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.

Thursday, November 30, 2006

From my outbox

Breaking anonymity is a trust thing you see. And I am probably being over protective. Perhaps paranoid is the right word. I have been very cautious and protective of my Montana Jones identity. I do not fear you coming from across town and lurking in my bushes, peering in my windows, watching me masturbate, bathe, prepare meals, daydream or live my life. The blogging in fact is about being able to share these intimate moments of privacy through art and expression and find a greater meaning in them. But this needs to happen in an appropriate context. I would never go to a design meeting with a client and ramble on about bedroom emotions, vacation adventures or finding casserole dishes. That could damage an otherwise positive business relationship. That would be out of context. Just because I can say something expressive about casserole dishes does not mean that I should do it everywhere. And that is the crazy thing about the internet; for better or worse it is everywhere. What I fear from revealing my true identity is not being stalked by you or meeting you or having you learn that I prefer to sleep in the buff; but that you would be able to expose me on some forum of the internet. Then the only control I would have over being seen as a professional or as a freak that flaunts sleeping naked would be to stop using the internet for such a creative expression. That would make me sad. There is a time and a place for expressing rants and emotions and personal details, and times and places not to. The internet tears those walls down. Anonymity builds them up again.

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Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Montana weblog awards

Hey kiddies! Wulfgar is doing the second annual Montana weblog awards. You should go see Wulfgar, make sure your favorite blog gets nominated, and then check back in a week for the voting goodness.

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Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Montana Jones is a girl

I was pretty shocked to learn that myself. It was a significant moment in my life, as monumental as learning that the Easter Bunny is real and Bigfoot is fake. Or is that the other way around? Anyway I confirmed the truth of it with Google and now my world will never be the same.

Turns out I am cybersquatting on someone else's name. The real Montana Jones is a fine young lady living in Canada; and get this, she is a writer. She won a spiffy award for this excellent piece. She is also a festival organizer, a designer and a shepherd. I am having a hard time coming to grips with the idea that Montana Jones is cooler than Montana Jones. An identity crisis may be looming.

We have swapped some emails and we are both okay with sharing the name. She approves of the blog and my nom de plume. I approve of Montana Jones being a smart, funny, well spoken lady from the the north. And we both agree it is really weird to see Montana Jones in our inboxes. We might even start an exclusive club. The third member would be that awesome linebacker from the infamous Springdale Bulldogs in Arkansas.

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Monday, November 27, 2006


Girl in other car:
Hey, do you know how to get on to Deertrail?
I'm not from around here. I don't know.
Oh no. We're not either. We are lost.
Me too.
Good luck.
Thanks, you too.

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Sunday, November 26, 2006

Thanksgiving vacation

5 Reasons I went to Canada for a Thanksgiving vacation.

  • Because I could.
  • My family was all going elsewhere and I didn't want to tag along.
  • I finally had some money left between payday and rent due day.
  • I have been craving some city life and Calgary and Edmonton are the closest big cities.
  • I have been talking up a Canadian vacation for months. Time to do it or shut up.

7 Ways that Canada impressed me.

  • The radio stations are better than the ones here.
  • Every single person I met was super nice.
  • Edmonton has the largest mall in North America.
  • Canadians are smart enough to use the metric system.
  • The winter driving skills of the motorists I observed are vastly superior to what I have witnessed in most U.S. cities.
  • Alberta maintains their roads better than Montana does.
  • Somehow I still couldn't figure out which exit to use to get to the gas station.

11 Things I did at the West Edmonton Mall.

  • Spent waaaay too much money on gifts for my family.
  • Watched some youth hockey games at the skating rink.
  • Finally found a wallet to replace the one I lost.
  • Decided that my twenty bucks was better spent on more gifts than on the bungee jump or the rollercoaster.
  • Spent about 30 minutes gazing longingly at the roller coaster and the bungee jump but stuck with my principals.
  • I petted a pig at the petting zoo.
  • I got to hold a six foot broadsword.
  • Played a game of Warhammer against a nine year old and lost.
  • Nearly had a heart attack when my debit card started getting refused and I still had to use it to buy a hotel room later.
  • Laughed hysterically when I learned that my money was still good.
  • Had a plate of chicken teriyaki. The first exceptionally good chicken teriyaki I have had in years.

One really cool person that totally made my day.

Kim, the cute girl with the beautiful accent at the massager shop. She had the friendliest sales pitch of the day and the most beautiful voice. I could have listened to her sales pitch for hours. Her stuff was too expensive for me so I spent the day buying cheap gifts for most of my family, stretching the budget a little. When I got back to her She generously repackaged her products to match my budget. She was patient as my debit card got refused and I went into a phone calling frenzy trying to find my money. When she learned that the debit card issue might cut me off from a room for the night she suggested I could sleep on her couch. "We are Canadian." she said, "We help people, that's just what we do." I think I fell instantly in love with her right there. I was a little disappointed that my finances got sorted out and I didn't need to take her up on it. Every person I met in Canada was friendly but she was by far the nicest. I could have kissed her. I shook her hand instead.

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Monday, November 20, 2006

Teevee watcher

I've mostly just been watching movies.
So you are a teevee watcher.
No, I just use the VCR and DVD. I don't watch teevee.
But what are those connected to? You watch teevee.
But it's different. No shows, no advertisements, no scheduled.
But you are still watching television.
But it's not like I am watching broadcast television or anything.
You are so full of it. The next time you say you don't watch teevee and get all holier than thou I am so gonna call you on it. You're a teevee watcher.
But... No.
You can't deny it. You watch television.
♫ You watch teevee, you watch teevee. ♪

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Monday, November 13, 2006

Monday morning

Voice on phone:
Squanna squanna, wonk squanna wonk squanna.
Thought to self:
I would be much more cheerful if I had not done so much drinking yesterday.

Friday, November 10, 2006

Ask Montana Jones

Saw your blog and was wondering if you could give some insider knowledge on what it's like to travel I-90 in the beginning of December. We are thinking about relocating to Montana and would like to travel through on our way from Seattle to Florida. Any advice would be great!

Hi, nice to hear from you. I hope you enjoy your travels here in Montana.

Winter travel in Montana is all about the weather. Most of the time the roads are fine and you will think it no big deal. But if you are caught traveling during a snowstorm or right after a snowstorm life can get sucky in a hurry. Keep one eye on Montana weather conditions for about a week before your planned road trip and watch the forecast for when you are getting on the move. If there is little to no precipitation in the previous week, no worries, your trip will be a breeze. But in the spirit of doom and gloom and all things that could go wrong let's assume the worst to get you prepared.

The interstate highways, like in most of the country, are well maintained and easy driving. Except for that stretch past Missoula. I heard once that Missoula gets the lowest highway maintenance budget out of all of I-90. It has something to do with how the Missoula hippies tried to vote down and not allow interstate construction back when it was getting built. The hippies grumbled about pollution and congestion and wanted everyone to just hug trees instead of driving on big highways. Modern progress paved over the hippies with the compromise that Missoula gets the smallest slice of interstate maintenance pie and has the crappiest stretch of interstate highway in Montana as a result. Of course this could just be Montana hearsay and myth. Besides I am getting way off the point.

In general I-90 tends to get plowed quickly during and after a weather event. During a snowstorm and the next few days thereafter expect plenty of icy condition. And by icy I mean your vehicle can and will attempt to go down the road sideways. The locals, they love their 4-wheel drives and snow tires for this very reason. Just drive slow. Even if you are equipped with a decent winter vehicle none of the locals will appreciate digging someone from Seattle or Florida out of the ditch. So go slow. And every place you see one of those white cross markers on the roadside, go a little slower. Even when one of the locals tears past you in a humongous, noisy, rusted out pickup truck with a gun rack in the window, that is not a sign that the road is safe for you. That local has probably been driving on snow for most of his life and he certainly knows the local roads better than you. Or he is just in a big hurry to become one of those white crosses. Either way, don't imitate, be safe.

Now as you travel through our treasure state you will find in the western portions several mountain passes. What this means to you is that as you climb to higher elevations the roads can go from dry to icy without any warning. And to make it worse, you will be going up or down hill with lots of curves and turns on these sketchy roads. I am not ashamed to admit that Montana Jones himself has white knuckled the steering wheel while crossing the continental divide in the winter. Trying to negotiate icy corners, see through the backspray coated windshield, dodge big rigs, and not cut off the reckless locals while riding the breaks down a steep hill. Woo-hoo. Now that is driving excitement. Oh and if you are going to be doing this when there is recent snow on the roads, have some tire chains handy.

The eastern portion of the state has it's own problems. There is a lot of nothing out there. That stretch of I-90 between Billings and Sheridan Wyoming goes through some of the coldest, cruelest, harshest land I know of. Montana Jones fears a vehicle breakdown out there. Even if you are sticking with I-94 to the Dakotas, there is still a lot of nothing out there. I would hate a breakdown halfway between Billings and Miles City too.

If the weather is turning ugly and throwing snow I would like to recommend getting off the highway for a day or so. I like the Motel 6 on the west side of Billings because it is walking distance to a couple restaurants, a gas station, casinos and a porn shop. Not that I have ever used casinos and porn while held up in Billings or anything, just sayin'.

In my opinion the worst part about a winter Montana road trip is the darkness. At best you will only get about eight hours of decent daylight driving. If you are making your leisurely way through the state this is no big thing, but if you are on a schedule to get somewhere expect some driving in the dark. I recommend getting started early. Like 5:00 am sort of early. It will be nasty cold out, but I think that driving in the dark is a lot easier and safer when you are fresh and rested. I don't like driving in the dark in the evenings when I am tired. I think it's plain dangerous.

I am curious if there are other Montanans that have winter travel tips. Put 'em in a comment. What is the inside scoop on road construction these days?

So to sum up:

  • Watch the weather. Good weather means good driving, bad weather means bad driving. Give yourself extra time because you can't get through bad weather quickly.
  • Be sure you and your vehicle are prepared for ice and snow. If those weather reports you have been watching indicate lots of snow and precipitation you may want to have tire chains with you. Especially in the mountains.
  • You are going to need plenty of wiper fluid and some ice scrapers for the windshield.
  • Carry some food, water, and blankets just in case.
  • Be safe out there.

Oh, and one more thing, props to the highway workers who maintain the rest areas. I think that Montana has some of the nicest rest areas anywhere in the country. When I am road tripping through Montana I like to drink plenty of fluids and try to visit them all.

Montana Jones is not really a knowitall, but he plays one on the internet. Questions about travel, science, pornography and anything else are welcomed. Just write to

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Stuffed Peppers

A two quart square casserole dish with lid. That was all I wanted. I had been researching stuffed pepper recipes for days. I had the peppers, I had the time, I had the ambition. I was missing the casserole dish.

I needed a few more ingredients for my stuffed peppers. A can of crushed tomatoes. An onion. A bottle of wine. I thought I might be able to find my casserole dish in that kitchen stuff aisle of the supermarket. I started there. Nada. They had plenty of Pyrex stuff, but nothing in quite the right size and nothing with a lid.

The friendly employee girl asked if she could help me find something. "No," I said "If I don't see it you probably don't have it."

"Well what are you looking for? Perhaps I can help."

"A casserole dish with a lid."

"We have these dishes over here." She really wanted to be helpful.

"Yeah, but I need one with a lid. You don't have any with lids."

"Oh, yeah. Well." Quietly, conspiratorially, "I get all mine from Target."

"I hear you."

I had stuffed peppers on my mind all day. This would not stop me, only a setback. I left the supermarket and made my way across town to the Target. I started thinking of other things I could get at the target as well. I could use a picture frame and I should swing past the paperback books too.

There were fat people loitering at the front door of Target. I wasn't exactly looking like a million bucks myself but it reminded me of why I hate shopping at big box stores. In this corner of the universe the rule is to consume, consume, consume. "In and out fast Jones," I thought to myself. "Get that dish and get on with dinner."

The Target had the same selection of lidless Pyrex that I could have bought at the supermarket.

I spent several minutes hovering through the cookware aisles. I contemplated just getting one of these lidless jobbies and using foil to cover it. But no dammit. I have been using foil for a lid my whole bachelor life. I like cooking I ought to have the right tools for the job. I ought to have a two quart square casserole dish with a lid. I distinctly remember my mom using a blue Corningware one as I was growing up and I think my grandma had one too. That dish would perfectly hold four stuffed peppers. This is a consumerist society, I ought to be able to get one. What is wrong with this world when there are a million choices of crap and not one single two quart square casserole dish with a lid?

I abandoned the Target. I did not look at picture frames or paperback books. In fact they were damn lucky I didn't leave the empty little shopping basket in the middle of the aisle.

I still had a bag of groceries sitting on my front seat and I needed that two quart square casserole dish with lid. Next stop, Kmart. I should have thought of the Kmart before I thought of Target. It is closer to home. It took a while to drive back across town, but this was a quest now. Holy grails and casserole dishes don't care about mileage. The inconvenience was to be dealt with.

The Kmart greeted me with a chorus of screaming children. Wails, cries and upsetness filled the air like Christmas carols. Fitting. I was starting to get hungry and cranky myself. The Kmart did slightly better. They had a three quart square casserole dish with a lid. Martha Stuart brand. I haunted the aisles there too, looking for the perfect dish. There was the frilly round two quart dish with lid. I considered it. But no damn it. I am an American consumer. By god I want a square two quart casserole dish with lid. Just like the one mom used. I imagined putting four stuffed peppers into that three quart dish and the vision was horrible. Peppers falling over, sauce running everywhere. Not cool. I needed two quart and I needed square and I wasn't whipping out the credit card for anything without a lid. The Shopko was across the street. My last hope.

I really like quests when they bear fruit. This quest was starting to piss me off. The Shopko parking lot was an adventure in people meandering through traffic. Move it people. I'm needing some stuffed peppers here. The Shopko cookware section was every bit as disappointing as all my other stops. The same lidless Pyrex crap I could have bought three times already. In fact the selection was almost identical to the Target only with slightly higher prices.

I fumed.

I was disgruntled.

I was hungry for stuffed peppers.

The Shopko did have a two quart round casserole dish with lid. I thought about it for a long time. Not the dish I wanted, I could run back across the street to the Kmart for the three quart jobbie. There was still Wal-Mart down the road. I had sworn off Wal-Mart years ago. They don't deserve my money on principal.

I grabbed the round dish. It would probably do the job and I didn't want to deal with any more running around. On my way to the cash register I told myself that even though this dish won't help much with the other recipe I wanted it for; my strawberry kiwi crisp, I would still end up with one more cooking tool in my Kitchen arsenal. Having a well armed kitchen is never a bad thing. Think positive Jones, someday I might just need a round two quart dish and at least it has a lid.

The stuffed peppers turned out okay.

1/3 pound italian sausage.
1/3 pound hamburger.
Browned in a skillet.

Chop 1 small onion, two stalks celery and the tops off your peppers. Mix in the meat, some shredded mozzarella cheese, one can of diced tomatoes, a half cup of Italian bread crumbs and press a garlic clove into the mix too. Spice with Italian seasoning and pepper to taste.

Stuff that stuff into four peppers and put them in your two quart square (or round) casserole dish. Cover and bake at 350 for at least 30 minutes. 40 minutes might be better. Heck, make it 45, they didn't turn out quite right on the first try.

Serve with a salad and whole bunch of wine in case you are still bitter about that casserole dish.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Frank Miele is a chowderhead

I have to give Daily Interlake managing editor Frank Miele some credit. He wrote two weeks worth of editorials that I had no objections too. This week however he has written another one of his train wrecks. If you are capable of looking away from accident scenes you can probably skip today's post. I can't help myself, I feel compelled to go poking through the wreckage with a stick.


That is what Frank Miele thinks Keith Olbermann is. I think that Frank Milele is a chowderhead for engaging in a personal attack.

Frank concedes that Keith might be witty and entertaining if you are the type of person who enjoys watching a 5-year-old rip the legs off of spiders. Well, I think reading Frank is like watching a train wreck.

Frank is also amused by Olbermann advocates. He claims they are bobblehead-puppy equivalents to yes-men. Well, Frank is well liked by some bobbleheaded Montana bloggers so he must be wrong.

Frank also believes that Olbermann is an Edgar R. Murrow wannabe. Going so far as to adopt Murrow's sign off in homage and imitating Murrow's ambition to attack large political targets. Well this would be all straightforward reporting except for that one word "delusion" making it sound like this is a bad thing. Well I think that Frank is under the delusion that he is a decent writer and editor.

Frank goes on to explain, with examples, how Olberman's editorializing is bad. And with only the examples to go from I might just have to side with Frank. Olberman does do his fair share of appealing to emotion and other propaganda techniques. But Frank thinks that the editorials are bad for a different reason. He says they are bad because Olberman is targeting President Bush. Well, I think Frank is wrong because he tends to editorialize in favor of those right wingers.

Frank then goes on to mock Olberman's mannerisms and compare him to the fictional Max Headroom for the jocular conclusion to his essay.

So did you keep score too? Here is how I counted it:
Twelve total logical fallacies including five Ad Hominem's (personal attacks).

Play the home game and see if you can score higher than me. I'm sure I missed one or two fallacies in there somewhere.

I guess Frank Miele wont mind then if I just call him a big chowderhead and not try to back that up or anything.

Since I don't watch teevee and have only a passing knowledge of who Keith Olbermann is, convincing me that a television editorialist is bad or wrong ought to be as easy as convincing me that chocolate chip cookies make tasty treats. Let me try to help out here. A good counter argument for an editorial or opinion piece goes something like this:

The editorialist stated his opinion was [X] because of [reasons]. I disagree with him because his reasoning is faulty due to [fact A], [fact B] and [fact C].

For example:
Frank Miele has a poor opinon of the editorializing of Keith Olbermann. But I do not find Mr. Miele's arguments convincing because they consist almost entirely of personal attacks, faulty logic and the flawed premise that the President of the United States is somehow exempt from scrutiny.

Try to do better next time please.
Montana Jones

P.S. Props to the index of Logical Fallacies.

Saturday, November 04, 2006

Haloween Candy

Did you get very many trick-or-treaters?
No. I turned the lights off and hoarded the candy for myself.
So why did you buy candy?
That's just what you do in October. Buy candy for Halloween.
But then you didn't give it out?
Nah. I wasn't in the mood to deal with the little urchins. And now I have a bag of candy.

Friday, November 03, 2006


Damn, it's good to hear from you. This sure has been my year for screwing up my personal life. Any success I have had in my work appears to be complimented with a blunder with my friends. For the life of me I have not been able to figure out what my friends want from me or how to give it. I know that I have screwed up somehow, not entirely sure how. I have been scared that I have screwed up so badly as to lose touch with you forever.

It makes me sad that you have such a different memory of our past than I do. I remember spending some very good time with you. Talking, running, hiking, cooking, road trips, music, movies. I got a lot more from you than just sex. If that is all you ever got from our relationship, well, that is disappointing. But it reflects badly on me more than on you. I do not feel used and I hope you do not have regrets.

I am sorry if our conversations have been strained. Since the end of our relationship and especially since we have both moved on to dating others I have felt like it is not right for me to lean on you for emotional or moral support. I don't want to burden you with my problems. I don't want to risk coming between you and your relationships. I don't want your boyfriend to accuse me of trying to get into your pants. I don't want anyone I date to feel threatened by my friendship with you. And I don't know the correct things to do or say to balance all that and keep you as a friend.

For the record, I am not unhappy. Montana has been good to me in many different ways. If there is anything you can do for me it would be to reassure me that I can have a place in you life without burdening you, taking time or energy away from your relationships, or threatening your boyfriend. Calling bullshit on my bullshit is appreciated too.

So do you want to try another conversation? Let's pick a time when I can give you my full attention and I promise to think of five cool or good things that happened to me this summer to share with you.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Ice adventure

It was the slipping tires that bothered me the most. The cold did not bug me, the heavy coat and layers of underwear cut into my dexterity somewhat but it was the ice that had me anxious. When I started I knew to expect a few icy spots, but if I had to do it over again I would have walked.

My daily ritual of getting the mail to the post office was once again working into my routine. I have never liked the car option. No exercise, wastes gas, and it is far too early in the season to set a precedent of being lazy. In spite of the snow on the ground I did not want to walk either. That left my bicycle. The adventure of it appealed to me.

What streets I could see from my window were free of ice, but I quickly learned that was the exception and not the rule. The worst of them had a bizarre combination of icy slush and wet fall leaves churned into a bio hazard of ice coating the pavement. I gritted my teeth, watched the line I wanted my tires to follow and tried not to think about bicycle tires sliding out sideways beneath me. I began to have second thoughts about this adventure.

I got onto the side streets as quick as I could. I did not like the idea of falling in front of on coming traffic. I even decided to shorten my route. Post office was out, I wanted the closer drop box instead. It took two laps around the block to realize that the mail box I had relied on last season had been removed. Suck. Now I have to go the full distance. With bravery in my heart I went onward in the chill afternoon.

I enjoy the care free bike rides on warm days when I can zip around slow moving traffic and feel my muscles burn. Today my bike did not give me that joy. My hands got tired from my death grip on the bar. The winter clothes made the familiar motions feel cramped. The tracks through the ice were ever changing and I was afraid to look away and watch for traffic. Every time my tires slipped my heart jumped a little. I loosened my feet out of the toe clips just in case. I have never been so pleased to be wearing a helmet

The streets downtown were just as bad as the residential parts of town. The sidewalks were the cleanest. That suited me. Anything to get this errand over with. With the mail dropped I started my slow treacherous trek home. I was a little more confident by now. I was learning the difference between the slippery surfaces and the merely wet ones. I only cut off a couple cars by riding farther out into the dry parts of the street. The short downhill patch of glare ice took away my confidence again. Being very careful to stay balanced, not too fast, not too slow, I still felt the tires slip three times. Somehow I stayed upright.

It was with a sigh of relief that I wheeled back into the garage. Standing on two feet again the crisp air burning into my lungs felt like satisfaction. The sweat in my hair evaporate into cold mist. My legs had a comfortable ache. You know, maybe that wasn't so bad. It always feels good to be alive after a hazardous adventure. And it is pretty cool when a trip to the post office becomes extraordinary.

The next day I remembered the thrill more than the fear so I did it again.