a very caribou love story

dear caribou coffee,

in case i couldn’t admire you more, i received an email from you the other day pronouncing your “clean label” drinks, which i promptly opened. since going corn syrup-free in 2010, it’s been a mission to ferret out the places and items i can eat and drink. while i have been failing spectacularly lately, i now know that you are one place i can get a tasty beverage and know that i’ll at least be HFCS free, if not all corn free*.

*[the new clean label line declares no artificial flavors, colors, preservatives, or sweeteners. i see a very prominent no high fructose corn syrup, and while i am sitting here pleased as punch so far, i’d like to know if this includes regular corn syrup as well, but i’m guessing a clean label means no corn-related foodstuffs.]

12132483_10101582915606791_3539012098377519292_oit takes a long time to come clean. according to a recent startribune article, this has been years in the making. in 2006, you started with rainforest alliance coffee beans, moved to milk, chocolate chips, vanilla, caramel (GOOD TO KNOW – but is there regular corn syrup in it?), PUMPKIN (!!!!), and now here we sit with a menu of 5 drinks that are 100% clean label, 2 of which are my go-to drinks – the crafted press and mocha -, with the promise of the entire drink menu going clean by the end of the year. 

so while i was cursing the system of corn-heavy foods in 2010, you were already on your way to nixing artificial junk. while i wrote to companies about the perils of including corn  syrup in their ingredients, you were moving to chocolate chips versus chocolate syrup. while i blogged about big ag monopolies, you were working on becoming 100% rainforest certified. 

and i love your why: “we believe that real ingredients taste better. And we invite you to taste the difference for yourself.”

that’s really what this all comes down to: a better taste. have you tasted ice cream made with cream, eggs, and vanilla versus the junk you buy in a gallon bucket? it JUST TASTES BETTER.

so while i would like to see an actual ingredients list on those flavor syrups (it’s not that i don’t trust you; it’s just that i’ve seen GMO-free corn syrup, and that’s rather disingenuous), i know that i’ll choose the ‘bou over the bucks or dunn, and not just for taste (although that’s a big part of it).

and while i still have a beef with you because you don’t offer your pumpkin drinks through thanksgiving, i am very encouraged by the clean labels, and just when i thought i couldn’t love you more for letting me get a hot crafted press, you go and do something crazy like this**. 


**the next big thing that would make me swoon would be a massive recyclable/reusable cup effort. i’d buy stock.


i’m always skeptical of these mlms that are all over – especially the skincare/healthcare ones. but i’ve been eyeing some sort of eyelash booster for a while, and i inquired about R+F lash boost. $150!!! omg. i may as well go to the doc and get a prescription for latisse. 

so i did some googling and found a list of top ten lash boosters out there. number two was a $10 tube of london rimmel lash serum. what the heck – may as well give it a go since it’s $140 less than the other stuff i was looking at. found a tube at walmart tonight, and it was actually $8, so i saved my pocketbook $142 over the other option i was looking at.

so i want to see if this stuff will actually make a difference, so i’m going to take some before pics and then followup once a week. or maybe once every couple weeks. we’ll see how ambitious i get.

fyi: it’s kind of hard to take a close-up of your own eyeball. 


ode to a cat

i can’t believe i didn’t blog about chasey cat when i took her to the vet. 

a month ago, chasey was not doing well at all. she’d been not 100% for a while, but she seemed happy and was frisking around occasionally. what more could you ask for from a 16-year-old cat? but one day she was limping along a little bit more than usual, then the next her food bowl wasn’t getting much attention, and the third she was barely moving around and peed on the rug. the next morning i had to take her to the vet to put her down πŸ™

nate drove and i held her on the way there, and she was the most alert on that drive than probably the past three weeks. she hated car rides, so i’m not surprised. 

got to the vet and sat in a room where they put in a stint, then we said goodbye to the pretty kitty, then it was time for the meds. poor tiny cat.

nate wanted a private cremation, so now her ashes are sitting on the bookshelf waiting for summertimes so we can sprinkle her outside where she always wanted to be.


in two weeks i’m getting a cattoo! little grey tabby sitting on a stack of books. 

(meanwhile, ralf has lost a couple pounds and sophie’s been eating all the food ralf hasn’t -_-)

Review: Hillbilly Elegy: A Memoir of a Family and Culture in Crisis

Hillbilly Elegy: A Memoir of a Family and Culture in Crisis
Hillbilly Elegy: A Memoir of a Family and Culture in Crisis by J.D. Vance
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

i heard about this book on mpr a couple months ago, where the described it as the book to read if you want to know more about rural white america in these divided times. i put it on my to-read list, then a month ago i found out that the mn state system office was doing an online book club with this as its first book. so i actually went out and bought a copy.

for me reading this book, i see it less as a testament to political division and more an explanation of family systems, gender expectations, poverty, and homogeneity in childhood. his family system was not good. there was a lot of fighting and a lot of violence. there were expectations to defend your family honor, especially for him as a boy. and even if accusations were true! there was substance abuse, no stable father figure that his mom kept around, and no stability or consistent support from his mom. his support came in the form of his grandparents, sister, and aunt, and he was lucky to have them.

and while he touches on poverty as an impetus for much of this, he also makes note that his mom was a nurse and made good money (when she worked). his grandparents made a chunk o’ change. but the values to hold down a job and come to work on time are not something his contemporaries hold dear. poverty can hold some people down, but i think his message is more about family systems than money. a family can be in poverty, accept assistance in the form of welfare and foodstamps, and it can still be happy, productive, and working on moving up in the world.

i came away from reading this wondering more about how to help out family systems that are violent and emotionally damaging. how to knock down these expectations we hold for masculinity (and femininity) that still haunt vance enough that he was ready to fight a guy who cut him off in traffic. how to desegregate the classes so those less fortunate can see how life could be if given or even shown the right opportunities. and mostly how to create a support system when so many of our fellow countrypeople are too dang proud to even admit they need help, let alone ask for it in this country of autonomy and bootstraps.

vance is right; digging out of the pit of despair starts at home, but recognizing the pit is the first step. the second is to create and provide a system of help before it’s too late.

i leave you with a quote from martin luther king, jr: β€œIt’s all right to tell a man to lift himself by his own bootstraps, but it is cruel jest to say to a bootless man that he ought to lift himself by his own bootstraps.”

View all my reviews

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:


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:


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. 


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. 


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?


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. 


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 



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.