reserve Program, critical to upland birds, waterfowl and a whole other range of wildlife.

• Cut almost $400 million from the Land and Water Conservation Fund, which is composed of offshore oil lease royalties supposedly dedicated to wildlife habitat.

• Forbid the Environmental Protection Agency from enforcing new guidelines for the Clean Water Act, which attempts to restore protections to 20 million acres of small wetlands and many of the nation’s streams–protections that were removed by Supreme Court rulings a few years back. This is just one of many features of the bill that have nothing to do with the deficit but just take aim at environmental rules opposed by major industries, such as energy and developers. Many of these features were actually added as riders.

• Forbid the EPA to enforce carbon-reduction regulations, the key greenhouse gas responsible for climate change, which wildlife officials say is the gravest threat to hunting and fishing–and which already is submerging key coastal estuaries along the Gulf Coast. The oil and power industries oppose the regulations.

• Gag and blind federal agencies like the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration on the subject of climate change by forbidding them from doing research and collecting data.

• Kill funding for the new BLM Wild Lands Policy, a hard-fought victory for sportsmen that reinstalled the agency’s mandate to study lands that might qualify for wilderness protection and be saved from energy development, something the Bush Administration had stripped. This is a key program to saving some of the most pristine pubic fishing and hunting acres left in the nation, but was also opposed by industry.

And that’s just for starters.

The depth of this assault on fish, wildlife and environmental quality took the sportsmen’s community by surprise. They expected a rough ride when last fall’s elections changed the political landscape in Washington, because many of the new GOP reps came with Tea Party backing and a single-minded mantra of cutting federal spending. But the cavalier approach to these programs was unexpected, because in many cases it will actually have a negative impact on the nation’s economy while harming fish, wildlife and sportsmen. The only beneficiaries in many cases are industries.

“The federal government spends about $5 billion a year in conservation programs that are essential to the habitat that supports hunting and fishing, but it gets back about $14 billion in direct tax payments from people who make their livings in those industries–and that’s a conservative estimate,” explained Dale Hall, Ducks Unlimited CEO and former Director of the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service.

“This makes no sense. Yes, we need to cut, but we need to do it intelligently. And we have to look everywhere.”

Indeed, the long list of riders aimed strictly at environmental programs opposed by polluting industries has created an ominous feeling across the sportsmen’s conservation community. This majority will be in power for at least two years, and HR 1 only deals with what’s left of the current fiscal year. If this is their mission statement toward fish and wildlife, the first cut may not be the deepest.

That’s why groups like the TRCP are urging sportsmen to let their representatives know they’re not happy with the budget they passed, and to tell their senators–especially if they are Republicans–that they oppose these cuts. Find out how to contact your representatives and senators here. Read the letter from sportsmen’s groups to Congress objecting to proposed cuts here.… See the National Wildlife Federation’s detailed list of conservation, fish, and wildlife programs targeted for cuts here.