January 31, 2010

Ode To The Internet

Internet, I missed you so much last week and I hope to never spend another day without you. I missed my usual sites, missed knowing what my friends were up to every hour, missed that it was the radio who told me JD Salinger died, missed silly cat pictures, missed writing, and missed the ability to instant message. You are wonderful.

But please don't be under the impression that I acknowledge your wonderfulness simply because I was deprived of you for a week. No no, I always knew you were wonderful. I knew what I had before I lost it, I didn't need a week without to know how amazing you are. It wasn't my intention to leave for a week, and I hope we'll never have to part again. Plus, it was just bad luck that my Blackberry wasn't working properly the same week I was disconnected from you, but I learned from the experience and I promise to ensure my phone is in good working condition if I ever have to part from you for more than a few hours.

And so, Internet, I've begun catching up on the things I've missed and will be back to writing about silly, stupid or consequential things that annoy me in no time. I'm so glad to have you back.

January 22, 2010


If only... And I get to work on Caturday.

Here's the scene:
I'm at the self checkout at Ralph's with 4 items: Kleenex, cranberry juice, a knockoff Nyquil and a knockoff Dayquil (buy one get one free, bitches!). I'm dressed in an oversized sweatshirt and a beanie, no make-up to hide my dark circles, and I'm aware that my whole being is emanating sickness.

Scan the Kleenex. Scan the knockoff Nyquil.

Self Checkout: "Please show your ID to the attendant."

Me: What?

Somewhere in the back of my mind I'm not surprised. Some years ago a person not only had to be 18 years old in order to buy certain OTC medications, but also could only buy 4 at a time in certain locations. Apparently, Ralph's is doing its part in keeping pseudoephedrine out of kids hands.

Damn teenagers always looking for a way to get high. Ruined it for the sickies like me who balk at having to prove we're over 18 (I can almost rent a car, dammit!) and the legitimately sick 17 year old kids who run to the grocery store around the corner for some OTC help in getting back to school.

I wonder if restrictions like these really help. And since I took my knockoff Nyquil just before starting this post it's become incredibly difficult for me to continue. So off I am to dreamland.

January 16, 2010


And terrorism. Yeah, that's right, terrorism!

This is one of the coolest videos I've seen in ages. It's a "fleshmob" in a German airport. Like a flashmob, it involves lots of people converging on one location. Unlike a flashmob, these people have an agenda. (At least, one that's not "silliness.")

OK, we all know terrorism sucks and we should protect ourselves as best we can from terrorists among us. But full body scanners? Really, government? I don't see these things lasting long: they're too expensive to be worth the inevitable cost of lawsuits, and they won't even be in every airport, or even in every security line in the airports that buy them.

So these ballsy Germans are voicing their concerns. We should not be giving up every freedom we have because for each freedom we give up in the name of "safety" the terrorists get a point. And they're winning.

Our government can tap our personal phones, confiscate our laptops and Blackberries without cause, make us throw away lotion, and now has permission to give full body scans and under-clothes pat downs. When will it stop? When will Americans realize that by giving up the very freedoms terrorists are killing us for, the very freedoms our military is dying to protect, that we're giving up?

We should take a cue from the German fleshmob. We should refuse to submit like dogs to these so called protections. Seriously, we can't get up during the last hour of a flight because some idiot tried (and failed) to blow up a plane he was on right before it landed. (Never mind that the attacks on 9/11 occurred during the first hour of a transcontinental flight.) Have we forgotten that the only reason that recent attempt got as far as it did was because our intelligence agencies didn't communicate that day? They were gonna detain the guy when the plane landed! Too late, guys!

I would rather live with the freedoms my country promised me and die that live without them.

January 14, 2010


A company created a sarcastic punctuation mark. Because it's not totally obvious when we type sarcastically.

(Sarcasm alert.)

But really, someone out there is capitalizing on this. Bravo to them, honestly, because I wish I'd thought to create a lame swirly dot and charge people two bucks for it. Certainly would make only working 2 days this week much easier...

It looks like this:
The kicker? You pay $1.99 for something no one else understands! Yes, I know it's sometimes difficult to have a conversation with someone (like me) when you're not sure they're being sarcastic. But punctuation? That's what ellipses are for... And italics. And reading comprehension. At the most we should appoint an already existing symbol, something we don't have to pay some bullshit ninja company $2 to use, for sarcasm. Or, if we have to mark sarcasm, write it in a smaller font. Like, duh.

Although, it would be great to start seeing this symbol pop up and watch people recognize the sarcasm but not understand the symbol, and just assume whoever is typing is an idiot when they're really just trying to more accurately convey sarcasm. Isn't it ironic?

January 13, 2010


This is relevant to my interests.

One of the most daunting questions I asked myself since I was 17 was, "What about me?" Spending my adulthood in one of two long term relationships meant a large part of me conformed to fit that relationship. This wasn't necessarily bad. I'll explain...

Boyfriend #1 was convinced of several things: we were soul mates, I'd eventually realize we were soul mates, he'd be a successful lawyer, I'd have kids, everyone else would be jealous. In time I realized I didn't agree with him about any of that, and so I ended it. I also ended it because, hell, I was 18 and had a feeling a diamond ring was coming my way and I had only had one boyfriend! What about all the other boys out there? Am I really going to marry the first cute boy to ask me on a date to get ice cream?

No, I'm not.

A glorious 2 months later I start a fling with the second cute boy to ask me on a date. Five years after that I'm wondering those same questions: What about all the other boys out there? Am I really going to marry the second cute boy to ask me on a date and make me brown sugar candy?

No, I'm not. But I am seeing a pattern. Boys, if you want to date me provide me with some sort of dessert.

I borrowed a few good qualities from The Ex: it's OK to splurge on nice things every once in a while, be generous with those you care about, and an eclectic sense of humor is pretty darn hilarious. We learned from each other and became better people because of each other; but if it was all well and good I wouldn't be single, now would I?

I did not agree that success is measured in money, but rather in how you feel about the work you do and the life you live. Over the years I slowly realized that being happy with my work matters more to me than a salary. As long as my basic needs are met and I'm not in constant fear of having my cat repossessed I'd rather do good work. (I felt this way in shuttles, Trader Joes, and even in the photo lab at Longs [RIP].) Consistent with the majority of Americans, The Ex felt earning a high salary was more important. Maybe he figured the things I care about would end up more hobby than career, that I would grow out of wanting to be a conservation activist, that I would eventually decide to settle down with a house and kids and write in my free time in order to sustain my soul. I don't think anyone really believes that I don't want kids. I don't think anyone really believes I want to build an elephant sanctuary, or that I want the unconventional life. But that's OK, because as long as it's what I want I'll have it.

So you see, it's not necessarily bad that I conformed to fit my relationships. I've come away from them borrowing the good. Each new relationship should be better than the last one until I find one I don't want to leave. Because of my relationships I've learned what's important to me, what I want in a man, and what keeps a relationship strong. I have a lot to offer, and I'm noticing the cute single boys (some of whom are even interested in me!) more frequently. Too bad they don't all live in San Diego or I'd be happier than Chloe was when she rediscovered a cat nip toy yesterday.

I'd be this happy!


Oh, moving time, that glorious time (or two or three) of year when I take stock of my possessions, organize my clutter, and purge myself of anything and everything I don't need or am not emotionally attached to. Luckily I move often enough that I really don't accumulate much clutter.

But this time, it's a lot of emotional purging.

Over the years I've gathered a variety of trinkets, notes, photos, souvenirs, and mementos related to my relationships. And, for the most part, I'm not bringing any of it with me to my new apartment. I've shredded love letters, trashed photographs, recycled bottles and reinvented objects so they don't belong to that part of my life anymore. I always feel so cleansed when I do this before a move, and purging my relationship past is even more cleansing.

So begins the portion of my life where I start to understand what being an adult means to myself and to my fellow people. Doing this unattached to another person will aid the process tremendously. This is the part where I find out who I am, what I'm doing and where I'm going. Then if someone wants to come along for the ride I'll be able to tell him all those things.

And so I say goodbye to pictures of my overly insecure boyfriend at prom, goodbye to that bottle of Billecart Salmon champagne (which was guaranteed to get you laid), goodbye to dozens of notes and love letters, and goodbye even to my keepsake heart boxes from Valentine's day. Most things were conveniently picked up by the trash collector this morning, ensuring I'll never see them again.

What I am keeping, however, are the photo albums I worked so hard on for months at a time, my custom Jones Soda bottle, my Chinese take-out purse, and my wood box, in which I'll keep old film strips. These objects are either too much my own or have too little sentimental value attached to those relationships to justify tossing. Or they're just pretty. Pretty things get to stay.

January 12, 2010

Keeping Our Planet Alive

Best idea ever.

For the first time I'm watching the last disk of the Planet Earth series, the disk that discusses how the planet has changed in recent years (recent being the last decade or so), how human habits have changed, and how animal populations have been affected by all this change.

This worst thing someone could tell me is that he believes global climate change is either nonexistent or not a big deal. It's incomprehensible how a person can be presented with the facts and still believe it's normal or scientists are making up figures. People who claim that climate change is normal and species are expected to go extinct as a natural occurrence do have a point, but they're incredibly uneducated about the natural occurrence of the earth's movements. Yes, Earth's climate will change and yes, species will inevitably go extinct naturally. What these people choose to ignore is the rate at which the climate and terrain is changing and the rate at which species, especially top predators and species which live in precarious environments, are going extinct. Sure, frogs will go the way of the dodo. But 1/3 of all amphibians have become endangered within the last decade. Not just a species here and there. One whole third of an entire fucking class of animals. That seems a bit extreme, doesn't it?

What also seems a bit extreme is the story of the saiga antelope. Please, click that link and look at the picture. Have you ever seen anything like it before? It's got the body of an antelope but the face of a tapir. Incredible. These creatures once formed one of the planets best migratory phenomenon, as many as 2 million individuals birthing and roaming in Eurasia. Within 3 years there were 40 times fewer antelope (50 thousand individuals) thanks to horn poaching for traditional Asian medicine. Sounds like the rhino*...

For a moment I will excuse the argument that we should be protecting animals and ecosystems for their own sakes. Unfortunately, the majority of people won't feel compelled to protect something they either can't relate to or can't care about, and the rest of the people won't feel compelled to protect something if doing so will negatively impact their livelihoods- anyone faced with the choice of protecting wildlife and feeding their children will choose their children. So the answer seems obvious, if nearly impossible: we must improve the world as a whole, not species by species or even ecosystem by ecosystem. Too many aspects of human life correlate to the planet's well being: population increases the world over are a huge cause of ecosystem decline, third world countries unable to help their citizens cannot help their animals, and humans needing space to grow food come into competition with wildlife, and wildlife always loses.

So we get charismatic animal ambassadors to change people's minds.

We could ignore all the damage we're doing to our planet because chances are by the time our generation and our grandchildren's generations have passed the planet will still be plugging along. But if we continue turning forests into pastures, continue poaching to extinction, continue fighting with wildlife rather than working with it like we're doing now, sooner rather than later there will be nothing left to keep the atmosphere from protecting us, nothing left to pollinate our crops, nothing left to flow into the oceans from the rivers, and the earth itself will die.

When I was born there were less than 5 billion people on the planet. Before my 26th birthday there could be 7 billion people. That's over 2 billion people in a quarter of a century. Is it just a coincidence that this extreme rate of reproduction in the one species that can so wholly affect the planet is inversely proportional to the extreme rate of destruction of animal and plant species and whole ecosystems? I doubt it. We've turned our habits around many times before and watched species come back from the brink of extinction and watched the atmosphere rebuild itself. It's time to take it to the next level and conserve the whole planet.

*When I looked at the key image for this page I thought, "Hey, that looks just like Angolifu!" It is Angolifu. That's awesome.

January 7, 2010

Speaking Of A Million Dollars...

"One million dollars!"

My loveliest of lady friends asked me recently what I'd do with a million dollars. This is a great "getting to know you" or first date question because it opens up a person in a way you can't really get to with "what made you want to be a proctologist?" It's also an interesting way to discover what you really want to do with your life.

So, if I had a million dollars, I'd put half in savings and use the other half first to take care of a few things: a new car, some help for my family, and a fat down payment on a house with land. The rest will be divided between:
Setting up a wildlife rehabilitation center

It's this last one that's been a desire of mine ever since I found out that people can do that. What could be better than watching a hawk fly free again after injuring a wing? Or releasing a raccoon or deer back into the wild and knowing it will be able to take care of itself? I want to know what to feed all these creatures, the proper formulas for abandoned litters, the best way to splint a leg, the best way to keep them wild during rehabilitation, and the best way to socialize young wild animals. And actually, I'm stoked for next weeks' first aid class in which I'll learn splinting (people and animals aren't so different, right?).

There are so many things I want to do before I die: learn sign language, get an advanced degree, travel the world, write a book (or two or three), become fluent in Spanish, learn photography, see elephants in the wild, study culinary arts... The more I learn about the world the more I want to experience. It's a never ending list; just like now there is a dozen unread books on my shelf, there will always be something else for me to learn, some other life goal to accomplish, some other job I want, some other thing to do when I grow up. I think my next life goal is conservation: study conservation and maybe my PhD thesis can be on how elephants and people can peacefully coexist. Lofty? Maybe.

One Million Dollars

Nobel Prize down, million dollar bill next.

On Christmas day, at work, a very cheery guest gave us a fistful of million dollar bills. No joke.

Obviously they weren't worth a Monopoly bill, but still, a million dollars. Sounded pretty awesome, even if they had caricatures of celebrities (some I didn't recognize- took me forever to discern Elton John). But written on the backs of the bills was something entirely different.

The first paragraph began with all people are sinners and no matter what you've done you've committed enough sin to be banished to eternal hell. It seemed particularly focused on men lusting after women and committing adultery with them in their hearts, which is prime hell territory. I thought it was going the atheist route, as in "you're already pretty much fucked, so might as well enjoy it." Looking back I have no idea why I thought this...

The second paragraph mentioned how Jesus was like your defense lawyer; he argued with the judge and paid your fine with his own life. So you're good now. All that sinning isn't going to automatically condemn you to hell. But, since he did pay a hefty fine in order for you to get off scott-free, the least you could do is acknowledge your gratitude by reading the Bible, praying and generally being like Jesus.

Which, as you'd know if you read the Bible, is a near impossible task. But who's reading?

The whole million dollar thing was tied together (lamely) when it asked "the million dollar question" of whether or not you're going to hell. I can only assume the celebrities represented sinners, but my million dollar question is what is a true Christian doing at the Wild Animal Park on Christmas day? Not just handing out evangelical million dollar bills, but having fun and being part of the reason why the Park is open 365 days a year- if you open it, they will come. And apparently they'll ride Flightlines, too. (The bills also said "abortion stops a human heart." Not if you do it within the first 8 weeks! Zing!)

Jokes like that are why I'm going to hell... Sigh. Anyway, we first put the bills in our coworkers cubbies as a joke, then we cut out the Obama faces and taped them over our own pictures. It still looks awesome.