Friday, May 30, 2014

Prairie Dogging

I was going to write a blog about Prairie Dogs and their importance to ecosystems.  However,  I have now  completely lost my motivation.  The PD idea came up while driving to Cheyenne this afternoon.  Maybe it will come back when we drive home on Sunday.


Friday Is My Second Favorite F Word

So - today is Friday, 30 May 2014.  I am going to write for a while and see where it leads me.  If I can just let this blog post flow, maybe some random inspiration, strange realization, or amazing tidbit of crap will exit my mind through my fingers. 

I didn't listen to any amazing or insightful songs this morning on my bus ride into work.  I choose the Led Zeppelin iTunes radio channel which always has some great classic rock songs.  There were two songs that tried to speak to me but then the lyrics just drifted away from my current state of mind.  Some days just aren't musically inspired but I did at least enjoy the tunes that helped pass the time.

The Songs That Tried To Speak To Me

There are lots of things buzzing in my mind right now (thank the gods I am ADD):
  • Work 
  • Heading to Cheyenne for my nephew's high school graduation  
  • Soccer tryouts and team assignments for my older boys  
  • Becoming a coach (head or assistant) for my oldest son's team to help mitigate the trouble the current coach has with the team  
  • Roasting a whole pig with my brother tonight  
  • Snakes - always snakes 
  • Challenges - I need to get fit
  • Sex - always on my mind
  • Travel - I have 3 work trips in the next two weeks (Just sent calendar invites to Heather - I wonder if she will accept me being gone so much)  
  • Cleaning my office (never happening)
  • Checking in on my FitBit friends
  • Sending the Monkey a FitBit taunt
  • Water my office plants
  • Changing my participation level in the family finances
  • More snakes - can I find anything in Wyoming this weekend?
  • This blog post
Okay I am done for now but I would bet I could make a list 100 things long.

A Carpet Python eating a rat - my mind bounced to snakes.
What does someone with ADD do about the crap bouncing in their brain all day long?  If you are me, absolutely nothing.  This is a huge part of my problem right now - I BEAT THE LIVING SHIT OUT OF MYSELF FOR NOT GETTING ANYTHING DONE.  I just don't do anything - I just bounce around form topic to topic without stopping to focus on something long enough to finish it.  Well - sometimes I can focus but it has to be on something that really catches my attention (sex, snakes, blog posts).  This is a classic ADD example for adults.  When my interest is caught, I go into a super hyper-focus mode and can't be distracted by much.  Right now my focus is on this blog post and I hope it stays there until I finish it.  I have a shit load of unfinished posts sitting around labeled "draft" which will likely never be completed.

I am not sure if I have shared this video with you.  If I did, well fuck, you can watch it again.


I absolutely love bullsnakes.  They act all mean-n-shit but in reality, they are total wimps.  Even the really big ones panic and bolt away after their bluff fails.  The reality is that their bluffing behavior gets them killed because humans view this as aggression.  By definition, snakes are not aggressive towards humans or anything else for that matter.  I wish people would actually take the time to watch the snake instead of fearing the snake.  Making videos like the one above to show people the real personality of these amazing snakes has become a priority for me.

Someone posted a picture of a t-shirt on Google+ this morning that said, "Friday, My Second Favorite F Word".  I couldn't agree more so I made my own version of the saying.  My favorite word is used often in the field when a snake decides it has taken exception with the way I am handling it.


Fuck - am I really posting a photo that may generate fear in people?  A snake bite, YIKES!  Yes, this can be a little creepy or scary to some people but take a close look at this photo.  All it really shows is a large gartersnake biting my hand.  Big fucking deal.  I am not in pain and I am not going to die.  In reality, I am just getting a kiss from a snake that I should be holding more gently.  After this photo was taken, this gorgeous girl, stopped kissing me, calmed down, and allowed my boys to hold her with no incident.  Friday really is my second favorite F word.

Distraction Alert (wow, that sounds geeky).  I just started watching Fail videos on YouTube.  If you haven't watch these before, I suggest you do.  They are very entertaining but also very addicting.  I could spend hours watching these videos.  Fail videos show people trying something but failing miserably.  I know I should not enjoy watching someone else's misfortune but then again they are the ones recording themselves doing stupid shit.  Here is a Fail video that I just watched - I think you will agree it is wrong to like watching these videos but for some reason you cannot take your eyes off of it.  All I can think is "Fuck, that had to hurt".


Alright that is enough writing for now - nothing insightful really came up.  This blog really is all over the fucking place.  I can't find any rhyme or reason in it.  I may have to try again tonight.  Until then, remember Friday is my second favorite F word.

Thursday, May 29, 2014

Soccer Tennis In Pictures


I Actually Ran Today

Wow!  I went for a run at lunch.  I haven't done that in over a month!  The run hurt but it was good to get out.  I ran 7.5 miles (way too far for a first run back) as part of my Thursday 30,000 Steps for Snakes Challenge on Fi.tt.  The run was slow with lots of walking breaks but damn, it feels good to be a gangsta.  I am at almost 19,000 steps right now and will still need a big evening to pick up the rest.

The point of this blog is that I RAN!!!  Now I just need to keep it going - maybe I need to start a run streak???




Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Walk With Knowledge Wisely - Crowbar

New heavy metal song by Crowbar.  I never knew this band existed until my bus ride into work this morning.  The lyrics touched me even if the heavy metal did not.

Walk With Knowledge Wisely




Here is what the band looks like - Don't judge by appearances, these men are smart and talented.


Horoscope - 27 May 2014

I will pray to any god, deity, thing, or person for this horoscope to have truth. Well the first part is true. 


Brain Zaps - I am sicker than a beaten dog

Don't ask me to explain Brain Zaps - I can't. You have to experience them to understand this sort of cruel torture. I pride myself in being able to take anything thrown at me in general especially when it comes to pain. Brain Zaps are something I can't even bring myself to wish on my enemies (actually I don't think I have any enemies. 

Brain Zaps deserve respect therefore I will always write them as a proper noun starting with capitols. 

This is a blog for another time though when my brain is no longer attached to the pulsing battery source for an electric fence. 

Me experiencing Brain Zaps - I also have no control of my hands and they shake uncontrollably. 

Friday, May 23, 2014

Some Recent Snake Videos

I thought I would post a bunch of my recent snake videos for anyone that may want to watch them.  Making videos is completely different from taking photographs but I am really starting to enjoy it.  I just wish I had more space on my computer to store all the clips.  I guess it is time to buy a very large external drive for all the video I am taking these days.











Horoscope 23 May 2014

I am going to walk through the door. 


Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Friday, May 16, 2014

I Learned Something Today - Ducks Can Be Put In The Doghouse Too

While on a lunchtime walk this afternoon down by the South Platte River in Denver, I noticed a pair of mallards sitting on a sandbar.  They were both preening themselves which isn't that unusual in itself.  The strange part of my observation is that the drake (male duck) seemed to have his attention on the hen (female duck) but the hen wanted nothing to do with the drake.  The drake was eyeballing the hen's way to see if he might get an opening that would let him apologize and get out of the doghouse.

Here you can see for yourself - don't forget to watch in HD:



Thursday, May 15, 2014

Obi Wan Kenobi

This morning my youngest was showing me that one of his toys could do the splits like him. I proceeded to ask him what was the name of his action figure (one of my toys from the 80s). He said he didn't know. I then asked him if he knew who Obi Wan Kenobi was. His answer shocked and floored me - no. 

I guess we have a Star Wars marathon on our to do list this weekend. 


Snakes Make Me Happy So Why Am I Unhappy

I am in a very anxious place right now. It is as though I have done everything wrong and fucked thing up beyond repair. My paranoia tells me everyone knows this and they are judging me and everything I do.  What?  Cameron is paranoid?  Yes, I am very paranoid - not bad enough to keep me from going through my daily routine but I am always looking over my shoulder.

I am not sure paranoia is the right word.  Actually, I know it isn't but the right word is escaping me at the moment. Today has been absolutely brutal.  Everyone at work is looking at me and talking about how much I am fucking up behind my back - I can see it in their faces.  I just took a short walk to get lunch and the people on the street were looking at me and commenting to themselves about my big, fat gut.  I came back to work just to ride the elevator with a man who was judging the way I pushed the elevator button.


WTF!  This is no way to live but I live in my irrational mind.  My mind grabs control of any rational thought and smashes it.  In its place, my mind inserts a negative thought and plays with me by telling me that people are judging me.  As I write this blog, I can feel my co-workers looking into my office (they really aren't but I think they are there) and shaking their heads at me.  The imagined whispering between my co-workers makes me want to run home and hide in my bed.

The anxiety that comes from living this way is unbearable.  The constant nausea and chest pain of anxiety rules my life on days like these.  This is accompanied by debilitating exhaustion that makes the anxiety worse because I am too tired to function properly.  

Wow - am I whining or what?  


Snakes make me happy - they really do.  When I am talking about, looking for, or holding snakes, my entire mood changes.  The anxiety melts away almost instantly (I can feel it as I even write the word snake - shit, I think I just smiled for the first time today) when I am with snakes.  I think I need to start keeping a snake in my pocket at all times (Not that kind of snake - wow, you have a dirty mind!).


This past Tuesday evening, I gave a snake presentation to a homeowners association in a small community just west of Loveland, Colorado.  About 25 homeowners attended and heard me talk about the snakes in their backyards.  I started my talk with a quick introduction of what a snake really is and how they differ from other organisms.  Then I went into where snakes hibernate (the HOA is in the foothills with high potentials for hibernacula to near or even in the human homes).  When I finally got to the snakes in their neighborhood, the participants had already given me their full attention.  I never understand this - I am just talking and teaching about snakes but somehow I have a talent for getting everyone's attention.  In this case, I was giving a PowerPoint presentation so I figured a few folks would use the time to nap.

After briefly describing their neighborhood snakes, I got out a few snakes.  BAM!  My 30 minute talk grew into a 90 minute talk.  Yes, it is easy for me to go long once the snakes come out but no one ever complains - actually it is the audience that keeps my talks going into extra time.  I want to tell people everything I know about the snakes I bring and then let them ask questions.  This is the part of my snake talks that I really, really like.  It is informal and very interactive.  The audience gets to see and touch the snakes I bring.  This gets everyone fully engaged in LEARNING about snakes which ultimately helps change human perceptions about snakes.  


Snakes make me happy.  This past Tuesday night was just one example of how snakes can change my mood.  My mood raises to unbelievable highs when I am actually out looking for and finding snakes.  Snakes are a stimulant to the parts of my mind that are still intact with positive feelings and not the self-loathing or judging bullshit.  Engaging this part of my mind can help eliminate my paranoid feelings that everyone is talking about and judging me.  Snakes are my drug of choice.

Snakes make me happy - see video below.  :)


THE FLIP from Snakes on Vimeo.

There is one HUGE problem with me being happy - this is the guilt that follows.  I am feeling terrible guilt (or is this shame?) for taking 30 minutes out of my work day to write this blog.  The guilt/shame for leaving my family Tuesday night to go give a snake talk had me binge eating at McDonald's.  I feel shame for bragging that I am good at capturing people's attention when talking about snakes.  The guilt/shame for taking time for myself to look for snakes is paralyzing because it comes with a paranoia that everyone thinks I am a slacker for snake hunting instead of working or taking care of my kids.

The shame comes from the negative self-talk in my head that I am not good enough to be successful and that anything I do to make myself happy is selfish and wrong.



How do I walk myself through this low and painful place?  First I need to bring my anxiety and paranoia out into the open where I can see it.  Second, I need to attack it with positive thoughts that I am doing the best I can and people are not really judging me.  Third, I need to believe all this and in myself.

Tall orders to change a lifetime of paranoia, judgement, and self-loathing.  I will keep you posted.





Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Meeting with a client - Horoscope

Today one of my big clients is in the office as part of a final readthrough and review of a major document. Lately it has felt that there has been some stress in our relationship. 

Now - look at the Scorpio horoscope today. How do they do this?  Maybe there is truth in astrology???  LOL


Monday, May 12, 2014

200th Post - Hmm - Snake Conservation

This is my 200th blog post in Running With Snakes.  Have I really stuck to writing blog posts?  Holy shit - I have!  This might just be the longest running streak for something that I have EVER done.  Wow!

In celebration of this monumental post and personal achievement, I am going to take a topic near and dear to myself for discussing, dissecting, and pondering.  I have written about this topic before but it is always a worthy discussion no matter how many times we bring it up.  Regardless, it seems appropriate to dedicate my 200th post to...

SNAKE CONSERVATION

I just recently read a blog that explains in pictures why we need snakes (Buzz Hoot Roar).  Once again Indiana Jones is used as the poster boy for hating snakes (maybe I need to make a phone call to Harrison Ford about donating to the Center for Snake Conservation).  The blog explained how snakes benefit humans (pest and disease control) but it really didn't get into the amazing diversity of snakes and their behavior.  It is this diversity that I am interested in conserving - not just the rare or economically important snakes.  Snakes play roles in our ecosystems but we really do not understand their true importance.

First I am going to make some broad assumptions that I am willing to discuss with anyone.  Then I will jump into some snake conservation issues beyond what are normally discussed.

Assumptions affecting conservation efforts around the world:
  • Humans conserve what they love and understand
    • Birds - colorful, noisy, diurnal, and visible almost anywhere (big commercial industry too)
    • Mammals - cute and cuddly; big and scary
    • Fish - big money (bass tournaments), fly fishing, and food source
    • Trees - everyone likes trees especially rain forest trees
    • Insects - maybe these need more conservation efforts
    • Sharks - Shark Week - enough said
    • Whales - Greenpeace makes this a 100 million dollar business
    • Turtles - who doesn't like a turtle?  Think Lonesome George
  • Humans are stingy
    • From the poorest to the wealthiest, humans don't give up money easily
    • When humans do give money to charities, they expect to SEE (see notes above) the value
      • Snakes are rarely seen or given good press = no money
    • If a man (or woman) of God/Yahweh/Allah asks for money, the poor and wealthy give without question or hesitation - hmm (time to start my own religion)
  • Humans believe what the media (TV) tells them
    • I think we all can agree with this one
  • Humans are stupid
    • Not open for discussion
Now on to snake conservation.  I mentioned above, pest and disease control alone as great reasons to conserve snakes but no one really understands the math.  How many mice will you have in one year if you start with just a male and female mouse?  Here is the answer that staggers people:

Assumptions for exponential growth:
  • Unlimited food
  • Unlimited space
  • No death (no disease, starvation, predation)
  • Mice have an average of 8 babies in each litter
  • Mice are able to reproduce at 4 weeks old
  • Mice have a new litter every 4 weeks
These assumptions equal an exponential growth rate of 1.609438 for mice.  Do the math and the mouse population in one year will be 488,234,890 mice.  Yes - you read that right!

500 MILLION FUCKING MICE

There are 113 mice in this photo.  What does 500 million look like?
I cannot think of a better reason for snake conservation.  Snakes are nature's best mouse traps.  They can enter the smallest mouse tunnels and other hiding places to find and eat mice.  They eat the male mouse.  They eat the female mouse.  They eat the baby mice.  They eat them all.  Birds (hawks and owls) can't do this.  Cats can't do this.  Only snakes can.  If you don't want to get the plague or have all your food eaten by mice - you need snakes.  Just watch the beginning of this movie clip from "Never Cry Wolf" and you will see some of the potential of mice (yes - the wolves are eating mice but they can't control the population.  Wolves only catch the mice that become exposed aboveground.  There are no snakes to eat the mice in their homes so there is still a shitload of mice present):




But...I want to bring up some little discussed snakes just as an example of how important snakes are and add to the argument that snake conservation is needed and greatly ignored - ring-necked snakes.  I am not going to insert citations but you are welcome to look up the facts and opinions I use yourself.  If you absolutely must have citations, you are always welcome to send me an email and hope it makes it through my spam filter (please no porn emails).

Ring-necked Snakes

Ring-necked snakes have a huge distribution in North America.  They range from the Atlantic Ocean all the way to the Pacific Ocean.  The variation in size, color, habitat, and diet is pretty amazing.  These are snakes that are rarely seen as well.  Ring-necked snakes are fossorial (meaning they live underground).  Some subspecies are threatened by humans and other are not. They all belong to the genus species Diadophis punctatus.  I really don't want to go into a long review of each subspecies here but if you search for photos in Google Images to get a feel for their variety.

Ring-necked Snake Distribution copied from The Reptile Database
Ring-necked snakes play a role in ecosystem health where they occur but since they are a snake and hard to reliably find, no one has really studied their connection to the ecosystem.  Until we actually get into the details of their ecology, we will have to assume that their role is huge.  Here is why:
  • Ring-necked snakes are mid-level predators meaning that they eat the small things but other things can still eat them.  This makes them a critical link in the food chain/web.  Oh yeah, I can hear you saying right now that this isn't a big deal because if ring-nicked snakes weren't there, something else would be.  Maybe but I don't think so.  For example, in the northeastern United States, woodland salamanders (Genus Plethodon) have the highest biomass of all the animal organisms in the woods.  Ring-necked snakes eat salamanders connecting the lower trophic levels of the food chain to the higher trophic levels.  Without ring-necked snakes, the energy produced by the trees, collected in plant tissue, decomposed by fungi and bacteria, and eaten by the little invertebrates would not reach the hawks, foxes, turkeys, or anything else that eats a ring-necked snake.  Rink-necked snakes are that connection from the organisms with the highest biomass (woodland salamanders) to the top of the food chain.  
Okay - big deal right.  Maybe you don't think it is but think about the salamanders for a minute.  While these salamanders do not reproduce at the rate of mice, they still reproduce.  What if the world was over run by salamanders?  While this might be a neat novelty at first, it would wreck our ecosystems by eliminating all the small invertebrates necessary for plant tissue processing - the world would look different.

Ring-necked snake eating a salamander
The biggest plus with ring-necked snakes is that they are small and beautiful.  People can and do view small snakes differently than big snakes (less fear).  Ring-necked snakes are great for dispelling myths and increasing human wonder about snakes.  I need to also tell you that ring-necked snakes also eat snakes and snake eggs - hmm...

Regal Ring-necked Snake
Guess what?  This blog post needs to change direction (sort of).  I want to list my summer action items for the Center for Snake Conservation.  The CSC has been around for over three years with not a lot of movement to becoming a PHYSICAL presence in the conservation world - sure we have an online presence but this does not mean much to people outside of the snake world.  I wrote in my blog post, "Why I Need $120,000 Dollars - An Introduction", that I only need $120K to get a facility for the CSC up and running.  Well, I also wrote that the CSC is much, much bigger than myself and my dream.  Of course, I am in it for the snakes but just think about the HUGE possibilities of snake conservation and the benefits to other organisms once the CSC is rolling physically.

Shit - I have to go back to the importance of snakes for a bit - then I will get into my plans...

Snakes are mid-level predators.  As I wrote above, this means that snakes are needed to link the low and high trophic levels in our ecosystems.  Conservation measures that benefit snakes, by default, will benefit the entire ecosystem.  If we manage our openspaces, parks, forests, and wilderness areas for snakes, we will ensure that deer have enough to eat (rodents compete with deer for mast foods like acorns), beneficial insects are plentiful, and even our plant communities are balanced.  Snake conservation is different than single species conservation (deer, turkey, or even an endangered species) because snakes are a very diverse group of organisms.

Most people don't realize the number of species of snakes that there really are.  Sure people see the gartersnakes in their yard but do they see the little brown snake (Storeria dekayi) that is a major predator on snails and slugs?  Snails and slugs wreck havoc on gardens eating just about any new plant shoot and little brown snakes keep their numbers in check.  Do they see the ratsnake living in their woodpile eating mice?  Do they see the greensnake in their bushes eating spiders?    They may every now and again but they don't hear about the huge benefit these snakes can provide humans.

Little Brown Snake
Snake conservation is not just about buying habitats and setting them aside.  Snake conservation is a huge and complex organism.  There are big issues and small issues - too many discuss here but here is one that disturbs me the most.

My biggest concern for snakes is roads and understanding the impact roads on have snakes to mitigate the number of dead snakes killed by cars.  Let's use the black racer as an example of a species that is impacted negatively by roads.  Racers are long slender, fast moving (most humans can outrun a racer - the obese and elderly may not be able to) snakes that live in most habitats.  Well, humans also like to build their houses in these same habitats so immediately we have a conflict.  Not so much with the homeonwers (racers rarely stick around long enough to be killed by a human but with cars.  Cars are the problem!  Wherever humans build a house, shopping mall, MalWart (my name for the hideous chain), or other buildings, we also build roads - lots of roads.  Snakes cannot cross roads very well.  They feel exposed which makes them slow down and cautious.  Then the car comes and - well look at the photos below.




Who cares?  So we don't have racers in our neighborhoods - big deal.  Actually it is a big deal - racers will eat anything that moves and they can fit into their mouths.  This included venomous snakes such as copperheads and rattlesnakes.  Yep - kingsnakes aren't the only snake eaters out there.  Racers also eat insects, mice, birds, frogs, salamanders, etc.  You got it - they are important!

Racer eating a copperhead
BUT....ROADS SLAUGHTER SNAKES!  What can we do about this?  Well, we can study our roads and find out if there are patterns to snake road mortality.  If we learn that a specific section of road is killing 75% of the snakes we find dead on the road, we need to construct an underpass.  If we learn that snake deaths are evenly distributed along the section of road, we may need to construct several underpasses and road barriers to direct snakes to the underpasses.  These studies are not being conducted.

In areas where new roads are needed, careful planning should occur to keep habitat corridors intact by building bridges or better yet - avoidance.  Also - we should NEVER use nylon mesh for erosion control.  This stuff is deadlier than roads but is commonly used to stabilize soils after road construction.  Well - nylon mesh is another blog post for a different day but I will at least share the success story below.


I can rant and rave about roads and the need to mitigate the number of snakes killed every day crossing a road but it is just frustrating me right now.  My writing is going to shit because of it.  I need to move on.

What am I going to do for snake conservation this summer?  Here is a list of 10 things I will be doing:

  1. Solicit donations from everyone (yep - here I come)
  2. Find 2 new board members who can make the CSC move
  3. Continue giving snake talks
  4. Get involved with the CSC Facebook page again
  5. Make more videos to show people how amazing snakes are
  6. Solicit donations (yep - again)
  7. Advertise the CSC across multiple media types
  8. Make CSC membership mean something
  9. Establish a CSC weekly email update to members
  10. Establish a CSC monthly newsletter for broad publication

We have been complacent too long - it is time to get it right.  I expect you as my reader to support my efforts and consider making an effort of your own.  Snakes are too important to be ignored any longer.

Snake Conservation Is A Priority Because Snakes Make The World A Better Place.


Well - folks.  There you have it - my 200th post - #201 coming soon.



Thursday, May 8, 2014

Pale Milksnake Selfie

Damn - I love these snakes...


Are you ready?

Are you ready for anything?  I like to think that I can handle almost any situation that may come up in my life ranging from life and death emergencies to deciding what kind of gum is best for teeth brushing.  In reality, I don't think I am as ready as I need to be.  NO - I AM NOT A PREPPER!  I will never be a prepper.  I actually cannot grasp the paranoia behind the need to prep for the apocalypse.  Sick people that need help.


But I am mentally ready for just about anything.  Death, of course, is something that is very difficult to be ready for although I don't think I will need to be ready for my death.  I plan on living to 100.  Since I have my death already figured out, I surely am not going to ready for it anytime soon.  It is the death of others that is hard for me to ever consider getting ready for.

My dog, Maddux, turns 14 years old today.  In his prime, he was the best dog I have ever hunted over.  He nose was incredible.  He was fast.  He was driven.  He could mark 2-3 birds down at the same time.  Maddux is no longer in his prime but his drive is still there.  I am not ready for his death - not at all.  

Maddux on a recent trip to Wyoming
My wife has asked me to get ready for Maddux's passing.  We have agreed on several conditions that must occur before I can bring myself to ease him into the endless sleep.  These include:

  • Loss of control over his bladder and rectum
  • No longer retrieves stuffed animals in the house
  • No longer follows me from room to room  
Thankfully, Maddux has not reached any of these yet but he is old.  He eases himself around the house like an old man.  His head thumps hard on the ground when he lies down.  He pisses himself every now and again (but not enough to qualify).  He gets his ass kicked by a mutt that only weighs 40lbs (Maddux never shied away from other dogs and knew how to quickly put them in their place if they tried anything stupid).  Maddux is old.


Maddux
I am not ready for his passing.  I don't know if I can be.  But the question remains...

Are you ready?  Are you ready for anything ranging from a life and death emergency to picking out the right gum to brush your teeth?  Are you ready for what life throws your way?


Wednesday, May 7, 2014

How do I write a blog post?

Great question.  I haven’t really been able to get deep into a topic lately.  For some reason, I feel like I am trying to force myself to blog.  Just look at the last month:
  • Daily blog commitment - failed, this is just not my cup of tea.  I ebb and flow.
  • Video blog – failed, although there really is some serious potential here and these will likely come back soon.
  • Fit Log – failed, I have to actually workout to write these posts.  That said, I can feel my motivation growing to find my way outside to run the trails again.
  • $120,000 series – failed, but not really a true fail.  I am just still processing on how to ask for money in earnest.
Hmm – the trend for failure is staggering.  However, is it really failure? No. You cannot force a blog – if I were to force a blog, it would not be genuine to me, to who I am, to what I do, etc. I recently was given some advice from another blogger in the Google+ Blogging community about how and what to blog about. His advice was to always be genuine.

It is not in my nature to not be genuine.  I could try to fake something but it is easy to tell when I don’t mean what I am saying or writing – too easy.  Faking is just not me so the advice given was something that I was already doing.  This confirmed that my blog “RunningWithSnakes” is exactly what I need in my life.  It gives me an uncensored outlet for me to express my thoughts, my mind, and my creativity without having to “talk” to anyone.  I have bottled this shit up so long that it has shamed me into who I am – getting it out is making me a better and stronger person.

Back to the question I am asking myself today – “How do I write a blog post?”  This really is a great question.  The answer is that I pick something (anything is game) and just start writing.  There is no outline or script.  There may be an agenda but the blog rarely follows it clearly.  I let my mind wander and wander as it is writing.  This is who I am - a 39 year old human male (only 178 days until I turn 40) with ADD.

My ADD is a classic case actually.  I have the ability to super/hyper focus on what is interesting to me (snakes) but as soon as I lose interest, there is nothing I can do to make my mind sit still long enough to grasp anything (I have a lot of blog posts that have never been finished because I just lose interest).  I self-medicate with obscene amounts of caffeine and also take Adderall under a shrink's guidance.  I have written enough about my ADD in the past but this trait of mine is what makes writing blog posts so fun for me.  I pick a topic that interests me and then let my mind wander and my fingers type until the blog is complete.  It works for me and creates genuine blog posts that provide a quick up-skirt peak of who I am.

Let me show you how this works.  I am sitting at my desk writing this blog and my eyes keep drifting to two buckeye nuts that I keep on my monitor stand.  They really have my attention now so today’s interesting topic is…

Buckeyes


During one of my lunch runs from work several falls ago, I ran under a buckeye tree. As I am always looking for neat and interesting things during my runs, I slammed on the brakes and stopped. I have run this route before without noticing the tree but on that day, the nuts had begun to fall to the ground. At the time, I was recording data for a group called Project Noah so I took a few photos of my newly discovered tree. If you are interested, you can see my Project Noah entry here: American Buckeye.  Buckeyes are very interesting nuts and the two nuts I collected on that run in October 2012 still sit on my desk today.



One of my favorite cookies is modeled after buckeyes. Well, these cookies aren't really cookies at all. They are balls of peanut butter, powered sugar, and butter that have been dipped in a chocolate paraffin mix. They look like the little buckeye nuts and damn they are good. I guess I should call these delicious balls of fat and sugar, “candy”, but my family serves them as cookies during Christmas. My sister, Emily, is always the one that makes the buckeyes for the family. Even when we don't spend Christmas together, she will still send me some buckeyes in the mail.  THANK YOU EMILY!  

I must confess that even though I love to cook and these are my favorite cookies, I have NEVER made them.  Isn't that strange?


My favorite cookie
Buckeyes (the candy/cookie) bring up mixed emotions for me.  Right now I am nauseous with anxiety about whether or not to tell you the truth about how thinking about buckeyes makes me feel.  I wrote above that I am always genuine in my blog posts.  However, I am not ready to let these emotions run free so maybe now is not the time to get deep into my psyche – let’s keep this loose and fun.  Just letting myself write that I am not going to write about these emotions right now has allowed me to take a deep breath and stem my anxiety.  Yes – regardless of how good they taste, buckeyes bring up some serious shit inside me.

As you can see in the photos above, the buckeye candy very closely resembles the buckeye nut – even down to the little point in the middle of the light part.  Pretty amazing actually that a human food ended up with a perfect name for the candy.  The tree though is even more amazing that the cookie.  However, if you want to skip the tree facts and get straight to enjoying these amazing treats, you can find the recipe for buckeyes at the end of this post.

The American buckeye tree (Aesculus glabra) is native to the Midwest. It is a moderately sized deciduous tree growing beneath the canopy of other larger trees. It has no business growing in the plains of Colorado.  But I found one in Denver so I consider myself lucky.  Who cares if it was planted by some overzealous landscaper designing the park next to the South Platte River?  I certainly didn’t because the buckeye tree brought back memories of college.  I went to college in Richmond, Indiana where buckeye trees are native and plentiful.  I loved picking up the nuts and feeling their smooth texture in my hands.  They almost can be considered a worry nut (stone) that you can rub with your thumb to relieve stress.


It is the seed pod that is really fascinating.  Check it out below. The seed pod is covered in spikes. It makes me think of a gladiator’s or knight’s mace. I can just imagine the seed pod being swung by a chain towards a known enemy. Inside this intimidating seed pod is a nut that is very poisonous to humans and even livestock. Stick to the candy buckeyes if you want to eat one.


I have always thought that buckeye nuts bring me good luck.  This is why I keep two of them on my desk at all times.  I just noticed how I have them arranged as a pair of balls next to the erect penis of my monitor.  Too funny - I will have to change this.  Speaking of balls, have you seen the 2nd Transformers movie?  There is a Decepticon with balls swinging and banging together making wonderful music in one of the big battle scenes.  If you don’t believe me, watch this clip:


I grew up when Hasbro starting marketing their Transformer toys and I still have quite a few of the original metal ones before everything became cheap plastic.  One of the toys that I always wanted was Devastator (the one with balls).  Devastator is a giant Decepticon made up of several smaller Decepticons.  The original toy did not have testicles but the creators of the movie thought it might be funny to add them in – I actually think it was a pretty stupid and completely unnecessary thing to do.  Yes, humanoid robots from outerspace that can transform into almost anything have testicles.  Whatever.

The "real" Devastator
Now do you want to hear what else the buckeye is associated with?  This may even be what the creators of the Transformers movie were getting at.  A buckeye kept in a man's pocket is supposed to bring him luck of the sexual kind (funny - a lot of my blogs have sex in them - well I am a human male after all).  Yes - a testicle shaped nut is supposed to bring someone good fortune when trying to score.  You can read more about this magical property of the buckeye on the Lucky Mojo website.  I wonder what would happen if a man kept more than one buckeye in his pocket...

I am a Google man so I decided to Google "buckeye" to see if I was missing anything about these amazing nuts and I learned something new.  Something that is important enough to bring up here.  The Buckeye is the only breed of American chicken developed by a woman.  Nettie Metcalf first bred Buckeyes in 1896 and they flourished for a while as a good layer and meat bird.  However, the show quality of the Buckeye breed was low so their popularity diminished.  Now there are fewer than 1000 Buckeyes in the United States and they are listed as "threatened" by the American Livestock Breeds Conservancy.  Really?  As a biologist who regularly consults with the Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) about threatened and endangered species, I did not even know that a chicken breed could be listed as threatened.  I will have to bring this up at my next FWS meeting and make sure my project does not have any impacts on this breed.

Buckeye Rooster

Alright - I think it is time to wrap up this buckeye blog.  I have told you what I know about them and what I learned.  Buckeyes are a tree, a candy, a good luck charm, and a chicken.  As promised, here is the recipe for the candy for those inclined to indulge in something delicious.










Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Dandelions

My youngest has a play streak 10 miles long.  Yes - he can be a cranky bastard but he also can be a very sweet and imaginative young man.  Today while picking up his older brother at school, he was picking the yellow dandelions and making exaggerated smelling motions with each one.  Then he saw them - the giant field of dandelions just waiting for the wind (or some little boy with a huge desire to make them fly).  I whipped out my iPhone and captured as much video as I could before the battery died (roughly 30 seconds - my battery was at 2%).  

This video is the result (remember to watch it in HD - I really wish YouTube made this the default):




I had my weekly brain fixing today as well.  I have missed the last two weeks because of work commitments so I was really ready for a good session.  Unfortunately, my session went into parts of my mind that questioned my ability to have fun.  For example, on my way home from Wyoming last week, I took a 30 minute break to look for some snakes.  I found the snakes I was looking for but in the end I felt shame for taking the time to have some fun for myself - lots of shame.  This shame has been eating me up all week and I am glad I got to talk about it.  NO ONE SHOULD EVER FEEL SHAME FOR HAVING GOOD, CLEAN FUN!  



I do - I always feel shame when I take time for myself.  It is part of my self-loathing, self-abuse, and self-punishment.  I don't deserve to have fun.  I shouldn't be taking time for myself.  I shouldn't ever take time away from work or family to get outdoors and be happy.  

On the flip side - I love to get outdoors with nothing but my thoughts.  No people, no worries (I am good at shutting these out when looking for snakes), no responsibilities.  The trouble is that the minute I let myself back into reality, the shame sets in and I BEAT THE LIVING SHIT OUT OF MYSELF!  I am working through why I do this to myself and finding a solution that will allow me to have fun without the shame.

Look at the photo below.  My son is having uninhibited fun.  Sure he knew he was showing off for the camera but that did not matter to him - he was having fun.  No shame afterwards either.  He was all smiles on the way home and loves the video I made for him.  He is my role model for having fun without shame - all my boys are.

So where are you on the scale?  Are you a narcissist where the world revolves around you and your fun?  Or are you like me?  I hope you are somewhere in the middle and can enjoy yourself and have FUN without the negativity of shame.  I am working my way there.



Thursday, May 1, 2014

Horoscope Yesterday

Hmmmm - this goes with my previous blog. Strange how that works. 😊


Horoscope - 1 May 2014

Another coincidence or is there truth in astrology?  Today's horoscope falls into my May scheme for finding love for myself. 

Help others but not to the detriment of my own emotions.