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Beach, North Dakota
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January 7, 2010     Golden Valley News
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January 7, 2010
 

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January 7, 2010 Page 3 Loving a piano recital Hello, You know, I was just thinking, and Shirley has warned me about that, that 2009 wasn't as bad a year as a lot of people think. At least for me. Oh, the markets went to heck. but then, I'm getting pretty darn used to that. The hay crop was good, which I'm not used to. And there were a few other bright spots. I played golf in the desert of Nevada. And played poker on the east coast. I made more trips to Oklahoma and Texas then I care to remember. I saw the devastation of the tornado, which just missed us, and I saw how a community can come together and rebuild. But one of the highlights of my year just took place a few days ago. In Harding County, South Dakota. I've told you about Harding County before. It's the county that always has the high wind warning when you watch the weather. It is a county that is short on topsoil, and long on gumbo and sagebrush. Sheep, cattle, jackrabbits, bald eagles, prairie dogs, and hardy peo- ple inhabit it. I've written to you about the community efforts when it comes to fighting fire, putting on a county fair, and raising their kids. I'm not sure if there is anywhere else quite like it. We went down last week to cele- brate Christmas with Carm's family. Oh, it was a few days late, what with the stoma and all. But we were lucky. It was the night of Gracy's first piano recital. Yes, piano recital ! Hat Tips By Dean Meyer It was the night of Gracy's first piano recital. Yes, piano recital! I knew that would excite you! I knew that would excite you! Well, I admit. I wasn't real excit- ed. I mean how could it compare with poker and pinochle! But you know what. it was magical! It wasn't held in a concert hall. Or even a school gym or anything like that. No, we headed over to a Jack's house across the Little Missouri. The moon was shining brightly off the snow of the past week. Winds had died down so you could see the few yard lights along the way. Gage was watching for rab- bits and trying to make sure I didn't hit any. l did hit one, but I think it was a glancing blow, because we couldn't see him on the way home'. When we drove around the drifts and into the yard. there was a beau- tiful log home decorated for Christmas. And when you went inside, it was magical. The good china was set out. a bowl of punch. and everyone brought a few snacks Chairs were lined up facing a baby Grand Piano, backed by a flickering fireplace (real wood), and Christmas decorations decked ihe halls. Really! And the piano students were there. Along with their instructor. The boys and girls were trans- formed into young men and women. The girls wore black satin dresses and heels. The boys had suits and tics. The piano teacher had traded her Carhart coveralls for a black gown and gold jewelry. You know how 1 dress. I fett  little out of place. We sat there with friends and neighbors, listening to Christmas music, played from memory, by a group of kids that was learning more than music There was a violin number. Short songs. Long songs. One young lady hld graduated to lessons in Spearfish, and I think will soon go beyond there. As I sat there that night, it gave me a good feeling. To see kids learning that it can be cool to dress up. That learning can be fun. That you don't need a video game or an i-pod to enjoy yourself. That the distance between neighbors doesn't' have to be measured in miles. I've learned that before I guess, but sometimes I need reminded. l'm sure in the morning; the ties were replaced with neck scarves, the suits and dresses with coveralls. 1 would guess the piano teacher was feeding cows. and the black gown was hung back in the closet. But for one old cowboy, thank you. You made my Christmas! Later, Dean .,a-. Merit selectic)n of judges may return coring and clJmate story started. His N.D. Matters By Lloyd Omdahl If invited, Justice O'Connor will talk to states interested in hearing about the merit system for choosing judges, something dear to her heart since working on a successful reform effort as a state leg- islator in Arizona. Most of our judges - including a majority of the N. D. Supreme Court - got their positions through appointment from a slate of nomi- nees furnished to the governor by a nominating committee. To strengthen the new appointees' hold on the office, the Legislature in 1998 proposed, and the voters approved, an amend- ment to guarantee an appointee at least two years in office before standing for election. Being able to run as an established incumbent was intended to discoOrage com- petition. It has worled. Three- I A nation-wide effort to encour- age states to change their methods for selecting judges is being launched by former U. S. Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O'Connor, who is now chairper- son of the O'Connor Judicial Selection Initiative for the Institute for the Advancement of the American Legal System at the University of Denver. If invited, Justice O'Connor will talk to states interested in hearing about the merit system for choosing judges, something dear to her heart since working on a successful reform effort as a state legislator in Arizona. Under the merit system, some- times called the Missouri Plan, a slate of nominees is presented to the governor by a judicial nomi- nating committee. The governor appoints one of the nominees who serves a fixed number of years before being placed on the ballot for acceptance or rejection by the voters. If rejected, the judge is replaced by a new gubernatorial appointment. Whether or not North Dakota will welcome a visit by Justice O'Conffor is a matter of conjec- ture. Such an effort would require the interest and leadership of poli- cymakers. In the early 1960s, the Legislature had that leadership and made a serious effort at adopt- ing the system. At that time, Senator William Reichert of, -- ,p i! Frosty the city Overnight fog results in this scene on Jan. 4 in downtown Beach. (Photo by Jane M. Cook.) Playing with Jello and deducing c limate change Dickinson led the charge for con- stitutional revision with the cor- ]'aerstone being a merit selection system for judges. The Legislature submitted the idea to the voters in 1966. It was rejected, with 47 per cent voting in favor and 53 per cent against. The election was so close that the Legislature resubmitted the ques- tion in 1968. only to have it reject- ed again by 44 to 56 per cent. While we don't have the full- blown Missouri Plan, our selec- tion system is pretty close to it. I hope you played with your food Roc Doc By Dr. E. Kirsten Peters when you were young. Perhaps you experimented at some point with pushing a drinking straw through Jello. If you twisted the straw as you r '1 removed it from your food, you I I Of all the places/ could sometimes trap a column of / gelatin in the straw. You then had [ where geologists ] the Choice of either blowing the i can core the Earth, / Jello at a sibling or, if your parents were at the table, gently squeezing [ our favorite spot is / the gelatin out of the straw onto [ peat bogs. That's / your plate with your fingers. Geologists take samples of [because peat is the ] ancient muck and mire in a way ]first step in the long ] similar to kids playing with Jello. We bang pipes down into the soft ] geologic process of ] Earth of lakebeds or peat bogs, pull [ producing coal,, and [ them up, and push out nari:ow columns ofnmd inside. The muck is [ geologists are inor- ] composed of ninny, many layers that go btck in time.,We geo!,ogists I dinately fond of all call tiffs ,activity "coring, and I fossil fuels. / although its physically tough work, I J it's no more complex than jamming straws into Jello. cataloging. The reason geologists make Pollen is surprisingly sturdy cores of mud is that low spots on the stuff. It will remain intact toy literal- Earth, can record the climate of ly thousands of years, lying in a Earth s past. Evidence geologists layer of muck, waiting for a geolo- get from coring lakebeds and peat- gist to come along, core it, and iden- bogs has taught us just how fie- tify the plant that produced it. quently both regional and global cli- If you have allergies, you know mate changes, pollen is blown around on the A Scandinavian geologist got the slightest breeze. That's the basic fact that makes pollen much better than twigs or leaves for telling us past climate. Pollen reflects all the plants in a whole region. If you know the identity of the whole range of plants in a region, you know pretty well what the cli- mate must have been like, both in terms of temperature and precipita- tion. (Think of gardening "zones.") And once you've described the pollen from a core. you can make a carbon-14 date of a twig and assign a specific age to the climate you've been able to deduce. Ancient pollen makes it crystal clear that climate varies again and again over whole regions on Earth. name was Lennart von Post, he lived and worked around 1900, a,d he was the first geologist to careful- ly :investigate what cores of muck could reveal about past climates. Of all the places where geolo- gists can core the Earth, our favorite spot is peat bogs. That's because peat is the first step in the long geo- logic process of producing coal, and geologists are inordinately fond of all fossil fuels. So it was quite natu- ral that yon Post started coring the ancient remains of plants and mud layers that make up .the peat of southern Sweden. Little fragments of twigs and fourths of our judges faqe no com- I leaves dan be preserved in peat, and petition in elections ?,' ! f. ","  if" you can identify/ the species of Wth a vast majority of ou ' ' . . -plant that produced such material ludges already being appointed  " ...... ',i' you have your first clue about pabst going to the merit system would be I "matP i inn .. D ........ !- ch...a. .n a reg .... Vo .... s ...... a short sty But it could be a hard1 , .... " P"  to work dentffymg uch bts of old sell, iven the North Dakota cul-l 1 nt but .........  i p a s, ne also naa me wit [o tural bent for Ion,, ballots Our cul-i . ,.., ,. .... .... ; ,. .... h . " i look d.I. UI5 I.HkICHt IIIIIK;; LIIIUUII t ture suggests that all issues ought!' . , . ".'' , ./" ," . f;l microscope. What he dscovered to De ueclaeo on me oass o. r ago. That era was much warmer than today. Some of the great shifts in cli- mate were global in scope, some were only regional. And just to give us all nightmares, some of the biggest shifts in temperature occmTed in just 20 years or so - well within a single human lifetime. Studying past climates demands strength in the field, patience in thor lab, strong eyes for microscope work - and plenty of couraze, too. The simple but brutal factis that. major and minor climate change is woven into the fabric of the Earth itself. Just for example, in northern Europe where von Post first worked, there have been ten major climate intervals in the last 15,000 thousand years. Each of these shifts was sub- stantial. The warmest era - when oak forests covered the lowland of Sweden was what we :eologists , was that he could identify ancient call "the Optimum," the bahny majority rule when judges are sup-:; pollen in the layers of peat he was times of about 6,000 to 8,000 years posed to be chosen, not for their ff popularity but for their faithfulness {:',t to the law and the constitution, i If we were honest, we would admit that most of us lack the I information and the understanding !i that is required t 'nake ratinal  ii i Calu ...... 872-3755 NO'lrHINC MOIII(| i fordetailsl LIKI NIWSPAPER ADVIERTISING. ...... ' iii ; i ,i, Notice to Our Valued Subscribers If your subscription expires, or if you are a new customer, it may require about two weeks before your subscription starts or restarts, depending on the day your payment arrived, This is because all mailing labels have to be printed two weeks in advance to help ensure timely delivery. If you change your mailing address, please notify the News and Pioneer office with your new address, also in advance of your move. The Postal Service does not forward periodicals such as newspapers and discards them. decisions on the qualifications of} judges. The knowledgeable mem-' bers of nominating colnmittees: and governors are better able to assess the virtues required for that i office. The best coverage of the area's news, sports and community events! You'll find it here! 'Bu,mn Court Prom (Dr. E. Kirsten Peters is a native of the ruralNorthwest, but was trained as a geollogist at Princeton and Hari, ard. Questions about sci- ence or energyfi)'Jiaure Rock Docs can be sent to epeters@wsu.edu.) Letters to the editor The Golden Valley News and Billings County Pioneer welcomes let- ters to the editor. The letters must include the author's signature, address and phone number for verification of atnhorship. Mail them to: Golden Valley News/ Billings County Pioneer PO Box 156 Beach, ND 58621 We reserve the right to shorten let- ters, edit out factual em)rs and reject those deemed libelous, in l:x)or taste or of a personal nature. Golden Valley News p.o. Box 156, Beach, ND 58621 (U.S.P.S. Pub. No. 221-280) Staff: Richard Volesky, editor, reporter, advertising and office manager; Jane Cook, office and news assis- tant; Ellen Feuerhelm, news and office assistant. The Golden Valley News is published each Thursday, 22 Central Ave., Suite 1, Beach, ND 58621 by Nordmark Publishing, Rolla, ND. Periodicals postage paid at Beach, ND and additional mail- ing offices. POSTMASTER: Send address changes to: Golden Valley News, P.O. Box 156, Beach, ND 58621. Please allow two to three weeks for new subscriptions, renewal of expired subscrip- tions and for address changes. Contact Information Phone: 701-872-3755 Fax: 701-872-3756 Email: gvnews@midstate.net Subscriptions 1 year: $31 Golden Valley and Wibaux counties 1 year: $34 elsewhere in North Dakota 1 year: $37 out-of-state 9 months: $19 In-state college rate The Golden Valley News is a proud member of the North Dakota Newspaper Association. Playing The Princess & the Frog