Saturday, July 31, 2010

I Love Horses

I realized that I haven't talked about horses in a very long time, and that my friends, means that you are overdue for some equine love!

I usually work on the Saturday afternoon/evening shift at the barn, but because this morning's shift was light-handed, I volunteered to help them. I finally remembered to bring my camera to the barn with me.

I was able to capture some camera hams before it rained. On a side note, I left my windows rolled down. I remembered to put them up before the rain got too bad. I never ran faster in my life until that sudden realization that my car could be flooded from the deluge hit me.

Moving on from my almost horrific incident of terror. I love horses, a lot. If I had the money and the land to bring a few of them from Horse Haven with me, I would in a heart beat. Problem is, horses are expensive pets/members of the family. Big boys gotta eat!, among other related expenses.

Maybe one day I will have my own barn, but for now I'm perfectly happy with taking care of the boys and girls who come to Horse Haven.

This is Hutch and Huggy Bear (left to right). If you didn't know them, you wouldn't be able to tell them apart.

I had a hard time one day when I arrived to the barn to find the boys together in the field. Which is which? Not that you all care, but if you look on Huggy's neck you can see where a patch of his hair was shaved when he had surgery. Hutch has a thing in his ear (a sarcoid). These two crack me up and make me smile. Every time I drive up, they run around and kick and trot fancifully (and expectantly) to the gate.

A few weekends ago, some of the horses needed pictures for the website. I tried to stay out of some of them, but that didn't happen when all Eeyore and Perry wanted to do was check my pockets for treats and be loved basically not stand still.



What do you think of my outfit? Keep in mind that it is like a MILLION degrees outside plus astronomical humidity levels.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

S is for Sophomore

As you know, I have been taking summer classes. While they have sort of been the bane of my existence, I'm appreciative for them. They haven't been terribly difficult. It's just that my body and my brain are wired for not going to school in the summer, so what do I do? I take summer classes, and consequently throw every thing off.

I have really enjoyed my "Introduction to Cultural Anthropology" class for many reasons. I have learned quite a lot, and I've discovered a new area of interest. I'm pretty sure I will not change my major, but I'd like to take more anthro classes as electives. Learning about people is fascinating, says the people watcher.

While "General Chemistry 1" has been a refresher course from my high school chemistry days, it has been the class where I put forth most of my time and effort. Between online homework, lab procedure outlines, prelab work, studying for an endless string of tests, oh and having to be there all day on Wednesdays, I have been a little burnt out. I can't complain too much because the class hasn't been incredibly hard, just incredibly taxing.

I am more proud of my achievements in chemistry class because my test grades have improved considerably each time. Usually in science classes, my test scores are within a decent range. This summer I started with an 82, then a 91, and last week I made a 97. A 97!!! Let's just hope (and study study study!) that my final exam reflects my improvement in test scores.

Though summer school has been a drag, I am looking forward to fall classes. I just like learning, and this fall promises to be very interesting. Here is my crudely designed Excel schedule:

The following descriptions come from the online course catalog. I think my semester looks way awesome, but within that cool aspect lies an awful lot of work. I have 3 labs and 2 writing intensive/research type classes. Pray for my sanity, friends, because there is a good chance that it might take a hiatus during exam time!

Anthropology 310 - North American Indians: Comparative overview of Indian cultures of North America. Topical coverage ranges from prehistory and aboriginal lifeways to problems resulting from contact and acculturation. Writing-emphasis course.

Chemistry 130 - General Chemistry II: A general course in theoretical and descriptive chemistry. Chemical equilibria, thermochemistry, descriptive chemistry of non-metallic and metallic elements, electrochemistry, introduction to organic and biochemistry.

Geology 310 - Mineralogy: Introduction to the concepts of crystal chemistry, x-ray diffraction, optical mineralogy, and geochemical analysis of the important rock-forming minerals. Laboratory includes hand-specimen, x-ray diffraction, and microscopic identification of minerals.

Geology 320 - Paleobiology: Critical analysis of the preserved record of ancient life, with emphases on recognition of evolutionary patterns, processes, and extinctions. Interpretation of ancient environments and the integrated use of fossils and other geological features in solving problems of geologic correlation and age dating. Statistical and qualitative approaches applied to field and laboratory data.

Medieval Studies 201 - Medieval Civilization: Introduction to basic themes in the medieval experience approached from interdisciplinary points of view and including philosophy and religion, art and architecture, language and literature, and social and political history. Writing-emphasis course.

There you have it folks. I officially started my sophomore year this summer, in terms of credit hours. In the old school sense, my sophomore year begins on August 18.

I hope to make more time for blogging, as I have had several post ideas floating around. I like to write, but I also like school. Hopefully the balance between the 2 will come back this fall.

Monday, July 26, 2010

I Like Clean Air

I try to keep from ranting here, but sometimes, I just have to. I hope you can forgive my rant if it offends you, but it's how I feel.

I grew up with country music, so I don't not like it. I just have immensely expanded my music library, and I don't listen to country all that much anymore. Maybe this is why:
Both ends of the ozone burnin
Funny how the world keeps turnin
These lines are from Toby Keith's song "American Ride." Now, my Ma she loves Toby. I like a few of his way older songs when he didn't sing about hot topics in the political arena.

But I don't like the way he blatantly blows off a big part of the environment. Whether or not you believe or do not believe in global warming, I think we should all be concerned that what humans are doing to the planet, and consequently to ourselves, isn't healthy.

It isn't healthy to breath the black crap that comes out of your tailpipe. It isn't healthy to dump tons of waste (trash, run-off that is full of pesticides and fertilizers, other chemicals) into rivers and aquifers. It isn't good for copious amounts of oil to spill into the oceans. It isn't smart to burn off excess natural gas at an oil refinery plant.

In case you can't tell, I care about the environment. I love trees and blue skies and sunshine and fresh air and animals. It hurts me to see the lack of respect that we as human beings have for the world around us.

God made this planet, and He chose to put us here. He gave us "dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the air and over every living thing that moves upon the earth." The Earth and every living thing, every rock, each sand grain, they're all beautiful gifts from God.

So what do we humans do with God's gifts? We either destroy them or trash them. A beach littered with trash, a forest stripped bare, the last of a species in a cage at the zoo, open-pit mines that are not reclaimed, so much artificial light at night that you can't see the stars.

We need to acknowledge that there is something awry about our attitude and actions toward the planet. America is very well off compared to other countries in the world. For example, we have access to clean, safe water. Billions of people around the world don't have access to clean, safe water. We import a good chunk of minerals and ores because, for certain things, we don't have enough to mine economically in our country or for what we do have, it isn't economically feasible to mine them. Because of this, we import minerals and ores from other countries where environmental standards are lax. Citizens of those countries suffer the consequences of no protection for their rights as workers and laborers, and their health also suffers because their governments and mining industries don't care to clean up after themselves.

As my professor said, "We’re a major consumer of everything. That shouldn’t surprise you." It doesn't surprise me. What I am surprised about is that we don't account for our actions more often and take responsibility. We don't protect what we have.

Call me a tree hugger, an environmentalist, a Democrat, what have you.

I like to be called a human being, a child of God who only wants to keep His gifts around instead of losing them.

The Great Smoky Mountains National Park, which is my favorite place to hike, is the most polluted national park in the country. It has the highest levels of ozone. That is an epic fail.

Yes, the ozone is burning. Yes Mr. Keith, the world is still turning, but do you want to drink dirty water and breath sooty air because it is easier to simply just avoid dealing with issues like clean air and clean water? I don't.

It isn't healthy for us (not to mention not nice) to ruin what God has given us.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Sticks and Stones

O Lord, You have scrutinized me and You know me. -Psalm 139:1

Recently, I've been struggling with how to handle what others think of me. I have a tendency to let thoughts and words of others sink in.

The problem is, I take what people say verbatim. I absorb, process, apply, and store what people say, instead of letting it glance off. Sometimes things are said accidentally, or sometimes I interpret things the wrong way, that the statement didn't actually mean what I thought it did.

Constructive criticism is different than what I am talking about, but on a side-note, I believe that I usually take constructive criticism fairly well. But that's always debatable.

It just seems that lately my failures are pointed out rather than the good things. I'm not saying that everyone always tells me the bad and what I don't want to hear, but lately that's all I've remembered. And it's driving me crazy.

I mess up a lot. I know that. So do those who know me, but it seems like every failure has to be pointed out constantly. Not doing something on time or ever at all. Over-committing between friends, family, school, and volunteer activities. Visibly displaying my lack of patience. Being my sometimes introverted (some would say antisocial) self instead of being out there with the world.

I'm not depressed, just frustrated. I can't change on a whim. I can't do a lot of things when I already have a lot to do, you know?

I'm a big believer in not judging others. Do I fall short of that? You better believe I do, but I don't enjoy that when the realization of my sin has hit me. So when I ask others not to judge, and then I judge, I am labeled a hypocrite. I'm just fueling this endless circle of judging and not judging.

I've always known that the only One who can judge me and others is God. I think we all, myself definitely included, sometimes forget that fact.

One of my favorite TV shows brought a person into my world that I never would have met otherwise. Captain Phil Harris, on the Discovery show Deadliest Catch, was a man who lived his life to the fullest. No matter what he did, good and bad, he did so with all of his energy. Everything material and immaterial, valuable and priceless, was worth every ounce of life that he had. It was all important.

Captain Phil died this February, but on the TV show, he finally died a few episodes ago (July 13). Ever since, I've witnessed how others reacted to learning the loss of his illness, his miraculous progress in the recovering, and his surprising death. All of their reactions: fellow captains, deckhands, his own sons...all of them understood that a wonderful person just left this earth.

Now I know that I didn't meet Captain Phil, but watching him and learning about him from others, I've learned many things about crab-fishing and the like. I have also learned that it is possible to live one's life without caring what others think. He admitted that he did some things that are considered bad by the majority of folks, but he also did a lot of good. He was who he was. That was that. If you didn't like him, oh well.

I hope that one day that I can possess the self-confidence to believe fully in myself, to trust more fully in God, and to not care so much what other people think, just like Captain Phil.

God has and does examine me and my actions. He should be my only judge. God knows who I am...every fault, failure, and success. His words are the only ones that should sink in to my very being.
Our true worth does not consist in what human beings think of us. What we really are consists in what God knows us to be. -St. John Berchmans
Johnny Cash sings so poignantly in the song "Hurt." Of all that I love about that song, I think the very last verse sums it up well:

If I could start again,
a million miles away.
I would keep myself.
I would find a way.

I am who I am, I can't change me. I can only try to do better with what God has given me and what He has asked of me.

Friday, July 9, 2010

A Rite of Passage

I know this is a day late and a dollar short, but would you believe me if I told you that I was busy? I had to study for an anthropology test, a chemistry test, write up 2 lab reports, and do online chemistry homework.

Enough of my attempt at pity gathering. On July 4th, I realized that I had just accomplished a major feat. In my own silly reasoning, I had completed a rite of passage that has eluded me since I can remember.

My family and I went to the city fireworks show on Saturday, but we had our first family made mini-show in our backyard. The caliber of the fireworks we had was definitely not what the city's was, but then again we are surrounded by trees, it hasn't rained in a long time, and it was our first attempt at a fireworks/July 4th production.

The moment of triumph, of victory, of awe, came when I held my first sparkler without being terrified that it would explode, taking my hand with it. (Maybe chemistry class is helping?)

It was also a milestone because it was the first sparkler that I ever lit by myself. Ever. Now, I have been able to use a lighter for quite some time but not for obvious reasons. I just like fire. Matches are more fun.

Yes, to me, lighting my first sparkler and holding it without being terrified is a milestone. I don't know how far I have progressed though, because with each successive sparkler lighting and holding, I had more fun pretending I was at Hogwarts. What kind of rite of passage was it?

I muttered spells so that my family wouldn't hear me. Wingardium leviosa. Expecto patronum. Lumos. I never uttered the Unforgiveable Curses. Never do that!

A few days after the July 4th festivities had ended, I was talking with my parents out in the garage. I can't remember what led to this particular subject matter, but we ended up talking about age. I remember saying, "...I'm almost 20 years old, Ma..."

Then Mom repeated something that I said, including my age, but when she said it, she actually said that I was 20. I quickly corrected her. I'm not 20, I'm 19...almost 20. Then I stopped.

Whoaaaaaa. Whoa dude. Come November, I will not be a teenager anymore. I will be 20.

Then I thought, oh no. I've become a cliche! Or at least I will be soon! You know how sometimes in conversation, while rehashing the old days, people will say, "I haven't done that in, what, 20 years! 30 years! et cetera."

I know that when used, those numbers are sometimes rounded, but still. I will be one of them soon!

I am almost 20 years old. I just now lit my first sparkler. I pretend I'm a wizard when no one is looking.

So that's been my week for you. A week with a rite of passage, horrifying revelations, and summer school tests. Happy belated 4th of July!

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Watch Your Eyes!

You have to watch yourself around my house, especially your eyes. Wear protective eye covering. Like those goofy plastic goggles for chemistry lab!

If you don't, you could end up like my eye.

I politely asked Squeak to share the pillow with Tinker. I then tried to scoot Squeak forward on the pillow a little bit so that Tinker could sleep on the bed too. The cats have shared the pillow before, so this was not a big earth-shattering request.

But, apparently it was. The first sign of danger was that she meowed after I tried to move her a little bit. Squeak NEVER (okay, hardly ever) meows. She squeaks, hence the clever namesake.

I told her, "Alright alright, you don't have to share tonight Squeakaz." I gave her a quick pat, and then AKJDKHTKEK AKSDRHJEH DKSJIKTHI!!!!!

She scratched my eye! I grabbed my eye, fearing that my eyeball would form a puddle in my hand. Angrily, I scruffed Squeak and sort of threw her off my bed as I stumbled to the bathroom. Meanwhile the other cat and the dogs were running in between my legs because "Oooohhh somebody did something....somebody's in trouble!"

I was afraid of uncovering my eye because I wasn't sure what the damage looked like. When I did, the blood trickled down. Then I was afraid to open my eye and actually had a hard time doing so. I managed to assess the damage, and nothing was wrong with my actual eye. However, my eyelid was red, swollen, and bloody. (Sorry about the less than stellar photography. I'm not very great at self-portraits of cat-induced injuries).

I walked downstairs to show my Dad, and I futilely and sarcastically asked him if I could put a bandaid on the scratch. Haha, no. We doctored it, and then I went to bed. For the next week-ish, I had a semi-bruised eye. It was a nice shade of red, then purple, then yellow-y flesh color. Mom told me it looked like I had tried putting eye shadow on. I don't even wear makeup.

That was a few weeks ago. My eye/eyelid/that region, is back to normal color and size, but it still smarts if I accidentally touch/rub the scar. I did forgive Squeak the next day. The funny thing is, the first friend I told about my horrific incident of terror replied that the incident was one more reason for him to not own a cat.

The next reason that you should cover your eyes in my house happens on a daily basis. I just never have the camera around when little Charlie is sleeping to catch him in the act.

Could he be charged with public indecency? I doubt it. Though it is a little racy if you're a canine...Tee hee! It is very hard being a puppy, you see.