The Change

What I wouldn’t give to be with you before
you changed. To enjoy the holidays together before
you changed. To make love with the passion we had before
you changed. To go outside and play like before
you changed. To sit at a bar and read together like before
you changed. Oh the love I felt for you before
you changed. So much so I couldn’t contain it all before
you changed. How was the sun so warm and the colors so bright before
you changed? How now the clouds are darker unlike before
you changed? The holidays are cold and lonely unlike before
you changed. Doubt and darkness has replaced the love that existed before
you changed. And though we hate it, we go our separate ways because, after all,
I’ve changed.

Precious Moments

Having a younger sister sleeping on your shoulder is a lot like having a pet sleeping in your lap. You concentrate very hard on keeping still, even when it gets uncomfortable. Especially when it gets uncomfortable. You feel their every movement and when they start slipping, you adjust into even more uncomfortable positions to prevent them, or her head, from sliding off. All the while, you’re pouring into them all the love you can possibly muster. You’d let these moments last forever if you could because it’s one of the most precious moments you have with them.

“Only the educated are free.” – Epictetus

I live in the USA, which means that everyone is “free.” We can say whatever we want (as long as it’s not “FIRE” in a public place when there is no fire) or write whatever we want and not get in trouble. We have access to bathrooms and showers. Heck, if someone gets stoped in the middle of attempting a crime, they get off easier because “attempted murder” or “attempted rape” or “attempted robbery” isn’t nearly as bad as actually doing it (for some reason). But this isn’t the freedom that is being referenced in that quote.

Financial freedom and freedom of choice are two freedoms that most uneducated people don’t have. How many educated people are in debt? My parents taught me a bit about money, I learned how to do math in school, and I educated myself of finances by reading from experts such as Dave Ramsey. Because of this, I will always have financial freedom. I will never be in debt because I am educated about money and numbers. Lots of people in debt who educate themselves about finances get out of debt and stay financially free.

Freedom of choice, such as who to vote for, is also a freedom the uneducated lack. Why? Because they vote based on party and/or personality, on how charismatic the candidate is, on how good at trashing the competition the candidate is, and on how good at scaring the voters the candidate is. The educated often see right through the trash-talking, the charisma, and the scare tactics and vote on the candidate who shares the same values as the voter does (if they vote at all). I’m against big money in politics, for limiting fossil fuels, and want a president that actually cares about the citizens of this country and not himself, so I’m going to vote for Bernie Sanders (assuming he ends up being an option for president). I am not registered to vote under democrat or republican because the two party system has helped in taking away from the freedom of choice in voting. The uneducated vote based on party, not based on the individual candidate, and it’s mostly the uneducated that vote, mainly because the educated can’t decide between a douchebag and a turd sandwich. To be honest, this year will be the first year I will vote because this is the first year in a while that I think there’s a legitimate candidate, and I’m hopeful that he’ll get the job.

In fact, voting your way on anything is a freedom only the educated have. If you’re not educate on the subject/issue you’re voting for, but you still vote, then you’re not really voting for your choice, you’re voting for whoever’s choice that was able to manipulate you into voting that way.

Choosing to buy a new or used car, choosing to buy something or rent-to-own, choosing whether it’s okay to put fluoride in drinking water, choosing to drive a fuel-efficient car, choosing to adopt instead of having a baby, or making any kind of informed decision on something isn’t a freedom the uneducated have. If you don’t know that buying a new car is a bad investment because of how much the car devalues the minute you drive it off the lot, then you can’t make an informed decision and you’re at the mercy of the manipulation of the salesperson. If you don’t know the dangers of drinking fluoride over time, or even know that the government puts fluoride in most drinking water, then you don’t know to fight it or to say no. If you don’t know the reality of climate change and how driving a more fuel efficient car can really make a difference, then you can’t make an informed decision on whether to invest in one. Most people don’t even consider adoption as an option when deciding to have kids because they’re uneducated on adoption.

My point is, the freedom to really choose, and the freedom to be out of debt, are those that the educated have. That’s why education is so important. Even if you don’t directly use those complex math problems you learned how to do in high school, you do use the problem-solving skills that you developed doing those problems.

What is your interpretation of that quote? Do you agree with it or disagree with it? Why? Please share any thoughts/opinions you have on the subject.

Beach Vacation and the Sea Turtle March

I’m on the last day of a week long family vacation on the gulf coast that includes my parents, sister, two of my cousins and one of my aunts. It’s been such a great week! The house we rented is right on the beach and it’s far from the condos and souvenir shops and all that, and the owners had stocked it with games and puzzles and movies as well as boogie boards, castle building stuff, and lounge chairs for the beach. We did a puzzle one night and some of us played Settlers of Catan another night. I got to celebrate my birthday with my family, even though my birthday had been a week earlier. Every morning my mother and I went walking at 6 in the morning and got to see the sunrise. Most morning my aunt joined us (actually she’s usually the one that instigates it, but she didn’t walk 2 of the days) and one of my cousins joined us one morning. It was great since I usually get up at 5am this time, so I was only sleeping in an hour and not throwing off my sleep schedule too much. The beach itself has been wonderful and we usually go for a morning and an afternoon swim. Sadly, though, there hasn’t been much surf, so we didn’t get to boogie board, but the water has been very clear, so we can see any jellyfish before they sting us (we just saw a few sea nettles). One morning we went zip-lining and that was super fun as well as a great work out (lots of stairs). The water today is very calm and clear and we saw a LOT of comb jellies, which look similar to jellyfish, but don’t have any stingers. My cousins and I kept throwing them at each other and it was fun. We also saw a huge moon jelly (I don’t know the average size of these, but this was probably a foot or so in diameter) and a lot of needle fish and other fish swimming around the seaweed. We saw one small stingray and three of  some other type of ray that we have yet to identify. It was all pretty cool.

Probably the coolest part (aside from just being with family in general), was watching some sea turtle conservation volunteers rescue some baby sea turtles. Apparently, when sea turtles hatch, they all stack on top of each other and flap their fins to move up like an elevator as the ones on bottom push up, which means that often the ones on bottom get stuck. Since the sea turtle population is declining due to sea turtles eating plastic that looks like jellyfish (their main food), these volunteers want to get each baby to the water. So, even though 130 eggs were laid and only 10 babies didn’t make it, this group dug up the 10 babies and got them out to sea. They came a few days after the eggs hatched, so to not interfere with the majority of them getting to sea, and dug up the nest (they’ve had the nest blocked off and been monitoring it since they first saw the mama turtle’s tracks in the sand). They carefully pulled out the babies and put them in a bucket and carefully pulled out all the egg shells, and a few whole eggs that didn’t get fertilized, and laid them out in a grid for counting and then I think they took the whole eggs. The babies were placed in a trench that some of the volunteers had dug so they could crawl to the ocean themselves. It was probably the coolest thing I have ever seen on one of our beach vacations (which are annual).

What is one of the coolest things you’ve seen or experienced while on a vacation? I’d love to read any vacation stories you want to share! Any opinions on sea turtle conservation?

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Not Everything is Flushable

This may seem like a boring topic, but if you care about people’s safety and don’t want any sewer lines in your town to bust, causing a stink and potentially infecting drinking water sources, you’ll read on.

There are two things that are meant to be flushed down the toilet: poop and toilet paper. When you wipe the makeup off your face and flush that wipe down the toilet it doesn’t get broken apart by the rush of the water like toilet paper does. It stays whole and has the potential to clog the pumps that cause the water to flow to the treatment plant. When these clogs happen, an operator has to go in by hand to unclog it. Not only is that totally gross, it’s also very dangerous work. If the pump gets clogged too much for too long, the water can back up too much, causing a sewer line to bust.

These sewer lines are old and the city likely doesn’t have the money to replace them all. They also don’t have the money to try and educate every person about the dangers of flushing wipes, condoms, tiny bottles, and other things down the toilet.

Facial wipes and baby wipes are probably two of the biggest clogging culprits. These things belong in a landfill, not in the sewer system. Same goes for those tiny bottles of shampoo and conditioner you find in hotel rooms. I was once investigating a sewer overflow problem in town and we took a look in a pump station near a hotel. It was filled with tiny, multicolored bottles. This was causing the pump to not be able to run at full capacity and caused some sewer overflow on the streets. Gross right? This can easily happen anywhere. Someone had to carefully go in there and remove the bottles.

One solution that some cities are starting to do is install grinders at the pumping station in order to grind up the wipes, condoms, bottles, and other debris that people flush down the toilet so they don’t clog the pipes or the pumps. It helps, but the most ideal solution would be for people to stop flushing those things down the toilet altogether.

These things, although often screened out, can also affect the quality of the treatment process. Wastewater treatment plants have an initial screen to capture large solids, however the water is flowing in over that screen at a fast rate and often things like hair and mop strings (yes, some people flush mop strings down the toilet, please don’t be one of them) pass through and cause probables in the treatment plant. Problems that a person has to go and fix by hand, which is dangerous.

In conclusion, please do not flush anything other than poop and toilet paper down the toilet. It can cause sewage back up and it’s dangerous to remove.

Do you ever flush facial wipes down the toilet, not realizing their potential harm? Have you ever been educated previously on this sort of thing?

Song Parodies

I love song parodies, specifically good ones. I also love A Capella versions of songs. Pentatonix and InsideOut A Cappella are my two favorite A capella groups.

Anyway, I wanted to share my top 5 favorite song parodies. I hope you enjoy them and be sure to let me know what some of your favorite song parodies are because I would love to go listen to them!

#5: Long Division Style, parody of Gangnam Style. This just cracked me up and it helped one my GED students remember the steps to long division, so it made my top five 🙂

#4: Ima Korean, parody of I Gotta Feeling. I actually heard this one before hearing the original song, so it was kinda weird when I heard the original lol. Warning, this is highly inappropriate (part of what makes it so funny, right?).

#3: White & Nerdy, parody of Ridin’ Dirty. Finally, the nerds have a cool song 😛

#2: Mitt Romney Style, another Gangnam Style parody. This came out during the campaigning. I love the VP’s part of the song.

And finally, #1: Science Style Cover, parody of Style. This is by ASAP Science and is a must watch. I love it! They’re doing a great job at making Science seem cool 🙂

I hope you liked these and be sure to share some of your favorite parodies in the comments 🙂

Abridged by the Writer’s Hand,

the parchment becomes enhanced
with a series of marked-up script.
Once re-written, the words are now
fewer than the original. Adding cursive
words, little secrets form across
the papyrus. King Author himself couldn’t
write this well
on his royal parchment.
Words are replaced
with words – royalty
with novelty, numerous descriptions
with three details – groundwork
of the soul.

of the mark-ups,
the replacements,
the new literature. It’s too much.
Its original meaning is all
but lost – a new idea
has been introduced – innocent
in its being.

The Get Moving Challenge

Sitting for long periods of time is very detrimental to our health, yet we all do it. Desk jobs are more prominent, desks for work and studying are designed for sitting down to use, classes and seminars are all sit-down, and many recreational activities such as writing, reading, play games of any kind, and watching tv all involve sitting down. ASAP Science even did a video on the effects of sitting called Are You Sitting Too Much? and a video about ways to stop sitting so much called 9 Tips To Save Your Life. Unfortunately, most companies don’t offer desks that will rise and lower to give you the option to stand or offer a yoga ball as an alternative to a desk chair, which burns a little more calories and forces you to work on balance and posture without even realizing it, which is good for your brain.

Sometimes you just don’t feel like getting up when you should. For me, it seems like the longer I sit, the less motivation I have to get up. Even knowing that if I stand up for 5 minutes every hour I would negate the negative effects of sitting for that hour, I can’t always (or often) force myself to do so.

I have also noticed that the opposite is true. If I stand up for longer periods of time and move around, I’m less likely to sit down for too long before I’m back up and moving. At work, I have a box on top of my desk that I put documents and such on when I’m doing work that’s not on the computer such as hand sketches, hand calculations, or proof reading. When things are slow at work and I don’t have anything to do, I’ll put one of my college text books up there and skim it and work some of the problems so I don’t loose that information or I’ll read Civil Engineering magazine or Water Environment & Technology magazine. Sometimes while doing so I’ll even stand on one leg to work on balance or bounce on my toes to work my calves a little or even do squats while I hold and read my magazine.

The hardest part of starting all this is getting motivated to actually stand up. I usually don’t start this until after lunch, which means I’m sitting for a few hours straight in the morning. Even when I’m standing, sometimes I wish I had more motivation to grab that heavy book and do some overhead extensions or squat against the wall while I read. So, I proposed a game to several of my friends, and my mom, who I know wish they could just force themselves to move more, and I’d like to share the idea with all of you.

Here’s how it goes: text one of your friends with something along the lines of, “Get moving! Do _______! You go! Let me know when you’re done.” In the blank put something that’s easy to do in a small room like an office such as 15 squats, run in place for 1 minute, 30 toe raises, 20 overhead extensions with a heavy book, 30 sec wall squat, 20 sec quad stretch each leg, go for a 5 minute walk, etc. Do the challenge as soon as it’s convenient then text back “Done!” and send a challenge to someone else to keep it going!

What do you think about this game idea? Would this be something that would help you get moving when you’d normally be sitting? What are some other exercises that you could do in a small space? I’d love to read any of your own thoughts, observations, ideas, personal stories, etc. that you want to share! 🙂

Skin Color is a Physical Trait, Not a Personality Type

I’ll mostly be talking about “black people” and “white people” in this post, because that’s what I see the most of relative to the particular sort of racism, but I’m sure it applies to others as well.

This is going to be a rant about how black and white are COLORS, NOT personality types. One of the reasons racism is still alive in everyday life is because people have labeled black and white as personality types, coming up with terms such as “oreo” for people who are “black on the outside but white on the inside” and “wigger” for people who “are white on the outside but black on the inside.” Phrases like “he/she is so white” or “damn girl, you must be black on the inside with dance moves like that” do more to keep racism alive than people realize. And they hurt. It makes it so people with black skin don’t want to do well in school because then they would be “white” on the inside. White is a skin color, not a personality type. Black is a skin color, not a personality type. I can’t express that enough. Saying things like “that’s such a white thing to do” has become an insult to people with black or white skin, it seems.

Why can’t people with black skin be smart without getting called white? Why can’t people with white skin dance well without getting called black? Why the separation? It’s just another way to separate white people and black people instead of integrating and just calling everyone people. There are all kinds of personality types that go beyond race, skin color, and gender for that matter. We all feel the same emotions, we all have different skills and interests, so why is it that some are associated with “white” personality and some associated with “black” personality. How about just saying “hey, that guy makes good grades” instead of “hey, that guy is so white”?

Skin color is a PHYSICAL trait. It’s a way to PHYSICALLY describe someone. Just like eye color, hair color, and shirt color.

Smart, nice, mean, hard-ass, caring, determined, focused, spiteful, loving, etc are ways to describe someones personality. Notice that white, black, and brown are not in that list because they are NOT personality traits.

I’m calling for a stop to using skin color as a personality type. It’s not. Someone who is smart and focused could be white skinned, black skinned, or brown skinned. Someone who is a mean hard-ass could be white skinned, black skinned, or brown skinned. Personality types come in all color skin. That’s why they are two separate things. Calling someone white or black for any reason other than the color of their skin just adds to the discrimination and separation of the two races. If we’re going to grow and become stronger as a community, we need to stop viewing things this way. We need to see skin color as skin color and not judge a personality based on that or label a personality as a color. Please, stop.

Please share any of your own thoughts, observations, ideas, personal stories, etc. because I love reading them. Do you agree or disagree with my point? Why? What similar phrases have you heard that you think are harmful?