Outrun Change

We need to learn quickly to keep up with the massive change around us so we don't get run over. We need to outrun change.

Old buildings in downtown Williston



(Out of focus and tilted photos by James Ulvog)

I enjoy looking at older buildings. They usually have ornate brickwork. I think they are beautiful works of art.

Here are a few views of buildings in downtown Williston for your enjoyment. From Main and Fourth, looking south toward Broadway:



At Fourth and Main: Read more…

Two humongous explosions in open frontiers I’m watching – space and education

Two massive explosions to discuss in the frontiers I’m watching. One in private space exploration and the other in academia at UNC-Chapel Hill…

Both explosions make me sad. Unfortunately, one of them was intentional.


Progress is never in a straight march forward -

10/28 – Space.com – Private Orbital Sciences Rocket Explodes During Launch, NASA Cargo Lost – An Antares rocket, Cyngus spacecraft, and NASA’s cargo were lost due to an explosion 6 seconds after launch. Previous resupply lifts to the ISS by Orbital Science have been successful. Fire officials let the fires burn themselves out to reduce danger to cleanup crews of dealing with unburned propellant.

Read more…

More good stuff on the open frontiers – 10/28

Wide open frontiers:  energy production and one-man documentary production company.

Worlds far away I’ll never visit – Film production

One of the worlds I can only observe from a distance is making a feature documentary. I’ve been watching Jesse Moss as he produced and then marketed his documentary The Overnighters. That is a story of a Lutheran church in Williston that opened its doors to (predominantly) men working in the Bakken but arrived without a place to stay.

I’ll start to mention some of the coverage of the movie that is most helpful for me as I learn about that world.

10/10 – Tribeca – Jesse Moss Talks “The Overnighters’ and Morality in the Heartland – Interview with Mr. Moss goes into detail about how the documentary was recorded. Interesting tidbits are how he had to re-edit the footage to tell the story differently when the final dramatic event changed the whole story.

Since I haven’t mentioned anything about the movie before, that may not make sense.

I’m looking forward to seeing the movie because I know something about Williston, the church involved, and the overnighter program.

One fascinating part of this story is that Mr. Moss found sources, conducted interviews, recorded video, and generally developed this documentary by himself. Post-production work involved a very small team, but until that time, he was the entire crew.

For this month, he is in a different town every few days appearing at theaters where the documentary is being aired.


10/21 – The Feed – North Dakota Races to Frack BetterRead more…

Creative destruction on the farm, with photos


(All photos by James Ulvog, shot in October 2014.)

Just like other areas of economic activity, farming deals with constructive assets deteriorating and being replaced.

Picture what these wonderful houses and barns looked like in their prime. Imagine how productive and helpful they were.



Read more…

More good stuff on the open frontiers – 10/25

A few of the articles on the open frontiers of energy, education, and technology that caught my interest.


10/6 – The Freeman – Who’s Afraid of the Workers’ RevolutionRead more…

A drive in the oil fields east of Williston


(all photos by James Ulvog – Two pumps visible in photo; there are 8 pumps on 4 pads I could see along the road from where this photo was taken to the rig in the background)


(Photo of above rig from a few hundred feet down the road from the previous view, showing additional wells.)

I took a drive east of Williston on highway 1804. Drove about 20 miles after getting out of town. Two amazing things struck me.

Number of drilling rigs

First is the number of drilling rigs in operation. I would guess I saw about a dozen rigs. Of course with their height you can see them a few miles away.

Read more…

Update on solar power – #31


(Photo by James Ulvog; one of three towers is in operation.)

Here are a few articles on the down side of solar energy: more categories of environmental damage / bulldozer moving forward a 6,000+ page plan for desert use / late coverage of cancelling another environmental disaster.

9/29 – PA Pundits International – Deroy Murdock - Earth-Friendly Energy Is Anything But – Article surveys the devastation caused by wind and solar power. In addition to many issues I’ve discussed on this blog, the article points out two more.

Read more…

Staffing problems in the Bakken


(Photo by James Ulvog)

While in Williston earlier this month, I saw the above sign in front of Wal-Mart saying they are paying $17 an hour to start. I hear starting pay for night stockers is $19 an hour.

My guess from what I heard while in town is $17 at Wal-Mart is the starting, minimum wage for new arrivals in town. With their staffing need, that might also be the first job upon arriving in town for lots of people.

The Williston Herald had a great article on employment issues in North Dakota: “Labor shortage forcing some restaurants to close”. The article was in the 10/17/14 paper but I couldn’t find it online.

Read more…

My second visit to Williston – October 2014


(All photos by James Ulvog.)

Last week (mid October) my wife and I visited Williston to see our son and daughter-in-law. Got to visit for five days.

This was our second trip to Williston. Our first visit was a year ago, in early October 2013.

I’ll post a series of articles with my observations.

Infrastructure gains

One noticeable change is the infrastructure is starting to catch up.

It was amazing to see the amount of new housing built in the last year. On the west side of town there are an astounding number of large apartment complexes.

Here is one complex of four large buildings of which one is out of view (4 stories each of around 15 units per floor) under construction.


(photo by James Ulvog; the area between the buildings and streets

will be filled with car garages. The concrete is already poured.)

  Read more…

Paperback books and e-books; more on the dispute between Hachette and Amazon

Guess what? Lowering the price on something means you can sell more of it and make more money.

That applies to paperbacks when they first came out and it applies to e-books today. Well, it actually applies to practically everything.

Know what else? Anyone who wants to publish a book can do so. Anyone. For astoundingly low cost. The publishing frontier is wide open. Thank you Amazon.

In August, Amazon sent an e-mail to people using their Kindle Direct Publishing service. (By the way, if you aren’t already a best seller and want to ever get your book published, you really, really ought to go the e-book route with KDP. It is awesome.)

Back to the e-mail.

Since it went out to tens or hundreds of thousands of people, I will take the liberty to quote it.

Some history: Read more…

Update on solar and wind power – solar #30

Here are a few articles on the economic problems and environmental damage from wind energy: survey of broad issues, intermittency, & pushback.

10/1 – Why Not Wind – Brief summary of the shortcomings of wind plantsCheck out the full article for detail comments on each of the following key points:

It’s energy from the weather.

Turbines kill birds and bats.

Wind industrializes open space.

Such and such a country got 85% of its electricity from wind.

That would be Germany and that stat is only true at whatever peak of the day the wind is blowing strongest. Average production is a small percent of that artificial stat. Read more…

A lighter moment in watching the regulation experiment – #9

I’m watching the impact of heavy regulation on the newly legal business of recreational marijuana in Colorado and Washington.

I don’t plan to focus on the short-term adjustment issues from the grand natural experiment. I’m more interested in waiting for the unintended crushing effect of regulation.

In the meantime, it is entertaining to watch the transition. Sometime you gotta’ just laugh….

10/7 – KOMO News – Exploding ‘pot pop’ removed from three marijuana shops

Read more…

Puritans started with socialism and price controls before they jumped to capitalism

There is a concept loose in the U.S. and emphasized in our educational system that the Puritans arrived in the U.S. believing in capitalism and went straight to economic prosperity.

Well, capitalism will definitely do that, but the Puritans made a few stops before getting to prosperity. Those included socialism, price controls, and severe caps on finance & trade under the guise of opposing usury. All of those policies will suppress economic development.

Jerry Bowyer explores this journey through false ideas is a series of articles, which summarize his interview with Mark Valeri, author of Heavenly Merchandize.

To encourage you to check out the full articles, I’ll try to summarize some key ideas.

7/30 – Forbes – Jerry Bowyer – Puritans vs. Capitalism: How A Theological Error Led To Financial Stagnation – In the 17th century, pastors and religious leaders were opposed to usury which included even discounting letters of credit more than a small amount. If you can’t use paper (bills of credit) to facilitate long-distance trading, there won’t be much trading.

Read more…

More good stuff on the open frontiers – drone edition

The frontier of drone technology is wide open. A few articles that stretch my understanding of this amazing world we live in. Some cool pictures this time.



(photo of harbor patrol boat by James Ulvog)

10/6 – Wired – The Navy’s Developing Little Autonomous Boats to Defend Its Ships – The Navy successfully tested the swarming abilities of autonomous harbor patrol boats. An operator can tell small boats like these what ships to defend and what to attack:


(photo by James Ulvog of harbor patrol boats on exercise)

Read more…

More good stuff on the open frontiers – 10/7

A few articles of interest on the wide open frontiers that surround us now – U.S. production of petroleum to surpass Saudi Arabia; sheepdogs protect predators as well as sheep.


Check out the huge increase in US production, compared to Saudi Arabia:

petroleum production

Source: Carpe Diem. Used with permission.

9/29 – Financial Times – US poised to become world’s leading liquid petroleum producer -

Read more…

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