The Way I Wish I Could Be

This last election mattered to me more than any previous election. The ramifications of its outcome are already destroying our nation. Trump’s plan for the first 100 days is ludicrous. His appointments are criminals and blatant racists. Rudy Giuliani favorably compared Trump to Andrew Jackson, the man we agreed was so terrible that it was a disgrace to have him on our currency.

I could go on and on about this, but what I’d rather do is share a message that brought me hope and gave me something to strive for in regard to character. My girlfriend’s friend posted this and I think it’s the only real way to come together and make a change for the better.

“A little less than two years ago I made it my goal in life to let go of the pain and anger that I had built up inside me. I have to say that I have been kicking ass. I’ve also been privileged enough to have a partner and friends and family who light up my life and have my back through thick and thin. I recognize that not everyone has that, but with their help I have found a sort of peace about myself.
Over the last few months I have restricted my use of social media because this election has brought out devastating truths about our nation and I wasn’t able to handle while keeping my sanity. That old anger was creeping back every time I logged onto Facebook. I would lose sleep and replay my peers racist/homophobic/misogynist comments over and over in my head wondering how people could be this way. It came to a point where I became a recluse as to not have to deal with these emotions.
Now that everything has gone so terribly wrong, I wish I would have fought harder and not isolated myself. I wish I did something. I don’t know what I could have done or really what I can do now but I have an idea as to where I want to start.
I would like to open a conversation with Trump supporters. A conversation without name calling or talking down and getting angry to the point of getting dumb. I want to know what your fears are. I want to know why you have these fears. I want to know about your hardships and your experiences. I want you to hear mine.
I can’t speak for the people of color/the gay and trans people that voices need to be heard first and foremost but I am a woman and I’m facing some serious fears for myself and loved ones. If any of you out there are willing to try to bridge the divide, I want to have a real conversation with you, human to human. I promise to keep my side civil and I hope that you are willing to do the same. I may not be the smartest and well informed person but my guts are filled with compassion and I will do whatever I can to help make things better. If your up to it please message me privately.”

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Deforestation of the Amazon

I read, write and edit on a strange variety of subjects for my job as a copywriter for an affiliate marketing company. Inversion tables, bluetooth headphones, CPA Exam prep courses, Six Sigma Professional Certification, you get the point. Today, I had to edit a piece on the deforestation of the Amazon Rainforest. Yesterday I watched Before the Flood, which changed my life—more on that in a later post. I love coincidences like that because they almost make me believe in fate. Anyway, I wanted to share what our writer sent over because the numbers paint a very ugly picture of what greed and disregard for the future look like. It’s long, but I hope you make it to the end.

The following was written by Emily Sears:

rainforest

Deforestation of the Amazon

The Amazon Rainforest is the largest tropical rainforest in the world, spanning over eight rapidly developing countries including Brazil, Bolivia, Peru, Colombia, and Ecuador. With 1.4 billion acres of dense forests, the Amazon Rainforest represents over half of the planet’s remaining rainforests. As the largest tract of tropical rainforest, the Amazon has unparalleled biodiversity. One in ten known species in the world lives in the Amazon. The landscape contains 4,100 miles of rivers winding through 390 billion individual trees and 40,000 different plant species. The forests are home to 2.5 million insect species, 2,200 fish species, and some 2,000 birds and mammal species. This makes the Amazon the largest collection of living plants and animal species in the world.

Each and every year, swaths of forests the size of Panama are lost. Deforestation is clearing Earth’s forests on a massive scale, often resulting in damage to the quality of the land. During the past 40 years, close to 20 percent of the Amazon Rainforest has been cut down—more than in all the previous 450 years since European colonization began. Deforestation is considerable, and cleared forest areas are visible to the naked eye from space.

The percentage of cut down forest could be far higher than the predicted 20 percent; the figure fails to account for illegal logging. The issue of illegal logging and deforestation in the Amazon is still a huge concern, despite progress on deforestation rates in the last decade. Although deforestation has declined significantly in the Brazilian Amazon between 2004 and 2014, there has been an increase to the present day. Scientists fear that over the next two decades, an additional 20 percent of the trees in the Amazon will be lost. If that happens, the forest’s ecology will unravel and the whole world will be impacted.

Global Effects of Deforestation

Deforestation has many negative effects on the environment, the economy, and the world. Deforestation may not be happening in your local environment, but it is absolutely impacting your world. There is a clear connection between the health of the Amazon and the health of the planet. The rain forests help stabilize the local and global climate since they contain 90-140 billion metric tons of carbon, which help stabilize local and global climate. Deforestation releases significant amounts of this carbon, which has catastrophic consequences around the world. And at this current rate of deforestation, the world’s rainforests could completely vanish in a hundred years.

The most dramatic impact of deforestation is a loss of habitat for millions of species. Seventy percent of Earth’s land animals and plants live in forests, and many cannot survive the deforestation that destroys their homes. Deforestation also drives climate change. Forest soils are moist, but without protection from sun-blocking tree cover they quickly dry out. Trees also help perpetuate the water cycle by returning water vapor back into the atmosphere. Without trees to fill these roles, many former forest lands can quickly become barren deserts.

The danger signs are undeniable and the need to change has never been more apparent. The quickest solution to deforestation would be to simply stop cutting down trees, but financial realities make this unlikely to happen. But there are some things that you can do to help, like going paperless.  

Going Green – How Switching to Digital Products Can Save the Earth

Many companies choose to go digital for many reasons. Paperless companies are ultimately more efficient and more accessible. Getting and using information within seconds, not days, is the norm in today’s global and mobile world. With electronic documents and workflow automation tools, you can create and route documents and data that can reach the right people, right away, without manual intervention. There are many advantages when the use of paper is eliminated or almost absent in a company. The biggest and most obvious reason is to be greener by helping reduce deforestation and the need for illegal logging.

In recent years, organizations ranging from test prep companies to health insurance firms have turned to paperless practices in order to help save the earth. Public opinion polls show that concern about the environment rises and falls based on the state of the economy and other factors, but concern about the negative impacts associated with using paper and printing continues to rise. This includes paperless texts, paperless billing, paperless receipts, and so on.

Illegal logging exists because of increasing demand for timber, paper, and derivative products, including packaging. So the best way to stop this is to switch to paperless. For example, if every U.S. household switched from paper billing to online, the environmental benefits would be significant. Each year, this switch would save 16.5 million trees. Also, making paper uses a lot of water and a lot of chemicals. The process releases nasty compounds into the air and rivers, including cancer-causing dioxins. So by reducing our need for paper, we can make the environment a little bit cleaner and save some trees in the Amazon.

Social Media Impact

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One could wax on rhapsodically on the impact social media has on our daily lives, especially in the smart phone era. Whole essays, written by much smarter and more patient people than I, cover this topic in grand detail. So, in a no way resembling effort to add to the multitude of such writings, I am stream of consciousness swiping along on my smartphone to draw a connection to this subject to battery life.

Stepping back a little, I recently deactivated my Facebook account. Why? Plenty of reasons come to mind that more than adequately answer the question: too much time wasted on consuming mostly inconsequential, unfiltered, extremely biased (one way or the other), unsubstantiated drivel; self loathing incurred from realizing that a high number of digital thumbs up has, quite unfortunately, become important in quantifying and reinforcing self-esteem; it destroys in-person catching up with friends not seen in quite some time as they know all about what you’ve eaten, seen and places you’ve been from your posts, creating an awkward “what’s the point of talking” moment when you respond to each other’s stories with, “Oh yeah! I saw that on Facebook…”; falling into the trap of arguing over political beliefs with uniformed and frankly, stupid people; realizing that when you’re experiencing something amazing, you willingly remove yourself from the experience to take a selfie to post about the experience, thus degrading the experience by missing out and being more concerned if your hair looks good in the photo you’re dying to share. Any and all of these reasons are perfect answers that would allow me to pat myself on my back and say, ” See, I’m a smart fellow trying to take back my life and reestablish a true connection with the world around me, the people I call friend and myself.” And while these excellent reasons have most definitely floated through my mind and given pause to my thinking and using of social media, I must be completely honest and admit that they are not my reasons for deactivating my Facebook.

The unequivocal and one true answer to the question is this: Facebook drains my smartphone battery. That’s it. Plain and simple. I love my smartphone. It’s the most compelling and interesting personal device that has ever been made, for me. It’s evolution has been thrilling for me to experience. Every few months, a new generation in smartphone technology is born, leaping above the last. They are rapidly becoming the tricorder and communicator from Star Trek. Mine can monitor my heart rate, count my steps, detect the oxygen levels in my blood, tell me its internal temperature, connect me to the all powerful Google and it’s ability to give me access to almost anything I wish to know. There’s a new phone that can weigh shit! As in, it has a built in scale. And as useless as that seems, I freaking love it. My smartphone can do so many different things. It’s my resource for any questions I have at any time. It has replaced my need for a television provider as I can stream just about anything I can imagine from it, right to my TV. Hell, it even replaced my TV remote. It is the primary, and often only, access point for all my media consumption from movies to music to television shows. It’s also my kindle, housing hundreds of books that I can read at any time, anywhere. So long as I have battery life. And Facebook kills my battery life!

In truth, my own compulsory addictions to the social network is to blame. And rather than fix that about myself, I’ve chosen the easiest route: deactivate to eliminate use. And it works! Now I make it through the whole day on a single charge. And enjoy all the myriad things my smartphone can do.

In lieu of this, I might have just now forgiven smartphone manufacturers for eschewing bigger batteries for thinner phones…actually… no, no I haven’t. Get with it Apple, HTC, Samsung, Motorola and all the rest! We don’t care how thin the things are, give us a bigger battery. Then maybe I’ll reactivate my Facebook.

Asteroid 1

First five pages…

Asteroid 1

PAGE 1 (ONE PANEL)

PANEL 1: The surface of the sun fills the entire page with the curvature going from the top left and arcing wide, ending in the bottom right of the page. A massive coronal ejection is shooting off from the middle, angling toward the reader. Smaller ejections are occurring across the rest of the sun. One man, in a very simplistic white space suit with a golden visor is drifting over a darkened area of the sun on the right side. He is ERIK KALLDRON, a journalist. On his suit, a patch reading Virgin Sun can be seen on his left shoulder. A tether line, attached to the backside of his helmet and to the middle of his back is running off the page.

PAGE 2 (THREE PANELS)

PANEL 1: From inside the helmet of ERIK we see a closer look at the sun, tinged from the visor which has a Heads Up Display. Among the infographics the HUD is displaying about the sun, e.g. temperature, position, etc., there is a chunk that is less opaque which shows an advertisement for a cereal company. This space will show different ads each time it is in a scene. There will be small ads like this running rampant throughout many panels. Through the visor, we see three other figures. They are in similar suits although in different colors. Two are in pink spacesuits. These are tourist suits. The tourist should look like they are blundering around. The third is in a dark blue suit and this one is a scientist attending to a plasma collector that resembles a spider with folded-up legs. It is a large machine.

ERIK

I feel like my suit should be melting. The electromagnetic shielding is the only real barrier between me and total annihilation. We’re touring the photosphere, a mere 7,200 degrees F. A low temp area, for the sun.

PANEL 2: Zooming out, we see an overhead view of all four sun travelers. The scientist, DR. TORVOLD, is bent over the plasma collector. The pink tourists are still floating around like idiots. ERIK is typing on a wrap-around screen attached to his left forearm.   

ERIK

Virgin Sun has wisely programmed our suits with navigational boundaries, actively adjusting to the ever changing conditions of the sun. They can withstand temperatures as high as 30,000 degrees F.

PANEL 3: Zooming in, we see DR. TORVOLD still hunched over his plasma collector, only his helmet is turned, looking in the direction of the free floating blundering tourists.

ERIK

I watch Dr. Torvold babysit the tourists and myself. His scientific purpose is mired in capital gains. The privatization of space allowed him and the scientific community to continue their work when the government sponsored programs ended. Space exploration has become space exploitation.

PAGE 3 (THREE PANELS)

PANEL 1: Over the shoulder of DR. TORVOLD we see him working the controls of the plasma collector, his attention clearly focused on the tourists. On the instrument panel, the words WARNING appear in small red letters in one of the corners of the display. They should be conspicuous, part of a mass of information depicted on the complex machine. The tourists are on the left side of the panel, their bodies in awkward positions and their tether lines tangled up. ERIK is off center to the right of the panel, his body relaxed, ankles crossed, focused on typing on his forearm.

ERIK

When the billionaires first launched their space programs they had precious metals in mind. A modern day gold rush to the stars. Mining the nearby asteroids for silver, gold, and platinum. It’s ironic they didn’t realize what a successful haul of space gold would do to the market.

PANEL 2: Zooming out a little, with DR. TORVOLD still working the plasma collector and still keeping his attention on the tourists. The arms of the collector are unfolded, except for one which is pointed in the direction of ERIK. The ends of the arms have a blue glow of highly charged particles beginning to gather.

ERIK

They flooded it. The platinum, the gold, the silver were precious no more. The first haul was almost the last. But capitalism is too tenacious to be balked by an initial failure. A change in tactics to wring money out of the infinite confines of space led to tourism. And it worked. Our dear Dr. Torvold is really just hitching a ride.

PANEL 3: Returning to the view from inside ERIK’S visor, we see the tourists in the corner, still blundering along. We see the plasma collector arms, minus one, extended out and above the center of the large machine. The charged particles on the ends are bigger and sending out tendrils that are starting to coalesce in the middle, above the center of the machine. The HUD display has an ad stretching thinly across the top advertising a trip to a moon-based resort. An almost transparent word doc takes up the middle with the words ERIK has been typing on his forearm (the article he is writing that the reader is reading right now).

PAGE 4 & 5 (SPLASH PAGE WITH ONE SMALLER PANEL ON PAGE 4 IN THE MIDDLE)

SMALL PANEL: Close up of DR. TORVOLD’s finger pushing the firing button on the control panel.

SPLASH PAGE: The plasma collector is fully discharging a thick beam of blue and white energy with lighting-like tendrils fraying off on PAGE 5. The beam is pounding into the sun, penetrating through the photosphere. The renegade collector arm is shooting a smaller similar beam at ERIK. We see him with arms and legs spread, head arched back, the beam wrapping around him, making his electromagnetic shielding visible. Purple bolts are penetrating his shielding, burning away his suit and piercing his body. The bumbling tourists are floating around on PAGE 4. DR. TORVOLD is frantically engaged in the instrument panel trying to disengage the plasma collector beam.

ERIK

AHHHH!

As for myself, I’m collateral damage.

Catch me on the interwebs, OnePlus 2

TLD OnePlus 2 review

Last month I was fortunate enough to be featured in Pacific Magazine’s The Body article. This month I was stoked to spend three hours with Heather Lake on Fox 5’s morning show and today, my friends, my geek is stoked to be on Jonathan Morrison’s YouTube video for the OnePlus2. It’s just a snapchat video asking what the feel in hand is like for one-handed operation, but still, I love mobile tech and the popularity of YouTube tech personalities fascinates me.

What is the OnePlus 2? It’s a smartphone. But it’s from a company trying to redefine the paradigm of the smartphone market. And when you look at the global market, there are some interesting differences not many in the United States are aware of. Namely the subsidized carrier programs.

Almost everyone who’s purchased a smartphone in the United States in the last decade know that if they sign a two-year contract with a carrier, they’ll be able to buy the latest and greatest flagship smartphone for around $200. This deal subsidizes the price of the smartphone from the full price of around $600-$750 to the substantially lower $200 price point because you are guaranteeing the carrier two years of monthly payments. This is unique to the United States. Should you want a new iPhone or Galaxy Swhatever while you’re living in the UK, France or Spain you’re paying the full price.

This is why many tech-heads loved the Google Nexus line (prior to the Nexus 6) because you could get near-top-of-the-line hardware, along with an untainted android experience, for around $300 without a contract. And for those that enjoy the latest and greatest but not the associated expense, they could upgrade yearly and even explore other carriers to their heart’s desire.

Unfortunately, the Google Nexus smartphone line really only gained popularity with android enthusiasts and tech-heads. Which is disappointing because it’s a program many would probably have taken advantage of had Google spent some money for marketing. And now that Google has abandoned (at least for now) the idea of offering a high-end device for an affordable price, that allows consumers to sever the two-year contract leash, another company has sought to fill that space.

The OnePlus 2 is a beautifully crafted device with attention paid to the things that matter the most to those of us who love mobile tech.

  • Build quality and design
  • High resolution display
  • Camera quality
  • Battery life
  • Unencumbered UI experience (no bloatware)
  • Affordability

So for those of us in the US, we can be contract free with an amazing device that let’s us choose our carriers at will. Globally, it allows anyone in the market for a smartphone to get a top of the line piece of hardware for budget phone prices.

What’s also interesting about the OnePlus 2 is that anyone can get one. Last year’s OnePlus 1 was available to purchase through special invite only, which was a head-scratcher. But I think the company was trying to create hype and ensure initial sales. When you’re not Samsung or Apple, you simply do not have the money and marketing might to get you noticed in a market that is increasingly offering more competitive products from more and more companies.

The OnePlus 1 was a well-reviewed gorgeous device. It launched with a few bugs, like many new smartphones, but the company was quick to respond and the future looks bright for the second iteration. We’ll see what some of the YouTube tech-heads have to say when they publish their full reviews but the initial impressions are promising and I’m still unbelievably stoked to be in one of my favorite reviewer’s videos!

Overcoming Fear

I’m afraid of heights, terribly so. Once I’m higher than six feet above the ground, my guts turn to ice and my asshole clenches tight. I become dizzy and lose coordination while desperately seeking anything to cling onto. My head is flooded with the fear of falling, with images of hitting the ground mangled and broken, with the imagined sensation of wind whipping past me as I fall faster and faster. Panic forces me away from the edge and my overwhelming need to get down onto the ground sweeps through all my thoughts. I hate this fear. It makes me feel weak and not in control. So I choose not to be ruled by my fears. How do I overcome my fear of heights? I climb.

My girlfriend is a climbing fiend. It’s her passion, her one true love. When she’s overwhelmed or highly stressed, climbing puts her mind and worries at ease. She loves the challenge, both mentally and physically. She loves conquering hard routes in the gym and taking to the rock outside in search of the amazing view that rewards her at the end of a climb. The expression on her face when she’s reached the summit is pure joy. And because I love her, I want to share that joy and not let my fear get in the way.

It’s been a year since she first took me to the rock climbing gym. I was resistant for months afterward, going occasionally just to spend time with her and bask in her joy for her passion. Then I started to like the mental aspect to climbing. It’s problem solving, sort of like a puzzle. And I love puzzles. They distract my overthinking mind and force me to focus, to accomplish. So I started going more often and I joined her on a trip to Yosemite, climbing outdoors for the first time. The fear almost crippled me. Being so high on the rock face of a mountain…I nearly shat my pants. The amazing view wasn’t worth the fear-ridden journey up the rock. I’d rather see the photo. But again, Emily’s joy was so rich and wondrous to behold. There’s no fear in her gaze when she looks down, only freedom. I wanted that same liberation from my fear. So I kept going to the gym. I kept my determination to conquer my fear. I kept getting better, my fingers stronger, my technique much improved. And each time I went, once I climbed about six feet up the wall, the fear would set in. I did my best to ignore it. I told myself that I’m safe and securely fastened in my harness to the rope and that the love of my life was belaying me below and would never let me fall.

Little by little, the fear would subside. After a while, it would only seize me on the first climb of the day. My trust in the rope, in the staff that maintain the gym and in Emily would reassure me and put my fear to rest after the initial climb. And then the most amazing thing happened a few days ago. We went to the gym and I climbed the whole time, free from my fear. It was one of the most amazing things I’ve experienced. I made the first climb with nothing but thoughts on how to get past the crux and make it to the top clean. When I reached the ground after that first climb, I was elated. I felt a childish joy at the fact that I hadn’t been scared. We climbed a bunch of routes that night. I almost couldn’t believe it. I went up and down, never once scared. And for the first time, when I saw Emily’s joy, I felt the same and knew she could see it.

I know the fear isn’t completely gone. But I’ve experienced substantial heights without it for the first time in my life now. And now I’m looking at my fear as something that’s been driving me, to do more and to grow. To quite literally reach new heights. Don’t let your fear rule you, let it be your motivation to explore and become free from it’s limitations. There is joy to be had on the other side.