Welcome to Big Old Goofy World . . . a place where I can share my thoughts, hopes, and dreams about this rock that we live on and call home.

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

In the News

Time for a little news from around the world . . . 

Well, I missed the wedding--I was asleep, but it is difficult to miss the news that Prince William and the Duchess Catherine seem to make.  I guess they recently returned from their ten-day honeymoon in the Seychelles islands--wherever that is--in which they rented a private island for a mere $70,000 a day.  The total cost for their honeymoon was nearly three-quarters of a million dollars according to the London Daily Mail.  I wonder what one gets for $70,000 a day in accommodations?  I mean I know what I get when I pay $120 for a room at the Holiday Inn--free cable television, internet service, a bottle of water, a microwave, small refrigerator, an alarm clock that blinks all night long, and several choices of pillows (hard or soft).  That is quite a deal for $120 a night, but imagine what a person could get for $70,000!  I bet they didn't get free wake-up calls or a continental breakfast and a free copy of USA Today.  I bet that they didn't even notice that they spent almost more money on their ten-day honeymoon than thirty average British citizens earn in a year!  I guess that is why they are calling it a "fairytale" wedding and marriage.

But some good did come out of the royal wedding as there is now a movement to beautify Britain--one butt at a time. According to London's Daily Star there has been a sixty percent boom in requests for "bottom-enhancement" procedure from women who are seeking a rear end like the Duchesses sister, Pippa Middleton.    According to a Dr. Lesley Khan of London Kate's sister has bumped the Jennifer Lopez look out the door as British women are seeking the perfect posterior.  Dr.Khan states: ". . .now everyone asks for a bottom like Pippa's--curvy but not too peachy."  Here, here to the beautification of England!!

 The "perfect" ending?

Meanwhile, up north in Canada, a couple has decided to keep their newborn child's gender a secret.  Their reason for this is that they want to make the world a "more progressive place."  It seems that David and Stocker and Kathy Witterick believe that their child--Storm--should be able to decide his or her own gender based on something else besides the equipment he or she was issued.  They have told the press that when the four-month old Storm is ready to reveal his or her gender it will be based on what the child decides and not what a physical feature determines.  They want people to Storm for who Storm is and not based on some "obnoxious" notion of the child's genitalia.  Stocker said, "If you want to get to know someone you don't ask what's between their legs."  In the meantime no one knows . . . it will probably be a couple of years before Storm says.

Who really cares?  The kid is a cutie!

In Texas the legislature reverse a long-standing ban on "noodling".  No, "noodling" is not making noodles for the local church's annual chicken and noodles dinner.  "Noodling" is the practice of catching catfish by hand--usually by allowing the catfish to swallow the hand.  The legislature decided that it is a God-given right for any person who wants to risk his or her digits to catch a catfish to go for it.  State Senator Bob Deuell stated, "I personally don't noodle, but I would defend to the death your right to do so."  Wouldn't it just be cheaper to go to Long John Silvers or Red Lobster and order the fish off the menu?  That is the way I fish and I still have all my fingers!

Then there was the news about the guy in Fond du Lac, Wisconsin, who ate his 25,000th McDonald's Big Mac.  Don Gorske proclaimed, "I plan on eating Big Macs until I die." A Big Mac has 576 calories, 32.5 grams of fat, 103mg of cholesterol, 742mg of sodium, and 38.7 grams of carbohydrates--a well balanced meal and this guy eats two every day for lunch. I'd say he is getting close realizing his dream!

What a big old goofy world we live in!  This stuff can't be made up!  Suddenly I feel the urge for a Big Mac after I have my rear end re-proportioned while staying at the local Holiday Inn.

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Between a Laugh and a Tear

John Mellencamp
"Between a Laugh and a Tear"

Sometimes you just want a break.

For over three days now the community of Joliet has been dealing with its flood.  It has been hard, tiresome work.  It has been depressing when one pauses to consider all the hopes and dreams that literally washed down the river.  It can weigh heavy on one's soul.  Out of that heaviness there comes a longing for some respite because no one can live life between a "laugh and a tear".

Sometimes you just need a good laugh.  This evening I took a break and decided to have a little laughter in my life.  I love cartoon puns--the punnier the better.  Here are a few that made me laugh:

For all of you Wizard of Oz fans.

Here comes a slew of "butt" puns . . . 

. . . and other parts of the body!

Puns for the religious . . .

. . . and puns for the non-religious!

I hoped you enjoyed the puns as much as I did.  If you have any great puns please share them.  As I close I share my favorite, all-time pun: Two men walk into a bar, the third one ducks.  Enjoy!!  Don't get stuck between a laugh and a tear!

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Who Will Listen?

Who will listen . . . 

                                                                                                                                    . . . to my hurt?

The flood that devastated two-thirds of the community of Joliet--where I live--is hurting tonight.  Oh, you won't hear too many complaints about the devastation that the flood put upon the community, but there is a silent ache, a quiet hurt, that is there.  No, the people still have a sense of humor--still joke about the flooding, but there is a pain that lies just beneath the surface.  But this is Montana with its mile wide streak of independence and "pull yourself up by the bootstraps" mentality that will keep that hurt just below the surface.  Despite the humor you can see it in the people's eyes.  This flood has taken it toll on the people of Joliet.

Basically the people of the community heard that they are pretty much on their own as far as cleaning up and restoring their homes and the community.  There would be no help from the federal or state governments.  County government had their hands tied.  There were bigger problems than the Joliet flood right here in Montana and beyond.  Insurance companies were of no help--unless you happened to have had a flood insurance policy.  If the people were to get things done they were on their own.

Throughout this ordeal I have been amazed at the apathy of the community around me.  I have had little--almost no respond-- from those in my Facebook community of friends.  Makes me wonder what the purpose is of having all those "friends".  In my clergy circle of friends I have heard very little and actually have only had two contacts from my clergy buddies.  Outside of others from the community of Joliet and my family . . . well, I have heard little.  This saddens my heart and makes me feel lonely.  The community I have chosen to live in--to call home--makes little difference to the world beyond the boundaries of Joliet.  No one cares.

I recognize the fact that the world has been more than a little crazy the past couple of weeks--we still have wars waging, natural disasters like Joplin, Missouri, and just plain old craziness all around us.  I understand that we are in a recession and things are tough for all of us.  I understand that all of us have our lives with ups and downs. What I do not understand--what I cannot comprehend--is the silence from those who I thought cared.  The silence is deafening.

I do not want financial contributions.  I do not want aid sent our way.  What I want is to hear that someone recognizes the hurt that the people and community of Joliet feels.  What I want is someone to say that they care . . . that they will listen . . . that they will just sit with any of us for just a while.  I just want someone to acknowledge, even if for a moment. that they care.  To know that I and the people of Joliet are not alone.

The community of Joliet has risen to the occasion.  The community has taken to heart that if anyone is to care it is going to start right where the people are--it is going to happen from those affected the most.  I have been amazed at the outpouring of neighborliness and compassion from the community towards one another.  I have witnessed people helping one another--caring for one another--just being with one another.  I have been amazed at the compassion I have seen.  From pumping out a basement to hauling water-logged belongings to sandbagging--everyone is helping one another.  More importantly I have received more hugs than any introvert could ever sustain in a lifetime . . . and I did not flinch even once.  I have been astonished by the care of this community.  If no one else will care, we will care.

The wife and I were among the fortunate of Joliet as the flood waters never got to our part of town.  We were among the lucky and for that we are both thankful.  Others--two-thirds of the community--were not as fortunate as we were.  These are the folks who hurt and their hurt has become my hurt as I have walked around the community offering to be of any assistance I can be.  It has been tiresome work--this compassion stuff, but well worth the effort.  Well worth the effort to let someone else know that I care.

I apologize if this seems to be a rant born out of fatigue, but I just cannot understand the lack of response from those I thought cared.  Yet, at the same time, in an indirect way, I understand.  Compassion is a lot of work when one is willing to allow one's self to be the presence of another's hurt.  It is tiresome . . . it is painful . . . yet so healing.  There are just moments in all of our lives when we need to be held and listened to.  That is the thing I miss the most throughout this whole flooding situation.

May we all pause for a moment from the hectic lives we live and consider for a moment this idea of "compassion".  Compassion is not the mere words that we speak--those are a dime a dozen. No, compassion is putting ourselves in the presence of others.  That is the presence we, the community of Joliet, need the most.

So, who will listen to the hurt--my hurt and beyond?  Will you?

Friday, May 27, 2011

Who Says, "A Little Water Never Hurts"?

We have entered the second day of recovery from the Joliet Flood.  To say the least it has been an interesting day that actually started last night.  Last night there was a meeting of the Joliet City Council--which was actually advertised as a community meeting on the flood.  The wife and I attended the meeting with about  three hundred other folks from the community and surrounding area.  It was an interesting meeting as those in the local government stated that they did everything they could do, and those who wondered whether or not anyone in authority did anything that they could do.  Surprisingly there were not a whole bunch of disgruntled people in the crowd--most were appreciative of the help that neighbors extended in a difficult time.  The big message that came from the meeting and the authorities in attendance was that everyone was pretty much on their own.  The federal  and state governments had no real assistance to offer outside of road repair. In other words, good luck and don't let the door hit you on the way out.  In a way the meeting was disappointing.

Someone once said that "a little water never hurt anyone"--I want to know who the idiot was that said that.  He, or she, knew nothing about the impact of a flood.   There are as many stories as there are people about the impact of the flood upon their lives.  I can only share the stories that I know that are basically from those people who are a member of the church that I serve.  Trust me, a little water can hurt people.

One family in the church lost more than the contents of their basement in the flood.  At this point it looks as if they have lost their home.  With the flood, the rising water table, and the age of their house their problems go beyond a mere wet basement.  The water has caused their foundation to begin to settle.  As the foundation settled the rest of the structure began to shift.  Walls on the main level of their house began to pop as they settled into their new location.  Many of the walls in their house shifted around causing major damage to their house.  The structure is questionable for habitation.  Besides the possibility of losing their home the insurance company added insult to the injury--the company told them that there was nothing they could do--they were on their own.

Several of the families I spoke to spoke of the devastation that the flooding caused in their lives.  One lady lost everything that she had spent a lifetime collecting.  Another lady lost  a lot of the artwork she had done since she was in college--she is in her 80s today.  One spoke of the possibility of losing his house if the water drained too quickly from his house.  And, another lost a lifetime of memories as the flood wiped out all those documents and pictures from a lifetime.  It was sad to stand with these people watching as they cleaned out the years of memories and keepsakes of a lifetime.  It was heart-wrenching to see the amount of devastation that the flood caused in the lives of people.

Last night we pretty much had all the water out of the basement--almost twenty inches--cleared out of the basement of the church I serve.  This morning there was another two inches of water in the basement.  It was sad to discover this, but not quite unexpected as our water table is quite high at this time.  But, none the less, my deepest hope was that the flooding was over for the time being.  Sadly, it was not and is still not.  This is what I found this morning:

 This is to say nothing of the devastation that happened in the community.  I heard countless stories of the flood's impact on families in the community.  It was not good as the flood made a major impact on the lives of many. Some will bounce back well, others will struggle just to make it through the day.  This was one of the houses (of many) that lost much:

A little water can add up to a lot of water.  And that water can make an major impact--a life changing impact.  Ask the people of Joliet and they will tell you, "A little water can make a BIG difference."  The flood of 2011 will be one that many generations in the area talk about--it changed lives.

Sadly to say that there is not much time to wallow in the present and the impact that it has on people's lives.  The National weather service has issued its report--more rain and possible flooding.  An already anxious and nervous people contend not only with a clean-up of epic proportions but also the possibility of another flood.  This sort of news tends to make people a little gun-shy:

To say the least, a little water can hurt--especially when it is compounded by lots of little waters.  None of us knows what tomorrow may bring, but we have to play the cards that are dealt.  The best that we can do is to do the best that we can do.  Today was a long day in which I experienced the awe of those who are making the best of what they can do.  As daunting as the day has been, it has been a blessing.  We do not know what tomorrow will bring;yet, it does not matter.  It does not matter because we have been called to make the best of whatever we are dealt.  That is pretty much all that we can do.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

And the Water Came

Little did I fathom that when I left for work in the big city on Wednesday morning that there was going to be any problems in the community of Joliet where our home is.  Approximately an hour and a half after I left the town was hit with a flood from Rock Creek flooding about two-thirds of the community--mostly everything to the south of Highway 212.  This flood was due to uncontrollable circumstances that combined to make the water miss a curve in the creek and head straight down the highway.  Though there is considerable debate on whether or not the flooding could have been avoided, it flooded.  Highway 212 from Rockvale to Red Lodge was closed down as the community was slowly inundated with water--LOTS OF WATER!  The pictures above are looking towards Main Street approximately twelve hours after the water flooded the community--it was slowly going down.

Both the wife and I had been at our places of employment in the big city when we began receiving inquiries about the flood in Joliet.  My first reaction was--what flood?  At first I did not believe those who were asking the questions, but it was soon on the local radio stations that Highway 212 was closed due to a major flood in Joliet.  Talk about turning a day into a bummer!  From that moment on my only concern was what was happening in the town I call home--was my house flooding?  Was the church I serve flooding?  What about the people who attend the church--were they safe?  My son--who was at home--safe?  A million scenarios flashed through my mind.  It was difficult to concentrate on work the whole day as I kept getting various reports about the situation.  I was pretty edgy by quitting time rolled around.

Making me even more edgy was the fact that the road to Joliet was still closed come quitting time.  The wife assured me that local traffic could go into Joliet, but that did nothing to ease my anxiousness.  We met at the daughter's house to decide what we were doing--were we going to go home, or were we going to spend the night in the big city?  Basically we had a nice visit with the daughter, youngest son, and our two furry grandchildren, had a little pizza, and decided to take the adventure and return home.  Of course this was only after getting some reassurance from a member of the church that it was safe to come home.  Thus the adventure was on!

I was not prepared for the scene that I encountered once I arrived in Joliet.  The highway looked like a river.  water was everywhere.  Pumps were humming all around town in a noisy chorus.  Rubber-neckers were driving all over town taking in the flood.  We both had to take a haphazardly way to get to the house to avoid the water, but thankfully the north side of the highway avoided the brunt of the flooding.  It was a mess.

With the high water and the fast flow we were pretty much stuck on our side of the highway when we got home.  My concern for the church was abated some when I was told that the flood water never crested over the curb and into the church.  That was later squashed when a member of the church called to say that the church basement had about ten inches of water in the basement.  My heart sunk.  From a distance the church looked safe from our side of the street--images can be deceiving.

The amount of water that flooded the community was more than its antiquated sewer system could handle the result was a double dose of flooding.  A lot of the flooding came through the sewer system speeding up the amount of time that it took to fill the community's many basements.  That was the cause of the flooding in the church basement.  It was not a mere ten inches of water in the basement, it was closer to twenty inches at 6:30AM this morning.  The pictures below are of the two entrances into our basement.

As you can see there is a lot of water!  The church family had five families with flooded basements.  The town had its only grocery store flooded.  Two-thirds of the homes in the community were flooded.  But we are not the only ones who have been affected by the nine inches of rain received in the past seven days--there are many communities that have been flooded.  One of the hardest and poorest areas of Montana to be flooded was the Crow Reservation south of the big city.  The flooding was so bad through that area that Interstate 90, from Hardin to the Wyoming state line was closed for several days.  And, the flooding is probably not over as more rain is predicted this Memorial Day Weekend, plus the warmer temperatures and rain is accelerating the snow melt creating even more water down the waterways of the state.  Creeks and rivers already at flood stage are expected to flood again next week.  Who would have imagined this in a hundred years?  I guess that is why they call it a "hundred year" flood.

So it is that the community has banded together to help one another out.  The pumps are humming.  Sandbags are being filled and placed.  People are reaching out to one another--taking care of one another.  Joliet is being a community--people with a common union, even if it is a flood that binds them together.  In the days to come please keep the people of flood ravaged Montana in your prayers--we just ain't used to all of this water!  After years of drought we appreciate the water, but enough is enough! 

Monday, May 23, 2011

Random Thoughts

When I got to work this morning my office was in disarray--my chairs were missing--things were stacked up on file cabinets and bookcases--but, my desk chair was missing!!  Even with the custodian we had a difficult time finding it.  I was beginning to think that maybe, just maybe, the chair was raptured and I got left behind.  Then the custodian reminded me that the carpets were cleaned over the weekend and that my desk chair had to be somewhere in the building.  Sure enough, it was.  After a ten minute look we found it in another room across from the office.  It had not been raptured . . . and like the rest of us it is still stuck here until the next rapture takes place.  To say the least, I was relieved--I still have a chance to make the next go-round.

I have never been much on the apocalyptic end time thing that seems to sweep across the world ever couple of years.  I think I have witnessed at least ten of these prophetic calls for rapture in my lifetime--and I'm still here and so are all of my friends and family.  Jesus told us--his followers--that no one knows the time or the place when the rapture would come.  Despite Jesus' own words there still seems to be this fascination with predicting the end time.  The guy who predicted it for this past Saturday, predicted the same thing back in 1994--it did not happen then.  He blamed it on his incorrect mathematical calculations.  This time he just doesn't know what he did wrong other than get a whole lot of people upset.  Jesus told us to watch out for those "false prophets".  Basically it means that we followers of Jesus need to make the most of every day because we never know . . .

Yesterday the wife and I went out moose hunting.  We did so because I was given a strong tip that there were a couple of moose in the area.  Two members of the congregation I served saw two on Saturday night--a young bull moose along the highway and a cow moose near a house not far from the highway.  It seemed like a good tip and since the wife has yet to see a moose since moving to Montana--well, it seemed like a good way to kill a couple of hours!  We saw no moose--nada--not a one.  The wife still believes that these are mythical, magical, mystical creatures that the locals like to talk about to get everyone excited to go out looking--sort of like an elaborate game of looking for Snipes.  All we saw was a Willet.  This bird has a beak like Jimmy Durante.  Despite its long beak it had a beautiful song.  This is what a Willet looks like:

Dora the Dachshund has found a new purpose in life . . . she is going to keep the squirrel out of the bird feeder in the backyard.  This past weekend she finally saw the squirrel doing its "in your face" number on the wife's bird feeder and the chase was on.  Dora gave chase, but the squirrel was too fast for her.  Dora has a good memory and she now stakes out one of two spots in the yard looking for the squirrel--under the bird feeder or in the corner where the squirrel feeder is.  The best that Dora has done so far is to make a lot of noise as the squirrel chatters away at her from a safe distance in the trees.  I don't think Dora would know what to do with a squirrel if she caught one, but right now she thinks that she is pretty big just barking at the squirrel.  What she hasn't figured out yet is that the squirrel is really two squirrels and they are playing mind games with her.  It is quite comical to watch them play their tricks on her.

 Dora looking for her "nemesis"--the Squirrel

The Squirrel

The Squirrel who doesn't care!

So there you have it--three completely random thoughts that have nothing to do with each other.  A desk chair that escaped the rapture and made me pause . . . a moose-less drive that produced a Willet . . . and a squirrel who enjoys antagonizing Dora.  Makes a person wonder what the rest of the world is thinking about on a Monday evening.  I hear there is some guy in southern California saying the world is going to end . . . as soon as the wife sees a moose and Dora the Dachshund catches a squirrel!

Saturday, May 21, 2011


"People who drink light 'beer' don't like the taste of beer; they just like to pee a lot."
(Capital Brewery, Middleton, WI)

"Beer is proof that God loves us and wants us to be happy."
(Benjamin Franklin)

"Without question, the greatest invention in the history of mankind is beer. Oh, I grant you that the wheel was also a fine invention, but the wheel does not go nearly as well with pizza."
(Dave Barry)

The rain stopped pouring about mid-morning and things went from soaked to soggy.  It was overcast with lingering showers here and there.  Kind of a dreary sort of a day.  It was the sort of day that one goes to a brew fest, and that is exactly what I did with three of my children in the nearby big city.  This was the second year that I have attend this particular brew fest--neither year has been spectacular.  I only went because the children were insistent.  In the end it turned out to be okay--of course I am not sure if that is because it was or if the beer made a difference.

This particular brew fest is not a typical brew fest as it does not have too many of the actual breweries in attendance with tapped beer.  No, this one primarily has the promoters going out and buying a heck of a lot of beer and selling it through the brew fest.  Anything that a person could taste at the festival was available in the big city--primarily at the two fine shopping establishments of WalMart and Albertsons.  I believe, and I might be wrong, but only three breweries had actual kegs from which taps were running--the rest came straight from the bottle.  Now, I do not want to complain, but nothing beats an ice cold draft straight from the keg.  There was no live music while we were there and all they had playing was canned Gloria Estefan music--I had flashbacks to the ugly late 1970s and early 1980s--it was scary!  This was not your typical brew fest, but there were a lot of people out enjoying the spirits on a dreary day.

There are a lot of nice breweries in the big city.  In fact four of the breweries are quite close to one another and have create a brewery crawl that is quite popular--especially for those visiting the big city.  I must admit that I enjoy the fact that the three breweries are close together with Montana's brewery laws only allowing three beers to be served in a brewery's tap room--only from 4:00 to 8:00PM.  The four breweries in the big city are convenient and make some good brews.  Here are the four:


(No website)

The big city also has another so-called brewery called Bones Brewing and Pub, but Yellowstone Valley Brewery makes their beer for them and allows them to call it their own.  It is more of a sports bar and casino (which the state of Montana seems to have one on every street corner--casinos, that is).  If you are interested in them check them out here:

The big city, down the road, has a lot of nice breweries.  The way that I rate them is: Angry Hanks--best beer and served in a converted gas station/garage; good beer and excellent music--Yellowstone Valley Brewery; Carters has some good beers and a nice tap room; Montana Brewery--this is the place to eat and drink some fine micro brews. They are all located pretty much in the downtown area of the big city and make for an accessible crawl if you are inclined to take that adventure.  Bones--well, it is a sports bar--enough said.

Probably the one brewery that we--all the family--hit the most often is the Red Lodge Ales.  Whenever we make the trek to Red Lodge we have a beer at the tap room before going home.  Whenever we complete a hike in the Beartooths or Absaroka Mountains--we have a beer at the tap room.  It is sort of a ritual that we all enjoy--plus they usually have free popcorn!  If you are interested in Red Lodge Ale--best India Pale Ale in the state of Montana (Bent Nail)--check it out here:

Montana has quite a few breweries and as the weather slowly drifts from winter into our Spring/Summer season the brew fest season is upon us.  Today's festival was the first of several that we hope to hit this season to enjoy great beers, good music, and the fact that everything we are drinking was made right here in Montana.  For more information about Montana breweries go to:

I will vouch for the majority of the breweries listed on this site as I have been to every one except Beaver Creek Brewery in Wibaux, Montana (http://www.beavercreekbrewery.com/)--it is a little out of the way from   Joliet.  But we have gotten the first one under our belts and are raring to check out some of the other festivals as they happen throughout the warm season of Montana.  One down . . .