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.


Explaining Communication

I ran across this post from Bruce Charlton the other day – he does a nice job of describing the information we read – or watch -or hear.  Charlton is a retired psychiatrist, whose work was in evolutionary psychiatry.  He edited a journal that was not peer reviewed, and was somewhat controversial. 

His article begins:

“When you hear a politician speak, read a press release or a media headline; you are not dealing with an attempt to communicate the truth about reality; you are dealing with language as calculated manipulation (‘language’ here including visual, symbolic, audio and other media).

Manipulation is language intended to shape attitudes, thought-processes and actions.

Such language could also be termed propaganda – that is, language intended to have a particular effect on others; albeit the usage of ‘propaganda’ tends to be rather narrower than what I intend here by ‘manipulation’. 

This is why the Establishment are liars. They are not even trying to communicate information – let alone accurate information; They are always trying to affect our behavior.

Their purpose is to get us to do what They want. All ‘communication’ is just a means to that end.”

His book The Genius Famine: why we need geniuses, why they’re dying out, and why we must rescue them is online. It is an interesting read, stressing personality theory. 

Charlton, about halfway through chapter 1 explains “We will argue, indeed, that we have a Genius Famine. Genius has now all-but disappeared from public view; partly because intelligence (which is strongly genetic) is in decline in the West, partly because social institutions no longer recognize or nurture genius, and partly because the modern West is actively hostile to genius.”  Later, in chapter 2, he describes the conditions that made intelligence evolutionary:

“The message seems to be that in pre-industrial Europe (before about 1800-1850) natural selection on humans operated mostly via mortality rates – especially child mortality rates. An average of more than half of children would die before adulthood, but this consisted of near total mortality rates among the children of the poor, and ill, and of low intelligence or ‘feckless’ personality; whereas among the skilled middle classes (clerks, merchants, lawyers, doctors etc.) the mortality rates were lower and fertility (number of births) was high. Therefore in each generation most of the children came from the most intelligent group in the population, and over several generations almost all the population would have been children whose ancestors were the most intelligent (also conscientious, and relatively peaceful) sector of the population.

(This is why anyone English who has ever traced their family tree will find that by the sixteenth century – when records begin – their ancestors are, at the very least, wealthy though non-aristocratic farmers (‘yeomen’ or richer ‘husbandmen’).[25] And this is why every English person alive is descended from King Edward III – 1312-1377.).[26]

Clark argues that this harsh natural selection resulted in an increase of average intelligence with every generation, and ultimately culminated in the intellectual and social breakthroughs of the Industrial Revolution. It meant that there was a large percentage of the society whose intelligence was so high that the necessary breakthroughs could be made, and that the society as a whole was sufficiently intelligent such that it could maintain and even develop these breakthroughs.”

I have a feeling that his book may be no more politically correct than Murray’s The Bell Curve.  Charlton’s explanation

“Probably the most significant impact of the Industrial Revolution was in reducing child mortality rates from more than half to (eventually) just about one per cent. For the first time in history, almost all the population, including the poorest classes and those with the heaviest mutation loads, were leaving behind more than two surviving children. Over a few generations, the mutational load must have accumulated – fitness must have declined – and average intelligence must have reduced due to the effects of deleterious mutations on brain development and functioning.

Since intelligence is correlated with genetic quality, this inferred population level mutation accumulation implies that average intelligence should have declined since the Industrial Revolution.” 

His concepts seem congruent with demographic transition theory, and I’m going to have to finish the read and think about it.  This evolutionary psychology seems to be an interesting take.  The links are worth following – my mind is not made up.  If his thoughts of a genius famine are correct, it is definitely a social change issue.


Dating a Winchester 67

I decided that I really like the Winchester 67 when an older cousin wanted to borrow a 22 rifle to shoot gophers.  Since he knew more about firearms than I did (and this after I had been teaching at TSJC and exposed to a lot of gunsmiths) he returned the 67 with a scathing comment about it not working.  Despite his firearms expertise, I don’t believe he had ever encountered one of the old bolt single shot rifles that wasn’t self-cocking.  Still, there is little point in arguing with gun experts, so I put the rifle away, overriding the impulse to stick a cartridge in, cock the bolt, squeeze the trigger, and say “Works for me.” 

The Winchester 67 was an economy model 22, made from 1934 to 1963 – and lacking serial numbers.  Despite the lack of numbers, I wanted to know when mine was made – and despite the fact that Winchester made between 383,597 and 652,538 of these numberless little rifles, there are clues to ferret out when it was made.

The takedown screw head didn’t stick out from the stock until after 1937 – this means the rifle was made between 1934 and 37.  The finger grooves in the stock were eliminated late in 1935.  Between those two features, I know the old rifle was made in 1934 or 35 and had a suggested retail price of $5.50.  The knurling on the takedown screw – so that it can be taken down without using a penny as a screwdriver, is supposed to indicate that it was built in 1934 – but that may be stretching things a bit . . . the first model 67 left the factory in May of 1934. 


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 an answer.  Right now the task is to clean up, add structural walls to reinforce the roof trusses, replace the roofing, and then figure out what to do.  Another group stops and asks about the history of these old buildings. 

I’ve never felt like a part of history.  As I look for answers to these questions, I realize that I was alongside when many of these small local histories were being made.  I suppose writing the history of the construction boom will help tell the story.

The history actually applies to four buildings in the SE corner of section 18.  The old service station has board and batten siding, and the tanks and pumps have been taken away.  It’s not the first building on the corner – Wylie Osler told of a tie hack who stacked his ties on the spot years earlier, overwintered there in the cabin of stacked cross ties, then sold them in the Spring and moved on.

The service station isn’t the oldest building there now.  The northernmost building – 8’ wide – is the old bunkhouse that was moved from logging camp to logging camp.  The southernmost building – 10’ wide – is its companion cookshack, also moved from camp to camp.  I don’t know what sort of a deal Don Boslaugh made with Dad for the two logging camp buildings to change careers from logging camps to trailer court support buildings at Westwood Acres – but now they flank the service station.  The heavy timbers that allowed them to be loaded on trucks and moved to logging camps now sit on the ground – and I don’t know the condition now, or what will be done. 

Visitors have looked at the log building and commented on its age – but it was actually built in the mid-eighties, and is the newest building on site.  It was an instant old building – the log walls were originally cedar poles that supported the telegraph line that ran alongside the rails in the Kootenai valley.  They were unmarketable and abandoned by the guy with the salvage contract as the reservoir filled.  Milled on three sides by Pat Eustace, they became an instant “old building.”  I’ve repaired the back wall in the log building – one of the base logs had shifted and the wall needed reinforcement.  The front overhang will be the next repair, then the doors.

The service station was built by Kenny Gwynn – who owned the sawmill in Eureka (now Gwynn Lumber and Reload) and a fuel distribution operation.  Kenny leased the building to Howard Mee – with the shop in the north half and the sales floor in the south, and the name Trego Service.  The southeast corner housed a barber shop, run by Chet Apeland.  It was built in the mid-sixties, set to serve the boom that came with the tunnel and railroad relocation.

The mid-sixties saw four trailer parks built in Trego and a new school was to serve the increased population.  I’ve been associated with two of them.  I’m guessing that somewhere over 180 trailers moved in to Trego housing workers for the construction projects that accompanied Libby Dam.  While we have better equipment available today, I doubt if the construction could be repeated with the need to go through the county planning board and sanitarian’s office.  Compared to 1965, today’s county government is . . . well, somewhat distant from libertarian principles.

The service station, after 55 years, will be getting the structural wall back in where the barber shop was, plus structural wall extensions to strengthen the trusses over the old service station, leaving the rooms Dad built in place.  After the structural walls are back in, and a new roof is in place, we’ll start some remodeling.  Business plans may be nice – but my task is just to get things back in shape.


This Science was Settled

ACS offers a researched article titled “Evolution of Medieval Gunpowder: Thermodynamic and Combustion Analysis” here.  If you read it, one of the first things you will notice is that it lacks practical use.  Nobody is going to go out and start formulating gunpowder as it was made in 1350.  The article pretty much states that the evidence shows that 75:10:15, by volume, mixes into the most effective formula for black powder.

Last September, Hogdon announced “Effective immediately, Hodgdon Powder Company, Inc. has made the decision to cease manufacturing operations at the company’s Camp Minden, Louisiana site while evaluating strategic options for the black powder business.”  So far as I know, their Goex brand has been the only American-made black powder available for years.  I guess the science may be settled, but the research is still timely.

I went through my black powder time in my early twenties.  After the Gun Control Act of 1968, I didn’t expect to see a nation where second amendment protections increased over my lifetime.  I didn’t see the reproductions of the 1858 Remington Revolver as all that inferior to a modern 38 – they’re a little more problematic in loading and cleaning, but generally that isn’t a problem. 

Abandoning black powder is more a problem to the flintlock guys than folks who use percussion caps – the refined black powder ignites at a lower temperature than the substitutes like Pyrodex – and that’s a benefit when the ignition relies on sparks from flint and steel.  Percussion caps are a bit inferior to modern primers – but still provide more than enough heat to ignite the substitutes.

I was intrigued to see that adding camphor and/or ammonium chloride was first done in the middle ages, then lost until 1917:

“Camphor in all recipes tested was used in conjunction with another additive. The first recipe evaluated used camphor and ammonium chloride (NH4Cl). Like varnish, camphor was a common ingredient for incendiary mixtures; unlike varnish, camphor appeared in multiple recipes and was continued to be used into the 15th century and even the 16th century. One 15th century text notes that it strengthens all powders when it is added.(17) Indeed, as late as 1917, John Buxbaum filed a U.S. patent for mixing black gunpowder with spirits of camphor, presumably unaware that he was reinventing a medieval technique.(18) In a gunner’s handbook from the turn of the 15th century, ammonium chloride is praised as a preservative: “it is good in powder that will be stored for a long time”.(15)”

To me, one of the great benefits of civilization has been the ability to purchase explosives of known quality and reliable sources – not having to do my own chemistry.  I like having all my thumbs and fingers.  Still, there are already black powder hobbyists who make their own powder (youtube has videos showing how to do it, and even stress safe handling). 

Obviously, the topic has been well researched – but science is always open to more research.

Community, Recipes

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 depending on size.

  • 1/2 c butter
  • 1/2 c sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1-1/2 c mashed bananas
  • 1/2 c chopped walnuts (optional)
  • 2 c flour
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt

In a mixing bowl cream butter (slightly softened), gradually add sugar and beat until light and fluffy. Beat in eggs, one at a time. Blend in bananas (if they’ve been frozen and then thawed they are the best in this recipe) and nuts. Mix together flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Gradually add to creamed mixture, beating only until blended. Turn into butter/floured bread pan. Bake 45-50 minutes at 350. Cool in pan for 10 minutes then turn out of pan on wire rack. **Hint** when preparing bread pans, instead of flour I use powdered sugar in the pan. You then get a sweet crust on the banana bread. A warm slice with butter is amazing! Enjoy!!


A Little Language

Cancer interfered with my opportunity to learn Sranan – taki – a language spoken in Suriname.  I had the opportunity to spend a Fullbright faculty gig in Paramaribo, but the surgery, radiation, and chemo pretty well removed the opportunity.  I think I repressed thinking about it – the topic just came back to mind last week.

The Sapir-Whorf hypothesis is the idea that the structure of a language limits the way that we view and understand the world.  Suriname is the world’s smallest, most diverse nation – and I suspect the language affects their comfort with racial, cultural and religious diversity.  Sranan is a small language – spoken in one small country.  It’s an English-based creole – but based on English as it was spoken by English and Scots colonists between 1640 and 1657 (when the Dutch took Suriname and the English took Manhattan).  Then it had another 300 years of modification by Dutch speakers, and African influences (I think these really show up in the words for different types of snakes).

I do get messages in Taki on occasion – and the expansion of the internet has added greatly to the ability to hear it spoken again.  Suriname is a single nation, ostensibly Dutch speaking, but mixing people from Africa, Europe, Java, China and India. The many original languages of Suriname’s slave population made development of a local language necessary – and the economic structure (most of the Dutch were company employees, often on fixed term contracts) made keeping the English-based Creole a natural thing.  After all, the Scots and English didn’t leave every five or ten years.

This video offers spoken Sranan with English subtitles – and gives an idea how the language flows and the subtitles makes it easier to connect with the older English and Scots words.

The Sapir-Whorf hypothesis is the linguistic theory that the semantic structure of a language shapes or limits the ways in which a speaker forms conceptions of the world.  I probably should write more about it – but for now, I tend to believe that Sranan, in its semantic structure, helps build an accepting, tolerant, diverse society.  A society where Muslims and Christians join in celebrating holi fatwa, a Hindu holiday.  The structure presents words that while defined, include a certain ambiguity – if I look at our language, just examining the phrase “liberal” provides differing and antithetical definitions.  I think a different language for discussing religion and politics might help – at the least it would shut us up until we learned to use it.  An online definition is “In the areas of Democracy and Citizenship, Classical Liberalism has the following meaning: A political philosophy that places high value on individual freedom based on a belief in natural rights that exist independent of government. “  After Woodrow Wilson and crew managed to move the definition of progressive into something most Americans didn’t accept, Progressives seized the term liberal – and today Wiki describes it “According to the Encyclopædia Britannica: “In the United States, liberalism is associated with the welfare-state policies of the New Deal programme of the Democratic administration of Pres. Franklin D. Roosevelt

Now, if we change definitions, it gets hard to argue or discuss things.  I’m not certain that, as a nation, we might not get along better if it were mandated that we had to carry on all political discussions, arguments and advertisements in Sranan.  At least we’d get a few months peaceful discourse while the partisans learned a new language.