Quitting Coal, Montana a Battle-Hardened Resource State.

Montana currently produces roughly enough electricity to go completely renewable, yet half the energy produced in the state comes from coal. Why do we continue to produce coal energy if we have enough hydro and wind power to run entirely off renewable sources? The answer, ‘’Exportation’’.

Roughly half of the energy produced in Montana is exported to other states. This explains why Montana doesn’t run 100% on renewable resources. Currently 47% of the energy produced in Montana comes from Hydraulic and Wind power, a significant amount, and yet still less than the 49 percent of Montana’s power that is produced from coal.

So yes Montana could quit coal tomorrow and our energy grid would be able to handle it but, could the states we export to handle the loss? Energy hungry states like Idaho and California need the power we export, and would need a substitute for the sudden loss of imported power. Montana would also need to consider the consequences from the loss of local jobs and livelihoods of families that depend on the income from the coal sector.

While these losses are formidable, they are going to be lost regardless due to increasing automation, growing demand for renewable resources, and the fact that coal is a nonrenewable resource with a limit. The ability to produce electricity from coal will eventually run out but that’s Ok. It is a good thing to embrace the new technologies and the jobs that come with them.

While we may have large coal reserves we also have substantial renewable energy reserves as well. Montana has the potential to recoup those job losses and and even surpass them while also filling the energy gap left by coal. Renewable energy is ripe with jobs from installation to maintenance and Montana has the geographic advantage to do it.

With its rolling hills and flat plains in the eastern part of the state, Montana has some of the largest wind energy potential in the nation. By the start of 2018 the total number of turbines in the state had nearly reached 500, with more projects in various stages of planning and construction.

Critics argue that wind energy is not as consistent as coal-fired power plants.  However, a solution for that issue is already advancing; a closed loop hydro storage facility is under construction a hundred miles outside of Billings. Wind has great potential in Montana but it is only part of the renewable energy equation, albeit a large part, however, Hydro, Geothermal Biomass, and Solar are all good resources to fill the coal void.

Hydro-power

Hydro-power is currently the largest green energy producer in the state and has the potential to grow. Western Montana is mountainous with many fast flowing high volume rivers. Harnessing this energy with new age hydrologic dams that include fish jumps and silt flushing systems could help fill the coal void.

Swan Peak in the Swan Valley

Geothermal and Biomass

 The state also has 50 geothermal areas, with about a third of those having the potential for electricity generation. Although it is not carbon negative, biomass power is another potential powerhouse for Montana.  Sustainable logging provides another source of exportable energy. This also helps fight wildfires and keeps our summer air clear from smoke, a serious issue that all Montanans have experienced.

Solar

 You have probably noticed I have not mentioned Solar yet as a potential green energy replacement.  That is because I have been primarily geared toward utility-scale energy production. Solar does have potential for growth in this sector.  2017 saw the construction of the first utility-scale solar project in Montana with others in construction. With this, most of the growth in solar has been residential and small scale commercial building solar installations.

 Montana is becoming a green energy power house, that future is already under construction, the question remains of how fast that transition will take.

Sources:

Montana state profile and energy estimates; December 2018 update,    https://www.eia.gov/state/analysis.php?sid=MT

Skip those Crowds In Glacier Park this Summer!

Sunset in Glacier National Park at Lake McDonald

For those who want to explore!

Located in the northwest corner of Montana is what most refer to as the “Crown of the Continent.”  This is a vast playground for any outdoor enthusiast. Glacier Park is home of the continental divide, and 1 million acres filled with vast forests, towering mountains, and during three months of the year a ocean… a ocean of cars, crowds, and crazy drivers.

Every year Glacier National Park breaks it’s annual visitation record. Last year a whopping 3.3 million people hiked the trails, swam in the lakes, and battled for parking at the famed Logan Pass Visitor Center. But this doesn’t have to be you this summer if you follow this tip.

Explore Outside the Boundary of the Glacier

The truth is, there is much more to explore beyond the boundaries of Glacier than most think. If you want to beat the crowds this summer, exploring these spots is the right choice for you.

Jewel Basin Hiking Area

Jewel Basin

Located 40 miles south of Glacier Park nestled up in the Swan Mountain Range is the Jewel Basin Hiking area. This spot provides some of the best day hikes in the area. Home to 25 crystal clear alpine lakes and 35 miles of hiking trails, it is easy to say one could get lost here. Don’t worry though, I promise you will only get lost in the best of ways! 😉

Also…. you can camp, park and hike for free!

Bob Marshall photo of china wall with bear grass

Bob Marshall Wilderness

Ever wonder what Glacier Park looked like before the roads, the buildings, and parking lots? Go see it for yourself in the Bob Marshall Wilderness aka “The Bob” by locals. For the slightly more adventurous types (yes I’m talking to you), spend a day, or a week or two weeks here. There are approximately 1,100 miles of trails, that stretch across it’s 1.5 million acres. Home of the some of the most amazing mountains, rivers, and valleys in Northwest Montana.

Flathead National Forest “Swan Valley”

Ah yes… how could I forget home! Maybe I am biased, but the opportunities of the Swan Valley are endless. Don’t believe me? Hop on Alpine Trail #7 and head north, you’ll be walking for about 50 miles! Want to stand on mountain peaks in the morning? No problem! How about swimming in sparkling alpine lakes? Yeah got that covered. How about ease of access? Park at the trail head. And yes of course it is FREE!

Too often we are blinded at what’s in front of us because what people say we should think, speak, and explore. Don’t fall for it, and explore your surroundings. Maybe the trick isn’t to listen to me. But try to focus on what is right in front of you, because your Glacier Park is probably begging to be explored!

5 Important Tips for a Team Road Trip

By: W. R. Widmer Jr.

For most of my life now I have played team sports that have required road trips in some shape or form. Since the start my collegiate career way back in 2010 for TCU’s Lacrosse team I’ve learned that long road trips are inevitable. Over the years as a player and now as a coach for Griz Lacrosse, I thought I would share some tips and tricks on how to make a team road trip easier.

Pack The Night Before

Personally, packing is not the most exciting part of a trip. Coaches demand that we be ready to go at a certain time (usually before the sun comes up). I have found that packing the night before prevents me from forgetting anything in those early morning hours when I am not thinking clearly. In addition, line your bags up at the door so you can have a smooth exit out of your apartment or dorm.

Carry Both Card and Cash

To get to a game you will have to travel though the middle of nowhere. And in the middle of nowhere often times you will find technological conveniences are nonexistent. It is crucial to have cash and not just a card on a road trip in case the store where you are trying to buy snacks is still stuck in the ‘50s. Being hungry on the bus is miserable.

Portable Chargers are Worth Their Weight in Gold

Missoula to Portland on a bus is anywhere from 8 to 12 hours depending on external factors. So even if you charge all your electronics the night before, you will run out of battery life on a haul like that. For $25 to $50 you can get a good quality portable charger that will keep your electronics charged and you blissfully entertained while the hours go by.

Bring Food and Drinks on The Bus

One of the reasons I pack and line up all my stuff the night before is to save time in the morning. With that extra time, I always run and grab food and coffee to bring on the bus. Doing this will save you money over the length of the trip, since prices in food vary from location to location. Additionally, you don’t always know when and where the team will stop for food, having your own will prevent any unforeseen problems.

Bring a Pillow is Key

This one is a little self-explanatory. Not all buses or cars have comfortable seats or headrests. In my case, the Griz Lacrosse team bus has some hard armrests. I always bring a pillow on bus trips. It not only makes the ride more comfortable, but I avoid dealing with hotel pillows that I am not used to.

Top 5 Most Influential Hip-Hop Artists on the Current State of Hip-Hop by Avery Tonkyn

Disclaimer: This is all personal opinion, there are many more influential artists that have influenced hip-hop in their own niche ways. These are in my opinion the most influential on the current state of pop hip-hop.

Before I jump into the list, I am going to give a brief description of what I see as the current state of hip-hop. The instrumentals are typically bass heavy, with loud and punchy kick drums and snares along with fast-paced, rattling hi hat rolls. Usually this is accompanied by a very catchy melodic high end typically consisting of a rhodes piano or some other airy synthesizer. This is a likely descendent of early 2000’s Atlanta trap music and can be contrasted with the 90’s boom bap style of hip-hop. The vocals are saturated with auto-tune, and rappers typically rap in a somewhat non-comprehensive tone (mumble rap/whining) about materialistic luxuries accompanied with many adlibs (backing vocal tracks consisting of either the same lyrics as the main verse or different). 

#5. The Notorious B.I.G. 

The self proclaimed originator of luxury rap. The Notorious B.I.G., or Biggie Smalls as many know him by, started off his rap career like most from New York in the early 90’s, as a gangster rapper. Early in his career, he rapped about primarily selling drugs, but as his stardom took off after his debut album, “Ready to Die,” his content slowly changed along with his lifestyle. He began to rap about designer brands, fancy cars, gold chains, money and the women that accompanied his newfound luxurious lifestyle. This same stuff is still the primary content of modern hip-hop, designer brands, luxury cars, women, bling and money. Biggie claimed to be the first to rap about this stuff, but I will mention that there were earlier artists that also rapped about similar content, like Flava Flav. Biggie was the first to bring it to mainstream attention so that is why I put him as #5 on the list. 

Examples: Hypnotize – The Notorious B.I.G. 

“At last, a nigga rappin’ bout blunts and broads 

Tits and bras, menage-a-tois, sex in expensive cars”

and 

“ I put hoes in NY onto DKNY (uh-huh) 

Miami, D.C. prefer Versace (that’s right) 

All Philly hoes, dough and Moschino (c’mon) 

Every cutie wit a booty bought a Coogi (hah!)”

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UdfsK6fsPDM  Hypnotize – The Notorious B.I.G.

#4. Lil Wayne 

Coming in at #4 on the list I have Lil Wayne. The New Orleans emcee is renowned for being one of the best lyricists of the 2000’s with many infamous “bars.” He is also one of the first rappers to incorporate autotune in his rap without really singing. Lil Wayne was also a pioneer of bling and face tattoos, which many artists have these days. It almost seems like people are getting famous just for having face tats. Anyways, Lil Waynes sound, style, and content are all prevalent in todays popular rap, unfortunately no one will truly do it like Weezy did. 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2IH8tNQAzSs Lollipop – Lil Wayne

#3. Kanye West 

For #3, I have Kanye West. He is one of the most famed artists of todays age, mostly because of the publicity he gets and how vocal he is on opinions that are pretty contradictory. But before all of the ridiculous stunts, Kanye West was renowned as one of hip-hops most legendary producers and his early albums are still held in very high regard. One thing about Kanye, much to his fans dismay, is that he is constantly pushing the envelope. One album doesn’t really sound the same as the other, and it has been this way throughout pretty much the entirety of his career. As his sound has evolved, it has seemed to lose the touch that people used to be so in love with and that brought him to the top of the charts on multiple occasions. He even went to the extent of making a song rapping about how he misses the old Kanye (presumably from the perspective of his fans). Nevertheless, Kanye’s innovation of the rap sound has pushed hip-hop further passed boundaries of what was considered hip-hop, paving the way for these new artists to try anything new and put a hip-hop label on it. 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PsO6ZnUZI0g Stronger – Kanye West

#2. T-Pain 

#2 on the list is #2 for obvious reasons. T-Pain is the king of autotune, and he doesn’t even need it. When he first started using autotune, many critics questioned it, but it wasn’t long before multiple T-Pain songs that were autotune heavy were at the top of the charts. T-Pain truly paved the way for every artist using autotune these days

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dBrRBZy8OTs  Buy U a Drank – T-Pain

Honorable Mentions: Drake, Lil Uzi Vert – I wanted to give both artists honorable mentions because they each have played a role in changing the sound and getting hip-hop to where it is in mainstream media. Drake was one of the first rappers to fuse hip-hop with mainstream pop, which based on how much rap was used in Super Bowl advertisements this year, it’s pretty safe to say that the two are synonymous now. I also wanted to give Lil Uzi Vert an honorable mention because he was one of the first SoundCloud rappers to truly “blow up” overnight, pioneering the way for many other artists like him. He also pioneered the sound for many popular artists including Lil Skies, JuiceWrld and many more. This sound, like I mentioned before, is saturated with autotune and performed in a singing rap style that is almost crooning but I would argue is more so like whining accompanied with autotune so it is sonically somewhat pleasing. 

(See: XO Tour Llif3 – Lil Uzi Vert 1:40-2:00 or basically the entire song https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=x-RS8hPBDYI)

#1. Lil B “The Based God” 

Maybe I am biased for putting Lil B at the #1 spot, and I do believe that has to do with it. We are both from the same area, we attended the same high school (at different times), and he is very prominent among the community I grew up in. He has even bought my friend a burrito for no reason other than the fact that they were both at the same burrito spot and my friend recognized him. So I will definitely acknowledge my own bias towards the matter. But with that being said, there are countless other reasons why I see Lil B as deserving of this top spot. Many of the aforementioned rappers have helped push the boundaries and possibilities of hip-hop, but no artist has ever done it like Lil B. He was the first to purposely rap off beat. He was the first to purposely rap out of tune. He was the first to smear his tracks with ridiculous ad-libs that you hear all over popular rap these days. He was the first to truly over do it with excessive “trap” features like obnoxious horn hits, synthetic builds, ridiculous hi hat rolls and catchy phrases like him repeating “Swag!” You could almost say he was the first satirical rapper with maybe the exception of Weird Al Yankovic. He has also made more music than pretty much anyone in history. He has over 50 mixtapes and 10 albums and one mixtape was 855 songs long. Thats not a joke. His Based Freestyle Mixtape has 855 tracks on it. Not only was he a pioneer when it comes to msuicality, but he was also truly the first person to get famous more so off of his ridiculous persona and being radically different that it got him noticed for good and for bad, which is maybe the primary way that people get famous these days (examples include: XXXtentacion, Lil Pump, the boonk gang guy, 6ix9ine and the list goes on). He even has a mixtape title “I’m Gay” and has worn women’s clothes as a stunt many times, just to generate controversy. I would even argue that Lil B’s tactics are maybe the most genius marketing disruptions of all time. And to accompany his ridiculous persona and music, he began to literally follow everyone on Twitter. To this day, his Twitter account follows more people than any other Twitter account (1.62 million people). He curated this cult following for the Based God, where people would make memes about “Task Force, Protect the Based God at All Costs” and “Thank You Based God” and “The Based God F***** My B****.” He turned himself into a meme. He is also famous for saying he looks like pretty much any celebrity you’ve heard of (Ellen Degeneres, Michelle Obama etc.) and is known for coming up with the cooking dance. He has also used basketball players like James Harden for taking his cooking dance and then James Harden ended not making it to the Finals, and it got so much popularity that they talked about it on ESPN. Lil B’s rise to fame was one of the first acts of viral marketing given that it was right around the time where everyone started having a smartphone and social media truly took off, circa 2009-2010. In conclusion, not only was his style of music and the radical, ridiculous music he made that has since been copied 1000 times but also his persona and methods to shoot him to stardom that are also imitated to this day as a way to gain popularity in mainstream media and hip-hop. 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cGYHEBpX2xQ  wonton soup – lil b

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=i8u6EodZseg ellen degeneres – lil b

The Art of Dunking


By: Jamar Akoh

A lot of people think dunking is something that is just done without much thought. But, in fact, there is a great amount of thought put into it.

“Have I done this dunk already today?”

“Are the fans going to get tired of seeing this same dunk?”

“How’s my swag on the dunk?”

So I have been working on mastering what we call the “leg lift” in the basketball world. I have been working on this craft for years and I am still a long ways from mastering. It is what it sounds like, a simple lift of the legs when executing a dunk. While it may sound very simple, this takes a great deal of practice and can be very challenging to execute properly.

Timing is everything when it comes to the leg lift. It is best executed when the participant begins to lift his legs right before dunking the ball. By doing this there is special kind of force that is created, making a very powerful looking dunk. By lifting the legs, there is also more weight coming down as you grab the rim and finish the dunk(almost making it look like you are having a seat while hanging on the rim) and this is were the style comes in.

After all this, last but not least, the ROAR. Finish off this monstrous jam with a roar at the top of your lungs.


The trick here is to begin screaming as soon as you know you’ve completed the jam. It would be so embarrassing if you started screaming, only to find out you were unsuccessful. Once there guaranteed success, you may then begin the yelling process while still hanging on the rim. From there you can swing off of the rim with great “swag” and continue on with the roar to the crowd.