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…


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.

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