Saturday, February 21, 2009- - -
"I'm a working cowboy, a roughstock cowboy and a chocolatier"
Yes, he is. I've written several times about Tim Kellogg, the Meeteetse Chocolatier, and now he's in the news. A nice article in the Casper Star.
Wednesday, February 11, 2009- - -
When kids go bad..
Goats suspected of causing Laramie barn fire!
Nope, we're not dead, just getting into a routine: Eat, sleep, hike. It's tough duty but someone has to do it.
Saw four bears on our last hike in the Chisos Mountains Friday! In three years of hiking the Big Bend it's the first time we've seen bears. So all of a sudden they were everywhere. It's a little nervous-making to hike in that thicket and know there's bears you can't see until you're within 30 yards or so of them. They were nice bears though. Not those big, surly, Wyoming tourist-eating bears.
Monday, January 05, 2009- - -
Finally finished up the Big Job for the winter and I'm beginning to decompress. In a week or so we'll be in Terlingua, TX, where I hope to recapture my sanity. Such as that was.
Here's what brought me back to the blogosphere:
A few weeks back the Casper Star ran one of those sidebar polls asking people what they thought about the influx of out-of-staters coming in for the oil boom. The choices were something to the effect of a) We need economic development and hope these folks stay for the long-term; b) They should work here through the boom and then go home; and c) We don't want any outsiders coming into the state, period.
I was a bit shocked to see that nearly 50% of the respondents had chosen "c", but I think I can see where they're coming from. I don't want any part of Wyoming to become the next Colorado Front Range.
Now here's an interesting article published a week or so ago in the Casper Star that further explores people's sentiments. The comments on all sides of the issue are most interesting.
I'd guess the whole thing can be broken down into two camps defined by their sentiments toward Starbucks and whether they want one within easy walking distance of where they live. It's not so much where anyone's from, it's a matter of attitude toward people and open spaces. If you want to come here to "build a big ugly mansion and enjoy the scenery", while loudly telling the locals what's wrong with their town, then you're probably one of the unwelcome outsiders.
Ah well, it's an interesting conundrum. The growth and development are likely coming whether we like it or not, but how we deal with it could make a big difference. The towns of Rock Springs and Rawlins are a study in the contrast between those who've embraced growth and those who've shunned it. Rock Springs is booming, it's growing like a mushroom, with new businesses, homes, motels, and all sorts of new amenities. Then there's Rawlins, which.. Well, someone did build a new motel. Other than that it hasn't changed much in 25 years.
There are pros and cons to both though. I distinctly remember leaving Rock Springs in 1987 to attend the U of Wyo in Laramie. There were tumbleweeds blowing down the main streets and boards over the windows of nearly new buildings. You'd almost guess that the boom of the late '70s and early '80s had gone bust. We drove by Rawlins on the way to Laramie and it hadn't changed a bit. Yes, there were tumbleweeds blowing down the main streets and boards over the windows of many buildings, but that's what it was like during the boom too.
I suspect that in coming years -- barring a lot of external meddling -- we'll be able to have it both ways. There will be booming spots, places with scenery and big ugly mansions, and places that defy all change. There will be people who are happy where they're at, people who are unhappy and do something about it or move to someplace they like better, and those who are unhappy but don't do anything about it but gripe. Loudly.
Monday, October 20, 2008- - -
The more things change..
The Casper Star runs an article on odd historic trivia. The caption on this one was irresistible:
A Look Back in Time: Sex confuses men
Friday, October 10, 2008- - -
Let's not forget Darwin's finches..
An interesting bit at the InstaPundit's. Stephen Hawking says that 'if humans can survive the next 200 years and learn to live in space, then our future will be bright.' "I believe that the long-term future of the human race must be in space," says Hawking.
Sounds good to me, but.. Isolate a small gene pool and you get fairly rapid evolution. Thus, Darwin's finches, isolated on several islands, soon became several distinct species. Isolate humans in various space habitats that have no contact with one another and there's no reason to believe the same wouldn't happen to us. Would we still be "the human race" at that point? Interesting.
Happy days are here again!
WASHINGTON -- As the national economic meltdown takes its toll on local economies, some out-of-the-way states are enjoying unprecedented prosperity. Home prices in states such as Wyoming, West Virginia and North Dakota continue to rise, wages are growing and unemployment is at record lows.No, I'm not dead, just fully employed.. and then some. A very interesting article. It's not the first time that this contrarian* economic situation has been noted and I think there are factors at work other than those described here. First, I'd disagree with Mr. Liu's assessment of the value of public works. Sure, we're building new libraries and community centers, but most of the boom in construction that I'm seeing is due to the influx of energy workers -- new company offices, worker housing and new motels going up like mushrooms -- and housing for all the blue state refugees.
"The downturn in the economy has winners and losers," explained Scott Pattison, executive director of the National Association of State Budget Officers. "After 9/11, it was fairly uniform -- everyone had a downturn. This time it's very different because of the high agriculture and energy prices," and because the deflating housing economy is a regional phenomenon.
Wyoming anticipates a $100 million budget surplus this year, and its economy has grown threefold since 2001. North Dakota has rising wages and an unemployment rate that is half the national average. And West Virginia's top budget official says the state's economy is better than at any time since it was founded in 1863.
Wenlin Liu, senior economist with Wyoming's economic analysis division, said his state is especially strong, thanks to a government that derives two-thirds of its revenues from the energy industry. Wyoming's general fund has grown threefold this decade, Liu said, and home price appreciation there is second only to Oklahoma's. Even the construction sector there is growing, thanks to state spending on public works.
The article notes that "Colorado expects to take in 84 percent more in energy-extraction taxes this year than last, but faces a $99.4 million shortfall because of lower income and sales tax collections ..." Is this because they're taking in fewer actual dollars in income and sales taxes? I doubt it. Rather, it's because the increase in income and sales tax collections hasn't kept pace with the increase in state spending. They for sure charge plenty of sales tax (I'm back working in Colorado and I about choked when I got the first restaurant bill).
A state can only put the squeeze on its residents for so long. Taxes go up, state services remain the same or go down, and finally people get fed up and leave. Wyoming is benefiting from all those people who were tired of paying higher and higher taxes for fewer and poorer services. That's why our home prices are rising, people are moving here. Of course they're also coming for the jobs, but I don't believe employment is as bad elsewhere as these folks make out. 5-6% unemployment isn't a disaster unless you're one of the folks who are unemployed. Like the news media folks who write these articles..
*Update: I should explain. Perhaps "contrarian" isn't the most accurate term for the phenomenon, but it's something like that. It seems that when hard economic times hit the coasts and big cities, as is supposedly happening now, the economy booms out here in the hinterlands. And vice versa. When times are good and the national economy is booming, we're hurting. Go figure.
Tuesday, September 16, 2008- - -
... from the Conservative viewpoint, Sen Obama is a rookie with a thin resume who “loves the future because that’s where all his accomplishments are”.*HT: InstaPundit
Tuesday, September 09, 2008- - -
"Republicans might want to restrain themselves just a bit, here."
Indeed. From what little I know about her, I really like Sarah Palin. But it pays to remember that McCain is still the sponsor of McCain-Feingold and he's still the guy who got an F- from Gun Owners of America for his 2nd Amendment stance. He's still the guy who sticks his thumb in the eye of the Republican base at every opportunity, although he's been understandably circumspect of late.
I'm for sure not voting for Teh One, but if I manage to bring myself to vote for McCain/Palin it will definitely be with held nose. Doesn't matter really, as Wyoming will go solidly for McCain with or without my vote.