Please help us welcome our latest addition to the Alpine Crew! Bryon joins us all the way from Arizona. Born in Tucson in 1982, he not only has a passion for working with his hands, but also has knack for outdoor adventures like hiking, fishing, etc. – making Billings, MT a perfect fit! A big folk/indie/bluegrass fan, some of his go-to artists include the likes of Poor Man’s Poison, Barns Courtney, and the Steel Drivers. His favorite film is the 2000’s remake, “Gone In 60 Seconds.” Married 8 wonderful years and counting, Bryon is Dad to three children, ages 11, 4, and 1. His biggest life lesson / motto he lives by is, “You don’t have to be perfect; you just have to try.” Welcome to the family, Bryon!
Steven Brotzel –
Say, “Hello,” to our resident bachelor, Mr. Steven Brotzel. A Billings-born-and-raised country buck, Steven spends as much time outdoors as possible when he’s not learning to help save the day here for our Alpine family. His go-to leisure includes as much fishing and camping as he can get! His trusty partner in crime? A faithful French Bulldog, Sunny. Steven is a music lover of all kinds, EXCEPT country (who’d have thunk?!), and major sci-fi fan. His go-to mantra is, “Live long and prosper.” Born into a family of tradesman, he is following suit in joining our longstanding crew as a plumbing apprentice. Welcome aboard, Steven!
Patrick Thompson –
Another Colorado transplant joining the Alpine family is apprentice, Patrick Thompson. Originally from Steamboat Springs, CO, Patrick is an avid outdoorsman who enjoys all kinds of adventure from fishing to camping to snowboarding and everything in between. He is a husband of four years sharing 2 dogs, Ellie & Olive, with wife, Jysten. With a background in landscape irrigation, a quick uptake in this change of trade, a life motto echoing Yoda himself – “Do or do not. There is no try.” – and with nicknames like, “Patty Cakes” and “Patty Mayonnaise” – we are beyond thrilled to welcome Patrick to the team!
Ah, winter. A perceivable wonderland of snowy dreamscapes, adventurous fun like skiing and ice skating over a frozen community pond, cozy nights indoors with the likes of hot chocolate sprinkled with slowly melting mini-mallows, SUPER cute clothes to bundle up in and happiness for days as we inch closer and closer to the holidays. If you are from a place like Montana and are familiar with what experiencing winter is really like, you may have another picture in mind. The neighbors all out alongside you scraping ice off of cars and warming them up to avoid wear and tear in the blistering, icy frigidness of the morning temps, the strangers you will stop to help who have gotten stuck in the most inconvenient places throughout town, the dreamy white blanket of snow turning into a freckled and dirty looking slush from traffic and plows, ah yes – the plows, grey skies and the collective grumpiness that comes from such little sunshine. Don’t get me wrong – there is much to be adored about our winters here in MT (especially if you are the outdoorsy type), but it’s not without it’s downers. We’ve gathered a few tips and tricks to keep those best-life vibes going strong through the bitterness of our lovely lack of sunshine.
Plug It In
We all know the significance of sunlight concerning a healthy lifestyle. Vitamin D is essential to keeping bones, joints, and teeth healthy, as well as the benefits concerning both mental and emotional health. Lack of vitamin of D can not only kickstart a terrible domino effect of negative effects on the body, but it can also be the catalyst for mental/emotional irregularity. Consistent and uninterrupted sunlight is not something we, here in Montana, get to indulge in the same as other parts of the world. So, what can we do to make up for it? How about we try plugging in a little happy and letting good old technology do its thing? Happy Lamps are a surefire way into the benefits of sunlight without any of the harmful UV rays. By stimulating a network of sensors in the body, these lamps can help to increase the body’s natural production of the happy hormone – serotonin. In turn, this effect on the hormones also triggers a balance in melatonin, which helps to regulate sleep. So not only can the Happy Lamp support a positive active lifestyle, it can also promote a healthy circadian rhythm. Happy Lamps also come with a price tag varying anywhere from around $50.00 all the way up to around $3000.00 – depending on personal preferences.
The benefits of Vitamin D are hard to ignore. Along with what we listed above, this is also an important piece of the puzzle concerning the immune system. Although there are several dietary sources of Vitamin D, modern farming practices, transport times, and storage all further the depletion of nutrients in our grocery store foods. Fact of the matter is: our food does not provide the same nutrition today that it did 50 years ago. While there is no out-supplementing a poor diet, if you are not supplementing the chances of being deficient in something is extremely high! When reaching for supplementation, there are a few things to keep in mind.
Is it a naturally sourced / clean supplement as opposed to a synthetic?
What is the nutritional value of the vitamin in each serving of your supplement?
Are there any additives (not clean!) or other ingredients that could trigger adverse effects? (Allergies, intolerances, etc.)
It is no secret that we live in a day and age where self-care is a primary focus in many people’s routine. With a plethora of resources available through the vast number of connections we have at hand (libraries, online platform like YouTube/Audible/Spotify/etc.), discovering the best suited form of self-care can be quite the adventure! Not every resource is going to a perfect fit for every person in the same way. Designating time each day (whether it be 5 minutes or hours) to focus in refueling and refocusing can be a game-changer! With the fast-paced, instant gratification world we live in, it can be incredibly easy to overlook how empty our cups are until it is too late. For each of us to be able to give our best to those we love the most, we must, first, be at our very best! (They deserve the best of us, not what’s left of us.) Whether it be a peaceful meditation, a creative project that allows a free expression of what you are feeling, physical activity & exercise, etc. – go ahead and dip your toes in to find out what’s comfy!
One of the most beautiful, gratitude-inducing factors of being a Montanan, is the freedom the thoroughly enjoy the open outdoors. Yes, even in winter! From the simple joys of building front yard snowman with their charcoal eyes keeping close watch on the neighborhood fun, to the extreme indulgence of adventure with the likes of the 15 different skiing/snowboarding areas we have access to – there is no shortage of fun to be had! (Have you heard about Skijoring?!) If braving the bitter cold for a day’s worth of smiles is not your perfect idea of paradise, no stress! In fact, you can experience quite the opposite when you visit one of our 15 different hot spring locations throughout the state. Ice fishing, ice climbing (we dare you), fat biking, snowmobiling – the list goes on and on! Also, for when physical exertion is at the bottom of your to-do list, you can book your very own sleigh ride in 7 different locations or even a private stagecoach tour through the winter-wonderland that Yellowstone National Park becomes this time of year. Bed & breakfasts, resorts, ranches, breweries/distilleries, and the food – oh goodness, the food. National Geographic even says, “Good food reveals a lot about any destination and nowhere is that more true than good ol’ Montana.” Whatever your favorite flavor of fun may be, winters in Montana have plenty to offer!
The downside to winter in these parts can certainly be amplified by a lack of attention to preparation. The last thing anybody wants to deal with this time of year (especially as holidays approach) is the added stress, expense, or time necessary for home and vehicle repair! Don’t be your own worst enemy and get those maintenance checklists out of the way asap. How’s your vehicle running? Are your tires prepared for the slick, slippery road conditions? Have you checked your home’s heating systems to ensure they are working properly? Do they need cleaning or changing of necessary filters? Seasonal maintenance checks are a must for keeping the headaches at bay! How about sealing those drafty windows and doors? Do you have a generator that has been checked recently to ensure it is in working order? Some extra little tips we recommend are simple, but lifesavers:
Keeping a warm blanket, hand warmers, and long/thick clothing in your vehicle for emergencies, along with an emergency road kit.
Allowing yourself enough time to warm up vehicles, scraping any snow or ice completely off (don’t want to be at fault for another driver’s broken windshield). We all know winter weather brings longer travel times and planning ahead can make all the difference in your day!
Whatever your idea of a good time may be, do not let anybody have you believing that it has to stop when winter arrives – at least not in Montana. If we missed your favorite winter to-do here, be sure to let us know what it is! Visit us on Facebook @AlpinePlumbing or leave us a message on our www.alpinebillings.com. Tune in next week to learn a little more about the madness behind the scenes at our Alpine home base office!
It is no secret that this time of year brings with it many reasons to smile in good cheer; From the holidays that come to quick and are gone too soon to the quality time with friends/family, from the luxurious blanket of glittering white snowfall to the coziness of bundling up inside and away from the bitter, frosty air, etc. – there is much warmth & splendor to be had, with gratitude in full force. The bright side of this season is, unfortunately and undeniably, not the same experience for all.
A report from the U.S. Department of Housing & Urban Development found that 580,466 people experienced homelessness in the United States on a single night in 2020, an increase of 12,751 people, or 2.2 percent, from 2019. Overall, 66.7% of the total homeless population of the United States is single individuals, with the remaining 33.3% being families. According to the USDA, more than 38 million people, including 12 million children, in the United States are food insecure with the global pandemic having worsened matters for many.
While most families are stressing over what to cook for Christmas dinner and the ever-increasing costs of their children’s wish lists, it is hard to ignore the growing number of families who’s stresses amount to their next meal or shelter from the winter cold. With the hard truth of how much help is needed far and wide, there are many ways we can join forces to share a little love, a little light and help to ignite a whole lot of hope for those who may otherwise be running out.
We’ve gathered a few ideas to share with you today that will hopefully inspire a few more people who may have the extra time and resources to amplify their spirit of giving, and who want to be the example of selflessness this holiday season. ❆
Programs like Toys for Tots and GoUnite Gives exist with a simple mission at heart of all their action: provide tangible hope and happiness to disadvantaged families. Since 1947, Toys for Tots has proudly helped deliver smiles to over 270 million children with over 604 million toys. With help from local communities, contributions to these programs can be made through many different avenues. From peer-to-peer crowd funding to virtual/digital donations, direct contribution of goods or financial sponsorship – these programs make giving back an incredibly easy task.
CANNED FOOD COLLECTION
By visiting FeedingAmerica.com, you can locate your nearest community food bank and contact information. The Feeding America nationwide network of food banks secures and distributes 4.3 billion meals each year through food pantries and meal programs throughout the United States and leads the nation to engage in the fight against hunger. Drives are held year-round and are an important source of non-perishable food for the network of food programs that often collect through schools, offices, community groups and places of worship.
“ADOPT” A FAMILY/CHILD
You can sign up for Adopt-a-Family as either a recipient or a donor. Most Adopt-a Family programs are run by charities or faith-based organizations, often at the local level. You can find an Adopt-a-Family program by contacting local organizations, signing up with a volunteering website, or doing a web search. A quick glance around your local grocery store may bring your attention to one of the many Angel Trees that are a part of the Salvation Army’s mission to give back. The Angel Tree program helps provide Christmas gifts for hundreds of thousands of children around the country each year. How it works: Once a child or senior adult has been registered and accepted as an Angel, their Christmas wish list is shared with donors in your community who purchase gifts of new clothing and/or toys.
Every volunteer experience is different, but one resounding commonality is that there is no shortage of help needed! 51% of food programs in America rely entirely on volunteers for operation. FreeFood.org has an actively updated list of community resources for families facing food insecurity, and hosts contact information with addresses for local programs / hosts for free food pantries. Montana Rescue Mission provides emergency, temporary, and rehabilitative care for those experiencing hunger and homelessness, and are always open to accepting volunteers! Billings Food Bank, Family Services and Community Hope of Laurel, and Kirk’s Grocery are just a few of our pantry locations here in Billings, MT. If you or someone you know would like to volunteer or need assistance, contact info can be found on any local listing website or these pantry host websites directly.
DELIVERING CARDS TO NURSING HOMES
Despite our best efforts, the process of aging is something we all must endure. While nursing homes are a wonderful means of assistance and fine-tuned personal care, it is no secret that these housing facilities can often be lonely & quiet – ESPECIALLY during the holidays. Imagine the happiness and love that one must experience at the kindest of stranger taking time to wish them a warm, joyful holiday! Whether it be a classroom activity for our school age youth, a family project, or a random act of kindness from your individual self – this kind of selflessness is the kind that ripples good fortune well beyond our given sights.
SHOVELING WALKWAYS FOR NEIGHBORS
Yes, snowfall can be a beautiful sight. However, it is the painstaking removal of said beauty that can bring its own set of struggles. Shoveling, ice removal, scraping windshields, etc. – everyone’s favorite winter past time, right? WRONG. As much as we anticipate this time of year, there is no denying the extra work that goes into simple day to day function in winter. Shoveling snow, as innocent as it may seem, does harbor its own unique physical dangers. Unlike conventional exercise, shoveling is usually done without a warm-up and can cause sudden increase in blood pressure / heart rate. Additionally, cold air may cause constriction of blood vessels, including coronary arteries, and decrease oxygen supply to the heart. Muscle, ligament, tendon, and other soft tissue injuries topped the list of snow shoveling mishaps. Among these, lower back injuries were common. If you find yourself out braving the frigid air to make your foot traffic more reliable & secure, and if time allows, perhaps the kindness of beating your elderly neighbors to the punch might just spare them an unforeseen trip the ER.
PAY IT FORWARD
For most of us, when we hear the words, “Pay it forward,” we think of the heart wrenching film released in 2000, written by Catherine Ryan Hyde and starring the adorable Haley Joel Osment. Digging a little deeper, this concept can be traced back to a play performed in ancient Athens as early as 317 BC. Catherine describes this concept as an obligation to do three good deeds for others in response to a good deed that one receives. Such good deeds should accomplish things that the other person cannot accomplish on their own. This way, the practice of helping one another can spread geometrically through society, at a ratio of three to one, creating a social movement with an impact of making the world a better place. Whether it be a small favor or kindness that someone has shown you, or perhaps the classic drive through method, we strongly encourage all to pass on the good fortune that you are blessed with to someone else who may need it!
SMALL “THANK YOU” GIFTS FOR MAIL CARRIERS
It is no secret that this time of year is a whirlwind of chaos for all delivery drivers and mail carriers. In 2020 alone, the United States Postal Service delivered over 7.3 billion parcels. Amazon orders accounted for 1.5 billion Holiday packages in 2020. With so much groundwork to cover, the strenuous overhaul these workers must endure on a day-to-day basis is often overlooked. Taking a moment to consider the long hours and high stakes stress that these workers are under when doing everything they can to help spread holiday cheer as quickly as possible, a small act of kindness and recognition may be just what they need to keep up with rising demand. Small treats like snacks, water bottles or even a simple hand-written thank you note are just a few ways you can let your delivery workers know you are thinking of them and want them to see the same amount happiness as their customers this holiday season.
With issues like rising food insecurity, homelessness, inflation, and natural disasters reaching record numbers history has never seen, there are several calls for help waiting to be answered worldwide. It can be somewhat pressuring when trying to decide where to lend a hand first! We suggest choosing a charity mission whose values align with yours, who are dependable and transparent about how your donation is being utilized to offer support, and a mission that has a lasting positive impact in the world. If you are looking to provide local support for those in need within your own city, the website https://greatnonprofits.org is a phenomenal resource for finding organizations and events for your local community. If you are looking to help on a global scale, a quick Google search can lead you to resources and efforts that making a positive impact far and wide, such as Caring Hands. Caring Hands (based out of Idaho) is non-profit whose mission focuses on providing direct access to clean nutrition, clean water, and educational resources to children and families in need. For more information on how you can help to feed 5 hungry bellies for less than a trip to the movies, visit https://cainflores.kyani.com/us/kyani-potato-pak/.
SHARING IS CARING
Lastly, we want to acknowledge that we know this time of year is often a tight budget crunch for most. Thankfully, we live in a day and age where information can travel at the speed of light through social media platforms and modern technology. One of the easiest ways to spread good fortune to others is to take a moment to spread the word. Word of mouth sharing is the most effective and surefire way to help ignite awareness and begin the ripple of good news traveling fast. If you happen to see a cause that you would like to participate in but are unable to contribute to financially or with time, sharing that information on social media, sharing with your friends/family, or sharing with someone else who has a similar soft spot for lending a hand can make a massive difference in how far the ripple of good fortune can venture. Please be mindful to educate your circle of friends/family on what worldly issues are important to you and how you are taking steps to love a little louder with your efforts to help.
As we are approaching the end of another year gone far too quickly, we here at Alpine want to wish you the absolute best of good fortune and blessings to come throughout this holiday season! We would love to hear about how you are making a difference with your efforts and how we can help spread the word to others who may want to participate. Please feel free to send your story/details to firstname.lastname@example.org. May all your wishes come true and may all your hearts be filled with good cheer this holiday season!
Living in the age of DIY is equally delightful and dangerous. Hear me out. While the convenience of being able to jump on a quick Google search seems a treat, we know now that consistent reliability isn’t always in the top results. From the likes of YouTube to the HGTV programs and all media in between that help to inspire a grander belief in our natural skill level and abilities, it stands to reason that not everyone out there is an expert, not every source is one of integrity/honesty, and some things are better left to the professionals. Not only do we want to encourage your sense of self and always support further education/growth wherever possible, but we also recognize that it can be hard to know who to trust when taking on new projects, including yourself. Today we’ll be visiting some harrowing tales and photos of people who gave themselves a little too much credit. Before we dive into a few cautionary tales of when DIY turns disastrous, here are a few rules of thumb to check in with when deciding whether a job will require extra, outsourced hands:
Are you able to limit/control liabilities?
Can you handle the task physically? For real, though?
Have you researched DIY advice for this task? Are there more stories of regret than success?
Does the job need to look professional?
Should something go wrong, are you equipped to fix the mistake or repair damage?
Are you sure you got this?
Without further ado, let’s dig in and thank our lucky stars we are not these people!
“I needed to replace a light switch in the kitchen in my apartment. When I removed the old switch I failed to notice that it was a combination outlet and switch which had four wires instead of the two I was used to. I didn’t make note of where the wires were connected. I made several attempts to connect the new switch but each time I threw the switch the light did not go on. I decided to see if at least the outlet worked so I plugged the toaster into it. When I pushed down the toaster levers, to my surprise, the light went on. I tried to convince my wife that we just needed to make toast when we needed the light on but she didn’t buy it.”
“After numerous days, nights of begging my fiancé to hang my curtains, and shears. I finally attempted it on my own. Not only did it take me about 6 hours to hand curtains on two windows. When it was all said and done, it was kinda crooked so I made the curtains cover the crookedness. I was happy with my job well done. My fiancé gets home from work in the evening and when he arrived I brought him to the living and showed him my hard work. He opened one of the curtains and at the same time was saying good job baby. Not a second later the rod and the curtain both fell and hit him on the head.. I felt so bad, he got a huge bump on his forehead from the end of the big rod..:( ”
“A part from my young son’s plastic potty had somehow gotten stuck in the toilet trap. I couldn’t snake it out, nor could the plumber, who left saying, ‘Buy a new toilet.’ But I had a brilliant idea: I’d burn it out! I pulled the toilet and dragged it outside. There I poured charcoal lighter fluid down the trap and lit it up. Standing back, I basked in the glory of the geyser flames and my phenomenal ingenuity… until the bang. The commode literally cracked from the heat. I bought a new toilet.”
“I was replacing our shower fixture, and I couldn’t budge the large brass nut that was holding the two-way mixing valve in place. Using my expert knowledge of physics, I came up with the perfect solution. I packed the valve in ice to make it shrink in diameter. Then I used my blowtorch on the nut so its diameter would expand, thus freeing it. I was feeling really clever until I noticed the smoke filling the shower. It turns out two studs were on fire and the flames were moving up inside the wall! Have you ever tried to extinguish a blazing fire through a 6-in. access hole? I didn’t worry about the physics at that point—I just ran for the fire extinguisher!”
“After framing in a new closet with metal studs, I was ready to take a break. I had been working around an old electrical panel in our old house. As I sat down on the radiator, I grabbed hold of one of the studs to support myself and was greeted with a powerful shock. Upon investigating, I found that one of my screws had penetrated a wire inside an existing wall and had energized the new metal wall framing. What a wild ride 120 volts gives you! How lucky I wasn’t hurt.”
“Wifey (bless her!) wanted a nice new bathroom suite – me on a cost saving mission decided some nice shiny new mixer taps would brighten up our existing bath and basin and save me hard earned beer money. Saturday dawned and her off shopping I started the job as a surprise for her return… I hadn’t bargained for the 20+ year old retaining nuts on the taps (in a very inaccessible place – as they usually are) being welded on. After scraping most of the skin from my knuckles I jumped in the car and made a 10-mile round trip to the market to buy an adjustable wrench, got it in place – swung on the b*stard with all my might and… split the frigging bath straight down the middle. Wife returned to just two pipes (still with taps attached) stuck out of the bathroom floor and the bath in the garden. I also then had to get a plumber in to sort out my heating as when I drained the water tank, I caused a blockage in the system.”
To say researching this post wasn’t the most gut-wrenchingly funny part of my entire week would be selling it short! More times than not, we as humans often either don’t give ourselves enough credit or give ourselves far too much. Bottom line – in today’s fast pace / instant gratification world, DIY can turn DUMB faster than you can say, “never mind.” To guarantee that you don’t end up on our next list of lucky ducks, be sure to call on the professionals in your area – the REAL experts (not your coworker’s friend who watched a tutorial) – and set yourself up for a success story instead!