Saturday, November 29, 2008

The New Place

Kitchen Counter complete with microwave, spice rack, hot water heater, dish rack... also note the trash can... awesome.

Kitchen Table and poster of bryce canyon, also salt and pepper shakers

Part of the living room: TV, bryce canyon, 2 stockings, a few plants and the tree

The other view of the living room: paintings, futon, tables, plants, and awesomeness

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Kicked in the face

"Most would a agree that a kick in the ass is a good thing every now and then, but a boot to the head…  maybe not so much."

A "wise man" once told me this not long ago shortly after I was literally kicked in the face playing soccer.  We didn't have a sub so I remained in the game without being able to see out of my left eye.

My eye is slowly returning to proper color and shape, but even worse than the swelling, headache, and initial blurry vision of this injury has been my personal and work/school life these past few days. 

I felt as if I would never finish anything I needed and felt as if I was completely wasting my time.  I haven't felt like that in over a year and it really was getting me down... even having good conversations with close friends about things I cared about wasn't helping.

Yet, I am glad to say that somehow today after my last class I just felt better.  I feel happier about what's going on, I'm stoked about birding on Saturday, my sister visiting, my project, the progress I've made on assignments, and just overall good.

I don't really know why but I'm not going to complain.  I was way more productive than I thought I would be today, and maybe that's part of it.  I'm having dinner with an old friend tonight after months of talking about it, and maybe that's part of it.  

I don't know exactly what it is, but it works.  

Just reminds me that life will get you down at times; sometimes you get kicked in the face.  And instead of the good provoking response from an ass kick, you litterally ended up blinded as to where you are, what you're doing, and why you're doing it.  

But that doesn't mean you leave the game.  You toughen up and work through it. Slowly but surely your vision will return.

Or at least it will figuratively, hopefully litterally too... or you may want to see a doctor.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Better Days

I hate going to the gas station and hearing "Little Saint Nick", shopping and seeing the  gia-normous Christmas displays in Target, Home Depot, Shaws, etc.  I hate how early Christmas seems to come, and how quickly it goes once it gets here.  The 26th comes and suddenly its over.  What-ever happened to the 12 days of Christmas?

Regardless, as much as I dispise all of the pre-celebration its impossible to ignore that the season is upon us whether it is in the stores, in the requests of "what would you like for Christmas", or just in the continual radio Christmas music - I still have to admit that I'm a little excited about the days that lay ahead.

However, like Anna who recently wrote about advent (, I also am more excited about the Christmas season than Christmas itself.  Every year I love the random, sporadic moments of love that inevitably surround Christmas.  As unfortunate as it is they are no longer what Chrismas is seen as, but I still claim that if you look hard enough they are still there.

Whether it is in the many charities who collect and donate food, or the child who dumps his left over pennies into the salvation army jar, or in a moment of forgiveness between individuals - there seem to still be.  I am not going to urge you to remember the true meaning of Christmas, but rather, to stop when you see one of these moments this year and just recognize that a small miracle just happened.  

Because any time that we put aside our own selfish thoughts, feelings, and ideas a small miracle happens.  (While some may argue for and against a "true" altruistic moment occuring, such a debate is way too in depth for purposes of this single blog entry and really ends up as an unsolvable argument that does not change the fact that something special happened in a culture where selfishness is rewarded and often looked highly upon even in a time of Christmas.) 

Additionally, in this Christmas season, I think we need to broaden our idea of giving.  We need to recognize that working towards positive change on any level: local, regional, national, international, or globally on any issue: environment, poverty, social injustice, health care, education, clean water, hunger, etc. is really a step in the right direction and is really a small miracle in action.  Small miracles add up.  Change adds up.  No matter what side of the issue you're on in terms of how to make the necessary change - work towards it and in the meanwhile engage in active, helpful, honest conversation about how to make this world a better place.

Above all, I think in this Christmas season, the greatest thing we really can do on earth is try to love one another.  As my favorite "Christmas" song says:

I wish everyone was loved tonight
And to somehow stop this endless fight
Just a chance that maybe we'll find better days

Better days.  Sure they won't be perfect, and no there wont be snow in Africa this Christmas time (MEGHAN!!!)... but at the very least maybe they will have life, faith, trust, and peace.  Maybe this year can provide better days, and next year better days than this, and so on and so forth.  If each day is a better day due to our work on this planet, perhaps eventually we can look at this world again and say it is "very Good".

And you ask me what I want this year
And I try to make this kind and clear
Just a chance that maybe we'll find better days

I know it's hard - how many of us can actually say when asked what we want that it contains nothing more than a chance for better days?  No, I'm not saying we all need to cut presents out of our lives for Christmas (but maybe I should... ) but what I am saying is that this Christmas, besides just giving boxes wrapped with string and paper, give something more.  Give trust, peace, and if possible, love.  

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Civic Duties Don't End With Elections

As I sat at the Knot in Durham, NH watching everyone celebrate last night like the world had just taken a turn for the better I began to reflect on what the next four years really might bring. 

Everyone seemed as if things would automatically be better if Democrats controlled everything and controlled more of everything.  This seems a little ridiculous to me as the system was designed for checks and balances in order to represent the constituents of the United States.  It was designed to represent that there are many ways to think about problems and because of freedom from religion, freedom of speech, freedom of assembly, and freedom to petition.

There is no one way to think about politics and people (not just politicians) on both sides need to start realizing this.  There are good reasons for many contradicting things and we need to start recognizing them and recognizing that we must begin to work together in order to make actual change in this country.

It concerns me that there is a complete democratic majority 56-40 in the Senate, and 252-173 in the House.  The last time this was the case on the Republican side weren't we disappointed? I dare to suggest that we may be again disappointed if we as individuals within the country are silent and expect that there be smooth sailing for the next 1461 days.

I got this article sent to me the other day:

And as I read it pre-election it dawned on me that this article was missing a huge piece of information - that it is not really the 545 humans in Washington (100 Senators + 435 Congressmen + 1 President + 9 Supreme Court Justices) that make change happen.  They are not responsible in the end if we have not written to them, spoke with them, and advocated for issues we felt passionate about.  

If we have not participated beyond casting a vote (a vote based on an understanding of the issues we care about, not just on personality, graphic artistry, or an encouraging tag line in ALL LEVELS OF GOVERNMENT), if we have not gone a step further to continue to care about issues to the point where we do more than complain at local bars - we are also to be responsible for the mess this country is in.  

As I sat there last night it dawned on me that probably less than 2 people in the entire bar had ever written one of their representatives in congress and that if those who had probably did it through an automated program or website.  They probably signed a postcard and had someone mail it in for them.  

I remembered a article from a newspaper I used to have in my bedroom where my mother (a young child at the time) was pictured holding a letter from the then president.  She wasn't old enough to vote - but wrote him anyway - probably as part of a school project - and actually received a response.

How come things like this aren't in the paper anymore?  Is it because elected officials no longer care?  I doubt it.  I firmly believe it is because we no longer care beyond casting a ballot.  We somehow have gotten the idea that just by casting a ballot they know what we stand for - and this is not the case.  

It is our responsibility to be involved beyond the first Tuesday after the first Monday of November.  It is our responsibility to care beyond the presidential race right down to the county clerk and town justices.

We care (or I care) about local food, local issues of poverty, local schools, etc.  so why don't we care about local politics?

I'm not saying you the reader is specifically responsible because I fully admit that in the past 21 years the only way I've contacted my officials is via produced efforts from websites, postcards, and petitions.  The only officials I've ever sat down and talked with were Senators from other states (which is better than nothing), but I've never written a letter crafted on my own.  I've never cared more than starting initiatives - which is a good thing - but not enough.  In a democracy if we want to see change in legislation we can't just expect that by doing something small in our own backyard will gain attention of 545 out of 300 billion people.  We need to do those things because they are important on  a personal level and a local level - and such things trickle up.  But before we point fingers at those individuals in power we need to be active members beyond November 4th.

If they don't listen to you then in 4 years vote them out.  But before we assume that it won't work we need to examine our own efforts and see what we did beyond voting.  Personally, I cannot say I've done enough in the last four years to not hold myself partly responsible for the current situation.  Can you?

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Voting for the first time

Yesterday, I did something I’ve never done before at 21 years of age: vote in a presidential election.  As I stared down the ballot I realized how important and yet unimportant my choice was.  Obama is clearly going to win New York, and will probably win the election.  However, as a person, voting is standing for something or with something and as I looked down the ballot I realized I couldn’t stand one hundred percent with any candidate.  There were reasons I disliked McCain’s policies, yet reasons I thought he would do some things well.  There were things I disagreed with Obama about, while things I agreed with him on.  And lets be honest – who really trusts Nader to run the country?

 I live in a swing state – where I could easily cast a vote by registering on the day of the election – yet I am choosing to vote in New York.  Why? Because I believe local politics are equally important and I truly am not yet a New Hampshiran.  The act of voting is a lot tougher than I could have ever thought. 

Not a day goes by where I do not receive some scrap piece of paper saying here’s why you should vote for this person or that from presidential down to county clerk positions.  Not a day goes by where I don’t drive by people campaigning in the middle of town while cars honk in approval. 

I have to say I don’t think I’d be willing to stand out on a square and hold a sign for hours – I honestly hope that doing so does not convince any one individual to vote for any one candidate. 

In the past 3 days I’ve realized something about politics: they’re a very personal matter that is very publically dealt with in our country.  They run deep into our blood because they really do matter on a daily basis.  There are people who vote based on their wallet, people who vote based on ideas, people who vote based on religion, and people who vote based on hope that each day this world will become a better place.

As I put my pen to the paper to cast my absentee ballot I remembered the face of this little old woman who was on the opposite corner of some Obama supporters who was out supporting a candidate that is often un-discussed: peace.  Her face showed the pain of many years of disappointment, but her determination to stand on the corner in the freezing cold and hold a sign that simply stated “Peace” attested to the thread of hope she still holds on to.  And as I voted I tried to keep in mind that peace and love really should be at the center of everything we do. 

Who I voted for will have to remain unknown due to the freedom of private vote that we all can hold to.  But you should know that I voted with the concerns that penetrate my heart and mind on a daily basis at the forefront of my mind, I voted for what I felt was a path to a better America and a better world.

While we won’t be there in 4 years from know I hope with every bit of my being that we are closer to a world of peace and love.

Monday, November 03, 2008

This Weekend In Birding

Friday, Saturday, Sunday: Insane weekend with views of Dickcissel, Snowy Owl, Rufous Hummingbird, and Fox Sparrow all in New Hampshire!!!  66 species in all or so... 
  1. Brant
  2. Canada Goose
  3. Mute Swan
  4. Wood Duck
  5. Mallard
  6. Green-winged Teal
  7. Ring-necked Duck
  8. Common Eider
  9. Surf Scoter
  10. White-winged Scoter
  11. Long-tailed Duck
  12. Bufflehead
  13. Common Goldeneye
  14. Red-breasted Merganser
  15. Red-throated Loon
  16. Common Loon
  17. Horned Grebe
  18. Red-necked Grebe
  19. Northern Gannet
  20. Double-crested Cormorant
  21. Great Blue Heron
  22. Red-tailed Hawk
  23. Merlin
  24. American Coot
  25. Black-bellied Plover
  26. Sanderling
  27. Purple Sandpiper
  28. White-rumped Sandpiper
  29. Dunlin
  30. Bonaparte's Gull
  31. Ring-billed Gull
  32. Herring Gull
  33. Great Black-backed Gull
  34. Rock Pigeon
  35. Mourning Dove
  36. Snowy Owl

  37. Rufous Hummingbird

  38. Blue Jay
  39. American Crow
  40. Black-capped Chickadee
  41. Tufted Titmouse
  42. White-breasted Nuthatch
  43. Golden-crowned Kinglet
  44. American Robin
  45. Northern Mockingbird
  46. European Starling
  47. American Pipit
  48. Cedar Waxwing
  49. Nashville Warbler
  50. Yellow-rumped Warbler
  51. Chipping Sparrow
  52. Savannah Sparrow
  53. Savannah "Ipswich" Sparrow
  54. Fox Sparrow
  55. Song Sparrow
  56. White-throated Sparrow
  57. White-crowned Sparrow
  58. Dark-eyed Junco
  59. Lapland Longspur
  60. Snow Buntings
  61. Northern Cardinal
  62. Dickcissel
  63. House Finch
  64. Pine Siskin
  65. American Goldfinch
  66. House Sparrow
for some clarification for non birders both dickcissel and rufous hummingbirds "don't belong" in NH

Dickcissels are midwestern birds and Rufous Hummingbirds occur on the west and winter in the south (florida to texas)

Additionally numbers of snow buntings were estimated between 200-300 (we counted their legs and divided by 2)

The lapland longspur was picked out by Steve Mirick among the snow buntings

The common Goldeneye was the first of the season picked out by Jane Mirick

other highlights included a birder getting his 300th life bird and Jessie getting 19 life birds in one day!

- someone else's owl photos: - peter's - len's

Thanks to for access/use to your photos!