Friday, February 20, 2009

Job Number 3

My days of stressing out due to lack of work have abated for the time being. Since returning from a short trip to ID, I will have worked 10 out of 11 days. This turn in fortunes is due to Job Number 3: Coffee/sandwich shop dude (is the term barista exclusive to female coffee technicians?) Though this job is a temporary gig for the duration of a week, I feel like I have a corner on the town of G's addictive drink market. Days at the coffee shop, nights at the bar. As one astute patron asked, "Do you work everywhere in G, or just everywhere that I go?" Since the coffee shop also peddles sandwhiches I feel that I have had a glimpse into the food service industry. I have never worked in the food service industry so this short foray has proven interesting and enlightening. As with most things it has its ups and downs.

1. A free meal or two
2. A free drink or two
3. Meeting lots of locals
4. Understanding more clearly the vast logistical system set up to support the food service industry.
5. Stainless steel counters, appliances, etc... that just demand being clean.

1. Washing your hands constantly - I believe heartily in washing your hands a lot anyway, but the your skin can only take so much
2. Wearing latex exam gloves in addition to washing hands - as one guy said as I asked him if he was ready for his check "You bet I am, any time a guy wearing latex gloves approaches me I'm outta here."
3. Burning people's food.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Goodbye #6

The most famous resident of the Mammoth Hot Springs/Gardiner area has met an unfitting end - and the entire town is talking about it. This resident was of the four legged variety. He was known the world over as "Number Six" because of the numeral on his orange ear tag. Number Six was not just any elk. He was one of the biggest, most impressive, and most aggressive elk around. Every fall he would saunter into the town of Mammoth to gather a large harem of female elk with the intent of passing on his stellar genes to another generation of Yellowstone elk. And he did a good job of it to put it mildly. He also tolerated little from the throngs of tourists who leave thirty or forty points of their IQ's at home. Number Six was responsible for chasing people, hitting people, and most of all goring cars. He alone has been responsible for thousands of dollars of damage to both moving and stationary vehicles. I witnessed him take out the back window of a law enforcement Tahoe last fall. His reputation was well known, and he had a following of photographers that came to watch him compete with other bulls in the Mammoth area each fall. His death has thus created quite a stir. Number Six met his death in Gardiner, just outside the park. Apparently he was crossing a fence and got a foot snagged. He then fell on to his back, with his massive antlers trapped between two boulders. He slowly suffocated on his back. Not the way I hoped he would go out. The Gardiner weekly paper said it best. "He was loved, He was feared, but most of all he was a legend in his own time, A King of Ungulates."

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Workin' in a Coal Mine

I've managed to find myself some gainful employment here in the bustling metropolis of 800 people that I'm calling home now. Please realize though, that I use the term "gainful" loosely. In fact I'm not using it in the sense of actual monetary gain, rather in the sense of less monetary loss versus not having a job, or two, or three. My current work situation could be seen as gainful though in the sense of entertainment and occupying time that would otherwise be spent worrying and twiddling my thumbs. The lucky establishments that I am gracing with my presence this winter include the glamorous K-Bar, the edifying Gardiner K-12 school, and the throwback Pine Creek School (three classrooms for K-8). Yes that is right, I'm a bar tender/pizza cook/substitute teacher. I have to say that it was somewhat inevitable that I would be a substitute teacher at some point in my life, and I've always been curious what it would be like to be a bar tender (the pizza making goes along with the bar tending duties). So the way I am looking at it is that this winter is a great opportunity to satisfy some curiosities before hopefully implementing my plan of permanent gainful employment by next fall.

The substituting is far less painful than I thought it would be - at least thus far. And the bar tending, well it can't really be explained fully unless you have actually been to the K-Bar. It would qualify as a full blown dive bar except that it also serves really good pizza. The place is a Southwestern Montana landmark. Personally I have been going there with the fam for over 20 years. It has a run-down, rural charm to it (i.e. there used to be bullet holes in the door). For better or worse a new owner is buying it and the K-Bar will cease to exist as I know it. It will become much nice, less dingy, and more touristy. In other words it will probably loose its well worn charm. I'm just thankful that I am able to experience it in all its glamor before the metamorphosis.

Saturday, January 10, 2009


The holidays are finally over and I have returned to the snowy town on the border of the world's first national park. The whole affair of the holidays was a bit non-traditional this year. Everyone in my entire immediate family, and some of the extended family, except me came down with a nasty stomach flu. There was couch laying, day-sleeping, and bucket-carrying galore and the homestead. Thus a few of the normal Christmas traditions fell by the wayside. No matter, I had a nice time anyway being with family - which was the point of going home in the first place (though I did receive a sweet new 4 piece fly rod from Santa). I escaped the sick house unscathed and made a beeline for Idaho with my brother since he had already recovered from the plague. I celebrated New Year's in style in Idaho and enjoyed snowy outdoor activities with friends there.

Now back at my home in MT the job search is starting again. Substitute teaching and bar tending/pizza making seem to be on the horizon. The whole job search accompanied by daily news reports on NPR describing how crappy the economy is make for a bit of stress now and then. But last night I partook in some movie viewing that did what movies are supposed to do - distract you from real life with a good story and leave you entertained. If you need a little distraction and lot of entertainment I suggest you go rent yourself a copy of Big Trouble in Little China starring Kurt Russell. The film came out in 1986 so it now has a whole level of entertainment that I'm sure it didn't have to begin with. Whatever it is, the movie is great - go watch it now.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Easy come easy go

As quick as my Internet came, it went. I awoke yesterday to a burning desire to do some web surfing and kill a couple hours (killing time has become rather hard and stressful now that I have been at it a few days). Alas, my internet connection was down for the count. To make matters worse, I actually had some important things to accomplish via the Internet that I could no longer get done. The situation was very annoying to say the least. I had almost slipped fully back into the 21st century but was then stymied by a finicky connection. Fortunately, the connection is back up and walking. I say "walking" because in no way, shape, or form is this a fast Internet connection. I'm talking marginally faster than 1997 dial up. I click and wait, click and wait, etc... But when you have nothing but time on your hands, waiting isn't all that bad. I have put some of my time to more useful pursuits though, like watching movies, reading, hiking, buying Christmas presents, feeding the resident horses, keeping the wood stove burning hot, and learning more on the guitar. Much more of this though and I'm going to have to start busting out some video games.

Monday, December 15, 2008


Hear Ye! Hear Ye! For the first time in seven months, I am sitting in the comfort of my own home browsing the Internet and writing a blog. Yes it is true, for the last seven months, the various structures that I have called home have all been devoid of an Internet connection. During those seven months I was required to use the computers at work after hours (Yuck), or pay an arm and a leg for a wireless connection outside the park (Yuck). I have recently moved just outside North Entrance of the park to a real house with a real Internet connection! And I actually signed a 12 month lease, Gasp! I have rediscovered the joy of browsing the Internet and wasting time. Of course I have a to-do list, but since I have to wait until the end of the week to receive news about some job applications I should have plenty of time to check my email every five minutes, look at YouTube, read news, and generally plug back in. And the timing is great. The temperature hasn't risen above 0 degrees Fahrenheit in the last two days so a little quality couch time can be justified.

Monday, December 08, 2008


The start of the holidays have been going splendidly so far though I have a bit of a hitch in my get up. Thanksgiving went great. The turkey was an adventure in taste due to the use of a delicious array of fresh spices conveniently sold together in a bag labeled "The Herbed Bird." Of course the eating included much merry making - courtesy of my apprenticeship to an accomplished Bloody Mary mixer. In fact there was too much merry making for my old body to stand. On the day after Thanksgiving - or Five O'clock Somewhere Day as we called it - some spontaneous dancing went down. I attempted to execute an airborne dance move and lightly come to rest on my left foot. Instead, I came to land heavily on a left foot positioned awkwardly inward. The resulting movement was an uncontrolled crumple to the floor. Fast forward ten days... the crutches are gone, the limp remains, and my left foot is back to its normal size but roughly the color of an eggplant. I've thus made great use of the couch and foot stool. Fortunately my travel plans included an extended stay in ID, so I haven't been forced to accomplish big things with a lame foot. On the up side, it's really easy to get people to stop on the crosswalks and let me gimp across.