Mitochondria and Aging

Mitochondria are one of the types of organelles (cell equivalent to organs) found within our cells. They’re often referred to as the “Powerhouse of the Cell” because of their role in metabolizing food into usable energy. But they may also play a role in aging.

There has to be considerable amount of communication between the nucleus (which controls the cell and houses your DNA) and the mitochondria. Over time, this communication can break down, and this may be what leads to aging (or at least an element of aging).

It makes a certain sense that mitochondria would be important- energy generation is an essential function. Diseases of the mitochondria are severe. But- watch the whole thing:


Why Can’t We Have An Election?

I just got my primary ballot and noticed the extreme lack of candidates. On both ballots there are plenty of positions with one candidate or no candidate at all. If you can only vote for one candidate, is it an election?

The following are running unopposed:

  • Michael Cuffe for State Senator
  • Niel A. Duram for State Representative
  • Jim Hammons for County Commissioner
  • Robin Benson for Clerk and Recorder/Auditor/Assessor/Surveyor
  • Darren Short for Sheriff
  • Steven Schnackenberg for Coroner
  • Marcia Boris for County Attorney
  • Taralee McFadden for County Superintendent of Schools
  • Sedaris Carlberg for County Treasurer
  • Mathew Cuffe for District Court Judge
  • Jay C Sheffield for Justice of the Peace

There is no candidate for public administrator. The only races with multiple candidates will be for United States Representative, for County Commissioner (district 1), for Supreme Court Justice #1, and for Supreme Court Justice #2.

In short, there were multiple candidates to vote for in only 25% of the races.

When was the last election?

It feels a bit odd to be asking “When was the last time there was an election?” about something local. As a kid, I sort of assumed that elections happened everywhere in our country, as scheduled, and it was only foreign countries that lacked elections. Unfortunately, it’s a question worth asking. About the Trego School Board, certainly. Last year, we were writing about vacant school board positions, and the need to get an application in to the school clerk, for an election to be held in May. That’s what should happen (every year). What actually happens (and not just on… Continue reading When was the last election?


Lincoln County Facing More Elections by Acclamation

With the primary ballots available (due back by June 7th), it’s become evident that we can expect more candidates elected by acclamation, since 69% of the races are candidates running uncontested.

Some of our previous comments on local elections:

Be Nice to the Candidates

I can claim that I am an elected school trustee.  So can the school board members in Fortine and Eureka.  Yet I (and probably most of them) was elected by acclamation.  There may be a more politically correct way to describe it – but the reality is that I was elected without anyone voting for me.  A lot of school trustees share that reality – but I don’t believe it is a good situation. The challenge is that, on far too many local boards and commissions, we have the same situation.  When a candidate can be elected by acclamation, without…

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Uncontested Elections

What do you call it when only one person runs for office? An uncontested election. It seems like this must be a bad thing, and also that it is increasing in frequency. Is it? It seems, given the explanation about removing term limits at the last Interbel Meeting, that the situation is at least increasing in the telephone cooperatives. Watching the local school board shows a similar trend. How common are they by state? The data’s a bit hard to find- but at least some of it is out there. According to in 2020, 100% of Wisconsin’s local elections…

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Consolidated Polling Increases The Cost of Voting in Person

It’s only about four and a half miles from downtown Trego to the Volunteer Fire Department for Fortine, which is where we used to go to vote. Going into Eureka (as per that letter we all received from the county) will increase the distance by about thirteen miles (according to google maps). The distance I am supposed to travel to vote just got multiplied by a bit over 3. Of course, I live in downtown Trego, which means that my distance increased less than most. Looking at a map, it looks like the furthest up Fortine Creek Road are now…

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Time to Start Watching for Ticks

The weather is warming and the first ticks have been spotted. We’re fairly fortunate in the limited number of tick-borne illnesses common to our area, but they’re still worth watching for, and not just for us. Like humans, dogs can get a variety of tick-born illnesses:

  • Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever
  • Lyme Disease
  • Canine Bartonellosis
  • Canine Ehrlichiosis
  • Canine Anaplasmosis
  • Canine Babesiosis
  • Canine Hepatozoonosis

Tick diseases in Montana

Spring has sprung, and our first ticks are out and about.When folks start talking about illnesses transmitted by ticks, the first to come up almost always seems to be Lyme Disease. While Lyme Disease is the most common tick-borne disease among Montanans, you don’t need to worry about picking it up around here – it… Continue reading Tick diseases in Montana


Paper from Grass Clippings

It’s actually possible to make paper from a wide variety of things. Humans have been making paper, or things like paper for a very long time -two thousand years or so. Paper originally was made of old rags, not wood pulp.

Making paper by hand is perfectly doable, if a bit tedious. The process is essentially the same, no matter the material. Dry, cut, cook (simmer, really), blend, and then use a screen to pull out some of the paper pulp. Dry.

The cooking process is done to break down the fibers, often with chemical assistance. That said, it isn’t strictly necessary, though chemical additives might reduces the blending time. Blending thoroughly is important.

It doesn’t have to be pure grass clippings- in fact, for the first time making paper, recycling old paper scraps is the easiest. That said, paper making seems to be possible with most forms of fibers- I once had students do so with packing peanuts.

Air drying generally works fine, though modern paper mills will use heat of some sort for the drying. Homemade paper doesn’t have the additives that make it shiny, easy to write on, or long lasting. It also typically lacks the clay that can be used to make a firmer paper.

I’ll admit that paper making falls into the category of things I classify as both neat, and not worth the effort of doing a second time.

Community, Plants

Clothes from Stinging Nettle

It is, in fact, possible to make cloth out of nettles. Nettles can be harvested for their fiber, just like flax. In many ways, they are superior to flax. Nettles can grow in places that cannot grow cotton, and were once widely used for textiles.

Nettle was commonly used historically, though use declined with the rise of cotton. In fact, the German military actually used nettle for their uniforms in WWI due to a shortage of cotton.

Unlike cotton the seeds are not the part of the plant that provides the fiber. Instead, the fiber is provided by the long stem (the stinging leaves are not used). Like flax, removal of extra bits of step is initially done by allowing the unwanted portions to rot, and then removing an excess. Unlike flax, nettle is a perennial and does not need to be reseeded each year. The thread spun from nettle can be used alone, or in combination with other materials.

Nettle fiber forms a stronger cloth, which unlike linen increases in strength when wet. Additionally, the fiber contains a hollow interior which makes it a superior insulating fabric, better for staying warm but still breathable. Finely spun variants were sometimes called Nordic Silk.


Why not record the meeting?

We’re a large county, and public meetings are often both distant and poorly advertised. Knowing what’s going on frequently requires dedication, time and gas money. In the spirit of transparency, we really ought to be recording meetings.

Modern Technology Makes it Easy. It really is very easy to record (audio, or video) these days. While battery can still be a concern on a digital camera, a computer with a webcam or a simple tape recorder removes that problem. Loading audio or video onto youtube or other video platforms is incredibly easy.

Accessibility. As I said, it’s a big county. And, recordings allow the public to witness a meeting even when they are at work at the time of the meeting.

Accountability. Having a meeting recorded makes it much easier for the public to hold elected officials accountable- for the promises they make and the actions they take.

Decorum. While being in front of an audience (forever, because looking foolish on the internet never goes away) won’t improve everyone’s manners, recording the meetings could go a long way towards keeping things civil.

Transparency. If the meeting is recorded and publicly available, it’s much easier for the public to know what’s going on and why. Granted, a flood of information is as simple a way to hide information as concealing everything- but at least the information is out there somewhere.

Honesty. It’s easy to quote someone out of context, or even just to misunderstand. A recording makes both of those easier to avoid, and if people aren’t audience, it’s at least much easier to prove.

It’s so easy to record meetings now and make them publicly available. Why don’t we? Why isn’t it practice everywhere, for every county meeting, for every volunteer board? Is it the minor inconvenience, or is there a reason we don’t want a detailed record publicly available?


In Case You Missed It

This time last year, we were watching Mayflies, keeping an eye out for salamanders, and contemplating inflation. We’re still contemplating inflation and the thatch ants have decided that it is in fact warm enough to be active.


True to schedule, the mayflies have returned. Of course, the mayflies didn’t wait for May proper… they’ve been with us for the past month at least. Here’s the shed skin of one I watched emerging this past week. Note the three tail filaments – this is how you can tell it is a mayfly skin.… Continue reading Mayflies

Usually I don’t see Salamanders

We seem to have made a good location great for salamanders – ours are long-toed salamanders.  Despite being in a near-perfect location for salamanders, most of the time we don’t see them.  The information is online– and the field guide does a pretty good job explaining why we see them rarely.  They’re classified as “mole”… Continue reading Usually I don’t see Salamanders

Now That’s Inflation

A bit less than 10 years ago, my department head, Donna Hess, retired.  As a gag gift, I bought a million dollar Zimbabwe note – everyone should retire as a millionaire.  It cost me a little less than 8 dollars US on ebay.  The note, and the sentiment, circulated around at retirement events throughout the… Continue reading Now That’s Inflation

Thatch Ants

Our mound-building ants in this part of the country are Western Thatching Ants, Formica obscuripes.These ants are rather special because they generally have multiple active queens in a single colony – the young queens often help out and reproduce at home, instead of founding their own new colonies…


Pork Chops with Apples and Rice

One of my favorite recipes comes out of a Better Homes and Gardens Cookbook.

  • Pork Chops (the recipe calls for two, but it works fine with more, just increase the size of the pan and the amount of rice)
  • 1 cup of rice
  • Water (for the rice, add a bit more than you need to cook the rice)
  • Chicken Bullion (2 tsp)
  • Chopped Apple (a few cups. However much you have)
  • Onion (half of an onion, or so.)
  • Melted Butter ( a few tbsp)
  • Brown sugar (a few tbsp)
  • Ground cinnamon (1 tsp)

Brown the pork chops, then remove. In the same skillet cook the rice and onion until the rice is gold. Add bullion and water, increase heat and stir until boiling. Then, stir in most of the chopped apple.

Move the entirety to an oven safe dish- I typically use a 9 x 13. Bake at 350, covered, for 30 minutes. In the meantime, combine the sugar, cinnamon and melted butter with the remaining chopped apples.

Remove the dish from the oven, uncover, add the apples and any remaining sugar/cinnamon/butter mixture to the chops. Put back in for 20 minutes, uncovered.

Community, Weird Words

Origins of the Word Rendezvous

One of the reasons that English is described as difficult to learn is the number of words- over 170,000! Of those, the majority are loan-words, words taken from other languages.

The word Rendezvous is one such word. It was appropriated from the French, around 1600 (during a brief period in which Britain and France were not at war- as a result of competition with Spain). The original usage appears to be a verb: rendez vous meaning present yourselves. This then becomes the noun describing the place of meeting we are accustomed to.

English has borrowed from different languages at different times. At the time Rendezvous joined the English vocabulary, a significant number of the new words were coming from French.

About two centuries after Rendezvous was appropriated from the French, William Ashley held the first trappers’ Rendezvous. These lasted for only fifteen years. Some of them were so large as to create temporary towns. Other gatherings in the same time period are occasionally given the same name.. Our local Rendezvous has outlasted the original.