Tuesday, December 20, 2005

My Christmas Tree-eating Dog

Allie Taru, my year-old Aussie shepherd mix, is a pretty good dog overall. Having said that I will also say she is one of the biggest sources of anxiety and frustration in my life. In the past three days she has caused me to lose hair and sanity. It started on Saturday, when she apparantly shat in one of the offices in our building, while I was creating a Winter Mix 2005 CD template to give away to friends for Christmas; I didn't know of her dasterdly deed until I arrived to work on Monday and was informed I had a mess to clean up. She also decided to poop on my spare bed...not under the bed or off in a corner, but ON the bed...meaning she was angry with me for leaving her in the house this morning rather than leave her out in the 11 degree weather. Then the coup de grace happened sometime between 9:30 AM today and 11:30 AM today, when I returned home to meet the plumbers about the leak in my basement (ah, but that is another story)and had a hard time opening the door. The reason for my difficulty is that my beautiful tree (cut down two weekends ago up on the mountains outside of Lolo...again, another story in and of itself) was blocking the way. Allie not only knocked it over, but she then proceeded to remove every glass bulb ornamanet (some over 45 years old) and shatter them and chew them up. She left two piles of shards, one in the living room, next to a hand towel she chewed a hole in, and the other on my bed. So today one bed has been shit on and the other was a trash can for broken Christmas tree ornaments. You can begin to feel my frustration.

What else? Well it has been well over three months since my last post and much has transpired. I've made two trips back to Indiana (one for a Purdue football game and the other to visit family and for the Covered Bridge festival) since then; my wonderful sister made a trip out here to see Montana for the first time; my Ultimate frisbee team made it all the way to the final nationals qualifying game on the campus of Stanford University, only to fall one point short; I broke two ribs (playing Ultimate); and I had arthroscopic surgery on my right knee (an old Ultimate injury).

Besides those things, work is busy and I'm trying to grow a side business so that I can afford to hire a person to run the day to day affairs. I'm still Vice President of the Board of Trustees for an International School here in Missoula and am President-Elect of the State Medical Group Management Association. Blah, blah, blah.

Christmas time always finds me a little misty-eyed, thinking of friends and family not with us anymore and of loved ones far away. But I am super excited to travel back to Indiana and spend Christmas with my family and the week after visiting friends and re-connecting.

More later.

Thursday, September 01, 2005

Utter Despair, Horror and Fury

That is what I feel. The complete feeling of hopelessness sank in yesterday when I realized there is nothing I can personally do to help all those starving and dying people in New Orleans and surrounding areas.

The stories and photos coming out of the gulf coast are horrific; people dying by the droves after being trapped in hotels, convention centers and in their own homes. This will surely go down as one of the worst mishandling of a disaster in our nation's history. We knew the storm was coming, we knew it was bad and yet a full 4 days after Katrina devastated coastal communities from Alabama through Louisiana we still don't have a coordinated effort to relieve the cities and people.

I find it despicable that our elected officials have been absent from this until today. Didn't they manage to call a special session of Congress to decide the fate of Terry Shiavo (the comatose woman whose feeding tube was to be removed) in something like 3 hours? And yet until late last night all we had were state legislators and governors trying to wrestle with this disaster? And it is just amazing to me that our President, who has turned the world against us, decided to fit in a "fly over" of the city after a fund raising event and said he was canceling his vacation to get back to Washington to deal with this issue...what a joke. I think when Russia's Vladimir Putin ignored the submarine crisis and was relatively absent during the Chechan incursion in the Moscow Opera House and the Beslan School our country pounded its chest, puffed up and pointed fingers and said that was terrible leadership. Well, what do we have to say for ourselves now?

Pitiful is all I can say. Pitiful that we can coordinate a war half a world away and yet can't figure out how to get water and food to trapped and starving people. The state of Texas at least sent 300 buses to New Orleans...what is the Federal government doing? This is a disaster of biblical proportion...snakes, alligators, disease and death. I am ashamed that all I can do is donate money to help....it is a very sad time for our country and the world.

Tuesday, August 30, 2005

Starting Over

That's what it seems to me, as if I'm starting over. My blogging life took a sabbatical this summer as my real life and times kept me from keeping up my online journal.

I've been on small planes, jets, and in boats...I've ridden in cars and on bicycles....I've traveled throughout Montana, Idaho, Oregon, Washington, Wyoming, Utah and Michigan...just about the only thing I haven't done since my last post is leave the country.

My folks came to visit and brought my two niece's, neither of whom had ever seen mountains before; we hunted for sapphires, watched bison in rut, fished the Alberton Gorge and explored Missoula together. My annual trek to the shores of Lake Michigan was especially memorable. I rode in RATPOD, a one day 157-mile bicycle ride in the Big Hole to benefit Camp Mak-a-Dream. I traveled to Portland, Moscow (the one in Idaho), Park City and Bozeman for ultimate Frisbee tournaments and got to spend the 4th of July at Flathead Lake...a pretty busy summer.

On the professional front I was elected to the President-Elect position of the Montana Medical Group Management Association (woo hoo) and also was selected to be the state representative for the American College of Medical Practice Executives. I'm still waiting for all the checks to start rolling in.

Western Montana has been hit hard once again by wildfires, unfortunately the most devastating fire (about 25 miles west of where I live) was man made. The only east-west interstate in the state was shut for three days as the fires raged around Alberton and west to St. Regis. The smoke and smell traveled to Missoula. I drove through the scene at 4:00 AM the morning the highway was opened and it was the most devastating and eerie scene I've ever witnessed; the fires were fully visible from the highway. Of course all this is miniscule in comparison to the devastation of the American gulf coast now occurring...my heart goes out to the peoples of Alabama, Mississippi and Louisiana.

Tuesday, May 24, 2005

Catching Up

It is unbelievable to me that I haven't posted since the end of March; I've started to post numerous times but found myself lacking the energy to write or ramble. I can't possibly write about everything and I doubt anyone would be interested in it even if I could. I'll make a feeble attempt to at least catch you up on the main high and low lights:

I just returned from a three day conference for work, the Montana chapter of the Medical Group Management Association (MGMA)...the significant event being I was elected to the leadership board. I also found out my presentations were accepted and I have now achieved the certification CMPE (Certified Medical Practice Executive)...whoa Nellie, I'm on fire now! Basically this means I have reached a certain level within the field of healthcare administration and I suppose I'm proud of that.

I've also been very busy with all my duties as a board member for the Missoula International School, a unique Spanish immersion school seeking IBO accreditation. I'm the chair of the personnel committee and that has been quite a learning experience and full of challenges. Several weeks ago the school had their annual fundraiser, a "Salsa ball" with a live and silent auction...it was a total blast and fun to interact with parents and the teachers, many of whom are from Latin and South America.

Last month I had a blast participating in the 3rd annual Clark Fork Coalition's Clark Fork River clean-up in downtown Missoula; I was a team leader and got to be on the river with my friends Jen, Karl, Trent (And his kids), Daniel, Jen and her son Cole hauling debris and litter out.

Also, earlier this month I had my first ever visitor outside of my family who came here just to see me and not to see a whole group of people. Brian Thinnes, who I've known for over 20 years, cam through for work and made a point of spending the night in Missoula. Our visit was way too short but super fun nonetheless. Brian is a great friend and a great person and I miss him and his family.

My puppy, Allie Taru, continues to grow and become a true companion...she can get under my skin with all her antics (like digging up my plants, chewing my eyeglasses, pulling all the toilet paper off the roll, getting in the trash, etc.) but I love having her as part of my family.We go on hikes, play tug of war and visit her favorite store, Go Fetch, every week. Go Fetch is an awesome place...they love dogs...and they have an awesome doggie bakery. Allie likes the peanut butter treats.

Three weekends ago I headed over to Moscow, Idaho for an Ultimate Frisbee tournament. It was the first year and the organizers struggled to get teams, but we had a blast and won the tourney. So this weekend I'll be heading to Bozeman, Montana for a big Ultimate tourney...the fourth one in a row I've attended; we won last year, the first time a team from Missoula ever won. It is still strange to me not to be in Indianapolis for Memorial day weekend, having a party to celebrate the Indy 500.

So that's it for tonight...I'll post a catching up part two tomorrow and try to get back into the swing of things.

Saturday, March 26, 2005

Why NOT To Lose Your Car Keys

Yesterday I thought I was a real man of leisure....I skipped out on work at noon and headed up to Snowbowl (our local ski hill 20 minutes from town) with two of my doctor buddies (who both take Fridays off) for an afternoon of snowboarding. We were all in great spirits and kept throwing quotes out like, "boy, it's really winter up here" as we drove up the mountain on perfectly clear dirt roads that normally would still be under plenty of snow. "Man, I'm glad I layered" and other such sarcastic comments abound...but it has snowed up in the mountains off and on all week so we thought it would be fun to slide down the mountain on a flatboard.

And we had a grand time....the snow up top was actually pretty damn nice, and these guys are both much more advanced than I am so it was a hard day of fun and learning for me....we'd do one groomer run and then one tree run; the first tree run was actually just my style, nice wide open areas to turn in and great powder. As the day progressed we kept getting into tighter and tighter tree lines....mentally I shut down on a few of them and had to sort of 'slide' down and out of the trees. Once or twice I bit it pretty hard, either hitting a tree or falling into a tree well (the latter can be very dangerous, but we stayed close to the inbounds and to each other). We had an awesome time and ended the day taking a long groomer run that unfortunately was pretty much all hard-packed ice of the bone jarring variety.

We decided to have one slice of pizza and a bloody Mary each, both things being Snowbowl specialties. We spent about 45 minutes chewing the fat on the sun-drenched deck of The Last Run Inn, snowbowl's quaint little restaurant/bar and then headed down the mountain to the dirt parking lot near town where people all park who are car pooling or hitching up to Snowbowl. The lot is day parking only. I guess it was about 5:00 PM when we got down there and started unloading from Colin's car. I reached into my pocket for my keys and they weren't there....the pocket was unzipped. Panic seized me as I began searching all my pockets....no keys. We searched Colin's car....no keys. I re-traced my steps and thought maybe they fell out of my pocket when I was getting my wallet. So my other friend, John said, "no worries, do you have a spare set at home and a way to get into your house"? Why yes, I do keep a hidden key and I've got a spare set. John offered to drive me to my house and take me back so we set off in renewed calm, eating lemon poppyseed bread and reliving the fun of the day. We got to my house, I opened the door and went to my key drawer...no spare keys inside. We spent the next half hour looking before John realized he had to get home to his wife and two kids...he again said, "why don't you come with me, take my truck and after you find your spares you can come and get me and we'll take care of everything...no worries". So we drove the 20 minutes back to his house and he gave me his truck.

By now I'd already missed Ultimate Frisbee pick-up, where I was supposed to distribute rosters for the league which starts next Wednesday. I drove back home and spent the next two hours tearing my house apart looking for the spare keys...nowhere to be found. I recalled giving them to my brother when he visited last fall, so I called him hoping for a clue...none was to be had. Finally, at about 8:30 PM, I called AAA and explained my predicament: No problem, was AAA's response...we can call a locksmith and have him meet you at your car, get you in and make you a new key...And because you are a Plus member, we'll pay for the first $100.00 in expenses. Awesome, thought I. So I drove back up to the dirt lot and waited...listening to the games on a some seriously bad AM reception. By 9:30 I began to get worried so I went to call AAA back...cell phone battery dead. So I drove to the nearby gas station and called the toll free number..."Oh, didn't anyone call you back? The locksmith can't come now,,,they can't come until tomorrow morning" Uh, no...the only call I got before my cell went dead was a confirmation call..what am I supposed to do now? This is a day parking lot only! They will tow my car and it is a AWD car so they will probably damage it when they do. PAUSE PAUSE PAUSE. "Can you hold on Mr. O'Connor"? (I get nervous when people call me Mr.). Well. the only option is if you find someone on your own, we'll reimburse you $100.00 of the cost.
Enter Missoula Security and Locksmith...a small Mom & Pop operation I found who got to the lot at 10:50, 10 minutes after I pleaded my case.
Peter, the Pop of the company, has been opening up cars and homes for 16 years. He was a salty dog who looked like he just got out of bed. My owner's manual didn't have the key code inside so Peter had to do a series of maneuvers to get a key to work...but when he unlocked the door the alarm went off, because I have remote entry that activates an alarm and will not allow the ignition to work. So it took him about 45 minutes to get a key made and another half hour to get the car to start....It cost me $150.00. peter told me the AAA certified outfit in town is notorious for turning down jobs but not usually late Friday night jobs, which allow them to exceed their AAA approved charges...he said it would have cost me about $300.00 to use them.
So now everytime I lock the car, when I unlock it the alarm goes off and I have a series of tricks to use to get past the alarm. I'll be heading to the local subaru dealer this AM to try and deal with that.

The silver lining is I saved $150.00 by getting screwed by AAA...the cloud is I wasted an entire evening and probably the better part of today because I am an idiot and lost my keys.

Just thought I'd share

Monday, March 21, 2005

Big Sky Fun

This winter has been a rough one in Montana...our snow fall is well below what is needed and the lack of snow hasn't helped the economy either (Montana's number one industry is tourism). You see, Montana is extremely dry in the summer, even arid,and so we depend on the slow melt of high altitude snowpack to keep the water flowing. Unfortunately the mild winter combined with early warm weather all but melted the snow pack around here and left other high altitude areas in Montana and Idaho also in perilous positions.

Knowing all this, I was worried about the annual Big Sky Urology conference that took place last week down in Big Sky, Montana; Big Sky is about an hour south of Bozeman and 4 hours or so from Missoula. Even before I moved to Montana I came out to play at the conference because my friends (two of which are now my employers) attended the conference sessions in the morning and afternoon with skiing sandwiched between. Big Sky is a beautiful resort and about as close as Montana gets to a Colorado style resort with condos, swanky homes and restaurants and big elevation drops. Our friends Kevin & Heather also come out to the conference, from Michigan, so I was thinking they would be spending their time hanging out in hotel rooms instead of on the slopes. But the snow started falling...and kept falling all last week; by the time I left Missoula on Friday night to join in the fun, the snow between here and Big Sky was falling so hard at times I had to pull off the road because of the white out conditions. In a little over three days Big Sky received over 40 inches of snow.

I arrived pretty late on Friday but still had enough time to gab the ears off og Heather & Kevin and catch up on some pictures of their awesome kids. Saturday after breakfast, Kevin, Karl and I headed up the mountain to get some runs in before the Simmons' boys raced in the grand slalom event. The snow was fabulous...I couldn't believe just a few days earlier I was in short sleeves back in Missoula!

After watching Nick and Alex race, along with Ruby, the daughter of another Missoula friend, Kevin, Karl and I headed up the mountain to do a few quick shots through a tree line and down a nice bump run with great snow. Kevin and Karl were on their tele skis and I was on my board; it was the best snow I've played in all year! We broke for lunch and Karl switched to his board; Kevin took the afternoon off...after 4 days of skiing he felt like a break.

In the afternoon Karl switched to his board and we headed up the Challenger lift to get some big snow and steep runs (up here)...well, Karl got the mountain, the mountain got me; he is awesome on a board and looks like the guys you see in those extreme adventure movies, whereas I look like a duck out of water. I'll admit it, the first run I was scared as all get out...just the entry into the run was steeper than most anything I'd been on all year and we had to navigate a steep pitch full of trees to get to the nose. Karl showed me the way, but only after allowing me to make the mistake of thinking I could lead a line I'd never been down...resulting in me having to hop back up the mountainside to avoid heading down the wrong side of the ridge. We got two long runs in before m legs had enough and so headed back inside for a nice hot tub.

It was a short, sweet trip as we opted to leave Big sky, amidst another snow storm, yesterday morning. It was great to see Kevin & Heather and to play in the snow, even if it was just for a day.

Monday, February 07, 2005

Fun Weekend In Eugene

When this intrepid test-taker last posted, I had just finished tramping about the University area of Eugene in search of good eats. Now For the rest of the story...

On Saturday morning I walked the three blocks to the offices of Agate Resources, the proctor site for the early 2005 ACMPE certification exam. The exam consisted of two parts, a 3 question essay exam and a 175 question multiple-choice exam. The essay exam went first and it was fairly easy, three situational questions requiring an outline, assumptions, an opening, body and conclusion. I took all three hours allowed and was very satisfied with my responses. Although the test was conducted online, as soon as I pressed the 'submit' button, my responses were put into a database, my contact infomration was transformed into a numbered ID and then the results were sent to 9 different human graders (3 for each question); it will take 8 weeks for me to find out if I passed. the second part of the exam was a different story, the questions were very difficult on the whole and frankly I was not prepared. There were 5 people taking the exam and I was the last person to finish (I have never been the last to finish any test I've taken). I was scared to press the submit button because, unlike the essay test, results were promised instantly. I was nervous but fortunately I got 83% and passed.
So my work was done and I had the afternoon to play. I took a self guided tour of the University of Oregon, where I saw the statue that inspired the Simpsons Springfield statue, toured the Andy Warhol exhibition at the Jordan Schnitzer Museum of Art and stood at Hayward Field, site of the birth of Nike and home to the legend of Prefontaine. Later, my friends Ryan & Amy Sportel picked me up and we enjoyed a wonderful dinner and conversation at a great Italian restaurant. Ryan and Amy both work as RN's at Sacred Heart Hospital and they work nights, so our time was cut short...not to worry, we met at 7:30 in the morning for breakfast at a funky Vegan place called Morning Glory. As I munched on my exceptionally yummy brekkie, I couldn't help but think how much my friends Garrett & Teresa Hart would love Morning Glory. It was great to see Ryan and Amy, they are awesome people and I miss them.

I heard about the Smith Family Bookstore just off campus, where over 300,000 used books pile from floor to ceiling so I walked over to see for myself...sure enough, the bookstore didn't disapoint. There were so many books in the religion section alone that I could have spent all day. It was the one real bit of funk I found in the campus village..the rest were your typical college food/bar/copy/coffee shop establishments.

Eugene was cloudy, cold and damp but GREEN, something I sorely miss. I'd like to go back and explore some more.

Friday, February 04, 2005

Roaming the Streets of Eugene

It's no wonder my life is still unsettled, I can't even decide where to eat dinner! I arrived in Eugene, Oregon this afternoon at 4:00 PM, a day ahead of my certification exam for the American College of Medical Practice Executives. After a $22.00 taxi ride I arrived at the Best Western New Oregon Hotel, located directly across the street from the University of Oregon campus.

I can't wait to explore the campus, which I hope to do late tomorrow afternoon. But tonight the mission was to find a cool and unique place to eat...something I always like to do whenever I hit a college town. There is something about the atmosphere and the energy of a college town that is attractive to me and so I left my hotel room set on finding an out of the way culinary surprise. I walked about a mile into the old downtown area, skirting the campus and walking past several beautiful sorority and fraternity houses. There was a tasty looking Thai place called Sweet Basil, a wood-fired pizza and pasta place called Ambrosia and a funky looking bistro called Zenon....I snubbed them all, looking for something more. I roamed on, finding a hole in the wall pseudo-Asian joint called The Jail which boasted the best teriyaki in town...and moved on down the road. I past Chinese, Mexican and Italian restaurants before realizing I had been walking for almost two hours as my mind wandered from food to college memories to family and friends and to my little puppy....so i settled on a non-descript Chinese resatuarant called House of Chen.

The House of Chen was not what I was looking for; the food was decent, the service was quick and it was only three blocks from my hotel. But it was ironic that I sepnt all that time roaming and searching and passing up great place after great place before settling on something easy, nearby and known...I wonder if that is a metaphor for anything else?

Sunday, January 30, 2005

I'm A Daddy!

Yesterday I got a puppy! She's an 8 week-old Australian Shepherd mix (read: Mutt) that is cute as a button. She came from the Life Savers Animal Rescue organization out of Polson, Montana, a really cool goup that saves animals ready to be euthanized. I've been thinking of getting a dog for a long time, so when I saw her cute little mug on the internet, the deal was as good as done.

Her foster family lives in the Mission Valley, outside of St. Ignatius, a beautiful area surrounded by mountains in the heart of the Flathead Nation. Amy and her husband Jovin have helped to rescue about 80 animals in the past year and their yard has dogs, horses and donkeys in it, all happy to be loved. They live on a road named Allison, so i might just name my new puppy Allison

Friday, January 28, 2005

I'm So '80s

The other day I was bantering with some friends about the recent movie, Napolean Dynamite...one of my buddies (we'll call him Mr. Grumpy for now) just loves the movie and from the osund opf it he has seen it multiple times. I bought the movie, a strange thing for me to do, at Costco of all places on a complete whim. I'd heard so many *good* things about it that I decided I had to have it. The movie is funny, but the hype was such that it did not live up to my expectations.

Anyhow, there is a song on the soundtrack titled, The Promise by the band When In Rome and it is this song that led to all the banter between a bunch of nerdy 40 year olds. That song immediately triggered a memory for me and later that night I dug through some boxes and found a whole box of cassette tapes, most of them from about 1980 - 1990. The tape I was looking for was part of a series made for me by an old girlfriend, Ela. She made me tapes while we were going out and we continued to exchange tapes for several years after I graduated from Purdue.

Looking at the names on the tape covers was like traveling back in time, man was that fun. So I thought I'd share the contents of the tape with , The Promise on it so you can see just how much of a geek I was/am. We thought these bands were so "alternative" at the time; pretty funny.

This tape is titled, But Is It Fast Enough So We Can Fly Away (clever)

Side A

1. Prefab Sprout – The Golden Calf
2. TMBG – Puppethead
3. The Proclaimers – Sky & Akes the Soul
4. The Railway Children – Another Town
5. Wire – Kidney Bingos
6. Lloyd Cole & the Commotions – Mister Malcontent
7. Go-Betweens – Bye Bye Pride
8. Black – Finder
9. Morrissey – Sister, I’m A Poet
10. Hue & Cry – Strength To Strength
11. The Grapes of Wrath – Backward Town
12. It’s Immaterial – Space

Side B

1. The Style Council – Confessions of A Pop Group
2. The Bible – Crystal Palace
3. New Order – Touched By the Hand of God
4. The Connells – Over There
5. The Wild Swans – Bible Dreams
6. The Wooden Tops – Wheels Turning
7. Friends Again – South of Love
8. The Silencers – Gods Gift
9. R.E.M. – Exhuming McCarthy
10. The Colourfield - Confession
11. The Close Lobsters - Foxheads

Some good and not so good stuff on there. I'll post one a day for kicks and grins

Monday, January 10, 2005

Relief Effort Results...So Far

Wow! What a wild and terrific 72 hours!

What started as a small idea to help a local person get to Sri Lanka to aid in the relief efforts has turned into a massive outpouring of support and assistance. Bjorn and the folks at Big Sky Brewery had to literally shut down operations to handle the influx of donations, telephone calls and volunteers. In the past 72 hours the idea of sending one person has taken off; Big Sky is committed to sending 8 and possibly more! For my part, all I did was send out a couple of email and make a few telephone calls...the rest all goes to those who responded.

The amount of antibiotics, over the counter medicines, bandages and other medical supplies donated is astounding. From individuals to doctor’s offices & surgery centers, we collected IV tubing, sutures, syringes, gauze, antibiotics, nipples, gloves, sterile wipes and more. On Thursday, the local Dollar rental donated a full-sized cargo van to transport the supplies to Spokane, Washington where a group of paramedics sorted everything by priority...the thought being they'd take it all to the airport and try to get as much on as they could, with the most important items going first. Amazingly, the airline allowed 100% of the supplies to be loaded onto the plane and Darrin Coldiron, the first of 8 volunteers, headed to Sri Lanka. Once there, The American Red Cross’s operations in country and a customs official will meet Darrin and expedite him through. Another Missoula connection (through rugby) lined up 4 host families and a dedicated driver to transport Darrin and the supplies to the hard hit areas. A satellite telephone and laptop were also donated so Darrin and future volunteers can coordinate with other relief efforts and keep us informed as to what is going on and how we might help more. Here's the most astounding news of all, even though we only asked for supplies, through local efforts (especially the 24 hour radio fundraiser) over $26,000.00 was donated in 24 hours and the Paul Allen foundation has now gotten involved.

It is an incredible testament to the goodness and generosity of this community.

Next Wednesday Bjorn will be taking a second load of supplies to Spokane: Children’s medicines, water purification and antibiotics are still needed. Please spread the word and, as before, any interested party can contact me via email or telephone (329-5651 direct dial) or Bjorn at Big Sky (549-2777 x 101). Also, there is room for two more volunteers willing to go in-country. Volunteers need a strong medical background (paramedic or higher is recommended) and if they also have construction experience it would be great. All expenses will be paid. There is a screening process already set-up.

On a personal note deepest gratitude goes out to my friends in the Ultimate and medical communities who rallied to my request for help; there are so many of you who give and give so I really appreciate the extra efforts.

Oh, and Darrin now has a blog of his own you can follow Darrin's Blog

Thursday, January 06, 2005

Tsunami Aid Locally

The last two days have been a whirlwind for me and I'm really excited about a local effort to help the survivors of the Tsunami in Sri Lanka. It all started as an idea a guy named Bjorn Nabozny had and steamrolled into what it is and will become. Bjorn works for Big Sky Brewing here in Missoula, a local brewery that has met with some success in the past two years. One of their part-time employees is a paramedic and firefighter and Bjorn had an idea to send him to Sri Lanka to help the American Red Cross there...he thought it would be worthwhile for Big Sky to pay his expenses to get there and called our office to see if Dr. Guth would be interested in donating some medical supplies...I happened to get the call by happenstance and thought it sounded like a good idea. I sent an email out to about 50 people, including 15 doctors or so and asked them to consider donating supplies, water purification tablets and medicine. I was hoping to get a few items. Within 24 hours I had so many donations that it took two loads in my car to get them to the drop location. And it wasn't just that, the word spread like lightning all over Missoula; within 48 hours of announcing they were sponsoring a volunteer, one volunteer had turned into 8 and the operation became full-time. Big Sky stopped production yesterday so all employees could help sort, pack and divide supplies...4 families in Sri Lanka volunteered to help transport and house the volunteers, the Red Cross arranged for the volunteers to be met at the airport and to get expedited through customs and a village was identified as the base site for aid efforts.
While we can't forget all those in Africa, the Balkans, Central Asia and here at home who are needy and in much need of aid, there is no denying how this disaster has rallied the hearts of everyone I've come into contact with...this local effort has really struck a chord with people who seem to be excited about a local connection. A local web development firm is putting together a website to help and the brother of one of the volunteers is creating a blog to track the efforts.
When I dropped the supplies I gathered off at the brewery, they were already loading a cargo van full to take over to Spokane (3 hours west) where they will be loaded onto a plane tomorrow morning for Sri Lanka.
Now, because of the response, Big sky is working on setting up an ongoing supply chain to Sri Lanka and I've volunteered to be part of the effort. It's a drop in the bucket, but there are an awful lot of drops gathering out there.