literally can’t even!

oh, my poor blog readers. you were expecting me to keep at least some level of posting this year. i think i’ve blogged twice this month. TWICE! omg, what is wrong with me

(i know what’s worng: work sucks right now. i can barely function when i get home. i go to work, i come home and do my half marathon training, and i collapse in front of the tv for an hour before i go to bed. there is nothing in my head to blog right now.)

that aside, here’s an update. this weekend, in february, was pretty nice. i went for a long run on saturday – 7 miles – and on sunday i organized all the junk in my shed. ah, organization! it looks much better in there now. i got some tool holders for the walls, and now all my shovels are up and ready for spring. put together a tool chest i got nate for christmas (but really for me) and put all the tools in it. and i pruned my apple trees. i’m not sure if i did enough, but the internet tells me that with major pruning, you should do it over three years. i took a big chunk of stuff out of both trees, so i guess that’ll do for now. 

the cats had some outside time, and ralf didn’t run away like i was expecting. but he does like to wander, so back in the house he went while sophie hung out for a while on the patio while i pruned. 

in related news, i now have two pairs of loppers, a hedge trimmer, and a hand saw. i’ll need them this spring! holy cow, there is brush up the wazoo that needs to be cleared out, and there is junk (literally junk – like an old plow, garden pots, trailer, etc.) in the wooded area behind the shed. 

well, that’s all i’ve got for now. i hope i blog at least once more this month, but i just don’t know. πŸ™

 

frazzle dazzle

i am slowly drowning at work. every day i walk out the door, and it’s like a huge weight was lifted off, but half the weight is still there. i come home and can’t stop thinking about all the stuff that needs to be done.

i like my job! and most times, it can be fun! but the sheer amount of work is going to do me in. thankfully, we start a job search tomorrow with the prospect of a new person starting mid march.

huzzah! here’s hoping we find someone qualified and who will be my friend D:

i’ve zenned out on current events. i’m still concerned, but my anger has subsided. i think this is partly due to the phone change, partly due to daily yoga, and partly due to the idea that nothing they do any more will shock me. literally can’t even any more. freedom of the press overrated? pffft. judges have poor judgment? eh, who needs checks and balances. listen to my alternative facts and regard them as truth? why not. unbelievable. 

i think my next politiblog might go over the constitution. i’d like to know more about it. you might too.

also, i’m thinking of taking a paralegal class next fall! i’m hoping there’s something akin to constitutional law that i can take, since i’ve taken two media law classes. i’ll have to do some research (ahem) on them. 

it goes both ways

i’m pretty passionate about the first amendment, if you haven’t figured that out by now. a lot of left-leaning people generally are pro-first amendment and make a big deal out of it: see the recent marches, etc. but what baffles my mind is when they can’t see that the first amendment goes both ways. you get to say your piece, and the other guy does too. THAT’S HOW IT WORKS.  

exhibit a:

Screen-Shot-2017-01-25-at-10.25.07-AM

is it ok to punch a nazi?

this guy, whose name i don’t know nor do i care to know, was giving an interview. he is a white supremacist, aka nazi. someone came up to him mid-interview, punched him, and ran away. 

twitter exploded. every liberal person i follow on my feed had some pithy 140 characters about how it’s american to punch a nazi. how punching was too good for the nazi. how they wanted to punch nazis all day long.

and my mouth dropped open, thinking, what on earth is wrong with you people? this guy is talking about his nazi ideals, which he is entitled to think and talk about as long as he doesn’t use them to infringe on anyone else’s rights. and someone punched him.

if you brought up the first amendment to any of the it’s-ok-to-punch-a-nazi people? well, hellfire was wrought. you basically had to shut down you twitter account forever at that point. 

i unfollowed my fave web cartoonist (questionable content!) because he would not shut up about how he didn’t want to hear that punching nazis was really an affront to the first amendment. and many of his followers would twitter-attack you if you wanted to make a case.

the nazi has every right to speak out about his beliefs as long as he isn’t infringing on someone else’s rights*. his opponents had every right to speak out against him as long as there are no personal threats (that’s hate speech, kids). OR, his opponents had every right to turn around and ignore him. 

you know that episode of the simpson’s where the giant ads come to life, and the whole town sings “just don’t look”? that’s how you deal with a nazi. ignore him.

exhibit b:

fire-berkeley

the berkeley riots

well. i haven’t done a ton of research on this, and my twitter feed was conspicuously silent about this (surprise surprise). i’m really disgusted by this. 

this dude named milo last name is greek and begins with a Y, who is an editor for breitbart and a general right-wing rabble rouser, was scheduled to speak at berkeley, invited by the college republicans. he’s been on tour and in one of his previous engagements, he called out a transgender student by name for ridicule. (hate speech! not cool at all.) students called for cancellation based on his previous inciteful speech, but the president of UCB didn’t cancel. hence a protest. 

here’s what i’ve learned happened based on my minimal research (remember: you can do your own research on this! and make sure to visit multiple sites of varying viewpoints. i visited the NYTimes and the national review.). a professor from UCB pepper-sprayed a woman wearing a make american great again hat. a person in black ran up to a student, said “you look like a nazi”, and pepper-sprayed and beat with a rod. the student who was attacked? definitely not a nazi; he was a muslim from syria. (makes you wonder which side the attacker was actually on…) then there was a fire, and the speaking event was cancelled because people were worried for milo’s safety. 

the best way to have handled this? let those college republicans have their speaker. ignore it completely, or if you do protest, do so legally and peacefully. or go to the speaker, listen to what he has to say, then ask a bunch of questions about why he thinks that. bring your facts and piecharts. but by inciting violence or hate speech, you’re infringing on someone else’s rights. and THAT’S NOT THE POINT of the first amendment.

i saw very little in my twitter feed about this. i remember seeing one tweet about how people were spelling berkeley many different ways and missing the hashtag. but my regular tweeters i follow? not one peep. 

and this is what’s wrong. 

conclusion

if you support the first amendment, you need to 100% support it – no exceptions. if it’s something you absolutely hate, then you speechify/protest right back, but you cannot punch a person, pepper-spray a person, or threaten said speakers. or, best scenario, don’t give them an audience. that’s the ultimate slap in the face when you think about it. there is nothing more irritating to someone with a very hot-button opinion than no one to listen. 

and, lord help me, i’m ending my argument with a quote from the national review. 

Setting aside the question of political violence, our so-called liberal friends should be asking themselves some uncomfortable questions about their participation in a political movement that feels the need to silence critics and to bully institutions into excluding nonconforming points of view from public forums.

the very thing we dirty hippies are fighting for are what we’re showing to be our downfall, in a way. different points of view in public forums is what shapes our country to what it is. i had a coworker once ask me if i liked talking about politics (in person!), and i said no because my views were completely different from his, and neither of us would change our minds. he said that’s all the more reason to discuss politics. by sharing our viewpoints, we can find a middle-ground and compromise.*

*i am NOT condoning nazism as a valid thing to compromise on. remember: infringing on someone else’s rights and autonomy (like, say, nazi human experimentation or exterminating an entire people based on religion) is not in the cards. 

numb

there are so many things i could blog about, but tonight just two:

  1. i’ve been feeling less angry. i don’t know if this is due to daily yoga, less screen time, or the fact that something worse happens every day so i’ve become numb to the absurdity of the current political atmosphere. 
  2. my cat chasey is not doing well. her hind legs aren’t working great, she’s been on special diet food for a few months now, and she generally looks like a disheveled mess of a cat. i’m gonna see how she does tomorrow, then it may be time for a visit to the vet ;(

putting the bad in badlands

i have a feeling i will be posting a lot of politiblogs over the next four years. that said, i’m going for a quick run because it’s time to start training for my half marathon. 

life goes on?

brb.

wow i run like the wind when i’m fired up.

let’s talk about what’s happening to the national parks’ social media accounts. and the gag order on the EPA and the USDA. 

today, the EPA staffers were ordered stop releasing press releases, blog updates and social media posts. the USDA’s research department was told to stop releasing press releases, photos, and other public-facing docs. basically everything the public should be interested in, and SHOULD see, they were ordered to stop sharing. *

the head of the EPA said, β€œWe’re temporarily dimming some of the communication aspects of the department while we get it under control, to shape the message towards what the new administration would like to be talking about.” 

(my guess is the new administration would like to shape the EPA to be the EDA (environmental destruction agency) and change its message completely.)

in addition to the halt in public communications, there’s been a hiring freeze, and i’m guessing they will reduce the staff size by not replacing employees in the upcoming boomer retirements. 

in a POSITIVE light, we have some rogue national park service peeps making appearances. first, we see the NPS tweeting about crowd size comparison on inauguration day, which were promptly removed. 

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of course we got some screenshots before the ballsy social media peeps in the badlands got the boot.

second, today, the badlands official twitter account** went on a climate change missive, sending up a tweetstorm after the ruling came through to shut up. tweets were subsequently deleted. but major, major props to that social media manager. if there’s any reason to support the NPS, this would be it (you know, besides taking in the splendor of our nation’s natural  beauty while we still can and before public lands are sold to the highest bidder). as a social media manager myself, i highly commend this action, even if it would inevitably mean a firing.

one VERY important lesson to learn about the internet, which DT’s team seems to be missing: when you put something on the internet, it STAYS on the internet. and removing it by presidential order is one way to GUARANTEE everyone sees it.

meanwhile, i will say that DT’s nominee for head of department of the interior, which oversees the NPS, does not believe climate change is a hoax. he also has been against handing public lands over to the states. it’s a low, low bar, but it’s SOMETHING. 

[as an aside, DT has done ONE thing that i agree with – he nixed the TPP. i was not a huge fan of that and wondered why obama supported it.]

and here’s what DT said himself about environmentalism today: β€œI am, to a large extent, an environmentalist; I believe in it. But [edit: AND] it’s out of control.”

i think you misspoke your conjunction there, mr. t. maybe he’s talking about his personal environment of gold elevators and sketchy hair products? 

*******

*i guess george w’s administration had the same sort of policy so it’s not unprecedented. same thing happened in canada, as well: β€œThere was a feeling that the government was not interested in expert opinion, and I think it’s the same kind of thing that you are probably going to see with the new [Trump] administration” in the U.S., David Tarasick, a senior research scientist at Environment and Climate Change Canada (the equivalent of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency), said last month.

source to read: https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/trump-administration-restricts-news-from-federal-scientists-at-usda-epa/?WT.mc_id=SA_FB_POLE_NEWS

**support the badlands’ twitter: https://twitter.com/BadlandsNPS 

IMG_0371

THIS HEADLINE IS NOT THE ARTICLE

i want to expand a little on what i wrote on facebook yesterday in light of the press secretary lying in a press conference and then the chief of staff saying that his statements were “alternative facts”.

here’s the thing: i’ve taken a 300-level media law class and a 500-level media law class, one at st. ben’s and another at st cloud SU for my master’s. i took journalism I and II at st. ben’s. then i spent almost 3 years working for a newspaper. granted, it was a small weekly, but it was still a newspaper. 

my master’s degree is in mass communication. i had to take a media ethics class to get that sucker. so when i go on and on about the first amendment? i literally have studied it for semesters. then i literally have applied it in my workplace for years, even now as i work in a public institution.

so when the press secretary, who theoretically has taken the SAME CLASSES I HAVE, steps in front of a podium and outright lies to the press representatives about inauguration numbers, that makes your mouth drop open. then when he tells them that “we (the white house) will hold you accountable,” that’s when you literally gasp. 

excuse me, sir. that is NOT how this works. 

let’s review.

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble*, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

here are the fundamentals of why the press and media are important.

the press is the watchdog of the government. the watchdog of the press is the readers and citizens. 

if you truly want to hold the media and thereby the government accountable, make sure the news you’re reading is TRUE, FACTUAL, and ACCURATE. i’m not talking about the opinion page. i’m talking about the news. any journalist worth her or his salt will investigate beyond talking points and make sure the news is correct. see something that’s not correct? stop buying that newspaper; call them and let them know why you’re no longer reading them. less readership means less subscriptions and less advertising, which means less newspaper. write a letter to the editor and tell them the information is incorrect and show your sources. call for action from that media outlet. (first make sure it’s not a satirical outlet.) 

readers (YOU), ombudsmen**, and outside organizations are the watchdogs of the media. instead of repeating soundbytes, memes, and headlines, how about delving into the news to see if what you’re seeing is actually the news. if it isn’t, then contact the news outlet. if it is, how about helping them stay in business with a subscription or visiting their website without adblock.

so there’s my two cents. it’s not hard to find out the real news and to stay informed. it takes a little more effort than scrolling past a meme, but you and the people you consort with will be better for it.

*some states are now considering legislation that will make protests (assembly) illegal. that’s the next topic. UGH. 

**an ombudsman is sort of like an internal quality control for a newspaper – a reader’s advocate in some ways. the ombudsman, who keeps an objective lens, will go through all reader complaints and grievances, then check to see if any thing called out as incorrect or checking on stories that readers need explanation on. this is a lot of running around to keep journalists accountable, but it’s a great way to make sure the news is reported correctly. unfortunately, the newspaper ombudsman has gone out of style lately, and probably just when we need it. with readership down, it’d be a great way to keep readers engaged and informed about how the newspaper keeps itself objective and accountable.

check in

today at work i had meetings for pretty much 7 hours straight. i started at 9, had maybe half an hour for lunch, and got back at my desk to answer some emails around 5. there was a foot appointment in there, but since i was running to that in the space between two meetings, i’ll count it. and it was ok. i’m feeling better about being there! after my coworker left, maybe a week afterward, i was sitting at my desk with a pile of work and no one to even say hi to in the morning, and i got so lonely for my old job in roch. it’s better now though!

i’m going to the women’s march in st paul on saturday! that should be something. my mom said i would feel empowered after that, and i hope so because i think we all need some empowering right now.

so far i’ve done yoga every day this month. i’m feeling really stagnant right now so i hope today isn’t the dealbreaker.

in addition to my iphone dismissal, i installed a procrastinator extension on my chrome so i can only spend 60 minutes a day looking at facebook and twitter. i figure i’ll try to whittle that down even more as time goes on. the march toward less anger continues!

party like it’s 2006

a couple years ago i had started thinking about getting rid of my iphone. don’t get me wrong; i love that thing. if i could, i’d marry it. therein lies the problem

the iphone introduced a magical world where every thing you’d ever want to know was right at your fingertips. 

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want to know how to get to the nearest mcdonald’s? google maps. stopping by jcpenney and wonder if there’s a coupon? google it. grocery shopping at target? cartwheel. need to remember to bring something somewhere? set up a reminder. want to track your runs? runkeeper. need something to listen to during your runs? podcasts and spotify. out and about, see a fake colosseum, and wondering what the downfall of the roman empire was? instant google to the rescue. 

we’ve created this culture of instant information and instant gratification, right at our fingertips. it’s very empowering, very satisfying, and very addicting, when you think about it. 

ten years ago, you’d have to print out directions from mapquest if you were going somewhere new, or look at a map. you’d have to make sure you have your penneys coupon printed before shopping. same with target coupons (as an aside, you CAN print cartwheel coupons out at home and bring them with you). you’d have to carry a small notepad and pen in case you needed to remember something. tracking runs meant timing them and then figuring out distance on a map and then doing some math. ten years ago, you could bring an ipod with you, but you’d have to make sure all your music was downloaded and stored on the device. see a fake colosseum? well, make a note about the roman empire in your notepad to look up later when you get home (via wikipedia OR your encyclopedia if you’re a true luddite). 

not IMPOSSIBLE. but certainly more inconvenient than these past ten years have been.

so why would someone want to go back there? why would i want to give up my iphone? 

nothing pushed me more to give it up than this last election cycle. the constant information, the “always on” aspect of the news, the bombardment of opinions and news or propaganda via social media was completely overwhelming for me. and that rush of just being able to pull out my phone and look was too much to turn away. social media addiction is real and documented; you get a high from checking it. and i know i’ve devolved into a weird sort of ADD personality when it comes to that stuff. if it’s not a soundbite or headline, it’s not worth the time and effort to read. this is how misinformation get spread, and this is how you become a lazy bum. 

it was time to just bite the bullet and start to step away from information overload.

i know the best way to do this is to get rid of my facebook and twitter accounts, but since a lot of my job is involved with that, that step is a bit too drastic at this point. i started to take some steps:

  1. curate my facebook feed so it makes me happier. this meant blocking the people who posted negative (to me) information, unfollowing all news sites, and start following a bunch of pages dedicated to cats, baking, cooking, grammar, writing, books, yoga, and running. i also made sure my starred friends were my like-minded siblings and close friends and relatives so i’d see their posts first.
  2. my twitter feed pretty much WAS curated this way already. i could always count on my twitter feed to focus on my ideals versus FB, which was hit or miss before #1. there are a few political people on there that i should unfollow though, as their tweets tend to get overwhelming at times. 
  3. a couple years ago i had stopped bringing my phone to bed with me. i had been using it as an alarm, but it ended up being more of a “let’s look at stuff until 1 a.m. and i’ll be dead tired the next day.” so i’ve been using an alarm for a while now. 
  4. stop reading the FB comments on MN-based news outlets’ stories. you want to see the cesspool that has become humanity, just go to your local newspaper’s FB page and read comments on a controversial article (i.e. anything having to do with muslims in the st. cloud times). 
  5. no really. just stop. 
  6. STOP.
  7. ok, we’ll start that one tomorrow then.

right now i’m at a better place in my social media feeds. it’s not perfect, and it’s not going to be perfect until i get rid of them completely. even then, my job will require me to look at social media for a while yet.

but i figured one GOOD step would be to get rid of its constantness. which meant setting aside my smartphone. 

now: i’m attached. if i leave my iphone at home when i go out, i feel like i left a body part behind. i was checking FB on my laptop once and picked up my phone TO CHECK FB.

watching a TV show? phone is in my hand. it’s rare that a movie or show i watch at home has my full attention anymore. i’ve tried leaving my phone in the kitchen while i watch a movie, but i’m always thinking about getting my phone to look at twitter or FB or reddit or the latest news.*

i have a problem.

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i bit the bullet. i went on ebay, found a pink motorola razr like i had back in 2006-2009, and i paid $25 for it. i bought a new battery for $30, put my sim in it, and fired it up. 

hello, moto.

image1 IMG_1709 IMG_1710 IMG_1711 IMG_1712 IMG_1713

(yes, i took all these pics with my iphone.)

oh god, it was all coming back to me. i set up the ringer, the wallpaper, punched in the numbers of a few people, and sent a couple texts. called jane to make sure it worked. so far so good. 

then i kept picking it up and looking at it, expecting it to entertain me like my iphone. but it’s JUST A PHONE. the only way it will entertain me is if some real, live person gives me a call or sends me a text. even the TZONE doesn’t work anymore, and connecting to the “browser” brings me to google circa 2006. 

it’s weird. it doesn’t do anything, yet i still keep it on me all the time. i could easily set it on the kitchen counter and nothing would ding or beep or notify or have anything new happen all evening long. it’s bizarre. and it’s all me that’s placing this expectation on it. 

i’ve had it switched for two days now. last night, i left my iphone at work ON PURPOSE. and life was fine. sure, i use my laptop a little bit more, but i feel using a laptop is more intentional than just slipping your phone from your pocket or setting it beside you. you can’t just drop your laptop between your leg and the couch cushion to absent-mindedly pick it up again 30 seconds later; you need to intentionally place it and pick it up. 

Screen shot 2017-01-13 at 10.02.49 PM

My current iphone screenshot

for now, i still have my iphone, but in a neutered format. i removed a bunch of apps, including my google drive, alienblue (RIP), pokemon, all the games, all the cooking stuff, all the news apps, etc.

i can still use imessages if i’m logged into my desktop mac (laptop is too old).

i kept my running app because i will still use my phone for that, as well as music apps and podcast ap. (i have an extra phone number/sim from tmobile because it was a cheaper package, so it will be the “second line” and my gps.) i kept twitter, FB pages manager, instagram, and outlook for work stuff; i will use it more for work, is my guess. and i kept google maps, my bank app, wunderground, and all my coupon apps (the coupon apps may be deleted soon). you just never know; i may go on vacation and want to use my iphone instead of my flip phone (OR MAYBE NOT??).

what i’ve noticed so far? it may be all in my head, but there is less of a need to check everything all the time. i feel less angry at things i can’t do much about. i don’t feel compelled to check FB just because. and those phantom pocket buzzes? pretty much gone.

what i’m expecting will happen? i’ll print more directions. i’ll have to just guess at some stuff instead of look it up. i won’t be able to check my email constantly. i’ll check FB and twitter less. i’ve pretty much already stopped looking at reddit. 

and if the last couple days have been any indication, my mental health will be a little less angry and annoyed, and a little more hopeful and happy, and it should be rising exponentially the longer i stay away from that iphone.

i’m not saying this is the best thing for everyone to do, but if knowing so much about the world is making you unhappy, this might be a step to take. the question of “would you rather be ignorant and happy or informed and unhappy” always had me ambivalent, leaning toward informed and unhappy. these days? i’m leaning toward ignorant and happy.** 

so i’m embracing my inner luddite. the only way my phone will entertain me these days is if someone calls/texts me, or i call/text people, just like the old days back in 2006. this may be short-lived; this may be a wake-up call and i’ll never own a smartphone again. either way, i’ve already noticed benefits, and if it makes me a little bit happier, i’ll take it for as long as i can.

*not that knowing the news is a BAD thing. i love that i find out a lot of “breaking” news via twitter. generally i know more about a current event from twitter users than from the news.

**this is NOT to say i am uninformed; i generally know what’s going on. but i am not so informed so much of the time and thinking about it constantly. there’s a difference between being informed and inundated.

ohm

here’s my plug for fightmaster yoga. i’ve been doing the 30 days of hatha yoga for happiness, and it’s been great. all her videos are generally great, and this one is no different. i did a headstand against the wall, we did about four rounds of warrior two namaskare flow things and about died in the process. i’ve been utkatasana-ing all over the place, and if i do go skiing this weekend, i’ll be ready. 

she has a youtube channel, a website, is on FB, all that stuff. she has beginner’s classes and ashtanga classes (i want to take her ashtanga course but it’s $100!), and basic yoga flow classes. everything from 10 minutes to 1-1/2 hrs. 

there’s my plug. 

i gotta say, not listening to news nonstop and doing yoga has actually calmed me down a little bit. i can notice a difference.

classy

i watched pres. obama give his farewell speech, and i feel more relaxed about this presidential transition than i have in a while. of course he said the right things the right way, like he always does. he thanked the right people and made them cry (made ME feel a little weepy). despite his occasional stuttering and propensity to say “ta” instead of “to”, he has a way with words to make people feel a little calmer, a little more centered, and a lot more energized.

“I do have one final ask of you as your president―the same thing I asked when you took a chance on me eight years ago. I am asking you to believe. Not in my ability to bring about changeβ€”but in yours.”

this made me just so happy. it’s why i was drawn to bernie – the fact that americans need to realize THEY have the power. it’s why you call your representatives and make some racket, even if others think you’re a weirdo or you don’t deserve to have a say because they just want to be complacent. being a citizen is not complacency!

if you haven’t seen his speech, i recommend finding it on youtube and giving it a watch. if ain’t nobody got time for that, check out this quote list to get you feeling a little more balanced in life (if you’re like me and have been feeling rather ragey and anxious for a while).

in other news, this flip phone thing is weird. i keep picking it up, expecting it to DO something. i guess you people need to start calling or texting me! things i’ve noticed so far: less facebooking when i’m not at work; less redditing for sure; still use my laptop all the time and keep twitter up. (i watched twitter during the trumpster fire of a press conference this morning, and it wasn’t fun.) still got some work to do, but i’ll get there.