Tag Archives: Billings is boring song

Sad thoughts on Montana

Yesterday’s post about all the smart people in Montana (see below) wouldn’t be complete without the downside, which is Montana’s leading export — its smart young people. 

Lindsay’s down in Austin Texas, the physicist has a company making high tech optical instruments for physics research outside Boston, the engineer is out in Utah.

My son’s high school friends went on to Cornell, Harvard, Rice, Stanford, Yale and did well.  None remain in the state.  

Most of their parents were docs , who had to come from out of state (like I did) because Montana had no medical school back then.  

The educational system in Billings back then was superb.  Our son passed his language requirement at Cornell with 4 years of Billings high school French.  He didn’t need to take remedial writing thanks to a fabulous honors English teacher — Lowell Gorseth, unfortunately no longer with us. 

Good as it was, it didn’t stop teenagers from being bored.  One day a bunch of them were moping around in the living room, so I sat down to the piano and made up the “Billings is boring” song which we all sang. 

Here’s the old post 

Montana girl does good, real good !

Montana is flyover country. Nobody smart lives there. We all know that.

But when I got there in 1972 an issue of Science contained an article by State Legislator about a modification of general relativity — https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kenneth_Nordtvedt.  MIT grad, Harvard Junior Fellow etc. etc. 

Then there was the son of a doc I practiced with in Billings.   Honors physics at Billings Senior high school placed him in 2nd year physics at Harvard, from which he graduated in 4 years obtaining a masters in physics as well. 

Then there was a local boy, the Thiokol engineer who predicted the Challenger disaster and was over-ruled. 

The great thing about Montana was that no one ever bragged about this sort of thing.  There were so few people, that no one felt compelled to tell you about themselves, you’d find out about them soon enough.  The classic example was an excellent surgeon and friend I practiced with for 15 years.  Only on reading his obituary last year did I find out that he had a Fulbright after college.

Which brings me to Lindsay, a girl I first met when she was a high school student.  The family were ranchers with a beautiful spread on the east face of the Crazy mountains north of Big Timber.  I’m not sure how we first met — I don’t think I saw any of them as a patient.  But we all became friends and the galactic premiere of a cello sonata I wrote with a 19 year old secretary in a lumberyard was in their living room. 

The two least important things about Lindsay are that she was a centerfold and an olympic silver medalist in woman’s two person crew.  Don’t get excited about the centerfold bit, she was fully clothed, but for some reason the Harvard Alumni magazine had a 2 page picture on a field of daisys of her back in the 80’s when she was there. 

Lindsay went on to get a PhD from Cambridge and her work and that of her husband may have come up with something useful for Alzheimer’s disease.  I’ll talk about the science behind it in a future post.  But when the news broke today, the stock of her company hit 70  (it was around 7 at the beginning of the year).  For details please see — https://finance.yahoo.com/m/49fa6153-4235-3866-bff2-5a35470e54da/why-cassava-sciences-stock.html.

Couldn’t happen to a nicer girl.  Of course it didn’t just happen.  Decades of hard work went into it.  So as you fly across the country, look down.  Some people down there might be even smarter than you are.