A Big Change at St. Francis Xavier

A couple times over the course of this blog I have mentioned that I attend mass at St. Francis Xavier in downtown Missoula. It is one of the all-star parishes in the Helena Diocese as the church itself is over 100 years old and breathtakingly beautiful. It is also one of the largest in the diocese. With the tradition, location, and demographics of the parish it definitely takes a special person to be in charge.

Ever since I started attending St. Francis Xavier over five years ago the pastor has not changed. Father Richard Perry, a man distinguished by his deep voice and impactful preaching style, has served as the top priest at the church. But where even five years is a long time for a priest to stay in one spot, Fr. Perry’s tenure goes back much longer. Currently in his 13th year at St. Francis you can definitely say that Father Rich has enjoyed an unusually long but very blessed stint at Missoula’s oldest parish.

Fr. Perry has served as the pastor at St. Francis Xavier for 13 years (photo courtesy of www.sfxmissoula.com)

Fr. Perry has served as the pastor at St. Francis Xavier for 13 years (photo courtesy of www.sfxmissoula.com)

So you can imagine the gasps of shock that escaped us parishioners in attendance at last night’s Saturday vigil mass when pastoral associate Fr. Kunkle announced that Fr. Perry would leave his current post as pastor of St. Francis in August. The vocal expressions of surprise quickly turned to joy and applause when Fr. Kunkle then announced the new pastor… (drumroll please)….Fr. Joseph Carver. Just very recently at St. Francis as associate pastor, Fr. Carver will make a very quick full circle and return from Seattle to take over as the head guy at the end of the summer.


Fr. Carver will take over as pastor at St. Francis Xavier.

Fr. Carver will take over as pastor at St. Francis Xavier.

To add just a bit of mystery to the reshuffling it was revealed that Fr. Perry would go on sabbatical at the conclusion of his pastoral assignment, a very normal thing for Catholic priests. But what caught me off guard was the announcement of where he would land after his sabbatical concluded. Ready for this? Fr. Perry will return to St. Francis Xavier as the assistant pastor! Never in my 27 years as a Catholic follower have I ever seen a priest leave a pastor post, go on sabbatical, and then return to that same parish in an assistant position (keep in mind all assignments are handed down by the diocese, priests have very little to no say in the matter).

I am thinking (although speculating) that this is something that Fr. Perry wants. Leading such a large parish for so long definitely has to take its toll on someone. The lesser role that an assistant pastor plays in day-to-day operations of a parish is probably exactly what he needs after serving so admirably over the past 13 years. The fact that he will be serving this assignment at St. Francis Xavier? Although I find it a little unusual I think it speaks to his love of the parish and the devotion he has from the parishioners here.

To say that Fr. Perry went through his 13 years as pastor at St. Francis without a hitch would not be entirely accurate. Last year he was put on leave for allegations that turned out to be completely untrue. When he returned to the church by way of a standing ovation my already top notch respect for the guy blossomed even more. To have his solid career of serving God and others almost ruined by lies and to see him return stronger than ever made me realize how amazing this man is.

I will make sure to take in every homily Fr. Perry gives for the next five months before he goes on his sabbatical. I will also look forward to the return of Fr. Carver. Change is something you can count on at any Catholic church in America, although very rarely does it take 13 years to happen. Good luck to both Fr. Perry and Fr. Carver. Don’t Blink.

My Fortune Cookie Experiment, Part II

After the disappointment I suffered on Monday I knew I didn’t want that bad taste to linger in my mouth. Last week I opened up 24 fortune cookies hoping to find priceless wisdom along with a good laugh or two. Instead I found generic clichés and duplicated messages. At fault in this big bust was me. I decided to take the easy way out and purchase a couple boxes of fortune cookies at Wal-Mart. My attempt at a shortcut laughed right in my face the second after I cracked open all the cookies and looked down at the less than inspiring fortunes. I needed to right my wrong.

Yesterday I visited four different Chinese restaurants and got fortune cookies from each one.

Yesterday I visited four different Chinese restaurants and got fortune cookies from each one.

Yesterday I spent the lunch hour visiting four different Chinese restaurants in Missoula. I swallowed my pride and went inside each one and told the employees that I didn’t want to eat at their establishments but I would sure appreciate it if I could have a few fortune cookies. Despite my embarrassment at my cheapskate question everyone treated me well and granted my request. Two of the restaurants shoved cookies at me free of charge and the other two nicely charged me the measly price of one dollar for the treats.

My loot from visiting the different Chinese restaurants.

My loot from visiting the different Chinese restaurants.

In the end this project cost me $2 for the cookies, some gas money, and a bit of humiliation but it was definitely worth it. The fortunes I received from these restaurants blew the fortunes from the Wal-Mart cookies out of the water. I visited China Garden, Hong Kong Chef, China Buffet, and China Bowl for my sample. The restaurant that provided the best fortune cookies? China Buffet! Individually wrapped with a child in front of a red heart on the wrapper the appearance alone made a great impression. However, the contents inside impressed me even more. The fortunes themselves were fun and exotic but the message also came with lucky numbers and a “Learn Chinese” section. I should also add that China Buffet was one of the two restaurants that gave me the cookies for free.

What it looked like after I opened up all the cookies.

What it looked like after I opened up all the cookies.

Favorite Fortune (from China Bowl):
Make those special talents you have work like a charm – I just really appreciate and understand this fortune. We all have our own talents that we need to utilize. I try my best to further the talents that I have (while also recognizing ones that I don’t) to make my life more enjoyable and profitable.

Time now to reveal each fortune that I cracked open. My favorite fortune from each individual restaurant is reflected in the image introducing that particular business and is also listed first.

China Garden

China Garden - 2100 Stephens Ave.

China Garden – 2100 Stephens Ave.

– Listen Attentively. You will come out ahead.
-Now is a good time to try something new.
-You are both ingenious and methodical.
-Now is a good time to explore.

Hong Kong Chef

Hong Kong Chef - 2009 Brooks St.

Hong Kong Chef – 2009 Brooks St.

-You will have good luck in your personal affairs this month.
-A zesty partner can help you in your efforts to get ahead.
-Your present plans are going to succeed if you stick to them.
-Good things come to those who wait. Be patient.

China Buffet:

China Buffet - 1900 Brooks St.

China Buffet – 1900 Brooks St.

-You will be invited to a small gathering with lots of spicy conversation (Lucky # 19, 45, 7, 11, 10, 2).
-A tub and rub will change your day (Lucky # 15, 16, 20, 18, 33, 49).
-You will be unusually successful in business (Lucky # 23, 34, 14, 45, 55, 29).
-Ancient sites beckon you to hit the road soon (Lucky # 37, 19, 22, 54, 16, 30).

China Bowl:

China Bowl - 3445 American Way

China Bowl – 3445 American Way

-Make those special talents you have work like a charm.
-It is time to help a friend in need.
-Trust your intuition today. You’re right on!
-Your personality can make quite an impression on people.


Okay, I promise you I will never write about fortune cookies again. I just wanted my shot at redemption. The fun and mystery of fortune cookies is still out there…you just have to go someplace other than Wal-Mart to enjoy it. Once again I will leave you with the best fortune ever…Don’t Blink.

Five Topics in Five Minutes

Well I am definitely due for a multi-topic, random blog post. Tonight I am feeling rather ambitious so I am going to attempt to cover five different happenings in as few of words as possible. Thanks for checking out my blog post tonight and let’s get started.

Bowling: Last night I spiced up my usually boring weekday evenings by going bowling. Would you believe that $1 bowling still exists? Believe me, at Westside Lane in Missoula it does! I did something I have never done before and bowled five games. Usually after two games I am good but with the cheap price and a score that needed to be settled between my friend and I we played 50 frames. Another thing that I have never done before? I bowled a 168! I am about 90% sure that qualifies as my highest score ever. The numerous games did take a toll though…this morning I woke up sore in a couple spots! I am definitely not in bowling shape.

Montana Grizzlies Facebook Hits 100K Likes: Right before I dashed out my door to go bowling last night our Montana Grizzlies Facebook page hit the 100,000 like mark. As I have eyed this milestone for a long time it felt great to finally reach it. Griz Social Media is shoulders above other competitors in the FCS and is a player on the national scene as well and this big benchmark just validates our success. Big winner of the night besides our athletic department was Facebook fan Amy Cody who correctly predicted the day and came the closest to predicting the time that our page would hit the hundred grand mark. Because of her excellent prognostic abilities I sent her a Griz prize pack today.

Malaysia Airlines Flight 370: I do find this whole saga fascinating but I find it much sadder. To me at first I can’t fathom how the plane has not been found. Then I take a step back and realize this world is a big place with the oceans covering over 140,000 million miles of it. Then throw in the twists and turns that occur daily in relation to the governments, theories, and searches and I can’t begin to imagine what the families of the passengers are going through. For some reason I think this ordeal might have a very crazy ending that a lot of us aren’t expecting. Only time will tell.

Subway…Eat Fresh?: I enjoy Subway so much that I actually wrote a whole blog post detailing how much I love it. Call me naïve for thinking it would always specialize in just sandwiches but I am a little turned off about the expanding menu. Pizza? Enchilada melts? Breakfast sandwiches that don’t resemble a sandwich in anyway? I understand that Subway must evolve and offer more options to keep up with competition I just think it is a little sacrilegious to offer a pepperoni pizza at a place that markets itself on healthy eating.

Putting on my Sports Information Director’s Hat: In just about a half hour our men’s basketball team faces off against Portland State in the Big Sky Conference tournament in Ogden. I am here in Missoula just about ready to cover the game over our social outlets but my duties will get a little extended this evening. As our legendary Sports Information Director Dave Guffey doesn’t have necessary software installed on his laptop I get to play with the program in his office and output all the statistical reports immediately after the final buzzer sounds. With a couple training sessions completed at the tutelage of Dave and a page of notes at my disposal I should be fine although I would be lying if I said I am not a little nervous about screwing everything up.


Okay, time to watch our men’s basketball team play! I appreciate all of you and have a wonderful Friday. Don’t Blink.

Not A Fan of Snow Days

Today I awoke at 6:15 a.m. to an e-mail from campus communications informing the community that classes at the University of Montana had been cancelled due to the extreme and dangerous weather conditions. About fifteen minutes later our associate athletic director sent out an e-mail to all athletics staff saying there was no need to come to work today. Similar messages were relayed to most all other staff on campus as well.

Yes, a very rare snow day occurred in Missoula. I think the early morning deafening howls of wind proved the final factor to UM administrators to make the decision on an unscheduled three day weekend. They probably made the right choice.

In the past couple days Missoula has received several heavy snow showers. The white stuff has literally dumped into our valley. But most people who live in Montana can handle large amounts of snow, we deal with it six months out of the year. However the tipping factor was the wind. With gusts over 50 miles per hour and the truest whiteout conditions you could ever imagine I think most people understood and appreciated the closures and suspensions of services.

When I first heard about the news I rose from my bed and informed our social media audience of the closures. I then texted with my direct supervisor who confirmed that it was best to just stay home. A thought then ran through my head: “An unplanned weekday off? This is very strange.”

Not that I didn’t have plenty to do. I had a full agenda of work tasks that I had the full capability to complete right on my cozy couch. I also had a couple personal projects to work on as well. I also realized the perfect opportunity I had to clean around my apartment. So after taking a longer than normal shower I went right to work, keeping busy for several hours. However, even with my brain fully stimulated I still just had a very different feeling. It didn’t seem right sitting on my couch at 11 a.m. on a weekday. It didn’t seem right eating something other than my peanut butter sandwich for lunch that I always have at work. It didn’t seem right turning on ESPN and watching daily shows that I haven’t seen since I was a college student. It didn’t seem right (it actually wasn’t right) that I didn’t have the luxury to finish my week off with a great workout. It just didn’t seem right to be home.

I managed to get plenty of work done from home today but I didn't particularly like it.

I managed to get plenty of work done from home today but I didn’t particularly like it.

Although I know shutting down the town for the day was in the absolute best interest for the community I don’t care for the feeling I get with a free day off. I just feel like I am getting behind, I feel like I am slacking in a way. I feel like I haven’t earned it. With that said I worked hard today to fight that feeling and get as much done as possible. I believe I made progress so I won’t go to bed with too much disappointment. But would I have rather worked in the office today? You bet.

Kudos and respect to all the people out in the Missoula community right now plowing roads, delivering mail, picking up garbage, patrolling the streets, responding to accidents, etc. Also, thoughts and prayers to the people impacted by the avalanche today (yes, we had an avalanche this afternoon). The weather will get better and things will get back to normal…let’s just hope it is sooner rather than later. Don’t Blink.

Visitng a Movie Rental Store

For the most part I enjoy the Redbox system for renting movies. While I dislike the pressure of someone standing behind me in line and I don’t particularly care for the onslaught of questions that come after I select my title the convenience and low cost outweigh my gripes. In fact I am so accustomed to the Redbox way of things that it takes a little bit of a nudge to remember how things used to be.

That nudge came yesterday when I needed to pick up a couple movies that came out several years ago. Redbox specializes in new releases, which is just fine with me as I don’t usually have an urge to watch older movies, but of course with the task ahead of me I needed to turn back the clock and visit a type of business that I had not entered since before I started my twenties. I am talking about a movie rental store.

Although how could I visit a movie rental store when Blockbuster and Hollywood Video bit the dust and entered the corporation dinosaur graveyard years ago? Wait a minute, you mean to tell me that mom and pop video stores still exist? Well you didn’t need to tell me that because I already know…I actually drive by Missoula’s own relic each day on my way to work. Nestled in an old shopping mall area on the east side of town right off from campus is a place called Crazy Mike’s Video. Having frequented it a couple times during my early college years and even making note of its retro nature back then I prepared myself for a trip in the time machine.

A look at the front of Crazy Mike's in Missoula. Photo courtesy of http://nightvisionmissoula.wordpress.com/night-vision-scavenger-hunt/

A look at the front of Crazy Mike’s in Missoula. Photo courtesy of http://nightvisionmissoula.wordpress.com/night-vision-scavenger-hunt/

I don’t know what word to characterize the vibe that came over me when I entered the place other than depressing. When I walked through the shoplifting proof doors of Crazy Mike’s I became the one and only customer. The store was neat and tidy with shelves adequately lined with DVDs but I just had that sense that places like this shouldn’t exist anymore. I felt out of place. This is of course in no disrespect to Crazy Mike’s because surviving with that type of business model in this current era of on demand and kiosk rentals is an extraordinary feat. However, I personally just didn’t feel inspired.

As the only customer I didn’t want to put pressure on the girl behind the counter to get up from her post and ask if I needed help finding anything so I just went directly to her and asked if she had the movies I was looking for. She typed them into the computer and reported that the store had both and I could find them in the comedy section. I trekked to the comedy area, tracked the titles down alphabetically, and went back ten years as I pulled the movie from the shelf. I took the DVDs to the counter and before the employee could say anything I politely said I would need to create a Crazy Mike’s account.

She took me through the process and got me set up. If I could have paid double for the rentals as a way of not having to go through the time and trouble of getting an account created I would have. When it was all said and done I paid a shockingly low $4.50 for both movies and she surprised me when she said I had them for a whole week. As I walked out of the store a faint smile crossed my face as the Crazy Mike’s sticker at the corner of the DVD’s had a “Be Kind Rewind” message on it.

This unnecessary message graces each Crazy Mike's DVD.

This unnecessary message graces each Crazy Mike’s DVD.

Most likely the last time I ever go back to the place will be when I return my current rentals. I react favorably to some nostalgia but for whatever reason I didn’t get a warm and fuzzy feeling with the old school mom and pop movie rental store. Just not my thing. Don’t Blink.

Thursday Night Run Down

Time of the week to once again cover a few random topics. You ready? LEGGGGOOOO…

Rock Concert at Gym: These days on social media a big topic people like to parody are gym stereotypes (never mind that I wrote about it over two years ago). One of the stereotypes that you always hear about is the “singing guy”. This individual decides to sing along with whatever is on his iPod. Sometimes he belts the whole song out, sometimes he goes in and out with the chorus, or sometimes he will just randomly yell one or two phrases from the song. Today I witnessed a spin-off of the singing guy.

During my noon workout a dude with a tattered cut up black shirt and ball cap walked into the gym with a big ol’ set of headphones on. Although it wasn’t his wardrobe that made him standout. Rather his exaggerated motions of playing the air guitar and pounding on the imaginary drums caused enough people in the crowded area to step out of his way that others couldn’t help but look. He must have had angry, powerful music playing or just been on drugs (or both) because this guy looked like he was playing the concert of his life. Guitar one second, drums the next…over and over. I hit the track to run and when I came back to the weight area of the facility he was still pacing back and forth rocking out. I usually never smile at the gym but today I did.

Welcome Back Winter Weather: By all accounts we have had a relatively mild winter in Montana. Yesterday, however, the cold and snow came back. Today the cold, snow, AND wind came back. It was an absolutely brutal day to venture outdoors. Just my walk from my car to my office gave me about all I could handle. Never underestimate the life-sucking power of the Montana Hellgate winds. Of course I had to return a rental so that added another unpleasant 20 foot walk in the elements for me. I didn’t particularly enjoy my drive home this evening either. Blowing snow, slick roads, and low visibility made for an adventure.

Hey Winter, I talked to like six people today and they all said that you didn’t need to come back to Montana this season. We would all love it very much if you left for good now. We didn’t mind sunny skies and 35 degree temperatures.

Montana Basketball Update: One of the reasons why I am doing a quick post tonight is because our men’s basketball team is just about to tip off against Southern Utah in Cedar City. You can view my updates by following the official Twitter account of Griz basketball, @UMGRIZZLIES_BB. The men’s team needs this win tonight to climb up the conference standings a bit and to gain some momentum for Monday night’s Griz-Cat game in Bozeman.

The Lady Griz host Southern Utah on Saturday evening as they attempt to build on a successful season so far. They will then play Montana State in Dahlberg Arena on Monday evening. Yes, it is a very unfortunate arrangement. This year the Griz-Cat basketball games aren’t held at the same site on the same day as the result of an unbalanced travel partner schedule. Thus on Monday evening the men’s basketball team will square off against Montana State in Bozeman at the exact same time that the Lady Griz will tip off against MSU in Dahlberg Arena. With Idaho entering the league next year this problem will be resolved.

Fighting For a Parking Spot: School is back in session at the University of Montana and that means the parking lots are filled to capacity by 9 a.m. each day. I do get the luxury of picking my spot in the morning but if I happen to leave work for any reason during the day I have to fight and strategize to get a spot when I return. In order to secure a space in a timely manner I make sure to practice a few tricks.

First off I never stalk someone the second I see them possibly walking to their car but I do keep an eye out and set myself up for an easy route if they are in fact leaving. The second I see them click their door opener and I see the lights on the car blink I slam on the accelerator, turn on my blinker, and wait the person out. If I am competing against other cars for potential spots I am getting as far away as possible from them and covering as many rows as possible to find a vacant spot. It does no good to scour a row that a competing car just went down and it does no good to go at the same pace as a competing car either. Efficiency and speed! If a spot opens up and I get to it the second that another car does I always defer the space to the other person if the driver is a female. If the driver is my gender I will try to force the car that is leaving to back out in the direction of the opposing car so I can slip in before the driver shifts into drive (I am actually lying, I always try to allow the other person to take the spot).


Have a great night everyone! Drive safe in the winter weather and finish out the work week strong tomorrow. Don’t Blink.

Crying Babies in Church

With this post I am not trying to act sarcastic, condescending, or holier than thou so please don’t think I am writing this in that type of tone. I am basically just asking for insight and feedback.

I attend mass at historical St. Francis Xavier in the outskirts of downtown Missoula. It is the biggest Catholic parish in the city and offers a beautiful setting, solid preaching, and great singing. It also offers many options as the mass schedule includes four different times over the weekend (5 p.m. on Saturday and 8 a.m., 10 a.m., and 6 p.m. on Sunday). About 90% of the time I attend the 6 p.m. Sunday evening contemplative mass. For someone like me who works many weekends throughout the year, a later mass on Sunday is very welcome. It allows me to obviously make it to church and on many weeks it really gives me my first time to relax and reflect over the week in a quiet and peaceful atmosphere.

St. Francis Xavier in Missoula is a great parish and Fr. Rich Perry does a great job.

St. Francis Xavier in Missoula is a great parish and Fr. Rich Perry does a great job.

Notice how I said “quiet and peaceful”. The setting at the 6 p.m. mass is special. The lights are turned down low, there are fifteen minutes of singing leading up to the opening prayer, it is never crowded, you aren’t tempted by the smells of a pancake breakfast swirling through the church, and, like I said, it is quiet. On a personal faith level I wouldn’t hesitate to say that I feel like I get the most out of the Sunday evening mass. If possible, I would attend it every single weekend. However, that is not always possible.

Every now and then, like today, I attend a different mass. When choosing an alternative I mostly try to hit the 5 p.m. Saturday vigil (because it most resembles the 6 p.m. Sunday mass) but that doesn’t always work out. Next in line for me is the 8 a.m. one but sometimes after pretty much not sleeping the whole week, I do elect to cash in on a couple extra hours of shut eye, thus leaving me with the 10 a.m. mass. On days like today where I do attend the later morning session I do prepare myself before walking through the church doors and then say a little prayer for increased patience when I find my pew because I know I am going to need it.

St. Francis Xavier clearly identifies the 10 a.m. mass as the “Family Mass”. In order to make the other masses (such as the 6 p.m. Sunday one) so peaceful and reflective they advise people with babies and toddlers to attend the 10 a.m. session. Before I say as much as one negative thing about how I get distracted, let me say thank you to St. Francis for making this distinction and to the families for observing it.

So while I attend 10 a.m. mass knowing full well that it will most likely be noisy and understanding that all the parents in there are not only following the wishes of the parish but also acting as great moms and dads by raising their kids in the church, sometimes I think the noise level gets a little out of hand.

My basic question is this: At what point do you leave your spot in the pew and take a crying or misbehaving child to the back of the church, out to the lobby, or outside?

I understand quick crying fits and the occasional random outbursts but if a baby has cried for the past three minutes of the priest’s homily or if a four year old is yelling at his sister during the blessing of the Eucharist isn’t that the cue to remove the child? I understand it is a family mass and certain noises are expected and accepted but am I off base to say that when a child becomes a legitimate distraction to others it is time to take him/her to the back? Maybe I am totally off on this. Like I said, I do my best to avoid this type of situation entirely but sometimes I do find myself at the family mass and at the mercy of the parents’ decision to either take their child out or keep him/her in place.

I would love it if parents told me what their standards and rules are when it comes to making the call on keeping or removing their children from mass. What goes through your mind when your baby happens to just naturally act like a baby and begins to cry? Are there standards you have in place with how you are going to act in the situation? Have fellow church-goers ever given you an annoyed or hostile glance before because of your kids?

Again to all parents, do not take what I am saying too personally. I know I play a big role in how much I want to deal with this. I recognize the good parenting and baptism promise fulfilling work that you are doing. Please also take to heart that if you do keep your crying baby in mass for way longer than warranted I still don’t hold as much scorn for you as I do for the disrespectful mass attendees who let their cell phones go off in church. As long as you don’t get to that point, you and I will be just fine. Don’t Blink.

My Five Shopping Mall Holiday Trends of 2013

I decided to start my Christmas shopping early this year as I ventured out this weekend to knock some people off my list. As Missoula’s Southgate Mall was one of the places I risked my sanity to shop in, I noticed some trends inside that shopping center that also corresponded almost exactly to things I observed while zipping through the Spokane malls during Thanksgiving weekend. For today’s blog post I want to highlight the main five trends I have identified inside malls during the 2013 holiday season.

Cell Phone Cases Galore: With the proliferation of smart phones comes the proliferation of smart phone cases. The malls I have visited have had at the very least two cell phone case kiosks in high walking traffic areas. People want to protect their phones while also adding a little personality as well. Many of these kiosks sell cases with every design, color, sports team, movie, cartoon character, celebrity, etc. that you could want. However, I feel they are a complete rip off. While shopping for someone on my list I spotted a potential cell phone case that would make a good gift. I asked the person behind the kiosk if I could hold it before I made a decision. He grudgingly allowed me to and the second I placed it in my hands I said “No thanks”.

The dingy plastic cover would never protect any phone and the design was not even that cool. Add in the ridiculous price and I would tell most people to not consider purchasing cases from cell phone kiosks in the mall. Seriously, check out www.case-mate.com. There you can personally design your own case while getting a product that will save your phone when you do drop it (just ask me from experience).

Gift Cards: While gift cards have been a mainstay in every holiday shopper’s diet for several years now, I feel it has reached a new peak this year. Not only does every store offer gift cards in 10 different designs with 10 different card holders to choose from, but now there is an added incentive to purchase them in high dollar amounts. Every place (no exaggeration) that I have purchased a gift card from has offered me a deal where if I purchase a certain dollar amount I will receive additional funds for free. The most common example is the $100 gift card purchase. If you go to a clothing retailer or restaurant and purchase $100 in gift cards (either on one whole card or say five cards at $20 each), you will get an additional $20 free to either add on to one of the cards or to just slap it on to a brand new card.

Obviously you get no complaining from me on this one. What is not to like about going to a popular store and buying a $20 gift card for five of your favorite friends and then getting an extra $20 card for free? You can now give a gift to your sixth favorite friend or if you don’t have that many friends you can keep it for yourself (or maybe give it to charity).

Authentic Santas: Something that I have noticed this holiday season is the very visible step up in mall Santas. Each one I have seen has actually looked like Kris Kringle himself. I am talking real full grown white beards, jolly eyes, and white hair flowing from under the back of the hat. Even the suit has looked pristine, with a couple opting to not even go with the traditional Christmas Eve red ensemble but rather a type of outfit that Santa might wear while making toys at the North Pole. Every Santa I have seen could pass for the one from the most recent version of “Miracle on 34th Street.”

I applaud malls for going the extra mile to hire legit looking Santas. Over the years I have seen some cheesy looking Santas with awful looking fake beards and sloppy fitting suits. Obviously the people who take the time and sacrifice to make their actual physical appearance simulate that of the real Santa are going to do the best job and give children the best experience .

Samples: This year when I have strolled into malls I have had to ask myself if I was actually in a Costco. Stores and kiosks are giving away samples like never before. Employees with wide smiles holding trays are encouraging shoppers to try their product. **Well, even though I have no intention of buying your meat tray you don’t need to twist my arm to at least taste it for free**. I have watched in semi amazement as the employees handing out samples will rush from their storefront across to the other side to offer customers walking in the opposite direction a bite of their frozen yogurt or a small trial size of their scent. I have never seen the Costco sample ladies do that before!

Surprisingly Good Deals: Black Friday is long gone but that hasn’t meant that the good deals are too. I was pleasantly surprised with the numerous bargains I encountered while shopping over the past couple days. Sure, I did see my fair share of jacked up scams but I also saw lots of 40% off sales, $10 long sleeve shirts, and buy one-get one free offers. Anyone who took time and care to investigate what was out there could easily find affordable gift ideas. I also encountered many helpful and cheerful employees who were eager to answer my questions and also point me in the direction of where I could find the biggest savings. While I don’t relish holiday shopping by any means, this weekend it wasn’t too painful.


You got roughly nine days of shopping left! Over these never several days when you are out at your local mall don’t be surprised when you notice these particular trends. In fact, I would love it more than anything if you snapped a photo of any mall Santa you happen to stumble across and send it to me. That might be worth a candy cane and a Christmas card from yours truly. Have a great week everyone! Don’t Blink.

What Passionate Fans Do

This morning I got to work and as I walked from the parking lot to the entrance doors of the Adams Center it looked like through the still dark conditions that a homeless camp had formed right outside the last entrance door. Humans sprawled out on the cold cement covered in shaggy blankets started at the door and then went up some nearby steps. I started to think about why Missoula’s transient problem had extended all the way to campus but then a light clicked on in my head…tonight was the Macklemore concert!

The rapper’s hardcore fans had already started to line up at 8 a.m. in the morning for a show that didn’t start until 7 p.m. However, I didn’t think they were crazy for lining up so early with the hopes that they would get an awesome view of their idol. Rather, I thought they were a little uneducated for thinking that it might guarantee them an all-access, front row position for the whole concert. You see, these fans were lining up for general admission standing room only spots on the floor. It doesn’t matter if you are the first one in or the 2,000th person in, if you are aggressive and sneaky enough, you can work your way to the front and bypass people who had been waiting outside for eleven hours longer than you.

But that is not the point I am trying to make. Rather, I am sticking up for the Macklemore fans who bummed outside the whole day to at least improve their chances of getting the best possible view during the concert. The best fans are the passionate ones and if you don’t mind throwing a full day away to sit on concrete I salute you.

I love the stories of students at Duke camping out in Krzyewskiville just to get tickets. I nod my head in approval at the people who stood outside of the Missoula Buffalo Wild Wings for hours on end in anticipation of the grand opening (and a year’s supply of wings). Even though I hate “Harry Potter” I admire the maniacs who wait outside the theater in ridiculous costumes in order to get tickets and have the best seats in the house.

I have such a high affinity for these types of people because I am actually one of them. Throughout my lifetime I have been the guy that has started lines and waited double digit hours to dash into a venue and get preferential seating. Whether it was to see Santa Claus (seriously), be the first one to register for classes in middle school, get the courtside seats for our rival high school basketball game, obtain Griz-Cat football tickets, or to secure floor seats for a handful of different concerts I have stood patiently in line for long periods of time throughout my life.

But let’s get real here. Of course people like me and the people who were lined up for Macklemore today don’t do it solely for the gratification of getting our desired seat or ticket. Rather, we put ourselves through these long waits because in a way it is fun. There is something about being that first person and there is something about hanging out with other passionate people that just makes it exciting. And even if it turns out that you have to sit out in miserable weather and even if you end up spending 9 hours next to the most annoying person in the world and even if you end up not even getting your ticket or desired seat you still have something: an experience.

Even though I wouldn’t walk across the street to see Macklemore perform, or in my literal sense, walk down some steps right outside of my office, I respect the throng of 18-24 year olds I walked past this morning. At this time right now Macklemore is probably taking the stage and I hope those kids are having a great time. Don’t Blink.

My Spokane Froyo Tour

During my packed weekend in Spokane hanging out with my family and watching football I decided to squeeze another endeavor into my busy schedule. I toured froyo shops in the city. Yep, I sure did. Even though the weather was rainy, windy, and cold I decided to prolong my denial that summer is over and I indulged. On Saturday I visited one froyo location and today I visited two. After froyoing it up all weekend long, I learned one pretty important thing about these types of shops…

They are pretty much all the same.

I guess I had the fantasy that each location would have their own unique twist on the rapidly growing froyo self serve yogurt concept but I was disappointed. My thought that maybe each little shop nestled in random strip malls would have a different personality with different flavors and with different toppings was unfounded. After reviewing both froyo self-serve places in Missoula (YoWaffle and U-Swirl) I saw some unique traits in both and kind of assumed that all other locations would also have cool quirks about them too but after my three stop tour this weekend I know this not to be the case.

Not to say that all three places I frequented this weekend were exact replicas of each other. They all had something that kind of made them stand apart but not to the degree that one would think. For stepping foot into three different, local, and independent businesses I just expected to see more diversity among them. Rather, I saw the same prices, same flavors, same toppings, and same setup. Of course if each business is making bank why should they care that someone like me wants to see noticeable differences from place to place? They shouldn’t.

Here are some photos and a personal description of each froyo place I frequented this weekend (listed in the order I visited them):

FroYo Earth (829 Boone Avenue)

Myself at Froyo Earth

Myself at Froyo Earth

My first stop took me to the Gonzaga district to try out Froyo Earth. The place was very spacious and clean, although the spacious part probably had a lot to do with the fact that my mom and I were the only ones inside. Who knows though, maybe everyone else was upstairs because they did a second level with additional seating. I got a cup with peanut butter and cake batter yogurt. I put Cap’n Crunch and Reese’s candy on it and topped it with peanut butter sauce. The lighting was the worst here out of the three locations but the yogurt was pretty decent.

Did’s Pizza & Froyo (5406 N. Division Street)


Myself at Did's Froyo and Pizza

Myself at Did’s Froyo and Pizza

Today I stopped at Did’s Pizza & Froyo right in the middle of Division Street where all of the Chinese restaurants are located. This place was made for all of us who like unhealthy, fun food. Besides froyo they also have pizza, shaved ice, teriyaki, smoothies, bubble tea, and beer! It is pretty cool inside with an island theme, televisions, and an arcade. I got a cup with three different flavors: candy bar smash, cupcake, and peanut butter. I topped it with peanut butter candy chips, Snickers pieces, and a piece of brownie. The yogurt at this location definitely stood out to me as the best. My brother tried a slice of the pizza and said it was okay. With different food, entertainment, and seating options, this is a good place to take a young family.

Go Froyo (6704 N. Nevada Street)

Myself at Go Froyo.

Myself at Go Froyo.

My froyo tour ended just a couple hours ago with a quick visit to Go Froyo on Nevada Street. This was the smallest shop I went to but it was brightly lit, they had cool red couches to sit on, and the girl working behind the counter was very friendly and cute. I got a cup and tried their cake batter and New York cheesecake flavors. I topped it with oreo cookies, Reese’s candy, and peanut butter sauce. My dad and I sat on one of the red couches and watched the end of the Denver-Philadelphia NFL game. Unfortunately, the best was not saved for last. Go Froyo probably had my least favorite tasting yogurt. My New York cheesecake tasted nothing like cheesecake…obviously flavors had somehow been mixed and the consistency was off. But that is probably what I deserve for deciding to eat frozen yogurt three times in less than 24 hours, right?

I will keep trying to think up silly, health destroying ideas to do during my coveted free weekends. I enjoyed making the rounds on Spokane’s froyo circuit and I thank my mom, brother, and dad for joining me at each of the stops and taking the embarrassing photos of me holding my froyo. I still think I prefer YoWaffle. Don’t Blink.