Montana n: A state of the northwest United States bordering on Canada. Admitted as the 41st state in 1889. The fourth largest state in the union, it includes vast prairies and numerous majestic mountain ranges.
Syn: Treasure State, Big Sky Country, Last Best Place.
Jones n: slang. An addiction or very deep craving.
Friday, April 29, 2005
I found a blogosphere meme I thought entertaining enough to join.These are my URL ABCs:
- A is for antwrp.gsfc.nasa.gov/apod/ - Astronomy picture of the day. -- nuff said
- B is for blogdex.net/ - Aggregate of the blogosphere
- C is for chadhasablognow.blogspot.com/2005/04/rock-and-roll-high-forever.html - Bah Weep Grahna Weep Ninny Bon -- cool
- D is for del.icio.us/Normel - My del.icio.us links
- E is for excite.com/ - Portal love, news, weather and quote of the day.
- F is for fark.com/ - It's not news, it's FARK
- G is for google.com/ - Google. -- nuff said.
- H is for hype.non-standard.net/ - Not quite sure how this hit the list, browsed it once but couldn't decide if it was even worth a bookmark.
- I is for 404 - You can't have this one. Private business
- J is for jacquelinepassey.blogs.com/blog/ - Another cute chick of the blogosphere. I vacillate between smitten and thinking she is too full of herself.
- K is for karbonkountymoos.blogspot.com/ - Montana Bloggers know her and love her.
- L is for 404 - Can't have this one either. Personal web server. (although Left in the West was a close second.)
- M is for montanajones.blogspot.com/ - Heh.
- N is for nowherethoughts.net/sarpysam/ - Sarpy Sam. My favorite deep thinking beef guru.
- O is for okcupid.com/ - Okay, this is just silly and I am almost embarrassed to admit I secretly like this site.
- P is for plastic.com/ - Online discussions.
- Q is for queervisions.com/arch/inspiring_humanism/ - I do not recall ever having visited this site before ever. But, the browser bar don't lie.
- R is for radio.weblogs.com/0001011/2005/04/23.html#a9919 - Recent post from the Scobleizer weblog.
- S is for slashdot.org/ - Nerds love the slash
- T is for thespotlessmindasylum.blogspot.com/ - Hi Rachel!
- U is for userfriendly.org/ - Nerds love UF too.
- V is for villagephotos.com/ - I remember hitting this site recently while looking for new image hosting places. I gave them a pass but browser bar remembered them.
- W is for wulfgar.typepad.com/ - A Chicken Is Not Pillage
- X is for xnerg.blogspot.com/2005/04/who-needs-facts-when-youve-got.html - file this under- more random surfing of the blogosphere.
- Y is for yahoo.com/ - Yahoo!
- Z is for zeeb.at/oops/B-17%20bomb%20run.jpg - I refuse to explain this or how it found it's way into my addy bar.
Out of 26 links I figured:
35% were blog related.
15% were news or meta news.
19% were the result of random web surfing.
23% categorized as "other".
8% private links I can't share.
There is a personality test in here somewhere.
By the way, Internet Explorer users can't play along. Your browser bar remembers links in alphabetical order as opposed to the more entertaining most recently accessed order that the vastly superior Firefox browser uses.
Thursday, April 28, 2005
Those semi-circular, inverted half pipe looking buildings are called quanza huts. (Yeah, I've seen 'em before, I just didn't know what they were called.)
The size of a septic system drain field depends on the number of bedrooms in the house it is servicing. Most small businesses are the equivalent to a two bedroom house. And if you are constructing a new septic system you are required by state law to have enough land for both the septic system and an equal amount of unused land for replacing the system at some time in the future.
Some people hunt and fish not for sport but to put food on the table.
People here tend to favor "pop" over "soda".
One in four job applicants will prefer to postal mail a resume instead of E-mailing it.
I previously believed there were only three seasons in Montana. July, August, and Winter. I stand corrected. The three seasons are: Skiing, Hunting, and Road Construction.
Wednesday, April 27, 2005
As a recent transplant from The Big City full of smog and auto exhaust and other assorted nasty fumes I have formed an opinion on Montana air quality. My lungs ache more here than I ever had to deal with when I was breathing crap air back at previous address. The big reason, wood smoke.
Over the winter I noticed quite a few Montanans would heat their house with wood fires. Understandably so. But all those wood fires spewed forth a bunch of smoke and during the morning when the temperature inversions held the smoke low I would do a lot of coughing and hacking. In fact I would keep hacking all day, long after the smoke had lifted. I was really looking forward to spring so that people would stop burning so much crap and I could breath some clean air for a change.
Spring is here, and there is no relief. Now everyone is burning slash piles and grass and other assorted trash. The aftermath from the visit by tree trimmer guy was a smoldering pile of limbs gently wafting its smoke into my windows. The day before that the guy across the street was burning something. If I was back in The Big City I would have been calling the fire department for fear that someone's house was burning down. Pretty much any given day I can look around and spot a plume of smoke going up somewhere. Granted it is not as persistent as it was over the winter, but it is still enough to keep me coughing pretty regularly. The other day a native actually complained to me about the traffic and how bad the smog was starting to get around here. I didn't know if I should laugh or what, sounded like a joke to me. Almost as good a joke as that ban on smoking in bars to protect our health.
I don't have very high hopes for summer either. Forest fire season. Could be good, could be bad, only mother nature knows for sure. Perhaps fall will be clean air season here in Montana, but winter won't be far away. Might be a good time for me to vacation back at The Big City where my lungs don't hurt so much.
Tuesday, April 26, 2005
For those who are trying to keep up with the Jones', here is some aftermath from previous posts.
Back in March I was experimenting with a sugar reduction in my diet. I made a point to run completely out of cool-aid and snacks over a weekend so that I started a Monday morning with no sugar in the house. Boy oh boy did that make me grumpy. Mega grumpy. Probably the worst Monday since moving to Montana. I could not wait to get out of the office that afternoon and high tail it to the store for sugary goodness.
I'm still drinking cool-aid copiously. I haven't had any high fructose pop in the house since then (I've had some at restaurants). I am eating more salads, getting regular exercise, perhaps those extra calories from sugar aren't so bad if it keeps me even tempered.
I have on a couple occasions bemoaned a lack of ethnic food.
Let me just say that the Dos Amigos restaurant in Whitefish has some pretty good Mexican food. The Chinese place down the road from there is not too bad, but not really worth making the drive for.
The chance encounter has not been heard from since. Probably a good thing. I would like to give her bra back though.
And for anyone who has been with me since the start of this blog, you will be pleased to know that I am not farting so much anymore.
Saturday, April 23, 2005
The blood had coagulated into a thick blob, dark red where it had dried, bright red and glistening where it still oozed from my knee. I was surprised that it did not hurt at all, the soap did not sting it, no pain from probing my fingers into the wound making sure there were no more bits of gravel or dirt.
It was a minor cut, I got it in a stupid way. With a little free time on a beautiful sunny afternoon I extended my usual afternoon bike ride to the post office into an exploration around the edges of town. Much to my delight I found a trail leading up a wooded hill. The trail was nicely groomed, not too steep, beautifully suited to the first off road bike ride in ages. Plodding up the hill my lungs were quick to complain and it wasn't long before I was shifted down to the granny gears. I couldn't make it all the way up the hill, I had to take a break. That was my mistake. Stopping on an uphill with loose gravel while in the granny gear.
Starting a bicycle from a total stop involves a push off from the foot on the ground coupled with one good down thrust from the foot on the pedal to create enough forward momentum on the bike to carry you until both feet can be clipped in and more power applied to both pedals. When stopped on an uphill an even more powerful push off is required and there is less momentum and time before you fall over. Stopped in the granny gear means even less power transfer from pedal to wheel. The fancy clipless pedals and shoes means more time fumbling with my feet before I could get sufficient power to the pedals and more difficulty in ejecting should something go awry. And the loose gravel surface meant no traction for the wheel even if I could get power to it. The end result of this equation was a pathetic push off, a small roster tail of gravel from the tire and my toppling over with feet firmly clipped to the pedals.
A move like that is more embarrassing than painful, I'm just glad no one saw me. The result was a little cut on my knee that started oozing an impressive amount of blood and I actually had to walk my bike up the hill to a more suitable spot to mount up again. I'm glad no one saw me walking too. Pushing a bike is almost more embarrassing than falling off one.
The remainder of the ride was completely uneventful. The downhill part of the trail was every bit of fun the uphill part was not. The sunny beautiful day was perfect for being outside. I was even sporting a bright red badge of macho dripping down my leg. It was oozing just the perfect amount of blood, not so much to make a nasty mess of me, but enough to make it obvious that I could play hard and scoff at injury. I was the guy in the movies who could face down villains after getting beat up. I was showing the world that it takes more than a divot in my skin to stop me. I felt cool.
I think It's good to get first blood early in the season. It helps remind me that little scratches don't hurt and I feel confident playing harder during the summer. The nicks and scabs make excellent trophies to ones deeds. It reminds me how important it is to get out and do things. Even the band-aid makes me look burly. Now if only I had gotten it from a huge spectacular wipeout; then I would have a sweet story to match.
Thursday, April 21, 2005
The other day a tree trimmer guy showed up with a big truck and cherry picker.
While he was working the lifter gizmo broke.
It was a busted hydraulic line to his controls. He was stranded in his bucket.
It must suck to be stuck in a bucket.
From the ground the guy managed to get the bucket lowered and drive away.
Next day he was back trimming the trees, only this time he had to climb them.
(For the record the tree guys were very safe and competent, those power lines are much farther away than they appear. The whole thing was just an unfortunate malfunction.)
Wednesday, April 20, 2005
I blame Costco. It is far too easy to get sucked into the "oh yeah, that will be handy to have around" trap. While at the Costco I crossed the path of huge boxes of cheap bar soap. And what did I catch myself saying? "Hey yeah, I'm almost out of soap, that will be handy to have around."
Ordinarily I am an Ivory soap kinda guy. Plain, simple, gets you clean, no worries kind of soap. Simple is good. Now at the Costco I didn't see huge boxes of Ivory, so with a casual "heh, soap is soap" I grabbed a huge box of Irish Spring. (If you are unfamiliar with Costco, packages there are sized 'huge', 'gargantuan', and 'forklift required', the small option does not exist.) And thus I go happily on my way with a supply of soap that ought to last me a year.
Well, time wears on and the last bar of Ivory soap dwindles down to a little chip and then breaks in half and I get all excited about pulling out the first bar from my new stockpile. Irish Spring, unfortunately, is nothing like Ivory. It is bright blue and it stinks to high heaven. God only knows what sort of chemicals they injected into that innocent bar of soap to give it such properties and in my ignorance I actually rubbed those chemicals all over my body.
Since getting out of the shower there has been this nasty perfume smell following me everywhere. The bathroom reeks like the guy that can't stop with cologne already. My skin feels like it has been coated with wax. I am even starting to itch in places I can't scratch, (although that may just be a psychosomatic symptom). I feel DIRTY. Aaaarrgh. And there is no way for me to bathe this dirty feel off. I might have to go outside and roll in the driveway to make it go away.
I may be able to salvage that last tiny chip of Ivory and this week wont be the first time I have bathed with shampoo for lack of something better. But what in the hell am I gonna do with this huge supply of nasty soap?
Monday, April 18, 2005
The smooth skin is as comfortable as a warm day, the motions of our bodies both familiar and new. Our faces are held close enough that we both gulp for the same hot air and I can look into her eyes and know there is enough trust there to just let go. Let go of inhibitions, let go of worries, let go of any feelings of how this might not be the right thing to do. Like the regret of always ordering the same thing from the menu at the restaurant. Constantly returning to the familiar. The other dishes are there, variety adds to life, bravery would let me pass on this and choose differently. But this one has a special place in my heart, in my palette. I have acquired a taste for her.
- So how long are we going to keep having sex?
- Until one of us can't do it anymore I suppose.
- How will you feel about that?
- I'll be sad, but I'll deal with it. I'll be okay. What about you?
- I'll be sad, but I'll deal with it. I'll be okay.
- Should we set a deadline to stop?
- No, we would never be able to enforce it.
Somehow it feels like there is nothing left to talk about, our feelings aren't for the sharing anymore. Somehow the seeds of intimacy still grow. A caress traded for a kiss. A kiss promotes embrace. The embrace holds to the warmth and security of another soul. These few hours to be cherished because soon there will be goodbyes again and the door will close and the delicious warmth in the bed will grow cool.
A special Thank You goes to SB for sharing a gmail invite.
Montana Jones world headquarters has now joined the 21st century with E-mail! Want to talk without all the riff raff listening in on the comments, drop a line at the new E-mail address: montanaJ@gmail.com.
Friday, April 15, 2005
Things I miss most from the previous address.
Okay, I really haven't been here long enough to do an appropriate quest for all the good restaurants, but my immediate neck of the woods is sorely lacking. I am accustomed to having my pick from a variety of Mexican, Chinese, Italian, Sushi, Thai, BBQ, and assorted American all within a stones throw. I have found some of these flavors in some of the towns around here, but nothing that resembles a huge selection and I hate having to drive out of town to find them.
Since I have been here I have gone out of my way to see some bands in Whitefish and Missoula. I understand the Clumsy Lovers are playing Helena soon. But it all involves lots of driving and the selection is pretty weak. Previous Address had music somewhere close at hand pretty much every night of the week, and on weekends I was actually inundated with choices. Folk, Regge, Ska, Rockabilly, Metal, Hip Hop, Techno, Jazz. Around here you are lucky to find a band that deviates from classic rock or country.
Now I don't mean craigslist specifically, I lurked but never posted. But any sort of centralized community oriented bulletin board want ads list website thingy would do just fine. Where do people go to figure out what there is to do around here? I'm not sure if Montana has a large enough internet using population (heck, scratch 'internet using' from that sentence) to support such a website. I see a lot of push back and ignorance about computers and internet around here. Besides, I doubt the 'rants and raves' from Montana could possibly rival a metro area for sheer bizarre entertainment value.
Ultimate Frisbee is the only team sport I have ever been able to play with any success. The game can't be beat for a cardio workout. When I used to train marathons I could go running for an hour or more at a stretch, but ten minutes of ultimate could still kick my ass and leave me choking for air. At the previous address I had available to me not one but two weekly pickup games I could join. Plus there were leagues three times a year. If I knew how good I had it I would have taken more advantage. I have heard unconfirmed rumors that Missoula has a pickup game on the campus somewhere, but there we go with the driving again.
Okay, they were lazy bastards, didn't get out much, smoked, drank, encouraged bad habits, were generally incorrigible, argumentative, had poor hygiene, and were constantly broke. But dammit they backed me up when I needed backing, slapped me down when I needed that, they picked me up when I was down, they could beat me at Risk, and they could turn a package of bratwurst and a case of beer into the finest of afternoons. These guys would never consider dropping their lives and moving to Montana to take on a business venture, but when I told them what I was going to do they supported me. 100%. They always wanted me to be successful and were completely unselfish with their encouragement, their advice and their love. I miss you guys.
Thursday, April 14, 2005
It's been a slow week here at M. Jones world headquarters. Time to break some rules. I'm gonna break my own big rule and post about politics. Here are five questions I would like to ask President George W. Bush.
(Actually these are five questions I would like GWB to answer, but he is a busy guy and I don't think he visits my blog all that much so the peanut gallery is invited to contribute their two cents in his place.)
- Considering that the largest contributors to your re-election campaign have had new legislation passed in their favor. Credit card companies gained the changes in bankruptcy laws, Exxon and other companies gained access to oil drilling in an Alaskan wildlife preserve, Wal-Mart has gained protection from class action lawsuits. What have you done to support small business people that represent a minority of your campaign contributions but represent 99% of all employers and 75% of all new jobs in this country?
- Considering the torture scandal in Iraq and Afghanistan, the allegations of prisoner mistreatment at Guatanimo bay, and the allegations of deportations of terror war prisoners to 'torture friendly' countries. Considering torture is one of the most abominable crimes in all of human history why have these things happened on your watch?
- Considering your success on bringing democracy and elections to Iraq, what have you done to promote democracy here in the United States? Specifically, what actions have you taken to ensure that all U.S. elections are fair and accurate, and to prevent future occurrences of the controversy and vote counting scandals that have rocked both of your elections?
- Considering your success on bringing human rights to the peoples of the Middle East, why is U.S. citizen Jose Padilla still being detained without being charged with a crime and without legal access, in other words without rights?
- Why has Osama Bin Laden not been brought to justice?
Wednesday, April 13, 2005
Old news by now I think, but certainly the last thing I ever expected from Montana. Thanks to Craig at MTpolitics for pointing this one out.
For the record, I am a non smoker. I have kept smokers near me as friends and associates for most of my adult life. My association with these people as well as my affinity for seeing live music in small smoky bars plus my short stint as a barkeep plus whatever other secondhand or firsthand bad habits I may have experimented with has resulted in a mild asthma. I experience pain in the lungs and coughing fits when I spend time in smoky places.
Lawmakers said Montana's ban is intended to protect public health and welfare and to recognize the right of nonsmokers to breathe smoke-free air.
Sure, I think everyone should have the right to smoke free air, but there is still ample fresh air here in Montana and every exposure to smoke I have ever had in my life has been voluntary. No one ever forced or coerced me into a smoky tavern or restaurant. Besides, bars and restaurants are not necessarily public places. (Exact legal definition may differ from my opinion.) There is no good or compelling reason why any common citizen must enter such a place. A person could live an entire healthy, happy, well adjusted life without ever stepping into a smoky restaurant. This standard does not apply to other places like the local supermarket or laundromat as it becomes more difficult to live a life without them. There are other places that must be accessible to all citizens no matter what. The courthouse, the library, schools, government offices. Regulation of essential places is essential. Regulation of non-essential places is not. For the most part this is already being done.
I have seen a demand among the general population for smoke free bars and restaurants. Personally, I don't spend money at bars like I used to; and one of the biggest reason is that whenever I do indulge I spend the next two days with a mighty chest pain and hawking up lung cookies. If a business person offered me a comfortable smoke free social setting to enjoy I would be all over it. Especially if there were live music.
There is a growing trend for smoke free bars and restaurants. Some taverns are starting to run specials like 'smoke free Thursdays'. This trend is growing and would grow more if demand for tobacco declines. Meets my smoke free needs, business owners get my money, all are happy.
Combine the regulation of non-essential spaces with the free market already doing what needs to be done and it makes this new law an intrusion into our lives rather than a benefit.
So what about my asthma? The government has an interest in reducing health care costs. To make this happen our government must get to the heart of the matter and not regulate around the edges. I fully support initiatives that hold tobacco companies accountable for their destructive product. It is a well known and established fact that smoking is bad for you. The tobacco companies do not care to make a big issue out of this because it hurts their bottom line and they have well paid lobbyists hassling our elected officials so they can avoid their obligations. They do have a right to sell tobacco to adult consumers but they do not have the right to suppress or obfuscate the facts about their product. They do not have the right to unwittingly addict people. Children should be shielded from this product until such time as they are educated to its effects and are capable of making in intelligent decision about using it. At which time free market rules should apply.
If more were done to make tobacco growers and tobacco users pay the higher costs of health care they incur, (yes this would increase the cost of cigarettes, tough.) And more were done to educate the public as to the consequences of their actions before they become addicted. The legislation recently passed here in Montana would be unnecessary and grownups would have more freedom to choose the lifestyles we want to live.
Sunday, April 10, 2005
The blogosphere has been abuzz for a while now about how cool we bloggers are that we have become a journalistic force to contend with. The big media moguls and their ink smeared on paper pontifications are in danger from the pixilated horde. Now this may be true, but what is being somewhat overlooked is the reverse trend. Ink on paper media becoming more like blogs.
Consider if you will Montana's own Hungry Horse News. I have crossed paths with Chris Peterson, the managing editor, in the past. He is a nice guy, hard working, dedicated to his paper. But have you seen some of the stuff he editorializes about? Check this recent one out: Life on the edge.
What this amounts to is a story about how he went to a movie and accidentally bonked a poor woman on the head with a cup. There is a little moralizing and a tie in with the theme of the movie he saw, but in the end this ink smeared on paper goodness is about as deep as a typical blog post from someone having a slow week. This isn't the first time he has put this sort of thing in the HHN either. I have frequently heard Peterson go on about a mundane detail of life. Isn't that what blogs are for?
This could be good or bad, depending on how you look at it. On the one hand Peterson could be producing the absolute coolest most elaborate weblog in the world complete with ink on paper distribution and a sports section. On the other hand we could be witnessing the long slow decline of a once highly regarded Pulitzer Prize winning newspaper. Would Mel Ruder have editorialized about a faux pas while seeing a movie? Would Mel Ruder have kept a blog?
Saturday, April 09, 2005
And a special shout out to those who participated in the Montana Triathlon at the U of M today.
Thursday, April 07, 2005
I remember in February lamenting how I couldn't find anything to do in Montana after dark. Well, the earth has turned, like it usually does, and that pesky clock change has come to pass, like it usually does, and we are now blessed with daylight clear up till 8:00 PM.
Time to update my lament. Is there anything to do in Montana in the evenings?
(Aside from bars and drinking that is. Not sure if I want to pursue that particular Montana pastime with the same gusto as the natives.)
Tuesday, April 05, 2005
The table was far from uncluttered to begin with and the piles of paper did not help it any. There were only a dozen or so carefully stapled bundles and as we read them they shuffled from one pile to another and every attempt to sort and organize was thwarted.
Who is next?... Have you read D#?... Here take a look at K^... Wait, I've read this one, who is in that pile?
The room would grow quiet and still from time to time and then one of us would finish reading and blurt a comment, this would be challenged and the room would swell with the din of voices. After a few moments of agreeing and disagreeing the noise would fade and we would engross back into the papers. The documents continued to shuffle and rotate across the table. New piles appearing, teetering precariously against the candy dish, or drooping over the product samples we had inspected earlier.
Do you want to compare notes? I have about four yes's, make that five yes's, four maybes, and two no's. Okay, tell me who you have in your yes list.
We began to recognize them by the unique scrawl of text on their faces, we no longer had to look at the names; S* had the tight handwriting circling the edges, P@ was stapled with many colorful attachments, K^ was sparse and neat, R$ was written in blue ink with smooth flowing penmanship. The papers showed a unique character, but no soul. We were mining them for facts, for information, for personality. The words not written often giving up the best treasure. We needed to know about character, ethic, heart. We learned about age and address and most recent employment.
Well I originally had D# on my no list, but on second read I'm not sure why I put him there.
I have been on the opposite side of this operation enough. But even having once been a name on a paper does not evoke the right amount of compassion. These papers were tokens for flesh and blood. The all too flimsy illusion fronting for human. We piled them and shuffled them and wrinkled them and smudged them and conveniently forgot we were shuffling people. Somewhere out there in the gathering twilight a young man could have been preparing dinner as we tossed his name casually. This girl could have been phoning her mother as we piled her on the floor because the table ran out of room.
We need to call this person and ask about ____. If she will fit this position then we can decide how to place these other two.
It took hours to pass the papers and bandy the names about. We eventually coerced them into the loosest of org charts. Tiered, prioritized and sorted. It became obvious we could go no further. Even after driving home and with sleep pulling at the eyes the papers were pulled out once more and arranged across the living room floor. The A list and the B list in neat rows, the wildcards circling the periphery. They still had no soul, but the papers were people. I was deciding their lives.
Sunday, April 03, 2005
I am extraordinarily unqualified to speak to the life of Pope John Paul II. However I am impressed with great men. There is no denying that this man has impacted the world I live in. He has overseen great changes in our modern world all the while remaining committed to his principals and being a man of peace. The news of his passing has reminded me of my one brush with his faith.
The year was 1993 and the place was Denver Colorado. World Youth Day. Denver was hosting a gathering of thousands of pilgrims from around the world and the entire city had worked into a giddy mood anticipating the event. Even the secular population could not deny the fact that a great man was coming here to our doorstep. Personally I was fascinated by having such a world figure so close at hand. It was a spectacle I had to see for myself.
My friends and roommates were not so impressed. They found the extra police and closed roads to be an inconvenience. They referred to the gathering out of towners as "popers". I wasn't going to bow to peer pressure, I still wanted to see the pope. The big gathering was to be held at Cherry Creek Reservoir, an open space state park sort of place on the south of the city. The area was just a few miles from where I was living at the time. I would bicycle through the park regularly so I knew the area well. At one time my friends and I had toyed with the idea of growing some marijuana plants in the obscure corners of the park. Somehow we never got around to it.
Considering the crowds and security I figured my best way to get to the event was to walk. A friend of mine was traveling that day so I was able to get a ride halfway there first thing in the morning. For better or worse I had been up late the night before partying. So that morning while the air was still crisp and cool, and I was unfortunately weary from little sleep, I put foot to my own "poper" pilgrimage. There was no place near the event to park a car, so I found myself joined by many other people forced to walk the last miles. The weather was clear and forecast hot, I think we were expecting high 80's or perhaps 90's for the temperature. Every quarter mile or so along the road there was a police officer standing over cases of bottled water encouraging the walkers to take them. I decided that was a good idea and tucked a bottle into my pocket for later.
As I got closer to the entrance the crowd grew thicker. I have been a fan of huge throngs of people ever since my first visit to New Orleans and Mardi Gras. This was no rowdy Mardi Gras crowd and I found myself fascinated by the people around me. Quite a few had obviously not walked such a distance in years and while they were struggling with the exertion they held onto a pious attitude, this day was much more significant than the trip to the local church on any other Sunday. There was a husband and wife couple taking turns reciting the lords prayer as they walked. I figured with the distance they had yet to go they would repeat that verse perhaps five hundred times before they got to the pope. At one point I found myself walking in proximity to a small group of black garbed young clergymen. One of them was particularly agitated over something and I strained to eavesdrop their conversation. The agitated fellow was apparently upset over a seating chart and had some strong opinions over who should be allowed to stand next to the pope at an event later in the day. The clergy men gave me more respect for the praying couple who were obviously grateful that they even had an opportunity to walk miles to attend a papal mass.
The string of humanity trampled paths through the park that were formerly a source of solitude for me. Good thing I wasn't trying to grow pot there, even the remote thickets I had once charted were being overrun by the faithful. The trees and brush gave way to a large open area containing the greatest throng of humanity I have ever witnessed. I spotted representatives of every conceivable shade of skin color, people of every age. There were groups talking in dozens of different languages and shouts of "Haysus" often drowned out the more familiar "Jesus". Loudspeakers admonished people in several languages to drink plenty of water to avoid heat stroke.
The pope entered by helicopter to a great uproarious cheer from the crowd. The helicopter slowly circled the field three times while the thousands in the crowd rotated in place to follow it, waving and shouting. We strained to see into the windows of the aircraft for our first glimpse of John Paul II, but my imagination painted a much clearer picture of a man pleased to draw such a crowd as this.
I do not remember anything from the mass that the pope delivered that morning. I could barely see the man from my vantage point in the field. In my weariness I left early before the day grew too hot. My strongest memories of my proximity to Pope John Paul are of the people he drew to him. The couple praying as they walked to see him, the bickering clergy, the throngs of nationalities all gathered in open fields under blazing sun at risk of heat stroke. I'm glad I took the opportunity to be a poper.
Friday, April 01, 2005
Old hands can look at the clouds on the horizon or feel the wind shift to the south and know that a storm is coming. My storm is less subtle. My storm builds with the pages of the calendar. Another page torn down and a chill crawls my spine. I'm not going to be ready.
Preparation is everything. I have said it to myself a hundred times, make no move today that was not planned yesterday. Come summer if I am making things up as I go I will have failed in my spring planning. If I am making things up as I go I will have failed my customers. If I am making things up as I go my livelihood is in danger. Preparation is everything.
Then why am I wasting time? Why do I allow myself to grow weary and allow my attention to drift over to the games, to the blogs, to the television, to the bars, to my recreation? Time is slippery stuff and when I have too much I waste it like I waste the drought water from the leisurely daily shower that serves less to bath me and more as a warm security blanket while I stand naked and sleep dazed before the day.
My list of what I need to do today is not so great. My list for the week, a little more substantial. For the month, crucial. And yet as the morning sun peeks into my windows and my wits gather in the same haphazard fashion as those robins on the lawn. I am aware that a day well spent will bring me rewards of efficiency and a lack of crisis later on. I am aware that my crucial list of tasks needs to be plinked at a little bit today. I am aware that my daily needs allow time enough, before I turn to the schedules and books, to click one more link; and yet one more.
I know that if I am well prepared the storm will be easy to weather. I also know that a storm easily weathered does not show oneself in the most dramatic possible light, fighting against gale and gust and gods own lightning in an epic clash of human courage. There is little glory in making it look easy and no drama. Slacking today can create both glory and drama. I can set myself up to be a hero and all I have to do is to continue to stand naked, unconcerned, innocent as the water grows cold and the calendar pages flit away.
In the end I can't allow my subconscious schemes to play out. The stakes are too high to allow the heroics gambit. But I may still do it accidentally because today there is nice sunshine, and a little spare time, and the temptations of leisure, and yet one more blog to read.
There is more Jones in the archives: February 2005 March 2005 April 2005 May 2005 June 2005 July 2005 August 2005 September 2005 October 2005 November 2005 December 2005 January 2006 February 2006 March 2006 April 2006 May 2006 June 2006 July 2006 August 2006 September 2006 October 2006 November 2006 December 2006 January 2007 February 2007 March 2007 April 2007 May 2007 June 2007 July 2007 August 2007 September 2007 October 2007 November 2007 December 2007 January 2008 February 2008 March 2008 April 2008 May 2008 June 2008 July 2008 August 2008 September 2008 October 2008 November 2008 December 2008 January 2009 February 2009 March 2009 April 2009 May 2009 June 2009 December 2009 January 2010 May 2014