Sunday, August 31, 2008

The Last Days of Summer...

The traditional last weekend of summer is upon us. The temperatures are falling at night (it's only 48° as I'm writing this, and it's only 8PM!), football has started, the days have gotten darker noticeably earlier, and the symphony season starts up again next week. Schools started up mid-week last week (it's inconceivable to be in a schoolhouse around here prior to the last week of August), new episodes are about to start on TV, and there's less than 4 months until Christmas!

I started looking back today at the summer of '08. Some thoughts (bulleted, because I really like bulleted lists!):
  • For the first time in many, many years, we had a "normal" summer, weather-wise. I'm not sure that we actually hit the century mark this year. Last year we had strings of days over 100 degrees. This summer, most days were in the mid- to upper-80s, and that was more than fine for me! And is the norm.
  • We started out the summer fairly moist, but things were pretty rain-free. The mountains got some rain, but that's a very good thing.
  • Perhaps the nicest thing this summer was the lack of smoke!!! There was only one major forest fire in MT, and it was 250 miles away and downwind. There were no real fires to speak of that blew smoke our way. If you want to see what it was like for the past couple of years around here, check out the August archives of 2007!
  • The symphony's summer concert was so smoothly run, I can't find fault with anything about it. I even came out physically unscathed!
  • While the first half of the summer was fairly lazy, the second half certainly picked up. The concert, the road trip to Vixen's wedding, and two weekends in a row of hosting Dana and her son--all made the summer come to an end much quicker than anticipated!
Look forward to bragging about the local football teams, and stories about Niece 3, who is now playing varsity golf!
As a celebration of the end of summer (and BIL3's birthday), there was one last fling at their place on the lake. More food and beer than you could shake a stick at. Before I could even grab my first beer, someone sticks a hot wing in my hand. Of course, I drip sauce all the way down my white shirt. A classy introduction to all the people their whom I didn't know. And there were many...

Click 'em to big 'em. What's interesting in these first two pictures is that know one or two of the people. No family in any of them. The game in the first one is a horseshoes-like game. I don't know what it's called, but these people play it fanatically. Me? Not so much. I take my beer drinking seriously. The buildings up above are the bunkhouse and outhouse. The main cabin is another 30 yards up the hill. The other picture gives the basic look of the beach area and the lake itself. It was windy and chilly, so not a great deal of water play.

The outhouse is a work of art. Quite upscale, actually. Artwork on the walls, souvenirs and autographs (including one Bill Clinton!), and generally all sorts of things to take your mind off the fact that it is still just a little stinky...

There were 4 different grills going all afternoon. The big meat was ribs. Lots and lots of ribs. And there was beer can turkey! Normally there's grilled shrimp, too, but the ribs took precedence. Ramen salad, hash brown cheesy casserole, desserts, more get the idea. The last shot is from the front of the main cabin, overlooking the lake. The dark clouds were the norm for the day, and were worse all day today.

It was a great time out there, and a fine way to end the summer! I may or may not have drunk-texted last night. :-P All in all, a good start to the weekend. I hope you've all had as productive of one as I!!

Saturday, August 30, 2008

The Telephone Game

The method is a bit different these days...

...but the results are generally the same.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Grooming HNT

I was having a little chat awhile back with someone about the ritual of shaving. How often, how quickly, how haphazardly, etc. It was an eye-opener for me!

Personally, I think it's my least favorite bit of daily hygiene. As such, I put it off many days. And I'm only shaving half a face! There's not a whole lot that will detract me from doing it. Chatting too long before showering and getting to work? Guess I won't shave. Considering going for the full beard look? Guess I won't shave. Hungover and can't trust that I won't leave myself a bloody mess? Guess I won't shave.

Feel free to click on the pictures to get a close-up (warning--there's hairs in places you don't want to be seeing hairs), or to see the results of what happened this morning...

Andie: I'm going to go. I'm not sad about it. I'm not hurt. I mean, you know, I am hurt, a little bit. But I know if I don't do it I'll just feel a lot worse. I'm just going to go in. I'll walk in, walk out, and come home. I just want to let them know that they didn't break me.

This movie quote should help you figure out this week's Mystery Guest! She'll be revealed Thursday afternoon, but drop her a line if you think you know who it is!

This shouldn't have been too hard. The quote is from "Pretty In Pink", which means the MG must be Coy Pink! Stop by and see who got to be her guest this week!

"...the Other HNT" has its regular share of extra-nekkidness, and as always, is NSFW. (For those who don't know what NSFW means, it's Not Safe For Work. End of public service announcement.)
I need an opinion from those of you from the south who drink sweet tea. Being a hick from the north, I've never had it. Until I stopped at McDonalds to try their new Sweet Tea today. Please tell me that it's a bad hoax on their part.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

100 Things About Me - Round 2

Time to do a second "100 Things About Me" list. You can find the first 100 from August, 2006 over here. No guarantee that there's not a repeat or two, but I hope not!
  1. I am the oldest of 4 children, the only son. I’m also the only one not married. Never married, no kids, no pets.
  2. I have taught almost all grades from 1st through college.
  3. I tend to be possessive of my friends. I don’t like sharing much. Regardless of their gender. I’ve been known to be jealous, but not to the degree that I’d embarrass myself.
  4. What you see in my blog is pretty much who I am. I’ve considered starting a blog under a different name, but my personality would just come through anyway.
  5. I am usually pretty good with dates. I will mark dates on a calendar and refer to it semi-regularly. I still know birthdays of friends from my Idaho days.
  6. I find it difficult to talk about sex. I am as rude, crude and socially unacceptable as the worst of them. I can tell dirty jokes all night. I can be totally inappropriate at all the wrong times. But between my parents and my good Catholic upbringing, I’ve been instilled with a strong sense of respect towards women. Maybe too strong at times.
  7. I have an outgoing personality, and I am often the center of attention with a group of people, but that hides the fact that I’m actually fairly shy.
  8. If I’ve had a few beers, that shyness seems to disappear, and I can be quite direct.
  9. I tend to get very involved with my friends’ problems. I have the unfortunate trait that I honestly care about people. Especially my close friends.
  10. I am not happy with my current employment situation over the past 17 years. In spite of the fact that it’s allowed me to do the music things that I do. I’ve been stuck in a rut and am not sure how to get out. Or if I really want to.
  11. I rarely eat breakfast.
  12. Unless it’s at night.
  13. Over the past 20 years, I’ve found that I can tear up to just about anything on TV. Same with a lot of movies. Didn’t used to be like that.
  14. I watched both the Challenger and Columbia disasters on TV as they were happening. I also watched the second jet hit the WTC live on TV. I watched Lee Harvey Oswald get shot live on TV.
  15. I took my GREs on my 25th birthday.
  16. I smoked pot once just before my freshman year of high school and got sicker than a dog. I’ve never touched it since.
  17. I’ve never bothered trying any other illegal drugs.
  18. I’ve been a beer drinker since I was 16, but got a head start on that when my dad would have me grab him a beer from the fridge in the garage. I’d open it and take a couple of swigs before giving it to him. I thought I was getting away with something, but I’m sure he knew full well what was going on.
  19. My sisters used to do the same thing.
  20. The only other cocktail I might order anymore is gin & tonic. Tanqueray, if possible.
  21. Tequila and I parted ways permanently the day after my 19th birthday.
  22. In my prime, I could do shots of just about anything and drink everyone under the table. Now I just shake my head at those who think that’s the way to enjoy drinking.
  23. I’ve seen all three of my sisters naked in at least their mid-teens. Nothing weird or kinky. Just a fact.
  24. I can’t think of anything that really terrifies me. In a scary way.
  25. I’ve never had a family member die in a war. I had a great-uncle who spent 3 years as a POW in WWII before he was released.
  26. I saved a girl from drowning on an afternoon float trip. She was trapped under a beaver dam, and I pulled her out.
  27. I’ve broken my nose, both thumbs, my right ankle, right elbow, left wrist, back (twice), both little toes, one big toe and once dislocated my jaw. I’ve also sprained both my ankles and my left knee.
  28. I’ve never been in a fist fight.
  29. It’s been years ago, but I’ve skinny-dipped with strangers.
  30. It’s also been years ago, but I’ve skinny-dipped with friends.
  31. The closest thing I’ve had to group sex is waking up with my girlfriend and finding my college roommate having sex with his girfriend. They both looked at us and didn’t miss a beat (so to speak), so we decided we could too!
  32. My time in jail was a joke. Certainly did nothing for me other than have total contempt for the legal system.
  33. I found out that I could arrange music while in jail. Without a piano in front of me! My first piece—re-writing my high school’s song at the request of their band director (a friend of mine). Did it all from my jail bed, and in my head.
  34. While I can arrange music, I couldn’t write a song to save my soul. I don’t have a creative bone in my body. Arranging music is nothing more than an accepted style of plagiarism, and I’m very good that.
  35. Despite all my years of living in Montana, I don’t hunt, fish, skate or ski.
  36. I prefer taking pictures with my old camera, and would continue using it if film costs/developing were free!
  37. I have well over 1000 LPs in storage that I haven’t listened to in over 17 years.
  38. I don’t generally rent DVDs or watch movies. Either at home or at the theater.
  39. As much as I enjoy listening to or playing classical music, attending an orchestra concert usually bores me, unless it’s a REALLY good orchestra or REALLY good program.
  40. I have a bad habit of correcting things. Grammar, spelling, procedures, etc.
  41. I also have a bad habit of critiquing other musical events, particularly if I’m in the audience.
  42. As a bachelor, I have found that I don’t necessarily need to have matching furniture or a lot of knick-knacks. I use the same headboard that I had in junior high.
  43. I have no tattoos, though I’ve given a little bit of thought to getting one. Nothing obnoxious.
  44. I have no piercings, and doubt that I ever will.
  45. I am fairly self-ridiculing. I can laugh at myself, and often do. It’s allowed me to deal with those who feel they have to do the same thing to me.
  46. I’m generally non-confrontational. But I often play the devil’s advocate. And I will look for all the loopholes in things.
  47. I learned from my time in jail that I can’t worry about the past. You can’t change it. You have to always look ahead. Trying to avoid getting into the pitfalls that caught you in the past.
  48. I have also learned that shit happens that you have no control over, so wasting one’s energies over stewing about it accomplishes nothing. Others who know me mistake that as apathy. I look at it as a chance to look at alternatives.
  49. I’m at the point in my life that I can just say, “Hey, this is me and who I am. Deal with it.”
  50. I still want people to like me.
  51. I don’t want to like certain people, so I don’t, and they rarely can get onto my good side.
  52. Going back to the early days, there are people involved with HNT that I wish never would have found it.
  53. I am a little uncomfortable with the celebrity that has attached itself to “Os”. Make no mistake—it’s helped me to make some great friends, and I like all the compliments and heaps of praise. But please…I’m just not that important!
  54. My preference for birthday cake is German chocolate.
  55. My favorite pizza would be pepperoni & sausage.
  56. I don't particularly like vanilla ice cream, unless it's topping a root beer float.
  57. I'm not a fan of dark chocolate. Or peanut butter. Unless part of a PB&J sandwich.
  58. Deep-fat fried chicken gizzards with hot sauce are to die for!
  59. I've never eaten oyster off the half shell, and don't care if I ever do.
  60. I've never eaten caviar, and don't care if I ever do.
  61. I have eaten escargot, and don't care if I ever do again.
  62. I have eaten Rocky Mountain oysters (look it up if you need to), and would do it again.
  63. I have eaten calf brains (mixed in with scrambled eggs...yum!) and would do it again.
  64. I tend to salt everything, but not to excess.
  65. Ketchup is acceptable to add to just about anything. But not to the point that the food is swimming in it.
  66. I have a great deal of admiration for people who know the music of Tom Lehrer. Even moreso if they can recite his lyrics.
  67. I pronounce the word creek as "crick", because that's the correct pronunciation.
  68. My favorite color would be blue.
  69. I don't particularly like listening to the blues.
  70. I don't mind playing the blues.
  71. My grandfather was a funeral director. I once slapped a guy who was "sleeping" in one of the caskets. I was about 6 or 7.
  72. But I knew that you had to be quiet in the chapel, where there was always a body laying in wait.
  73. I ventured down to the forbidden basement once and opened the door. It only took once.
  74. I think I would have enjoyed being mortician, and probably disappointed my grandfather that I didn't ever express that to him.
  75. But I don't think I could deal well with the huge amount of grief on a daily basis.
  76. When push comes to shove, I prefer symmetry.
  77. It might not be PC, but I secretly laugh at the pratfalls of others.
  78. I openly laugh at my own.
  79. It took me days before I could get one of those 3-D posters to work. Now I can do it in the blink of an eye.
  80. I still have "the" Farrah Fawcett poster somewhere. I wish it were 3-D...
  81. I never thought of her as the hottest of the Angels.
  82. I used to have to drive the school bus when the band went anywhere when I taught in Idaho.
  83. I was pulled over for suspicion of driving while intoxicated while driving the bus home after an away game (absolutely no basis for it. a funny story, actually. 27 years later...)
  84. I have never owned a house.
  85. I've never flown in a helicopter.
  86. I've never jumped out of a plane.
  87. I have hopped a freight train, but then was stuck on it for 100 miles. Oops...
  88. My first hospital stay was for a tonsillectomy when I was in the 3rd grade, I believe.
  89. One of my first TV obsessions was "Dark Shadows", or "The Monkees". I'm not sure which was first...
  90. My second toe is longer than my big toe. That's supposed to mean I'm going to be rich, but I haven't seen it happen yet...
  91. I often wonder what sort of a father I might have made, but also how my life would be so different than it is if I had been.
  92. I used to open beer bottles with my teeth at parties, just because I could.
  93. Until the day I chipped a tooth. My dad, the dentist, was somewhat disappointed in me.
  94. I was an altar boy in my youth.
  95. Fr. Kingston used to take us out for burgers after getting us out of class (Catholic grade school) to serve at funerals.
  96. Sister Eucharista (really!) taught me how to play "Chopsticks" in any key on the piano in the 5th grade. One of the most important musical lessons I ever learned.
  97. In the day, I used to be a fairly decent water skier.
  98. But my family didn't own a boat. I had to ski with friends who did.
  99. I wish my parents would have bought a cabin on the lake, rather than in the mountains. I would have (and still would) embraced the "lake mentality" in an instant!
  100. I had many "guests" up to the mountain cabin anyway.
I can't imagine doing another 100 after this. There's just not that much more to know about me!

Monday, August 25, 2008

Happy Birthday, Girls!

Happy Birthday to Kelly, Jen and Cowgirl!!

(I won't tell you who's the oldest...)

Saturday, August 23, 2008

A Good Weekend So Far

Remember the old days when you'd run out to the mailbox and find something exciting? An unexpected letter from an old friend. A greeting card just to say hi. A letter from Ed McMahon saying you may have just won $10 million...

I've gotten a few similar surprises already in my email this weekend! Yeah, it's been that kind of weekend so far!

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Olympic HNT

When I get a wild hair, or someone talks me into it, I generally call for a theme with a plan already in mind. I have a general idea what I'm going to do before I announce it. But not this time. Boy, I didn't think people (myself included) would have so much problem with this one! It seemed so easy. So accessible. So timely. I hope you had an easier time with this than I did!

The closest activity I do that resembles sports anymore is golf. Unfortunately, golf has not been an Olympic sport since 1904. The next one I'm remotely in shape for is sumo wrestling. Nope, not on the list (thank God! None of you would have wanted to see that!).

I watched a men's water polo match between the U.S. and Germany. Have you watched that?? If my mother caught us in the pool doing what these guys were, we'd have been grounded for the summer! Kicking, dunking, pulling, and general rough-housing. The U.S. team is in the medal round, which was totally unexpected, so I thought I could honor them. But I couldn't find a horse.

Since I couldn't find a horse for the water polo shot, it goes without saying the the equestrian ones were out too. I thought about fencing, but I don't have a yard, so that plan was doomed too. I went as far as taking a test shot in my bathtub as a synchronized swimmer. I can't begin to tell you how many things were wrong with that idea. I had to find a different angle for this...

I read that Michael Phelps eats up to 12,000 calories/day! Can you imagine?? And his body looks like that! Perhaps that's what I need to do! To celebrate, I could have a Big Mac, fries and a Budweiser (corporate sponsors--gotta support them!). As appealing as this idea was (and may or may not have been attempted...), I couldn't quite see posting a tasteful picture of that. Regardless of how half-nekkid I got/didn't get.

So, as a final thought before totally panicking, I thought about the noble beginnings of the Games. In ancient Greece. Where men competed wearing nary a stitch of clothing. In front of thousands of cheering fans. Yes! Go back to the roots! Not as a nekkid competitor, mind you, but as a spectator, in the bright sun of Athens. And there's only one image that comes to mind when thinking of the word 'toga'...

"When I pay my bills
Gonna leave these Tennessee hills
Take my lady to the sea
That's where we both come from
That's where we both belong
Think I'll go back to the Keys."

She'll be revealed on Thursday afternoon, but you can always ask her, if you think you know!
I imagine this one was a little tougher than normal, even with the tattoo. This week's MG is Queenie from over at Queenie's Place. Be sure to stop by and see her colorful HNT!

Another good batch of participant over at "...the Other HNT". Even have some that kept up with the Olympic theme! Be sure to stop by. Comments are always appreciated! (NSFW, of course!)

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Tagged again...

Every once in awhile, Tish throws a tag at me, just to see if I'm paying attention. I suspect this one is directed at me since I'm a musician. I have to post about a song that touches me and brings me to tears.

As a musician, there's little in popular music that really moves me, and if it does, it's more music-geekish...a unique chord progression, a great melodic line, things like that. NEVER the lyrics. I'm not a lyrics guy at all. Opera arias, when done well, will send a chill up my spine, and maybe a tear, but I couldn't name a single one.

Two exceptions to the popular music genre. Whitney Houston's version of the "Star-Spangled Banner" at the Super Bowl in the early 90s. In the face of a new war, the tensions of the day, and the fact that postponement/cancellation of the game was a serious possibility, her stirring rendition was just the shot in the arm that the country needed. Unfortunately, I found it on YouTube, and frankly, it doesn't do it for me anymore.

The one that does is the amazing version of "Over the Rainbow" by Eva Cassidy. Eva died in 1996, from melanoma, the most deadly form of skin cancer. Her music was little-known during her 33 years of life, but today her soul-stirring voice is reaching people all over the world. I was managing a CD store in the 90s, and remember her album "Songbird" when it came out. Not a big deal--no one had ever heard of her. And she'd been dead for 2 years. But by Christmas of that year, the BBC had started playing "Over the Rainbow", and ultimately, her posthumous sales of her recordings has gone through the roof.

One really needs to read her story, and understand how she fought this cancer to the end, and her ultimate death at a grossly young age. Every time I hear her version, I'm in tears by the end. Literally. There's a few YouTube videos of live performances, but the studio recording is the tear-jerker. Corny video put together by someone, but the music track will melt your socks off. I'm also adding a "Nightline" segment about her. It's about 20 minutes long, and in three segments, but highly worth watching. Oh, I'm supposed to tag, so let me hear from Smiley ('s her bday today!), Carnalis, Biscuit, Evening, and Him from Blissfully Wed. Edit--Fuck, I'm in tears watching the whole Nightline thing...

Saturday, August 16, 2008


We may have opted for the ballgame.
We may have consumed many beers at said ballgame.
We may have opted for pizza after said ballgame.
There may have been some more beer and TWO large pizzas.
There may have been some semi-drunk naughty texting.
There may have been some semi-drunk picture-taking (minds out of gutter, please).
There may be one of us who's faring much better than the other this morning.

But I'm not saying...

Friday, August 15, 2008

Good News! Bad News....

I got some good news last night!
  • I don't smell funny!
  • Nor am I socially inept!
  • Nor am I a total embarrassment to be around (partial?...perhaps)!
Dana and her son will be coming back through Helena tonight on their way home. And still want to get together for dinner! I haven't decided if we'll try Howard's Pizza tonight (with the requisite cold beers), or if we'll go the baseball game (we have a very minor league baseball team here), complete with the requisite hot dogs and cold beers. Maybe some vlog material and/or pics, too!
Since I was hosting them last week, I missed out on this news--Isaac Hayes died! (so did Bernie Mac, but that doesn't affect me as much) I didn't see it mentioned on the blogs anywhere! Have we all become so self-centered that we couldn't at least mention him? The man who wrote one of the most recognizable movie songs of the 70s!?!
    "Who's the black private dick
    That's a sex machine to all the chicks?
    Ya damn right!

    Who is the man that would risk his neck
    For his brother man?
    Can you dig it?

    Who's the cat that won't cop out
    When there's danger all about?
    Right On!

    They say this cat Shaft is a bad mother
    I'm talkin' 'bout Shaft.

    He's a complicated man
    But no one understands him but his woman
Just when you thought you'd never hear from him again, he comes back in glory as "Chef" in South Park. I really hope they do some sort of tribute episode for him! Please enjoy the last of his big hits! Edit--I thought there was an actual video with this, but apparently not. This song only was found on CD, so this is the best visual you'll get...

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Funky Art HNT

We have a back hallway that we have to walk through to get to the door to the stairs to the offices at work. As I suspect is true with alot of back hallways, ours has become a "temporary" repository of convenience. Things that don't quite make it back to where they were taken from, stuff that doesn't have anyplace to go to yet, items that, frankly, should be in the dumpster.

We are in the midst of an expansion. It's going slowly. But it's going. One of the things in the hallway that will be moved into the new space is a very large mirror. About 6' x 8', I would guess. Where does it go while awaiting its very own space in the new area--the back hallway. Also currently back there is some artwork (we actually have the largest art gallery in town--local and regional artists only).

I pass this mirror on a daily basis. Today I passed it with a camera in my pocket. On a Wednesday, the day before Thursday. Seems like a HNT opportunity to me! There were better pictures taken, but this one was the most interesting, with the artwork that was leaning against the mirror. I have no idea what the name of the painting is, or what it represents, but it just seems odd...

A little fairy comes at night,
Her eyes are blue, her hair is brown’
with silver spots upon her wings,
And from the moon she flutters down.

She has a little silver wand,
And when a good child goes to bed
She waves her wand from right to left
And makes a circle round her head,

And then it dreams of pleasant things,
Of fountains filled with fairy fish,
And trees that bear delicious fruit,
And bow their branches at a wish;

Of arbours filled with dainty scents
From lovely flowers that never fade,
Bright ‘flies that flitter in the sun,
And glow-worms shining in the shade;

And talking birds with gifted tongues
For singing songs and telling tales,
And pretty dwarfs to show the way
Through the fairy hills and fairy dales.

--Thomas Hood

Look for the reveal on Thursday afternoon!
If the poem didn't just scream out the MG's identity to you, then you must not get around much! This is Elisa from Fairy Flutters. Stop by and say hi if you haven't been there yet (or even if you have!).

We continue to get new HNTers involved with "...the Other HNT". Be sure to stop by and leave some lovin'! As usual, NSFW...
Theme Alert!
August 21st - Olympic HNT

The theme next week is the Olympics.
Somehow incorporate the spirit of the
2008 Summer Olympics into your own HNT!
Celebrate your national pride!
Lots of ways you can celebrate this one!

Monday, August 11, 2008

The Gates, York and the Dam

Sunday found us at the Gates of the Mountains. It's a wonderful limestone-cliffed canyon that the Lewis & Clark expedition paddled through over 200 years ago. Now it's done by tour boat (there's been tours every year for over 120 years!). A little disappointed that we didn't get to see any wildlife, but the ride was relaxing, and educational too! There's a major campground where the boat docks to let people picnic or hike or go potty. Unfortunately, there was a flash flood the day before, so activity was severely limited, with most of it closed for clean-up. We did manage to find a spot to take a picture. If you go to Dana's site, you can see a slideshow of the pictures she took from the boat (actually, from the whole day...).

Next stop was the York Bar. The bar that I try to get to everytime Moose or Kamey is in town. Rachel and I have been there a couple of times too! Consistently voted every year as having the best burgers in "town" (even though the bar is 20 miles from Helena!). I drank Rainier (which she hadn't seen in years), and, thanks to Moose's suggestion, Dana started out with a Caesar. You people are sick... However, she got hers for free, since they'd run out of mix. She ended up drinking Moose Drool for the rest of out time there.

Note the "glow" in her face, and the condensation on the glasses. No A/C at this place, and there had been a bit of rain, so things were a bit humid... No, I still haven't fixed the wipers. Dana wasn't terribly amused, but Cam loved watching me try to fix them as we were driving...

Before leaving the bar, I had to take this picture. Patrons will sign a dollar bill and plaster it up on the walls (hundreds of dollar bills, dozens of years worth). You can find mine and Moose's up there! Click it to big it to see better!

Our final drive was through the mountains some more, to the base of the Canyon Ferry Dam, then up around to the top to see the lake. From there, it was back into town, another quick mini-tour of places we hadn't seen the night before, and back to her room for some beers and conversation. All in all, a pretty good 24 hours!

I met up with them for breakfast this morning, pointed them towards the west and how to get to I-90, and we said our good-byes. I'm relatively certain she'll have another vlog posted tonight from Spokane. Be sure to check out what she's posted so far! You'll even get to see yours truly choking on a Thin Mint crumb. I'm nothing if not entertaining!

Sunday, August 10, 2008


One of the fun things that has happened over the 40+ months that I've been blogging has been the opportunity to actually meet some of these people that I've conversed with or written to. I know that there are many bloggers out there that don't ever want to do that--that want to keep their "anonymity". That are afraid that if they meet another blogger, then perhaps they won't match up to their profile, or that, for some reason, they'll be a disappointment. I'm totally the opposite. What you see online is what you get, for better or worse. I've met up with 33 bloggers over the past 3 years (find them in the sidebar), and not one of them has ever been even close to being a disappointment in any way, shape or form. And hopefully, neither have I!

The common factor so far in meeting them is that I have had to travel somewhere to meet them, depending on the circumstances. I don't count Moose, Kamey or Rachel in that, because they have the Helena connection. Everyone else, though, has been met on the road. Until tonight!

When Dana first mentioned she was headed to Spokane to see family, my first thought was that I-90 is just down the road from Helena, crossing through Butte. I could run down and catch her at McDonald's or something! Short, and hardly enough time, but we could at least meet! She had a better idea. She and her son got into town about 5:00 tonight, and they'll head out to Spokane on Monday morning! That'll give her about 40 hours here! So we started tonight by going to the Brewhouse, where I usually go beer drinking, and introduced her to both the Beltian White, and Dragonsbreath (thanks, Kamey!). Of course, if you're going to be in Montana, you might as well have a steak, so Cam jumped all over that! Dana and I just had one of their specialty burgers.

And we talked and gossiped. About you, and you. And especially YOU! ;-) They also got the nickel tour of Helena in the dark. Cam seemed to really like the mountains. And the lights. As we headed up Montana Ave. (for those of you who know Helena...) we passed the Dairy Queen, and Dana uttered the words "we can still get Thin Mint Blizzards back home..." Fightin' words if I've ever heard any. So I go through the drive-thru, and lo and behold, we can still get Thin Mint Blizzards!! A perfect end to the evening, as I headed back to their motel. We had to get the obligatory picture together, but we were both tired from the beers. You have to figure that one of us would look like a dork--I took one for the team this time...

Tomorrow, we head to the Gates of the Mountains (look it up), and then to the York Bar for more burgers and beers. She's got (or going to have) her travel vlog up on her site. Be sure to check it out! More pictures and stories tomorrow!

Friday, August 08, 2008

Thoughts from the Opening Ceremonies

I'm not one who is hugely awed by the Olympics, but will do my share of watching bits and pieces of it, and I am all for the pomp and pageantry involved with the opening and closing ceremonies. Always have been. Some thoughts...
  • It was humbling to me as an American to watch the artistry and perfection prior to the parade of athletes. I have no doubt in my mind that there is NO WAY that a U.S. ceremony could possibly match it. Don't believe me? Have you seen the crap that comes on at halftime during any of the bowl games or Super Bowl? The absolute precision (those circles!), the lack of egos, the production--while having literally an unlimited budget always allows the arts to come out, you'll never see it in the U.S. Just another sign that we're not quite as hot as we think we are...
  • Did you catch the fireworks right after the artistic part that burst into smiley faces?
  • Is there anything cuter than a young Chinese girl?
  • Bob Costas is an ass.
  • Did you choke up a little with the story of that little boy that walked around with Yao Ming?
  • Too many commercials, but I still love that Budweiser commercial with Hank, the Clydesdale! Isn't that your commercial, Mina?
  • And how cool was that torch lighting?
Can you imagine the poor schmuck who's going to have to try to top that in London in 4 years???

Thursday, August 07, 2008

Theme Alert!!

I was chatting with a certain someone today, and we were mentioning how uninspired alot of us claimed to be this week for HNT. Well, that can only mean one thing--IT'S TIME FOR A THEME!!!

She suggested doing something for Labor/Labour Day, but that doesn't quite include everybody, so I had to think of something that would appeal to the various nationalities that participate in HNT. A theme that would mean something to everyone. Needless to say, it wasn't too terribly difficult to come up with one.

In TWO WEEKS (please read that part--how many jump the gun everytime there's a theme??) the theme will be THE OLYMPICS! That keeps it wide open with all sorts of possibilities. Half-nekkid hurdling, perhaps? I'm hoping for half-nekkid synchronized swimming, myself! Half-nekkid equestrian events (Vixen??). Half-nekkid gymnastics, track, running, archery, javelin-catching--the possibilities are endless!

So let us put the "politics" of the Olympics aside, and treat them the way that the early Greeks did--nekkid and sweaty! Thursday, August 21st. Olympic HNT. Be there!
A little bit of community pride to spew here... I missed out on this, between all the symphony concert stuff and then running off to Vixen's wedding. Somewhere along the lines, I missed the civic chest-thumping and horn-tooting. There's a publication (I don't know if it's strictly online or not) called bizjournals. They recently had a special report titled "Dreamtowns that offer refuge from big cities and congested suburbs". Check out this slideshow of the top 10 "dreamtowns". Of those ten, two of them are in the Midwest, three are in New England, two are on opposite coasts, and THREE OF THEM ARE IN MONTANA!! Bozeman is ranked #2, Helena is ranked #5, and Kalispell comes in at #6! We may be out in the sticks here, but we ain't got it too bad!
Big plans for the weekend! I'll have pictures!

Deep Thoughts with HNT

For the first time in over three years, I contemplated passing on HNT this week. It's not because I've been busy--I've posted them when I was far busier than I am now. And it's not because I didn't have any inspiration--half of them don't! I just can't quite put my finger on it.

But it's during these times of uncertainty, these feelings of voidness, these questions of existence that one has to pull up their big girl panties, suck it up, and come up with something. So I'll try...

I had all sorts of time during my drive down to Vixen's and back to come up with posts, some new ideas, with thoughts and pontifications. But I didn't. However, I did come up with alot of little observations and questions:
  • How the early morning smell of freshly cut hay smells so good.
  • How I wished I could see the mountains that were blocked out by forest fires.
  • How I tried to see some real beauty in central Wyoming, and was failing miserably.
  • How I could truly describe the unique color that Red Bull makes my pee turn to.
  • How I wished I could take a picture of the mountains to the west of where Vixen lives that would really do them justice.
  • How good a Sausage McMuffin can taste in the morning.
  • How seeing mountains again made me think I was almost home, when I still had 6 hours to go.
  • How there's some really, really beautiful country along the MT/WY border.
  • How I couldn't wait to fill up with gas in Columbus, MT, and pick up a couple of pizza burritos. There's nothing as good as Town Pump burritos.
  • How I wish I'd gotten my wipers taken care of a month ago.
  • How the roadkill in MT smells better than the roadkill in WY (don't ask...)
  • How Town Pump burritos do things to me.
  • How there's nothing quite like sitting on one's own toilet at home.
I had plenty of time for real thinking on this trip. I could have listened to an audiobook. I could have done some planning for the upcoming symphony season. But sometimes it's good to have a lot of time to yourself to just veg out. Listen to old CDs you didn't know you had. And just relish in the thoughts of a good road trip and meeting old friends for the first time.

Oh, and one other thought...please, Lord, don't let me drop the camera as I'm driving down the road at 81 MPH!

I'm closing my eyes and my arms are stretched wide
I'm soaring through valleys tilting to the side
I whiz past the mountain shaped like a head
I swim through the clouds in a sky purple and red
I float beyond the meadow that sways in the moon light
I feel the wind rush past my hair as it lifts me to another height
My skin is chilly but I don't care, I giggle at the sight of my hair
This feelings just mine, and I don't want to share
You think you know pleasure, but you're not yet there
This is my zone, my time to be alone
No dinner to cook, no need to answer the phone
This is my place, where I can shine the moon on my face
My sky I can fly, where ever I please, with my shadow, I race.
So leave me alone when I'm in my realistic dream,
unless you have in your hand, apple pie and whipped cream!

No reveal this week, but if you think you know who it is, ask her--she'll probably tell you if you're right or not!
Wow! Lots of newbie types for "...the Other HNT"! And a couple of the 'regulars'. :-) Stop by and leave some comment love for your fellow HNTers!
Some excitement coming up this weekend! Can't go into it yet, but I think river water, beer and food will come into play to some degree. Who knows what else!!

Monday, August 04, 2008

My weekend thoughts

I was very honored when Vixen asked me to come to her wedding, and I made that weekend my only road trip for the summer. Gas prices had alot to do with that, but still, I reserved that weekend for the wedding. Everything else would take the back seat. My biggest concern was whether or not my car would make it. I'm happy to report that the car handled flawlessly! And got much better gas mileage than I had anticipated, so that worked well for the budget!

Both Vixen and SR have done wedding posts, so you've pretty much gotten a good clue as to how things went. The sky was a bit overcast, and that was much better than the record breaking heat that the area had been experiencing. Of course that brought the humidity up quite a bit. Still better than the direct sun. The ceremony was intimate, short, beautiful, and the whole thing was just about perfect.

OK--allow me to be a little bit sappy here. I had never met PC. Hell, I'd never met Vixen. But if I had just met the two of them on the street, there would have been no question that they were in love. While you see alot of smiles in all the pics on the other sites, I can say that it was that way the whole time I was there. At dinner on Friday. Throughout the ceremony. Especially afterwards. If I were the sentimental type, I'd be tearing up right now. Good thing there's no webcam here...

See this smile? This is the smile that came as he realized that things were about to start. It's the real deal. See this smile on her? Also the real deal. In spite of the poor aim on my part... After the ceremony, through the dinner, and then the consumption of much alcohol afterwards, there were the little gestures. The fingers touching. The obscene amount of kissing. The sneaky smiles at each other. All those things that we remember from the cafeteria in high school. I do believe that this union is the real deal! Congratulations, guys! Thanks for letting me be witness to it!
Other things to talk about. The kids. I haven't seen a bunch of kids so well behaved in a long time (other than, of course, my nieces when they were young...). Their kids stayed in their wedding garb until they left, and they were perfect lady and gentlemen. As were their cousins. No pics--I'll let Vixen post any if that's appropriate.
As the evening wore on, everyone left except those staying at the B&B where the wedding was held. Lots of beer and wine were consumed. Vixen jumped PC's bones on the lawn. Bugs were swatted. Beer was served in these warped cups. That was sort of funky.
The drive home. I got to bed at some point after 2AM, after drinking and ending the night talking with the best man and Vixen's sister. I wanted to be on the road by 8:30AM, so I got up at 8, and hoped for the best. Fortunately, Vixen and PC were already up (they made it an early night, going to bed before midnight). I said my thanks and goodbyes, and sort of weave towards the car. Yes, I'm relatively sure that my BAC was still high enough to cause problems. A handful of ibuprofen and a stop at the first McDonald's helped quite a bit, but those first 3-4 hours of driving were utter hell. Not sick, not hungover, but damned tired! I got my second wind, so to speak at around noon, after texting with a couple of people. God bless cruise control, good weather, and light traffic!
"Out of sight, out of mind"--Remember over the 4th when it was mentioned that my wipers were screwed up? We haven't had rain since then, so I'd sort of forgotten about it. Well, you guessed it. A series of rainstorms that I had to drive through for the last 150 miles or so, from Big Timber all the way home. So what did I do about it? Took pictures, of course!

Final thought--I didn't expect this, but I got it from family, and a couple of bloggers. "Why did you go?" From the family, I guess I did. But after skipping town for my birthday last year, nothing really surprises them anymore. But from the bloggers? Sort of unexpected. The simple answer is "because she asked". And then "because I can". But the deeper answer would be because I consider Vixen a friend. Probably not my closest blogger friend, but a friend, nonetheless. Why would I NOT attend? I remember her from the old blog. We chat. We email. I no longer believe in the double standard of "real friend" and "blogger friend". Vixen is a real friend. And now she's a real friend that I've made a physical connection with. I hope to continue meeting my other friends in the same manner. If someone doesn't understand that, then they don't understand blogging. In spite of the hours on the road, the high price of gas, the worries about a funtioning car, meeting a group of people that I'd never met before, knowing that one-on-one face time with her would be non-existent, and various stresses, I'd do it again in a minute. Even if it meant having to drive!

Sunday, August 03, 2008

Tired puppy...

WAY too tired to do a post, but I know most of you are dying to see something. This should tide you over for now...

Also, I was rudefully awakened by a phone call at 7:30 this morning (after fulfilling my beer-drinking quota at sometime after 2AM). It was Rachel. She hasn't posted about it herself yet--she hasn't been home--but someone near and dear to her is in need of lots of prayers, good karma, positive vibes and anything else that might be beneficial. I'll just direct you to her site for details...when she gets them posted.

Saturday, August 02, 2008

Happy Birthday, Girls!

Be sure to check the post below this one, too!

I may be away, but I can certainly wish some of my favorite bloggers a Happy Birthday! I won't tell you how old each of them is, but their combined age is 101. Like the Dalmations. Or not...

Today, it's Q's birthday. She's still just a kid, but that's OK. We still like her! Happy Birthday, Q!

Today, it's also Leesa's birthday! I won't link her, but if you know her, go wish her a Happy Birthday, too! Trust me, she looks alot younger than her actual age!

Lastly, Robyn's birthday is on Sunday. She's just a kid too, but has gone through a tough year or so. Go leave her a birthday wish or two as well!

Friday, August 01, 2008

It's 105°...but it's a dry heat!

So...that's the quote that I got on the phone. When I called to check in as I was outside of Cheyenne, Wyoming.

I'm in the midst of my road trip. I was late getting started, because I didn't pack until just before I left. I know. I'm a guy. It doesn't take much. This is the time I left my apartment's parking lot. Anyone who knows me at all understands how totally obscene this is...

And ten minutes later, the sun is rising.

I do like this one...

Please excuse the incredibly dirty windshield. There's only one, maybe two readers who will appreciate the significance of this sign (click it to big it--well, all of them on this post!).

The first leg of my trip takes me to Hardin, MT. Nothing exciting there. The second leg takes me to Casper, WY. REALLY nothing exciting there. Last leg gets me here, after 11 hours, 15 minutes of nearly non-stop driving. Let me pontificate about Wyoming for a moment...

First of all, the last time I took the first leg & a half of this drive was December of 2005. That was OsTourNashville. Drove through southeastern Montana, all of Wyoming and South Dakota, and half of Iowa through a non-stop blizzard (and no, not the thin minty kind). On the left, 2005. On the right, Aug. 1, 2008.

  • Gas prices! $3.71 in Casper. About 40¢ cheaper/gallon than at home. Significant budget gift!
  • Big sky! Montana is known as Big Sky Country, but Wyoming (particularly central WY) doesn't have mountains in the way. I could see the weather two states away in any direction!
  • Clean rest areas! Montana rest areas are little more than brick shithouses. Also few and far between. Wyoming's are big, clean, and plentiful!
  • Desolation! There's literally dozens upon dozens of miles of nothingness. Which means very little to no presence of highway patrolmen!
  • A consistent speed limit (75 mph). As opposed to some states (*cough*Oregon*cough*) where it varies from 50 to 75, but mostly sits at 60. As soon as I hit interstate, I set the cruise control to 81 mph, and life was good!
  • Clean air! Actually, Helena has been very fortunate in that Idaho and western Montana aren't burning out of control. We've gotten haze from California, and that's about it. Closer to Billings, however, there's a fire near the MT/WY border that made the mountains disappear. Which is too bad, because there's some good ranges in northern WY.

  • Desolation. I know--I'm putting it here, too. Some of WY is just butt ugly. And flat. I swear I could look east and see Jen and Jessica (*waves* Hi, girls!) Old age and experience allow me to see these parts less horrifically as I did when I made the same trip over 20 years ago, but damn, there's some serious ugly out there!
  • River naming. Every little gully has a bridge over a "river". I-25 crosses both the north and south forks of the Power River. Know why it's called the Powder River? That's all there is! Literally! I've seen more of stream after I've peed on the side of the road!
  • Hell. I know there's more. Eleven hours of driving allow you to think of alot of posts. Unfortunately, it also makes one very sleepy. If I can remember the others, I'll mention them later....
Oh, and one last thing--why am I here? Well, you should maybe clicky-click here! More to follow!