Friday, December 26, 2008


Apologies on the lack of recent blogging, but now I am done done done with finals and can write a little! Christmas break has been wonderful so far, and has been filled with lots of cooking and baking. We will write more soon, but for now, here is the recipe that I've been using for this season's pepparkakor, adapted from two or three recipes in Swedish Recipes Old and New by the American Daughters of Sweden, 1955.
  • 1/2 cup molasses
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 1 egg
  • 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp ginger
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp cloves
1. Heat molasses in small saucepan to boiling point. Then boil 1 minute. Add sugar and butter and stir until butter is melted. Cool. Beat in egg.
2. Sift together flour, sugar, baking soda, and spices. Add to first mixture and mix thoroughly.
3. Cover bowl tightly and refrigerate overnight. Roll out a small portion of the dough at a time on a lightly floured pastry cloth. Roll out thin. Cut desired shape.*
4. Bake at 350 F for 6 to 8 minutes (until edges just begin to darken).

*Optional: add a sliver of almond in the center of the cookie.

Yield: 10 dozen cookies

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Merry Christmas!

From all of us.

Here is a video of Winnie opening a present from her Grandma.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Finals time update

  • Small Animal GI disorders case-based exam
  • Metabolic disorders final (oncology)
  • Small Animal GI disorders final
  • Musculoskeletal disorders final (large animal disorders)
  • Large animal GI disorders case-based exam
  • Large animal GI disorders final
  • Multisystemic disorders final
  • Toxicology project
  • Toxicology final
  • Radiology quiz
  • Small animal theriogenology quiz
  • Radiology final

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Obama the Swede

Remember me saying that Obama was saying all the right things on the economy? Well here is another one, this time comparing America's way out of recession to Sweden's crisis vs. Japan's decade long disaster.
So how long and how deep a recession should the American public be ready for?

"I don't have a crystal ball, and economists are all over the map on this. I think we should anticipate that 2009 is going to be a tough year. And if we make some good choices, I'm confident that we can limit some of the damage in 2009 and that in 2010 we can start seeing an upward trajectory on the economy. But this is a difficult hole that we've dug ourselves into. You know, Japan found itself in a somewhat similar situation in the '90s, made some poor decisions, didn't squarely face some of the problems in its banking system and, despite significant stimulus, still saw this thing drag on for almost a decade. On the other hand, you've got countries like Sweden that went through this and acted forcefully and boldly and in two years were back on track and were growing at a really healthy clip. So the decisions we make are going to have an impact on it. But next year's going to be tough."

What does it mean when the pinko-commie Swedish government gets involved and nationalizes the countries largest banks? Here is how one of the architects described it after,
"We approached the problem as a commercial undertaking and determined how we could maximize profits to the government or minimize cost."
Communism! And in the end, they did turn a profit for the government and the banks are now private entities again. And the entire process only took six years, instead of the projected ten.

Japan on the other hand, fiddled after their crisis and slowly worked to fix their system while things stagnated. Bad banks were left to run poorly, and they have kept their interest rates at 0% for years. America just hit zero yesterday. It will really be up to an Obama administration to see if we are going to come out golden like Sweden or enter into a multi-decade mire like Japan.

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

We Will Miss You Pipkin

Mr. Pipkin: March 1999 - December 2008

Megan and I brought our little bunny Pipkin to the vet today one last time. He was almost 10 years old. It was very peaceful, and I got to hold him in his warm blanket. We are very sad, but happy that Pipkin had such a long life full of good things, good places, and good people.

Megan got Pipkin when he was six months old from a breeder. He sired 10 babies who all went to good homes. He taught preschoolers about how to pet bunnies nicely at the Maplewood Nature Center, helping Megan teach their "Bouncing Bunnies" class. He occasionally joined her during work at Petco, too. Then Megan went to college, and Pipkin stayed home in the hutch for a year. He did visit St. Olaf though- the photo on the left is him visiting David and my first year dorm room. But then in 2003 it was time to go to school for real!

Despite bunnies being against the rules at St. Olaf, Pipkin joined Megan's triple as a "furry fish." Despite R.A. visits, moving, and study parties no one ever turned pip in (for some reason). The triple stayed in place for Junior year too, and Pipkin was happy to stay around too, doing his bunny duties of attending Biology events, hopping in the St. Olaf prairie, and providing study break fun.

Then Senior year came around, and Megan was going to room with an RA. So I took Pipkin. Before Pipkin, the only pet I ever had were wild chipmunks and my only responsibility was to feed them! So Pipkin was really my first pet. We lived in my single first semester, where I did my first time-lapse of his activity. We both moved in with Dave the next semester, where he loved to run around like mad in the morning when I would let him out. Here is a video I took, look at him go!

It wasn't until second semester that I was tossing and and turning late at night trying to think of a senior show that I heard pip bang his keys and I got the idea for Rabbit Logic. I wanted to know how he saw the world, and some how respond to his environment. In the weeks that followed the project developed and I spent several hours following his movements around a stage and honestly felt like I was in his world for a short time.

Rabbit Logic from Chris Schommer on Vimeo.

He even got to attend the opening of the show! And when graduation rolled around we told President Thomforde the truth at the senior ice cream social, that we had been housing a "furry fish" for the past three years! He promised he wouldn't tell anyone.

After graduation Pipkin joined me in Northfield where he was my friend during hard times. His last stop was here at the lofts, where he was again an illegal bunny thanks to our crazy pet policy. He got vestibular disease in August 2007, which caused him to loose his balance and roll over. After six months of twice daily antibiotics (!) the disease did clear up, however some damage was permanent in the form of loss of balance. We were fairly certain that he wasn't going to make it through last winter, then last spring, then last summer, then this fall!

But he kept gradually losing things he loved to do, finally losing all his mobility this last week. He still had a great appetite though, we fed him wet food and fruit, and loved to be petted and held up to the end. He lived a long full life and wound up a little old man with bent whiskers and the fur around his face ruffled from napping. All three of us will miss Pipkin terribly as he was truly a special rabbit.

Here is a slide show of photos we took of him over the years, I hope you enjoy.

Monday, December 08, 2008

Yay! / Booo!

First a big Yay! to Subaru for making our car which I forgot how much fun it is to drive on the snow. Not that I am going to do anything crazy like go snowboarding with it. But on the down side, our clock mysteriously stopped working and I have a feeling that the thermostat might be stuck open because it takes so long to heat up the car now. They break though, its just a little spring that opens and closes over and over and over...

Second, a big Booooo! To O'Reilly Auto Parts who bought Checker Auto parts. I had two silly $15 rebate checks from them that I deposited on the 13th of November that just bounced or were canceled on the 4th of December. So my bank took back the $30 in rebates and charged $60 in bounced check fees. I bought the stuff in August June. I am on a vendetta now.

Sunday, December 07, 2008

Recession Darts

I have been attempting to write about economic stuff because I have been reading/watching so much of it since the election, but it all boils down to everything is bad, and getting worse. Not fun to write about. 

The only up side is the report that Mortgage rates for new home buyers might plunge to 4.5% to try and pick up the housing market. So if you are thinking of buying now, and assuming you still have a job, this is the best time to buy in over 35 years. Assuming that deflation doesn't make that real interest rate much higher, and the housing market doesn't drop another 30%!
And since that is the "good news" I thought I would throw another dart at the board and guess where things are going based on the scientific method of guessing and assumption. First this analysis of past resections, and then a great chart by comparing the four big bear markets of the past 100 years (with the current one being the second worst already). By combining them and using the great depression as a time-line to follow, I came up with the chart on the left which puts the end this bear market at September 2009 and puts the DOW at 6,341, or down 65% from its peak over a year ago. That's not the nearly 90% drop of the great depression, but that is hardly a condolence. And if the market does predict the economy 6 months in advance, that would put the end of the recession at January 2010.

This is significantly worse than what I thought in late October when I said the Dow would bottom at 7,750 next October. That's a big window but either way, that is still either 10% lower than we are now or 26% lower. Roubini sees 20-30% so I am in good company I think. 

And to finish off, the one bit of real actual good news is still that President elect Obama is saying all the right things all the time with a massive stimulus in the form of American infrastructure renewal from day 1. We have spent the last several decades with the right side of deficit argument being that deficit spending is bad, but in this case a balanced US budget right now would be a disaster. Hoover did the same thing before the great depression, and it took the New Deal and WWII to get the economy back on track. So pure Keynesian economics wins when the market has failed - worry about deficit spending but do it anyway!