Montana Jones

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, September 30, 2005


I'm really disappointed.
Car Dealer:
I know I could spend this down payment money on my Honda and get another hundred thousand miles from it easy.
So what do you want to do.
I want to get more money for my trade in.
I can't give you any more than that.
You are quoting me 200 below blue book.
Blue book doesn't mean anything. I have to put money into detailing it, you said yourself that there are repairs, it has a lot of miles on it, it's just not a car I can sell for very much money.
The retail blue book value is two thousand dollars higher than that, you are lowballing the trade in value.
That's all the car is worth to me.
This really rubs me the wrong way. It's a good car. I know it has another hundred thousand miles in it. The only reason I'm moving on is because it has trouble on mom's driveway.
Well what do you want to do? These finance numbers are close to what you want.
Well... Do you think we could make those numbers more favorable by adding another $500 to the down payment?
Ok, lets see how that changes it.


Well that brought your payments down to XX.
But look at this; you are going to take my concession but you can't budge on the price or the trade in?

Wednesday, September 28, 2005

Observations from the used car lot

  • The quality of a certain brand used vehicle is inversely proportional to the number of them available for sale.
  • The dealer will tell you domestic cars are of higher quality than imports if that is all he has on the lot.
  • The dealer with both domestic and imports will always agree with the buyer's opinion on which is the higher quality.
  • In Montana there are no dealers that deal only in imports.
  • Being nicely dressed causes the dealer to rush to your side faster than if you are shabbily dressed.
  • On Montana used car lots Fords and Chevy's outnumber all other brands by more than five to one.
  • On the consumer reports best bets list all other brands outnumber Fords and Chevy's by 55 to three.
  • 'city cars' are worth squat as trade ins in Montana.

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

Stir Fry

  • 2 Boneless chicken breasts
  • 1 Red pepper
  • 1 medium onion
  • 1 head broccoli
  • 1 can water chestnuts.
  • 2 garlic cloves (Or minced garlic)
  • Veggie oil or olive oil
  • Teriyaki sauce or stir fry sauce
  • Spices
  • Rice
  • Bottle of wine.

Optional additional veggies:

  • Green or yellow pepper
  • Carrots
  • Mushrooms
  • Bamboo shoots
  • Bean Sprouts
  • Snow peas
  • Baby corn

I like to start by pouring a glass of wine. If you are in a hurry to throw a meal on the table you can skip the wine and use frozen veggies and pretty much slop everything together. Sometimes the journey is more important than the destination, in which case I prefer making a ritual of meal prep which calls for tidying the kitchen, sipping wine and hand chopping fresh veggies.

Dice the chicken into bite sized cubes and put it into a bowl. Mince a garlic clove over it, pour teriyaki sauce over it, stir, cover and put in the fridge to marinade. The longer you marinade the better but however long it takes to prep the veggies is usually good enough.

Pick your veggies by color. You are trying to create a visual kaleidoscope here. I like to use red pepper, green broccoli and white onion. Carrots or baby corn add nicely to the colors. The more colors you add the better it will taste. Onions and peppers are my favorites for flavor, but too much of anything will overwhelm the dinner so I avoid using several different colors of peppers even though it looks good. Add water chestnuts for texture or bamboo shoots to make it more authentically Asian. Be careful about the size of your pan, I have at times gone so overboard with my shopping and chopping that I have overflowed my wok.

Chop your veggies into bite sized pieces. Be sure to use a different cutting board, or thoroughly wash your cutting board after chopping the raw chicken on it. I like to cut my onions and peppers into strips instead of cubes because it looks nice, but in the end whatever is easy to fit in your mouth is the right size. Feel free to nibble raw veggies as an appetizer.

Be sure to wipe your work surfaces and keep the kitchen orderly while working. I have actually forgotten to add ingredients when they were hidden in a cluttered kitchen. When you are taking proper care with a meal preparation the kitchen will be cleaner when you are finished that when you started. It is NOT the job of the spouse or guest to clean up after the cook.

I like to start a pot of rice at this time; it can sit on the back of the stove until you are done with the stir fry.

Heat a wok or large pan with a couple tablespoons of oil until it is hot. Add the chicken and marinade. You will have to stir pretty much constantly (it is a stir-fry). If the pan gets dry add another splash of oil, teriyaki sauce, or soy sauce. You don't want the meat burning or sticking to the pan. The chicken is done when there is no pink inside. Cut into the bigger pieces with a knife to check. Put the chicken aside in a bowl when done. (Not the same bowl the raw chicken sat in.) If needed throw another splash of oil in your wok then add the veggies. This is a good time to mince in another garlic clove, add a dash of salt, or other seasonings. I like basil or Italian seasoning on the veggies. You can spice it with pepper or chili powder if you are into that. Be careful though, whatever seasoning you add can't come back out or be masked with other flavors. Stir and cook until the onion separates and is more transparent than white. When the veggies are done add the chicken back in, stir everything together, add some more teriyaki sauce and make sure everything is evenly seasoned and heated. Take off the heat and serve over rice.

As a variation I will occasionally use frozen concentrated orange juice mixed with soy sauce for the marinade. Use milder tasting green peppers, onions, carrots and bamboo or bean sprouts for the veggies. Mandarin oranges will make a good addition, add them later in the cooking. Add a few drops of lemon or lime juice when cooking the veggies, enhance the citrus flavor with orange peel or lemon pepper. Serve garnished with orange or lemon slices.

Monday, September 26, 2005

After two dates

I've been out with a girl twice now. It's been fun. Nice, laid back, no pressure sort of dates. I hugged her goodnight at the end of each evening. The first time I found myself hugging her purse so I moved my hand and then found myself grabbing her ass. I didn't intend to grab her ass, I immediately moved my hand up over her purse and found a place for it higher on her back. I hope she doesn't think of me as some sort of ass grabbing pervert. The second time there was no purse and no inadvertent ass grabbing. The hug lingered a little longer than the first one and as we pulled apart I turned my face toward her anticipating a come hither twinkle in her eye inviting me to draw in for a kiss. That didn't happen, she turned away as we separated.

I wasn't really expecting a kiss. I have been on dates where all I can think of is how much I want to kiss the girl. There are girls out there that fill me with such lust that I can't be bothered to care if they are secretaries, rocket scientists, or uneducated bimbos. That is not the case this time. I actually want to get to know this girl, learn some things about how she makes her choices and the ways she spends her time. I'm not any sort of puritan with intimacy and I have no reason to think this girl is either. But this time it feels as though kissing and physical intimacy would be crossing a line or making a premature choice, that it is not the reason I am spending time with her.

There have been girls in my past that have gone from 'hi, what's your name' to smoochies to a little bedroom rumbly rumbly in a matter of hours. I have also met girls that have smitten me, dated me and crushed my heart without ever advancing past second base. I would certainly enjoy a little kissing, some physical closeness, perhaps even some rumbly rumbly. She might enjoy it too for all I know. I fear the results of those choices. These things create emotional attachments and ways for people to get hurt. What if we later discover we don't like each other? What if one of us falls harder than the other? I'm afraid that it says something bad about me; after spending only a few hours with someone I am already worried about the breakup.

As fun as intimacy is, I have been the love 'em and leave 'em asshole enough times that I am in no hurry to be the asshole again. At least not with someone I am growing a liking for. Besides, it's only been two dates.

Saturday, September 24, 2005

People Watching

So do you enjoy people watching?
Sometimes; I got into Whitefish a few minutes early tonight so I spent some time walking around and watching people.
Any observations?
Yeah, I find this town to be very different, almost separate, from the rest of Montana.
How so?
Well, everywhere else I have been in Montana I find a lot of people that are more blue collar. Salt of the earth, working class. All up and down the street here everyone is wearing nice clothes, expensive clothes. The vehicles are shiny new and clean. Even the casually dressed people here are much more fashionable than elsewhere. Just down the road in Columbia Falls or Kalispell there are a lot more people with grungier appearances. Even the professionals I have dealt with do not dress as well as the people I've seen here in Whitefish.

Friday, September 23, 2005


Jones, you were yawning.
Yeah, I was in a meeting.
And I busted you yawning.
I yawn in meetings. It's what I do. Put me in a room with people in a circle talking and I will yawn. It could be the most exciting meeting in the world and I will yawn. I know it looks bad but I can't help it. I just yawn at meetings.
I think it means you need oxygen.
Would carrying an oxygen bottle into a meeting look better than yawning?

Sunday, September 18, 2005

How do you feel

So how do you feel now that the season is over? Is it a big crash? A letdown?
No, not a letdown, more of a weight lifted, a big sigh of relief.
So what is next for you?
I get to do it again.
I mean for fun. Are you going to blow off steam?
Well, I have a lot of money to spend, so I may not get a vacation this year. My vacation may just be sitting around the house with the phone turned off.

Wednesday, September 14, 2005


And on my first day off there was house cleaning. Laundry, dishes, scrub the bathroom till sparkly. There was also music on the stereo, a serious few hours of web surfing, a few video games. The afternoon nap was nice, the fact that the phone did not ring was a most grateful silence. And for all my blog reading minions, I fixed those pesky broken links over in my blogroll. I think I could get used to this day off concept.


The champagne cork popped and the room erupted with cheers. We had squeezed nine people into the small room and everyone was laughing and smiling while crowding into each other and squeezing onto the couch. The bottle was only enough for a swallow in everyone's plastic cup but more than enough for rounds of toasts.

Here is to our summer and to our selves. Here's to our leaders, to D_ and K_ and here's to you Montana Jones. Here is to the hard work we have done and here is to the people that have helped us and to the people we have helped. And here is to the spouses that we left behind who are welcoming us back again. And here is to B_ and P_ for the way they braved the snow, we shall never doubt them again. And here, once again, is to us.

The laughter was hearty, heartfelt, and filled the air so thick with joy that we gasped for breath and held our sides and laughed some more. No one cared that there were not enough chairs or that most people here were rain damp, sweaty and unbathed. It was the laughter of people that have lived together and pulled together and worked hard, and now the hard work was done. It was an impromptu party, a mighty group hug, one last comfortable moment before we spread to our separate horizons and moved on.

Saturday, September 10, 2005


My early growth was measured with pencil marks on the kitchen wall. Every year at my birthday there was a ritual of taking off shoes and standing straight, mom or dad would hold a ruler atop my head and make a mark on the wall. Later on my growth was measured differently with tests and report cards. And then it was measured with awards and promotions. Sitting today at the end of my first Montana summer season, business is winding down, spare time is increasing, I feel like I have grown. I don't have any pencil marks on the wall to show it. No outgrown clothes. No grades or awards. Only an opportunity to do it again next year.

I could measure my growth with time. I can now say I have been doing this a year much like the people around me can say "I've been here eight years" or ten or 13 or… I could fudge a little and count all the years I worked as peon instead of head honcho, then I could count this as my fifth summer. But that is not really accurate and totally fails as a measure of how much I have grown this year.

I could measure growth from my mistakes. Mistakes are the best teachers and I made a slew of them. My list of things I will do differently next year is long. Even with all the mistakes there are no regrets. I am proud that I jumped in with both feet and made a go of it.

I would like to be able to look back one day at the pencil marks on the wall and be able to say "wow, that 2005 was a real growth spurt." But there comes a time in life where growth is not so easily measured. Like a soldier returned from war people can say "He has changed." It would be true of me, I have changed, I can feel it. I would like to call it growth. But I miss having others look on me with admiration and say "look how big you are getting."

Friday, September 02, 2005

Big Easy

I have visited New Orleans three times in my life. Two of them were Mardi Gras visits. Once I passed through while touring the country trying to decide what to do with my life.

I fell in love with New Orleans after my first Mardi Gras trip in 1989. I was poor, young and stupid and Mardi Gras was one hell of a party. On that trip I didn't have enough money to drink and barely enough to eat. I mostly walked the festival laden streets and soaked in the atmosphere. I was impressed by the scale of the party and the incredible variety of people there. Rich people and poor people and black and white and eccentric and plain, every kind of person I could imagine were on those streets. I felt like this was the melting pot that my third grade teacher taught me about. And the boobies, oh yes, the famous displays of debauchery that Mardi Gras is famous for. I was also impressed with the boobies.

My second Mardi Gras trip in 1991 was much more bizarre. I made a new friend Dave for this road trip and we found a friend of a friend of a friend that let us sleep in her living room for fifty bucks. On this trip we smoked a lot of pot. One of my first experiences with being stoned for days at a time. It felt like every time we turned around there was one more opportunity to smoke. We passed a joint while sitting in a public fountain. We shared a pipe with a friendly local in a back room in the french quarter. Random strangers on the street asked for a light and then passed a joint to us as we sat in an open window café. It was utter madness. And the crowds and varieties of people were every thing I remembered from my previous visit. This is where I first saw a pierced tongue when a hooded man wearing only a black leather thong stuck his tongue out at me outside the rowdy gay leather bar. I must admit I was a little traumatized. I recall being absolutely smitten with an attractive bartender I met in the french quarter. I can't remember her name but I do remember naming her stuffed penguin souvenir 'Hamlet'. I spent the better part of an evening with her hoping for a chance to fish for a kiss, but being so stoned I could barely string words together into complete sentences.

On my third visit to New Orleans there was no parties, dope or boobies. That is when I saw the city in a different light. I visited Tulane university and some nice restaurants and wealthy areas of town. I also saw poverty and communities with nowhere to go. The dividing lines between them were raw and striking. The city was still a melting pot, but perhaps the mix of rich and poor and black and white and upper class and lower class were not as equitable as it appeared at wilder times.

The wake of the current hurricane has left me awestruck. All the places I remember having good times are now soaked away. The dividing lines between classes are more apparent than ever. No matter what, move the town, rebuild the town, abandon the town; New Orleans and our nation will never be the same again.

I can't believe what I am seeing in my own country. I thought we had disaster plans for this. I thought our leaders would care more about a major city taking a blow like this. The only good I have seen of this mess has come from private citizens. Individuals doing a small part to help out. But our elected leaders and the politicians that are supposed to be servants of the public have shown a piss poor response to crisis. As soon as we get our fellow Americans out of harms way there are a lot people that have a lot of explaining to do. I intend to remember this incident come election day.

I received a phone call from Major M__ today. He is being re-deployed to the big easy. He won't be going to enjoy the dope, the booze or the boobies. Hang in there New Orleans, the finest soldier I know is on his way and he won't be alone, there are good men on the way to help, just hold on.