Strong Winds

It’s that time of the year again- strong winds. What is wind? In essence, wind is the movement of air from areas of high pressure to areas of low pressure.

What can influence air pressure? Temperature, certainly. The little whirlwinds I wrote about last fall are heavily influenced by temperature. They start in areas that are hot, such as parking lots, and when warm air rises, cool air rushes in to fill the void. This can result in the spinning motion that becomes the whirlwind.

Dust Devils and Whirlwinds

Strong swirling winds, but over a small area. Spinning dust and debris. Brief, often a handful of minutes. Almost out of nowhere on a warm, clear day. The literature that studies them calls them dust devils, but to the people that live with them they are dust whirls, whirlwinds, sand trumpets,…

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But winds are always a result of air moving from high pressure to low pressure- not just the ones with circular motion. There are many types of winds that come out of thunderstorms, most of which don’t involve spinning.

Straight-line winds – microbursts, (or macrobursts for that matter- the distance is size) are still formed by air moving by convection. Heavy, colder air in the center of a storm sinks downward, and is pushed to the sides.

Straight-line winds are certainly capable of tornado-level damage. The main difference? Direction. With a tornado, debris is scattered. Straight-line wind? Fan-shaped, and, yes, pretty straight.

The brief storm that passed through lower Trego last week was a nice example- if you’re looking, you’ll see that the downed trees are facing approximately the same direction.


Thoughts on Mandatory Retirement Age

I recall a time when mandatory retirement age became illegal.  The age discrimination law passed in 1967 – the year I graduated high school.  It didn’t personally affect me – I was 17.  Still, I can think of a few reasons we might want to revisit the idea. 

The Dakota – the Sioux – as well as the Metis and many other tribes – use the term “elder.”  Just being old isn’t enough to be an elder.  I think it’s because growing older is mandatory, growing wiser is optional.  At any rate,  vigorous people are supposed to lead, elders are there to provide counsel and wisdom.

Today, I see William Shatner, at 90, returning from a brief trip to space – sounding much more comprehensible than our elected leaders.  Perhaps actors  need to communicate better than politicians to stay in business.  On the other hand, that is a frightening thought.  Look at the folks who have held the nuclear briefcase.

Time was when Ronald Reagan was a president – he was darned near 74 when he left office.  If Trump runs again, he’d be older on the next inauguration day.  Biden was 78+ when he went in.  Pelosi is 81.  McConnell is 79.  Nothing personal folks, but at 71, my body gives me frequent reminders that my best days are in the past – and I don’t believe these folks are a whole lot more immortal. 

When the Constitution was drafted, life expectancy was a whole lot lower.  The founders called for a minimum age of 25 for a representative, 30 for a senator, and 35 for a President.  Joe , Nancy, and Mitch have me wondering.  Would it really hurt anything to put a maximum age of 70 for  these elective offices?  Of course that may just mean I’m a bit curmudgeonly and think that anything is good if it turns professional politicians out.


A Billion to Increase Tree Equity

I notice that a small part of the huge “Infrastructure” bill is a billion dollars to plant trees to increase “tree equity.”  I probably need a professional forester to explain the significance of “tree equity” to me – but looking at my small piece of the west, “tree equity” seems somewhere between impractical and impossible.  Maybe I need a climate activist to correct my thinking – I’m not sure a forester could manage the mental gymnastics.  Foresters tend to be more grounded in the real world. 

The little I’ve learned about forests implies that spacing is the biggest part of management.  If you work at keeping the spacing relatively correct you wind up with a relatively open forest where trees grow well.  That suggests to me that “tree equity” comes more from judicious use of the chainsaw than the planting spade.

Naturally, my interpretations return to demography – and the idea of “tree equity” gets back into Malthusian demography – where limited resources command limited populations.  Now, in demography, the clueless dude who wrote The Population Bomb back in 1968 – Paul Ehrlich – was a sure-enough Malthusian . . . and his training and department was entomology.  Specifically butterflies.  And he wrote on demography.  Most aggies and Marxists realize that the industrial revolution, and the green revolution, came along and knocked the footings out from Malthus’ thesis. 

The problem with Malthusian demography is that Malthus only has to be right once.  You can never rule him completely out. 

Malthusian demography does work pretty well for trees.  The resources – soil nutrients, soil water and sunlight are all things that can’t be easily increased.  From watching, I’d think about a hypothesis that optimally spaced trees would actually get more soil moisture – I can conceive of a situation where crowded trees would intercept more rain and snow that would evaporate back into the atmosphere instead of infiltrate the soil.  I suspect the research has been done somewhere, but not where I worked.  I really can’t see where my country needs to spend a billion dollars planting trees for “tree equity.”

The last windstorm showed me a bit about “tree equity.”  Trees with double tops were sometimes reduced to single tops, other times left with no tops.  Trees with a lot of branches were more susceptible to the wind, and went over with root wads. 

This photo shows how much the branches could fill the hole where the roots had been – and brings back memories of Jack Dickinson’s tall tale of a blowdown sale that he got for a small bid, and then read the fine print that he had to jack all the stumps back up.  Trego was a better place when Jack was in it.

As I cut the branches, and stash them in the hole the root wad left, I think about the comments Jack would have made about being taxed to plant trees to promote tree equity.  They would have been funnier than my demographic approach.


This Time Last Year

Trego School was continuing distance learning, we were hearing more about Chronic Wasting Disease, and learning about the many, many things that require a license. Additionally, we had Grizzly tracks- so it’s also that time of year again.

Trego School Continues Distance Learning

Trego School has adopted something of a wait-and-see approach to determining the date they will resume in-person learning. In any school, the requirement that individuals that have been exposed must quarantine themselves for fourteen days can quickly make in-person learning impossible. Substitute teachers are always difficult to find, and finding one that is able to…

Chronic Wasting Disease

As the start of the hunting season for deer and elk approaches (general, not archery), Chronic Wasting Disease becomes increasingly relevant again. Chronic Wasting Disease is a prion disease, fatal, with no known treatments. While there are no known transmissions to humans, the CDC recommends having elk, deer or moose tested if there’s known to…

I need a license for what?

One of the worst shocks of growing up was how much paperwork adulthood requires. Recently, I’ve been learning about licenses. Not fishing licenses, or hunting licenses, which I did know about, but professional and occupational licenses. Some professions are obvious. It’s clear that a doctor, an MD, will need a license to practice medicine. Clear,…

Game Camera Fails

At 6 am, Mike was out collecting firewood from the stack to start the days fire. Kiki, the older, chubby white Pomeranian was out with him.  Kiki positioned herself off the back steps and started trying to raise the dead with her bark. With enough firewood in hand, Mike called Kiki to the house.  Remarkably,…

Also, there was some reminiscing about dogs.

The Dog Gets a Vote- or, the Mother’s Day Present

Some years ago I was in the process of moving and my father had come by to help me pack. He’d lost Shadow a few months before, and, having spent the year carrying the elderly dog everywhere, kept looking around as if expecting to see him. So, Dad needed a dog. We took a walk,…

Thoughts on a very small dog

A couple years ago, my little dog died.  Today I can celebrate his 14 years of life.  A dog’s life is always too short.  Shadow was a baby doll or teddy bear Pom – carefully bred for a short nose, a high forehead, and an all around cute face.  Not my choice, but I had…


An Actor and a Negligent Discharge

I noticed that an actor named Alec Baldwin, working on a western movie, shot and killed a photographer and wounded the guy behind her.  I got to thinking – in all his westerns, John Wayne never shot the cameraman.  Clint Eastwood never shot a cameraman in all of his celluloid gunfights.  Then again, neither ever came out for gun control.  Baldwin did.

I see a lot of blame set on the props manager.  Still, the lady would still be alive if Baldwin had followed Jeff Cooper’s four rules:



The only exception to this occurs when one has a weapon in his hands and he has personally unloaded it for checking. As soon as he puts it down, Rule 1 applies again.



You may not wish to destroy it, but you must be clear in your mind that you are quite ready to if you let that muzzle cover the target. To allow a firearm to point at another human being is a deadly threat, and should always be treated as such.



This we call the Golden Rule because its violation is responsible for about 80 percent of the firearms disasters we read about.



You never shoot at anything until you have positively identified it. You never fire at a shadow, or a sound, or a suspected presence. You shoot only when you know absolutely what you are shooting at and what is beyond it.

Baldwin has been politically anti gun for years.  Perhaps he recognized his own potential for carelessness.  I do know that accidental discharges occur – I had one with a German semi auto pistol when the firing pin broke.  It was pointed away from everyone – basically scary, unexpected, but the gun wasn’t pointed at anyone.  I can’t help feeling that “accidental shootings” occur when several rules are violated.  None of Colonel Cooper’s rules specifically say “A broken firing pin in a semi auto can fire without your finger on the trigger.”  I never got to rules 3 and 4 that day – but following rule 2 was enough for safety.

It seems to me that learning the gun safety rules, and following them, is more responsible than supporting gun bans. 


Trego School Raised Sub Wages

The Trego School Board met on Thursday, October 14th, and approved a new payscale for substitute teachers.

Pay rate is hourly and based on education. Substitutes with a high school diploma earn 12$ an hour, while those with a Bachelor’s degree earn 14$ an hour. Substitute teachers with an elementary teaching certificate earn 16$ an hour. The board intends to consider the pay scale for teachers at the next meeting.

Folks interested in substitute teaching should contact the school clerk (


BLS and My Neighbor’s Laws

Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan told of overhearing his housekeeper on the phone, “Sure, he’s a doctor, but not the kind that does a body any good.”  There are more doctors that can do “a body any good” than Ph.D. sociologists like Moynihan. There is a practicing physician (whether DO or MD) for somewhere on the close order of every 530 US residents.  On the other hand, when I worked it out, there was somewhere on the order of one practicing Ph.D. sociologist for every 30,000 people.  Run my specialty – demography – out, and it is indeed humbling how irrelevant my work has been to most of society. 

Occupational Outlook shows a total of 45,500 logging jobs in the US – basically one logger for every 7,250 US residents.  Still, BLS showed only 40 employed loggers in May of 2020 in west Montana.  Somehow, I get the feeling that gypo loggers aren’t reported all that accurately.

As I recall, there’s one plumber for every 1,200 US residents, roughly.  Anyone who has needed a plumber knows that there is a profession that does a body some good.   About one percent of the population is teaching at either elementary, middle or high schools. A bit over 13% of Americans 25 and over hold graduate degrees.  Less than 10% didn’t complete a high school diploma.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics provides this information on “The largest occupations in West Montana non-metropolitan area, May 2020” – basically how our neighbors are employed. 

Retail Salespersons2,580
Fast Food and Counter Workers2,370
Office Clerks, General1,960
Waiters and Waitresses1,910
Home Health and Personal Care Aides1,530
Registered Nurses1,500
Bookkeeping, Accounting, and Auditing Clerks1,360
Elementary School Teachers, Except Special Education1,080

In Case You Missed it

Back to the Boom Town

I’ve started cleaning up and doing a few repairs on the old service station.  It’s more a social activity than I had realized.  Some stop who knew my parents – there are fewer of those, but frequently strangers to me.  Others stop and ask what my business goal is – and I don’t really have…

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Banana Bread

What do you do with those leftover bananas that turn too brown to eat? Don’t throw them out! Simply put them in the freezer and when you’ve collected some, make this easy and delicious banana bread. I always double this recipe so I can get two loaves which take anywhere between six and eight bananas…

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Bear Attack Statistics

Flathead Bear Aware posted “In fact, more people are killed by black bears.”  The statement  brings the opportunity for statistics – and there are a couple of sources easily available for checking the statement.  From a statistical perspective, fatalities are a more solid measure than attacks.  Five years ago, I listened to a man telling…

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Mushrooms abound!

It’s been a good couple weeks for mushrooms here – puffballs, many ready to be made into mushroom steaks, some already releasing spores, seeding future years’ mushrooms. And shaggy manes, good for eating fresh, or letting sit and turn into “mushroom ink”. The first time this happened to some shaggy manes we’d collected, I was…

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The Peter Principle (in Government)

In 1969, I bought my first copy of The Peter Principle and read Laurence Peter’s words  “In a hierarchy every employee tends to rise to his level of incompetence.”  He explained that “in time every post tends to be occupied by an employee who is incompetent to carry out its duties.”  Dr. Peter died 30…

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Canadian Libertarian Leader on Mandates

Tim Moen, from up near Edmonton, has led the Canadian Libertarian party for the past 7 years.  His views regarding the unacceptability of pandemic mandates are available at  He doesn’t write like the late L. Neil Smith – and the article I’ve linked to is definitely beyond Biden.  Moen starts with details on the…

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The Sign Will Return

Earlier this month, we reported on the removal of the Trego School reader board, and noted that the board was looking into options for a new location. Last week’s meeting included a new lease for the reader board. This time, there will be no expense to the school beyond the time and materials to put the sign back up. Posts should be going in sometime this week- Keep an eye out!

Additionally, the school board discussed the bus routes. With so many more students, the school has had to structure pick-ups and drop-offs in order to increase safety and efficiency.