In Case You Missed it: January’s Past

Ice Pillars

It’s that time of the year again, or rather the temperature is that low again. Strange pillars of light in the sky? Ice pillars, or light pillars, form under conditions of very cold temperatures. They are caused by light being reflected by crystals in the atmosphere, and careful observation of them can actually provide some insights about the weather. The source of the reflected light can be anything from the sun to streetlights. Color will vary depending on the light source. Since these require very dense, cold air,…

Do you get the Government you pay for?

The area represented by the Lincoln County High School district has 31.8% of the county’s population, and provides 45.5% of the tax dollars that fund county government. Libby, where most of the county government occurs, has 50% of the county’s population, and provides 36.1% of the taxes that fund county government. I guess it’s a question suitable for debate – is it better to receive more government than you pay for, or is it better not to receive as much government as you pay for?

Why Frost Heaves

Frost heaves – back when I was teaching engineering uses of soils 40 years ago – were explained by osmosis, compression and fine-grained soil.  So think clay, or even better, glacial silt as your fine-grained soil.  For compression, remember that just ten or fifteen thousand years back there were some thick glaciers on top of our soil.  For osmosis, think of the difference between rain water, or snow melt, and the groundwater with it’s calcium salts under my field.  And glacial silts tend to have a lot of…

Proving nonexistence

It’s probably a half-century and more since I realized the amount of faith it takes to be confident something doesn’t exist.  Most recently, it was a positive, confident statement that there was no voter fraud in the last election.  A half-century back, it was a college student answering the question, “How can you possibly be an atheist?”  The answer is the same – there are some things you just have to take on faith. Just as it takes faith to be an atheist, it takes faith to be…

Measuring Snow is Easier Now

In the mid-seventies, I would start the week of snow surveys by leaving home a little before 7:00 am, meeting Jay Penney at Grave Creek, then snowmobiling up to Stahl Peak, Weasel Divide and then catching the Grave Creek on the way down.  After that it was a week of motel living as we would sample snow courses four more days, ending with Banfield Mountain.  Later in the decade, it would be 5 days in the Kootenai drainage, then 5 more in the Flathead.  By the end, we…

Winter changes voles’ moods, too.

As the seasons wear on, and we begin another year with our movements restricted by Covid19, it’s easy to see cabin fever creeping up on folks. This plight turns my mind to the voles, and how much better they handle winter than us humans.

Fair Representation on the County Board of Health?

Last week, we asked if the County Board of Health was a fair representation of the county. We’ve looked at how people are distributed in the county before, in “Searching Lincoln County Data” and “If LCHS District were a County” and have mostly compared high school districts (which is a handy way of splitting the county into three). Splitting the Board of Health into representation by high school district: High School District% of County Population% of Vote on Health BoardLibby50 %57.1 %Eureka (LCHS)32 %28.6 %Troy18 %14.3 % Considering…

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