Tuesday, February 28, 2006

These are a few comments that best express what I was trying to get at in my last few posts. I chose to post this way instead of trying to address it in comments to kinda bring it full circle.

“I think the community as a whole is confused as to who we are supposed to be and not willing to make us known as US.” Zenpanda

Maybe we should try being us, and not worry about what others think we are supposed to be.

“We have the potential to grow in many directions.” Zenpanda

Yes we do. Drive around town and look at all the new home construction. You don’t build houses in towns that aren’t growing. Growth is not just about retail.

“John Kramer once said to me that it is a bit by bit thing. Every little success helps a community feel pride, until it becomes a self-sustaining thing.
It sure wouldn't be bad for our community to gain a little pride.” Geeguy

We have a lot to be proud of. Compare Gt. Falls today to Gt. Falls ten years ago.

“In my lifetime, we have always felt second best. I still have to struggle to overcome the "we're not Missoula" mindset. Look, this is a great place. We need to remind people of that.” Geeguy

Exactly. Don’t compare us, that takes away our uniqueness.

“Someone has to see the big picture and set up the rules of the game so that we all win.” Wolfpack

Um, any takers?

“I like going to Great Falls simply because of the very lack of "renewal", it's one of the few places left where a person can have a good meal in a mom and pop cafe, or stay in a clean, comfortable, privately owned motel for a reasonable price, or shop in a store that doesn't send all of its money overseas. Go ahead and "renew" away, then it'll be the same as everywhere else, big money leeches on every corner, sucking up money and sending it out of town. People can find that anywhere, it won't make Great Falls special, it'll just make Great Falls just like everywhere else.” Justin

We have some good “renewal”. Go to the High Plains Heritage Center. Go see the Symphony in one of the best small auditoriums in Montana. Go to the CMR Museum. Go to Paris Gibson Square. The Interpretive Center, Historic Downtown and residential districts, Railroad Square, Milwaukee depot, Childrens Museum, Giant Springs, Ulm Pishkun, Have dinner at 3D’s or Charlie Russell manor, drive out to the Grand Union Hotel in Fort Benton, take a Trolley tour. We have an incredible amount of history, that is still here, growing and flourishing.
We have new movie theatres, Marketplace, lots of newer business, old business moving up and on and great potential for more. Restaurants new and old. We have many things to be happy for and proud of and we will get more. But I don't want to be Billings or Missoula. I don’t want to be like anywhere else. I want us to be Great Falls, Montana. I want us to grow in a way that will support the reasons I live here. Want to be more like Missoula? Move there.

Friday, February 24, 2006

State record!

Hey, I got a new reason to bash the Tribune!
Last weekend the 18 year old State Record for yellow perch was broken. As perch go it’s a lunker, 2.39 pounds. Yesterday the Outdoors section DIDN’T EVEN MENTION IT!
This is a big deal for fisherpersons! Any time a state record is broken and we receive a new pinnacle to aspire to, it is a big deal. I personally have caught some big perch, and can only imagine what it would be like to catch one that big. I would be dancing in the street!
If you are interested in what a state record perch looks like, click on fishing reports right over there and see.

Of Cookies and Spaghetti

Many years ago in the dawn of my present relationship, I was living in the cesspool of humanity, Billings Mt. Not long after the beginning of this tale, I left the city, vowing never to return. Sadly I did return there, compelled by a higher power, when my sister had heart surgery. But I digress. The other half and I were doing fairly well, young and in love, with decent jobs, no kids, our future flowing out before us with limitless possibility. The O.H.'s father and younger brother were down for weekend and I, full of creativity, prepared a great pot of the most wonderful spaghetti. It was devoured with great enthusiam and exclaimed over, and life was good. Until they returned home and told the mother in law that I had made the best spaghetti they had ever had. Nothing came of it at that point, and life went on, the family grew to include our eldest child, we moved back to this fair city and we were happy. And then one day, as I baked chocolate chip cookies, the O.H. mentioned that they were good, but not as good as his mommy used to make. Now, this suprised me, as I was using the recipe his mother had given me. So I experimented, and crafted, and looked at recipe books, and added this and that. And asked his mother if there was that one little thing she had forgotten to put in the recipe. To no avail, the cookies remained missing that key, the one little thing they needed to be extra ordinary. And then one day, everything became clear. A conversation with the m-i-l's mom and she said "After hearing that you made the best spaghetti, you are never going to get that recipe!" So now I fear that the secret to the cookies is forever lost to me. But I make damn good spaghetti.

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Does my e-mail work?

It's right over there in my profile. I am having some kind of issue.
Well, I have turned my attention away from deeper issues for a bit. Took a drive to Helena yesterday to visit the father. One of my favorite drives in the area. I always envision what that strech would have been like before the interstate. Can you imagine following the river on horseback, stopping to fish the Dearborn for your dinner as the sun set, the sudden onset of darkness as canyon walls blocked the last light of the dying day. Preparing for the night with the sounds of the wild just beyond the flickering of your campfire, secure in your solitude, not needing the the trappings of modern civilization to justify your place in the great scheme of things. Life at the beginning of our modern age was so much simpler. You were respected for who you were, the strength of personality and conviction so much more than than they are today. Wealth was measured by factors that didn't always include bank accounts. The pace of life was slower, people had time to just be, life governed by the rise and fall of the sun, the seasons of the year instead of the hands of the clock and days on the calendar.

However, reading what I just wrote, it might be difficult to fish the Dearborn for your dinner, seeing as how you probably would have had to cross the Missouri first. I guess that would depend on which side of the river you were on when you left Gt. Falls. So you would be cold and wet, getting ready for bed, with the prospect of having to also cross the Dearborn in the morning. Or you could fish the Missouri, but I think you would still have to cross when you got a bit further along, there are some pretty rock walls that come all the way down to the river. But still better than trying to decide which bills to pay or if you are going to lose your job due to company downsizing. I guess the rivers we ford are just a different kind of water now, but we're still cold and wet when the sun goes down.

Thursday, February 16, 2006

O.K., So...

I was told in my comments that there are people who go to Missoula to shop. To shop for what?
Enquiring minds want to know! I started this because I am interested in how other people think about development in Great Falls. You are not going to insult me by expressing your views. I have thrown out a few things and am mulling a few more over. Lets get into this. How is Petsmart better than Petco? I would love a Red Lobster. Olive Garden-do we have a decent Italian restaurant here? Lowes chose not to come here a few years ago, because competition would likely drive out another home improvement retailer. SMG is actually running the Fairground like a business and doing fairly well. (Delete scathing remark on how taking a money making enterprise away from the city can cause it to make money. Oops, where is that dang delete button.) A commenter mentioned my stretching the bounds of reality about WalMart. Exaggerating to make a point I say. Maybe I am batshit crazy, you tell me. But will a second Wally World keep your wife from driving to Missoula to shop?

Monday, February 13, 2006

The Olympics

I love them. During my perambulations through the blogosphere, I see not many do. Standard, most of our friends don't watch them either.
The best athletes in our country, going against the rest of the world. Every time they play our anthem it raises the hair on the back of my neck. Go USA!!

Sunday, February 12, 2006

And a bit more....

I have been thinking about this alot, so I will continue.....
I see several kinds of growth and expansion in our town. I will attempt to break them down into rough categories. Because I do not wish anyone to think I think growth is bad.

Jobs. this is what everyone exhorts as growth. But lets break it down. What will it cost our community to get these jobs.
Centene, AvMax, Cable Technologies, NEW . They create jobs, for their workers, and for construction, remodeling, generate tax revenue, use City services. In the long run it does not cost us to have these business. Our money stays here. Good.
The base. No argument, it brings in money. These people spend here, live here, support our community. Many stay here. Good.
Healthcare. We all need it. Huge revenue generator. Lots of construction, good paying jobs, this is an industry that has had and will have long term economic impact on Great Falls. The amount of money that leaves the community is justified. Good.
Us. Bash casino's if you wish, but remember, most of the casino's are locally owned business. They support local events, generate tax money, use city services, employ local workers. I don't know if many of you notice, but every time there is a benefit of some kind where the sponsors are listed, you can read through and see all the names of casino and bar owners who give their money to make our community better. Go up to the Russell Museum and read the Board they have up. Look at the bars and restaurants on Tenth. How many are established, family owned business that have been here for years. Down town. Walk down Central and tell me how many business are not owned by people who live here. The Murphy - McClay bldg. Johnson Hotel. The entire 100 block, Candy Masterpiece, Studio Montage, Baker Bobs. I remember that block 15 years ago. Do you?
Franchises. Subway, McDonalds, national names but owned by local people. A large portion of the money you spend there stays here.
The Big Guys. Albertsons, Target, Shopko, K-mart The whole Marketplace, Rexs, Most of the mall. When you go into Wal-Mart (yes, you knew where this was going didn't you!) and buy something only a tiny bit of Your Money is going to stay in our community. I'm going to throw out some numbers here, they are not accurate so don't jump all over me. Say you get your paycheck from the ad agency you work at. Spend $100.00 at one of the above. Lets say 20% is going to local workers. Lets give another 15% to utilities, rent and taxes. Give 40% to actual cost before markup. So $25.00 of your money is profit. Gets divided up between corporate holdings and Martha Stewart etc. Only $25.00. But it actually costs us more. It leaves our community. It doesn't get spent at a local business ever again.
Spend $100.00 at Eklunds. They most likely will have to charge a higher price for the same thing, or make less profit. So good old Cal ends up with $20.00. And goes down to Bert and
Ernies, spends the money on dinner and a Pigs Ass Porter. B&E pays the waitress, cook, beer supplier, (local people) and the owner makes a couple bucks. Now his wife is mad at him cuz he spends to much time at the restaurant, so he takes a part of his daily profit down the street to Candy Masterpiece and buys some of those awsome chocolate cherries in a nice heart shaped box. Angie has been feeling kinda down lately so she goes over to Studio Montage and gets a new hairstyle with some of the money she made off of all the cherries she has been selling. The stylest runs down to the Manhattan Coffee house in Times sq on her break and gets a latte.
The owner of the coffee house needs new window lettering and signs to advertise the name change of her business so she calls the ad agency where you work and around and around and around we go.
But a new Wal-Mart will mean more jobs, you say. I say let us consider those jobs. Are they skilled workers? College educated? Now don't take that wrong. People without skills need jobs. But I think our focus should be on QUALITY. How many youth in this town will stay here to work at Wal-mart. How many college educated sons and daughters of this town are going to return here to work at Wal-mart.And that is going to be in part two, where I believe I am going to piss some people off.

Thursday, February 09, 2006


Tried to buy the damn paper this morning at the handy little box around the corner. Of course it is broken again. They never work. Is this a ploy to get people to subscribe? All I want is the Outdoors section! Cursing it didn't work. Kicking it was moderately successful in that it not only gave me back MY change but the lost quarters of the last couple folks who attempted to donate money to the corporate views of Gannet bloodsuckers International. But no paper. Bah Hooey is what I says. It was a pretty good investment though, I made a buck for standing on the corner cursing and kicking the metal box for about a minute and a half. Hurt my toe though. Wonder if I can sue for personal injury. Pain and suffering. Emotional distress. What say you lawyer types?


A bit perturbed with the eldest child on this snowy morn I decided to drive about a bit and see what I could see. Across the bridge and down by the river I got an excellent photo of the Milwaukee Station, snow on the roof, evergreens stark against the white lawn, etc. Then I turned across the river. Grain elevator, assorted industrial buildings, the Smelter. Two sides of the river, two sides of the coin, two parts of a whole. One side is rather ugly, but it is also very important. It is the history of this town just as much as the beautifully restored Station. It got me thinking how often decisions are made based on what will look nice.
You all know I have been rather, ahh… involved in the sign code. This is mainly because I feel that there are some major flaws concerning personal rights and equality. I am not going to go into that right now. But it bears on my morning musings because of some of the historic signs in our quaint little town. Fords Drive In. The lettering painted on the Milwaukee Depot. The sign on top of the Pin-N-Que. The Montana Bar. The 3-D. These signs are a part of the history of this town, and I think they need a little special consideration. And who has been to Lewistown and enjoyed all of the murals on virtually every wall in the business district? We have a mural on the old Army/Navy building-but it cannot be changed, and will soon become non-conforming and removed, I assume. I am curious what will become of the few old signs still existing on some of the downtown buildings. Like the Owl Cigar ad on the old Town Tavern building.
How many people watched the Smelter come down, and now regret the fall of the greatest landmark of our town, our history that is no more.
As we consider the Identity of our town, let us remember what started it, got it through the tough years, and persevered into the present. We may have been the ugly stepsister, but our grandfathers had jobs, our town grew and prospered to where it is today. . We didn't need millionaires building vacation homes to finance our growth, we don't have a college doubling our population every fall. We have the base, the health care industry, and a lot of hard working citizens dedicated to making this a great place to raise our children. So lets be happy with what we have, and make it better. How many more small, local businesses do we have to lose in the name of ecomomic progress?
What are we trying to become?

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

And you thought they were plant eaters!

A great loss for us all.

Mr. Fisher was my teacher at GFHS in my last year, when I crammed senior classes and my remaining junior classes together in a last ditch effort to actually graduate. I took virtually every art class offered by the system during my school years. I was terrified of taking a foreign language, and I enjoyed art. Mr. Fisher offered me a spot in his AP art class my final semester, and gave me a rather stern lecture (for him) when I turned it down. I told him to give the spot in his class to a better student who was more likely to use the opportunity, and college credit, than I was. He informed me that I was as likely to benefit as any other student, and even if I never took college courses in the art field it would still benefit me to have that credit. And that it was a much larger offer than I realized, as my previous art teachers from CMR had actually contacted him on my behalf.
He was very passionate about art and the benefits his students could gain from participating in the arts. I truly regret not listening to him, and understanding what he was trying to tell me. I remember running into him at Paris Gibson Square a few years ago, and not only did he remember me, he got in a little dig about me not taking that class. And we agreed he was absolutely correct, I should have taken that class.
He was a good man, and a wonderful teacher.

Thursday, February 02, 2006

Recipe for most excellent baked chicken

Purchase chicken. This is veddy important. While doing this, purchase a bottle of wine. White zin or White merlot is good.
Place chicken in pan, season with whatever-salt, pepper, Worchestershire etc. Place in 275 degree oven.
Have a glass of wine, do last minute pick up of house so Other Half doesn't trip on Polly Pockets car when he gets home.
Converse with other half about his day if he wishes. Offer sympathy on stupid worthless helper OH has spent day following around to fix the morons screw-ups while still getting his own work done. Remain optimistic that Big Boss will can the moron soon.
Instruct OH on proper use of new digital camera, no no no X-rated pictures dear, that will break it!
Put movie in for whiney daughter.
Browbeat boy to do homework.
Have another glass of wine. (But save some, you will need it later.)
Get your ass handed to you at several games of darts. Decline getting your ass handed to you at foosball. (The game you tought him, but he must excel at everything he does, so now he beats you regularly.)
Poke chicken to see if it is cooked. Timer? We don't need no stinkin timer!
Prepare side dishes.
Chop mushroom in fairly big chunks. Oh, come on, I know I didn't tell you you needed mushrooms, you should have read my mind!
Cut bacon into snall bits - What! you didn't know you needed bacon? See above.
Quickly brown bacon, do not drain grease, add mushrooms, pour in enough wine to cover bottom of pan. You drank all the wine? You lush, get two bottles next time. I, however have some left, so I"ll pour a glass and cover the mushrooms while I cook them on low heat.
Browbeat boy to finish homework.
Answer fifty questions from daughter- Where do angels come from? Who makes grass? Who makes chairs? etc.
Check mushrooms. If they are about done place cooked chicken on top of them, stir a little to coat with juices and cover. Turn off stove. Remember to turn off oven.
Make sure you have enough clean dishes for everyone.
Tell son he can't have dinner cuz he hasn't finished his homework. Laugh at his expression. Feed him anyway.
I made scalloped potatoes and stuffing , but you can do anything you want, your a grown-up arn't you?