Friday, June 27, 2008- - -
A Red Letter Day!
The Supremes have ruled that the Second Amendment protects an individual right.
We've a ways to go yet though:
Justice Stephen Breyer wrote a separate dissent in which he said, "In my view, there simply is no untouchable constitutional right guaranteed by the Second Amendment to keep loaded handguns in the house in crime-ridden urban areas."Seems to me that a crime-ridden area is exactly where you want to have a loaded gun. Breyer's pronouncement seems wrong-headed to the point of being utterly nonsensical. But I guess I just don't understand, not being a lawyer and all..
Thursday, June 26, 2008- - -
Dang city boys!
This rancher is taking no chances with folks who don't understand the "Open Range" concept.
Neopaganism growing fast
Fortunately, even the pagans consider me a heathen.
[Geez, has it been that long since I posted? Funny how time flies when you're busier than a one-armed paper hanger.]
Thursday, June 19, 2008- - -
One of my favorite photos I haven't published in awhile. In reference to the article I linked a couple of posts down, the cloth you see on the inside of the poles is the liner. It creates a chimney effect by directing air from the ground (the outer cover is about 6" above the ground) up the walls and out the smoke hole. Without a liner you can't have a fire in the tipi, so it's useful in all but the hottest weather. Trust me, it's friggin' cold up here in the mountains at night, even in summer.
I'd think that it was rarely necessary to anchor the liner with stones. All the junk we hauled to camp worked quite well in this case. (Well, okay, the NAs didn't have boom boxes, but I bet they had plenty of other stuff..)
Oh, come now..
Everyone who's ever noted that children aren't carbon copies of their parents has seen evolution in action. It really is as simple as that.
Monday, June 16, 2008- - -
"Stone circles tell stories"
Ah, No. Archaeologists tell stories about stone circles, and lord knows we're full of stories [you've noticed, eh?]. For instance:
All of the rings are pre-horse and prehistoric. Once Euro-Americans introduced tools like axes, historic tribes used wooden pegs instead of stones to keep skirts of their hide tepees anchored to the ground, Scheiber said.Granted, all of this is filtered through the news media, who seem not to be able to get even the simplest story straight, but this bit doesn't give much credit to pre-Columbian Native Americans, does it? First, they were perfectly capable of working wood before they had metal tools (and they did have some metal tools in pre-Columbian times). Second, whether they used stones or wooden stakes -- or logs, or piles of dried dung or earth, or whatever else was handy -- depended on whether they had wooden stakes and whether the ground was soft enough to use them. Third, according to traditional Native Americans, not all of these things mark the location of dwelling structures.
I've excavated quite a few stone circle sites over the years and, unfortunately, most have yielded very little cultural material. This makes the buggers very difficult to interpret or to date. That doesn't stop the archaeologists from theorizing though. In fact, sometimes it's easier to theorize if you don't have much in the way of actual facts to account for!
If these folks really wanted to learn something about tipis they really should try living in one for awhile. As one of the students notes, it's quite different from living in a tent.
Saturday, June 14, 2008- - -
Bear in mind that the key term here is "litigation". My clients bust their butts to comply with the National Environmental Protection Act, the Endangered Species Act, and all the other environmental rules and regulations. We have whole platoons of yahoos writing Environmental Assessments and Environmental Impact Statements. If we didn't do all this we wouldn't get our permits to develop whatever it is we're developing. The whole environmental protection program works quite well and does a good job of protecting the environment until the lawyers get envolved.
Friday, June 13, 2008- - -
Remembering Carter Henry
I've a feeling we're going to have a safety awards ceremony this morning at the daily safety meeting and, judging from the questions our safety manager has been asking, I suspect I'll be getting one of the awards, mostly for deluging them with Risk Identification Reports. So I get to give a speech. I think it will go something like this:
I can't ever work one of these jobs without remembering my old foosball-playing buddy, Carter Henry. Carter was the crew clerk for Western Geophysical's Crew 1283 -- the guy who pestered you to death if you didn't turn in your time sheets and mileage logs and all the other paperwork required on any big project -- and I worked with him many, many times over the years.
Carter was working on a job over by Moab, Utah, when he took off down the road one afternoon, crested a hill, and went head-on with a vehicle coming the other way on the wrong side of the road. He was killed.
We spend a lot of time on safety meetings, driver training, RIRs, and filling out journey management forms, but it's not because we're a bunch of old ladies. It's because we work in one of the most dangerous professions there is. Those of us who've been doing this for awhile have all had friends killed and maimed on the job and on the highway during those horridly long drives to and from the job site.
So when all the safety! safety! safety! starts getting tiresome, remember Carter Henry. It could happen to any of us. So be careful out there!
Something to crow about!
I don't think I've mentioned Worland's Kelly McBee, Mrs. America 2008. Now I see that she's on her way to the Mrs. World pageant in Kaliningrad, Russia. We'll be rooting for her!
Thursday, June 12, 2008- - -
When nobody's right ain't nobody wrong..
Via the InstaPundit, Larry Kudlow says McCain Is Exactly Wrong on Energy:
When asked about gas prices at the pump, and whether they could go any lower, Sen. McCain said he didn’t think so because “You’ve got a finite supply, basically, and a cartel controlling it.”Of course there's a finite supply of petroleum -- logically, there can only be so much total petroleum on earth -- we just don't know what the limits of that supply are. We are constantly looking for and finding more oil & gas, and we know about a lot of oil and gas that's not recoverable with current technology in places like North Dakota's Bakken Fm. and in the oil shale of Wyoming, Colorado, and Utah. So Senator McCain is right about that.
This is exactly wrong. There is no finite supply, or if there is we are 100 years away from it. I don’t know who has put this thought into the senator’s mind, but it is a bad thought in terms of energy and a bad thought in terms of the politics of this campaign.
However, McCain appears ignorant of the demand side of the equasion, nor does he appear to grasp the old adage that beating the cow won't get you more milk. I wish someone would tell me who these oil companies are that are making such obscene profits, I'd buy their stock. They're all publicly held corporations after all. Thus, they are returning their profits to the consumers -- the shareholders -- of the companies, as well as plowing the profits back into exploration and development. I rather suspect that John McCain and the rest of congress know how the stock market works, so all this talk of obscene profits not being returned to the consumers is demagogery pure and simple. If any of these companies were making obscene profits we'd be adding their stock to our 401k's, eh?
Imposing a new "windfall profits tax" on the energy industry? More demagogery. As I've discussed, corporations don't pay taxes. A tax is just another overhead cost, passed on to the consumers. Remember that next time you hear talk of a new tax to punish the energy industry. They won't feel the pain nearly so much as the consumers will and, again, I suspect that our dear congresscritters know this.
Will the price of gas at the pump come down? Well, probably not any time soon, but it's not because our energy supplies are controlled by some enigmatic cartel. It's simple supply and demand. The supply is not keeping up with the increased demand from the emerging third world, chiefly China and India at the moment. When demand exceeds supply the price goes up, simple as that.
It's easy to blame the lack of supply on obstructionists hindering the development of new supplies and the building of new refining infrastructure, but the US' contribution to world energy production is pretty darn trivial and probably always will be. That doesn't mean we shouldn't be trying to produce more, but we probably can't ever produce enough to make a dent in world demand.
Nor can we conserve our way out of this energy crunch. Even if the US completely eschewed consumption of petroleum products the rest of the world would still be increasing their demand and would quickly take up the slack. That's not to say that we shouldn't be conserving as much as possible, but that's mostly going to be a benefit in reduced cost to the consumers who lower their individual demand. We can't conserve enough to have much effect on the world market.
Where our conservation efforts can have an effect is in creating a demand for -- and, thus, a supply of -- more energy efficient vehicles and appliances, more efficient manufacturing processes, and more sources of alternative energy. If we develop the technology to produce cheaper energy and use it more wisely, the rest of the world will adopt the technology out of economic necessity.
In the long run the price of gasoline will probably go down, just as the price of kerosene has gone down, when the demand goes down, when the gasoline engine is as quaint as the kerosene lantern.
I've worked with Dick McKamey, permitting improvements on the Hanover Irrigation District's canals. Glad to hear he's going to be alright, thanks to Gore-Tex.
The hippies are coming! The hippies are coming!
Twenty thousand of them. Holy cow.
Wednesday, June 11, 2008- - -
Too much of a good thing?
I've been drooling on the new 10+ megapixel digital SLR cameras. It would be nice to be able to take really great high-resolution photos, and the price, if not reasonable, is at least barely affordable. But now I see they're marketing soft focus filters for digital cameras. I guess I'm ahead of the game; my el cheapo $100 pocket camera does this without technical help!
With a thin veneer of modern medicine. This is a bit disturbing.
Just trotted across the way to the potty (conditions are still a bit primitive here in the wilds of outer Colorado) and it's frickin' snowing. I'm thinking we left Texas a bit too early this spring.
It's actually only 42F outside though, so this is the sort of snow we can get anytime during the summer, generated by cold upper air. It won't stick unless it snows a lot harder than it is now.
What's with Rawlins?
I know, I've asked that question before, but it bears repeating now that they're wringing their hands over the prospect of 175 temporary workers coming to town to work on the expansion of the Williams Co. Echo Springs natural gas plant. One hundred and seventy-five! There's probably that many temporary oilfield workers blowing in and out of Rock Springs daily, contributing to the incredibly booming city economy. But, for whatever reason, Rawlins just can't handle such activity and sits there with tumbleweeds blowing down the street while all the other towns surrounding the big natural gas play in SW Wyoming, NE Utah, and NW Colorado are growing like mushrooms. Go figure.
Update: Rock Springs has its own problems. The rapid growth is making it difficult to find a place to live (been there, done that, repeatedly). But Rock Springs is growing. There's new hotels and new homes going up everywhere you look. If there's been any new construction in Rawlins in the last 20 years, other than the new BLM building, you couldn't prove it by me.
Tuesday, June 10, 2008- - -
"Exact appearance of new instruments may vary."
No kidding. At first I thought someone had their wires crossed, but I see these are examples of various instruments that may be offered.
Just in case you were in the market for an electric ukulele..
Home, Sweet Home
Two weeks ago this was a cow pasture, now we have a population of about 25, larger than some towns in Wyoming. And, as of last night, we've got a satellite internet uplink!
It's about 45 miles to the nearest town and that's Meeker, Colorado, so doing this as a camp job saves a lot of driving on roads with insanely heavy oilfield traffic.
I note a bit of dispair in some quarters regarding our energy situation, but it's not as bad as all that. Yesterday while tooling around the hills even farther out in the middle of nowhere, I came on a nice new brick building with landscaping, flags flying, and even a heliport. It's home to the Mahogany Research Project, which has test facilities all over this area. Looks like they're here to stay. We may not be digging ourselves out of this energy hole as fast as some would like, but we're workin' on it, 'kay?
Update: Whoo Hoo! We're in the news! If you could see this country you'd understand why some are a bit leary of moving too fast on development. It is spectacularly scenic and there's a lot of wildlife. But this is one of those situations where we're never going to please everyone and right now these decisions are being driven by demand from the coasts to do something about $4 gasoline. I doubt there is anything we can do about the price of gas, so long as China and India, and other emerging nations are driving the demand, but we're certainly trying.
Tuesday, June 03, 2008- - -
A sticky situation..
Two interesting articles on Workman's Comp in the CasperStar. The first on a guy who's been fighting since 1984 to get disability compensation for a back injury. Seems the point of contention is that his wife makes too much money, a pretty lame reason to deny someone injury compensation. Now, twenty-four years later, the Wyoming Supreme Court has sided with the injured worker. Twenty-four years later. One wonders how he's paid the bills all that time.
The Wyoming legislature is looking into reform of the system, as well they should.
While there certainly have been some egregious abuses of workers under the system, I suspect there's good reason that the Worker's Comp folks look so skeptically on claims. There seem to be a lot of folks who think Workman's comp is -- or should be -- some sort of comprehensive disability insurance that covers you even if you strained your back sorting boxes in your garage on Saturday, but it's only meant to cover those injured on the job. Thus, there's also been a lot of fraudulent claims from folks who sprained their knee skiing and managed to limp in to work to 'have an accident'.
Whatever. I think there are plenty of causes for complaint on all sides of this issue.
I'm not sure North Dakotans are the ideal test sample..
Here's another article on the question of lead ingestion from eating game meat. I'd posted previously about this issue and got some great feedback from Doug Sundseth. As he observes, eating metallic lead doesn't appear to be the problem.
I'll be eagerly awaiting the results, but I'm betting if this new study shows there's no problem we won't hear much about it, given the agenda of the folks pushing the studies.
Monday, June 02, 2008- - -
Q: Who wants to live to be 120?
A: Ask anybody who is 119.
An interesting article in the DenverPost. I'm thinking that chelation therapy sounds like snake oil, but the sidebar poll is very interesting. It asks:
Would you like to live to 120, as a Colorado doctor believes is possible?With 888 responses we get:
Yes - Unconditionally 7.657 %I'm not at all surprised that a near majority say 'yes, but only if I'm healthy and not living in poverty'. That was my answer. I am a bit surprised that nearly a quarter of respondents said 'it ain't natural'. I guess these are the folks who don't believe in aspirin or dentistry?
Yes - But only if healthy and wealthy enough 49.77 %
Not sure - Lifestyle changes necessary would be tough 10.36 %
No - Not natural 23.87 %
It's impossible 2.477 %
Don't care 5.855 %
Sunday, June 01, 2008- - -
Wyoming is what America was
Our democrats resemble modern-day republicans and our republicans sound quite a lot like libertarians, although I'm sure they'd never call themselves libertarians for fear of guilt by association.