Community

Salmon: That Time of the Year Again

The Salmon are running in the local creeks again. Salmon are a fish that spawn and hatch in one place and do their growing in another. This makes them a transporter of energy between places, in the case of many salmon between the open ocean and forest streams. Our local salmon are not ocean salmon. There are two species of salmon in Montana- the Chinook Salmon (introduced in the Fort Peck Reservour) and the Kokanee Salmon (first introduced in Flathead lake).

Trego School recently completed it’s annual fall fishing trip, taking advantage of salmon run. Fishing for Salmon this type of year is a slightly different process than other types of fishing: Salmon Snagging

Salmon Snagging

Salmon snagging is not like other forms of fishing. I was introduced to it as an adult, and to me fishing is the art of deception, of all those careful and clever tricks to convince a fish to bite. Fishing is fancy lures, artfully designed to mimic a tasty insect, or endless patience (it’s possible… Continue reading Salmon Snagging

Community

Bridging the Gap Between Public School and Home School

There’s often a conflict between public school educators and home schooling parents. Parents that choose to home school are invested in education, they want the best for their kids- but their often invested in a version of education that looks somewhat different (or looks beyond) the typical public school classroom.

Certainly, it’s an easy area for conflict. The choice to home school after public schooling is often the result of conflict with a school district. And, a teacher is inclined to believe that the way they are teaching, their classroom instruction, is the best way of educating a child (if they didn’t- they’d be doing it differently, after all). So a teacher can hear an implied criticism in a parent’s decision to home school. Hurt feelings abound, even without the exchange of hurtful words.

Which is why in what should be a conversation between reasonable adults, all educators, all people who care very deeply about children and their education, conflict arises needlessly. A defensive school district says “No, you can’t come on our field trips.” Or “No, you can’t come for just one class.” And isn’t making that decision based on educating children, but in response to hurt feelings, to the sense of criticism they feel from a parent’s choice.

But a home school family still pays taxes to fund the local school. And they should still be part of the client base the school considers. School districts have a bad habit of treating school enrollment as a “all or nothing, my way or the high way” situation, when it shouldn’t be.

The best education available to a child may include both individual instruction in math, from a parent who once taught the subject, and art classes from a qualified art teacher at the public school. Education should never be one-size-fits-all, because children are not one-size-fits-all. Who better to know that, and to make the choices, than a child’s parents.

Hybridizing the home school/public school model offers the best of both worlds. I’m happy to say that our local school district is finally on board. This year, the district is accepting part-time enrollments, with a block schedule that makes that feasible even for families that are far off the beaten path. Hopefully our district will continue to view parents as partners in the educational process.

Community

Air Quality: Unhealthy

Looking at the air quality index is showing numbers in the red- over 150 and thus considered unhealthy. In fact, as I look, there’s an air quality alert issued by the national weather service (on behalf of Montana DEQ apparently).

Unhealthy, not just for sensitive groups, means that everyone ought to be limiting strenuous outdoor activity, and those in sensitive groups (kids, the elderly, those with respiratory illnesses, etc.) should avoid it entirely.

Why reduce activity? Because the amount of particles you’re taking into your lungs is dependent on a few factors: Amount of particles in the air, Length of Exposure, Rate of Breathing

Thus, longer and more strenuous activity increases the exposure to potential toxins in the air. Wildfire smoke is a potent mix of toxins: carbon monoxide, hazardous air pollutants, polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, and particles. The particles are actually some of the more dangerous components- the smallest of them can actually travel from the lungs directly into the bloodstream.

Where is all the smoke coming from anyway? Check out the Fire and Smoke Map. It doesn’t just show the air quality reports, it also shows smoke plumes and active fires. Interested in more particulars about the air quality- Today’s Air is a good source, though most weather sites seem to be providing that information now as well.

Reusing photos from 2020- because, really, it’s good to remember we’ve seen this before (and also, I’m still proud of how it came out). The smoke sure rolls in fast!
Community

200 Years of Batteries

The first battery was developed slightly over 200 years ago; Electricity was poorly understood when Alessandro Volta created the voltaic pile from alternating disks of zinc and silver. A facsimile can be done at home, using coins and salt water, though the purity of the metal in the coins makes the experiment somewhat more difficult than it once was.

The first commercial batteries followed, mostly after Michael Faraday developed the laws of electrochemistry in the 1830’s. Some thirty years after that, the first rechargeable battery was developed, a lead-acid battery.

For context, the first battery preceded the light bulb by almost eighty years. It preceded the automobile by slightly more than eighty years.

Community

Rate of Credit Card Fraud Increasing?

Credit Card Fraud might not be the most common type of fraud- government benefit fraud is a close competitor (eclipsing credit card fraud in 2020), but it’s certainly been trending upwards. It isn’t just a US phenomenon; In the UK credit card fraud climbed to a five year high at the end of 2021. Debit card fraud appears less common- but this may be due to a lower rate of debit card use in risky transactions. It’s a relatively sensible choice to risk a credit card number, rather than risk giving a thief full access to your checking account. Surprisingly, the victim of credit card loss only suffers financial loss about 25% of the time– most of the expense goes to the company that issued the card or the seller the fraudster purchased from.

It might be that credit card fraud will stop increasing- but for the moment, I’m very pleased to have a number of alerts set on my credit card.

Community

In Case You Missed It

In September’s past, we’ve looked at the Community Decay Ordinance, Beer Taxes North and South, Paper Wasp Body Language, Why it had to be Guns, Bears and Apples, and Back to School Bread.

Community Decay…Part 1

One could be forgiven for assuming that community decay ordinances were the business of rather fussy municipalities in places other than here. One would, as it happens, be wrong on two counts. Lincoln County, Montana, has one. Back in December of 2018 the Lincoln County Board of Commissioners adopted Ordinance 2018-05 “An Ordinance to Control Community Decay Within Lincoln County and to Establish Procedures for its Enforcement”. So, this leaves us with several pressing questions: What exactly is community decay? Who does this apply to? Enforcement? None of these have short answers, so I’ll discuss each in depth in later… Continue reading Community Decay…Part 1

Beer Taxes North and South

I listened to a comment from north of the line about how cheap beer is south of the 49th parallel.  So I decided to investigate – and a lot of the difference is alcohol prices is the governmental controls.  Taxes do make a difference in what we drink – particularly when we look at alcoholic beverages.  A 2018 report titled “Beer Taxes – A Canadian – U.S. Comparison” makes the research easy.  “Beer taxes in Canada are higher in both absolute value and when calculated as a percentage of selling price with an average government beer tax percentage of 47%… Continue reading Beer Taxes North and South

Paper Wasp Body Language

If you know what signs to look for when you meet a wasp, it’s easy to avoid being stung. Have you ever been buzzed by a bee or a paper wasp? They dive bomb you, fly close to your face, even collide with you, but without stinging? Those were probably sentries for a nest, trying to keep danger away. Sentry wasps can be stationed 10 to 20 feet away from the nest they’re guarding, and circle back to it from time to time. These wasps are the ones you’re most likely to come into conflict with. Yesterday, I went out… Continue reading Paper Wasp Body Language

Why Did it Have to be …Guns?

Why Did it Have to be … Guns? by L. Neil Smith lneil@lneilsmith.org Over the past 30 years, I’ve been paid to write almost two million words, every one of which, sooner or later, came back to the issue of guns and gun-ownership. Naturally, I’ve thought about the issue a lot, and it has always determined the way I vote. People accuse me of being a single-issue writer, a single- issue thinker, and a single- issue voter, but it isn’t true. What I’ve chosen, in a world where there’s never enough time and energy, is to focus on the one… Continue reading Why Did it Have to be …Guns?

Bears know that the apples are ready…

It’s time to pick apples – at least according to the local wildlife. This weekend, we happened upon an adult black bear and her cubs munching on the apples down by the Trego railroad crossing in the wee morning hours. Bears aren’t too picky about ripeness. Like many mammals, they’re attracted to the smell of fermentation – (the smell indicates a fruit has the highest calorie content it’s going to get). As apples get ripe (and then overripe) they become even better bear attractants. Can bears become inebriated? Certainly! Glacier Park had a number of incidents back in the 80’s.… Continue reading Bears know that the apples are ready…

Back to School Bread

This versatile classic frequently receives compliments. It can be made into rolls and bread-sticks. With a little cornmeal it becomes pizza dough. It also serves as the foundation of Lunch in a Bun, a popular menu item at Trego School. For lunch in a bun, each bun has a filling. Sometimes, it is taco meat and cheese. At other times, they are filled with pepperoni, ham and cheese, then served with marinara sauce. These numbers in this recipe are reduced to result in a smaller amount of bread than is produced in the school kitchen. Single Rise Dough 2 Tbsp.… Continue reading Back to School Bread

Community

Trego School BBQ Well Attended

While it was windy, and a bit rainy towards the end, the school’s annual BBQ was well attended. There were school age kids, as well as those too young to attend yet, making friends, running around, and generally having a good time. Food was simple and good, and school staff were quite busy.

It seemed there was always someone asking a question of a teacher, quizzing about bus schedules, or asking about the history of the school. The school was open and anyone interested was able to take a peak into the classrooms and see any changes. The library was looking very organized, a project that began several years ago when the school was going through their books and digitizing their catalog.

Community

Trego School Community BBQ on Saturday

At the start of each school year, Trego School hosts its annual BBQ which serves as something of a meet and greet for the community. It’s this Saturday and Noon. There will be food and the opportunity to meet new staff, visit with familiar faces, and check out any changes that have been made to the building before the new school year begins. The BBQ is open to the public

School starts on Wednesday, August 31st.