Ten below this morning and clear. Quite beautiful outside if you stay inside. A little frost on the trees, good snow cover. Winter has set in.

The stove is gobbling up cobs of wood. The woodpile which I thought looked so plentiful might not make it through the winter. Not the worst thing--the challenge of getting firewood mid-winter gets one outside. If the wood lasts until February, I should be able to get more firewood without the risk of getting the loader stuck.

The semester is winding down. Attendance was low in class yesterday, and one of the students said, "They can tell you're running out of stuff to teach." True. I scheduled in extra days at the end and I have been stretching out the Civil War as long as I can stretch it, trying to add details to make it more interesting. The result? Some kids sensed that I was stretching and that they wouldn't suffer much by not attending.

The core group of good students with an actual interest in history has been attending and asking good questions. I appreciate that, and I really don't mind that the others have opted out. When I was in college, I don't think I attended a single class which I sensed wasn't absolutely necessary.

What did I have to do that was so important that I could cut class? I don't remember. Nothing, probably. Sleep. But when you are newly liberated from the constraints of home and high school, the notion that you can go to class only when you feel like it is just too good to resist.

Of course, the adult response would be, "I am paying for this class, I may as well get as much as I can out of it."

So, I am ready for the semester to end. I probably won't be teaching again for several years, as I only get called when somebody goes on leave.

IRAQ STUDY GROUP: The Old Lions issued their report, which was basically a call to go back to the drawing board. Meanwhile, ten more American troops were killed yesterday and dozens of tortured bodies of Iraqis turned up at the morgue.

Two area soldiers died in the past week.

This is a knotty mess.

In a relatively unimportant matter, the Fargo Forum today put in a mugshot of a woman in West Fargo who was arrested for prostitution. She was solicited by an undercover agent.

Is the answer to prostitution really to put the woman's picture in the paper and humiliate her more than her life situation has humiliated her already? Is this really the government's business, using tax dollars to hire undercover agents to solicit prostitutes?

You couldn't look at her picture without feeling sympathy. Who knows what drove her to sell herself. If there is a victim in this alleged crime, it is her.

Printing the mugshot of the woman was gratuitous, mean, and serves no public purpose.