Wednesday, April 22, 2015

February 2015 Journal Archive

Afternoon, February 15, 2015

Happy Day After Valentine's Day from the Calico Ranch!  It's a Sunday on a three-day weekend (President's Day) as well, and that spells a slight lull in the action (personal rebellion) of graduate school.  I spent my yesterday productively:  watching Minecraft tutorial videos with Ayden, practicing her writing, being a hairstylist for a fleet of aging Barbie dolls, and worshipping my (as of late) attention deprived female feline familiars.

I've got to finish up a section of report writing some time...  Tomorrow is scheduled for lithic analysis in the lab all day, and homework all night.  My 'Environmental Law and Policy' midterm is Wednesday, and it's never too early to start studying for that beast!  After the exam, James Brown and I are planning a trip, complete with rubber boots and hacksaws, to the Department of Transportation roadkill pit (the place they throw all the roadkill from I-90, etc.) to acquire some deer leg bones for experimental purposes.  My son Mike has gleefully volunteered to film the gruesome expedition.  Speaking of which, if anyone out there knows where to find a large collection of freshly butchered sheep heads in the Ellensburg, WA area, please let me know.  I'm extremely interested in collecting the stylohyoid bones (archaeology: so glamorous) for use as comparative specimens in the department, and also to help out a fellow student's research efforts.  

Thanks Ayden!!

Cassi is home today, and we're continuing our never-ending Star Trek (this week it's Voyager) marathon.  We're (literally) counting pennies here, so no Valentine's cruises, or fancy jewelry for us.  I'm a guy (you might imagine) who doesn't put a lot of stock into commercially created and motivated holidays.  It's not that I have a problem with romance; quite the contrary.  Valentine's Day and I have a long history, from elementary school sweetheart crushes to dozens of singing telegram performances.   But, like all commercially generated ventures, it's ultimately economically driven, and therefore promotes (in my opinion) and certainly highlights undesirable social divisions.  The last thing poor people need, in an economy where the rich are thriving and they are sinking, is cultural pressure to conform to commercially motivated holidays in the midst of struggling to survive.  In the end, I frankly just hope all the cool people got laid and/or spent some quality time with a special person.  On that count, I suppose I can consider every day Valentine's Day...and I hope I've made my point!

Dave ~ Until they stop you, ride, shoot straight, and speak the truth.

Almost midnight February 18, 2015

Licking my wounds

It's been a tough week here at the Calico Ranch, and it's only half over.  For starters, my midterm grades are in and I only did well in one out of three classes.  The challenge of graduate school here at Central Washington University has been just that so far; challenging.  This is not a complaint; things could be/have been much worse, and I NEED to be challenged...believe me.  This week has been a thrilling learning experience, and that's just what I signed up for.  Stings a bit right now though...heh.  I've been learning from my mentors, some of the veteran's (and some of my peers) how to best shake it off, strap it back on, and keep moving.  Like that scene from Mel Gibson's We Were Soldiers...

"You gotta let that one go Charlie Boy!"

Frankly, it's a mental exercise for me.  Throughout my 50 years, I've had my failures, but (normally) academics isn't one of them.  I'm used to setting the curve, not looking up at it while it disappears into the clouds!  So, of course, I will re-double my efforts (sounds like every academic quarter after midterms) and try to fight the urge to mentally check out because I've realized early that I've mathematically eliminated my chances at "getting an A."  That's not too tough for me, as the grades are not my reason for existence or attendance.  It would be mostly a minor issue, but I must be one of the top students (or the top) in order to maintain my tuition waiver and research assistant status.  Just maintaining a "B" average doesn't get you the money.  It's much more competitive in the second year, as the RA positions and tuition waivers are used to recruit the new cohort of graduate students.  Out of last year's graduate crop, only one person received a second year waiver.  Financially speaking, I need to be that one person next year, so I put a high priority on my grade point average.  The struggle is real, and I'm alive and kicking!  

"I swear it's not what it looks like."

I didn't make it to the DOT boneyard at Cle Elum, WA today as planned to obtain deer bone specimens for my zooarchaeology experiment.  I contacted them, and was unable to speak to the right person (in a meeting).  I left my information and number, and am still awaiting a return call.  I bring it up, because that expedition will undoubtedly produce an interesting story with photo accompaniment in the near future.

Election Facepalm

Like my courses, I've already started resisting the mental urge to check out of the 2016 Presidential Election, knowing that we are all mathematically eliminated from "getting an A."  The lies and bullshit are already piling up.  Today Jeb Bush declared, "I'm my own man."  I chuckled, as I have thoroughly investigated his billionaire donor base, which includes the Koch brothers among other distinguished dingle-berries.  Reminds me of the same laughs I had when Obama said, "I'm a man of the people," when Bush Jr. said, "I'm the Decider," when Clinton said, "I can spend your money better than you can," when Bush Sr. said, "I resolve to end the scourge of drugs (and then decided going after Noriega was the right start)," when Reagan said, ""I am not worried about the deficit. It is big enough to take care of itself," and when Carter maybe he will be the next President...after all, they still owe him one for Florida in 2000.

Well it looks to be another helluva "clown show" anyway.  I haven't decided if I want to make a prediction this time around.  I'll do it if it helps keep me more interested.  The life I've led, the things I know, the places I've been, the things I've seen, the people I's hard for me to take all that hype and tripe seriously.  They love to keep the mob interested and occupied...and I love to watch it for all my grumbling, but don't ask me to that level.  Been there, done that, bought the T-shirt, got the scars, came out the other end wiser.

We're such jerk-offs sometimes.  We could live in a world of harmony and unconditional love, and instead we choose to swim in gold coins if we can, or die trying.  Sometimes the disappointment I experience is like when you are a parent and find out that your child picks on disabled kids at school. 

Okay, that's enough of brushing the dirt off my shoulders.  I'm all out of motivational speeches tonight and pretty tired.  I'm going to pull out some skeletal diagrams and review for my next bone quiz (tomorrow afternoon) and get some more source material read for a report that I'm writing.  Back on the horse, as they say.

Dave ~ Until they stop you, ride, shoot straight, and speak the truth.