Gordon Terpstra is a gentle soul. This isn’t surprising, given his calling: He is a local pastor, and overseeing a flock suits him.
Gordon, who I know because I’ve played basketball with him at lunchtime for many years, is also a Lt. Colonel in the Army Reserves, which he serves in as a chaplain, as he has done since the 1970s.
In January, Gordon left the friendly confines of the Whatcom County he has grown to love for a 12-month tour in a far more dangerous place: The Green Zone.
Gordon’s unit has been called up, and once again Gordon, already a veteran of Vietnam and Operation Desert Storm, is headed to the cauldron of the Middle East.
Gordon’s job, after a two-month retraining period at Fort Riley, Kan., will be to provide emotional support and counseling to the troops on the ground within the Green Zone, the heavily fortified "safe area" within Baghdad. He will also be helicoptered out into the field into remote parts of the country to link up with fire teams and small units there.
If I were one of these soldiers, I would want a chaplain like Gordon to talk to. In a perfect world, Gordon wouldn’t be leaving Bellingham to go to Iraq — but at this point, all those of us who care about him can do is wish him good luck and Godspeed, let him know we’re thinking about him, and hope his year in Iraq passes as uneventfully as possible.
Keep your head down, and we’ll see you when you get back, Gordo.
Butters, we hardly knew ye
The BBJ office was graced by a new part-timestaffer in January: Butters the dog. Our graphic artist found her on the way back from lunch, and she spent the afternoon with us until her owner was notified.
The idea of adopting her as "the company dog" was quickly quashed when her owners were contacted; Butters had scooted through an open gate while they were at work and, not surprisingly, her owners wanted her back, dangit. Hopefully, we might get visitation rights; if not, we’ll just have to wave to the "Queen of Eldridge" when we drive by.
The grumpy sister-in-law of all snow storms
After our blizzard this winter, and the subsequent transformation of Bellingham into an ice-glazed network of roads, those of us grumpy enough to complain about the fact that the city was in virtual lockdown because the snow had the temerity to freeze and stay frozen were told, among other things, that the effects were worse because the snow was a "10-year event," meaning it was an incredible rarity that we shouldn’t worry about seeing again for the better part of a decade or more.
Well, if that was the Mother of All Storms, what was Act II, which came blowing in after the holidays and, despite only a couple of inches at most in Bellingham, once again managed to turn the city’s neighborhood streets into the Ice Follies?
We as a city need to be better prepared for snow next winter.
Independent Review Board needed … for the Readers Choice Awards
Folks, the Readers Choice Awards are not an opportunity for you to stuff the ballot box full of votes for yourself. In fact, there are only two rules printed on the ballot: one ballot per person, and you can’t vote for yourself.
Having customers and clients who love you and vote for you is fabulous. Filling out a dozen ballots yourself is not.
These ballots get circular-filed anyway, so don’t bother taking the time and effort to fill them out. Instead, talk to your best clients about filling your name in the applicable area. Nothing wrong with campaigning — but stuffing the ballot box yourself is a no-no.
On a more upbeat Readers Choice Awards note, next year, all the voting will be done electronically, and each ballot will require an e-mail address and will log the IP of every voter, so nobody will be able to vote more than once.
Book of Lists also going fully electronic
If you’re a subscriber, you should have your 2007 Book of Lists by now. Enjoy! Next year, you will be able to submit all your information electronically, which will hopefully make the data-gathering process easier for all concerned as well as as accurate as possible.