Tagged: thinky thoughts

#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.

 

Beware the Creeper.

Thursday, August 25, 2011 -- 11:16 pm

(Yes, that is also the title of a Batman Animated episode, but trust me, it's especially fitting for this particular post.)

Sleaze-tastic day at The Job today, entirely due to one particularly annoying and somewhat creepy guy who comes in with the trucks and unloads them in the back of the store (termed a "swamper" apparently, I have no idea why.)

I originally met this guy a couple of weeks ago when I working out on the floor; he looks about forty or so and he just randomly walked up to me and began chatting me up.  It started out as simply a little weird and very soon became irritating as he continued to repeatedly and purposefully track me down in the store through out the day.  A co-worker in one of the departments I was working in that day had been keeping her eye on him and reported to me later in the day that he'd approached her and asked her to say "hi" to me for him.  o_O  Ick.  Just... no.

But whatever.  The day ended, he left the store, all was good.  I made sure to mention the stalker-ish actions of said Creeper to one of my managers (we shall refer to him as Manager #1, as we have an absurd amount of managers in the store at once at any given time) that day so he was aware of it, but figured that was the end of it.

Except today I was asked to help out back in the warehouse to scan in stock, and low and behold an hour or two into the morning I hear this voice and turn around and there he is.  The Creeper.  As he exclaims a surprised and happy hello as he recognizes me, I in turn walk out of the warehouse and track down Manager #1 where he's out on the store floor and poke him:

"Manager #1!  That guy that just came into the warehouse, THAT'S THE GUY."  D:

Manager #1 grimaces in sympathy, advises me to ignore him, and gives me the green light to tell Creeper to fuck off if necessary and I'm all damn straight. \o/  As we're talking though, Manager #2 comes up and is all "?" so I explain how the sleazy truck guy has a crush on me and won't leave me alone, and upon hearing this, Manager #2 squares his great big fatherly shoulders, turns on his heel and stomps off towards the warehouse purposefully. But I'm all "Nooooooooooo... *flail flail*" because while this guy is totally annoying he's yet to say or do anything actually inappropriate, and I don't necessarily want to get him in shit and feel even more uncomfortable around him for the rest of the day than I already did, so I chase him down and ask him to leave it be.  (In hindsight, I completely should have let Manager #2 rail on him.)

So I proceed to carry on with my scanning work, and all the while through out the day Creeper is working with the warehouse guys unloading the truck a dozen feet away and consistently popping his head around the makeshift wall of boxes erected between our areas to keep up a steady stream of chatter to me.

"So what are you're hobbies, Brenna?"

"What shows do you watch, Brenna?"

"What do you think of this music, Brenna?"

"They must have given you Employee of the Year award, eh Brenna?"

"Here, let me help clean up those boxes, Brenna."

I'm reaching a point where I'd very much like to tell him to shut the hell up, but because I am far too polite for my own good at times, I ignore him for the most part and try to appease him with my taciturn contributions to this one-sided conversation he's carrying on.  He actually goes as far as to ask me if I'd like to go to McDonalds with him when he leaves for lunch.  (Needless to say I favored the sandwich waiting for me upstairs in our dingy work breakroom to his invitation.  I also purposely timed my half-hour lunch to directly coincide when he returned from his lunch to make an entire blissful hour of No Creeper Time.)

During the afternoon though he apparently decided to raise his creepy flirtation bar though.

"So are you a student, Brenna?  Are you going to school?"

"Yes."

"What are you taking?"

"Library Technology."

"Ooh, librarian, eh?  I don't really see you as a librarian --" (Wait for it... the line crossing officially... starts...) "You're face, maybe, with the glasses; but your body is too smoking hot to be a librarian."  (... NOW.)

I can't tell you why I didn't speak up at that point, I know I should have.  A part of it, I think, was that I was a little nervous what would happen if I did tell him to shut his mouth.  Let's face it, I don't know this guy from Joe Bob Dandy and I didn't want to have to feel like I had to ask for an escort out to my car at the end of the day.  To be honest I think I was mostly too embarrassed and angry to even speak.  There was a definite skin crawling sensation and I remember very clearly thinking at that moment that I wish I'd taken Mason up on his offer of getting a bunch of his tradesmen buddies together to kick this asshole's teeth in.  But in any event, I did nothing, just turned away very pointedly and continued on with my work as he stood there grinning moronically at me overtop the (not high enough!) wall of boxes, mostly likely waiting for a reaction I wasn't giving him.

A bit later Creeper is back to try again and returns to a line of topic conversation he'd pried out of me earlier in the day when he'd asked if I lived in the city and I'd replied yes and with a very emphasized "WE" thrown in with my answer to hopefully imply to him that I was not single and not looking and he was welcome to bugger the hell off any time now -- he puts on that stupid, obnoxious smirk and is all:

"So that 'we' that you mentioned earlier, you're with someone?"

"Yes. I'm married."

"Oh and does he know about me? Did you tell him all about me?"

"Yes, I told him there was some guy at work who keeps --"

"Oggling you?"  *Eyebrow waggle now accompanies motherfucking stupid grin WANT TO PUNCH HIM IN HIS STUPID SMIRKING FACE*

That is the point something snapped in my so far previously impassive front and I basically dropped the box of merchandise I was holding and looked him right in the face and wanted to scream at him "FUCK THE FUCK OFF, YOU MOTHERFUCKING FUCKER" -- but really I could never say that because unfortunately I'm a giant wimp -- but I did instead say "Can you GO AWAY?" which admittedly lacks the extra oomph that the string of expletives would have delivered, but still, bully for me I think and in any event it seemed to do the trick.  He looked startled and sort of backed away and that was the last I heard from him for the remainder of the afternoon.

I passed Manager #1 as I was heading upstairs to clock out at the end of my shift and told him how I'd had to finally tell the guy to screw off and Manager in question promised that he'd be making a phone call to Creeper McCreepinstein's employer tomorrow morning.

This is the first time I've experienced any sort of male harassment like this.  In my time I've gotten the odd catcall aimed towards me a couple of times as I walk down the street, but if I have to be perfectly honest those have never bothered me at all.  This was different.  This guy made me uncomfortable, and more over he made me angry.  I hate that he was so thick he couldn't take a hint from my stony reception towards him that he should back off.  I hate that he for some reason felt it was acceptable to say those sorts of inappropriate -- and frankly douchebaggery -- remarks to me, especially while present in front of other co-workers.  I hate that the two warehouse guys in question who were there knew that I didn't like the guy, because I had told them I didn't like him, and yet they never bothered to step in and quietly pull him aside to tell him to lay off.  I hate that this guy made me wish that a manager was present hovering over my shoulder all the time to chaperone for me.  I hate how, even despite how he finally backed off after I'd yelled at him, I still kept looking over my shoulder as I walked across the parking lot to go home.

Mostly I hate that I didn't stand up for myself and tell him to stop sooner.

And mostly I hate that I didn't kick him right in the balls, because he deserved it.  Talk about empowering.

Let’s do the time warp agaaaaaain!

Monday, March 7, 2011 -- 10:39 pm

Hahaha, oh dear.  I was looking back at the sadness which was me in my high school yearbook the other day and it was a sad, sad state of affairs.  Sullen-faced tomboy, meet bitter angsty teen!

It got me thinking of who I am now compared to who I was then, and who I could have been if I'd done things differently.  I think to myself, what would have happened if I'd changed what I wore, or taken the initiative to approach someone in the hall, or stood up and told any one of the half dozen individuals who carried out a fairly constant string of belittlement upon me from grade to grade to go fuck themselves?  Where would I be now?

But then I realize that if I had done any of those things I probably wouldn't be the same person I am today -- the notion of which is admittedly intriguing, but also alarming.  I've always been a strong believer that the experiences in your past, good and bad, have direct influence in shaping who you become.  I don't know where I'd be in my life or who I would have developed into if junior high and high school had gone differently, but what is clear is that I am a mentally and emotionally healthier person now than I was several years ago, or even prior to then.

Do I still hope that certain people who mercilessly picked on me back during school are these days now miserable, penniless, and lying hungry and alone in the gutter?  Of course I do.  I'm still shallow and bitter in that way and if I put my mind to it I can hold one hell of a grudge.  However, I consider myself much more optimistic now too and I think most people who knew me both then and now could attest to that.  Not everything is black and white anymore -- I've developed some variable shades of grey in regards to many things I used to be particularly opinionated about; on politics, on people, on relationships, on life. I'm more upbeat.  In general I value myself more, both emotionally and body-wise, and I'm no longer convinced the world is toting some personal vendetta to screw me over.  (An encouraging concept.)  The point is, who knows if I would have ever gotten to this point if I hadn't gone through the whole sullen, angsty, bitter teenage phase?

With this in mind, I finally got around to taking part in a (very long overdue) DeviantArt "time warp" meme that's been floating around for ages and I've been too lazy to complete until now.  :P  (Ignore the craptacular inking and coloring, like I said, I was lazy and it was a quick job.)  Commemorating all the lame, the embarrassing, the goofy, the bitter, (and the horrible fashion choices) that have made you who you are.

(Click to embiggen)

No sir, you couldn't pay me to go back to my junior high and high school days.  But you also couldn't pay me to make them disappear, because who's to say I wouldn't presently disappear along with them?

Change.  Personal evolution.  It makes me excited to think about where I'll be in another ten years from now.  :D

Here’s to the old and the new, and everything to come.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011 -- 12:04 am

As much as I loved the ol' Boston Legal design, the beige-on-brown text and background color scheme has always been rough on my eyes for some reason and routinely gave me headaches if I was reading for any extent of time.  :P  So what better excuse to spruce up the site and usher in a new pretty blog theme?  And what better theme to center this one around than my obsession of reading!  \o/

(Excuse me while I go all web developer geek on you all now.)

This layout was an interesting lesson in incorporating all sorts of fun new behind-the-scenes tricks that made it a bit of a horror to code.  For example, it was my first time dabbling in both CSS rounded corners and drop shadows!  How could I have never used these two things before?!  Very cool.  No transparent PNG's to mess with for layout this time around, folks.  What made it a small nightmare at times during the build though was all of the layering and positioning of everything that I overlooked during the designing process.  What looked so straightforward in Photoshop made for lots of frustrated flailing and teeth gnashing when it came to putting it all together.  Usually my templates are very block-centric and this layout broke all of my usual rules with content and sidebars and headers and footers all running into each other and mashing together.  :x

Yes, I'm aware that I've utilized some CSS3 and HTML5 elements that aren't fully supported on all browsers yet -- and who knows to God what this poor blog looks like in Internet Explorer -- but one of the neat perks about working on web design for yourself is that HEY, YOU DON'T HAVE TO CARE.  Yes, there are a few padding issues in various browsers that I'll try to eventually look at, but as far as IE goes I actually hope the entire blog is a hideous, unreadable mess of toxic proportions -- because maybe if everyone actually stopped bothering to coddle that horrible browser and its shit web standard practices, maybe it would finally WITHER and DIE and NEVER BE USED AGAIN!  :)

No, seriously.  If you're using Internet Explorer right now as you're reading this, please go download a new and better browser.  Like Google Chrome.  Everything looks good on Chrome.

(End geek-out.)

So anyway, always a yay for new layouts~  This makes six now, so I've almost managed to have a new for one each year.  Sometimes I don't really realize that I've been writing in this blog for over seven years -- jeeze, since high school.  That's a lot of years worth of memories and thoughts and events and emotions all preserved in one little online journal.  Every now and then I go and re-read entries from the very beginning; it's kind of like flipping through a photo album (only with many more lame internet memes and obnoxious teenage ramblings) and I realize how important this blog actually is to me.  It's like a constantly ongoing and ever expanding time capsual keepsake~  :3  Some people scrapbook their lives.  I blog.

Face it people, sometimes we humans are just nummy treats.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010 -- 9:24 pm
Mood: 09 You know I have too much time on my hands when...

I've been watching a little bit of Discovery Channel's Shark Week and it got me thinking. In all of the survivor accounts from shark attacks, someone always remarks that the shark always "mistakenly" attacked the person. You've heard it, all this crazy talk about "Oh, the shark thought the surfer was a seal."

The HELL? When a grizzly bear eats an innocent camper, no one ever says "Oh, well the bear mistook her for a giant salmon," or "Oh, the bear confused him for a gangly-looking, walking, talking raspberry bush." When a cougar stalks and kills a hiker, no one defends the cat by insisting that the hiker resembled a deer. So why are sharks let off the hook so easily? I'm not saying that the unfortunate victim need go all Captain Ahab vengeancy on said shark, I'm just out for a little equal accountability for all creatures big and small here.

I just don't buy into this "sharks don't eat people and if they do then the shark was just very confused" explanation. Yes, a lot of the reports insist that the shark was just curious by the fact that after taking a chomp out of the dude's leg, they all of a sudden abandon the idea and swim off. I personally think we could safely chalk that up to a more plausible theory -- that the shark in question who decides it's up for some Sunday Surfer Supper often realize that while we human prey are vastly stupid and easy to catch, we're also a royal pain in the ass once we're caught. After all, I doubt many seals they grab start to sucker punch them in the eye and kick them in their soft, fleshy gills. BAM! POW! BIFF! Maybe a Great White is just lazy when it comes to messing around with food that fights back and is quick to abandon us for some sweet smelling school of fish where all that is involved on Jaws' part is to swim straight and fast with his mouth wide open like a giant toothy fish net.

I have respect for sharks. I mean, obviously more so unbridled fear and overwhelming terror, but also respect. You think a shark can't tell the difference between a seal and a person? That they mistake the glint of light off an underwater wrist watch to be tasty fish? If I were a shark I'd be offended. I'd be all, "Fuck you, marine biologist, and guess what, you've just been added to my next weeks lunch menu. What's that, fancy pants shark researcher? You wanna say something about me too?"

So let's give the shark community a little credit here and say that more likely they were super hungry, there weren't currently any seals hanging around, "but hey, here's a convenient nibblet that was dumb enough to swim into my watery domain!" Luckily for humans, we have long agile limbs adapt at punching predators in the eyes with, which if I were a shark would be the last thing I'd want to put up with at the end of a long, grueling day. After all, I'd rather be labeled lazy than stupid. I have my shark pride to think of.