15 November 2017

One of my very good friends was just diagnosed with cancer. On the week of his wife's last chemo treatment for her cancer. I know life isn't fair, but this is just ridiculous. I know that what I feel is unimportant compared to what they feel, but I feel so powerless and so exhausted. I don't know what to do to help them. I don't want to overwhelm them with my need to be useful. I'm at a loss.


26 October 2017

Jobbing.

My new position at the animal shelter is quite a contrast to animal care. In the transfer department, very little remains the same from day to day. We have certain duties that need to be carried out regularly, but things about them always vary. Things are generally very fast paced, but I'm not sure if that's just the learning of a new job or if things are actually faster than my previous position.

My job involves a lot of driving in rather large vehicles. Mostly just to shelters in the metro area, but also to our other shelter location down in Castle Rock. We also have a few partner shelters out of state.

My second week of work, I drove our box truck (moving truck size) to the north west corner of Texas. I started from Denver around 5pm and arrived five and a half hours later at 12:30 (central). I awoke at 6:30 and downed some coffee before driving to the shelter and loading up the dogs. It was an uneventful trip, really. Besides the driving at night and the fact that this was likely the last trip anyone from my job will make to that shelter.

Just this week, we received a bunch of dogs and cats from Puerto Rico. I didn't help with the intake, but will certainly dabble in the ongoing paperwork.

For the first time in a long time, I find myself actually liking my job. I rarely hated my last position, but I was usually unable to feel very positive about it. While I definitely still make sure to take my breaks and use my weekends, I find the days do not crawl tediously by as they used to.

It is a lot more sedentary than I've been used to. While I am very active for short bursts loading and unloading animals, much of my day is spent either in the driver's seat or in front of a computer. But that just means I need to use my three weekend days to be active.

Really, the only thing that could make it more enjoyable is having Saturday and Sunday off as well as a weekday, instead of only one weekend day and two weekdays. But with a department of only 2 and a manager, schedules are tough. One can dream.

28 September 2017

disaster relief

Recently, I travelled to Atlanta Georgia to help with some disaster animal sheltering. It was quite the experience.

I always have conflicting emotions when I go do disaster relief for animals. Because I really do believe that human take precedence. But this was a help to people in need as well. Atlanta was taking animals from shelters in Florida. From areas affected by the hurricanes. That freed up spaces in those shelters for owned animals whose people might be homeless. Most emergency shelters don't allow pets, so it's up to either relief shelters or local shelters to house the pets.

the shelter. rows of crated dogs. 
My job in Atlanta was similar to my previous job at my shelter. Namely: animal care. I walked and cleaned several hundred dogs each day with a team of around 10 people. The dogs were mainly pit bull types and all very sweet and patient. The animals were rotating through every few days. And one evening we took in a bunch of cats. Not a few cats. Over 50 cats, I can't remember the exact number. They had all been up for adoption in Florida, so they were mostly very nice and even pretty unperturbed at being transported and housed in a warehouse filled with dogs. Right, the warehouse: the animals were housed in an old Home Depot-- a warehouse without any air conditioning, only large fans.
comfy









these cats don't care.



my makeshift bed for the night shift. 


We worked 12 hour shifts. After the first two days, my coworker and I were asked to take the night shift. This was possibly an "easier" task, as the dogs didn't need cleaned or walked at night. But we got very little sleep due to the sporadic barking.




This did free up some time during the day for an outing or two. I was able to take a nice run along the Chattahoochee river. The humidity nearly killed me, but the lower altitude was a nice change on my stamina.
morning run on the Chattahoochee

30 ft. whale shark. coolest thing ever. 


My coworker and I went to the Georgia Aquarium. It was amazing. I can't begin to describe it all. We watched a dolphin show and saw the four huge whale sharks. I am still in awe.

jellies!

 On the last day, we switched back to help in the afternoon and then I took a lyft into town to meet a friend. He works at a fairly posh restaurant and I got a fancy drink and had to choose between a dozen fancy cheesecakes. It was a good send off.
best. 



Over all, it was a good experience. There was a lot of frustration involved with the organizing and communication, but I'm glad my job allows me such opportunities.

oh, did I mention we brought one home on the plane?

(I'm terrible at formatting!)

17 August 2017

Through Smoke and Fog

I got a chance to camp in Washington for a week with two of the best people. One of our first stops was Cascadian Farms for fresh picked blueberries.

I have had many sorts of fresh fruit right off the tree/bush/vine, but this was really something special since blueberries are not native to Colorado. We got enough to last us the 2-3 days in North Cascades and on the way out, got more for the next few days. There's a fire in British Columbia, so we didn't get to see a whole lot of the North Cascades except trees, which were very nice.

Diablo Lake, our first two campsites were near here. 

I had been to Olympic National Park before, but not the mountain portion, only the ocean. The Olympics are beautiful and ridiculously rugged mountains.
Sunset from Deer Park. 

Sunrise at Deer Park. 

The smoke obscured a lot until we got the the coast. There, the fog never lifted. The days and nights were around 55 degrees. It was a welcome relief.




One day on the pacific coast, we saw otters frolicking in the river, an osprey perched and a pod of orcas. On our last night we camped in a campground right on the beach and woke up to orcas just offshore, spouting and showing us their fins. It was amazing.

so close to shore!

fins!

11 July 2017

Out in the wilds of Colorado

So I've been doing this trail running thing for a few years now. I'm no pro, obviously, but I've been working on my milage. I learned a couple weeks back that 20 miles in the heat is no good. This week I dialed it back to 6 very pleasant miles up Ben Tyler trail. I love running through aspen groves next to a creek. I wish it was less of a drive.
Aspen grove and Ben Tyler trail. 

I also went on a photography outing with my friend (incidentally back to the scene of the crime of my previous grueling trail run.) We found some pretty birds.
mountain bluebird

goldfinch

Last weekend, I went white water rafting for the first time. It was super fun! But I won't be able to afford doing that regularly. No photos of that though as I haven't got a waterproof camera and the professional photos were exorbitantly priced.

The weekend before that, we revisited the Black Canyon National Park. It really is quite impressive.
Black Canyon

Friends. 

And the weekend before Black Canyon we took an impromptu hike to Mills Lake in Rocky Mountain National Park.


After just over 8 years in animal care, I landed a new job at my work. It's a newly created position that will involve driving and paperwork. It will be good to change some things up for sure.

13 June 2017

Some Catch-up

I haven't been writing much lately. I feel sort of boring I guess.

I've been working on getting my trail running miles back up. I need to start getting up earlier and just intending to spend a good portion of the day at it. I always feel like I have so much to do on that day off (Tuesday), I think I need to rearrange my chores schedule so I don't feel the need to keep the runs short.

Last Friday an old friend (from first grade!) visited. It was great to catch up. Our lives are very different, but she's doing something I sorta secretly aspire to. She's running an ultramarathon! I have a lot of work to get to that point, but it's sort of been a low key goal of mine since I discovered I actually like trail running a few years back. Maybe if I go ahead and set a race as a goal, I'll actually kick myself into gear on the training.

This past weekend I spent in two new states and a district. I flew on a red eye to Dulles and walked from Virginia to downtown DC to meet up with some friends for the Equality March. It was in conjunction with Capitol Pride, so there were a lot of rainbows. It was extremely hot. Mostly because I'm not used to humidity. For the remainder of Sunday and most of Monday, I spent time with an old friend (college roommate even) and their spouse in Maryland. We walked around Fredrick and they showed me some of the neat places around town. They are moving to Scotland in a few months and I haven't seen them since they left Colorado about 8 or so years ago. It was great to catch up.

Needless to say, I'll also be visiting them in Scotland once they're settled.

I've been working on photography things lately. A buddy and I took a nature photography course through the Museum of Nature and Science. I learned a lot. I just need to get out there and keep practicing.

Maybe next time I write, I'll include some photos and/or accomplishments.

06 March 2017

More National Parks

Last weekend the boyfriend and I took a trip. Mostly it was just to get out. To check a couple more national parks off the list. We headed south to Carlsbad Caverns in New Mexico and Guadalupe Mountains just south in Texas.

I must say, I was pleasantly surprised at how much I enjoyed those two parks. We hit Guadalupe Mountains first. The Chihuahuan desert is pretty bleak and Texas' tallest mountain is just over 8,000, and thus none-too-impressive, but there is a beauty there. I'm sure it helped that we went in February, before the temperatures settled in the mid 90s. The one major drawback was the wind. It was windy the entire time. Blowing us around while on the highway south. Blowing dust. Blowing the tent over (we ended up sleeping in the SUV.) We were unable to hike Guadalupe Peak because of the wind. We did get in a nice hike to a stone cabin up a canyon that would surely have been much prettier with some summer greenery.

Guadalupe Peak. 
Pratt Cabin and madrone trees
After our hike we drove the 40 minutes north to Carlsbad. The entrance to the caverns is actually up on top of a hill, the caves are 750 feet below. That first day, we descended via the elevator and stepped out into an underground cafe of sorts. It was pretty surreal. The ground was flat and paved and there were kiosks for snacks and t-shirts. And picnic tables and bathrooms with running water. And then, a bit further on, the Big Room.

(part of) the Big Room
I used to work at Glenwood Caverns. I always thought it was super cool. There are lots of formations and plenty of space to stand up on the basic tours. The Big Room is huge. I knew somewhere in my mind that Carlsbad Caverns was big. I mean, it's a national park and all. I was unprepared. No photos will ever fully show the vastness of that space. Something like 60 football fields in length. Monolithic stalagmites. We walked around the whole room. The trail is over a mile. It's paved and has handrails to keep people contained to protect the visitors and the caves.

These are at least 2x taller than me. 
gazing into the depths of hell. Or something.
The following day we walked down the natural entrance. The whole 750  vertical feet via a winding trail down a dark hole in the earth. It was quite the experience.


candle lanterns lighting the Left Hand Tunnel
We had a ranger guided tour to a different part of the cave. It was lighted only by handheld candle lanterns. It was a highlight of the trip. Though the formations were not as impressive as in the Big Room, Left Hand Tunnel was a very fun experience. We learned a lot of history about the caves, some Native American lore, some stories about the man who first explored and pushed to make it be a park.

cave pool

It was a very pleasant trip, any really not that long a drive compared to what we often do to visit parks. My main regret is that the bats were wintering down south and so we couldn't watch them fly out at dusk. And also the crawling tours weren't available in the off-season. I guess we'll just have to go back in the summer sometime. And spend the whole down down below to beat the heat.

Here are a few more photos from the trip.


sunset from our campsite near the Caverns. 







see? they're big.

14 February 2017

Truth, Facts, and Fact-Checking

I have been thinking a lot about truth and facts lately. Mostly in regards to the current POTUS and the way things are shared on social media. But it’s actually something I’ve been thinking and talking and writing about for at least 10 years. Because I find the differences between truth and fact fascinating.

I believe that something can be true without being strictly factual. Mostly, this applies to novels and other works of fiction. I can learn truths by reading Everything is Illuminated or watching Star Trek, even though nothing in the storyline happened in actuality.

Facts seem much more straightforward. Facts are things that are real. Verifiable. Observable. Concrete. I say they seem straightforward because people often dispute things that are facts. The real challenge I have found recently is the sources. In many cases people cannot experience something firsthand in order to verify it for themselves. And even when eyewitnesses are present at an event, the facts can get jumbled in memory. The real issue is finding credible sources.

I am not expert at this myself, though the past year or so has been quite the learning curve. I have repeatedly pointed out “fake news” to people on social media. “Fake news” in this context being anything from blatantly and provably false to a misleading or untrustworthy source. Sources prove their trustworthiness mostly though time. If a news agency misleads the audience, or gathers and interprets data in a faulty way, the credibility falls. It falls further when they refuse to acknowledge these things or if they continue to do so. Other poor “facts” include those that aren’t independently checked but at least one (preferably more) other sources. If a piece of information can only be found in one single place, it is more than likely not an actual fact. This is what irks me about many conservatives/Christians* arguing about scientific facts. The scientific method is a rigorous way to gain information. But even doing a rigorous experiment once is not enough to claim the result as a fact. The findings must be peer reviewed and replicated successfully. The word “theory” in science doesn’t mean untested or unproven; it means that it can still be subject to testing and refining, but can be used as a method for predicting and explaining scientific phenomena.

I think that the reason people don’t trust science (or math/statistics for that matter) is that the lay person cannot understand the nuances. The real problem then, is trusting the professionals that present the information. For instance, I am not a physicist and I do not have the means to observe and test relativity, so I have to trust that the physicists who are reporting their findings are reporting facts. Now, I don’t have to take each one at his/her word, I can go back to the basis laid out earlier: was this result replicated independently? Has it been reviewed by other people and tested for accuracy?

My point is, scientists find new things regularly. Scientists disagree about findings and some are proven wrong. The scientific community as a whole is not purposefully lying to the general populace. (For example: climate change and evolutionary biology. But that’s not the point of this right now.)

Through a couple of recent arguments I’ve had with people about sources, I have found that it is nearly impossible to come to an agreement if a people do not agree about credible sources. For whatever reason, some people have a proclivity toward conspiracy theories.

Now, I am willing to entertain many fanciful ideas. I am willing to read articles and reports about things that are outside of the mainstream media and outside of my normal ideology. I am even willing to agree on the premise of many of these theories. But I cannot accept them as fact unless I can verify them with sources I find to be credible. This becomes really hard when the conspiracy is about the media in general.

On most issues of this sort, I am willing to remain civil and friendly. To me, these are thought experiments that don’t really affect my day to day life. I am not much of an arguer. I do not have to persuade people to believe what I believe. I’ll often bow out of an impassioned argument because I simply don’t care as much as the other. I’ll admit I am a bit incensed to do so, as it often makes the other party feel that they’ve ‘won.’ But that doesn’t really affect me for long. My sanity is more important than proving I’m right.

I recently watched Denial, a film about a trial in the UK involving historians and the Holocaust. It was a good film. My takeaway was that regardless of the verdict, regardless of how many sources or witnesses or other proof one provides, people often still hang onto their opinion and cannot be forced to adopt another. It’s best to just let it go.

So that’s what I strive to do. I may engage initially. I may take part in debate. But I will not drag an issue to death. I will not waste my time or energy on what is likely a lost cause. I will not let someone else’s opinion ruin my day (mostly.) I will generally remain friends with people I disagree with, though it’s wise to avoid those areas of disagreement.

BUT--

There are exceptions. There are some things that do affect my every day life. Or that tie in very closely to my morals. There are some things that I will not let go. Or that I will not remain friendly over. Most of them relate to human rights. I cannot stand the dehumanizing of any person for any reason. I have argued with people about refugees, about people on public assistance, about LGBTQ+ people, about racism, about feminism. This, in my opinion, is where truth comes in. (Or is it Truth with a capital T?) In these instances, for me truth is about integrity. The issues are moral. Not to say that my opinions about how to treat people are not backed up with facts, but it is more than facts. Even if public assistance really does incentivise people to use it more (it doesn’t), even if helping refugees does let some terrorists into the country (ridiculously rare), I still believe that helping people is the greater worth. I don’t believe in “us and them.” I don’t believe that American children are more important than Syrian ones. I don’t believe that only those who can contribute to society should be able to benefit from it.

Basically, I am generally easy-going if we don’t agree. Except when I’m not. People are worth more than opinions.

* I know I seem to bring up Christians a lot in this blog. It’s simply because that is what I know and I have a hard time reconciling my past beliefs with what I know now. I have nothing against followers of Christ, I simply do not believe in blindly following what some random religious or faux religious leader says.


I can provide sources for anything I’ve mentioned here, if needed. 

30 January 2017

On my heart and mind

My head has been super busy this week/month/season, but I've been having an exceptionally hard time getting my thoughts onto "paper." I've read a lot of news. A lot of articles analyzing said news. I've ranted to and been ranted at by friends, online and in person. I know the audience of this blog is generally fairly limited. I'm going to assume nothing and simply write what's on my heart and mind. I will not likely link any sources, but I can get them if anyone is interested. 

All lives matter. This is true. This is a statement that I can, in general, get behind. But it's certainly not being used correctly. People use it as a rebuttal to Black Lives Matter. saying that BLM is trying for special treatment or the like. "Special treatment" being not being gunned down at traffic stops. Being given the benefit of the doubt in court. Being simply understood as part of humanity. And all lives matter while then not helping refugees from war-torn countries, while not protesting a ban on said refugees. People are worried about the safety of this country in respect to refugees. In the last 15 years not a single refugee has carried out a terror attack on the US. Worldwide, fifty percent of refugees are children. So "all lives matter" doesn't actually seem to mean that.

All lives matter so long as they're upper middle-class white people and/or fetuses. Before I get too far into this one, let me say that I'm "pro life" in the same way I'm "all lives matter," (same thing, different words.) Conservatives/ Christians seem to care a whole lot about the unborn and very little about the children in the world. Young mothers are told the only option is having a child, but then berated for being on public assistance because they cannot support these children. Now, I know that the best choice is considered to be abstinence. And I agree on some level. But let's be honest, humans have sex. So the best course is actually education. Comprehensive sex education that includes all contraceptive options. And it works. Numerous countries in Europe have a much lower rate of abortion than the US simply because of this sort of education. There is a lower rate of abortion and teen pregnancy when there is a Democrat as president. Because of the access to contraceptives. The bottom line is that abortions will happen whether or not they are legal. The tragedy is that mothers will die if they are not given a safe method of abortion. And that is a life that matters. Now we can look at adoption, because that's heavily advocated. What's upsetting about it is that the foster system is packed with children. Most of them are children of color. It is a fact that the adoption process is expensive. Thus, prospective adopters are often white and generally want their children to resemble them. This is obviously a broad statement, but it is not unsubstantiated. I can go on about abortion, but I will not, I just want to make the point that "pro-life" doesn't actually seem to mean that. 

An argument I hear is that the private sector needs to be the ones that help those in need instead of tax dollars. And I agree, except it doesn't always work that way. Besides (possibly) a tithe to church, who is donating to the local homeless shelter? Who is working at the food pantry? Also, more of these organizations need to be  no-religious ones, because too often religions organizations exclude some of those in need. Most notably LGBT people. Queer lives matter too. Refusing to help a gay or trans person is violence. There is no way around that. And if private organizations will not help all people, then it is up to the government to care for all of its citizens. 

I was raised Christian. All of my formal education was at Christian schools. I retain a lot of the morals and ethics I learned. The God I learned about was love. Countless Bible verses talk about caring for those in need. Accepting the aliens and strangers. Caring for even those considered sinners. Judging no one on any basis because that is God's job alone. This has always been the major takeaway from Christianity. I now have quite a problem with many followers of Christ that are not at all Christ-like. Many of these Christians seem to have confused Christ's teachings with capitalism/nationalism. It is not Christianity and it is dangerous. When we exclude those in need out of some sense of personal safety, it is morally wrong. It goes against all true Christian teachings. 

Fear is natural. Fear is understandable is some situations. Acting inhumanely because of that fear is unacceptable and inexcusable. 

I have made it quite far without mentioning the current US President. But it really does come back to him. What he and his advisors are doing is wrong. Excluding people from this "land of opportunity" from the "home of the free" is not only against the precepts that formed this nation, but also is morally wrong. The US was settled as a haven from religious oppression. I won't get into how that was immediately used to oppress the indigenous peoples, but the original thought was the separation of Church and State so that there could be no national religion that everyone was required to follow. By excluding people based on religion or nationality, we go against that basic principle. It is not about safety. Or even religion, as evidenced by Middle Eastern nations excluded from the ban. It is about money. It is about racism. It is very far from being Christian or Christ-like. 

I have a lot of privilege in this country. I was born into a family with the means to house and clothe and feed me well as well as send me to private school. I did not grow up in need of anything essential. I am white. I also have male passing privilege. I am generally assumed straight, as it is default. The fact that I am trans and gay can be hidden. Many people in my situation do not have this privilege. So I have advantage over all people of color. Over women. Over non-passing trans men. Over obviously gay or effeminate men. 

Currently, I am personally unaffected by the new administration. But I am affected mentally and emotionally. I have friends who work with refugees. Friends who work for the federal government. Their jobs have a real possibility of going away.  I am friends with people of color who already face discrimination and now have seen an uptick.  And though I'm physically safe now, I will be completely unsurprised if some new executive order comes along that affects trans people. 

If these things do not affect you. You have privilege. And that privilege should be used to help those without. 

I feel like I could go on and on. I’ve been writing this off and on for a couple of days. I’m exhausted. But I’m not going to stop being outraged. I’m not going to stop using what voice I have to help in any way I can. 

10 January 2017

a new year

So with a new year generally comes new goals and dreams for that year.

I've got a few to be sure. But mostly I'm just trying to build good and healthy habits. Today I'm struggling a bit. It's an off day to be sure.

I'm trying to make it a habit to be more persistent with keeping track of my health and related things. I'm making it a point to check in weekly and record results/progress or general related thoughts/feelings. I note how many times I ran, went for walks, did parkour/natural movement, etc. Nothing to show yet of course, but I'm hoping that weekly reminders will keep me on track.

I was super bummed that we got a fair amount of snow at the beginning of my work week, and it all melted off before I could properly enjoy it. I love my 4 tens schedule, but it does mean that I don't see the sun much on my work days in the winter.

I should be running right now, but I lent my car out today, and though I can totally run on the urban trail two blocks away, I am stalling for some stupid reason. Bed is nice, y'know?