Fire Evacs

Smoke from the fire, as seen from 2nd Street NE and 36th Avenue.

Smoke from the fire, as seen from 2nd Street NE and 36th Avenue.

Tuesday’s fire hit close to home – literally. For the first time that I can remember, there were some evacuations ordered in Great Falls.

People living on the extreme north side of Skyline neighborhood – along with residents of Countryside Village just a little to the east – were ordered to evacuate at about 6 p.m. last night, as the fire and smoke from a field fire got closer.

The fire, believed to have been sparked by farm equipment, started before noon several miles north of there, along Vinyard Road.

My house is only about six blocks away from the evacuated area, and while I was at work, my wife was watching scores of people driving past our house TOWARD the fire, despite warnings from GFPD, GFFR, and others to *not* go near the area.

The evacuation order was called off a few hours later, and thankfully the fire did not actually reach any of the houses.

And you know those “Safety Check-In” things that Facebook (and Google) sometimes activate after natural disasters or terrorist attacks? Apparently, Facebook automatically created one for “The Wildfire in Great Falls, Montana,” based (as far as I can tell) on the surge of people in the area using trigger words such as “fire” and “evacution.”

safetycheck

Here’s the article with more details + video of the fire.

Photos of the fire from KRTV friends:

14 Years!

Today marks 14 years since I arrived in Great Falls. I truly can not put into words how happy it makes me. A few months ago, at about 13 years + 8 month, this officially became the place where I have lived longer than anywhere else in my life (although that previous record was set during two periods in one hellish location).

As a military brat who then spent 20 years on active duty, “home” was never a tangible, concrete thing for me – I had a vague understanding of what it meant, and knew that other people had a “home,” but until I arrived in Great Falls, the true nature and feeling of “home” was something I honestly never thought I would feel.

If you know me, or have been checking out my blog over the years, you know how much I love Great Falls, and how I fell in love with this community literally within days of arriving.

I believe the first meal I had in Great Falls was at the Apple Mill Grill (in the mall parking lot); it became Fiesta En Jalisco a few years later. The next evening, I had Howard’s Pizza – ’nuff said.

Thank you so much, Great Falls and Montana, for being the only place that I have ever lived that truly feels like – and is – home.

Here is one of the very first photos I took after arriving in Great Falls (on a then-fancy 640x360px camera phone!).

bigsky

Please, Please

Hand-written sign posted above the urinals in an eatery – any guesses which one?

NOTE: do not let the sign discourage you – trust me, this place has the BEST BURGERS in Cascade County.
Also kick-ass French fries, and an internet-connected jukebox that lets me groove to my heart’s content.
PLUS super-friendly service. Seriously.

Yes, the sign is admittedly pretty yucky, but I ain’t picking places to eat based on the restrooms.

1-urinals

Dog Dress

Spotted this at Petcetera (I think?) on 10th Avenue South a few weeks ago.

"Do I look pretty now?"

“Do I look pretty now?”

I don’t know what’s better – the look on the poor dog’s face, or some of the comments it got when I shared it on Facebook with the caption “omg”:

Frankie Hopkins: Omg indeed, $18 for a dog dress is outrageous!!
MontiLee Stormer: Who hates their dog that much and why isn’t the ASPCA involved?
Nate Smith: KNOW A FEW REZ DOGS THAT WOULD KNOT THAT SHIT UP SO FAST.

I absolutely love my Facebook friends.

But remember – if you’re ever in the market for stylish CAT clothes, you absolutely must must must visit the uber-classic Cat Prin site. It’s been…15 years? – and it still absolutely delights me.

A Facebook post about “faggots” in Great Falls

This screenshot is making the rounds in Great Falls today:

mikelenahan

Did Big Mike really post this on Facebook? Let’s consider some of the possibilities.

1. Big Mike left his computer (or phone, tablet, etc) unattended somewhere, and one of his buddies did it as a joke. Hey, it happens. People do that sometimes when a friend leaves their phone on a desk or table and steps away, or is distracted for a few minutes. I’d put the likelihood of this at about…25%

2. Big Mike’s Facebook account was hacked. This is within the realm of possibility. Likelihood: 10%

3. Big Mike did indeed post this, but he meant it in a joking way; you know, making fun of haters, mocking them. But if this is true, then he forgot to give any clue that it was a joke. Likelihood: benefit of the doubt here – let’s say 35%

4. Big Mike did post it, and absolutely meant every word. Odds: 30%

5. ISIS created a fake Facebook profile for someone named “Mike Lenahan” in Great Falls several years ago, and is using this weekend’s Big Sky Pride event to finally launch a hateful attack. Likelihood: Nope.

The screenshot has been passed around to several people on Facebook, and someone sent it to Joe Briggs, one of the Cascade County Commissioners, and also to the Cascade County Undersheriff. That’s because Big Mike apparently is an officer at the Cascade County Detention Center.

If Big Mike really did post this, and meant it, then it is indeed disturbing: someone who uses the words “faggots” and “homo” in this manner who is in charge of supervising inmates…um, that is not good. Imagine a jail employee (or any public employee, in fact) posting something similar about (for instance) black people: “Damn niggers all over Great Falls…”

Is Mike entitled to his opinions? Absolutely! Is he entitled to voice them or share them online? Of course!

I get it: some people don’t like gay people, for some reason(s). Maybe fear, maybe disgust, maybe repressed homosexual desires – whatever.

But bashing gay people and calling them names simply because they exist? Sorry, but this is the year 2016, and the days when that was acceptable thankfully are long, long gone.

BUT. Public employees – paid with tax dollars, working for and on behalf of all citizens – are usually held to higher standards of public discourse. So people being outraged by Big Mike’s post (assuming, of course, that he is responsible) are justified in their anger. If someone saw a similar Facebook post written by, say, a barista, or farmer, or insurance agent, well…the reaction might have been disgust, or anger, or sadness, etc.

But a public employee in a law enforcement role posting something like this…that’s a bit different – as evidenced by what appears to be the reply from Joe Briggs, according to this screenshot:

briggs

IF this is all true. Remember, this is just a screenshot – we don’t know what kind of comments or explanation exist below that post.

PS: And whether this specific instance is true or not, it highlights the importance of Pride events. Similar to the civil rights movement in the 60s – an entire group of people who have been marginalized, de-humanized, criminalized, attacked, harassed, beaten, and literally killed, finally standing up to say “No more!” And joined in their struggle by people who were/are not black/gay/etc.

The word “pride” does not necessarily mean “pride” in the sense that someone is literally proud of something they have no control over (being black, being gay, etc), but rather as a counter to the word that society has used to label them for so long: shame.

(UPDATE: in response to some of the comments on my Facebook post about this — even if this is true, I don’t think he should lose his job. Education/training, yes, but not fired)

UPDATE: I have confirmed a couple of things: first, that he posted this NOT out of hatred, bigotry, etc — he meant it in a joking way for someone who is close to him who is gay. Second, his employer did look into it and found no evidence that any laws or personnel regulations were broken. I have also been assured that he is an outstanding detention officer with no reported incidents of unfair treatment to any person or group.

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