Thursday, December 29, 2011

A Place You've Probably Never Been

We have just returned from Wyoming. Yes, you read that right. Wyoming. In case you don't know, it's the big rectangular state that separates the other mostly rectangular states from the one that looks like a boot. You know, where all the aliens go in the movies. Also, there's Yellowstone - that's where the bears all try to swipe your pick-enick baskets.

R is from Wyoming and you can usually find us shivering there during the holidays. The last xmas we were there it was negative thirty degrees. Also, in order to enjoy this frigid, wind-blown landscape, we must brave crappy weather conditions and canceled/delayed flights in order to get there and then again to leave. This has been the foundation for my frequent claims that this is the last year we are going to Wyoming in the winter! (Note: This claim apparently has no impact on reality whatsoever)

So I am pleased to report that it was warm in Wyoming this year. A balmy forty degrees! - and no, I am not joking. I walked around without a coat and was damn chipper the whole time.

The improved weather conditions allowed me to more fully appreciate the beauty of the scenary and wildlife, which are there in abundance. I have no interest in living there, but the mountains rising from rolling plains dotted with herds of deer and antelope can be quite impressive. It makes me shake my head when I realize how often I took/take it for granted...but living there, or in Montana, which is for all practical purposes the same thing, makes you forget that there are people crammed into cities who have never seen such vast expanses of unmarred scenary.

Also, there were friends and family, laughing and gossip. All good things. I will miss that, because this was the last year we're going to Wyoming in the winter.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Snowboarding, a lesson in gravity

Note: NOT a picture of me!

Hey you guys, guess what? We did it! We went snowboarding - twice! Huzzah!

For those of you who have yet to hear my woesome tale of snowboarding woe, let me summarize. R and I used to snowboard (him with much more zeal, skill, and grace than I). Then we moved to SE Ohio, with its pathetic slushy winters and total lack of mountains. And we did not snowboard for 8 years. Eight sad, sad years.

So it was high on the list of things that must be done when we moved to northern Idaho. We have now gone two times. And it. was. awesome! I picked it up right away...I'm not saying that I'm good, but I am not the pathetic, scared snowboarder that I was worried I would be.

On our first outing, I fell frequently, but hopped right back up to practiced basic maneuverability. Yesterday, outing number two, I worked on improving my control and tried for a bit of grace. I also worked on not freaking out when I start going fast*. I was mildly successful. I fell a fair deal, sometimes spectacularly, but had some really good runs.

*This is really hard to do.

I knew I was going to be sore, but WOW. After outing one, I took a salt bath and then curled around the heating pad - for two days. My whole upper body was rigid and overworked from pushing myself up after my various crashes. Today I am feeling pretty good. Stiff, sore, and with the mother of all bruises on my knee, but mobile. I will partially attribute this to improvement in my skillz, but must admit that after outing one I started exercising everyday (once I could move), including using my 5 lb dumbbells and doing lots of stretching. As I'm sure many of you have experienced, once I get back into regular exercise I enjoy it.

Anyway, I'm excited to go back. I hope I continue to improve, and I sincerely hope that no one posts any of my accidental aerial cartwheels on YouTube.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Oh Dingleballs!

As a young adult, I begged and begged for a dog. My parents are not 'animal people' and almost every animal we ever had was because of me and my aforementioned begging. So when I finally wore them down and got a dog, all responsibility for the animal fell to me (though he was only my dog when he needed something, otherwise his moniker was family dog).

The dog was a German Shepard Keeshond mix. Thus, he had lots and lots of crazy thick hair. Which is why he sometimes had dingleballs. For those of you not 'in the know,' a dingleball is a little ball of crap that hangs around, rather than falling to the ground as gravity intended. And guess who in my household got to deal with dingleballs?? Come on, guess.

Now, grown up (and the owner of sleek dogs with very short hair) I realize that I continue to be the groomer of dingleballs in my family. If shit goes wrong, I'm the one everyone calls.

Monday, December 5, 2011

A reason for blogging

I'll come clean. I read other people's blogs. Usually women. Usually women with children. If you've been following my silly blog at all (a.k.a. stalking, but I'll forgive you), you know I'm incapable of not researching important things. And reading all about mothers with infants/toddlers/children falls into the researching category because I plan to be a mother someday and must prepare; way in advance. And obsessively.

Ahem. Anyway.

Many blogs have an info section which details other locations where the author's writing has appeared. These bloggers have contributed to mommy blog sites, major news sites and even wrote books. So many women are awesome sauce!

I, too, have been published in other locations. If I told you my name, you could google it* and discover that I have published many, many things. If, in a fit of maniacal boredom, you actually tried to read one of these publications your eyes would cross and would slip instantly into a coma.

*There is only one other person in the country with my name. No joke. I've considered emailing her, but what would I say?

Most of my publications are in academic, peer reviewed-journals and are therefore boring. (The very words "peer-reviewed journal" are boring!) Which is too bad, because some of my research is on really interesting topics. BUT academia has created a wall of formatting, jargon, and post-hoc tests to ward off the most interested readers without advanced degrees. Why yes, that does severely limit the usefulness of the research. Thank you for asking.

Therefore, more people are likely to read this anonymous blog than my published work. Disregarding how hard it is to get something published in a peer-reviewed journal, this is depressing because I am an applied researcher and my work could make a real, positive impact. I guess I'll just have to be satisfied with making you smile. So smile, damn it!

Friday, December 2, 2011

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Atheist to you too

I read a scholarly article in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology that demonstrates religious people distrust atheists - as opposed to finding them disgusting or unlikable. Basically, religious people are concerned that those without religion have nothing to bind them to good behavior. The logic goes something like this: If you don't think anyone is watching, who knows what you might do?!? The article goes on to show that people would prefer having any other minority member as President or marry their future, non-existent children**, rather than an atheist.

**Most psychology research uses college freshman as participants.

As an atheist, I didn't find this particularly shocking. Though it does rub me the wrong way, like the holiday sweater my mom always tried to get me to wear. After all, don't my charitable actions speak more strongly of my character because they are not tied to threats of hell or promises of heaven?

Additionally, I think this research sidesteps the heart of the matter. Religious people are threatened by disbelief. They are more accepting of differing belief, in the form of another religion, than no belief at all.

I think this is why most religious people I have encountered are very hostile toward atheists, claiming that atheists are opposed to anyone having religion*. Personally, I have never witnessed this. Most atheists I know share a live-and-let-live approach to religion. I'm sure their are vocal atheists hell bent (buh dum dum) on making their views heard - since they rarely are - or those who are just tired of having religious views pushed upon them - as they so often are. In fact, I have heard many atheists express regret that they do not believe in a deity; it would be nice to believe that someone cared, kept score, or even paid attention. Further, considering the often hostile reactions encountered when someone finds out your are an atheist, most atheists I know tend to try to avoid the issue all together.

*It's worth mentioning that people typically assume you believe what they believe, so often this hostility was not aimed at me but rather told to me about someone else.

I don't have a good conclusion to this entry. I could talk about how much volunteer work I have done and how I have been donating to food banks and homeless shelters since I moved out of my parent's house, and that shows that a moral compass is not a direct result of believing in a higher power, but I know that many will disregard this argument. I could point out that many people justify bigotry and hatred with their religious views, or try to discuss how very different personal beliefs are among members of the same congregation, but I don't think that would be effective either. So instead, I will simply say what I believe: trust and acceptance should be founded on actions rather than beliefs.