Last weekend while traveling in North Dakota, we ran into the smoke from the many boreal forest fires burning in the Northwest Territories in Canada on Sunday. At first I wasn’t sure why the normally crisp clear skies were so hazy, but then Taylor told us about the smoke blowing south from the 156 currently burning forest fires in Canada. According to the ClimateCentral blog, one of the fires stretch over 250,000 acres (see photo from that Birch Creek Fire below and smoke over Alberta, Canada at the left). Boreal forest (or Taiga – new word for me) burning is common each year, but this year the number of fires is “six times greater than the 25-year average to date” according to Canadian Interagency Forest Fire Center.
An aerial view of the Birch Creek Fire complex, which seared 250,000 acres as of Wednesday. Credit: NWTFire/Facebook
After my recent visit to North Dakota and the oil fields … AND seeing what has happened in one short year, I talked with my son ways of trying to invest in this oil boom (the “invest in what you know” philosophy). Of course I tried to look at what he sees from a “planners” perspective, but the more I looked for ideas, it sort of felt like I was late to the game. The Bakken boom is far from over when it comes to oil, but it is more challenging to find right way to invest in this American boom. Currently the players are companies like Continental Resources ($CLR), Kodiak Oil and Gas ($KOG) or Whiting Petroleum ($WLL) — the last two will become one. I also discussed the safer (?) Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway play ($BRK.B) since so much of the 1 million barrels of oil per day (new record for North Dakota) are moved on the expanding Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railways.
Then there’s the real estate angle where single bedroom apartments rent for over $2000 per month and even modular homes sell for $250,000. You’d be hard pressed to find a nice “small” city lot home for $300,000 in Williston. I even saw in-town older homes on a postage stamp listed for nearly a half million dollars! Maybe real estate?
Time moves forward and it is always noticeable when the steady stream of celebrities and notable figures retire from public life or succumb to illness or age. One such favorite of mine was James Garner, an actor I enjoyed while growing up, died in his home at age 86 this past weekend. His role as Jim Rockford was a favorite … as mentioned before.
Actor James Garner, whose wise-cracking but affable character made hits out of the TV shows Maverick and The Rockford Files, has died. He was 86.
Los Angeles Police confirm that Garner was found dead of natural causes at his home in Brentwood on Saturday.
Garner had a long career and remained active as a TV and film actor well into his 70s. His style as a leading man who was quicker with his tongue than his fist was established early as gambler Bret Maverick in the 1950s TV Western Maverick, as The Associated Press notes:
"His quick-witted avoidance of conflict provided a refreshingly new take on the American hero, contrasting with the steely heroics of John Wayne and the fast trigger of Clint Eastwood.
"At a time when the networks were crowded with hard-eyed, traditional Western heroes, Bret Maverick provided a fresh breath of air. With his sardonic tone and his eagerness to talk his way out of a squabble rather than pull out his six-shooter, the con-artist Westerner seemed to scoff at the genre’s values."
Garner carried that smooth-talking charisma into the private eye business in the ’70s TV show The Rockford Files, for which he won an Emmy. Among his work on the big screen are roles in The Great Escape, Victor Victoria, Space Cowboys and The Notebook. He was nominated for an Oscar for the 1985 film Murphy’s Romance, which co-starred Sally Field.
After our visit with Katelyn and Drew in Minneapolis ( 7/18 & 7/19), we flew up to Williston, North Dakota to see Taylor. Flight and weather were great and after dinner our first night we stopped at Taylor’s Williams County Zoning and Planning office (below) and took an evening hike along the levy east of town (above). Great view and enjoyable conversation. We do miss being closer.
Katelyn forwarded a few of her photos from our visit to Minneapolis. We really did have a great time visiting and KNOW that they will “enjoy” at least the next three years while in Minnesota for Drew’s hematology fellowship; at this point I can see them staying far longer … but then again, it’s not winter!
Ice cream with Justin, Maddy and Evan at Lake Harriet near their house.
We’ve been having a wonderful time enjoying what Minneapolis, Minnesota has to offer “in the summertime” with Katelyn and Drew. Our couple of days has been filled with activities from picture hanging and yardwork to bike riding and fine dining (photos above from 6Smith in Wayzata).
When the rain came this past week, I turned to an indoor project that we’ve been tossing around: “How to aesthetically increase the height of an antique table?”
After toying with a couple ideas for increasing the height of my mother-in-laws old table that we now have in our kitchen, I opted for adding ball casters to the six legs. They were a little more attractive that the standard caster wheels found on a couple other items (chest of draws, parlor chairs) and lifted the table height about 1-3/4 inches. That was just enough to fit one’s legs more comfortably under the end of the table. The current cherry dining room chairs (high quality chairs) are not really appropriate for this table, but until Brenda finds something else, these will have to do. BTW, she loved the casters.
Our sailboat Encore is in need of a better hatch screen system, so in my search for roll-able, but sloppy looking velcro stick-up screens to replace our ill-fitting fix framed screens, I came across this simple European idea.
The stiff wire frame (stainless steel?) is covered by a stitched on polyester “no-see-um” type mesh screen with a grommet in the center. A short length of lightweight shock cord with a stopper hangs with a small loop and keeper knot on the inside end (or double up smaller line as in top right illustration). A suction cup with a hook (keep spares) is stuck to the underside of the hatch and the screen is cinched up to to cover the hatch opening. Very clever and should work great.
I didn’t think I spent all that much time posting comments to Twitter, but over the years it does add up. I noticed that my Volkswagen Crossblue post Monday hit the 9000 mark (below). But then it occurred to me that those tweets don’t include the automatic notifications sent out by WordPressMyDesultoryBlog.com … add a few more (right). I guess I do my share of choking the Internet?
As hinted a few times before, Volkswagen has now officially announced that it will be building the new “yet to be named” seven passenger CUV in Chattanooga, TN. The attractive American-sized crossover will help VW compete in the popular SUV/CUV market come 2016. Many VW enthusiasts (and potential new customers) with growing families have struggled with how to own a Volkswagen and still haul the whole family. The Tiguan is too small and the Touareg, well an expensive and heavily built SUV that isn’t necessarily a family hauler … this new Crossblue (???) just might be the ticket. VW Group of America’s CEO says it will be offered with a diesel … we’ll see about the diesel hybrid?
“The Chattanooga-built midsize SUV will allow us to fulfill the wishes of our dealer network, bringing new customers to our showrooms and additional growth for the brand,” VW Group of America CEO Michael Horn said. “We are eager to be entering this growing vehicle segment with a world-class, seven-passenger SUV from Volkswagen.”
Volkswagen’s yet-unnamed SUV will begin rolling off Volkswagen’s Chattanooga assembly line by the end of 2016, the company said today. Horn also said the MQB-based crossover will be offered with a diesel variant.
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Desultory - des-uhl-tawr-ee, -tohr-ee
lacking in consistency, constancy, or visible order, disconnected; fitful: desultory conversation.
digressing from or unconnected with the main subject; random: a desultory remark.