Archive for the ‘Montana’ Category

Montana, a Fond Farewell

Tuesday, July 20th, 2010

I wanted to start off with my first memory of Montana, but I honestly can’t recall. That’s not to say the state is dull and boring, just that my first imperssion came when I was nine or ten years old, and it wasn’t all that impressive. If it didn’t involve dinosaurs or Ninja Turtles or outer space, I probably wasn’t interested. Back then it was all just forests and mountains and miles of highway from the backseat.

So in all honesty the first thing I remember about Montana is not wanting to move there. I’d lived a decade in Washington, and had friends and family there that I liked. There was snow in the winter and enough heat in the summer to dry off after a run through some sprinklers just by lying on the pavement. What about this remote state (a million miles or more to my preadolescent mind) so excited my parents? I had no say since I was just a kid and half the time I didn’t know that sometimes the things ‘for my own good’ really were.

Thank goodness I moved at a fairly young age. It was harder on my siblings when they changed states while in high school. We easily make friends when we’re not teenagers; as teenagers we find it easier to make enemies. Luckily I was still young enough (and without obvious flaws) to make friends. I did it twice, in fact, since we went first to Billings and only two years later to Corvallis.

Having moved back to Washington, I often consider how things would have been different if I’d never left the state. My two greatest passions sprouted in Montana: computers and music. Who’s to say that things would be the same if I’d gone to Wa-Hi instead of Corvallis High? Obviously I can thank my dad for helping me grow to like technology, but my interest in music may never have taken root without the friends I had in Montana. Without Chris and Josh rocking out to “Smells Like Teen Spirit” by Nirvana, would I have ever taken a keen interest in music, or picked up a guitar, or started learning about music theory? It’s hard to say. Maybe if I’d stayed in Washington, I’d be into music, but I’d have come into it via country and western, instead of rock and punk.

Montana embraced openness like no place I’d ever been. The sky was big and wide, and so was the friendliness. I knew several families who never locked their houses at night. The people there have an independent streak a mile wide and it shows through, in the libertarian sensibilities of the electorate and the bohemian tendencies of the music community. I’d like to think that warmth of the state rubbed off on me, if not some of the conservative political views.

So many things about my life would be different if I’d never lived in Montana. Probably the thing I’m most thankful for is my wife, but the list goes on. I made so many friends there, in high school and at college. Childhood friends and friends made later in life are subtly different. As kids you most often make friends due to convenience of location, or preschool class assignment, or other, more superficial factors. We can’t judge personalities as children. Friendships made later in life tend to stand the test of time, having been made due to strong personalities or shared interests. Most of mine fit the latter categorization. I can remember my childhood friends’ names and one or two quirks of their personalities, but not much else. I have a feeling that forty years from now, I’ll still be able to tell you many of my college friends’ favorite songs.

It was a complex and difficult decision to leave, but we saw the chance and had to take it. Our move to Washington isn’t necessarily final; we may be back some day. My parents are considering retiring there, and my wife thinks it’s a good place to raise kids. It’s got a lot going for it. In my own biased opinion I think I turned out fine. When I drive to Walla Walla for a visit I have a certain set of nostalgic steps that must be followed. These include stopping for ice cream to help battle the vicious summer heat of eastern Washington, and listening to Tom Petty. In time, I’m sure I’ll cobble together a similar set of rules for going back to Montana.

Let It Snow! (early)

Friday, October 9th, 2009

Holy cow! I’m used to snow in Montana, especially earlier than you’d expect, but the earliest I remember seeing it was about a week before Halloween. Usually it’s merely a few light flakes here and there. Imagine my surprise this morning when I was eating breakfast and thought the pattern thrown on our lawn by the porch light was a bit too bright and white. I looked out the window and — sure enough! — there was a blanket of snow covering everything.

I grabbed some quick pictures after the sun came up because I wanted to try Carrie’s camera at full size (so very close to 8 megapixels). I think they came out okay. These were taken during our rush to work, so I didn’t try to do anything artsy. I just wanted to capture the moment. And what a moment! I’m going to have fun shoveling tonight…

Click the thumbnails below for a bigger view. I’ve also included links to the huge (about 3 MB) full-size images.

Thanks for noticing… (Part 2)

Thursday, November 9th, 2006

In case there was any question about whether or not other states even care about Montana, here is proof that they probably don’t. CNN managed to get the name wrong of the senator-elect who tips the balance of power in the Senate in the Democrat’s favor. It’s Jon Tester, not Jim Tester, idiots! When I checked last evening, the mistake had already propagated to other websites.

I’m glad we can go back to people not caring about us now.

And, on a side note, bye-bye, Conrad Burns. I know you’re flabbergasted that the voters might actually punish you for being, well, a cranky old idiot, but them’s the breaks. It’s time to concede, you old codger! To quote Ray Charles, “hit the road, jack!” Don’t let the Senate door hit you on the way out.

Thanks for noticing…

Wednesday, November 8th, 2006

Wow. Do… do people actually care what happens in Montana? Could we actually be influencing something? It comes as no surprise that the only way we can influence national politics is through the Senate. And now, for the first time, out-of-staters are looking to us, with hope in their eyes. The closest margin of victory is right here, under the Big Sky. The news outlets are too scared to call it — but I will. It looks like Tester took the Treasure State. So take a hike, Burns… we’re under new management now.

And for all you Democratic kiddies who are caring about what happens here in Montana for the first (and probably last time), bugger off. We voted the way you want, now turn around and forget all about us, so we can deal with our problems ourselves.

And Dave will vote for…

Monday, November 6th, 2006

I don’t like the idea of media outlets (which, technically, this blog is) telling people how they should vote. Choosing our representatives is an important, personal issue. People have to decide for themselves, and I consider it almost sanctimonious to tell people how to vote.

Before I reveal who I’m voting for, I only have one thing to say, and it’s this: our Congress has failed us completely and utterly. It is, as far as I’m concerned, the most cynical, lazy, corrupt, and craven legislative body we have ever had the misfortune of being represented by. When I read about how utterly poor a job the 109th Congress has performed, how insecure our democracy has become (and I am a constant defender of technology, by the way), what they will do to take away others’ votes, and how swiftly our basic liberties are being chipped away, it makes my blood boil. It would be funny if it weren’t so damn serious. Tomorrow is America’s chance to give these snakes, charlatans, pigs and cowards their performance reviews, and to tell them to get the hell out of our government.

I will be voting for Jon Tester. Conrad Burns has embarrassed Montanans too many times. From references to the ‘niggers’ in Washington, D.C. to his assertion that out-of-state volunteer firefighters are doing a ‘piss-poor job’, this bitter, shrivelled old fuck has let us down too often. He says he delivers for Montana, but Tester’s plan of attack — to get the appropriations we need without sneaking them is — is the kind of reformed thinking we need in Washington. Tester feels more honest, as well. I hear that Bush and Burns have a secret plan to end the war in Iraq… and we all know how well secret plans work out (*cough, cough,* Nixon). He’s also run a cleaner campaign. I am sick to death of all the political ads, but I’ve noticed that Tester’s ads occasionally do not attack Burns at all. Burns also pledged to only serve two terms (this would be term four, by the way), but now he has become the entrenched, stagnant Washington insider he swore we would never see. Finally, I have one word — Abramoff. If ever there were an embodiment of the sleaze that the Beltway encircles, it’s Burns.

Ah, how we have almost forgotten the lower house. All the attention has been focused on Burns and Tester. The fact that he voted for the Military Commissions Act alone is enough for me to want him out of office. The icing on the cake is that Lindeen touts independent thought and review for legislation, not towing the party line. Rehberg is not nearly as big a scoundrel as Burns, but his near-automatic approval of the Bush angenda makes me angry enough to want to boot him.

I am a strong believer in term limits; we need to give politicians a reason to justify their continued employment. And I don’t think that how long a candidate’s family has lived in their state matters much, either — Mansfield wasn’t a native, but look at the amazing things he did.

My politics fall well left of the Democratic party’s ‘safety zone’, but I am going to trust them this time around, to steer our miserable Houses into some direction besides ‘staying the course.’ In the end, you should vote after careful research of the facts, ignoring what the ads say, and with everyone (not just yourself) in mind. Please vote. It is, above all, our most important duty. The government represents us, after all, and we have a strong voice. Tomorrow, let it resound, from school gyms to University Commons to city halls, that, to quote Bob Dylan, “a hard rain’s a-gonna fall” and, to quote Twisted Sister, “we’re not gonna take it anymore.”

Missoula Sold Its Soul (For Adult Contemporary)

Friday, October 6th, 2006

Well, the Rolling Stones are finally gone, having sucked the life out of our great city Wednesday night. They turned our quiet little campus into a madhouse of 40-somethings looking to recapture that ineffable feeling of youth and 18-somethings screaming “I can’t get no sa-tis-fac-shun!” out of their dorm rooms and reminding those 40-somethings that, hey, it’s okay to be old. Everybody was grabbing for a piece of the pie, and nobody’s hands were greedier than our very own University. It’s not enough to wash our credibility down the drain by signing an exclusive contract with ‘Killer’ Coke, they now sell our campus down the drain, too, just so some geriatric old fucks can waltz in here, play a few songs they penned 40 years ago, and make off with all our money and most of our pride, to boot.

From what I can tell from the reviews I’ve read, the Stones managed to do what everyone expected — they played a lot of hits, one or two new songs to remind us that yes, they’re still making records, and fire off a lot of fireworks to distract us. From what? From the maddening realization that the Stones hadn’t written a song that was actually relevent in two score years. It was all part of the show, the six story stage, the roaring spotlights, the old chestnuts, not new to anybody’s ears in decades, and we all suspended disbelief. Where the hell was the emotion? Somehow, these dangerous boys, who had the gall to declare their Sympathy for the Devil, were nothing short of… familiar. It’s hard to seem dangerous when half your audience is made up of people who have to be up at 7:30 A.M. so they can drop their kids off at school.

The emotion died a long time ago, along with the danger. It’s been replaced with glitz, with 70 tractor trailers and a six-story stage. It’s been replaced with 20,000 screaming fans, not screaming because they might share a moment with Mick or Keef, but screaming for the sake of… screaming. Real rock ‘n roll died a long time ago, certainly before I was born, and even the fringes — punk rock and death metal, for example — are gasping for air. It’s not rebellious anymore. It’s packaged. It’s merchandised. It’s $80 tickets. It’s 70 tractor trailers. It’s withered old farts, appealing to something they helped create, but not letting sleeping dogs lie, making a joke of the very thing they helped to create.

Overdue Notice

Friday, March 10th, 2006


Mansfield Library Information Center

Dear David Michael Short:

The following item(s) must be returned to the location(s) indicated below as soon as possible.

Location: UM-Missoula
Notification Number: 1
Title: Mythical man-month : essays on software engineering / Frederick P. Brooks, Jr.
Author: Brooks, Frederick P. (Frederick Phillips)
Item ID: 33342000497831
Call #: 001.6425 B873m

Due Date: 3/2/2006

Location: UM-Missoula
Notification Number: 1
Title: GUI bloopers : don’ts and dos for software developers and Web designers / Jeff Johnson.
Author: Johnson. Jeff, Ph.D.
Item ID: 33342014010828
Call #: 005.437 J67g

Due Date: 3/2/2006

If you are liable for overdue fines remember that the fine increases the longer you keep the item. You may also be charged for the replacement cost if the item is not returned.

If you have questions or need assistance contact us at:
Location: UM-Missoula
Phone: 406-243-6734

Notice how they’re due back on the 2nd, yet the message is dated 3/9/06. Thanks for sending the overdue notice a week late! But hey, it’s a quick way to make $14, right?


Hope For Tomorrow?

Thursday, November 4th, 2004

Current Listening: CCR – “Fortunate Son” (Chronicle)

Some folks are born silver spoon in hand, / Lord, don’t they help themselves, oh. / But when the taxman come to the door, / Lord, the house look a like a rummage sale,

Okay, so the votes are counted, and Bush won. For better or worse, we’re looking at another four years of Republican control. Since several Supreme Court justices are to retire sometime during Bush’s second term, there is a very real possibility that conservatives will control all three branches of US Government. This is a scary thought. But could it have a happy ending?

Take my state, Montana, as an example. Montana actually has one of the most progressive constitutions in the US, and for a long time was a left-leaning state. Then, something started happening. The economy started going downhill; Republicans started blaming the Democrats, and all of a sudden conservatives controlled all of Montana’s government.

That’s the way it’s stood for about a quarter-century. Our economy has been sliding into the crapper ever since. Businesses have been leaving, and we’ve been attacking the environment frequently. Things were beginning to look quite dark to some of us Montanans. Why are people consistently voting for Republicans when they’ve made the mess worse, we were asking ourselves. There weren’t easy answers. All we knew is that Montana was heavily leaning toward the right, and the poor Democrats couldn’t do anything right. I fact, they looked like everything, trying all sorts of tricks to regain control.

Then, Judy Martz was elected governor (governess?). And boy, did she screw up. If there’s any politician who could possibly be a challenger to George the Younger’s claim to Biggest Idiot in Office, it would be her. She kowtowed to corporations. She proclaimed herself the ‘lapdog of industry.’ She was an accessory to a vehicular homicide when she washed the defendant’s bloody clothes. And the people hated her. Not just the Democrats, who’ve been programmed from their teens to hate the other team. Everybody.

And she was enough to get the Republicans out of office. This election, we voted in a Democratic governor, state attorney, and one of our houses switched control to the Democrats. For the first time in some two decades, our government was balanced again. All because of an idiot politician, elected because of her party’s sway.

So, maybe Montana is ahead of the curve. Maybe Americans will see that, while George Bush is likeable, he and his ilk are not the best choice to lead America. Maybe Montana is a kind of oracle for the rest of the country.

Something to think about.

No Sign of the Flathead Lake Monster

Sunday, July 18th, 2004

Current Listening: Bad Religion – “Hooray For Me” (Stranger Than Fiction)

When I slept with stony faces on the riverbank, / My angeldevil reveller shook me desperately in dying, / I don’t exactly want to apologize for anything, and now / We’re all mad and tangled in secret rooms with roman candles, / On an endless graveyard train

It’s been a while since an update. Oh, well.

So here are the photos from camping with Carrie. The weather was beautiful for the first half of the trip, but turned sour the last half. We got some swimming in, though, but did not get a chance to use the raft I brought. That’s okay, though, because we’re planning a rafting trip down the Bitterroot for the end of July.

The campsite was beautiful. There were only four spots, and when we got there all were available. A few people came and went, but they seemed to be only roadtrippers, stopping over for the night. There was a beach (albeit a rocky one), a boat launch and dock, flushing toilets, and… could it be??? Showers!!! There was, sadly, no campfire, so we had to cook our s’mores over the grille. We ate well, too. I brought these fajita Gardenburgers which were excellent, as well as hot dogs. We even got some Count Chocula™ cereal, which was dee-lish!

On Tuesday when the weather turned sour we went into Bigfork and did some shopping. There was one store there that apparently had a ‘4th of July Sale’ where everything was half off. Unfortunately, everything was triple what someone would rationally pay. So we theorize that the store always has a sale — the next one would be a ‘Dog Days of Summer Sale.’ We had some yummy ice cream, and spent the rest of the day inside the tent because it was rainy and generally crummy.

I couldn’t sleep very well because I kept worrying about bears. This is what spending four years camping in an RV will do to you. Obviously, we were not attacked by any bears.

The next day we went to Polson, and hung around town. I went to John’s music store, but it was strangely closed, with a sign saying it would re-open June 23. Uh-oh. We saw Spider-Man 2 (my second time) and ate at a Chinese place (which gave Carrie food poisoning and me gas).

The drive back was beautiful. I love that area.

4th of July Catastrophe

Friday, July 4th, 2003

It’s such an amazingly bright sensation when you feel overwhelming tenderness toward another. And it’s so sad when he or she is completely unaware of that tenderness.

I got up at 7:30 (AM!) today to get ready for river rafting. I left to get Aaron at 9:00; he was wearing pants and shoes. “Dude, we’re going on a river — you’re gonna get wet!” I was gonna call Laurel from Scheeb’s house but John (Aaron’s dad) and Sue (Laurel’s mom) were already on the phone, so I had no call to make, just a quick exchange of conversers. We got there at 10:00, and spent two hours (!) preparing to go. Shawn showed up, then Laurel, then John Springer, then John Wax, then Jillian, then Aaron’s sisters Meghan (I don’t have a yearbook with her in it so I have no clue if that’s right) and Mariah (again with the spelling). We set off at noon, having planned on an 11:00 departure.

Our journey was fraught with peril. On our first rapid, Springer was sucked under a snag and we have a terrifying moment of apprehension — until he came up again. Then I fell out of the raft. It was a very slow fall. So slow, in fact, that I had time to say, “Help John!” He started dumbly at me. I started falling off. “Help me ya fuck!!!” I screamed. He didn’t. Duuuuuh. So I fell in the drink and had to get out again. As I came to the place they stopped to wait for me, I fell down the bank and scraped my elbow.

Current Listening:
Tracy Chapman: “Why?”
Why do the babie starve
When there’s enough food to feed the world?
Why when there are so many of us
Are there people still alone?
Why are all the missiles called Peacekeepers
When they’re aimed to kill
Why is a woman still not safe
When she’s in her home?

But this was not the end of the mishaps. Oooooooh no. About a mile down the river we came to a snag and I fell out again. “Damn you John!!!!” The water was fast here, and I was blind. Luckily I grabbed a tree limb and fought my way out of the water. I was clinging to that branch as the stuff in the raft started floating by. The damn thing had capsized! I let the stuff all go, but when the bag with our wallets and keys floated by I made an heroic dive and caught it, swimming triumphantly to shore. We re-grouped, and somehow Laurel (who had survived the treacherous section of river and was happily paddling downstream) managed to get both my sandals (which of course flew off in the water), the cooler (with food in it!) and a whole bunch of other stuff. Really we only lost sunscreen. I did not manage to recover the missing lens from my sunglasses, though.

The rest of the trip passed pretty much without mishap. Unfortunately, it took us about five hours to go four miles. Not because the river was slow, but because we got separated frequently, so the people in the back had to wait for the slowpokes. Oh, and also because Shawn kept shooting off his filthy mouth about eating poop and stuff.

Tomorrow is another geek-fest at Aaron’s, but I don’t know if I want to go. I have to work.

So now it’s 4th of July night, and I don’t really feel like shooting off fireworks. I’m actually kind of blue. Cisco (our dog) is cowering by my feet, terrified of the noise. I’m tired but can’t sleep. I have to do something important tomorrow — if I have the guts. I have before, but it’s so damn hard, y’know.