Precedent setting and the shutdown

Posted: October 12, 2013 by Steve in Uncategorized

The shutdown is a great drama (tragedy) unfolding before our eyes. It is also a great illustration of power dynamics and how the peculiarities of humans play into the process. One side of this drama are the Republicans who feel they have power because they can “blow up the house” if we don’t do as they say.

They feel that they have this power, because in a dispute of this kind before, they have bullied the Democrats and Obama into using that threat to get concessions. Here we see the power of precedents. Once Obama and the Democrats agreed to negotiate policy in relation to the funding the government and the raising the debt ceiling, a precedent was set that something that was not negotiable was now negotiable. Since that precedent was set, the Republicans have used the that threat over and over to try to get ordinary policy concessions. This time it appears that Obama is determined to set a new precedent (or undo the precedent that was set) that it is time to go back to the way things used to be.

Precedent’s are important in human relationships, because they involve moving the boundaries of acceptable behavior in groups. We all operate in our daily lives within the boundaries of what is acceptable and what is not. Is it acceptable to love someone of the same gender. For a long time (most of civilized history), it was considered not acceptable. More recently people have been pushing the boundary of what was considered acceptable through acts of precedent setting like first talking about what was unmentionable, then by doing in the open what was once considered unwatchable, then by changing laws to legitimize was was once illegal.

Obama is trying to put the genie back in the bottle by restoring the precedent of what is acceptable behavior by political parties in congress.

Next up the fillibuster?

What plant is this?

Posted: July 9, 2012 by Steve in Uncategorized

This is a native plant in my garden, but I can’t remember what it is.




Sweet Car

Posted: July 9, 2012 by Steve in Uncategorized




Harold Washington Public Library

Posted: July 8, 2012 by Steve in Uncategorized


In a previous post, I explained how to do a DSL with nested block but with no block params required. I have a need for this capability now, but when I went back to it to use what I had learned before, I am not sure what I wrote. It at least doesn’t work on 1.9.3 for sure.  I am not sure what ruby version I got it to run in before. So I now have a working version for 1.9.3.

The basics are to take an anonymous block and define a method on the contained class to allow that block to be called in the context of an instance of that class. There has to be a Thread.exclusive block around the method assignment for the anonymous block to make sure that there aren’t any threading issues with two of these DSL’s running in different threads.

class Node
  def initialize(name=nil)
    @name = name
    @children = []
  def node(name, &block)
    child =
    child.instance_exec(&block) if block
  def instance_exec(*args, &block)
    method_name = nil
    Thread.exclusive do
      n = 0
      n += 1 while respond_to?(method_name = "__instance_exec#{n}")
      self.class.instance_eval { define_method(method_name, &block) }
      send(method_name, *args)
      self.class.instance_eval { remove_method(method_name) } rescue nil
def tree(name, &block)
  @tree =
tree("Simpsons family tree") do
  node("gramps") do
    node("homer+marge") do
puts "tree = #{@tree.inspect}"







Almost ready to make Chipotle Bean Chili

Posted: March 4, 2012 by Steve in Uncategorized


Roseville Hockey Girls –> State

Posted: February 18, 2012 by Steve in Uncategorized


That was an unbelievable hockey game! Roseville won 4-1 (with an empty netter) over Hill Murray in a game dominated by Hill Murray. Right from the start Hill Murray dominated play. It was like a power play by Hill Murray for much of the game (when it was 5 on 5). Pucks were bouncing all around the Roseville crease with Erica Allen frequently diving on loose pucks.

Part way through the first period, Roseville’s Erica Bjorkman got free on a breakaway and put it through the Hill Murray’s goalie’s legs. Shortly after that, Roseville was called for a penalty. Early in the power play, Kate Flug poked the puck away from a Hill Murray defender at the blue line. She proceeded to skate down on a breakaway and fake out the goalie for an easy score. After one period, it was Roseville 2, Hill Murray 0.

The second period seemed extremely long for the Roseville fans, and probably the players as well. Hill Murray applied continuous pressure, except for when they had committed a penalty. Even then, Roseville didn’t get much for chances. The iced the puck over and over and struggled just to get it out of their zone. Hannah Brandt finally broke through midway through the period on a backhand of a bouncing puck. From that point on, it seemed that Roseville just hung on for dear life, just waiting for this endless period to end.

When both teams came out for the third period, it appeared that the tide had turned and Roseville had weathered the storm. They weren’t always just trying to clear the puck, but were trying to generate some offense with lead passes. Hill Murray still had the majority of the good chances, but Roseville stared to get some chances of their own. With about 5 minutes to go Hill Murray got a power play. They had lots of good chances to tie the game at that point. After getting through that, Kate Flug got a pass behind the Hill Murray defense, and put a final nail in their coffin. Leigh Stechlien scored a bounced off the boards empty netter to finish of the scoring.

In a sense you could say the better team lost. But Roseville played Hill Murray like Muhammad Ali doing rope-a-dope. They kept taking punches from Hill Murray, but didn’t allow a single breakaway. On the other hand they got 3 great breakaways and scored on each one. They also had someone shadow Hannah Brandt the whole game (usually Kate Flug or Hannah Brodt). I have never seen anything like it. I think it was the perfect strategy. They weren’t going to let Brandt beat them, and she didn’t.

In the end, it was a wonderful game that I would have loved no matter how it turned out.

Section 4AA Girls Hockey Semi-Finals

Posted: February 15, 2012 by Steve in Uncategorized

There were two hard fought games for the Section 4AA Girls Hockey finals. The teams expected to win, won, but not without a big fight from the losers. The results set up the expected final of Roseville (#5 in state) vs. Hill Murray (#1 in state) on Friday night at 8 at Aldrich Arena. Hill Murray has the state’s top scorer and Roseville has the state’s top goalie.

Roseville vs. White Bear Lake

Roseville looked out of sorts all night with no score after the first period and falling behind first in the second period. Five minutes after White Bear scored, Roseville evened the score on a goal by Kate Flug. Roseville outshot White Bear pretty thoroughly (I didn’t hear the counts but I think it was in the range of 25-12), but many pucks went through White Bear’s crease untouched. White Bear contested the puck everywhere and Roseville couldn’t seem to put three passes together. After the second period, the score was tied at 1-1 and the Roseville crowd was nervous. Half-way through the final period, Kate Flug scored again to give the Roseville crowd some breathing room. Flug then iced the game with about a minute left with a nifty empty net goal from a sharp angle.

Hill Murray vs. Stillwater

I only intended to stay for about one period so I could see the great Hannah Brandt, but Stillwater kept it interesting enough that I stayed for the whole game. Stillwater charged out of the gate and scored first after about 5 minutes. They controlled the tempo of the first half of the period until Hill Murray got their bearings. It wasn’t long after that that Hannah Brandt fed another player the puck five feet from the goal that led to Hill Murray’s first goal. Not long after that, Brandt scored herself on a semi-breakaway with a shot from about 20 feet out into the top left corner. At that point, I thought the rout was on, but Stillwater scored again with about 2 minutes left in the period.

The second period was close fought with Stillwater getting good chances, but Hill Murray had Hannah Brandt. She scored part way through the period on a short handed goal. It was 3-2 after two. The third period was closely fought as well, but again Brandt scored on another shot from 20 feet out, this time just under the cross-bar in the middle of the net. Stillwater fought hard right to end, but just couldn’t put the puck in. Finally, Hill Murray got an empty netter with 4 seconds left.

The Section Final

It will be hard to stop Hannah Brandt in the section final. Last year she scored three goals to beat Roseville 4-2 and I am not sure I see anything different happening this year. For Roseville to win, it is going to have to score more than 2 goals. I would suggest that they put either Leigh Stechlein or Slattery on Brandt at all times and make the others beat them. For Roseville, may be their last chance for glory for a while as 11 of their players are graduating this year. Hill Murray on the hand has three 8th graders and three 9th graders on their roster! Sounds like a juggernaut in the making.