Tuesday, August 9, 2016

Zoo Review

I read the book, "Zoo" over several week due to school. Once school was over, I finished it in days. 

The overall gist of the book is that the animals get angry with humans and conflict arises. The conflict is called "HAC" (Human Animal Conflict) coined by the main character, Jackson Oz. He tries for several years to get scientists to listen and he tried to warn the people to be aware. The situation gets worse, and its global. He noticed it on a trip to Africa when the male lions were pacing up and actively hunting the humans. There he met the other main character, and later his girlfriend. He was able to get a video, and showed several scientists when he got home. 

Once he finally got the scientific community to believe that HAC was real and it was happening, the next big job was getting the political leaders to realize that this was heeppening, and get to work on fixing it. He was liabled as a conspiracy theories, "whack nut", "nut job" and others by the political leaders. During this time, his monkey attacked his ex girlfriend, destroyed his apartment, and escaped. All the while, Chloe (his girlfriend) was his constant support and was involved in the scientific community herself. 

The political community finally believes that HAC was happening after several dogs attack residents in several different big cities. Their first plan was to bomb the dogs, thinking that without the angry dogs, there would not be attacks. This just gets worse, because there are more dogs to take the place of the dogs that were blown up, as dogs were disappearing from their homes. The political leaders coined this oporation "ZOO".  Jackson, after following a dog and watching its activities, was able to form a theory. His theory was that the dogs are being controlled by pheromones, sort of like insects. His theory proved to be correct, and his solution to fix the problem was to eliminate electricity (cell phones, cars, lights, etc) so that the environment resets. 

The President (in the book- a lady) addresses the people and explained that for two weeks there will be no electricity. She explains the theory and asks everyone for their cooperation. For like 3 days, the American people were able to be without their electricity. First the political leaders broke the rules, then the rest of the population. During the ban, the animals were reverting back to regular animals, not wanting to hunt the humans. After the ban was broken, the animals went back to hunting the humans. Jackson, his girlfriend, and his son (he had a son before the ban) then moved with a few of the political leaders to Greenland, as there were no animals there and they were going to "wait out" the ban.

That's where the book ends. He mentions that a few of the leaders commit suicide, because they "were used to the posh life, and this new life was too difficult for them". The book is believable up until the author mentions that pollution and electricity combined will make animals attack humans. I get that pollution is bad for us and the enviromnent, and I am one to pick up trash, and recycle.  It felt like this book had an agenda, and they laid it down pretty thick. The scientific elements were barely believable. They did their best to explain how this could happen, but I was still left with a few more questions that weren't answered in the book. 

The story line was great and kept the pages turning. The political leaders messing things up, not listening to the scientific community and later breaking the rules was very accurate and believable. The fact that the president was a lady is worrisome, considering Hilary Clinton is running for president now. I hope this book doesn't play a huge impact in the current presidential race. 

Overall, this is a science fiction book, and pretty well done at that. Could use a bit more research in the science element, but overall the book kept me engaged and turning the pages..  


Rule Number Two

She was finally legal, and I got a friend to help me remember how to ride. I took her out and relearned how to turn, use my break (both the back break and the front) and when to use each one. I drove up and down the street, breaking, practicing leaning, and generally getting a feel for the bike. I loved it!  JJ left, probably feeling great. I picked up the lessons quick. We were only out for about an hour and he said that I was ready for the road. I almost felt ready. Mostly I was scared. 

I decided to take her out and ride the streets of the neighborhood a few times, just to make sure I was ok. The traffic is not very friendly with beginners, and getting out of my neighborhood and onto Inner Loop was a nightmare in a car, so I wanted to be sure I was ready on the bike.  

Eventually I was brave enough to cross the street of my neighborhood, over Maple, and into the new neighborhood.  The street was wider, and I planned to practice figure eights. Those are a series of turns (shaped like the number 8) designed to practice turns and mastering the bike overall.  I did great the first few, but those were wide, and once I decided to make the figure 8s smaller, I learned rule number two. 

Rule number two is basically this: When in doubt, grab the clutch. While trying to master the smaller loop in the figure 8, the bike wobbled, leaning closer and closer to the road.  I noticed a dark grey car getting ready to turn the corner, and I thought "crap, I'm still in the middle of the road.... I'm going to get squashed!!!"  I panicked, and instinct took over. I grabbed the clutch, before my bike lay completely  down on the road, and righted myself...  I pulled over to the side of the road to let the car pass so I can continue to practice, and the driver leaned out and said, "Well done. When in doubt grab a hold of that clutch.. That's your safety net." We talked for a few more minutes, and then he went about his way. 

Thanks, stranger, for rule number two. 

Juice Detox Attempt Day 1

I did some research about juicing detox, and the overall consensus is that it's healthy.  For 5 days, drinking juice and eliminating toxins from the body sounds like a good idea. I decided to give it a try after spending way too much money for cool sculpting to give myself a great start on my "new body". 

Cool sculpting is a safe, non invasive, way to eliminate fat from specific parts of my body. For me- it was my stomach. I decided to give this a try after years of eating right and on again, off again exercising. I get motivated, I work out, then I stop because I was not seeing the results. Then I would start back up again after missing the void in my daily routine. I wasn't losing many inches, although I felt great! A few months ago, I have committed to working out at least 3 days each week, but still wasn't seeing the fat leave my body. In fact, I gained weight.  My body was able to do things it previously was not able to do and I was proud of that. I was told that I would ever be able to walk, much less run, and currently I am able to run 2 miles, and I'm working on running longer distances and longer times. Eventually, I want to run a half marathon. Anyways, I focused on what my body can do, but the way it looked bothered me. I have a long history with my weight. 

It started when I was in the 5th grade (when I realized that I had bigger thighs that the other girls) into my teens (when I had an eating disorder to deal with it and other things in my life) and now, after having a child, shattering my leg, and squeezing a workout between school, family life, and work. I have tried over the counter diet pills, diet pills prescribed by a doctor, tests to make sure my hormones weren't out of whack (they're not), working out and eating right (but those have been constant). I figured "what else is there to do?" So I looked into liposuction- not my thing and way to invasive for me. With only 60% of the people who decide to do the liposuction keep it off. That percentage was not high enough for me. If I am spending that much money, I want the weight to stay off. So I looked further, and cool sculpting came up in my search results. It's expensive, but has a 95% success rate. You can't beat that!!!! So, cool sculpting it is. After fighting with myself about the cost (it was a doozy!!!) I decided that this was the next step in my weight loss journey, and possibly I'll get my self esteem back. So, I took the plunge. While I am healing from that, I decided to go on a juice detox for a few days.

The sugars in the juice are NOT the same as the sugars in candy, ice cream, coffee creamers, and the like. The fruits and veggies in the juice are designed to help my body detox (by feeding it only the things it needs) and eliminating toxins (such as caffeine, nicotine, alcohol, etc) simultaneously. It's focus is to teach my body to crave the healthy stuff, and not crave the unhealthy sugars and junk food. My diet overall is pretty healthy, lots of fruits and veggies, lean meats and limited carbs (rice, quinoa, corn and the like). Juicing for a few days will not create nutritional deficits (come on- it's for 5 days!) nor will I starve. I may feel like it, as the research shows that days 2 and 3 are the hardest. I plan to push through, blogging my way through these 5 days, and hope that this information will inspire others to become healthier. 

So, I've made the decision, I am inspired, and I'm ready..  Let's do this.  

Sunday, July 31, 2016

Open Letter to Jasper Pryor

I see a lot of "open letter" posts about dogs being dropped off at the local shelter and the hatred the new owners have for the previous owners. The confusion about how "the perfect dog" can be so mistakenly "dumped" at the local shelter like a piece of trash, and the lists of things the dog and the new owners did, as if that is proof that the new owners are somehow better than the old ones. Without knowing the previous owners' story, and the confusion, doubt, and self questioning that they go through before they have to make that decision, the new owners pass judgement. Here's the other side. 

"I brought you home on a hot August day, not knowing your history.  I gave you ice water to cool you, because it was hotter than the gate hinges to the gates of Hades and I didn't want you passing out on me.  After work, you jumped in my car with the words "load 'em up" and everyone had a laugh.  I had to get you out because you jumped on my work paperwork.  I them picked up the kiddo from day care, worried the whole time you would tear up the inside of my car. I saw that movie. The kiddo was excited about you, but I was still cautious. You spent the night in the bathroom until I trusted you to roam the house, which you did often after that. 

You made friends with the cat.  You made friends with the kid and the boyfriend. You were patient and friendly even when the boyfriend came to live with us, then married us. You made friends with the new puppy, Bandy. You were scared the time we had to move and the drive was over two hours long. I saw the anxiety on you face. You loved the backyard. It was big, with room to run.  Then another cute beast with razors at the end of its hands entered our lives. Our home grew, with the addition of dogs and snakes. I remember the first time you met a snake, and the look on your face.  You seemed almost impatient at the new addition, but you got used to it. I believed that you understood, being a rescue yourself. 

We shared movies, vet visits, and my first run after knee surgery.  Remember when we ran "to the horses and back" and you learned to stay on one side? I tripped every time you switched sides.  We went on several walks since then, until I went back to school.  Then our walks were less and less frequent. 

You spend a lot of time bored, as I had to study for this final or that one. Your patience and loyalty during that time is not forgotten. I remember taking "study breaks" to take you outside, and I remember having tea on the porch watching the sun set with you. You're a good dog, remember that. Never forget that.

I have a lot of memories with you and I that I will always have. You have those memories too. Keep those memories close. You will make new ones with your new owners. Better than the most recent ones. I didn't like having to keep the muzzle on you because you didn't get along with the other male dog that we had and you played too rough with the girls.  Or the neighbors' dog.... You hated that dog! But then again, who liked that dog? That dog was annoying, right? You had to wear the muzzle more often than not, and you were secluded, because of you not getting along with the others. It's not fair that you were always out alone (sometimes with us, and we threw the ball to you) or that you were isolated from the other dogs and couldn't play because you were too rough. We love the other dogs, and we love you. That's why we had to let you go. 

I could not stand to see you isolated from the others, wanting to play and wondering why you couldn't.  The muzzle on constantly because we couldn't trust you after you lunged at Phantom. I see those memes all of the time, about loyalty and keeping the dog through thick and thin and that I'm horrible for getting rid of someone you pledged your life to. "Getting a dog is for life" and "Dogs are forever". Those break my heart. I believed that; still do. What about when life is no longer good for the dog? What then? I still question if we made the right decision for you. You're a good dog, and the male dogs brought out your worst. 

"Why couldn't you get rid of the newer dogs?" "Didn't you have Jasper longer?" We couldn't because we love them. We love you, too. It's easier to place the dog with the issues, hoping for a better life as a single, spoiled dog, than placing three. Our hearts can take the separation of one, but not three.. One is heartbreaking enough.  

It's planned that you are going to your new owners, my uncle and aunt, on Wednesday. Tom is a good man, who loves his animals. You will have it good with him, and making wonderful new memories in no time. He is excited to have you, and liked you the moment he met you. I think it's a good fit. You will do well there, and they will be happier for knowing you. You're a good dog. Always remember that. 

I wish you luck and love in your new home, and since you are going to family, I will see you again. I love you, That's why we had to let you go.

Love and Blessings,
Your "old" Owner"  

Just remember- just because the dog is perfect for you, doesn't mean they were perfect for the previous owners. Give the dog a good life, and remember, the previous owners went through hell making the decision to let him go.  I know we did. 

Lessons Learned

I had a friend, who I felt very close to. We talked for hours about nothing at all, and had quite a bit of things in common. I enjoyed her company and I thought she enjoyed mine. We talked about our mutual thorn in the side, and our kids. Our kids were siblings, you see.  It's a weird relationships, and it's understandable that it would eventually fall apart- which it did. 

Several memories flash across my mind: kids at the kiddie park eating ice cream, playing cards against humanity and changing one of the card to "his name" so the game would be funnier.  We had a great laugh; we laughed until we cried! It was a great time.  I was there for her, letting her stay at my place when things hit the fan for her in her life. She stayed a few days, with the siblings hanging out doing what kids do. We laughed, we watched the TV, ate dinner together and talked. We had a great time. But, eventually the sun sets. She went back home, and tried to work things out. 

We had troubles of our own- The house was falling apart. I worked like a dog, saving every extra cent I made so I could get my family out of that house. The land lord refused to fix it, and the ceiling was caving in and the walls were removing themselves from the floor. It was scary and I started having nightmares that the ceiling caved while we were asleep. When we have what we felt was enough, we contacted a realtor (a referral from a coworker) and started looking. We looked in Bulverde, Round Rock, Cedar Park, Leander, and finally Georgetown. We put money down on two homes before we found a brand new, never owned home. We fell in love with the backyard and put our money on it. It was ours a few weeks later. During this time, my friend quit returning my calls, and texts.  I figured she was dealing with troubles of her own. 

Once we were settled, I tried to contact her a few times and experienced the same result: she just didn't seem interested in being my friend anymore. Friends return calls, right? Or perhaps she was busy. That must have been it, right?  She did have her own problems, too.  I tried to be there for her, letting her know that I was still here and that she could talk to me. I let her know I moved, and she didn't seem too excited about us getting out of that crappy house we were in. 

It became clear that things weren't the same, when after a year, we still haven't talked on the phone. We went from talking daily, for several hours at a time, to nothing in just a few weeks. What could have caused that? What have I done to anger her?  The answer- it turns out- was nothing at all. I did nothing wrong. 

Since she isn't here to defend her actions, I won't be overly harsh.  She did what she did, and that's that.  "Friends" are different than "acquaintances".   I learned that you never can tell who your true friends are- except with time. I figured 3 years was enough time, but then again, perhaps not. She gave me several gifts that I will not soon forget: 

I figured out what my strengths are.  I figured out that I am strong both mentally and emotionally, and I am not the broken teenager that I once was.  I have grown up, woken up and am able to voice my needs and desires, as well as the facts under stressful and tense situations.  I am able to laugh when times are tough.  I enjoy a good night out with the girls, talking over a glass of wine. I am a nerd, and that's ok. I like talking about a wide range of topics, and each one is ok. There is no need to justify your existence, nor to seek approval.  As one of her quotes go "worrying about what (so and so, insert a name of your choice here) thinks of me is like worrying about what bacteria thinks of me- I don't really care". 

I learned that there are some things you trust with a few people, and that you can't trust everyone with everything. It's ok to talk to a friend about one thing, and not with another. That conversation may be boring to them. Take things slow, and pay attention to their actions, not just their words. Words can be covered in sugar, yet slice you in half, and their actions may be only to serve them, and not the friendship relationship as a unit. 

I also learned that sometimes, the person you call a friend, may one day be the one to tear apart your heartstrings. Treasure the time, and treasure the memories. Some people come in as lesson, some come as blessings, and for mine: she was both. I learned so much with her, and I felt beautiful. Thank you.  Thanks for the lessons, and thanks for the memories. 

Rule Number One

It's 8am and I just woke up from a dream that my bike had a radio. My eyes flutter open with that all too familiar rush; excitement; anticipation.  From that point on, every sound became the sound of a motorcycle screaming "I'm here, Lets ride".

She arrived closer to 930am and I couldn't be happier. After she was checked out and deemed in good working order (and the money paid), she was officially mine.  I named her Rhiannon.

I realized my skills were rusty after several attempts of getting her up the slope of the driveway and stalling out.  After about the 5th time I was mad. Mad at myself, mad at the bike..  How could I have let my skills get so rusty?!? How could I have allowed myself to stay grounded and caged for so long? I tied up my hair, took a breath and decided to listen to her..  The engine, the sounds around me, and feel her and relax.  I got her up the slope and into the garage. That's rule number one: Feel the Bike.

Her name didn't come easy. Every one of my machines had one. The car was called Bruce (the one before was Alice).  Willow and Elsa came to mind, but just didn't fit. They sounded pretty, and may have worked if she was a different color. She wasn't blue, she was purple. Paul suggested Rhiannon- The Horse Goddess who happen to have a holiday coming up.  That sounded perfect!  My steel horse given the name of the protector.  My two loves combined with one name. Perfect.