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Here's to a lump of coal

Jun 20, 2012 - By Carolyn B. Tyler

There's a mixed message to children in "a lump of coal."

Traditionally, a "lump of coal" is what all naughty children get in their stockings on Christmas morning.

But, in fact, for Wyoming children, it is "a lump of coal" -- make that "millions of lumps of coal" -- that provide the financial basis for their outstanding public education.

A lump of coal isn't such a bad thing when it comes to Wyoming's method of equalizing the state's mineral wealth among the 48 public school districts. Those lumps of coal pay for the school buildings, the school supplies, and a large share of the teachers' paychecks.

Here's to a mighty lump of coal... and trona, and bentonite, and uranium, and all other sources of Wyoming's mineral wealth.

And, the National Mining Association tells us, that in addition to coal, a youngster in the United States can look forward to a lifetime of dependence upon mined minerals.

Based on current consumption, the NMA says a newborn infant today will need a lifetime supply of: 800 pounds of lead, 750 pounds of zinc, 1,500 pounds of copper, 3,593 pounds of aluminum, 32,700 pounds of iron, 26,550 pounds of clays, 28,213 pounds of salt, and 1,238,101 pounds of stone, sand, gravel and cement

The Ranger salutes minerals in today 57th annual Mining and Energy edition.

While not mined, the Earth's primary energy source is at its northern-most point today. It's the summer solstice.

Summer begins at 5:09 p.m. today -- just about the same time as you are reading today's newspaper.

Each year, the timing of the solstice depends on when the sun reaches its farthest point north of the equator. It gives us the longest day of the year.

For those gathering in Grand Teton National Park today for the annual convention of the Wyoming Mining Association, this day is 15 hours and 28 minutes long with the sun rising from Riverton-direction at 5:30 a.m. and setting this evening out the windows of Jackson Lake Lodge at 9:08 p.m.

For the record, the word "solstice" is from the Latin "solstitium," from "sol" (sun) and "stitium" (to stop), reflecting the fact that the sun appears to stop at this time (and again at the winter solstice) and go back the other way.

The summer solstice is also the time of the traditional festival of Midsummer.

Therefore, tonight's the night for a "Midsummer Night's Dream."

And, perhaps, a lump of coal.

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