#100happydays

Friday, January 30, 2015 -- 5:48 pm

"Can you be happy for a 100 days in a row?"

That's what we're going to find out. I'm taking the #100happydays challenge to post a photo each day of something that made me happy.

The premise is that people these days are too busy and don't "have the time" to be happy. My first thought was that this was a fairly depressing claim, but then it got me thinking and I could sort of see what they were angling at -- because while I don't doubt that I experience moments of happiness each day, sometimes at the end of a crappy, stressful day as you're laying there falling asleep it's hard to remember them.

When you sign up they ask you to rate your current level of happiness out of ten, and I started myself out with an 8/10. Overall I'm pretty happy with my life -- but I have shitty days like everyone else, and I'm hoping that this challenge will force me to focus on the happy parts of each day rather than the bad parts as we're all prone to doing. Admittedly I don't have a great track record of following through with photo challenges, but whether I finish or not hopefully I'll learn something about myself in the process and reflect on what it is that really makes me happy. (Plus, you know, who doesn't love a good excuse to flagrantly abuse Instagram filters?)

With that said. . . Day 1.

Blog dashboard has been fixed! (Thanks again, Andy!)

Blog dashboard has been fixed! (Thanks again, Andy!)

And because there's no rule saying I can't commemorate past Happy Days, I'm throwing in two more small pleasures from earlier these past couple of weeks.  Because that's the way I roll, yo.  #extrahappiness

First time making the 10k milestone since I started using my pedometer!

First time making the 10k milestone since I started using my pedometer!

1,000 followers on my Tumblr blog, Bucket List Lion. Admittedly most of them are probably there less for the lion conservation and more for the lion photos, but at least the information is getting out there.

1,000 followers on my Tumblr blog, Bucket List Lion. Admittedly most of them are probably there less for the lion conservation and more for the lion photos, but at least the information is getting out there.

 

Lions and Bucket Lists

Sunday, August 10, 2014 -- 11:02 pm

Pretty much since I can remember, I’ve wanted to hug a lion.  A big male lion with a giant mane I can run my hands through.  It’s been up there at the top of my bucket list right along with owning my very own home, standing underneath the Eiffel Tower, and traveling to Africa: hug a lion.  Some people may think it’s a bit silly, but for me the thought makes the breath catch in my throat and brings tears to my eyes the same way that the individuals who cry for whatever reason at weddings can’t really explain to other people.  Some people’s dreams involve winning the gold, visiting the Great Wall, or swimming with dolphins.  This is mine.

While I’ve already crossed off Paris and home ownership, earlier this year I made the decision that I would finally stop saying “some day” and tackle at least one more of these dreams: in 2015 (barring complications and scary Ebola outbreaks) I will be going to South Africa to volunteer for two to four weeks at an animal sanctuary and conservation reserve.

Like many others, my original idea for doing this came from watching a series of YouTube videos showing groups of international volunteers helping out at a South African lion park, feeding and playing with the cute, furry cubs.  I was entranced.  “What?” I thought.  “You mean I could visit Africa AND have the opportunity to cuddle lion cubs at the same time?”  It wasn’t the big adult lion I had been hoping for, but it was the closest I was probably ever going to get.  The decision was obvious.

Except -- it wasn’t.  Because the more excited I got, the more looking into it I did, the more I learned. . . the more I realized I didn’t want to do this at all.  The more I realized I didn’t want anyone anywhere ever doing this.

What You Don’t Know: A World Without Lions

To understand the problem behind this idea I had of cuddling adorable lion cubs, you have to have a little bit of an understanding about the current status of lions.

Lions are everywhere -- depicted on popular branding and logos, emblazoned on our clothes, sitting outside buildings as stone facades, on children’s books and in movies.  They have become cultural icons across the world and are easily one of the first and most identifiable animals we learn to recognize at an early age.

Unfortunately, what most people are surprised to learn is that lions are in serious trouble -- in the 1940’s there were reported to be over 450,000 lions in Africa; by the 1980’s less than 100,000.  Today there are only as few as 20,000 to 35,000 left in all of Africa.  That’s nearly a staggering 95% decrease in only 70 years; and over an 80% loss of population in just the last 30 years alone.  The IUCN (International Union for Conservation of Nature) have lions currently classified as a vulnerable species, though many people argue they should officially be listed as endangered.

So where has the king of beasts gone?

Lions are suffering from a four-pronged threat:

  1. Habitat loss / human encroachment: lions have disappeared from over 75% of their former range and there’s increasingly less wild habitat for them to live in due to ever expanding human settlements.  Lion prides require a very large territory to thrive, and the decreasing space they find themselves in simply isn’t enough to support them and other wild game.
  2. Retaliatory killings: with less habitat space and less available game to hunt, lions begin preying on livestock -- and in turn are being killed by angry farmers.
  3. Poaching: lions are being illegally trapped and slaughtered almost to extinction in various national parks across Africa; their meat is sold as “bushmeat” at local African markets, while their bones are traded to China to be used for traditional medicinal purposes that have no scientific basis, and as a replacement for tiger bones in making tiger bone wine (since tigers have been practically wiped out due to the same practice.)
  4. Tourist hunting: rich tourists from overseas flock to Africa to pay for the right to shoot a lion for sport in trophy and canned hunts.

It’s both devastating and sadly not surprising at all that people are the direct root of every one of these problems.  It’s estimated that within just 20 years the lion could become completely extinct in the wild.  We are wiping out this species just as we wiped out the passenger pigeon and the Western black rhino and so many other species, all because humans can’t seem to learn that we don’t own the world -- we’re a part of it.  And if we don’t change the way we think, then generations from now parents will be explaining to their children how that fascinating and iconic animal with the beautiful mane on the front of their storybook doesn’t actually exist anymore.

Africa’s Dirty Secret: Canned Hunting

So where does lion cub cuddling factor into all of this?  Remember that four-pronged threat I mentioned above?  This is where we learn a bit more about number four on that list: canned hunting.

Canned hunting (also called “put and take” hunting) was first exposed back in 1997 by the Cook Report, a British exposé program.  It is the disturbing practice of placing a lion or other captive animal in an area to be shot for sport with no means of escape – this can be due to being fenced in a small enclosed space, being preemptively drugged or lured in, or by having all natural fear of people removed from being hand-raised and tamed by humans.  They’re incredibly popular as they ensure a virtually guaranteed kill for even first time hunters with little to no effort on their part.

These captive bred hunts are a lucrative, rapidly flourishing, and un-policed industry, particularly in South Africa where there have been over 160 canned lion breeding farms established in the last 15 years.  In South Africa alone, there are more lions bred and raised in cages than there are in the wild – at last count only about 2,700 lions existed on game reserves in South Africa compared to the more than 8,000 in captivity, most of them destined to end up in canned hunts.

The Con of Conservation Volunteering: Cub Petting

If that’s not upsetting enough, here’s where the innocent, well-meaning and animal loving general public falls in -- specifically, international tourists and volunteers who come to Africa to pet and raise lion cubs.

Petting lion cubs is a popular tourist attraction and attracts droves of visitors to animal parks every year, in addition to hundreds of overseas volunteers and gap year students eager to lend a hand and their time in helping to raise and take care of animals -- and willing to pay thousands of dollars a month for the privilege.  Unfortunately, the truth that so few are aware of is that the parks offering these opportunities serve as direct or indirect breeding centers for canned hunting establishments.  They essentially have lions raised by tourists to later be killed by tourists -- and they profit from it every step of the way.

The life cycle of a single captive bred lion can bring in thousands or even millions of dollars in profit for a facility:

  1. Cubs are bred and taken from the mother days after being born, which is traumatic for both mother and cub.  The cubs are then raised by paying volunteers; tourists pay to pet them and take pictures with them.  This constant handling is actually detrimental to the cubs’ health, extremely stressful, and often leads to health problems.
  2. When the cubs are older, tourists can pay to walk with them for “enrichment purposes.”
  3. When the lions reach adulthood and are too large to be pet or walked with anymore, females are taken to breed more cubs; cubs are pulled from the mothers 3 - 10 days after being born in order to immediately put the lioness back into estrus so she can be mated again.  Adult males are sent to hunting farms.
  4. The bones of killed lions are sold to East Asian markets.

Volunteers and tourists are often none the wiser, lured into supporting such establishments parading as animal sanctuaries or rescues.  These facilities advertise under claims of conservation breeding and purposely misinform visitors that the lions raised are being re-introduced back into the wild.

The fact of the matter is that it is not possible for lions bred and raised in captivity to be released into the wild.  It has never been successfully done, because lions in captive breeding programs have compromised genetics and are often too inbred to be released -- doing so would genetically harm wild populations and introduce disease.  In addition to this, basic conservation practices will not allow animals that have been raised by and habituated to humans to be returned to the wild, as they have lost their fear of people which is a critical survival instinct.  Do not believe any establishment that tries to tell you otherwise.

I can’t blame past volunteers.  My heart goes out to them, devoting their money, time, and passion into an apparent cause they care so much about and animals they become so bonded to, only to find out afterward that they’ve been duped.  There have been some instances in which volunteers have rallied and petitioned through social media in an effort to save certain lions that are being put up for a hunt; one volunteer went so far as to purchase her lion cubs and relocate them to a legitimate sanctuary.

Aside from being a cruel and unethical business practice, the cub petting and canned hunting cycle actually harms legitimate conservation efforts for wild lions.  It not only takes international tourism and donation dollars away from real conservation projects seeking funding, but also whereas breeding farms misinform the public that their lions are being re-introduced back into the wild, lions are in fact being caught and removed from the wild in effort to add genetic diversity to the farm stock.

If you are considering visiting Africa in the future and are planning on engaging in cub petting, please reconsider and avoid supporting any facility that offers lion cub interactions.  For those who have visited Africa and have come home with pictures of themselves cuddling lion cubs -- the cub in your photo is probably dead by now.  If it’s a female, she has been force bred into litter after litter of cubs that are repeatedly taken away once their born, and bought for thousands of dollars to be slaughtered.  Not for their meat, but for entertainment.  And all at the cost of the lions themselves, both captive and wild.

Weeding the Good From the Bad: How Do You Know?

Easy.  Ask questions.  Do your research.

Before you visit or volunteer at an animal park, find out more information about it.  Search online for reviews or hints of unethical business practices or questionable associations; talk to other past visitors and volunteers; and get in touch directly with someone from the facility itself.

During your inquiry, some helpful questions to ask include:

  • How can you aim to reintroduce animals to the wild and yet allow volunteers to handle them and expose them to so much human contact?
  • What happens to the animals when they're older? Are they sold? If so, to where? What sort of assurances do you take to make sure you're not participating in canned hunting?
  • How often are lionesses giving birth to new litters?
  • Why are cubs being removed from their mothers in the first place? For what purpose/reason?
  • If you're breeding lions, what's your breeding plan? What happens when there are too many animals to support? Why breed purely for a life of confinement? If you rescue animals, why perpetuate the problem by breeding more of them?
  • Predators raised in captivity have little to no success of ever being released back into the wild. How many successful reintegration into the wild cases have you had? Do you have any specific and detailed documentation or proof of these instances?

In addition to questioning the facility itself, there are a number of other things to keep in mind when searching for a reputable place to visit or volunteer.  Based on my own experience over the last several months, my advice would be the following:

  • Dig into not only the program/facility itself, but also the travel or volunteer company offering the program.  Avoid any companies that do not specifically advertise the names of the facilities they want to send you to and list them rather as some vague "Big 5 Safari Reserve."  When inquiring about the exact location of one volunteer program, I received a reply that they were not allowed to release that information to me until after booking.  Word to the wise: if they’re not being straight with you, there’s a reason.
  • Do your research not just on the facility, but on the owners and management too.  When looking up information about one park that claimed itself a rescue sanctuary, I came across three news reports of the owner having previously been involved in supplying tame animals for canned hunts.
  • Ask for reviews from others -- but with all word-of-mouth, take other people’s words with a grain of salt.  Facebook groups devoted to responsible volunteering are helpful and can be commended for the awareness they’re trying to create – but how authoritative are all of the individuals running these groups and the people commenting?
  • When making direct inquiries, be polite but insistent.  Do not settle for vague stock replies; ask to speak to someone higher up if necessary.  And do not make accusations or begin ranting – you will get less straight answers, and instead receive a defensive reply or no reply at all.
  • If the answers you do receive convince you that the facility is bad news, respond politely telling them so.  This is actually not something I’ve done myself before, but will begin doing for the simple reason that most of the people working at these establishments don’t know any better.  More often than not, they’re fed information from park management and probably have no idea themselves what’s actually going on.  By explaining to them why you’re not interesting in supporting their business, you may just help raise awareness of the issue with that one employee.

The safest rule of thumb to follow though is to simply avoid any facility that offers cub petting or lion walks.  No true sanctuary breeds animals or has a steady supply of cubs.  And no reputable animal welfare organization will allow you to walk with predators or have any unnecessary physical interaction with wild animals or their infants – this is to protect you, the animal, and to reduce the chances of human habituation.

Knowing What You Know: How to Help

Let’s face it -- in truth, lions are not anymore deserving of our compassion and conservation efforts than any other animal.  I’m not trying to say they deserve special treatment in this regard -- rather that all animals do, native to our own land or otherwise.  But the lion is special to me.  I have spent my childhood and adult life dreaming of going to Africa and experiencing these animals, and the idea that years from now the only place anyone will be able to see a lion is behind a fence destroys me.

When these parks and reserves try to lure you in with the promise of cuddling cute cubs, be proactive.  Don’t be lazy -- do your own research. Dig deeper.  Because when you know what's going on but pretend you don't, or ignore it, or make excuses for why it's okay just this once -- you are saying you support this practice.  Because now you've read this, and now you know.

So what can you do to help stop it?  Simple.  It’s fast, easy, and won’t cost you a cent: share what you know.  In honor of World Lion Day, spread the word about how lions are disappearing.  That cub petting attractions are scams and that canned hunting is a sickening industry that is only getting bigger and bigger, and that tourists and volunteers are unknowingly hurting the same animals they appreciate so much.  Help save lions by simply sharing an article or posting a video, because awareness is half the battle.  (And if you do by chance want to donate, check out the links at the bottom of this post!)

I’m sure some people think I’m crazy – that I’m making too much out of nothing and that I’m obviously just another silly tree hugger.  Sure, okay, maybe I am.  I’m a lion hugger, but in name only.  Because I will not ignore or pretend -- and that probably means I will never have a chance to touch a lion, which is crushing.  I'll have to give up that particular dream.  And I'm okay with that.

 

*  *  *  *  *

Learn More, Do More: Extra Resources

Websites and print resources:

  • National Geographic’s Big Cats Initiative
    Learn more about the plight of Big Cats across the world, including lions and learn what you can do to help through advocacy and fundraising, as well as donating to the fantastic Build a Boma campaign.
  • National Geographic Kids’ “Mission: Lion Rescue” by Ashlee Brown Blewett and Daniel Raven-Ellison
    A fantastic and very informative book for kids and adults that covers everything from lion facts and history, the threats facing them, conservation strategies, and advocacy ideas/activities.  (Check to see if your local library has a copy!)
  • Campaign Against Canned Hunting
    CACH is a non-governmental organization founded and led by Chris Mercer, the leading expert and outspoken advocate against canned hunting.
  • Volunteers Beware (Facebook group)
    If you’re planning a wildlife-based volunteer trip to South Africa, this is a Facebook group you should check out.  They aim to raise awareness about things like cub petting and canned hunting, and compile reviews and information about different SA volunteer programs in an effort to help people choose reputable volunteer placements.  It has helpful information on it though it’s mostly conjecture, so don't rely entirely on it and always do your own research.
Some excellent exploratory videos and interviews that explore in-depth the canned hunting industry, cub petting, and the lion bone trade.  Very informative, and a must-watch:
Additional informative articles discussing cub petting, canned hunting, and the lion bone trade:

 

For more posts on cub petting, canned hunting, and lion conservation, 
follow my other blog at Bucket List Lion.

 

In which I heroically foil an attempted burglary and save the day.

Sunday, May 18, 2014 -- 11:38 pm

Sort of.  A little bit. . .  Not really.

Soooo. . . there was an almost-incident at work this week which began as a simple (but admittedly understandable) misconception and ended with me accidentally calling the police on our janitor. . .

I was working the evening shift with my assistant manager, and after we closed and were getting our coats from the staff room we noticed through the window a rather creeperific man leaning against one of the trees outside in the dark.  Hood drawn up, face obscured, hands thrust in pockets, skulking in the shadows -- legit grounds for anyone to get the heebie jeebies.  We commented to each other that we were glad to have one another to walk out to our cars with, and proceeded to spend the next five minutes comparing the invaluable tips our father's had taught us growing up on how to hold your car keys between the knuckles of the hand in order to best utilize them as deadly, eye-gouging weapons in an emergency.

The man outside didn't move or say anything to us as we left, and we both climbed into our cars without incident.  My assistant manager was first to drive off, and just as I was pulling out of the parking lot myself, in my rearview mirror I noticed Creeper Guy detach himself from the trees and beeline towards the door we'd just left from.

"You sneaky bastard!" I'm thinking, automatically assuming that he's checking to see if we locked the doors (because why be just a creepy dude who lurks in the dark when you could be a creepy dude who lurks in the dark and wants to steal stuff from your friendly neighbourhood library.  Jerk.)

I watch for the inevitable moment when he'll try in vain to yank on the door handle and realize he's been thwarted -- and so I was understandingly baffled when he instead walked right up to the door, pulled it open, and strolled on in.

Shit.  I look towards the road, but my assistant manager's car has already disappeared.  Shit.  I listen for the ringing of the security alarm that should be blaring out by now, but there's nothing.  Shit.  Maybe I'm just crazy and I'm seeing things and he actually just disappeared behind the garbage dumpster. . .?  But no, moments later I clearly glimpse someone moving around through the window.  Shit.

So I proceeded to turn my car back around and park a safe distance away that I felt was appropriately inconspicuous but also offered a clear observational view of the door and windows (because that's what they do in the movies,) and after searching in vain through my phone and realizing I didn't have the numbers for my manager or anyone I worked with, I finally went ahead and phoned 911.

As I remained on the phone with the dispatch controller, a police car arrived within a couple of minutes and an officer checked the windows and door.  A completely uneventful minute passed and then I eventually saw Creeper Guy come to the door (after he no doubt curiously noted the police car parked outside and cop trolling around the windows,) and the moment he opened the door was the same moment I noticed the trash bag in his hand and subsequently also the same moment I suddenly realized:

After the police and 911 dispatch confirmed he was indeed the janitor, I slunk in and apologized profusely to both him and the officers for the mistake.  Everyone was really good about it all, but I still felt like a bit of an idiot.

Moral of the story?  Sometimes a creepy dude lurking in the dark is really just an innocent dude lurking in the dark waiting to go in and do his job.

(Though in my defence, STILL CREEPY, amirite?  I mean, seriously, if you're going to skulk in the shadows, at least take a moment to raise an amicable hand and throw out a "wut up" for the two skittish librarians leaving for the night. . .  You know, to avoid misunderstandings.  Innocent and completely justified misunderstandings.  BECAUSE THEY HAPPEN.)

=_=;

Fighting the good fight.

Thursday, September 12, 2013 -- 12:11 am

Update: I still hate tea.  But while Operation Tasty Tea failed utterly and horribly, I like to think I emerged from this experiment a better person.  At the very least, I now have a cupboard full of various fancy teas that I will probably never drink, as well as a small but very beloved assortment of library- and owl-themed tea mugs that I both love but have nothing to do with.  (No, you can't have my adorable owl mug.  What if I wake up tomorrow and suddenly crave tea?  It could happen.  DON'T TOUCH MY MUG.  *Hides away on the high shelf*)

It's okay though.  Who needs tea?  Stereotypes be damned, I will usher in a glorious new era of the 1% white milk-drinking librarian.  All of the tiny children will know me as the cool librarian who gives out stickers and advocates for strong bones (. . .or possibly diabetes, depending on whether I'm craving cherry koolaid that day.)

In other much more disturbing news, I've officially discovered how slugs have been getting their way into our house, and it is entirely 100% the fault of our dog.  Ezreal goes out to pee in the backyard and she's bringing slimy stowaways back inside with her.  In her fur.  Into the house.  And then proceeds to leave on the kitchen floor and basement carpet.  D:}  I literally just picked one off her ten minutes ago.  I HAVE HORRIFIC PHOTO EVIDENCE.

The puppy was in league with the enemy all along.

"OmgEW" does not even begin to describe it.  Slugs are a special brand of gross that soap and water and extra strength corrosive bleach just can't wash off your hands or your soul.  We now conduct mandatory in-depth slug checks every time Ezreal comes in from being outside at night or after it's rained.  If this persists too long I may be driven to bathing the puppy in beer and rolling her in salt to effectively create a bouncing, barking slug doomsday destroyer.  "Get them before they get you," and all that.  I'm not typically a genocide-loving individual -- except when things that are covered in slime cross the demilitarized buffer zone that is my door stoop.

Operation Tasty Tea

Saturday, April 6, 2013 -- 6:07 pm

Today I set a new personal goal for myself: over the next three weeks, I'm going to learn to like tea.

"But Brenna, you don't like tea," you're saying.  That is correct, I don't.  I hate tea.  Tea is gross.  Tea tastes like hot, dirty-flavored water. :P

I really, really want to like it though.  I've always wished I liked tea; in addition to it being one classic librarian stereotype that I've always longed to embrace, and while the taste itself has never pleased me, the concept of tea is appealing.  I'll be all curled up on my sofa on cold day, under a fuzzy blanket with a purring cat on my lap and a book in hand, and I'll reflect about how my perfectly cozy set up just lacks a badly needed cup of hot tea to be complete.  Logical?  Pfft, of course not.  Attainable?  Fuck yeah.

If other former-wannabe-turned-success-story tea enthusiasts on the internet are to believed (yeah, that's right, I researched how to learn to like tea -- this be serious shit, son) if you force yourself to try something you don't like every day for three weeks, your taste buds will adapt and start to like it.  So that's what I'm going to do for the next 21 days.  It'll be like a case of Stockholm syndrom, but with tea!  (If I could have this same drive and determination to learn to like vegetables as I do tea, I would be a much healthier person.)

So with a plan of attack in mind, I went out this afternoon with Husband and together we  assembled an arsenal of different tea flavors and sweeteners to start me off on.  Right now I'm simply focused on trying to identify which combination of tea and sweetener is the least repellant to my infamous picky eating tastes.

Teas:

  • variety pack of herbal fruit tea
  • vanilla chai
  • chocolate hazelnut, a flavored dessert tea
  • Earl Grey tea and strawberry tea (already kept in the house for guests)
Sweeteners:
  • sugar
  • french vanilla creamer
  • regular milk
  • honey

Set up:

For my first foray into tea experimentation, I chose a raspberry herbal tea.  After boiling water, I made a single cup full and allowed the tea bag to steep for only two minutes (the interwebs advised against steeping too long for novice tea drinkers, so as to avoid overly bitter results.)  This cup of tea was then split into four additional cups: one to sweeten with sugar, one with milk, one with flavored creme, one with honey, and the last unsweetened to serve as a control (MythBusters style!)

Results:

Let me begin by admitting that, despite the well-intentioned advice of the internet, I don't think I steeped the tea for nearly long enough.  The plain tea tasted like barely-flavored hot water.  Ew.  As far as sweeteners though, while sugar and honey both improved the taste (the honey slightly moreso than the sugar,) the french vanilla creamer was the clear winner.  It came the closet thing to resembling heaven in a mug -- relatively speaking of course, since the mug in question is filled with what tastes like muggy swamp water.

The creamer also came out on top when we repeated the same set up with Husband's mug of freshly brewed vanilla chai tea (also, it smelled omigosh amaaazing~!  Like Christmas in a cup!)  To be honest, I think we actually put in too much of the creamer and made the tea too sweet -- but it was at least sip-able, and that's something.

So in conclusion, day one of Operation Tasty Tea is off to a satisfying start.  (At the very least, I'm excited to finally have a reason to use my two wonderful library mugs that have been sitting sadly in my cupboard gather dust for the last couple of years.)  I've taken the first step on the road of no longer being a tea-snubbing pariah!  Mark my words, three weeks from now I will emerge from this experiment a whole new person!  Okay, well. . . maybe the same person. . . but one WHO LIKES DRINKING TEA.

*Determined face*

I’ve gone over to the dark side.

Tuesday, January 1, 2013 -- 11:45 pm

Well no, that's not really true.  It's not so much as the "dark" side as the "less tangibly pleasing, however much more convenient at times" side, and by that what I really mean to say is that I got a Kobo Glo e-reader for Christmas from Husband and I sort of. . . really quite like it.  :x

Come to the dark side, we have cookies! (And "Seraphina" for only $3.99!)

True, the process of equiping the e-reader to borrow library books is frustrating and overly complicated, and the selection of books actually offered through the library due to either publisher availability or ridiculous lending restrictions is depressingly limited.  I miss holding up a book up after every reading session and comparing the satisfying thicknesses of paper on either side to see how far I've read.  And I will always prefer the tactile experience of a paper book and love the look of them all lined up on my bookshelf with their differently colored and sizes of spines.

On the other hand. . . my Kobo freaking glows.  The built-in adjustable booklight is possibly the most awesome thing to happen to my reading experience since Harry Potter (or perhaps those rad moving hologram bookmarks we all had as kids.  Those are wild.)  I love being able to read in bed again late at night~  There is also the undeniable perk of being able to tote around the content of a giant hardcover novel in nothing more than the size of a small paperback that easily slips into my purse and doesn't dislocate my shoulder, not to mention the concept of going on vacation without reserving half of my luggage space just for books.

I hemmed and hawed for a long time about whether I wanted an e-reader or not, and to satisfy both of the obnoxious little bookworm-ish angels on my shoulders now that I have one I've decided to compromise and continue reading both print and e-books depending on library availability and physical size/practicality.  When it comes to purchasing must-have books for my personal collection though, print is still a must, even if it means buying secondary copies.  *Puts foot down.  FOOT IS DOWN, ARMS ARE CROSSED, STERN FACE ENGAGED.*

Oh, and on a slightly unrelated note, for Christmas I also got this:

I don't think I've ever held 10 lbs of chocolate in my hands before.  It weighs more than our dog.  I've been driving it around to all of our assorted holiday get-togethers to share, and between two family dinners, one UFC fight night, and one New Years Eve gathering, I think we've only been able to finish off three pieces.  I have so much glorious chocolate in my house right now from the past week that it might very well last me until 2014.  Maybe.