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Monday, Oct. 27th, 2014

Ebola and Beyond: Scary Viruses in a Globalized World

Award-winning science writer David Quammen has published a new book about the Ebola virus and the disease it causes, and will give a free public lecture about it at Montana State University.

Quammen will speak on “Ebola and Beyond: Scary Viruses in a Globalized World” at 7 p.m. Tuesday, Nov. 18, in Ballroom A of MSU’s Strand Union Building.

A Bozeman resident and former Wallace Stegner Professor in Western American Studies at MSU, Quammen published “Ebola: The Natural and Human History of a Deadly Virus” this fall in response to public and media bewilderment about the disease, after circumstances became more severe in West Africa. Quammen drew on material from his compendious 2012 book, “Spillover: Animal Infections and the Next Human Pandemic” to assemble this new little volume, adding a fresh introduction and an epilogue devoted to recent events.

“The 2014 epidemic of Ebola virus disease in West Africa is unlike any Ebola event ever seen before,” Quammen said. “In fact, as of this writing, it’s already 10 times larger in terms of case fatalities – 10 times more punishing to Africans, 10 times more scary and befuddling to people around the world – than any single outbreak of an Ebolavirus (there are five kinds) during the previous known history of the disease.

“The peculiarly unfortunate circumstances that allowed this outbreak to simmer for months and then explode in the three countries first affected, and especially in Liberia, included weakened governance after decades of civil turmoil, inadequate health care infrastructure, shortage of trained health care workers and simple barrier-nursing supplies, population density and poverty in the capital cities, suspicion of Western medicine, and traditional funerary practices,” Quammen said.

Quammen has written many books, including “The Reluctant Mr. Darwin,” and “The Song of the Dodo.” He has been published in several national magazines and won numerous awards.  “Spillover,” for one, was a finalist for seven awards and received two of them: the Science and Society Book Award given by the National Association of Science Writers, and the Society of Biology (UK) Book Award in General Biology.

Quammen was educated at Yale University and Oxford University, and has lived in Montana since 1973.  He has received honorary doctorates from MSU and Colorado College.

For more information, go to

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Notes on a Concert: Phillip Phillips

I went to see Phillip Phillips at The Field House on Friday night and I learned a few things:

1. Apparently I have a thing for white guys with acoustic guitars (but I think I already knew that)

2. My post concussion brain does not like strobe lights

3. Technology is a double edged sword.

Without reality TV and "vote via text message", I wouldn't know who Phillip Phillips is, but the level to which people are distracted by technology in their daily lives is disconcerting. The crowd was full of lit phone screens. The concert was going full blast and all around me, people were taking selfies, recording videos and even Facebooking! When the woman seated behind me wanted me to sit down because she was recording the song I was dancing to, I considered screaming into her lens "BE HERE NOW!" How dare she interrupt my joyful experience? I took one giant step to the right and kept dancing. I thought How can all these people be here in this amazing moment and be focused elsewhere? and then I realized that I was focusing elsewhere by thinking about all these other people! It sure is distracting, all the camera flashes and glowing screens. While I was dancing, singing and clapping, there were four people standing in front of me, holding their phones perfectly still with both hands, not making a sound. What I want to know is when in the world are they ever going to watch that video? Oh well, when they do, they'll hear my loud, out of pitch voice singing along to every song!

4. Those of us who go to a concert because we are familiar with the artist and truly appreciate his music  are few and far between.

There was a white haired grandma type lady behind me as we exited the arena. She was complaining because she only knew two of the songs Phillip played and "he just had to wait til the very end" to play his most popular song, Home. I should have responded to her: Well, that's what an encore is. Also, you know why I  knew every song? Because I bought his albums and I listen to them regularly because I genuinely enjoy his music! What a concept! I wonder why that woman was there? Maybe as a gift to a granddaughter she loves?

I've certainly been to concerts where I didn't know any of the artist's original songs but I've never complained about it. That's part of loving music and that's some of the point of an opening act, to expose you to music you've never heard before. I've discovered a lot of great artists that way.

5. I do not belong seated in the stands. I belong in that crazy, screaming, pulsing mass of humanity in front of the stage.

When I bought my ticket to this concert, months ago,  I was still suffering from some significant concussion symptoms. I wasn't even sure I'd be able to go and I figured if I did, I probably shouldn't be close to the speakers and would need to be able to sit down, so I bought seat tickets instead of general admission. I only stood up to dance for four songs, which practically broke my concert loving heart!

Music is one of the things I'm most passionate about, and going to see live music is one of my favorite things in the entire world. I've never made a list (although now I'm going to!) but I'm sure that I've easily been to over 100 concerts in my life. It's food for my soul. A Dave Matthews Band concert is my personal equivalent of going to church. I understand that's not common and I certainly don't expect all the other concert attendees to have the same enthusiasm for the experience that I do. I guess I just don't understand the concept of spending so much money on a concert ticket if you aren't fully committed to the experience. The same goes for people who get so drunk or high that they have no idea what song is playing. I've never understood that either.

I don't want to impose on anyone else's experience with my singing and dancing but I think I have a right to be doing it. I've paid good money for my own little space in that venue and I should be able to use it to enjoy the music however I see fit, as long as I'm not hurting anyone else. If I annoy you, well... I'm sorry but I'm not really sorry.

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Friday, Oct. 24th, 2014

Girls STEM group hosts conference in Helena on Nov. 7

The Montana Girls STEM Collaborative Project (MGSCP) will host a conference on Friday, Nov. 7 in Helena in partnership with Helena College.

The event is designed for organizations and individuals who are committed to informing and motivating girls to pursue careers in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) and to encourage collaboration among STEM groups.

The conference will provide an opportunity for participants to hear about successful programs in the state, including partnerships with STEM businesses; learn about activities of the Montana Girls STEM Collaborative; and form potential collaborations. The conference also includes Role Models Matter (RMM) training--an opportunity for STEM professionals to gain skills in serving as role models and mentors--and a tour featuring Helena College's two-year STEM degree programs, such as aviation mechanics.
First Lady Lisa Bullock will kick off the morning activities, and Lieutenant Governor Angela McLean will introduce the afternoon activities.

Anyone is welcome to attend, including representatives from businesses, non-profits and government; as well as teachers, counselors, administrators and staff from K-12, higher education and informal education. The workshop takes place from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. at the two campuses of Helena College. The morning sessions are at the main campus (1115 North Roberts Street), and afternoon sessions are at the airport campus (2300 Airport Road).

The registration fee is $45, which covers conference materials, lunch and refreshments. Participants can register online at
The Montana Girls STEM Collaborative is a National Science Foundation-funded effort that encourages girls to pursue STEM careers and studies. It is an outreach program of Montana NSF EPSCoR with co-leaders based at Montana State University at the University of Montana.

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Thursday, Oct. 23rd, 2014

App deadline is Oct. 31 for MSU EMT course

The deadline is Oct. 31 to apply for a Montana State University Extended University basic course for emergency medical technicians that will be taught next spring.

The EMT Basic Course will be taught 6:30-10 p.m. on Tuesdays and Thursdays from Jan. 15 through April 30. The course covers essential skills required of emergency medical technicians. It will prepare students for the state and national written and practical exams. Students who pass the exams will be certified to perform life-saving skills as EMTs in a pre-hospital setting.

Tuition for the course is $800 for non-credit students. This course can also be taken for academic credit at an additional charge.

Kris Kaull, B.S., NREMT-P, CCEMT-P, will teach the class. Those who are interested in attending the course must be at least 18 years old, have a high school diploma or GED equivalent and must not have been convicted of certain felony charges.

Enrollment is limited, and students who apply must also interview with the course instructor. Interviews will be held on Saturday, Nov. 15.

For more information about the course or to request application materials, visit, call Extended University at (406) 994-6683, or email

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The Artists’ Gallery: Dyk + Rogers

The Artists’ Gallery in the Emerson Cultural Center will feature the work of Grace Dyk and Vanessa Rogers during the month of November.  The show will include a Featured Artist Reception where you can meet the artists and share a glass of wine.
Dyk is a watercolorist and oil painter who strives to capture the beauty of the Gallatin Valley landscape.  She enjoys working with shadow and depth in her paintings.  Dyk finds an artistic challenge in expressing the beauty of the natural world, which intensifies as the seasons change and add dramatic changes of color to the mix.
Rogers is a ceramic artist working exclusively in porcelain, which she appreciates for its smooth texture and ability to showcase brilliant colors in glazes.  Rogers hand carves and sculpts each piece with patterns and textures inspired by nature and the sea.  She endeavors to create pottery which marries the worlds of form and function as a metaphorical juxtaposition of the physical and spiritual world.
Come see the artwork and meet its makers at the Featured Artist Reception in The Artists’ Gallery, Friday, November 14th from 5:00 pm to 8:00 pm

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Wednesday, Oct. 15th, 2014

MSU Answers Questions about Montana Spiders

From identifications to cataloging species present in Montana, experts with Montana State University Extension often address questions about spiders. Schutter Diagnosic Laboratory on the MSU campus offers information and help to the public in identifying spiders and other insects.
While there is conflicting information on the Internet and in the media, the brown recluse is not native to and cannot survive in Montana’s cold, dry climate. Its native range is from southeastern Kansas south to Texas and east to western North Carolina and south to southern Georgia.
“It is extremely unlikely that any spider bite from this area is from a brown recluse,” said Lauren Kerzicnik, insect diagnostician at the Schutter Diagnostic Laboratory. “While we often receive submissions from people wondering if a spider is a brown recluse, we have never positively identified one in Montana.”
Identifying a brown recluse is difficult because it has a violin pattern that is common to many spiders. Brown recluse spiders have six eyes that are arranged in three pairs of two behind its head. To be sure, identification of a brown recluse must be done by a trained arachnologist or entomologist.
Brown recluse bites are consistently misdiagnosed in areas where the spider is not present, including Wyoming, Colorado and Montana. The venom of brown recluse spiders contains a component called sphingomyelinase D, which creates mild to severe necrotic lesions in the immediate area of the bite.
Reactions to the toxin in the venom delivered from the brown recluse bite mimic several other types of medical issues, including bacterial infections, chemical and allergic reactions, lymphoma and other conditions. The spider is often erroneously blamed for bacterial-caused rashes and lesions that have nothing to do with spiders or spider bites but, rather, are caused by some other wound or puncture that allows bacteria to enter the body.
Bites from brown recluse spiders do not typically cause body-wide or systemic reactions. The venom itself does not cause infection. Instead, the open wound creates an entry point into the body for bacteria. The only way to confirm that a spider or insect is responsible is if the specimen is captured and identified.
The only spider commonly found in Montana with venom harmful to humans is the black widow. Its venom causes latrodectism, which results in persistent sweating, muscle cramping, and other neurological responses. Bites from black widows are very rare.
The hobo spider, which has also been called the aggressive house spider, is present in most of central and western Montana. It does not cause necrotic lesions and is not directly harmful, despite misinformation on the internet. There has been significant research on this subject over the last decade and any suggestions that hobo spider bites or lesions are dangerous has been discredited. Nevertheless, if a wound becomes inflamed or soreness persists, medical care should be sought as secondary infection can enter the body through the wound.
To minimize the risk of spider bites, take caution when working in crawl spaces, garages, the laundry room, and in areas that are not often encountered.  In general, bites are rare from spiders because they are small, their fangs are small, and they lack the musculature to pierce the human skin. If think you have a spider bite, see a dermatologist if your symptoms persist.
Facts about the brown recluse and other spiders in Montana:
·      The brown recluse has never been positively identified in Montana
·      The brown recluse bite causes localized necrotic lesions on the skin due to a toxin in its venom
·      Necrotic lesions can be caused by several factors, including some spider bites or secondary infections in the bite area
·      The most common cause for such necrotic lesions in areas of the country where brown recluse spiders are not found (such as Montana) is MRSA (Methicillin Resistant Staphlococcus aureus infection)
·      A brown recluse spider must be identified by an experienced professional
·      The black widow is the only spider harmful to humans that has been identified in Montana
·      Hobo spiders are present in Montana but are not aggressive and do not cause necrotic lesions
If you find a spider or insect of concern, please place it in a leak-proof container and either freeze it or preserve it in rubbing alcohol. Bring the sample to your local county Extension office or send it to the Schutter Diagnostic Lab at 119 Plant BioScience Bldg, PO Box 173150, Bozeman, MT 59717-3150.

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Wednesday, Oct. 8th, 2014

Volunteers Needed for Downtown Trick or Treating Event

Downtown Bozeman is the place to be on Halloween! Join us from 3-6pm on Friday, October 31 for a spooktacular, safe evening of traditional trick of treating in downtown! We are currently seeking volunteers to be intersection attendants during the event to help make it a safe and enjoyable event for our Bozeman families. If you are interested, please call 586-4008 or email Ellie Staley at

And, parent’s let your kids enjoy the brisk outdoors for a little Halloween fun in Downtown Bozeman and gather goodies at over 150 businesses! Hot drinks will be available outside the Downtown Visitor’s Center at 8 East Main Street. We will have patrol cars, Bozeman Police Officers, intersection attendants and “safety sams” located at all the downtown intersections to help slow down traffic and make your experience as safe as possible! See you there!

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Wednesday, Sep. 24th, 2014

MSU alerts students about telephone scam

Telephone scammers targeting students at Montana State University-Bozeman, the University of Montana-Missoula and nationally are telling students they must pay a fine immediately by giving payment information over the phone or they will be arrested by the Montana State University-Bozeman Police Department.
“MSU-Bozeman Police does not conduct business this way,” said MSU-Bozeman Police Chief Robert Putzke. “Any students receiving such a call should not share any personal or financial information with the caller and should call legitimate law enforcement immediately.”
The scammers are predominantly calling foreign students on the University of Montana-Missoula campus, but students at MSU-Bozeman, Penn State and in Georgia and Tennessee have also received calls.
The scam is particularly devious because the caller ID on victims’ telephones shows the MSU-Bozeman Police number. This is known as “caller ID spoofing” and occurs outside of the university system’s technological control.
More than 40 students reported the scam within the span of a few hours on Wednesday. Students report the caller sounds like he is calling from a call center as there are other voices in the background. Students have been told a variety of things: they owe back taxes, have an overdue tuition bill, or a fine and if they do not pay they will be suspended from school, deported, or arrested.
Students receiving such calls are urged to call law enforcement on the MSU-Bozeman, UM-Missoula, and MSU-Billings campuses. MSU-Bozeman Police can be reached at 406-994-2121. UM-Missoula Police can be reached at 406-243-6131. MSU-Billings Police can be reached at 406-657-2147.

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Bozeman Amateur Hockey Info

Online hockey registration: OPEN NOW at
Youth Pre-Season hockey: Tuesday, September 30 - Thursday, October 16
Travel team evaluations: Monday, October 20 - Sunday, October 26
Youth hockey practices start (travel & non-travel): Week of October 27
Online hockey registration: OPEN NOW at
HHL Hocktober Scramble dates: Monday, September 29 - Saturday, November 1
GHOA Referee Clinic: Saturday, October 11
HHL Regular season registration deadline: Sunday, October 12 ($50 late fee after this date)
HHL Regular season dates: Sunday, November 2 - Saturday, April 18

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Tuesday, Sep. 23rd, 2014

The HELP CENTER is Calling for Artists to Participate in the 37th Annual Festival of the Arts, Thanksgiving Weekend

Calling all artists!  Space is still available to be a vendor at the 37thannual Help Center’s Festival of the Arts, which occurs Thanksgiving weekend.  The Festival brings top artists and craftspeople from throughout the northwest to the Gallatin Valley.

Visit or call 406.580.0967 for more information and applications. The Festival of the Arts is the primary fundraiser of Bozeman’s HELP CENTER, a 24-hour crisis counseling and referral center serving the people of the Gallatin Valley. The event will take place Thanksgiving weekend at the Gallatin County Fairgrounds from 12 pm to 5 pm on Friday, November 28 and from 10 am to 4 pm on Saturday, November 29.  Adult admission is $3 for one day.  Children under 12 will be admitted for free.

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