The intellectual equivalent of a ham sandwich.

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April Haiku

April 1 (Saturday)
Max Colorado:
Making some granola bars
For Sunday trail jog

April 2 (Sunday)
Sunday errands done
Time to kick back, relax, and
Try hard not to nap

April 3 (Monday)
Bball done this year.
Oh yeah, there’s the NBA.
Eh. Basketball’s done.

April 4 (Tuesday)
Are the masters soon?
The whispering, the soft clap
The greatest nap track

April 5 (Wednesday)
Days of frustration
Before learning easy fix
Code drives me batty

April 6 (Thursday)
Wife hosting book club
I come downstairs to say hi,
Envy the snack tray

April 7 (Friday)
Friday night hijinks
Bingo hall with some buddies
My wife won a game!!

April 8 (Saturday)
Spotted on trail jog:
Friendly hikers, deer, llamas.
One of those … seems odd.

April 9 (Sunday)
Sunday starts with a …
Whimper? Some soft crying sounds?
Hurting from my jog

April 10 (Monday)
Canadian geese
Aren’t they supposed to migrate?
Ones here just loiter

April 11 (Tuesday)
Ran with a backpack on
Not only looked like a dork
But felt like one too

April 12 (Wednesday)
Work dinner tonight
Spouses are invited too
Fingers crossed they’re weird

April 13 (Thursday)
Friendos, life is good:
Frosted animal crackers,
And a glass of milk

April 14 (Friday)
Left work feeling good
Leaving like that on Fridays?
It’s hard to beat that

April 15 (Saturday)
Nearly done with jog
Misstep and roll my ankle
<This line censored out>

April 16 (Sunday)
Happy Easter, all
Big day for adults (message)
And for kids (candy)

April 17 (Monday)
Traffic reporters
Laughs while traffic pains described
Ah, schaudenfreude

April 18 (Tuesday)
Duolingo fun
Still trying to learn German
King of weird phrases

#IAmNotAPotato #IchNichtEinKartoffel

April 19 (Wednesday)
MY WIFE IS PREGNANT
Other stuff’s happening too …
But who cares? PREGNANT!

April 20 (Thursday)
National pot day
Time to get out there, potheads!
And then sit around!

April 21 (Friday)
Some friends visiting
Calls for RMNP trip
Seeing ALL the elk!!

April 22 (Saturday)
Hike to start the day
Eerie mist on the way up
Clear skies coming down

April 23 (Sunday)
Friends depart today
Quiet house, bloated belly
(We ate out a lot)

April 24 (Monday)
Social weekend done
Wonderful to hang out, now:
Hermit mode engaged

April 25 (Tuesday)
Life’s comprised of countdowns
Kid: summer break, Christmas, birthday
Now: three day weekends

April 26 (Wednesday)
“ECHOOOOO” she yelled out
Sass Canyon replied slowly
“Unnn-or-ig-in-allllll”

April 27 (Thursday)
Dog’s extra needy
Like a tiny, four-legged,
Smell making machine

April 28 (Friday)
Sometimes I wonder
Is a haiku too succinct
To allow me to

April 29 (Saturday)
It is impressive
How little I can get done
It just takes effort

April 30 (Sunday)
Snow is melting now
But, snow, please hang out some more
I don’t want to mow

Music Monday

This time I have a theme – French speaking artists. I really like the first three music videos (the songs and the videos themselves) … The last one is just because I always do four songs for these posts. I’m not saying you shouldn’t watch the video, it’s just entertaining in a laughing-at-you-not-with-you kind of way.

 

 

 

 

Toastmasters Speech #7 – Research Your Topic

Trash

Raise your hand if you know when you need to put your trash out for it to be collected? Raise your hand if you know how many pounds of trash you are throwing out each week?

It’s a testament to the efficiency and the management of trash that we don’t often know how much trash we are generating. We don’t need to, and there is no visible reason that seems to indicate we should know.

I’d like to talk a bit about trash though, because I think it is something that is worth having more attention.

There are going to be quite a few numbers, and overall it’s kind of depressing to think about – but I’ll give one example which will hopefully shed a light of good.

It’s not all bad news, but at the end of this, if there’s one thing I want you to leave knowing – it’s that we are generating a lot of trash.

 

Let’s get to the numbers, those exciting, fascinating, can’t get enough numbers.

According to the EPA, in 2014 there were 258 million tons of municipal solid waste generated.

That’s a lot – but it breaks down a little.

Almost 13% of that is combusted, which is defined as the conversion of non-recyclable waste materials into usable heat, electricity or fuel. It’s garbage, but it’s usable garbage.

About 34% of that is recyclable, so it is garbage that will live to see another day.

But, the remaining amount, about 52% … is going to landfills. The largest slice of this pie is ending up in a landfill.

 

The United States population in 2014 was put at 318.9 million people. Using the amount of trash and a little simple division, we can look at how much trash each American is contributing.

Over the course of a year each person creates 1,618 pounds of trash. For comparison, that’s about the weight of 5 NFL offensive linemen. Or, five of these guys. Those are big fellas.

 

If you don’t ordinarily measure things in terms of offensive linemen, then another measure which I imagine most people are familiar with is 50 pounds. Fifty pounds, for you savvy travelers, is what you can get away with for a checked bag before you have to pay extra money.

The portion of trash that we, yes, every single one of us, generates each year that goes directly to a landfill is 853 pounds.

That’s not 1, not 2, but 17 fully packed suitcases worth of weight that is trash. Trash that we are burying in the Earth.

 

I’m going to drill this point home one more time, and then we can move on.

If you look at the number of 1,618 pounds of trash every American generates every year, then what happens if we project that out into the future?

In 10 years, that’s 16,180 pounds. That’s a lot.

And, obviously, that goes up, and up, and up the more years you think ahead. If you look out 40 years ahead, I have a bit of great news from the department of irony – you will have generated about 64,000 pounds of trash which is what a dump truck weighs! Woah! How great!

 

That’s an awful lot of talk about how much trash we are generating.

The good news is that you can have an impact on this. Consider how much effort you are currently putting into reducing the waste you generate. Do you take a mental log of what you are putting into your trash can? Do you think about how you could make a few small changes to reduce that amount? Even something as simple as just beginning to think about this can make a difference.

I’ll give you an example of a small change that some of you may be able to make starting today.

When you go to a public bathroom that has hand towels, how many do you take? It’s trivial, but it adds up.

Let’s say you use a public bathroom where you are using a disposable hand towel four times a day.

Over the course of one year, if you use one hand towel … that’s 1,460 hand towels.

If you use two hand towels each time … double that.

I’m going to pretend no one here uses three because I’m neurotic and weird and I stare at people who use three thinking ‘who do you think you are? Your hands aren’t that big, pal, nor are they that wet. COME ON.’

And … In case you don’t know this – channel your inner Taylor Swift, shake it off, and now you only need one hand towel.

If you reduce your hand towel usage each time by one, and you do this for the next forty years, that only amounts to either 1.41 pounds less trash. All that extra effort, the hand flicking, the possibility of slightly damp hands … is it worth it?

Let’s revisit that there are 318.9 million people in the United States.

If ALL of us in the United States went from two hand towels to one, that’s about 448 MILLION POUNDS OF TRASH. Gone. Just like that. From one small, little change. 448 million pounds.

If you prefer smaller numbers, that’s 2.2 aircraft carriers.

 

As I said at the beginning of my speech – my main objective was to have everyone leave here knowing that we generate a lot of trash. Every single person, all 318.9 million US citizens, every single day.

Every week you put out your trash, you come home from work, and you push the empty bin back inside to be filled up again. It’s like magic.

But, that trash isn’t disappearing. It’s all going somewhere.

The good news is that we can improve things. Small changes, start small, look for little ways you can reduce the amount of trash you generate … And then, be proud of that, brag about it, make it something you want to tell your friends about, so that more and more of those 318.9 million trash generators will want to reduce their waste just like you.

 

Sources

https://www.epa.gov/smm/energy-recovery-combustion-municipal-solid-waste-msw

https://www.epa.gov/smm/advancing-sustainable-materials-management-facts-and-figures

https://www.epa.gov/sites/production/files/2016-11/documents/2014_smmfactsheet_508.pdf

https://www.reference.com/vehicles/much-garbage-truck-weigh-17dc33699c400aab

 

Meryl Streep, Meghan McCain, and Another Unasked for Opinion

Last night Meryl Streep gave a speech that called President-Elect Trump to task for some things he has said and done, and it generated a lot of noise as a result. One bit of noise came from Meghan McCain’s Twitter account, where she said,

I agree with Meghan. She got a LOT of negative responses, so I’ll explain why I agree.

I think part of the Trump victory is due to a lot of people seeing him as a rejection of a PC-movement which they didn’t like. People going to corporate training to learn about ‘microagressions’ and how they can’t make jokes like this or that, and they were sick of it. Trump represents an absolute and loud rejection of any notion of being PC.

Personally, I think that’s bad. But I get why some people like that.

Sometimes people post something on social media talking about a situation where someone was racist, or sexist, or xenophobic, or any number of words that seem to be much more a part of today’s lexicon than they were 10 years ago (or perhaps that is my imagination). And people, who liked how things were and were comfortable and ok with it, didn’t like being told what once was normal is now considered offensive.

That makes sense to me – someone coming in and telling you that what you are doing is wrong is frustrating. Especially if that person is pointing this out to you as though you’re dumb or awful.

There are times that I have read a post and thought, ‘nuh uh, you’re just being dramatic.’ But then, ideally, someone has further explained what they were saying. WHY is this sexist? HOW is that statement that seems normal to me actually subtly racist? And the best is when I can observe this, question it, and learn without judgement. This is difficult to achieve – it takes a patient teacher AND student to tackle socially embarrassing and difficult topics like racism, sexism, and xenophobia.

People on both sides are making mistakes. Too many people point out wrongs of others in harsh and unforgiving terms. This makes it easy to reject any future conversations around the same topic. Someone who is more conservative who has been called narrow-minded and idiotic will have to summon even more patience to then hear a rational explanation of why their words, which they may have said without being aware that they could be perceived negatively, were actually offensive. And someone who has been called a libtard and gay for expressing frustration with Donald Trump will have a harder time explaining calmly why they are feeling frustrated.

Meghan McCain added to this, by writing a statement that had some truth to it but seemed intended more to get attention and rile people (she’s in the media, the media digs clicks, bingo, bango, bongo). But she’s kind of right – a rich, elite, liberal person saying that Trump represents some awful ideas? … That’s just going to have some people hunker down in their opinion that anyone speaking ill of him is actually wrong.

That said, I thought Streep voiced her opinion well and the people that will further embrace Trump after listening to her were maybe those who are unlikely to see another point of view at all anyhow (too steeped in their own opinion).

What’s my point? Calm down, listen, ask questions, try to understand the other side. It’s a much more interesting and good use of your brain to think about something you haven’t thought of – and who better to introduce you to such notions than someone on the other side of this far too divided us vs them climate we’re now in the abominable pleasure of living in.

 

Google searches of the word ‘racist’ from 2004 – present day

Google searches of the word ‘sexist’ from 2004 – present day (a marked increase)

Google searches of the word ‘xenophobic’ from 2004 – present day

Music Monday – Christmas Edition

Lou Monte – Dominick the Donkey

Pearl Bailey – A Five Pound Box Of Money
Straight No Chaser – The Christmas Can-Can
Patti Page – Boogie Woogie Santa Claus

Toastmasters Speech #6 – Vocal Variety

Speech six in the competent communicator manual (the traditional set of speeches people give first) is called ‘vocal variety.’ The purpose is to focus on your voice – adding pauses, good language, volume changes, pace of speaking changes, things like that. I thought accents would be a good way to force myself in to accomplishing some of those goals … and when I think of accents I think of when I went to Georgia Boys State.

You’ll have to make up your own accents when you read this.

Georgia Boys State

My family had moved from New York to Georgia over winter break my freshman year, and I was sitting in my first class, English, at my new Georgia high school. I was feeling overwhelmed by the move, but I had just learned some good news – at my new high school they had just finished reading The Old Man and the Sea, and I had already read that.

The teacher asked some question and called on a girl, she began to answer.

“Whale …”

WHALE?! There’s a WHALE in the book? When was there a whale!?

She continued after a pause, “ya’ll know … he was like … trying to catch a fish or somethin’?”

That’s when three thoughts hit me – 1, ohhh, she said well; 2, she clearly didn’t read the book; 3, I love a good accent.

Fast forward two years and the summer after my junior year of highschool I was treated to a buffet of Georgia accents at Georgia Boys State. I’d like to share a few stories, and attempt a few accents from Boys State – but first, who here is familiar with Boys State or Girls State?

Explanation

Boys State and Girls State are weeklong camps put on by the American Legion. It’s a sort of mock political event. Kids after their junior year of high school are selected, a few from each high school in the state, and then you attend this camp where you are split up into cities, and counties. You learn about state politics because you have to elect someone to each major position – city councilors, positions at county levels, and up.

Every day you meet people from your city, and county. People give speeches in the hopes of winning elections.

The camp was about as opposite as possible for things I was interested in. Politics? Nope. Public speaking? Nope.

But, what the camp lacked for me, it more than made up for with amazing accents from all over the state, and oddball experiences.

I

We begin on night one. The camp was run on a tight schedule, and we had hit lights out for the day. My roommate and I were tucked in to bed.

“Night James,” I said to my roommate, “night Brad,” he said back. A few moments of silence go by before James says, quietly, “hey Brad?” I respond, “yeah James?” And then a question everyone wants to hear from someone they have just met and will be rooming with, “how do you feel about your relationship with Jesus?”

This time I paused before answering, I wanted to make sure this question got the due attention it deserved. “Oh, pretty good, thanks for asking.”

Then I laid absolutely still, not sleeping a wink, doing my best impression of how I think my breathing sounds when I’m asleep. James didn’t pipe up again, I guess he was just dipping his toes into the pools of evangelism.

II

The people in charge of Boys State did a good job of mixing people up – I knew other people there from Savannah, but we were scattered across different cities. Each city had a good mix of folks from all over. And I spent the most time with people from my city.

I had come to Georgia from New York with an ignorant but well-formed set of assumptions and stereotypes. Southerners, in my mind, spoke slowly and were a bit dumber than northerners. Thankfully, I learned time and again how wrong I was to assume the south lacked smart folks.

One guy who embodied that reminded me most of Adam Sandler’s character from The Waterboy, and I remember him distinctly talking about the SATs. “Well my mama said that, if I got over a 1400 on my SATs she’d get me a truck. So, I got a 1450.”

….WHAT. That’s not how it works! You aren’t motivated by a TRUCK to do well in school. You can’t be smart AND one of those guys who sneaks a guns and ammo, or truck magazine into class. (Yes, some of my classmates really did that.)

The slow accents though, sometimes that was true. That was demonstrated by another guy in my city “who’s daddy is a pea-nut farmer. And he’d just sorta … stroll through a sentence real casual … and ya’ll can come along and pay attention if ya’ll want, but ya’ll don’t have to neither.” It was like mind numbing poetry. He could make one sentence sound like a story.

III

Last, but certainly not least, is David Ballard.

All the kids from my county had met in a big hall to elect the district attorney, sheriff, and other positions. These were coveted positions.

One of the guys in that room was David Ballard. David was not terribly attractive, he looked like a shy nerdy fella, he was definitely not the best speaker, but he was persistent. He was very persistent.

The first position came up and a number of people got up, gave speeches about why they should be elected. David got up and gave his speech, “Hi, my name is David Ballard, and I would like to be your district attorney.” David didn’t win.

The next position came up and again a small set of county citizens got up, gave speeches, and even David participated. “Hi, my name is David Ballard, and I’d like to be your sheriff.” He didn’t win.

Again, and again, and again, David got up and ran. I loved every minute of David’s speeches. It was like watching an injured Olympian limping across the finish line an hour after the other athletes.

His winning speech began as such, “Hi, as you all know, I am David Ballard.” There was no shame, no hesitation, he tried, and tried, and eventually succeeded. It was beautiful, and inspiring, and because I am a jerk, pretty darn comical to me.

Conclusion

I was not excited to head to Boys State. And when I left, I was happy to to be back home and surrounded by my friends. But, despite my best efforts to sit back and be a smart aleck and poke holes in everything around me – it was truly educational.

Accents are beautiful, people are great, and there are life lessons hidden everywhere if you let them hit you.

Well, Friends …

As you may have heard, the United States just elected a new president. I was rooting against the person who won, but it’s over now.

 

Two things could be potential consequences of the new president – the environment not getting all of the attention it needs, and regardless of who would’ve won some people still could use help. I happen to not like the idea of either of those potential outcomes, so I will take steps to try to help.

 

Environment:

 

I’d like to think I already do some good things here, and I will share with you a couple very simple things that I do to reduce the amount of garbage I generate, and how I try to be more thrifty in using resources:
  • Take short showers! Long showers are great, especially when it’s cold, but if you pick a song you know is X minutes long and play that while showering, it creates a challenge for you to finish before the song. Make a game of it, eh?
  • Do you drink coffee at work? Do you add stuff and use those little stirrers? Try using one for the whole week, or bring a spoon from home and rinse it off and reuse it. That’s unnecessary garbage we generate.
    • Having trouble picturing how this will make a difference? After all, you CAN get 1,000 of those from Costco for $3.19.
    • At 5.6 ounces for 1,000 – one of these weighs 0.0056 ounces.
    • If you use five per week for 48 weeks per year that’s 1.344 ounces of trash. (48 weeks because I’ll pretend you get a month off.)
    • If you work from age 22 to age 65, that’s 57.792 ounces. Or, 3.612 pounds.
    • For comparison, if you used one per week instead, you would have 0.7224 pounds of garbage at the end of your work life or ZERO pounds of trash if you used a spoon.
    • There is an estimated 243 million working age people in the United States, if we think only 50% of people use those stirrers – then if all those people used one stirrer straw a day, that’s 438,858,000 pounds of trash they’ll generate over the course of their working lives.
    • That’s trash that could EASILY be cut down!
    • I know that’s a bit silly, but just think about how many little bits and pieces of trash you throw away every day, and how there are literally billions of other people doing the same thing … Every tiny bit helps.
  • Don’t drive til you’re on E! Fill up when your car is at a quarter tank, it creates better fuel efficiency.
better-in-landfill-1

Picture compliments of an article from science.howstuffworks.com.

Next up, I need to think about what I can add to continue to reduce the amount of trash I generate, or other steps I can take to positively impact the environment.

Even if you don’t believe that global warming is real, land fills are real, and they’re not dissipating.

For the Peoples:

 

Hold me accountable, world! In college I volunteered regularly, and right out of college I volunteered at a Boys and Girls Club tutoring (or trying to) kids. Since then the amount of volunteering I have done is pretty sparse. I’d like to get back to doing that.

 

Hear ye, hear ye, hold me accountable to getting involved in one project a month!

 

Thus ends my political reflections … for now.
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