Back from Alabama

March 29, 2009

I spend the past five days visiting my grandparents in Alabama. My sister and I flew down, leaving our spouses in Idaho. My grandmother is developing dementia, so we decided to keep the number of faces around to a minimum. She still remembers all the relationships, knows our names and that we’re married. She has a very tough time recalling words, and is starting to have problems with basic tasks like using the TV remote or the phone. She is also extremely anxious much of the time. If we’re going to go do something, she wants us to just go and do it right now. Grandmom also hates any time away from her husband.

We also had the opportunity to visit the beach – we even got an hour of sunshine while we were there. Storms the rest of the week. I’ve only been back in Idaho for a day, but I really miss the humidity!

I spent most of my free time with my head stuck in a book. 8 down for this week. My sister also talked me into reading the Twilight series. I found that I just cannot stand the main character (Bella) for the first three books. In the fourth, she becomes tolerable. The writing in the series also improves substantially, which is understandable with Twilight being the author’s first novel.

The flights were decent, although most flights were delayed by about 30 minutes. Of course, those 30 minutes are spent sitting on the plane rather than in the terminal. They don’t want to let us walk around any more than they have to.

I still have several half-completed posts just waiting for me to wrap them up. Hope to get them up this week.


Exams!

March 20, 2009

It’s that time once again – midterms!

I have exams in both Psychology 101 and Anatomy and Physiology tomorrow. Lots of studying tonight and tomorrow morning.

A&P is going well – I’ve gotten an A on every exam to date. I’m hoping to continue that streak for this exam and the lab exam immediately after spring break. Psych isn’t going as well. A’s and B’s on the exams, but I can’t get above a low B on the other assignments! Our professor started out the semester saying there was no required length for the assignments. They could be as short as a few sentences. Apparently that was utter BS. The feedback on every assignment to date has requested that I write more. I hate when professors won’t give you their true expectations.

The quality of the assignments has also been very disappointing. We take a moderately long survey, get told what it “means about us,” and write what we learned from it in a nutshell. If these surveys are representative of current psychological surveys, I’ve learned I shouldn’t trust any psych studies!

Time to hit the books again, I have a couple posts half-written that I hope to finish up this weekend – after exams.


Webcomics Galore!

March 18, 2009

I was introduced to a new webcomic today, courtesy of LabRat. Digger is a very well-illustrated and creative webcomic, with a unique protagonist. The webcomic’s star is an anthropomorphic wombat, Digger,  who got lost while tunneling and ended up in matters far beyond her control. She is a very level-headed individual (as are most wombats), who goes to great lengths to avoid meddling in others affairs. Unfortunately, the world won’t let her get away with that, and she keeps getting sucked in to the affairs of the gods. Go check it out!

Another webcomic of which I am a long-time reader is Sluggy Freelance. Pete Abrams has been releasing a comic almost every day since 1997. The comic started out very roughly sketched, and focused on immediate laughs (Anyone up for a game of bikini-suicide-frisbee?), but as the author’s art has evolved, so has the storyline. Now, the comic tends toward broad, sweeping storylines – some of which deal with very serious topics. I’d really recommend checking it out, but you’ll need to start at the beginning!

Last, but far from least, is one that is not a webcomic per se. But it’s available online, so close enough! Frazz reminds me quite a bit of Calvin and Hobbes. The main character, Frazz, is an elementary school janitor who writes award-winning pop music on the side. He serves as both advisor and instigator for the children of the school. Especially my favorite character, Caulfield, who epitomizes the bored underachiever.

If you’re looking for a good way to kill a few minutes or a few hours, check out one of these comics!


Idaho Statesman layoffs

March 18, 2009

Our local newspaper is laying off more workers. I’m not overly concerned by this. I have never had a newspaper subscription and only read the newspaper once a month, at most. I skim the articles looking for something interesting, but usually find myself reading the funnies instead. It seems like they are the most insightful and well-researched part of the paper anyway. With the wide variety of information available online, I see very little need for local newspapers. Many of the articles are copied directly from the Associated Press. The local articles are frequently poorly researched and written.

Newspapers need to compete with online media, like Google News and blogs. Very few journalists can compete with the deep knowledge of expert bloggers. If I want information on science issues, Phil Plait is a much more reliable source than my usual newspaper. Same goes for politics. In local interests, the one area where our newspaper could concievably compete with online sources, our newspaper still fails to do the job. The newspaper didn’t run anything on the potential fee for kayaks until the bill had already passed the house!

I wouldn’t say it’s good that local newspapers are dying – after all, the Statesman still provides jobs for over 300 people. But as far as information supply goes, it isn’t a bad thing either.


Basset Play Time

March 17, 2009

Duke, our basset, has a very well-loved frisbee. It’s completely destroyed, but he’ll still happily run around with it, whether anyone is chasing him or not!

Duke the Basset

Doesn’t he look happy? 🙂


Boat registration is back

March 16, 2009

The Idaho House of Representatives recently passed a bill to combat invasive species in our waterways. A noble goal. Now if only our representatives were a bit brighter and wrote bills that would help ACHIEVE the stated goal! House Bill 213 is designed to generate funds to combat invasive species. How is it going to accomplish this goal? I have no idea. But every year it’ll cost $20/boat for every out of state motorized boat, $10/boat for every in-state motorized boat, and $5 for every nonmotorized boat.

Their goal will have one “benefit” – boaters will be discouraged from entering our state. This will reduce the spread of invasive species. It will also reduce the flow of tourist dollars to our state. It makes sense to charge motorized boat operators – they have a high risk of bringing invasive species like the quagga mussel in to our lakes on boat trailers or in bilge water. It makes absolutely no sense to charge nonmotorized boaters. We have a much lower risk of importing invasive species. We don’t carry water in our boats (at least, not if we can avoid it!), and don’t use boat trailers. And yet, we’re still stuck paying for it.

It’s been suggested the money will be used to provide washing stations for boats (although the bill doesn’t say this). I see a lot of problems with this. Boat washing is practically impossible to enforce. Are we going to have an officer stationed at every lake to make sure boats are washed before being put into the water? Those who would actually use them are the same people who are already being careful about spreading invasive species. Those who are likely to bring them to our lakes are likely to ignore the washing stations anyway.

All of this aside, why are kayakers and rafters stuck paying for this too? I can guarantee there won’t be a kayak washing station up on the Payette. My kayak will never be near one, and has zero risk of bringing invasive species to Idaho. Yet I’m still going to be out $5 every year. Since this will be impossible to enforce, I plan on ignoring the registration. I suspect I’ll have a lot of company in that decision.

We do still have time to stop this bill! Every boat owner in Idaho, whether motorized or not, should call their state senator! It hasn’t passed the senate, although it will be up for vote very soon. Even if you’re out of state, think about giving a call or writing a letter to a member of the Idaho legislature. This will impact you too if you ever want to boat in Idaho.


Joining the Blogosphere

March 16, 2009

I had blogged previously under a different name, but let the blog die out after just a couple months. It was narrowly focused – a big mistake. This blog is much more broad – even I don’t know what I’ll talk about! It’s a safe bet it will include kayaking, books, politics and school.

I am addicted to whitewater kayaking. It’s a huge rush, a great workout, and gets me out in nature. I’d recommend it for anyone. I’m nowhere near an expert, I’ve only been kayaking for one season. Once the weather gets a little warmer, I hope to get out on the water again! I’m waiting for temperatures in the 60’s – my roll is still weak enough that I have decent odds of swimming if I flip. I’d rather avoid hypothermia if that does happen.

Politically, I am absolutely disgusted with both parties, and the party system. I hate that both our present and our last president seemed to be representing their parties instead of the people of this country. I want the party system completely destroyed and every individual to run on their own merit – no matter what letter is next to their name. I support an effective government that provides the greatest freedom possible for all of us. Our current government is great at one thing – spending money. It spends very little time analyzing whether it is spending the money well. The recent stimulus bill is the ultimate example of that. Over 1000 pages of text, and not one member of Congress read the entirety before voting on it.

I am in my fourth year of college – and essentially a freshman. I spent my first three years of school studying computer science. I had a high-paying job at a large tech company, but it had a condition that if I changed majors, I would lose my job. So I put up with the boredom of my classes and work for money. Last semester, I finally admitted that it wasn’t going to get any better. I am now pursuing a degree in nursing. I love working with people – a statement that would shock those who knew me in high school. This field will let me grow as a person and mean I’m not staring at a monitor eight hours a day. I’m almost a year in to my new degree, and loving it!

I hope you enjoy my blog. I welcome any comments on any topic. My moderation policy is very loose. If it isn’t blatant spam or outright trolling, it won’t be deleted.