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Tag Archives: bozeman montana

Betting on the Future
The current economic climate has us, as citizens of Bozeman, focused on jobs. Jobs are an indication of a vibrant economy and a where we are as a community. Jobs, as economic metric, equate to growth, but moreover they mean stable families, happy people and a healthy community. Montana state legislators are continually looking to create new jobs and retain existing ones. Coupled with the goal of reducing government spending the 62nd legislative session has a pretty tall order. By my estimation, job creation requires an investment, from citizens, businesses and government.
As citizens we have the opportunity to make our will known that we support job creation at the ballot. The Elementary and High School Fund Levy on the 3rd of May is specifically an investment in our children and, by extension, about jobs. One may wonder, what is the connection between jobs and education?
Put simply, education creates ideas; ideas spur innovation and innovation is cornerstone to a growing economy. Our education system aims to create curious, disciplined and hard working citizens that plug into our economy. If we want to create jobs we need to accept that fact that we need to invest in the driver of jobs – our public school system. With this connection in mind we have no better example of than the Bozeman School District (BSD7).

In 2010 -11 BSD7 has led in a diversity of measures. The football won state – the first title in 93 years. The girl’s cross-country team has earned its fourth consecutive state title. The wrestlers wrangled the first state championship in 39 years and the students in automotive shop won the Ford/AAA Student Auto Skills Competition. It’s comforting to know these students will graduate and work on our vehicles, making life safer for all of us. There are 8 National Merit Finalists, an award bestowed upon the brightest and most promising students. Paul Anderson, who teaches biology at the high school, is Montana State teacher of the year and is one of four finalists for National Teacher of the Year. This is the first time since 1953 that a teacher from Montana has made it this far. Three BSD7 schools are state recognized Blue Ribbon Schools, a recognition that comes with dedication and perseverance.
This value to the community isn’t free. We have to believe in the service and quality of our education system and support it as such. The Elementary and High School General Fund Levies are this opportunity.
If these levies pass, our tax requirement would decrease. The school district will be retiring the temporary mill levy for Hyalite Elementary School, as it fulfilled its mission. If the levies do not pass, taxes would decrease slightly more. Either way we will see a decrease in tax. This small windfall needs to be reinvested into the education system. The current request, if approved, amounts to an overall decrease 72 cents per $100,000 of property value. With state school funding yet to be determined we need to approve the funding measure to ensure that our schools continue to be leaders in the state and in the nation.
Sound investments take time. Solid returns do not happen overnight. If we want to be a growing community education is a safe bet. Companies looking to relocate or expand often look at the value a community places on education. The recent comment by the former CEO of Intel to Arizona lawmakers on how de-funding education affects business development is a clear reminder that business needs an educated workforce. If we want to be a magnet for business development and the jobs that come with it, a vote for the school levies is the right decision.


The total sum of carbon based energy, be it in the form of wood, coal, oil, methane, natural gas or biomass, originated from the sun. Photosynthesis captures sunlight and converts it to oxygen and reduced carbon forms. We see this in plant life. Plants give us oxygen, nutritional sustenance and fuel. In the distant past the cycle of plant life created carbon energy that has allowed humans to advance to the state we now enjoy. Fifty to sixty million years ago eastern Montana was home to a shallow swamp like environment. The jungle and forests were overlain with sediment, compressed over time and transformed into the coal that, through electrical generation, Bozeman illuminates its houses and streets with. The amount of energy the sun bestows upon earth in six months is equal to the collective reserves of all carbon based fuel sources.

Obviously we are a long way from harnessing sunlight in a cost effective and efficient manner. As we face dwindling carbon reserves and an atmosphere dramatically changed by the consumption of carbon fuel, harnessing energy from the sun a technological break-though that will benefit all humans. Will it happen in our lifetime? Chances are slim given the volatility and ease of transport for carbon based energy. Transitioning from one system to another will require massive capital expenditures. Given these challenges how do we as a society proceed? There are those that shy away from challenges and those that see it as an opportunity to try harder. Energy independence is one area that will require a fair amount of ingenuity, determination and perseverance. Success is ever more sweeter when the odds are against you.

Solar energy is currently harnessed by two methods: passive and solar. Aligning a building to have maximum southern exposure is an obvious example of passive collection. Active collection has principle methods: photovoltaic and thermal mass. Photovoltaic panels are constructed with silicon wafers that directly convert sunlight to electricity. Your calculator with a miniature cell is probably the most common form of this technology. Photovoltaic cells are between 12 – 20 % efficient, that is 80 % of the solar energy doesn’t convert to electricity. The current costs do not match the direct costs of electricity generated by coal. As efficiency increases with technological advancement photovoltaic collection will feature in our future energy mix.

Thermal mass captures sunlight in a manner that is transferred or stored without being converted into electrical current. The energy captured is typically used for low-temperature applications. The simplest form of thermal generation is a roof top solar water heater. The energy captured can be used in two ways that benefit daily energy usage: water usage and structure heating. Hot water from the roof heater is piped into or through the existing gas or electric water heater thereby reducing the energy load required to heat water to the desired temperature.
When designing new or retro fitting existing structures radiant heating is an efficient and comfortable way of warming interior spaces. Piping is plumbed into the floor and the warm liquid heats the structure from the ground up. By using the water from the roof top solar water heater the need to heat the water from carbon-based sources is lessened or entirely negated. Commercial and institutional applications stand to benefit from this technology.

Montanans are known for their ingenuity and perseverance. Encouraging solar thermal design and installation will bring us closer to the goal of energy independence. Making the transition to sustainable energy is a big step. If, like children, we start with small obtainable steps we’ll eventually make it.

From a scientific standpoint summer officially ends on the 21st of
September. In the mind set of school age boys, summer ends when the first
day of school arrived. For Sam and Isaac this day arrived on Wednesday the 26th of August.

Regardless of my ministrations extolling the virtues of academia, the boys
find it to be the ultimate insult from grown ups. “You’re asking me to do

To which we reply, “It isn’t that bad and education is the best use of your time.”

Before school started we had some fine time together as a family. The dogs,
Happy and Leroy got a bath. The boys enjoy this, for the dogs it is about
the same as going to school. See expressions on the dogs and see the kids
outlook towards school. Same?

wash dog

The annual summer event for Gallatin County is the Sweet Pea Festival. The first weekend in August is just about the ideal window for the fragrant flowers. Part of the event is the parade. Lots of good stuff going on.


Children driving farm equipment.


Nancy riding Hijo in old west attire. (I think the gun she is brandishing is a toy.) edit: It is a real gun! It is an antique.

nikki & jenni

Nikki Kimball and my dear wife Jenni. Nikki is a world class ultra runner. The next weekend she won the Bridger Ridge Run, took ten minutes off of her previous course record. She is very fast. Go Nikki!

fire truck

Of course no parade would be complete with out a fire truck. Goes along with mom, apple pie and splitter hand cracks. No wait? What was that? Is there nothing more American than splitter hand cracks?

terry & jenni

Terry Cunningham is a friend who helps out with community projects. From changing the name of Peak 10,030 to Alex Lowe Peak and his endless work on the community boulders Terry gets after it. We are starting on boulder # 3 and have shared our knowledge with Jackson, Wyoming.

Our eldest son Max has been in the Bay Area working for The North Face on a summer internship. He has enjoyed being in a real office with real responsibilities and a real water cooler. Sam is entering the food chain for employment as many of us have – washing dishes.

sam food chain

It is a great way to learn the value of time and money. Isaac likes his Timex watches. He wears two of them – his signature as a 13 year old.

hammst synch

He’ll spend time synchronizing the two watches. He is quite familiar with the functions.

synch watches

Perhaps the biggest news in Gallatin County was President Obama’s visit for a town hall meeting on health care. Health care is a pretty big “mountain to climb” and Obama has been working with his team to bring reform to the insurance industry and health care providers. On a personal level I achieved two firsts:

1. Camping out for tickets &
2. Sleeping in an alley.

We pitched our tent and dozed through the night to be rewarded for tickets to this monumental event.

o camp

Senator Max Baucus of Montana is the Chair of the Finance Committee. He has huge order to bring consensus with in the Senate and keep as many people happy in the process. We’re thankful to have a person of his caliber representing our state.


This shot was taken at Belgrade meeting. Max speaking.


I thought President Obama did a fine job answering questions and presenting his plan for health care reform. After the meeting he went fishing (in the rain) on the Gallatin River. Our President is a hard working fellow. Quite an inspiration.

On a personal level I am returning to academia after a 23 year hiatus. My part time studies wil be focusing on glaciers, geomorphology and climate change. My goal is to add to the body of scientific knowledge in this area.

may_ca_mugs eye tooth

Mugs Stump :: Alaska :: 1989 ~ The spirit of the wind horse.

be good
be kind
be happy