Flying high

I love travel, but I find the airline experience to be about as intuitive, and enjoyable, as performing my own lobotomy.

The need to be rustled by cattle through endless lines, being crammed into seats that would make a smurf cringe, and the ever-present “interesting characters” just seem to suck the joy out of travel.  Paying top price for the experience makes me yearn for high-speed rail, or the possibility of being launched from a cannon instead.

My trip home, yesterday, highlights the joys of air travel. As a responsible flyer I picked my window seat, so I could avoid a bout of air sickness, and checked in ahead of time. I gleefully downloaded a book to read, and patiently waited for the announcement to use mobile devices. To my joy, the captain informed us that mobile devices were free to use as long as they were in airplane mode.

After reviewing the ever important safety instructions, where we are told where life vests and flotation devices are (infinitely useful during my overland flight). I proceeded to ignore the large man next to me so I could read. My ability to ignore my neighbors constant shuffling and push onto my seat was awe-inspiring, then he started “tsking” at me for reading.

The flight attendant, on a few occasions, tried to explain to my neighbor that my reading was allowed, but he would have none of it. I reluctantly put away my phone, so that there would be no escalation, and the need for us to land early, because of some dimwits fear that my phone would hurtle us into the nearest body of water.

Ahhh, the joys of travel.

Forest

Aside

I stand at the edge of a forest, large, wide, and beautiful.
I feel the longing, to journey through this wild, untamed wilderness.
Many have been entranced at the beauty of the wild expanse,
But none have truly appreciated it for all of its true beauty and danger.
I will make the trek, regardless of the danger.
The journey itself will be worth the risk,
The reward will be the knowledge that I had the courage to continue,
The hope that I have helped heal any damage others have caused,
And the joy of seeing the full expanse.

Blerg

Ever feel so tired that you can’t sleep?  That seems to be happening to me more and more lately.  As I sit here, awaiting sleep, I am left with a few random thoughts.  Lucky you:

1. Seriously I don’t even eat hot dogs anymore, but the lack of consistency between hot dog packages and hot dog bun packages really annoys the living shit out of me.  They don’t even try to “trick us” into thinking this was some cosmic accident.  It’s basically a big ‘ole “Screw You” from corporate america.  Yeah, I’m on to you, which leads me to:

2. Wtf is up with me always losing socks in the dryer?  Yes, I’m sure it’s simply me misplacing things.  Nope, as I’ve said before (I  think), it’s a conspiracy by evil Corporate America.  Where do you think all of that lint comes from huh? It’s not random fibers, it’s the desiccated remains of your socks people! They are being sacrificed to some really lame demon that demands sock tribute!  Joss Whedon,  there is an idea for a show.  It’s all yours, just get me a date with Felicia Day, or someone equally awesome.  You’re welcome.

3. Why is Chick-Fil-A so yummy, but full of such hate?  Do they lace it with some kind of psychotropic mushrooms?  Why do I constantly break my oath to boycott the fuckers?  Can we put those mushrooms on something healthy for me.  I’d kill to be this obsessed over a salad.  (kidding I’m a pacifist.  No really.)

Yup, still awake.

I need to buy a 5 ft metal chicken to annoy my new neighbors with…

I love the bloggess.  I want to sit in her living room and collate paper all day.

I hate JJ Abrahms for what he’s done to Star Trek.  Really, what’s the point of rebooting if you are going to make a half-assed copy of the Wrath of Khan.  Asshat… give it to Seth MacFarlane!

 

Helpers

http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2013/04/tough-ruck-soliders-arredondo-boston-marathon

I’ve never been the type of person to be overly patriotic.  I’m too cynical and sarcastic to wave too many flags, or tear up at displays of blind patriotism.  Don’t get me wrong, I love my country, my state, my city.  I am sometimes even cynical about he overall actions of humanity.  These personal traits tend to cover up my deep seeded belief in the goodness of humanity.  It is there, I just have a hard time expressing it, but the events of the last few days have compelled me to express my beliefs a little more honestly.

I have been absolutely incapable of a decent night of sleep.  Not because of fear, anger, or concern.  I just keep thinking about the people who rushed in to help the victims of the bombing in Boston.  The National Guardsmen who jumped into helping the victims, doing their duty automatically, with no regard to themselves.  Sure, they are trained, but this was not a war zone, they are not on duty (ok, maybe they always are).  To me, that is a sense of immense pride.  To see how the national guard, actually went to work guarding the innocents in Boston, that is a reminder of all the good that still exists in our military.

My thoughts are also focused on people like Carlos Arredondo, who lost both his sons due to war or depression.  This is not a man trained for combat, he was a grieving father, that has dedicated his life to bringing focus on the issues regarding PTSD, depression etc.  He pushes for peace, and caring of others.  In the middle of this carnage, Arredondo jumps in to help, no regard given to his safety. Arredondo rushes to help and just holds an artery shut for a man who has lost his leg, saving his life. Arredondo is an immigrant, and that is significant to point out because this is a country of immigrants. People whose families have come from different places and cultures.  This is the crossroads of humanity, and the actions of the all of the bystanders in Boston prove that humanity will jump in and help when faced with adversity. People will do this in spite of the malevolent actions of another.  To see love and caring win out over anger and hate is a wonderful thing.

I am immensely proud of the people in my life, despite disagreements on trivial, or even major, issues.  In the face of the horrible things that have happened, they have stood together on wanting justice to be done.  Perhaps this sense of justice and caring isn’t just and American ideal.  Americans are not unique in their pursuit of justice, or in their capacity to care. They are human traits, that may be easier to express in a nation such as the US, but they are traits that will always come to the surface. The actions of the “Helpers” remind me of a quote:

“Be like water making its way through cracks. Do not be assertive, but adjust to the object, and you shall find a way around or through it. If nothing within you stays rigid, outward things will disclose themselves.

Empty your mind, be formless. Shapeless, like water. If you put water into a cup, it becomes the cup. You put water into a bottle and it becomes the bottle. You put it in a teapot, it becomes the teapot. Now, water can flow or it can crash. Be water, my friend.” – Bruce Lee

The human spirit is “like water”, always changing to adjust new challenges, but remaining the same.

Trip to Big Thickett

As some of you know I’m taking courses for my masters in History.  One of my courses is the History of Environmental Thought.  This is a quick synopsis of a trip I had to write about for that course.

One of my greatest joys is a quick trip to Big Thicket for an overnight camping excursion.  I don’t get to do this very often, but I find that it is always worth the effort.  Big Thicket is large enough to allow an escape from the noise and influence of civilization, however it is close enough for me to make a quick trip to it on a weekend.    Perhaps it’s just my perspective, but leaving Houston, and driving past Beaumont and into Big Thicket always puts me in the mindset to appreciate nature.  Passing the smoke stacks and refineries on I-10 always leaves me feeling a little sad for the cost of modern life.  Leaving that scene, and entering a forested area serves as a reminder that it is possible to keep nature in tact, despite the sprawl of “civilization”.

My trip to Big Thicket was in early March, I decided to head out early so that I could walk to winding Kirby trail, and setup a campsite while it was still light out.  Big Thicket is about 30 miles north of Beaumont, and consists of about 105,000 acres of preserve.  It is full of large pine trees, and stands at a kind of natural crossroads between the Piney Woods of Texas and the gradual swamp environment of Louisiana.  I took the time, during this trip to, visit the visitor center and to browse their information regarding the history of Big Thicket.

The original area of Big Thicket was surveyed in 1936 and consisted of over a million acres of land.  No formal protection was afforded the area until 1976, when it became the first National Preserve.  The problem with this is that the land compromising the National Preserve is not contiguous, and the greenbelts connecting to them may belong to the timber industry or other economic interests.  The proximity to Beaumont and Houston, as well as the legal drilling for oil add to the threats that Big Thicket face.  Economic and urban development threatens the peace and sanctity, as well as the stability of the park.

After reading up on the park history, and making note of the possibility of running into Black Bears, I started down the Kirby trail.  The park itself doesn’t have any set camping sites. You are allowed to camp in the reserve for free, but you have to be about 200 feet from the trails.  I’ve camped here about 3 time previously, so I walked about 2 miles down the trail and took a hard left into the forest where I knew to find a relatively clear, and hopefully bear free, area.  This will be a quick trip for me, a day to hike the trails and a night away from the noise pollution of the city.  I found my usual campsite, and I setup my tent and unload the bulk of my pre-processed, “just add water” supplies.

After setting up my site, I begin my hike up the Kirby trail.  The Kirby trail loops around several areas, and it is from here that I can head towards my goal, the Sandhill Loop, which gives me a good view of the diversity of the area.  Thus far, the hike around my campsite, and into the park was full of large pine trees and full of the sounds of birds.   What I love about the Kirby trail is how it leads to parts of the reserve that are drastically different.  You can hike the five miles of the Sandhill Loop and see Cypress trees and boggy areas that contain pitcher plants, and other things that I would associate with a swamp.  I particularly love the Cypress trees and the boggy areas.

It was too early in the year to see many flowers on my hike, and that was a disappointment, however the bigger disappointment was the occasional sound of what I assume was machinery in the distance.  It’s not something that you would notice while in the middle of Houston, but it seemed eerily out of place while at Big Thicket.

Before it got too close to sunset, I headed back to my campsite, trusting that nobody would have disturbed my tent.  Thankfully it was a quiet day, and I came back to an undisturbed campsite.  I decided that water and jerky would be a good enough meal for a chilly March evening and I settled in.  The only drawback to camping in Big Thicket is that the trees obscure your view of the night sky, but that was well worth it for the illusion of isolation.

I did hear something walking around in the middle of the night; I assumed that it was too early for bears to be lurking around, so I ignored the sound.  In the morning I found tracks around my tent that probably belonged to a small fox.  I had observed some opossums before going to bed in the distance, and I know that there were more snakes near me than I cared to consider.

Overall, Big Thicket never ceases to amaze me, and I do plan on making an extended trip soon, so that I can see the other trails that I usually don’t have time to visit.  Talking to the Park Ranger, I realize that even 100000 acres of Reserve land can still be at the mercy of industrial development and contamination from the city.  It is important to push for further funding so that this beautiful park can continue to be preserved and cherished.

I have a blog, I should, blog.

Don’t judge me. I have a hard time remembering to update this thing with actual content. So I got a GoPro camera for Christmas. At some point you may see some original content and cool stuff. Or cats.

It’s cold. 40’s in Houston in the middle of January. I think the world ended and hell is freezing over.

Customer Service

Places like this upset me.  It is never okay to call out a customer, no matter how “in the right” you feel about a situation.  Let’s analyze the following post:

In a response to the comments that were made today, we are a small restaurant and can not accomadate large parties to sit together at one table nor have we ever. All of our customers that come in with a lot of people set at tables of six and four and we have never had any issues. It’s unfortunate that some people think that they are better than others and can do whatever they want in other people

s establishments.That’s not the case here and never will be,we treat all our customers the same and give them the repect that they deserve! Concerning gratuities it is a standard in the industry that tables with six or more have an automatic gratuity at the servers discretion and as far as that goes we took the gratuity off!
Was this necessary?  Did you spell check?  What did this accomplish?
It accomplished Jerk posts like this:
Keith W. Rowe I can only guess who these people are but im sure they feel ENTITLED. As far as tipping there is a certain segment of people that need to have tipping automatically added to there bill. I would bet this is the same people that eat almost all there food and then find something wrong with it just to get it free. Keep up the good work…….
Great so now someone assumes a group of people are a bunch freeloaders.  Not the case in this situation.
I’ll never spend a dime here, and I suggest you don’t as well.
Oh and check out this guy.
He took this as a marketing opportunity.  I’ll recommend him ANYTIME!

Thieving Assholes

To the asshole who broke into my truck (yes again).  Fuck you.

Any asshole can pop a lock and grab a bag containing someone’s laptop and ipad.  That’s easy to do you incestuous crack whore.  It takes real talent to do so without damaging the truck.  I hate being robbed, but thankfully I can remote wipe my hard-earned data from my stuff.  Enjoy the bricks ass.  I hope you get a decent price for the stuff so that you can continue to smoke meth or whatever.

 

Red Corvettes

It’s not often that I find myself looking back at High School and appreciating those early formative years. Over the last few days I’ve had the opportunity to think back and realize just how bat shit insane some people were. It’s one thing to look up an old friend and chit chat about how they are doing, it’s another thing to bust out pictures of your 19 inch biceps and try to impress members of the opposite sex with your shiny red corvette and serenade them with Nickelback.

How to properly sword fight

For all the aspiring gentlemen:
http://www.pbm.com/~lindahl/paradoxes.html

I don’t know what is more amusing, the fact that this is online, or the fact that they can use quotes like this; “then he that thrusts first, speedeth: if both happen to thrust together, they are both in danger”; in polite society.

“Of six chief causes, that many valiant men think themselves by their practices to be skillful in their weapons, are yet many times in their fights sore hurt, and many times slain by men of small skill or none at all.”

– yeah. happens all the time.

Responsibility

It’s so important to be kind to the people in your life.  It’s easy to take them for granted.  Every day I strive to do better in this regard, lately it’s seemed even more important.  Some days you sit back though and you see how people refuse to take responsibility for their actions.  That is such a waste.

Where to begin…

This past week has to be one of the most difficult I’ve had to deal with in a very long time.

I’ve lost a friend, a coworker and a valued mentor.  The world has lost a good person.  I won’t get into specifics, those who need to know are already aware of what has happened. For my friend and the sake of his family I know that my wonderful coworkers and I will find a way to express his legacy in the most positive way possible.

Fair well dear friend.  Be at peace knowing that you touched those around you in a positive way, and your memory will live on through the lives that you touched.

Thieves

It’s a sad day when you come into the office and a coworker discovers that someone stole her keyboard and mouse.  Merry Christmas…

Update,

The Keyboard and Mouse are fine, they were hidden because someone else’s laptop was stolen 🙁