Driving in the Gap sucks!

Maneuvering a refrigerated truck through the streets of Rapid City for three years teaches the driver a few things about traffic flow.

7am to 8:30 is bad. Noon is bad. 4:30pm to 6 is bad.

The train obstructs multiple egress opportunities simultaneously, often moving in the same direction as that restaurant that only allows deliveries during an open window closing in two minutes.

On one exasperating morning thirty years ago, I shouted out of the cab of the truck, "Omaha Street should be one way from West Boulevard to Mountain View and West Main should be one-way all the way to St. Joe!" True story.

Then, it dawned on me that Mountain View should be one-way to Jackson Boulevard, Jackson Boulevard should be one-way from Mountain View to West Main and Cross Street one way to Omaha St. Left-hand turn lanes appeared to me as if in a vision.

Why do people have to die before things get fixed?

Great Falls/Rapid City: Paranoid White People

From the Great Falls Tribune (note over 300 comments):

In 2004, Montana voters approved medical marijuana for the chronically ill and people in pain, but interest in the state program soared at the end of the decade. This year, a backlash against the number of medical marijuana patients in Montana — the total is expected to exceed 20,000 patients later this summer — has squelched medical marijuana businesses in cities such as Great Falls and Kalispell, which enacted bans, and also prompted moratoriums and provoked debates in many other Montana communities.

Businesses that sell marijuana are prohibited from operating in the city of Great Falls under a ban approved June 1 on a split vote by the City Commission.

One might expect vocal anti-government groups like the Citizens for Liberty to be out demonstrating its support for Initiated Measure 13 in Rapid City, except that these people are all for personal responsibility as long as GlaxoSmithKline knows better than the voters do.


Sturgis Rally: One Freakin' Huge Open House

Photo courtesy, Bob Newland.

The real estate signs line every roadway in the Black Hills. A couple days of cruising had ip confirming a buyers market at nearly every locality. As the choicest camping in the BHNF, the Camp 5 and Vanocker/Elk Creek areas, begin seeing early birds pitching tents and circling their RVs, thousands of property owners are pimping their listings to every passing biker.

Mountain states on wildfire alert

Montana can expect “a fast and furious but short” fire season in August, fueled by the tall grass that grew during the state’s wet and cool spring and is now drying, a federal official told Gov. Brian Schweitzer during a briefing Monday.

Meteorologist Mike Kreyenhagen, a meteorologist with the Northern Rockies Coordinating Group in Missoula, said the record wet and cool spring “eased, if not erased, the drought concerns we were looking at.”

Schweitzer reiterated that it is Montanans’ personal responsibility to protect their homes and to create defensible zones around them if they live in what’s known as the “wildland urban interface” or near wildlands such as forests, grasslands, parks, mountains and watersheds. About 4 percent of Montana homes fall in that category.


Helena, Tester tap problem pine for energy

From the Helena Independent Record.

"This year’s Energy and Water Appropriations Act passed the Senate Appropriations Committee Thursday. The legislation would provide $800,000 for the Tri-County Biomass Pilot Project, which would use woody biomass produced in Lewis and Clark, Jefferson and Broadwater counties to create renewable energy for the city of Helena. The three counties yield about 350,000 tons of biomass a year, from sources like dead trees.

The bill would provide all of the funding the county had requested for the project, which Sen. Jon Tester said is an indication of how good the proposal was.

“It makes sense for the region,” he said. “It makes sense for the country.”

Tester is part of the subcommittee that drafted the bill. He said the project is ideal because it creates jobs and addresses the concerns related to the number of trees that have been killed by pine bark beetles. If nothing is done about the dead trees, he said, they can put watersheds at risk and cause wildfires.

The Helena project would experiment with three different types of technology: a wood chip/pellet fuel arm at Carroll College, a boiler at a public works facility and a test unit for a pyrolysis system, which uses a high-temperature form of burning that produces less carbon dioxide than standard types of incineration. The project would help determine which of the technologies work best for the area’s needs before developing a full-scale plan, Tester said."

Rapid City, where the hell are you and where the hell is John Thune? Of course, BKH.


One Argument for Mexican Statehood

Here is a valid, well-written essay on the path toward Statehood for Mexico. The title of his party gives pause but the points outlined therein are really quite good. Here is the Wikipedia article on other State enabling acts. Let's figure out how to do this.

Senate sends settlement for Interior Department history of race hatred back to House

From NPR:

HELENA, Mont. July 23, 2010, 12:01 am ET The U.S. Senate has rejected a $3.4 billion government settlement with American Indians that had been added to a much larger war-funding bill.

The Senate passed the almost $60 billion bill funding President Obama's troop surge in Afghanistan late Wednesday — but not before stripping out the settlement and $20 billion in other domestic spending approved by the House.

The Senate's approval would have given the Obama administration the authority to settle a class-action lawsuit filed in 1996 by Elouise Cobell of Browning, Mont. Between 300,000 and 500,000 Native Americans claim the Interior Department mismanaged billions of dollars held in trust by the government.

The House attached the settlement to the war-funding bill earlier this month.

Thursday's vote marks the second time the settlement has failed to pass the Senate. It was originally included in the Democrats' jobs-agenda bill that was caught in a filibuster last month.

Senator Harry Reid released this statement:

“I hoped that tonight the Senate could finally right a wrong that has been left unresolved for far too long. But Republicans stood in the way. For the fourth time in three months, Republicans blocked approval of the Pigford 2 and Cobell settlements for black farmers and Native American trust accounts respectively.

“As recent events have reminded us, the fact that justice and fairness were denied to black farmers for so many years continues to have ramifications today. That’s why I have fought for so long to ensure that these groups, who were robbed of the resources and opportunities they rightly deserve, are made whole again.

“Republicans should be held accountable for standing in the way of justice for those affected. Their obstruction has not only hurt our economic recovery and our growth as a nation, it is now preventing individuals and families who suffered discrimination for decades from receiving a long-overdue resolution to their grievances.”


Woster brings lotic science to bear on Hills hobby mines

Kevin Woster is a personal hero. His commitment to understanding how anthropogenic activity affects the ecology of South Dakota takes him wading right out into the middle of the stream and usually moderates his often-contentious constituency to some semblance of consensus.

This post at Take it Outside has provoked a fascinating exchange among real scientists about the effects of the sediment propagated by stream disturbances on wildlife and geology. Good stuff!


Montana Medical Cannabis Comes of Age

"Standing in an indoor-growing barn where hundreds of marijuana plants are becoming tall and lush under bright lights, partners Robert Carpenter and Blake Ogle know it looks like they've got a gold mine.

A Kinder Caregiver, one of the first medical marijuana businesses to obtain a Bozeman business license, has already grown to the point it has five partners, 15 employees and around 270 patients in Bozeman, Butte and Billings. Their Bozeman storefront on Griffin Drive is discreet, they said.

"Our payroll is almost $60,000 a month," Ogle said. "We're going to have health insurance and dental."

"And profit sharing," Carpenter said. "We're setting up a 401k" retirement plan.

Despite such success, anything from an infestation of spider mites to changes in state law or a power shift in Washington could put them out of business - or worse.

Ogle said he became interested in the marijuana business four years ago, after seeing his late father, Bill, dying of leukemia and suffering under standard medical care. "I started thinking there has to be a better way to treat this," Blake Ogle said. He found studies that show marijuana can be beneficial for patients with cancer, Parkinson's and Alzheimer's diseases.

But if the 2011 Legislature repeals the medical marijuana law, Ogle said, "We could be growing organically grown tomatoes."

They could end up "sipping toddies in Barbados, Carpenter said, with a wry smile, "or in a federal penitentiary."


ip had sex with Bob Ellis and Bob Fischer

Yep, about a year ago while in Rapid City, ip had brief, but passionately romantic sexual encounters with both christian nationalists.

Ellis was clearly the more apprehensive of the two, but he soon loosened up after the interested parties got naked.

Fischer, on the other hand, was wild in bed and wanted ip to make love to him in ways previously never imagined. His recent essay in the Rapid City Journal surprises no one except that he has much to lose when his followers read this post.


Beehive Basin

The Odd Goddess and her intrepid mountain dog

Before the first bench
About halfway

just about to the lake

Upper Beehive Lake, looking Northwest

Upper Beehive Lake looking east to the Gallatin Range


National Folk Festival Packs Butte!

Here's a blog post Joani and ip were having too much fun to do! Our favorite was Tony Ballog and Roma Nota, the Hungarian Gypsy quartet. Huge turnout, Uptown Butte is a treasure.

Senators seek to end Cuba travel ban

From The Hill:

"A bipartisan pair of senators said Thursday they have the votes in the Senate to lift the longstanding U.S. ban on travel to Cuba.

Sens. Byron Dorgan (D-N.D.) and Mike Enzi (R-Wyo.) said they believe they have the 60 votes necessary to overcome a filibuster and lift the travel ban to the communist-held nation south of Florida.

The pair said they have 40 co-sponsors for their bill to lift the travel ban, and that they plan to move forward with their bill "in the remaining weeks of the legislative session," according to a joint release.

“It makes no sense to punish the American people by restricting their right to travel simply because our country is trying to punish the Cuban government,” Dorgan said in a statement.

"Decades of the same policy will get you the same result. We're hopefully about to change that and open up a new world for the people of Cuba," said Enzi.

The pair have pushed the change in U.S. policy, and the House Agriculture Committee advanced similar legislation on Wednesday.

But a supermajority of 60 votes will certainly be needed to pass the legislation through the Senate, and Dorgan and Enzi did not name how many senators, exactly, back their legislation.

Sen. Robert Menendez (D-N.J.), a Cuban-American, has said he would filibuster any bill to repeal the travel ban."


The American Revolution is still happening

The reading of the Declaration of Independence by members of the reporting staff at NPR gets me every time. Past on-air personalities, some now correspondents at the pearly gates, also read for this decades-old feature. The tears stream down my face right up to the line that begins, " He has excited domestic insurrections amongst us, and has endeavored to bring on the inhabitants of our frontiers, the merciless Indian Savages, whose known rule of warfare..."

That's when it hits me right between the eyes.

When those words were being written, thousands of cultures inhabited a continent that seemed to keep growing huge ripe plums just waiting for Madison, Jefferson, Hamilton and the rest to pick and pick and pick and pick. Already, the Chesapeake Bay estuary had been mostly denuded of native vegetation, not to mention of its former human inhabitants. Slaves tilled the fields and built the infrastructure, the ancestors of the Lakota and other Siouan groups that had been forced westward out of North Carolina generations earlier, traded with the Spanish and French while forging their own alliances (and marriages) with other indigenous peoples.

So, we've come a long way, init?

Mexico is a failed state. Mexicans know it and We the People know it. Let's ask our neighbors to petition for Statehood, join US with two Senators, the requisite number of Representatives, and continue the American Revolution for the Life, Liberty, and Pursuit of Happiness with Liberty and Justice for All.

Can the US Constitution handle it?


$3.4B Mea Culpa to Tribes Added to Defense Bill

From the Rapid City Journal:

"The U.S. House of Representatives attached a $3.4 billion government settlement with Indian trust beneficiaries to a war-funding bill it passed just before breaking for the July Fourth holiday.

The legislation authorizes the Obama administration to settle the Cobell v. Salazar lawsuit with between 300,000 and 500,000 American Indians. The lawsuit claims the Interior Department mismanaged billions of dollars held in trust by the government.

The settlement was one of several additions made late Thursday to the bill that authorizes funding for President Barack Obama's troop surge in Afghanistan.

The House had already authorized the settlement in May. But last month, it became caught in a Senate filibuster of the Democrats' jobs legislation."

And from the Buffalo Post:

“We expect that the Senate must give prompt and serious consideration to the bill because, without enactment, there are no funds for our war efforts and no funds for FEMA,” plaintiffs attorney Dennis Gingold said Friday. “The bill is too important to this country. Partisan politics must not obstruct passage.”

Gingold credited House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer with moving the settlement authorization forward, calling him a “true champion for individual Indian trust beneficiaries.” Hoyer’s office did not immediately respond to a request for comment Friday.

Sen. John Barrasso, the vice chairman of the Senate Indian Affairs Committee, has said the settlement should be a stand-alone bill with several changes, such as capping lawyer fees at $50 million.

Barrasso spokeswoman Emily Lawrimore said the Wyoming Republican was at a funeral Friday and could not immediately comment on the House’s action.

Under the proposed settlement, $1.4 billion would go to individual Indian account holders. Some $2 billion would be used by the government to buy broken-up Indian lands from individual owners willing to sell, and then turn those lands over to tribes. Another $60 million would be used for a scholarship fund for young Indians.

Lawsuit participants would receive at least $1,500, and many would receive considerably more.

Elouise Cobell, the Blackfeet woman from Browning, Mont., who filed the lawsuit in 1996, has urged passage of the settlement, saying it’s long overdue."