Friday, February 28, 2014

The Wyoming Lawyer February 2014: Technology and the pace of practice


Just below, I have an item on Jack Speight's recent article in the The Wyoming Lawyer.  In that, I only addressed his comments on the dress code of the 1960s, which was no doubt much like the dress code for the entire history of the Wyoming State Bar at that time, but not so much now.  He also had a very interesting comment on technology and the pace of practice, which was:
One of the main differences between now and last century in problem solving is the pace of law practice. We have gone from manual typewriters, carbon paper, onionskin, Dictaphones and ditto machines, to the electronic revolution and the related social media platforms and unlimited websites. We are in the realm now of instant communication, instant crisis, and instant problem solving compared to the good ol’ days of reflection and analysis. Gone are the days of the black rotary phone on the edge of the desk and the IBM electric typewriters. Now we have handhelds of various sizes, shapes, and functions and apps from Smartphones to iPads to tablets. Regardless of how we communicate and represent our clients, our role as problem solvers has not changed in providing service to the clients obtaining satisfactory results and handling their problems successfully.
This is very much the case, and I'm frankly not too certain that the practice of law hasn't suffered as a result.

What the author notes about instant communications is very true.  I was an early adopter of computer technology and use it a great deal. Perhaps I shouldn't applaud myself on that, however, as the computer had just arrived when I started practicing law, with the internet arriving on the scene almost at the same time.  I'd been taught to use the new technology of Westlaw at law school, although we did did not concentrate on its use for research. When I was first practicing law, almost no firm had a Westlaw account and we went to the county law library in order to use their Westlaw terminal. We were always very careful about using it, and typically sought permission from a client to use it when we did, as it we were charged by the minute to use it.  Now, every lawyer everywhere has Westlaw access and younger attorneys can't imagine a world in which it isn't the first thing that a person turns to when researching the law.

I was slower to adopt smartphones, and I've only had one so far.   I went to a smartphone so that I could check my email anywhere, but like most busy lawyers, I even use text messaging in practice, albeit carefully. 

The revolution in technology certainly has changed this aspect of the practice of law.  It must have been the case that in earlier eras lawyers had more time to ponder, if you will, any one legal topic.  Chances are high that they call carried more of a variety of legal topics as well, so the list of things they pondered was probably fairly large.  But the need to respond within hours, or even minutes, was no doubt relatively rare.

Casper Star Tribune Editorial board: OK the school district bond

The Casper Star Tribune has changed its position (reluctantly, given the pools) and is now supporting the bond.
While I wish the Tribune would more fully endorse the pool, they finally see the wisdom of the bond and are arguing for it.  The paper is very much endorsing the CAP enhancements, and essentially indicates that prior to the recent hearings it didn't fully understand the bond proposals.  Indeed, it's indicating that its changed its position now that the proposal has been fully explained.  It deserves credit for being willing to continue to analyze and to change its opinion, something that takes some degree of courage, but something which deserves respect.

I have to say, I appreciate the Tribune's current editor, even when I disagree with him, much more than the former one.  He seems much more careful and thoughtful in his approach to things, and the overall quality of the newspaper has improved.

The Bond Issue: The actual cost



This graphic, generated by the Natrona County School District, nicely shows the actual cost to Natrona County property owners for improving the safety and relevancy of their schools.  $100,000 is highlighted, although I don't know if that's the median value of a county house or not, real estate values have been rising here. But as the Tribune points out, even for the owner of a $300,000 home the actual cost is only about $65.00 per year, an amount a person with a home of that value would no doubt spend on a night out here, easily.  Going to dinner, for a family of four in Casper, no matter where you go, is nearly always going to result in a bill over $80,00.  So the costs for the bond are are quite minimal, particularly given the longevity and nature of the improvements.

For those just entering school, no doubt the scientific and technical additions at CAP will result in their graduating with better options in life, making the bond cost on an annual basis worth it in and of itself.  So too with the swimming pools, with the 1923 pool at NCHS, coming down this summer, being a prime example, given that the investment there lasted for nearly a century.

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Wyoming Lawyer February 2014: Standards of Dress.


 Fairly typical office attire for me, shirt and tie.
The  Wyoming Lawyer February 2014 issue just came out, and in it there's an interesting article by Cheyenne lawyer Jack Speight.  Speight's article relates to the topic of this blog in more than one way, as he discusses his practice dating back to the 1960s.  I'll probably come back to another topic discussed in his very short article, but what struck me (and apparently him, even in recollection) was this item:
With fond remembrance of the mid- 1960s,Cheyenne attorneys had a helpful little booklet consisting of about 30 pages in a 5 ½” x 8 ½” format with the relatively shocking title “Minimum Fee Schedule.” In addition to the obvious, the last page of this helpful little booklet spelled out a proper dress code for working in the office on Saturday mornings.Only on Saturday, ties were not required but a sports jacket or suit coat was still mandated. Naturally, the good ol’ boys who created the “Minimum Fee Schedule” and dress code did not give any direction on appropriate office attire for women, even though in the mid-1960s Cheyenne enjoyed the services of two outstanding women attorneys, Brooke Wunnicke and Ellen Crowley
This item is interesting for a variety of reasons (I wish somebody would publish a booklet of minimum fee schedules now). The reason I note it here is due to the dress code.

When I was in law school I remember learning in some class, probably trial practice, that dress in court was addressed by a rule, which it was.  Shortly after I graduated a new rule on courtroom decorum came in, which was less specific, in part, because the drafter of the rules were having a hard time handling the topic of female dress.  It isn't that female dress was inappropriate, its just hard to describe.  When I first started practicing we were told, however, what the rules were, and that there was a "warm weather" exception that allowed lawyers to dispense, in courtroom hearings, with jackets.

In the office there were no longer any formal rules for lawyers, but there were informal ones that were reluctantly dieing.  In our office, and older staffer informally enforced rules and what a person could and could not wear. Generally, if we weren't going to court, we could wear khakis and polo shirts.  I often, even then, wore jeans but not blue jeans.

Over time, this has really changed.  I can't say that there are any more real rules anymore, in any office, in so far as I can tell.  Many lawyers still wear ties everyday, or most days, but many do not. Some routinely wear jeans in about every office.  It's been quite a change.  In the courtroom the rules haven't really changed, of course, and there's even one judge who made it known that he doesn't appreciate khaki trousers in the courthouse.

The change clearly started coming in during the 1970s.  I didn't have any experience with law offices at that time, but I do remember that doctors and dentist always wore ties.  Dentist still seem to even now, but doctors often do not.  

I can't say if this change is good or bad, but I do know that people expect members of various professions to have a certain look, even depicting them that way in popular media when it no longer reflects reality.  Generals in the military are always depicted wearing their dress uniforms, policemen are always depicted in blue.  Lawyers are depicted in suit and tie. While I violate this convention frequently myself, there's something to meeting these expectations.

The Bond Issue: The Mike Sedar Swimming Pool

The City of Casper's elected board, the City Council, has just voted to postpone rebuilding the decommissioned Mike Sedar Swimming Pool.

The old pool, which was ripped out either last summer or the summer before, was one of the principal pools in the town.  It was a 25  yard pool, and as amazing as it may seem to some, it was used for AAU swimming competitions when I was a kid.  Meter pools were rare at the time, and the pool had starting platforms at that time allowing it to be used in that fashion.  Principally built as a recreational pool (when most recreational pools were of a conventional construction) it also had a side area for a high dive, which was taken out some time ago based upon some concept of the appropriate depth for that, which it didn't meet.

Now it isn't there at all and now the city is pushing back its plan to rebuild the pool, which was going to be rebuilt in a much more elaborate, recreational pool, fashion.  The city noted that costs were going to be higher than what it anticipated but it also noted that it wanted to wait and see how the school district bond issue progressed.  In other words, they recognize the need for a pool, but may hold back to see if the school district, whose needs exceed the city's, achieves success in the bond issue thereby giving the city a little breathing room.

This is a distressing development.  In an era in which the news media here and all the government entities are telling us that the populations of the county is projected to rise, we seem reluctant to replace and repair (which is all we're really doing) those facilities that earlier generations of Casperites built, with smaller resources.  Right now we''re taking out one high school pool entirely and hopefully will be able to replace it.  Two others are in distress and need to be addressed.  A city pool has been removed and there's some question as to whether it will be replaced.  The old outdoor pool at Kelly Walsh was removed some time ago, and it was a city pool, and it was never replaced.  A party took a serious run at trying to grossly restrict or take out a local rifle range this past year. 

I'm not saying that a city needs to have everything, but in order to be a nice place to live it needs some facilities. And when the ones we have start to disappear and there's questions as to whether they'll be replaced, that's a long term problem.

BBC News - How Land Girls helped feed Britain to victory in WW1

BBC News - How Land Girls helped feed Britain to victory in WW1

Monday, February 24, 2014

The Natrona County School Board votes "yes" on the bond issue

The School Board voted to submit the bond issue, discussed below, to the voters for an election to be held on May 6.  I'll post the text of the issue when I have a chance, but here's a "huzzah" to the Board!

Numbers and history. How an inaccurate understadning of history leads to the innaccurate headline that the U.S. Army is being cut to pre World War Two levels

It's being reported today that the Department of Defense is preparing to reduce the size of the Army to between 440,000 to 450,000 active duty soldiers.  This is being reported as cutting the size of the Army back to "pre World War Two levels", which is inaccurate.  This, in turn, shows how not really understanding history, leads to some erroneous assumptions.

The cuts create the smallest size for the Army since 1940, but that fails to take into account that 1940 saw the introduction of the conscription in anticipation of World War Two and the Federalization of the National Guard. The size of the Army in 1939 was about 200,000 active duty soldiers, with there being an additional 200,000 National Guardsmen.  When Congress allowed for the mobilization of the Guard in 1940, it also brought in Conscription.  That may mean that there was very briefly a period, in 1940, when the U.S. Army had about 400,000 men in it, but that would have been very brief.

The current size of the Army National Guard is 358,000 men, which is an enormously smaller number than there were at the Guard's post World War Two Cold War height.  However, the size of the Army Reserve adds another 250,000 men.  In 1939, the Reserve was very, very small, essentially being made up of officers only, with a few supporting enlisted men. There really weren't any organized Reserve unis, outside of medical ones.

So, if fully mobilzed, for purpose of the comparison, the size of the Army in all is branches today would still be over 1,000,000 men. 

In considering these numbers, we also have to keep in mind that the Army of 1939 (and 1940) included Army Air Corps, the predecessor of the U.S. Air Force, which presently has 334,000 active service members, and 178,000 reservists of all types.  Therefore, to make the comparison fully accurate the branch that existed prior to World War Two, on the active side, would be compared to a present number of over 1,500,000 active duty personnel.

Still, it is quite a drop in numbers.

But it's not accurate to compare it to the pre World War Two Army.

USDA Blog » Digging into a Farm’s History Helps Teach About Soil

USDA Blog » Digging into a Farm’s History Helps Teach About Soil

The Moving Picture: European (Italian?) Cavalry


Natrona County School District Bond Vote

Tonight, February 24, 2014, the Natrona County School District will hold the second of its public meetings to take comments on the proposed bond issue, which will go to the voters, if passed, later this spring.

As Natrona County residents know, our single school district serves a population of at least 80,000 people and covers 5.376 square miles.  To put that in a bit of prospective, the state of Rhode Island covers an expanse of 1,214 square miles.  Vermont coveres 9,620 square miles.  So, the county is about four times the size of the state of Rhode Island and about 60% of the size of the state of Vermont.

That means the single school district serves children that come to its schools from a huge expanse.  The number of rural schools is not as large as it once was, in keeping with the reality that modern school requires modern infrastructure, and for the final stage of public schooling, high school, that is particularly true.

The district has four high schools, Natrona County High School, Kelly Walsh High School, Roosevelt and Midwest.  NCHS and KWHS are by the far the largest of the schools. Roosevelt is an alternative school, set up for kids who seek the benefits of its programs, and Midwest is a small community on the edge of the county.  Many Natrona County residents probably don't even realize that Midwest has a high school.  As can be seen, the concentration of high schools is naturally in Casper, simply because Natrona County, in spite of its vast expanse, really only has six towns within it, a couple of which are no longer really full towns.  Actual towns are the greater Casper area (Casper, Bar Nunn, Mills, Evanston), Midwest, Edgerton and Alocva.  Towns that once existed, and are sort of still there, include Powder River and Arminto.  The overwhelming majority of students attend NCHS or KWHS, which have huge student populations.

KWHS and NCHS are undergoing reconstruction.  Built in the 1920s, it is simply time for NCHS.  It's a beautiful school, but its facilities are dated.  This is also true for KWHS which is not nearly as old, but like a lot of buildings built in later areas seems to have borne the test of time less well. 

In Wyoming, school construction is basically funded by the state.  Education is legally a "fundamental right" in Wyoming, and all of the state's children have the right to the same basic education.  This has come to mean, both philosophically and legally, that the state's mineral resources, as reflected in income to the state, are distributed by the state, so that counties with low mineral production are not deprived of the ability to teach their children to the same standards that those with high incomes are.

This is not universal, however, as the state at some point determined that it would not pay for "enhancements".  Naturally, the state was concerned about being asked to pay for high dollar athletic facilities and the like.

But what is, and ins not, an enhancement has turned out to be a tricky deal.

In the proposed bond issue, Natrona  County School District No. 1 may be asking for funds that are not, in a real sense, "enhancements".  They are necessities.  The first of these is upgrades to existing schools for school security, something that cannot be ignored now that we have the ability to do it.  We blogged about that in an recent entry here.

Directly related to safety is funding for three swimming pools, one at NCHS, one at KWHS, and one at Midwest High School.  In a district that covers a territory as vast as that covered by some Eastern states, the need for this should be self evident.  These schools will be lifesavers for some, and will benefit all.  We have also blogged about that in this entry and in this one.

Finally, but not least in significance, we here in this area continually are told that our mineral extraction economy produces good jobs for local residents, particularly those who grow up here.  At the same time, those of us who have lived here for all or the balance of our lives know that quite often Wyoming's biggest single expert is our young people, whom, in lean times (and we have a lot of those) grow up, graduate from high school, and then leave in search of work, never to return.  We also know that the oil and gas industry is expressing a need for skilled employees, which in many instances they end up bringing in from out of state. And, additionally, if we're serious about educating our youth for the 21st Century, we have to admit that shops built in the mid 20th Century, aren't going to effectively serve that need. The Bond would fund construction of a Science and Technology center where students who wished to pursue these talents could.  We have blogged about that here.

The bond deserves to pass. The School Bard deserves credit for taking this on.  The people of Natrona County should come out to support them.

The Big Picture: First East Bay Ship by Truck


Sunday, February 23, 2014

A Trip Down Market Street, San Francisco, 1906



A real must watch.  Traffic in the early automobile era.  Thanks go out to John Morgan for this one.

Same film in HD:



The Bond Issue. Safety

As folks who read this blog (and there's darned few I know) are aware, I've written on several occasions about the upcoming Natrona County School District bond issue, taking the specific topics of the swimming pools and technical and vocational training up.  The School District plan to address these topics is so well formed that I think that either one of them would merit the bond being passed in and of itself. The third topic of the funding, which I haven't addressed yet, certainly does, school safety.

This is a topic that's need is so self evident I would argue that no rational person can, after considering it, argue against it. Basically, the District proposes to add features to the existing grade schools to enhance their safety, through new entry ways, lighting and technical additions.

I will not dwell on the current age and why the District would rightfully consider such improvements desirable. Rather, I will point out something that people too often miss.  As technology improves, and as experience teaches, if we can improve something within our reasonable ability to do so, we ought to.  We particularly should do so where children are involved.

To give an example that is probably fairly obvious, consider the automobile of 1913.  Not too safe, right?  Mechanical brakes, no air bags, no seat belts, no safety of any kind really.  We could make cars like that today. We don't.  We don't, because we know how not to, and therefore we make them safer. 

Buildings aren't automobiles, they're more permanent.  But here too we retrofit builds that are old with sprinkler systems and fire alarms, and remove the asbestos from them with reconstruction calls for it.  When we can make buildings reasonably safer, we can, and should.

The State of Wyoming funds new school construction, thanks to the funds that the mineral industry pays through severance taxes.  But it doesn't pay for "enhancements".  Before we complain of that, we should consider that around here "local control" of schools is a big deal. Well, here's an area that we control, and as those in control, we can and should act responsibly.

Friday, February 21, 2014

The Bond Issue. Modern technical and vocational training.

I've posted on the upcoming bond issue here several times before, but I want to switch gears a bit with this post, as I think that perhaps part of the story has been missed, and even when not missed, perhaps the need isn't fully appreciated.  That need is for scientific and technical training, and this bond issue would fund a Science and Technology Center as part of the high school facilities for the district.

The need for something like this has been identified by those in the know for some time, but I don't know how widely that need is appreciated in the general public.  It's really pressing.

Years and years ago, "technical" training was available in most high schools, and of course it's never gone away.  Prior to World War Two a very high percentage of American men never graduated from high school, and the lack of a high school degree itself wasn't an impairment to obtaining employment for the most part.  One of the richest men to ever live in this county, Fred Goodstein, did not have a high school degree, but simply started off working in his father's oilfield pipeyard as a teenager. He built that business into a huge success, and expanded from there.

 
Dodge factory during World War Two.  At one time, most high school graduates were qualified to do a job like this simply by having a diploma.  This is no longer the case, as vehicles like this are no longer the norm.

But those days are really over.  They are over in part because we live in the Age of Certification, in which having some credentials to obtain employment is a necessity, both because it demonstrates proficiency, and because as the number of high school and college graduates expanded, that became the means of winnowing applicants. That, in turn, caused a certain magic to attach to the certificate, legitimate or not.

But beyond that, the world simply has become more and more technical, making a basic level of introductory knowledge in adequate.  To give a poor example of that, I think when I was in basic training in 1982 you could still get into the Army with a GED.  As an artillery crewman, we learned how to operate a self propelled howitzer whose systems were all mechanical.  Fire Direction  Control, the unit that plotted the mission, was by far the most technical, and they actually still used slide rules at the time, to plot their fire missions.  When I was later a Forward Observer, I plotted missions using a compass, binoculars and a map.  Sometimes I used a BC Scope, a huge set of mounted periscopic binoculars.

 
The military has always been a source of post high school technical training, but more and more, you need to be at least somewhat proficient to even enter the service.

Well, all that is a tying of the past and probably looks about as ancient to a modern artillerymen as a muzzle loading cannon does.  Now the SP is highly computerized and so is everything about plotting the missions.  A person, in order to do the jobs that required just basic knowledge on our part, now has to have a fair degree of technical knowledge.

 

Now, my point isn't that we need to boost high school education as the Army needs people with a technical background, although I will note that those entering the Army today must have an actual high school diploma. Rather, this is just one example of how much more technical the world is today.

To give another example, many years ago I worked on a drilling rig.  It was all a simple mechanical rig.  Most of the rigs in use today remain no more advanced than that one. But, that day is ending.  I overheard some time ago, in the barber shop (that reservoir of many talk) from a drilling operator who was working on a new rig in North Dakota.  He did not do his job from the drilling rig floor like they used to. He was in a warm, clean, inclosed high tech office attached to the rig.  He, indeed, could operate all its systems without ever going outside the office, so the arctic North Dakota winter meant little to him. Rigs of that type are a rarity in the United States, but from talking with a tool pusher who just came back from overseas, they aren't rare outside the US.  The irony, therefore, is that the US is actually behind in modern rigs, a fact that probably developed as our drilling industry was darned near dead for a long time.

Talking to local industrial employers, I know that they perceive that there's a lack of entry level skilled employees in the state. They'd like to hire them, and there's the work, but the employees aren't there.  Why not?

Well, we just don't have the facilities at the high school level to train them. We do still train in some technical fields at the high school level.  You can learn some automotive technology, small engine technology, and welding, for example.  And that's great.  But in order to keep up in this area, we're going to have to provide much more advance training as we enter the second half of the second decade of the 21st Century.

Take cars alone, as an example.

I still retain one old vehicle, a 1962 Dodge truck.  I can work on it, as its as old as I am, and its systems are those which I grew up with and learned how work on. Quite simple, really. But on our more modern vehicles, none of which are new, I have no clue how to fix anything. They are all high tech.

And the mechanics who work on them have been accordingly trained. They're not shade tree mechanics who were really good and worked into shops.  No, they're really trained. They have to be.  And that's the direction things are headed.  In ten years ago, as electric and hybrid vehicles become more common, this is going to become a highly technical field.  And this will expand. It will not be that many years from now that even a thing like a snowblower will be high tech, or a lawn mower, designed not only to do its job well, but to emit little, and use as little in the way of resources as possible.

A person can say, of course, that all of this is fine, and that post high school courses of study can address that.  But if we take that approach, it commits everyone to some post high school study. Should we do that?  I don't think so.

Universities and colleges have increasingly become not only schools for advance academic knowledge, but advanced technical schools. That is fine, but students who do not wish to attend university or college, and not everyone does, should not be forced to do so. And a high school degree should have some immediate serious employment benefit outside of those which are the most basic jobs.  Indeed, that was the original purpose of high school.  The thought was that a graduate was ready to enter a shop, or office.

Indeed recently I heard an interesting author interview on the Priztzer Military Library podcast.  The author had written a book about his interviews with very elderly World War One veterans, when they were in their 90s.  One interview really struck me.  The veteran was asked the simple question about joining the Army, but he gave his entire life history in a few short sentences.  He'd graduated high school shortly before World War One, and during his last year of high school he'd been recommended to an insurance company.  He'd gone to work there immediately after graduating, and save for World War One, he'd worked there his entire career until retirement, rising up in it.

Now, his story would have been impossible.

Of course, this isn't a technical story, in that he didn't enter technical employment, but my point is that here in Casper, where there are many industrial jobs, those jobs are going to get increasingly technical over time.  Those who want those jobs, and the state and local community is always noting how these are well paying jobs, can be ready to enter them right out of high school, with the proper training.  If we don't give them the proper training, they're going to have to obtain it through an additional couple of years of study, where the public funding for the training is lacking. That isn't serving those students well.  This is another reason to back the bond issue.

Jimi Hendrix Postage Stamp?

Rumor has it that the U.S.Postal Service will be issuing a Jimi Hendrix postage stamp soon.

Cool, if true.

Friday Farming: An Unselfish Love


A 1910, farm-centric, melodrama.

4 Russian Travel Tips for Visiting America | Mental Floss

4 Russian Travel Tips for Visiting America | Mental Floss

10 Japanese Travel Tips for Visiting America | Mental Floss

10 Japanese Travel Tips for Visiting America | Mental Floss

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

On Line Dating: Are we really that busy?

This morning, on my way to work, I was listening to XM Radio when an advertisement came on advertising an on line dating service for busy professionals.  The pitch was that they were too busy to get to know anyone, so the service had done all the heavy lifting for them.

Seriously?  Are people now so busy that they can't get to know anybody?

If that's true, that's a horrible sign of something seriously amiss in our society.  If people are now so busy, they can't even get to know a potential spouse in any sort of conventional way, our society is pretty much doomed.

People are busy, grant it.  But at some point certain things are like canaries in coal mines.  And if this is actually the case (and I hope its' not) its like a flock of canaries dropping dead all over the coal mine floor. 

Occupational Identity

According to psychologists, males (but not females) acquire an "occupational identity" as adults.  If they fail to do so, supposedly, it's actually supposed to be a problem for the adult male.

I don't know about that, but I do know that males very strongly catalog people by occupations. One of the first things that males do, if they do not know each other, but are engaged in a conversation, is to ask each other "so, what do you do?"  Casual male acquaintances usually also get around to asking, "so, how are things at work?"  Only men who very deeply know one another will skip the work questions, usually.

I note this as I recently had an odd experience, although its frankly one that I've had in the past as well.

I called a person who is in the business of selling a certain item to ask about an example of it that I had heard, outside of work, that was coming up for sale.  I could tell this person was struggling to place me in context, when suddenly he said "Oh!  You are the lawyer!"  Not only was it like turning on a switch for him, it also told me nearly immediately I wasn't going to be treated seriously.

That may sound odd, but certain professions are not taken seriously in regards to certain things.  If, for example, a neurosurgeon went into a used car shop to ask about a beat up Volkswagen, he's not going to be taken seriously.

Here, the item that was going up for sale wasn't for sale just yet, but it was going to be that week.  I asked this person to call me back as soon as it was listed.  He said he would.

He didn't.

A client of mine, who is in the business that this thing pertains to, is now going to buy it and called me for help on that.  Of course, I'll help.  But how frustrating.

I've encountered this before.  Years and years ago there was some grazing land that was somewhat tempting up for sale around here, and I called the listing agent and the agent never was able to figure out what I was asking about.  He kept coming back to me with palatial mountain retreats.  In his mind, that must be what I was wanting to buy.  I finally gave up on him.

Or, in another instance, I once called a seller about something and left a message.  I didn't hear back and didn't hear back. Finally, I called again, and he told me "oh. . . you wouldn't want it, it wouldn't interest a lawyer."  Oh?  Then why had I called about buying it in the first place?  Geez.

In another instance, a rancher friend of mine had an early model Power Wagon which I very much admired.  He knew that.  He decided to sell it, and never told me.  Why? Well, it just isn't the sort of thing he could have seen me wanting.  By the same token, I'll admit, I once had a muscle car that I sold and later heard from his wife who complained that had she known I was going to sell it, she would have bought it.  I just didn't see that being something she would have wanted.

I don't know what the point of this is, but I guess it's just an interesting observation about how we pigeonhole things.  There's no reason that an oilfield worker wouldn't want season tickets at the Met, but I bet they'd have a  hard time getting them.  Assumptions. . .

Implements of the transportation revolution: Riker Truck


Riker truck being delivered to the U.S. Army, for use in the Punitive Expedition.


Mid Week At Work: Military service and jobs gone by.


Historialliset lentokoneet virtuaalikuvina (Warbirds)

Historialliset lentokoneet virtuaalikuvina



Neat Finish aircraft site.

Monday, February 17, 2014

Second Story Radio • Episode 5 - The Perspective of Stuff

Second Story Radio • Episode 5 - The Perspective of Stuff

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Old Picture of the Day: Dallas Cowboy

Old Picture of the Day: Dallas Cowboy: Welcome to Dallas Texas Week here at OPOD. We will be looking at pictures from times gone by of this great city. We start with this pi...

The Big Picture: Mt. Ranier, 1907


Saturday, February 15, 2014

Random Snippets: Toyota Pickup Trucks.

Has anyone else noticed that Toyota pickup trucks seem to be the prime mover of every third world irregular army on the planet?

Friday, February 14, 2014

ABA President Silkenat: America's legal response to gun violence is unacceptable

ABA President Silkenat: America's legal response to gun violence is unacceptable

Which shows just how far the ABA has strayed from its original mission, and how whopping irrelevant it now is to the lives of average lawyers.

The ABA started off as a (conservative) organization seeking to regulate the unrestricted practice of law.  It was concerned that the rough and tumble nature of the practice, which had existed in its frontier regions from nearly day one, lead to be the law being regarded with disdain. It sought to elevate the practice, and actually to boost its esteem to the level of physicians.  As part of that, it emphasized professionalism, and it came to also review Federal judicial nominees and rate law schools.

Well, just like other organizations, it's in decline.  Part of this is for the same reasons fraternal organizations are in decline (see also the recent post on the Boy Scouts).  Part of it is also for the reasons that labor unions are in decline.  The ABA achieved what it sought to do many, many year ago. So it isn't really needed to achieve htat goal, only to maintain it.

But organizations that started off with a cause rarely disband when the cause is achieved. They just move on to a new one, and that's what the ABA has done.  It's morphed from a conservative organization concerned with practice standards, to one which is now a liberal organization ready to espouse liberal causes.

The problem with that is that a political cause is a political cause, and most legal practitioners are working in the nuts and bolts of the law.  Practitioners are more concerned with developments in tort law, criminal law, civil procedure, and the like.  As for social causes, lawyers have their own views like everyone else.  Some of those views are grounded in legal interpretation, some in social views, and some in emotion.

Hopefully lawyers involved in social causes, and more particularly legal organizations involved in them, do try to keep the law in mind, but here the ABA is frankly just out to lunch.  A person can argue one way or another about gun control, but a legal organization that argues about it should keep the law in mind, and either accept it or argue that it, and by it we have to mean the Constitution here, be changed.  It's weak legal reasoning to argue that a strained reading of the Constitution ought to be the approach taken.

Beyond that, frankly this is a policy issue that has nothing really to do with the law as law.  Lawyers don't have much business saying "I'm a lawyer, and therefore I know that this should be the policy."  And this has nothing to do with what almost every lawyer in the US actually does for a living.

Lex Anteinternet: The 1918-1919 Influenza Epidemic

A while back I blogged about the  Lex Anteinternet: The 1918-1919 Influenza Epidemic: I was reminded of that as the flu, the real deal, not some bad cold that people mistake for the flu, has really been going around recently.  All sorts of people have it.



It's going through NCHS like there's no tomorrow.  At least three members of the swim team have it, including my son.  And its a nasty H1N1 variant.



H1N1 is bad, but it's not anything like the 1918 flu, which was a H5 variant.  Be that as it may, things like this really demonstrate to me how vulnerable to the flu or something like it we are.  I'll fly down to Denver today. So far, I haven't had the flu, and I haven't felt like I was getting it, although I'm coughing slightly this morning.  I've clearly been exposed to the flu here at home.  And at work where at least a couple of the people have had it recently. And I was at a meeting recently where a person was about two weeks out from it, no doubt over the flu, but still suffering from its effects. 



My point is that the 1918 flu managed to go clean across the globe with no difficult, over about a two year time span.  By that time, however, humans as a species would have had a little time for our own natures to begin to evolve where exposures had occurred, and we would have had some time to prepare where it had not immediately hit.  World War One helped spread it around, but at that time it was still the case that transoceanic travel moved no faster than ships.  That's certainly not the case now. A flu outbreak could be everywhere before we even knew it was an outbreak.

Today In Wyoming's History: Wyoming History In The Making: Enzi out raised Ch...

Today In Wyoming's History: Wyoming History In The Making: Enzi out raised Ch...: A recent article in the Casper Star Tribune reveals that Mike Enzi's campaign raised more money than Liz Cheney's in the last quarte...

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Book Announcement: On This Day In Wyoming History

We'd like to announce that our book, On This Day In Wyoming History, will go to press in March and can be pre-ordered from the publisher now.

Lex Anteinternet: Boy Scouts of America--Merit Badges from 1911

Lex Anteinternet: Boy Scouts of America--Merit Badges from 1911:

This is an older thread here, but I'm bumping it up as last Sunday was apparently Scouting Sunday.  The Boy Scout Troop associated with St. Anthony's Church acted as servers for Sunday Mass, and I saw a sign on the First Christian Church noting the same.

I have to admit that I didn't even know that St. Anthony's had a Boy Scout organization, even though I probably should have known that.  My guess is that it might be associated in some fashion with St. Anthony's Tri Parish School, although I don't know that for sure.  I knew that it had one at one time, as a co-worker of mine told me that he'd first met a late co worker of mine when they were both in Boy Scouts, with my living co worker having been in the St. Mark's Episcopal Church troop, while my late partner was in the St. Anthony's troop.  My late partner was a strong supporter of the school, so my supposition is that he attended it.  I should have been aware that they still had a Troop, but never having been a Boy Scout, I did not.  I did know that the First Christian Church had one, as a co workers of mine is a Scout leader there.

 World War One era Boy Scout Liberty Load poster.

Anyhow, I guess that demonstrates the extent to which Boy Scout units were once associated with churches, which is still somewhat true.

Still, I've heard that Scouting has suffered in popularity over the last several decades, which doesn't surprise me.  For one thing, it's probably suffered as Americans have generally moved away from organizations of all types.  As we've covered in prior posts, Fraternal Organizations have really declined in popularity.  But this trend, with some exceptions, goes on beyond that.

Still, I also wonder if Boy Scouts have declines as they've strayed from their original mission, which ironically may be nearly as relevant now as at any time in the past.  Scouting was created by Lord Baden Powell as an English movement.  He'd been a British career soldiers, served as an unconventional scout in the Boer War, and went on to be the chief of British cavalry.  Based upon his Boer War experience, he'd come to believe that British youth had become sort of sissified by city living, and he sought to correct that through exposure to life in the wild and what used to be called "woodcraft".

Scouting, in its heyday, as highly outdoorsy, sometimes agriculturally oriented, highly patriotic and it emphasized Christian virtues.  It can still be very outdoorsy, but hat emphasis started to wane in the 1970s, it seems to me.  It's also still patriotic and it still emphasizes Christian virtues, but in an age when relativism is the rule of the day, its singular approach to that can draw criticism pretty readily, while at the same time any effort to alter its traditional core values will likewise tend to weaken it a bit.  I have to wonder if it still was as rurally oriented as it once was, if it would have declined less, as I suspect that the appeal of that aspect of it is as strong as ever.

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Note:  Were you a Boy Scout or Girl Scout?  Answer our poll!

Sunday, February 9, 2014

Holscher's Hub: Casper Mountain Sled Dog and Skiijourning Races, F...

Holscher's Hub: Casper Mountain Sled Dog and Skiijourning Races, F...: Today's sequel to yesterday's post on the Casper Mountain Sled Dog and Skiijourning Races . ...

"Amazing" discoveries about early human's and Holscher's First Law of History

There's been a couple of recent very interesting discoveries about our early ancestors recently, which have drawn some conclusions that, frankly, are less than amazing.  Its an application of Holscher's First Law of History at work.

First of all, within the last couple of days human footprints have been found in the UK which are at least 800,000, if not 1,000,000 years old.  That's pretty cool.  The temperature of the UK, at that point in time, was also pretty darned cool.  Scandinavian like, in fact.

This has lead to a lot of pondering (why were they stomping around in the mud, for example?), but it's also lead to at least one amazingly dense comment from a scientist who wondered allowed if they had the ability to make clothing.

Seriously? 

Of course they did. The question is idiotic.

Which leads me to my second item.

Scientist have recently confirmed that modern human beings of European descent carry a few genes they can trace to Neanderthal human beings, thereby confirming that Neanderthals and what were once commonly called Cro Magnums, but now are generally called "archaic" modern man, um. . .well you know.

No kidding, no surprise there.  Or at least there should be. We're actually all in the same species.  The bigger surprise there is that apparently Neanderthals and we were on the edge of genetic comparability. That does surprise me because, as noted, we're in the same species.  Neanderthals were only unique in that they were genetically adapted to extreme cold by having short, but stout, bodies.  Modern populations of humans now feature quite a variety in body types, which our archaic ancestors actually did not at that time, so that's not as big of deal as it might seem.  Included in our current adaptations are body forms that contemplate high heat and intense cold.  That an isolated population of human beings living in Ice Age Europe would have adaptations to their environment isn't that surprising.

But it's been oddly surprising to some that these populations would mix.  In our true European "we feel guilty about everything" outlook, we've often assumed that this must have been the result of violence.

Well, some probably was, but our surprise is probably because of the long standing tradition of depicting Neanderthals as really ugly, which they probably were not.  They probably just looked different, as many current populations do.  Looking different, while often a cause of hatred amongst people, has often been an attractant too, and so far there hasn't been one single example of any group of people encountering another in which mixing didn't occur.  And chances are high that Neanderthals didn't look like brutes, but rather were dressed in a fashion similar to any new population they were encountering.  So, it's a pretty good bet that it didn't take long before some archaic member of our species was saying something like "have you seen that cute Neanderthal girl that gets water down by the stream. . . . I wonder if she'd like to come over and share some Aurochs some evening?"

On this, I'd also note that within the last year I've seen something that seemed to confirm that Neanderthals could "speak".  No kidding, they were humans beings and talking is something we all seem to be able to do. For what its worth, their brain cases had  bigger volume than modern man's.  For that matter, archaic members of our own species also did, and I saw the same speech speculation about them a couple of years ago.  I have no doubt that both populations spent the evenings yakking it up and could speak just fine.  I also suspect that having a bigger brain case than modern humans means exactly what we might suppose it meant.

Keeping a Swimming Pool at NCHS

I was on the Natrona County High School swim team in 1978-1979 and 1979-1980.  I might have been in 1980-1981 as well, my senior year, but I can't quite recall.  When I was a high school senior I only went to high school half days, and then to college in the afternoon, so I can't really recall if I swam that year or not.  Seems to me that I did.

Natrona County High School, a classic structure built in 1923, but with a pool that is now less than 25 yards long and in need of replacement.

I'm not the first member of my family to swim at the NCHS pool.  My father (graduating class of 1946) did as well.  And we're certainly not the only ones.  My wife swam at the pool while attending NC, and my father in law did as well, learning how to swim there.  And now my son, who is a member of the NC swim team, does.

I also worked at the NC pool one year.  I was a swimming teacher and a life guard there.  I obtained my certification to do that in a NC PE class.

The pool is the oldest indoor pool in Wyoming.  Indeed, it's one of the oldest ones in the Western United States.  It'll be destroyed this summer and, right now, the ongoing presence of a swimming pool at NCHS is in jeopardy.

The pool will be destroyed as a massive renovation project is going on at old NCHS.  Indeed, a massive renovation project is also going on at Kelly Walsh High School across town as well, and they're very nice Olympic sized pool is also slated for removal and replacement, just like NC's.  The high school in Midwest is also in need of a new pool (I hadn't been aware, up until recently, that it had a pool).  So a lot is going on construction wise.

Indeed so much is going on construction wise that that the wisdom of that, in my view, is questionable.  The renovations at NCHS practically amount to building a new school, while keeping part of the old one, in the middle of town.  It'll take several years to complete and is well underway now.  The renovations at KW are not quite as extensive, but are massive by any measure.  The alternative high school, Roosevelt, is slated to receive a completely new building.  With this much going on the logical question does occur of whether simply building a new high school, on the west side of town, with a pool and full facilities (Roosevelt lacks athletic facilities entirely) would have been a much better ideal, with some necessary improvements to KW and NC.  That idea was floated, but it proved unpopular for some reason.  It was frankly a better idea.  That being the case, the renovations are in the works.

 https://scontent-a-dfw.xx.fbcdn.net/hphotos-frc3/t1/1510828_10202291225615740_2067177158_n.jpg
 The Kelly Walsh High School pool, which was built on an unstable hill in the 1960s. The pool has required renovations in recent years as it slides downhill, which will continue to happen and render this pool unserviceable at some point.

As part of this, the old NCHS pool will be torn down.  Logic would require that new pool be built, and there are plans to build one.  Indeed, not only logic, but the law may require it.

Wyoming's public schools are required to teach swimming, and for a very good reason.  It's for that reason that the state's high schools have pools, not for team athletics.  Long ago the Legislature recognized that swimming was the one and only athletic endeavor in high schools which saved lives.

Wyoming is a dry state, and unlike states with a lot of beachfront of one kind or another, a fair number of people, particularly rural people, never learn how to swim.  If you are living far out in the country, in Powder River, Lynch, or Kaycee, or any number of similar towns, there's no pools nearby and much of Wyoming's pond water isn't really suitable for recreational swimming. We do have water sports, particularly in the reservoirs, but that doesn't guaranty that a kid growing up here will learn to swim. . .until he hits high school.

The legislature determined that in order to address that, and help keep people from drowning, swimming should be incorporated into PE, the same way the Navy required (and perhaps still does) swimming instruction for recruits.  You might not come out the worlds best swimmer from high school PE, but at least you'll know how to swim.

And some do go on to really become avid swimmers.  To my surprise, my mother (who did not grow up here) once related to me that she'd learned to swim as a young adult.  She was an avid, and very good, swimmer, but she didn't learn until she was an adult  As an adult, she swam every day for decades.

Swimming is also one of the very few high school sports that actually also a life long benefit to the participants.  Here, I'll admit I'm remiss.  I was an okay competitive swimmer at that time, and did that for most of my youth, but after high school I've only occasionally swam.  But I do still know how.  Everyone who learns swimming in high school won't stick with it, but they can, and some will. 

That contrasts enormously with other high school sports.  Some are lifetime sports.  Tennis, skiing, and the "recreational sports" they now offer. But the classic high school sport, football, is just a young man's sport and that's it.  The percentage of men who play football after age 18, if they were high school football players, probably is something in the two digits, if not 1 even a few years after they graduate. By their 30s, it's down in the 1 digit for sure.  Football becomes a watching, not playing, game only a few years after the former stars graduate.

All of this argues strongly for a new pool to be built, as planned, at NC.  And I think it might be an untested legal requirement.  But here's the oddity, sporting facilities are not funded by the state in Wyoming, even while the construction of schools is.

There is a legitimate reason for this, as one of the oddities of school construction is that communities will spring for some sporting facilities before academic ones, and the state didn't want any part of that. But with some athletic facilities, such as gyms and pools, they're really part and parcel of the academics and shouldn't be viewed that way.  Indeed, as the state requires swimming be taught, it ought to include pools in the funding.

But here funding is not forthcoming from the state and so the school district is planning to ask for a bond from the voters.

Recent bond issues have not gone well here, except for Casper College. The voters seem willing to pass bonds for Casper College, but otherwise they've been stingy in recent years.  Or at least it seems so (no school bond issues have been floated, so we don't really know).  Casper College has seen massive reconstruction in the past few years.

This started when the county tried to float a bond for a new courthouse several years ago. The old one was long in the tooth and they came up with a plan to renovate it and asked for voter approval, but a movement developed against it and it was voted down. That controversy had its own oddities, so perhaps it doesn't mean much, but it did occur.  Ultimately, funding was found via some other route and the courts moved across the street to the renovated Townsend Hotel, which is now the courthouse.  No county bond money was used, however.

 
 The Depression era Natrona County courthouse, a beautiful structure, it was built with one courtroom.  Voters rejected proposed rennovations to it.

 
The Townsend Justice Center. Built as a first class downtown hotel, by the 1970s the Townsend was a flop house, but with a pretty good restaurant, home to the down and out and prostitutes.  It closed in the 1980s, and was renovated in the 2000s as a courthouse.

Following that, the library tried to obtain voter approval to move out of its antiquated home into a new facility.  I don't think they're campaign was what it should have been, which may explain their failure, but it fell flat and they voters told them to stay where they are.

Subsequently something similar was tried with a civic center, something we don't have but which a local committee has been planning for years. The center would, by my understanding, house the performing arts. Locals weren't sufficiently interested and funding commitments couldn't be met, so the project went to sleep, more or less.

A person may ask why all of this occurred, and frankly these stories may not be related. The courthouse project might have gone through but for the dedicated and somewhat misinformed leadership of the campaign against it, which spread some stories that were off the mark. And nobody is really that excited about courthouses anymore, even though at one time they were the center of a community.  The library campaign, in my view, was tainted by a certain atmosphere that seemed to be one of entitlement, which voters generally don't like.  And, frankly, the library has to better establish its relevance in an era when vast amounts of information can be had by turning on the your computer, and when you fear that your child is sitting next to some fellow at the library who hasn't showered since 1972 and whose looking up back issues of Skanky on the library computer.

The civil center might just frankly have been a bad fit for the community.  This city has always been very oil industry centric, and many people here just have no interest in a center for the performing arts. Again, they'll have to sell that better, or wait for a bigger town, I suspect.

But it also could be that we're in a boom right now and that impacts everything about our local economy and how people vote.  A large number of people are new here, and many of them really have roots in the states much further to our south.  Over time, the ones who stay will develop roots here, but right now, "home" is Bartlesville Oklahoma, or Odessa Texas, rather than Casper, for many.

 In this atmosphere, the Tribune took a pool and found that something like 57% or so of the voters approved the bond that was then being proposed, which also included proposed work to the NCHS stadium.  Most informed folks now that 57% is actually a pretty good percentage in an election.  A Presidential election that comes in that high is declared as "landslide" which creates a "mandate."  But here, where many elections are nearly uncontested, people are no longer use to the idea that an election in which a side doesn't roll in over 60% of the vote is normal.

Perhaps for that reason, the Tribune then came out against the pools. That's really bad as the Tribune has an influence, although not a commanding one.

Well, the current proposal relates solely to the pools.  And NCHS needs one.  I'm hoping that people realize that, and that the district continues to advance it.  If we omit one from NC, I think we may be in violation of the law, and we'll certainly be in violation of common sense.  Some rural kid isn't going to learn how to swim.  Those who naively state that it's okay for a student from one school to drive to another for that instruction live in a world of the future, where a car can get across a town whose roads were once cow tracks in 10 minutes. That day isn't here.  They'll just not learn it, we will have failed in our educational duty, and we're putting those kids at risk.

NCHS needs to get  a new pool.

Postscript:

The Natrona County School Board will be holding a session at University Park School on Monday January 27, 2014, at 7:30, which will discuss this topic. 

Postscript II

The board meeting last night drew a large crowd, a good number of whom were high school competitive swimmers.  Also, however, a fair number of faculty from NC and KW spoke in favor of keeping the swimming pool bond issue tied to the general bond issue, which is the matter really in dispute here.  Some very fine points were made.

One which I noted above was made by a businessman, who noted that 57% of the those polled is actually a very good percentage, particularly from the onset.  A Kelly Walsh math teacher who had analyzed the poll results made some good points about the small number of people polled and the degree to which that cast some doubt on the results.

Several people spoke very well on the teaching aspect of the pools, which is the primary point, really.  One speaker noted that school safety upgrades are on the general bond, but that statistically a child is much more likely to drown than be injured in any sort of school place violence.  And a NC teacher specifically noted the local instances of drowning that have occurred here, in recent years, every year and how failure to make the upgrades will undoubtedly contribute to that increasing as at first will loose one, and then sooner or later the second, pool.  Indeed, the KW athletics coordinator pointed out the numerous problems KWHS is presently having with their pool.

Postscript III

The pool bond issue hit both the Casper Star Tribune and the Casper Journal. The Journal ran a comprehensive article on the recent school board meeting, the Tribune ran an editorial.

The Journal's article had some very nice quotes contained in it, including some from the School Board which I think correctly shows the enthusiasm that actually exists for the pools.  The journal noted the following being said at the conclusion of the meeting.  I should note that these comments came at the end of the meeting. At one point the chairman of the board noted that they were not taking the matter up that night, and were moving on to the topic of dual language immersion, so that the people who came to support the school were free to leave, that topic having been concluded for the evening.  Apparently the board felt it should address the comments at the end of the meeting.
I  wish all the people were still here so I could tell them thank you for being so interested in caring,” said trustee Paula Reid. “We’ll have more to come on this, so I ask them to please stay tuned. We'll need their help.”
“We had roughly 25 people get up and passionately speak to the pools,” said trustee Suzanne Sandoval. “I don't see any way other than it needs to be one question, and I would actually question whether or not we need to go forward with the polling at this point.”
“I so appreciate all the people who came out in support of the pool,” said trustee Rita Walsh. “I would agree with Suzanne that I don't think it's necessary to go forward with more polling information at this point.
“I would like to thank and recognize all of the swimming community who showed up and the passion that they showed,” said trustee Kevin Christopherson. “I was born and raised in this town, and I swam in both pools — though there's not much left of the NC pool — but it's kind of scary to think that what our parents and grandparents built for us, out of purely taxes, that we couldn't do that for the future generations that are going to come and use these swimming facilities. So I have faith in Casper that this is going to pass. I think we should keep it as one question.”
“I, too, was really impressed by the passion that was felt in this room tonight,” said trustee Dave Driggers. “We're going to need that passion, we're going to need every one of these people that spoke, and their grandparents, and their parents, and to drag about five or six additional people to the polling places. If we can somehow be assured that this passion will remain in the next three months, not only through verbal support, but going to the polling places and actually voting, I agree with previous trustees comments that probably additional polling probably won't help that much in the question.”
“About the swimming, I would just like to say that passion is an amazing thing, it gets you all kinds of places you wouldn't expect,” said trustee Dana Howie. “I enjoyed listening to all the stories and … I took swimming lessons in the NC pool and I taught swimming lessons in the NC pool, and they need the pool, and then we also need to keep Kelly Walsh's pool viable and improve it if we can. And we can't forget Midwest either, because Midwest needs a pool; the school is part of that community, the school is the community. So I think that's just as important as well.”
The Casper Star Tribune, however, took a negative stand on the pool once again, calling it a "poison pill" on the bond issue.  The Tribune seems to feel that the vote for the bond will go negative if the pools are on it, even though over 50% of those poled are in favor of the bond issue right now.  The really weird thing about the Tribune's editorial, however, is that it fails to address that the separation of the bond issue  will mean that the separate topic will be for school safety enhancements.

That's odd, as swimming is not only a mandated topic for students in Wyoming, but it's also a mandated topic for safety reasons.  Next to driving, water poses one of the most substantial risk to life that there is.  We have drownings in this are every year and quite a few people do not learn how to swim until they are in high school.  The tribune just ignores that.

The tribune in particular ought to know better, as it's located nearly directly across from that part of the Platte River Parkway dedicated to river sports, and where there's been a drowning within the past few years.

It's odd that in this day and age we have such a skewed sense of risk that we make sure we teach certain safety related things, irrespective of the risk, and then will go on to urge the omission of others.  There has been an organization campaigning in the state recently to raise the driving age up to 18, for safety reasons.  The Tribune opposes that.  In school, we require kids to sit through a class with the euphemistic name of "life skills", even though that class trespasses on the beliefs of many parents, in the name of health safety.  The difference would simply seem to be a lack of understanding that pools equate with safety.

Postscript IV

From the Natrona County School District's website:

Central Services Facility

Public Notice - Board of Trustees to Hold Bond Issue Public Hearings
02.04.2014
Notice of Public Hearings
Natrona County School District No. 1
Board of Trustees

In accordance with Wyoming Statute 21-13-701(c) The Natrona County School District No. 1 Board of Trustees, prior to submitting a bond proposition to district voters, will hold public hearings for the purpose of providing an explanation of the need to obtain district funding for building and facility features that are in excess of state standards for buildings and facilities and taking public comment. The hearings are scheduled for:

Monday February 10, 2014 6:30 - 7:30 p.m.
Monday February 24, 2014 6:30 - 7:30 p.m.

The hearings will be held at the District Central Services Facility located at 970 N. Glenn Road Casper, WY.

Postscript V

 

Swimming Pools — NCSD Transform

Swimming Pools — NCSD Transform

Nice site on the proposed pools and the bond issue.

Here's the reason for the bond issue:  "While the State of Wyoming requires that Natrona County Schools operate and maintain a swimming pool to serve the needs of the district’s high school students, it is unwilling to pay for these facilities."  In other words, the state requires students have access to a pool (for safety reasons really), but won't pay for them.

If they aren't built, NCHS won't have one, and the district will arguably be immediately out of compliance with the law.  That would, quite frankly, seem to invite a law suit, which isn't the district's fault really, but that's what it might do.

Midwest, which tends to be the forgotten high school in the county, has an inadequate pool, would almost certainly seem to be out of compliance with the law without a new one.  For some reason, we tend to forget that Midwest even has a high school, let alone a pool, but they have both, and they need a new pool.

Here's something else worth noting:
The original proposal being discussed by the Board of Education has been
scaled back in scope and now includes the following projects:

  • Replacement of NCHS’s 85-year-old
    swimming pool
    with a new 8-lane pool, diving area

    and seating
  • Renovation of
    the existing KWHS swimming pool—including new pool equipment, plumbing,
    electrical, lighting and pool deck surface—providing 8 lanes, diving area and
    additional seating
  • Design and
    construction of a new Midwest Pool
    with new supporting equipment, plumbing,

    electrical (within the existing pool building), new roof and remodeled locker
    rooms, restrooms and offices
What this doesn't note is that without the bond issue, at least the NC pool will be gone.  It sounds like the younger KW pool is in a terminal state as well.  It's usable, but long term it doesn't look good for it.  While some people are balking at the cost, it's important to note:
The scaled-back
proposal for improving the district’s swimming pools is an estimated $5.8
million LESS than the cost of constructing one large aquatic center
to serve
the needs of the entire district. 
Note only is it less, but frankly the idea of "one large aquatic center" to serve the needs of the district is absurd.  No such central location can conceivably serve the needs of Midwest and we know it won't.  Those kids won't be bused across the county for swimming.  It'd take up at least half the school day, if the weather is good.

For that matter, swimming will drop off for both KW and NC students with a central pool.  Casper isn't that easy to get around in during the day, as any Casperite knows.  Students at NC, if they leave during the day, go west, not east, as that's the easy way for them to go.  KW students go east for the same reason.  Where could a pool even be built that would be only five or so minutes from both schools?  Nowhere.

And consider the actual pools. Here's the proposal for Midwest:

Midwest Pool.  A very rational sized pool, that the students there deserve.

And here's the one for NCHS.  Again, this is hardly a palatial pool, although it is one that would allow NCHS's swim team to have swimming meets in their pool for the first time in many many years.  Indeed, it's worth considering that should an increase in fuel costs ever cause the state to cease funding local busing, and that end up in terminating our county's unique "school of choice" system, about half the KWHS swim team would end up going to NCHS, assuming that, at that time, KW's team has a demographic similar to the existing team, and assuming that at that point in time KW still has a pool, which it very may well not, should the bond issue fail.

The real reason, of course, for the state requirement that the students have access to a pool is that their risk of dieing by drowning is reduced, a very worthwhile goal. And its that average student that the pools serve. These pools would do that job nicely, and the bond for them is well worth supporting. 
Postscript VI
Its interesting note how some will view projects of this type.
Having adequate swimming facilities at the county's three high schools (I sometimes think people in the county forget that Midwest even has a high school) benefits everyone.  It benefits everyone as it teaches a life saving skill, it benefits everyone as it teaches a lifetime sport, and the facilities have always been used by the public when not in school use.  And yet the Casper Star Tribune has been against them.
This morning, however, the Tribune is editorializing about the State Land Investment Board not funding, to the full extent of the request, a petition put in by Casper for a conference center.  The state will only fund half.  the Tribune complains about that and calls the board a "clown car" for its procedures in regards to this request and states that now the county must find a way to come up with the rest.
Oh?  Why is that?
The Tribune doesn't really bother to tell us, but basically we can surmise that it agrees with the logic advanced for this proposition. That is, it provides lacking conference space and facilities for Casper, which in turn causes Casper to fail to draw conferences we'd like to, which in turn would boost the local economy.

The argument is strained in several ways. For one thing, there's not really a shortage of big space in the community.  We have a college that allows its facilities to be used, and much of the college has just benefited from new construction.  We also have a selection of hotels, which by and large are the facilities that host such events in most places.  I've been at numerous conferences and classes in this city's hotels.  The opponents of the state funding have noted that they feel that essentially the state is being asked to enter into something that's the domain of private enterprise, and whether the proposal is a good one or not, the critics are at least partially correct on that score.

In contrast, the arguments in favor of the pools are the same ones that can be advanced for the conference center, but without the same counters.  We very well know in this community that some sporting facilities draw in enormous crowds to the town.  One that I would never have guessed would do this has been soccer fields, and yet it is now very well demonstrated that this towns soccer fields are a big draw during the soccer season, bringing in thousands of dollars in revenue.  Basketball does the same thing at the high school level, as does wrestling.  At the college level, the College Rodeo Finals are a huge event here.  Having two decent pools to replace the one going out and the one that's wearing down would do the same thing, and we should know that.

And yet, we also know that private enterprise doesn't build pools. Of the several pools in this town, there's only one that's a competitive meter pool, that being KWHS's.  NC's was when built, but it was a competitive yard pool, and subsequent construction has shortened it to 23, rather than 25, yards.  The diving boards were taken out some time ago.  Another yard pool belongs to the YMCA, which is not a private enterprise entity but the property of what few realize is actually a religious organization.  The town's aquatic center lacks a lane pool, and has rather sort of what I'd call a "fun" pool.  Unlike conference space, no private enterprise organization is going to build a competitive pool.

It's things like competitive pools, soccer fields, athletic facilities, that are a proper role of local governmental entities of various types.  It's odd that the Tribune would be boosting something that is arguably the role of private business, irrespective of whether it is a good idea or not, while opposing something that is clearly in everyone's best interest and not arena of private enterprise.

Second Story Radio • Episode 4: Here and Now and Naught Else In...

Second Story Radio • Episode 4: Here and Now and Naught Else In...



Nebraska's unusual capitol building.

Saturday, February 8, 2014

Holscher's Hub: Casper Mountain Sled Dog and Skiijourning Races, F...

Holscher's Hub: Casper Mountain Sled Dog and Skiijourning Races, F...: ...



Preserving an old method of travel as sport.

PHOTOS: Feet of Snow Bury the Alps, Dolomites of Italy, Austria and Switzerland; Ice Jams Slovenia - weather.com Homes Buried in Snow

PHOTOS: Feet of Snow Bury the Alps, Dolomites of Italy, Austria and Switzerland; Ice Jams Slovenia - weather.com Homes Buried in Snow

A couple of cold weather observations.

The most recent issue of the National Geographic has a nice article by Garrison Keillor about the area around St. Paul, and St. Paul, where's he's from.  It's a really nice article in lots of ways.

One of the photographs in the article is of a young couple, out on some ice, dressed for the weather.  Keillor notes that "as they were raised right", they're warmly dressed.  I sympathize with that statement.

The past couple of days it's been below 0F here.  Yesterday, when I dropped my daughter off at school, some kids were going into school wearing shorts.

Shorts?  Really, in this weather?

I know some young adults who do that too.  I don't get it.

Also, as a recent observation, the national news has been full of the shocking news that its winter, and its cold.

No kidding.

This morning, on the Today Show, which I do not watch but my wife does, one of the announcers was doing a "hash tag, enough already" routine.

Well, #get a clue, winter is cold.

Postscript 

-22F this morning.  Now that's cold. 

Postscript II

The cold must truly have set in by yesterday.  For one thing, I debated whether I needed to warm up my truck or not, as it was "only -9".  By the time that seems sort of warm, it's been pretty cold.

Secondly, for the first time the kids at junior high were wearing wool caps and nobody was wearing shorts.  About time. 

Friday, February 7, 2014

Military patrol (sport) - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Military patrol (sport) - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia



The Winter Olympics back in the day when some team sports were composed of military teams only, in both the winter and summer Olympics.

Thursday, February 6, 2014

USDA Blog » USDA Then and Now

USDA Blog » USDA Then and Now

Swimming Pools — NCSD Transform

Swimming Pools — NCSD Transform

Nice site on the proposed pools and the bond issue.

Here's the reason for the bond issue:  "While the State of Wyoming requires that Natrona County Schools operate and maintain a swimming pool to serve the needs of the district’s high school students, it is unwilling to pay for these facilities."  In other words, the state requires students have access to a pool (for safety reasons really), but won't pay for them.

If they aren't built, NCHS won't have one, and the district will arguably be immediately out of compliance with the law.  That would, quite frankly, seem to invite a law suit, which isn't the district's fault really, but that's what it might do.

Midwest, which tends to be the forgotten high school in the county, has an inadequate pool, would almost certainly seem to be out of compliance with the law without a new one.  For some reason, we tend to forget that Midwest even has a high school, let alone a pool, but they have both, and they need a new pool.

Here's something else worth noting:
The original proposal being discussed by the Board of Education has been
scaled back in scope and now includes the following projects:

  • Replacement of NCHS’s 85-year-old
    swimming pool
    with a new 8-lane pool, diving area

    and seating
  • Renovation of
    the existing KWHS swimming pool—including new pool equipment, plumbing,
    electrical, lighting and pool deck surface—providing 8 lanes, diving area and
    additional seating
  • Design and
    construction of a new Midwest Pool
    with new supporting equipment, plumbing,

    electrical (within the existing pool building), new roof and remodeled locker
    rooms, restrooms and offices
What this doesn't note is that without the bond issue, at least the NC pool will be gone.  It sounds like the younger KW pool is in a terminal state as well.  It's usable, but long term it doesn't look good for it.  While some people are balking at the cost, it's important to note:
The scaled-back
proposal for improving the district’s swimming pools is an estimated $5.8
million LESS than the cost of constructing one large aquatic center
to serve
the needs of the entire district. 
Note only is it less, but frankly the idea of "one large aquatic center" to serve the needs of the district is absurd.  No such central location can conceivably serve the needs of Midwest and we know it won't.  Those kids won't be bused across the county for swimming.  It'd take up at least half the school day, if the weather is good.

For that matter, swimming will drop off for both KW and NC students with a central pool.  Casper isn't that easy to get around in during the day, as any Casperite knows.  Students at NC, if they leave during the day, go west, not east, as that's the easy way for them to go.  KW students go east for the same reason.  Where could a pool even be built that would be only five or so minutes from both schools?  Nowhere.

And consider the actual pools. Here's the proposal for Midwest:

Midwest Pool.  A very rational sized pool, that the students there deserve.

And here's the one for NCHS.  Again, this is hardly a palatial pool, although it is one that would allow NCHS's swim team to have swimming meets in their pool for the first time in many many years.  Indeed, it's worth considering that should an increase in fuel costs ever cause the state to cease funding local busing, and that end up in terminating our county's unique "school of choice" system, about half the KWHS swim team would end up going to NCHS, assuming that, at that time, KW's team has a demographic similar to the existing team, and assuming that at that point in time KW still has a pool, which it very may well not, should the bond issue fail.

The real reason, of course, for the state requirement that the students have access to a pool is that their risk of dieing by drowning is reduced, a very worthwhile goal. And its that average student that the pools serve. These pools would do that job nicely, and the bond for them is well worth supporting.