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, “We’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: “I 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: “There 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 

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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.

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(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. 

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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 change—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. 

done-zo

in an effort to feel less stressed about the world around me and focus on my resolution to be happy, i decided to finally go back to a dumb phone and set aside the constant overload of information that is the smart phone in my pocket. 

41qdbaubnhl-_sx425_i bought a motorola razr on ebay, and i got it in the mail yesterday, TEN YEARS TO THE DAY THAT STEVE JOBS INTRODUCED THE IPHONE. i take it as a sign.

i will keep my iphone, and i stuck my extra sim in it with the extra phone number i have. i will need to use it for work occasionally and i want to keep tracking my outdoor runs with runkeeper, as well as listen to podcasts and music on the run. so it’s not like i’ll be completely cold turkey.

so my phone number is in the razr. my imessages on my computer still works, so if you send me a text while a mac is on, i’ll get an imessage vs. a text message on my phone. that’s ok. emojis and pics!

i stopped at tmobile today to get my extra sim figured out, and the guy who helped me said he quit social media last year, and he’s been really happy with it. i’ve already taken steps to get rid of the news and negativity on my fb and twitter feeds. if it comes to it, maybe i’ll quit those, too. it’ll be like 2006 all over again. mapquest here i come! (no, really; no more google maps on my phone.)

in other news, it snowed today, and i got NEW snowpants in the mail, so i’m gonna go out and shovel. 

let’s get this party kickstarted

this summer i have the opportunity to work on a big photo project again! this time around, we’re working on bringing old hollywood to life. this project will be super duper fun and i’m really excited about it. i’ll be working with a lot of the same people who were part of the cosplay calendar i did a couple years ago. (which was also super duper fun.)

SO. it’s currently in a kickstarter, and we need to get this funded! i’m going to up the ante for my blog readers: if you fund this at $20 & up, and it gets fully funded, i’ll send you a copy of any 8×10 photo or notecards from my etsy shop. (you also get a piece of jewelry from the set!) just make a screen shot of your receipt and comment with it below (make sure to comment with your name so i know who you are). or you can email it to me if you have my email.

let’s get this going! click here for the kickstarter page!

d-clutter

i wasn’t sure if i should title this the clutter or declutter. some sort of compromise, i guess.

i’ve watched two or three videos in the past week that told people to declutter. so i guess it’s time. i went through a bunch of books and have a stack to sell, a stack to donate to the library, and a stack to donate to goodwill. i also have a stack of books that i don’t want but can’t get rid of because they’re inscribed. 

next up is my DVDs. i rarely watch movies off DVD anymore unless they’re holiday related. i do have blu-rays that i watch, but even my herk and xena dvds are available on netflix now (except for two x episodes because of music royalty issues). this is such a weird issue for me. books i can deal with because i know which ones i will read again (HP? yes. hunger games? yes. writing manuals? yes. etc. etc.). movies are a whole other ordeal. once i’ve watched them once, i feel like that’s it. but what if someone comes over and wants to watch a movie and i say i don’t have it? do we rent it from amazon? who knows. 

after that i think it’s time to go through my clothes again. that’s always a fun time. 

then the closet in the guest room, which is full of stuff i never use but need a place for. ugh! 

THEN. in march or april, on that one day when it’s 60º and feels like spring has arrived but really hasn’t, i will clear out my shed and garage!! gotta make room for garden stuff!