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.

Saturday, December 24, 2005

Christmas Cards

Merry Christmas to friends. Thanks for cheering me up and cheering me on.

Merry Christmas to family. More than anyone else you stick with me through thick and thin.

Merry Christmas Montana.

Merry Christmas business partners. Couldn't have done it without you.

Merry Christmas dear customers. Really couldn't have done it without you.

Merry Christmas my lovely ex. Miss you.

Merry Christmas landlords. Thanks for not raising the rent like I thought you would.

Merry Christmas noisy downstairs neighbors. I don't feel so bad about tromping around up here now.

Merry Christmas M_. You were a bigger part of my year than you may realize.

Merry Christmas previous address. Looking forward to coming back to visit.

Merry Christmas Glacier National Park.

Merry Christmas Glacier National Park Employees. I appreciate the hard work.

Merry Christmas Major M_. And your beautiful family. Now that you have fought a war I hope you can live a life of peace.

Merry Christmas to you and you and you and you and you and you and you and you and you. You were also a bigger part of my year than you may realize.

Merry Christmas blogosphere.

Merry Christmas internet.

Merry Christmas America. You can be a pretty fucked up country sometimes but I still love you and would rather live here than anywhere else.

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Top events of 2005

Best of lists are all the rage at this time of the year. In keeping with the spirit of reflection and best of lists here are the top events in the life of Jones for 2005.

  • New Car -- October 01, 2005

    The old ride was, well, an old ride. It was a sweet car for sure. A sporty Honda Prelude that got a phat 32 MPG. I had it a lot of years, and more importantly it was paid off for a lot of years. Unfortunately it sucked on snow and needed more and more age related maintenance. The new ride is a practical Subaru. Not quite as good on the mileage, but better than most cars out there. Every now and then I get a weird shiver when I realize that I have gone from driving a sports car to driving a station wagon. <shudder> I hope I get over it.

    My biggest gripe so far about the new car is that it has not yet earned a name for itself. Gotta name your car before it is truly yours. It would be sweet if it would earn something cool sounding like "Squirrel Killer", but if nothing else comes up soon I am just going to have to call it "The Love Wagon". Yeah, that's it, chicks would dig riding in "The Love Wagon".

  • Major M_ comes home from Iraq. -- March 17, 2005

    An uncle of mine who had gone to Vietnam as a soldier once told me that going to war and coming home was hardest for the men who cared. Major M_ cares. He cares for the men under his command, he cares about his mission, he cares about doing the right thing. War plays absolute hell on people that care. His homecoming was a high point for my family this year.

  • I started a blog. -- February 11, 2005

    And I never again had a day free from the constant neurosis of conjuring the next blog post out of thin air. Damn, what could I possibly blog about next? I just wrote on the blog and I already gotta do it again?

  • A sweet one night stand. -- March 15, 2005

    Perhaps it is a little sad when a one night stand ranks on your most significant events of the year list. But hey, us single bachelor types need sex too. As they say, sex is like air, only important when you're not getting any.

    My year was not completely void of sex. But the problem with being single is that you never know where or when it is coming from next and lengthy droughts can hurt the self esteem. So this event stands as testament to the importance of getting some good freaky lovin'. I believe that the world would be a better place if everyone could get laid a little more often and everyone had more orgasms.

  • A stab at romance. -- September - October, 2005

    As fulfilling as sex can be to a well rounded life, there is a flip side to that coin. Romance. Sometimes you just need someone to hold. Someone to care about. Someone that you know will be there at the end of the day. We can all relate. The quest for love is older than history. A very nice lady crossed my path and piqued my interest this year. Still not quite sure what went wrong. All I know is that when the girl tells you the romance is off that pretty much means the romance is off. Period. No matter what. No matter how many flowers you buy or what romantic move you lay down. Time to move on.

  • First successful summer season. -- June - September 2005

    This was huge. The whole point of my moving to Montana was the work. It feels almost anti-climatic to whittle all the hours days and months I worked this year down to a single bullet point.

    A lot happened, I had employees to worry/care about. I had to bust ass to keep everyone in groceries. Money stress, supply stress, safety stress, regulations stress. I had to fire an employee and everyone else had to work harder to cover the gap. I got precious little sleep and no days off for almost four months. A lot of decisions were made. In the end the business venture was a success, profit was made and I get to do it again next year.

  • I moved to Montana. -- January, 2005

    The number one biggest event in the life of Jones in the past year. It was a year ago right now that I was making plans for this move. I settled into my new address in mid January. Ever since I have been learning about what it means to be a Montanan. Relocating can be very difficult emotionally. To abandon all that is familiar and comfortable. To leave behind all your friends and people you know. I used to say it takes a year to adjust after a move. I think I may have been wrong. Perhaps it takes two or three years.

Sunday, December 18, 2005

Flathead economics

So you have lived in the Flathead your entire life then.
Yes, there was some time away like when I was in the service. And my forest service job took me away for a few months at a time.
I bet you have seen a lot of change.
Oh yes. The last five years in particular there has been tremendous change in the valley.
When I look around here I smell a boom happening.
Well it is all construction related. It is all these outsiders that move in for whatever reason. They live here a few weeks out of the year. They are a driving force behind all the building and construction going on. It's the construction jobs that are the only ones that pay anything. The only other jobs are the retail counter jobs that don't pay much and have no benefits. Can only work 20 hours a week. Construction is where the money is coming from. But that will dry up though. I give it another five years and then there won't be as many people moving in and construction will slump off. Then there won't be any money for all the restaurants and smaller businesses. It happened before in the 80's, it boomed then died. It will happen again soon.

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Winter doldrums

Not sleeping right anymore. I know why too, the wintertime blues. I have always gotten them but this year is harder. Fewer friends around, less for me to do to stay occupied.

I have made a daily ritual of bundling up against the cold and walking my business mail to the post office every afternoon. Gets me out for an hour anyway. There is a mail drop box about half way, I used to avoid walking past it so I wouldn't have to have little mental arguments with myself over drop the mail here and turn around vs. force myself to go all the way downtown. I have gotten to enjoy my little walks so much that I don't mind seeing the mailbox anymore. In fact I am starting to resent the days when I also need to go to the bank or run some other errand that requires the car.

I put some Christmas lights in my window. I am not usually a Christmas decoration sort of person. It is a holiday I tend to have a hard time with. Anyway, I put some nice cheery lights up in my bedroom and I have decided I like them. I put them on a timer so they turn on instead of my alarm clock. Nice cheery lights are a pleasant way to wake up. I may have to leave them up all year.

Does anyone else get really horny in the wintertime? The "it's dark, I'm bored and there is nothing else to do." Sort of horny. Even worse when you don't have a significant other. Have you ever gotten so horny you shaved your genitals just to tempt fate that this would be the week the random hottie would stumble into your life? Yeah, me neither... Just checking.

I'm getting a little tired of the cold too. One of my favorite ways to deal with the cold is to take a long hot shower. Leave the vent off, let the bathroom get all steamy and then bundle up in layers of sweaters and fleece socks before getting on with the day. Some days I feel like I could spend hours in that shower. Some days I wish I could move my office into the shower. I really miss the days of not wearing pants.

Sunday, December 11, 2005

Montana Style part three - opportunity

Traveling through this state over the past several years I have been struck with how much opportunity is here. The I-90 corridor across the state is ripe with four diverse cities, a plethora of smaller communities, two universities, has easy access to shipping and transportation. Beautifully situated about midway between Portland and Seattle to the west and St. Paul and the Mississippi shipping corridor to the east. Compared to other parts of the country, real estate is cheap and the cost of living is low. In many ways I am surprised that businesses from all across the country aren't stampeding to take advantage of Montana. Having lived here I am starting to understand better why this is not happening. Again, Montana style plays a part.

On a lot of levels I smell economic booms and growth around here. I see help wanted signs everywhere I go. I have problems staffing my own business. I see people and money coming into the state from California and elsewhere. I see real estate prices rising. But looking deeper I see that the boom is not entirely healthy. Most of those help wanted signs are for service jobs that do not require education or skills. The influx of people is mostly to recreation areas. Much of the rising real estate prices are being caused by outsiders that don't understand local value and bearing influence on the market. Many locals are being priced out of their own communities. High school kids are still looking forward to the day they can get out of this state to a place where there are more opportunities.

Montana growth still has lots of positive potential. If the influx of outsiders could bring with them more business that could be planted here and grow here. Things like technology, publishing, manufacturing, national and international corporations could take advantage of the easy access to both east and west. This would create jobs and incentives for auxiliary business. Our universities would see increased demand, our children would have opportunities to stay for. But before we get all carried away with the details of how to make this happen we should stop and acknowledge Montana style.

Not knowing much about recent history of Montana politics I can only suspect that proposals to these ends have already been made in the various towns, jurisdictions and governments. I suspect the biggest reason we are not already booming into a major international hub of commerce and culture is that the collective voice of Montanans echo with Montana style. This is a place where get-away-from-it-all-ness is valued and cherished and runs counter to the very idea that we should be a major hub of anything. Montanans shy away from the problems that large cities and crowded spaces deal with daily and instead we choose simpler lifestyles. Then there are the values of self sufficiency. We should not have to import the businesses and technologies and people and money that this boom would require because as a self sufficient state we should have what we need right here. It may just take a little longer for us to build for ourselves rather than buy from elsewhere. Montana style is likely to reject growth or outside influence that only uses a part of Montana. Those that only want the recreation or the mining or the natural resources but don't care for the people or the schools or the open space. Artists and musicians and cultural elite's that come here to paint our scenery or bring us some big city culture without supporting, or even acknowledging our own artists and creators. Business that move in needing only laborers and not leaders. Montana has great potential in many areas but Montana style exerts a powerful and subtle force on how that potential can be achieved.

Montana style can be a double edged sword, taking away some opportunities in exchange for its values. As much as I want to live where there is city excitement and booming prosperity I am coming to realize that Montana will not be made over in my image. We have been blessed with a corner of the world that is beautiful and populated with some simple values missing from other places. Self sufficiency, the peace of being away from it all, more neighborly and more freedom. I think I have only begun to understand what Montana really is and what makes it different from any other place I have ever lived. I have more to learn here, more to do here, and I need to spend more time cherishing Montana style.

Saturday, December 10, 2005

Montana Style part two - rock and roll

I have met a fair share of people that appreciate a different part of Montana style, the get away from it all aspect. I've met people that are not enamored of the chaos of the city, don't need much in the way of fashion or lifestyle amenities. People that have tried the rat race and are fed up with it. People that don't care for new buildings and growth because that encroaches on their away-from-it-all-ness. There are certainly some extreme examples of this personality. Ted Kazinsky and the stereotype of the loner in his cabin who rarely comes to town buying a couple months worth of groceries. I think there is a little bit of away-from-it-all-ness in all Montanans. In the natives anyway.

I think that is where some of my Montana frustrations come from. I like doing city things like finding new restaurants, going to shows, dancing to live bands, art and museums. Sure these things exist here in Montana but not in the quantities I am used to from the city. Part of the problem is the smaller population, but part of it is that these things encroach on the away-from-it-all-ness of Montana style.

I have been frustrated with how generic the music scene around here is. There is a ton of music, just so long as you like classic rock or country. It is easy to start pointing fingers at low populations and demographics but I think there is more to it than that. Montana style again. Self sufficiency. Away-from-it-all-ness. Importing musicians with other styles and tastes is easy enough, but Montana style is about getting away from all the hubub and noise and fashion trends and pop crap. Besides, why should we go to the trouble of bringing some of that hippity-hop music here when the kids down the street have guitars and can do a pretty good job of banging out some old rock and roll songs, it's just as much fun for dancing.

Not following trends. Do it yourself. Avoiding the madness of the world. All part of Montana style.

Friday, December 09, 2005

Montana Style part one - hunting season.

I think I may have been making mistakes in my assumptions about Montana. I came here thinking Montana would be just like anywhere else only with more mountains, open space, and fewer people. I did not count on the power and subtlety of Montana style.

There are times when I am disheartened by the rural qualities of living in Montana. Particularly now in the winter when I am not working so hard and have ample idle time that needs filling. City life offers thousands of distractions to fill idle time. Rural living calls on ourselves to be more proactive in filling that time. This is one of the facets of Montana style. Self sufficiency.

Watching how the locals react to hunting season around here has impressed me. My previous exposures to hunting carried a vacation like 'hunting as sport' attitude. It was something done on special occasion surrounded by rituals. Getting the rarely used gun out from behind glass, making a special trip to buy the ammunition, donning the orange. The goal was to "bag one". A hunting trip was anticipated like a rivalry football game, planned for weeks ahead of time, cherished with special rituals and clothing, and then reminisced for a long while after. Here in Montana a hunting trip is less a special event and more of a common and routine thing. This is partly because of the easy access to wilderness but it is also because of the self sufficiency of Montana style.

There are a large number of people here that think of hunting and fishing not so much as a vacation but more as a way to put food on the table, cut the grocery bill, keep some meat in the freezer, and be more self sufficient. To bag one is not the end but the beginning. Hunting is still sporting but it is not a sport in the same way that finding the best supermarket specials is not a sport. Nor is working overtime to get that boost to the paycheck. It is just something you do.

It is not accurate to say that this applies to all Montanans equally, or even to all Montana hunters. There are certainly plenty of sport hunters in this state. But I see self sufficiency everywhere I look around here. I see it in the business people I deal with. I see it in the recreation enthusiasts. I see it in the Missoula hippies and the city dwellers. Not everyone is bagging their own meat, but they are watching out for themselves in their own way.

Sunday, December 04, 2005

No Smoking

I've got an issue with the Montana smoking ban. I'm a non smoker so the problem isn't finding a place to light up. I do enjoy not smelling like a cancerous lung at the end of an evening. All my smoking friends are back at previous address so there are no 'we should go here for the smoking rather than there for the entertainment' debates. For the most part the no smoking thing has not put me off all that much. Except for one little thing. Farting.

Back in the day it did not matter if you had Mexican food before going out for a night of drinking and dancing. At the bars everything just smelled like unclean ashtray. You didn't really have to bathe or put much effort into remembering the right guard. It was a given that you and everyone around you was going to smell the same. You smelled like weird Eddies house - after it burned down; but at least that was consistent for everyone.

Nowadays we creatures of nightlife are on notice. No Mexican food. No chili dogs. Be sure to bathe and don't forget your deodorant. No longer can we loose a silent fart while mingling at the bar. Someone is bound to notice now that the constant musky fog of carcinogens has been lifted. In fact, bars smell pretty awful in general. Over in the corner there is a rotten stench from where a party animal overdid it and puked two months ago. And those tables over there on the raised patio, don't sit there, the carpet has soaked up so much spilled beer over the years that no amount of carpet powder can save it. Let's belly up to the bar instead where we can bask in the fumes of bleach and cleaners used behind the counter. Lets not even talk about that piss stench coming from the restrooms.

I found myself out on the dance floor the other night. Loud music and gyrating are awesome, but that mass of bodies is not exactly a rose garden. I can tell you that there were a few people that have not yet learned the no Mexican food rule. And you ski freaks that like to party at the end of the day, you should befriend the shower. After a day of playing hard and sweating you go out and dance and sweat some more. Ripe.

I hearby propose that we repeal this silly no-smoking law. Yes I know all about second hand smoke. I know all about the evils of vice. But we need to save ourselves from our stinky selves here. We need to save our nightlife. I don't mind wearing the older 'smokey' sweater when I go out. I don't mind bathing after an evening of socializing instead of before. Small price to pay really for a great reward. Bars that filter all the other nasty odors by consistently smelling of putrid smoldering cancer. Just like they are supposed to. I am also in favor of saving the tradition of chili dogs and cheap beer before a night of partying.