The GeoChristian

The Earth. Christianity. They go together.

Natural Bridge Falls

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My favorite waterfall in Montana is Natural Bridge Falls, located on the Boulder River, south of Big Timber. At high water—such as in this photo taken this spring—some of the water flows over the top of the cliff, while a considerable part of the flow comes out of caves in the side of the cliff. Later in a dry summer and into the fall and winter, the flow is restricted to the caves. On the right side of the photo, you can see where the river flows into what appears to be a rather large room of a collapsed cave. The Boulder River likely flowed through this cavern before it collapsed. Shortly around the corner to the right, the river disappears into a rubble of limestone boulders, also partly the product of cavern collapse.

The caverns, waterfall, and downstream canyon are all in limestones of the Mississippian Madison Group.

The waterfall is about thirty minutes south of Big Timber, and has a paved trail with interpretive signs. There are also dirt paths that go along the river and down to the plunge pool. Also of geological interest in the area are some excellent exposures of the Stillwater Complex, one of the world’s most famous layered intrusions. I brought home a beautiful piece of anorthosite for my rock garden.

July 3, 2014 Posted by | Geology, Montana | , | Leave a comment

Eagle Formation, Billings Montana

One of my favorite places to hike in the Billings area is Zimmerman Park, which is mostly atop the Rimrocks, a cliff formed by sandstone of the Cretaceous Eagle Formation. The Eagle Formation is usually interpreted to be either a barrier island deposit, similar to Padre Island in Texas, or a shallow marine sand bar that ran parallel to the shoreline. The sand was deposited in the Western Interior Seaway, a shallow body of water which stretched across North America from the Arctic to Gulf of Mexico. From Billings, sedimentary rocks become increasingly marine-dominated to the east, and terrestrial to the west.

Here are a few pictures from today’s late afternoon hike:

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Sacrifice Cliff (Eagle Formation), east of downtown Billings. The top of the cliff is about 500 feet above the base of the talus slope. Crow Indian legends state that men (the number varies depending on the version of the legend) jumped off the cliff during a smallpox outbreak.

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Eagle Formation from above Zimmerman Trail.

Ponderosa pine saplings growing out of a fracture on top of a bedding plane.

Ponderosa pine saplings growing out of a fracture.

Concretions (iron-

Concretions weathering out of the sandstone.  Concretions are post-depositional features formed when cement (in this case iron oxides) accumulates around some sort of nucleus. The concretions are then more resistant to erosion than the surrounding sandstone. The Earth Science Picture of the Day has featured concretions from the Eagle Formation.

Me standing next to a concretion.

Me standing next to a concretion.

Concretions and weathering.

Concretions and weathering.

Sunset over the Yellowstone River valley.

Sunset over the Yellowstone River valley.

 

March 24, 2013 Posted by | Billings Geology, Geology, Montana, Montana Geology | , , , | Leave a comment

Around the web 3/3/2013

I’m enjoying a good thundersnow (or some call it a snunderstorm); the first blizzard thunderstorm I have experienced in Montana (I have seen it happen in Utah, Colorado, and I think Missouri). The temperature dropped from 59°F to 32° in less than thirty minutes, and it started to snow and blow really hard. I love Montana.

The Billings Gazette has some good pictures of the storm as it approached Billings.

What’s going on in the wider world of the world wide web?

JUST MAYBE PERHAPS THERE COULD POSSIBLY BE SOMETHING WRONG WITH YOUNG-EARTH CREATIONISM — Ken Ham of Answers in Genesis is concerned that much of the criticism of his young-Earth ministry comes from Christians. Count me in — there are plenty of good reasons why Bible-believing Christians criticize Answers in Genesis. YEC organizations like AiG teach secondary doctrines as primary, take a my-way-or-the-highway approach to these secondary issues, insist on a hyper-literal reading of the inspired Word of God, publish massive amounts of really bad science, and set our young people up for a fall. YEC isn’t Biblically necessary, nor is it scientifically feasible.

“Ham has made it clear that AiG’s main thrust is not “young Earth” but simply biblical authority.”

No, it is not about biblical authority. I, like many old-Earth Christians, do believe the Bible. I just don’t believe much of what comes out of the YEC community. And there is a big difference.

JUST MAYBE PERHAPS THERE COULD POSSIBLY BE SOMETHING WRONG WITH THE TEA PARTY WING OF THE G.O.P. — On top of the radical anti-environmentalism and xenophobia that pervades the Tea Party, there are plenty of Tea Partiers like the chairwoman of the Yellowstone County Republican Party, who posted what most of us would view as a racist anti-Obama picture on her Facebook page. From the Billings Gazette: Local GOP leader criticized for Facebook post. A screenshot can be seen at Daily Kos and MT Cowgirl (left wing equivalents of the right wing Tea Party).

THE BIBLE AS REALITY TV — A new Bible miniseries is coming to the History Channel. One of their consultants appears to be TV prosperity preacher Joel Osteen:

Osteen said much of his work was confirming if the extrabiblical material stayed true to the Bible.

Ummmmm, I’d prefer if he go back to some of his books to double-check how well they stayed true to the Bible. The message of Christianity is not salvation from unhappiness by doing our best.

DOMINION IS THE OPPOSITE OF DOMINATION — The Ecologist has an article about the growth of the “Creation Care” movement, especially among younger Evangelicals.

“As Christians we’re called to care for creation, because God created it, and saw it was good, and loved it,” [Wheaton biology student Erik Swanson] explains. “Also I think we have a responsibility to care for all of God’s people, and I don’t think you can say you love people if you’re destroying the environment they depend on.”

WALKING AWAY FROM CHRISTIANITY — From Marc5Solas — Top 10 Reasons Our Kids Leave Church.

The statistics are jaw-droppingly horrific: 70% of youth stop attending church when they graduate from High School. Nearly a decade later, about half return to church.

Let’s just be honest, most of our churches are sending youth into the world embarrassingly ignorant of our faith. How could we not? We’ve jettisoned catechesis, sold them on “deeds not creeds” and encouraged them to start the quest to find “God’s plan for their life”.

The solution, however, is not to give them more young-Earth creationism, as Answers in Genesis is pushing in their Already Gone book. YEC is part of the problem, not part of the solution. I would put it in the “They got smart” category of the top 10 reasons. When they see that it just doesn’t work, our young people throw away their Christianity along with their Dr. Dino DVDs.

EKALAKASAURUS — The Carter County Museum (in the GeoChristian ancestral home of Ekalaka, Montana) has an excellent fossil collection, and is getting some help from Montana State University (The GeoChristian alma mater). From the Billings Gazette: A FOSSIL MECCA – MSU students revitalizing Carter County Museum.

I haven’t been to Ekalaka for a few decades; it might be time for a road trip. I hope they still have the two-headed calf.

A WORLD OF PERSECUTION OF CHRISTIANS — In Egypt: Islam or death? Egypt’s Christians targeted by new terror group. In Saudi Arabia: Saudi religious police arrest Ethiopian workers for practicing Christianity. In the Middle East as a whole: Religious Change in the Middle East.

In my previous “Around the Web” post, I linked to a story in Christianity Today about the persecution of house churches in China. CT has two followup stories: China Isn’t Trying to Wipe Out Christianity and Persecution in China Is Very Real.

And to be fair: Atheists around world suffer persecution, discrimination (though the report could not point to a single person who had been executed in the world in the past year for being an atheist).

A GOOD PLACE — The Today Show lists my home town, Billings, Montana, as the third best place in the United States to raise a family. If only we had a Chick-fil-A.

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Well, that took two hours. The thundersnow has ended and it has all turned to slush, which will turn to ice. I blame it on global warming.

March 3, 2013 Posted by | Around the Web, Creation Care, Environment, Montana, Politics, Young-Earth creationism | , , , , , | 4 Comments

There is more than one way to be really wrong about the environment

In between sessions at the young-Earth creation seminar I attended last month, there was a promotion for an upcoming anti-environmentalist documentary entitled “Axed: The End of Green,” created by Montana filmmaker J.D. King. According to the promotional video, the objective of the documentary will be to expose “the dark side of the green movement for what it really is.”

I can tell that Mr. King likes nature; there are plenty of shots of him hiking or driving in the mountains of Montana. This is a very good thing, and actually a point of common ground between him and those in the environmental movement. Here’s the video (less than three minutes long):

The video begins with film clips from radical environmental groups such as this: Earth First! mourning the loss of a tree. When I watch a video like this, my first response is that I don’t know whether to laugh or cry. I have a little bit of common ground with the Earth Firsters—I like trees—but their biocentric/ecocentric philosophy has a number of problems, and is seriously out of balance in regards to the place of humans in the creation. If all environmentalists were like this, it would be rather easy for most people to dismiss the entire movement. But a strong majority of environmentalists are not like this.

Like Mr. King, I am convinced that there are potential dangers in the environmental movement, such as threats to individual liberty, property rights, and free markets. I would add that the pantheistic underpinnings of much environmental philosophy are not only wrong, but are actually inadequate as a foundation for a robust ecological understanding.

The shots of Mr. King splashing through mountain streams alternate with clips of mining, oil tankers, and closed logging roads; along with short statements from citizens who are concerned about jobs and the economy.

It would have been nice if the video, at this point, had presented a plea for balance: Not just wilderness, not just development, but a sustainable balance in which the environment is protected for the glory of God, the good of people, and the fruitfulness of the creation, which are all aspects of a Biblically-informed environmental ethic. Instead, there was an urgent call: “We demand that green be removed from the political platform!”

The jaw-dropping quote from the video was this:

“…The farmer, the miner, the foresters; their freedom must be returned to them to manage their affairs the way they know is best, because they are wiser than any bureaucrat…”

Farmers and foresters often take very good care of the land, and can also—even if they own the land and know what is right—sacrifice long-term health of soil and ecosystems for the sake of short-term profit.

It was the inclusion of “the miner” that I found astonishing. I am not opposed to mining, but it was rather incredulous that the speaker would say that mining companies would take better care of the land if they didn’t have bureaucratic regulators blocking their way. As my Sunday School teacher said when I told him this, “Has this guy ever been to Butte?”

Butte, Montana -- 19th & 20th century mining created the United States' largest complex of EPA Superfund cleanup sites, mostly before effective regulation. Image -- ArcGIS Imagery Basemap

Butte, Montana — 19th & 20th century mining created the United States’ largest complex of EPA Superfund cleanup sites, mostly before effective regulation. Image — ArcGIS Imagery Basemap

This is libertarianism run amok. This is conservatism—and I am a conservative—at its worst. What is it that this let-the-miners-mine-the-earth-unhindered type of conservatism actually seeks to conserve? Land? Resources? I don’t know.

The basic problem with this laissez-faire anti-environmentalism is that it, like Marxism and liberation theology, grossly underestimates human sin. Many conservatives have no difficulty seeing the dangers of big government, or the moral decay in our society, but somehow give a free pass to large corporations, forgetting that these too are run by sinful people. Because of this sin, and the Biblical role of government to restrain sin, sufficient regulation of industry, including mining, is necessary in order to ensure the long-term health and flourishing of both humans and the natural world. To say that either people or nature would be better off if government bureaucracy would just get out of the way is neither Biblical nor conservative.

The environmentalists on the left often err by being overly biocentric or ecocentric; leaving God and people out of the picture. The anti-environmentalists on the right often err by being overly anthropocentric; too centered on humans with their individual rights and needs. A more Biblical approach is a theocentric environmental philosophy that acknowledges God as Creator and Lord of all, humans as responsible stewards of the creation, and nature as God’s handiwork: glorifying its Maker, providing for human needs, and worth being protected for its own sake. There is nothing Biblical or good in a conservatism that facilitates abuse of nature rather than seeking to conserve and protect it.

Grace and Peace

P.S. There is no connection intended between the teaching of Nathaniel Jeanson of ICR and the documentary “Axed: The End of Green.”

Additional blog posts on the environment can be found at https://geochristian.wordpress.com/category/environment/

December 4, 2012 Posted by | Creation Care, Environment, Montana, Nature, Videos | , , , , , | 7 Comments

Trap shooting, geology, and Romans 12

I went trap shooting for the first time this weekend, at a church men’s retreat near Nye, Montana:

photo by Craig Nelstead

For those who are interested, I’m standing on a terminal moraine, with the Beartooth Mountains behind me. I looked for erratics from the Stillwater Complex, and may have found a boulder of anorthosite.  The valley in front of me is carved into an anticline that parallels the mountain front, and the hills in the mid distance are Upper Cretaceous sandstones. The hills in the further background on the right are volcanic rocks (andesitic breccias/lahars) of the Upper Cretaceous Livingston Group, with the vent being a few miles to the west.

The theme of the retreat was “Renewing Our Minds,” and was based on Romans 12, which begins with

Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God—this is your spiritual act of worship. Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. (Rom 12:1-2 NIV)

The highlights of the teaching for me weren’t necessarily the main points that our speakers were emphasizing, but here they are:

  • The starting point in the Christian life is always what Paul starts with in Romans 12: the mercy of God. Everything we do flows out of God’s mercy expressed in Christ. Because of this we need to be constantly reminded of the Gospel.
  • One way that we conform to the world is in the effort we put into making ourselves look good to others. I don’t mind that others know about how good our kids are doing, that I was a missionary in Romania, or about my achievements at work, but I don’t want them to see my failures and hurts.
  • If we really understood God and ourselves, we would be humble. Our tendency is to think we are better than we really are.
  • When we see God as he really is, ourselves as we really are, and the people around us as they really are, we will move from being centered on ourselves toward ministering in the lives of others.

Grace and Peace

November 13, 2011 Posted by | Christianity, Geology, Montana | 2 Comments

Gneiss Chert

I haven’t been blogging lately, but I have been enjoying being back home in Montana. Here I am with my “Gneiss Chert” t-shirt that I got for my birthday a few months ago. The waterfall is Undine Falls in northern Yellowstone National Park.

Grace and Peace

P.S. This waterfall was on the cover of the July 1977 issue of National Geographic:

September 24, 2011 Posted by | Geology, Montana | , , , , | Leave a comment

Home in Montana

I have a new home and a new job in a new state. It is good to be back home in Montana.

And it is good to be able to enjoy snow in June. Here I am as close to Beartooth Pass on the Montana-Wyoming border northwest of Yellowstone National Park as we could get by car last weekend.

The snowpack is exceptionally deep and long-lasting this year, which should lead to additional flooding as it all begins to melt in the upcoming weeks. According to the Billings Gazette, snowpack across Montana stands at 257% of normal for this time of year.

I hope to get a little more active on The GeoChristian in the upcoming weeks.

Grace and Peace

June 10, 2011 Posted by | Montana | 1 Comment

Billings Gazette geology videos

The Billings Gazette has three short videos on the geology of the Billings, Montana area featuring Rocky Mountain College geology professor Derek Sjostrom:

Geology of the Beartooths — Montana’s highest mountain range (Granite Peak, 12799 ft, 3902 m) has a core of 3.2 billion year old metamorphic rocks.

Geology of the Pryors — The Pryor Mountains (East Pryor Mountain, 8786 ft, 2678 m) south of Billings are formed mostly of blocks of Paleozoic sedimentary rocks.

Geology of the Rimrocks — The Rimrocks are Cretaceous sandstone cliffs on the north side of Billings. The fossils and structures indicate that the Eagle formation formed in a barrier island setting, much like modern Padre Island in Texas.

These are at a very basic level, but I still enjoyed them, and it looks like there are more to come in the series.

WordPress won’t let me embed these videos.

May 18, 2011 Posted by | Billings Geology, Geology, Montana, Montana Geology | , , , | Leave a comment

Montana

I moved from Romania to Colorado in 2008. I moved to Missouri in 2009. I’ll be moving “home” to Montana in a few weeks.

John Steinbeck wrote, “I am in love with Montana. For other states I have admiration, respect, recognition, even some affection, but with Montana it is love.” Here are three videos from Leadership Montana that hint at why Steinbeck may have felt this way:

My work on the blog could be a little sparse in the upcoming weeks.

Grace and Peace

May 11, 2011 Posted by | Montana | 3 Comments

Rock fall in Billings hits house, again

Video from the Billings Gazette: Rimrock boulder destroys video camera (I haven’t figured out to embed this on on my WordPress blog).

Slideshow: Gallery: Falling rocks.

Article: Crews succeed in pushing slabs off Rimrocks cliff.

Here’s another video, but it isn’t nearly as good as the “Rimrock boulder destroys video camera” linked to above:

As a teenager I would climb in the cracks between the Rimrocks and the slabs of rock that were slipping away from the cliff at a millimeter per year. Those boulders make nice landscaping for expensive homes at the base of the cliff, but…

Grace and Peace

April 26, 2011 Posted by | Billings Geology, Geology, Montana, Montana Geology | , , | 1 Comment

Around the web 1/29/2011

Credit: Missouri Department of Conservation

Mountain lion in St. Louis County! — This doesn’t happen too often. A night-time wildlife camera captured a mountain lion in suburban St. Louis, less than ten miles from our home. We’re a little more used to opossums, raccoons, deer, and wild turkeys around here.

I don’t worry too much about mountain lions when hiking in Missouri. I’ve never seen one in the wild while hiking in the West (I’ve lived in Montana, Utah, and Colorado), but I suspect they have seen me.

From the St. Louis Post-Dispatch: Mountain lion spotted in suburban St. Louis.

From the Missouri Department of Conservation: Chesterfield sighting confirmed to be a mountain lion.

Yellowstone Supervolcano eruption NOT imminent — From National Geographic: Yellowstone Has Bulged as Magma Pocket Swells. The ground within the Yellowstone Caldera has swelled upwards up to ten inches (25 centimeters) as magma slowly intrudes into a magma chamber 10 kilometers beneath the surface.

“At the beginning we were concerned it could be leading up to an eruption,” said [University of Utah geologist] Smith, who co-authored a paper on the surge published in the December 3, 2010, edition of Geophysical Research Letters.

“But once we saw [the magma] was at a depth of ten kilometers, we weren’t so concerned. If it had been at depths of two or three kilometers [one or two miles], we’d have been a lot more concerned.”

Apparently, intrusion into the magma chamber is somewhat cyclical:

Based on geologic evidence, Yellowstone has probably seen a continuous cycle of inflation and deflation over the past 15,000 years, and the cycle will likely continue, Smith said.

Surveys show, for example, that the caldera rose some 7 inches (18 centimeters) between 1976 and 1984 before dropping back about 5.5 inches (14 centimeters) over the next decade.

IBM Supercomputer wins Jeopardy — The 1997 computer victory over chess champion Garry Kasparov was nothing compared to this one. Chess is complex, but the logic of chess is nothing compared to the complexities of language as expressed in the TV gameshow Jeopardy. PCmag.com reports that the Watson supercomputer defeated two Jeopardy champions at the game, which means that the computer could understand the nuances of the categories and questions (actually the answers). The author believes that artificial intelligence (AI) will operate at human levels within two decades, and adds “I for one would then regard it as human.” He continues, “By the time the controversy dies down and it becomes unambiguous that nonbiological intelligence is equal to biological human intelligence, the AIs will already be thousands of times smarter than us.”

From PC Magazine: Why IBM’s Jeopardy Victory Matters (three parts) by Ray Kurzweil.

My questions:

  • Is there more to being human than being able to process information? (The Christian answer is “yes.” Humans are created in the image of God, and some things such as genuine emotions just cannot be programmed.)
  • How long will it be until someone falls in love with a computer? Until someone gets married to a computer?
  • What will stop the Episcopal Church or ELCA from ordaining computers as pastors? (Too bad these denominations don’t require baptism by immersion; that would prevent computers from being eligible for ordination).

HT: John C

Ski Joring Championship — Huh? From the Billings Gazette: World Ski Joring Championships in Whitefish.

The event involves horses and riders pulling a skier who navigates a course with a series of jumps and gates.

Somehow I missed that in the last Winter Olympics.

Stairs are more fun — I almost always take the stairs at work, rather than the elevator. I figure that I climb about 40,000 feet per year, which is more than climbing Mount Everest. But the stairs at work are not this fun…

Grace and Peace

January 29, 2011 Posted by | Christianity, Fun, Geology, Montana, Technology | , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Around the web 12/30/2010

Wikipedia: Eurypterid (from Ernst Haeckel's Kunstformen der Natur (1904))

Eurypterids in the petting zoo? — Eurypterids—the giant, scorpion-like arthropods of Ordovician to Devonian seas and lakes—may not have been the terrors of the waters that most have assumed. From FoxNews: Ancient 8-Foot Sea Scorpions Probably Were Pussycats. Some may have been vegetarians or scavengers, though the researchers acknowledge that species other than the ones they studied may have been predators.

Gasoline prices — From CNNMoney.com: $5 for a gallon of gasoline in 2012.

The former president of Shell Oil, John Hofmeister, says Americans could be paying $5 for a gallon of gasoline by 2012. In an interview with Platt’s Energy Week television, Hofmeister predicted gasoline prices will spike as the global demand for oil increases.

HT: Geology News

Voyager 1 at edge of solar system — It is amazing to me that we are still in contact with the Voyager 1 probe, which is now 17.4 billion kilometers from the sun. From NASA:

December 13, 2010: The 33-year odyssey of NASA’s Voyager 1 spacecraft has reached a distant point at the edge of our solar system where there is no outward motion of solar wind.

Now hurtling toward interstellar space some 17.4 billion kilometers (10.8 billion miles) from the sun, Voyager 1 has crossed into an area where the velocity of the hot ionized gas, or plasma, emanating directly outward from the sun has slowed to zero. Scientists suspect the solar wind has been turned sideways by the pressure from the interstellar wind in the region between stars.

The event is a major milestone in Voyager 1’s passage through the heliosheath, the turbulent outer shell of the sun’s sphere of influence, and the spacecraft’s upcoming departure from our solar system.”

Praying for my children — I’m moving towards using prayer books rather than spontaneous prayers. I find that this helps me to concentrate better, and tends to be much richer in the use of Scripture than when I pray on my own. Here’s an example of a Scripture-saturated prayer for one’s children from a book I don’t have called Starck’s Prayer Book:

“Heavenly Father, immediately after their natural birth, I placed them into the arms of Your mercy in Holy Baptism.  Behold, I now do the same in my prayer.  Bless my children. Attend them in their going out and their coming in.  Keep them in Your holy fear, that they may never burden their consciences with sins or offend You, or worst of all, fall from Your grace.  Give them believing, humble, obedient, and godly hearts, that, like the child Jesus, they may increase in stature, wisdom and favor with God and men.  Imprint on their hearts the image of Jesus in order that they may always keep, until their blessed end, a gracious God and an unstained conscience. Let my children be devout in their prayers, well-grounded in their Christian faith, steadfast and zealous in worship, chaste in their living, godly in their conversation, so that by their words and actions they may give offense to no one and thus bring upon themselves a fearful judgment.  Preserve them from temptations and evil company.  By Your Holy Spirit keep them constantly in mind of Your holy presence, that they remember that You are with them at home and away, in their room, by day and by night, in the company of others and when they are alone.  Let Your holy angels be with them when they go out and when they come in.  Let Your angels guard them when they travel.  Give them Your holy angels as their companions.  By their aid rescue them from dangers, as You did with Lot.  Let them, like Jacob, live under the angels’ watchful care.”

My children were baptized at ages ranging from 6 to 17, so I would have to modify the first part a bit.

HT: Cyberbrethren

Christian martyrs— From the LA Times: Iraq’s War on Christians.

When America intervened to overthrow Saddam Hussein, Iraq’s Christians — mostly Chaldeans and Assyrians — numbered about 1.4 million, or about 3% of the population. Over the last seven years, more than half have fled the country and, as the New York Times reported this week, a wave of targeted killings — including the Oct. 31 slaying of 51 worshipers and two priests during Mass at one of Baghdad’s largest churches — has sent many more Christians fleeing. Despite Prime Minister Nouri Maliki promises to increase security, many believe the Christians are being targeted not only by Al Qaeda in Iraq, which has instructed its fighters “to kill Christians wherever they can reach them,” but also by complicit elements within the government’s security services.

Similar stories have come out in recent weeks from other parts of the world. For example, Christmas weekend violence kills 38 in Nigeria.

Tertullian (~160-220 AD) was the first to say, “The blood of the martyrs is the seed of the church.” While it is true that the church can grow and thrive under intense persecution—such as under the Romans of Tertullian’s time or China in the twentieth century—persecution can also drive the church to extinction. Picture Turkey (Ephesians, Galatians, the seven churches of Revelation 2-3) or most of North Africa.

Montana still under 1,000,000 — According to U.S. Census results, the population of Montana for 2010 was 989,415. When you drive across the state, it is hard to tell where they all are. There is still a whole lot of emptiness, which is the way it should be. From the Billings Gazette: Census: Montana population grows 9.7 percent.

December 30, 2010 Posted by | Around the Web, Christianity, Montana | , , , , | 1 Comment

Around the web 12/11/2010

In the beginning… — Blogger Joe Carter (at FirstThings.com) finds Stephen Hawking’s cosmology as expressed in The Grand Design to be a bit “drab and nonspecific.” Carter rewrites Hawkings to make it a little more of a “creation story for young atheistic materialists.”

In the beginning was Nothing, and Nothing created Everything. When Nothing decided to create Everything, she filled a tiny dot with Time, Chance, and Everything and had it expand. The expansion spread Everything into Everywhere carrying Time and Chance with it to keep it company. The three stretched out together leaving bits of themselves wherever they went. One of those places was the planet Earth.

Read the rest at When Nothing Created Everything.

Submerged paradise? — The Persian Gulf basin was above sea level until about 8000 years ago, and there is growing evidence that humans lived there in a well-watered plain.

And it would have been an ideal refuge from the harsh deserts surrounding it, with fresh water supplied by the Tigris, Euphrates, Karun and Wadi Baton Rivers, as well as by upwelling springs, Rose said. And during the last ice age when conditions were at their driest, this basin would’ve been at its largest.

Hmmm. Four rivers, including the Tigris and Euphrates. A refuge from the surrounding wild. Sounds almost Edenic.

The article is Lost Civilization May Have Existed Beneath the Persian Gulf at LiveScience.com.

Diamond world — AOL News reports Scientists Say Planet May Have Mountains of Diamonds.

WASP-12b, a gas giant about 871 light-years from Earth, seems to have an unusually large amount of carbon in its atmosphere. Diamonds form when carbon is compressed at extremely high temperatures. The high amount of carbon in the planet’s atmosphere suggests that its solid core could be full of diamonds, rather than the silicon- and oxygen-rich materials on Earth.

Not all are convinced:

“The findings are interesting, but are based on just four data points,” O’Toole said, according to the Australian Broadcasting Corp. “I would proceed with caution.”

NASA’s Astrobiology Magazine also reports on WASP-12b:

It’s possible that WASP-12b might harbor graphite, diamond, or even a more exotic form of carbon in its interior, beneath its gaseous layers.

My two-cents worth: I don’t think I would want to live on a planet called WASP-12b.

Me at the Alzada end of the old gravel Ekalaka-Alzada highway in 2003

Ekalaka to Alzada highway — This news is a couple months old now, but I’m sure most of you missed it. From the Billings Gazette: A dream for decades, road from Ekalaka to Alzada is paved at last.

Residents of this remote town in southeastern Montana have lost one of their main claims to distinction, but don’t look for any of them to mourn the loss. When the first layer of asphalt was laid down last week on the only remaining stretch of gravel on Highway 323 between Ekalaka and Alzada, Ekalaka could no longer bill itself as the only county seat in the United States that didn’t have a paved road running through it.

My dad was born in Ekalaka.

Unabomber land for sale in Montana — One and a half acres on forested land near Lincoln, Montana, no cabin, no utilities. Was $154,500, now $69,500. The land isn’t worth nearly that much on the market, but it was where anti-technology letter bomber Ted Kaczynski lived his secluded life. From Yahoo! News/AP: Unabomber’s Montana land for sale; ‘very secluded’

Kaczynski is serving a life sentence for killing three people and injuring 23 during a nationwide bombing spree between 1978 and 1995. The Harvard-trained mathematician railed against the effects of advanced technology and led authorities on the nation’s longest and costliest manhunt before his brother tipped off law enforcement in 1996.

Kayaker eaten by a crocodile — We have talked about taking up kayaking as a family. Nothing exotic or wild; paddling around a mountain lake would be just fine with us. We will stay away from crocodile-infested waters in the Congo. From Yahoo! News/AP: Kayaker presumed dead after Congo crocodile attack. Hendrik Coetzee’s last entry on his blog (The Great White Explorer) was called “Feelings: do they make you soft?” and ended with “I would never live a better day.”

Camel crushes congregants — I don’t think live camels in church is a really good idea. Watch Camel Falls Into Crowd on YouTube.


I’ve got about thirty tabs open in my browser with items I want to blog about. So many tabs, so little time.

Grace and Peace

December 11, 2010 Posted by | Astronomy, Montana, Origins | , , | Leave a comment

Billings house demolished by rock slide

People like to build in pretty places. In Billings, Montana (where I spent the first eighteen years of my life), there are plenty of big houses along the Rimrocks, a cliff that forms the northern border of much of the city.

Part of the landscaping for these expensive homes is the sandstone boulders, many of which are the size of a bus. One of the hazards, of course, is that those rocks didn’t get to their present locations gently.

From the Billings Gazette: Billings home demolished by falling rocks.

There was a man in the house when the rock hit it, but thankfully no one was hurt.

The house was on Granite Avenue, but the rock was most certainly a piece of Late Cretaceous Eagle Sandstone.

Grace and Peace, and don’t build your house too close to the cliff.

October 11, 2010 Posted by | Billings Geology, Geology, Montana, Montana Geology, Natural Disasters | 1 Comment

Billings tornado!

On Saturday, June 20, a rare Eastern Montana tornado destroyed the 10,000-seat Rimrock Auto Arena (formerly Metra) in Billings. No one was seriously injured or killed by this F2 tornado which went through a portion of Montana’s largest city.

Growing up in Billings, my memories of Metra include high school graduations (including mine), hockey games, high school basketball tournaments, concerts, rodeos, and various other events.

Youtube has a number of videos:

The large, rectangular building in the background is the Rimrock Auto Arena.

Grace and Peace

June 22, 2010 Posted by | Meteorology, Montana, Natural Disasters | 1 Comment

New York City — A Montana Native’s Perception

Being that the dreaded Yankees won the World Series, here is my map of New York City, as originally posted in December 2007.

A couple days ago I commented (click here) on a map of Montana printed by The New Yorker Magazine. (I got the map from Strange Maps). Those Easterners know that Montana has everything from militia groups to radical environmentalists, but they didn’t know what part of the state to put them in.

I was thinking to myself: “Hey, you worked as a cartographer for eleven years. You can certainly make just as good of a map of New York City as they made of Montana.” So, here it is:

ny.jpg

I was at JFK airport in 1980, so it isn’t like I haven’t been there.

November 9, 2009 Posted by | Blog Recycling, Fun, Maps, Montana | | Leave a comment

GM bailout money used to send jobs overseas

The Stillwater Complex in south-central Montana is the only significant US source of platinum and palladium, which are used in automobile catalytic converters. The newly restructured General Motors, with the US government as a primary shareholder, has decided to cancel its platinum-group metals contract with Stillwater Mining Company, opting for cheaper ores from Russia and South Africa.

The mine employs 1300 workers, and is partially owned by Norilsk Nickel of Russia.

The Billings Gazette has had a number of articles on this:

GM rejects senators over Stillwater

GM gets OK to terminate its deal with Stillwater

July 25, 2009 Posted by | Geology, Montana | , , | 1 Comment

Montana clean

My home town of Billings, Montana is tied for being the city with the cleanest air in terms of ozone concentration in the entire United States, and is in the top 25 for cleanest air in terms of particulates.

From MSNBC.com: Report lists worst, best cities for air quality

Ahhh. To breathe some fresh Montana air.

HT: The Green Life

Grace and Peace

April 29, 2009 Posted by | Environment, Meteorology, Montana | , , | Leave a comment

Brrrrrrr

Next day update — The temperature here in Lakewood was even colder this morning (12/15/08): -11°F (-24°C). I love winter!

It’s a little cold this morning: -1°F (-18°C) here in Lakewood, Colorado, and -15°F (-26°C) in my hometown of Billings.

brrrrr

But I love winter! My comment to my wife this morning was, “I’m glad we don’t live in Florida.”

Grace and peace

map from the National Weather Service

December 14, 2008 Posted by | Meteorology, Montana | Leave a comment

Four Dances Natural Area, Montana

We spent the Thanksgiving weekend in Montana with my mother; it was the first time that I had been “home” for Thanksgiving in over twenty years. On Saturday, we found a new place to hike right on the edge of Billings: Four Dances Natural Area, administered by the BLM. It preserves 765 acres (310 ha) with sagebrush grasslands, Ponderosa pine gullies, and Yellowstone River cottonwood floodplains. The area provides habitat for peregrine falcons, which nest along  the 200-500 foot (60-150 m) tall sandstone cliffs which overlook the Yellowstone River.

Four Dances is located near an industrial area, with views (and odors) of an oil refinery, coal-fired power plant, and stockyards. Despite this, it is a very nice addition to the hiking and natural areas in the Billings area.

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I didn’t have a camera with me, so these are BLM photos from sangres.com

Grace and Peace

November 30, 2008 Posted by | Environment, Montana | Leave a comment