Biodork https://the-orbit.net/biodork/ Thoughts from the Big Cherry Sat, 24 Feb 2018 21:31:18 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=6.1.6 106119864 I Tried a Therapy and I Liked It https://the-orbit.net/biodork/2018/02/24/tried-therapy-liked/ https://the-orbit.net/biodork/2018/02/24/tried-therapy-liked/#comments Sat, 24 Feb 2018 21:31:18 +0000 https://the-orbit.net/biodork/?p=12925 The post I Tried a Therapy and I Liked It appeared first on Biodork.

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I’ve heard this idea that therapy is for everyone. That no matter how neurotypical (NT) you think you are, no matter how well things seem to be going in your life, that everyone can benefit from therapy.

(I know that this isn’t true – absolutes are for chumps.)

I’ve often wondered what therapy would be like. I didn’t have any “goals” for therapy, so would it do anything for me? Everyone has some background level of stress, but I seemed to have things mostly under control. I’ve never really wanted to set up appointments, travel, sit down in front of a therapist, try to discover if I’ll like them (and if I don’t, to have to start over again), and I didn’t want to pay big bucks to try out what seemed to be unessential extravagance. After all, a solid community of family and friends who are good listeners, therapy happy hour and therapy pedicures had gotten me this far in life.

But not too long ago I sought out therapy. I had come to realize that my neurotypical, mostly optimistic self had been dealing with a huge, specific stressor, and therapy started to feel less like an extravagance and more of a potential tool for dealing with it. I felt a little sheepish because the stressor was that I had started to deeply dislike my job. It seemed silly to me – lots of people don’t like their jobs. Surely I could find a way to cope? But it was really affecting me. I’ve always needed to enjoy my work. If I have to survive by spending the best hours of my life each week working, I need that work to be something that engages me. And it wasn’t.

Without going into specifics for why I had fallen out of love with my job, I’ll say what it was that caused me to reach out for therapy: I was coming home feeling desolate more nights than not. I lost track of how many times I cried in work bathroom stalls. It became difficult to fall asleep. I started stress cooking – not eating, just cooking. I would come home late on a work night and prepare highly complicated meals that took 1-2 hours to prepare. I find comfort in cooking, so I guess my stressed out self found refuge there.

I loved my employer but had lost my joy and confidence in my ability to perform well in my role. I didn’t want to quit, but I was making myself ill because I couldn’t seem to influence any lasting change in my situation. I spoke openly with HR and my director about my disengagement (I truly love my employer for being able to feel safe to do that) and we planned and brainstormed ideas for how to go forward. But things move slowly in large corporations and I was still dealing with anxiety, sleeplessness, and vacillating between numbness and Very Big Emotions.

I decided to try a therapy app to hash out some of the brain jerkiness. It seemed like an easy, less expensive, low commitment way to dip my toe into talk therapy. The idea of not having to travel to a brick and mortar location was very attractive. As was the idea of being able to type out my thoughts. It probably doesn’t come as a shock that a personal blogger like myself processes through writing. I also liked the idea that when I had Very Big Emotions while doing some of this processing, I wouldn’t have an audience. I wouldn’t have to be anxious that I was being performative, or that my nonverbal body language or facial expressions were being analyzed. To an extent, I could choose what I wanted to reveal. That made me feel safer than the intimacy of in-person therapy sessions.

I chose a therapist based on her write up – she appeared to value patience, self-kindness, resilience, and not having to carry our burdens alone. These seemed like very attractive things in the state of mind that I was in. She didn’t have any woo dog whistles or anything that might indicate that she was going to tie physical health to mental health (I rejected a few candidates who focused heavily of the body-mind connections. I’m fat and I don’t think yoga is going to solve all of my problems, so maybe let’s start somewhere else). Oh, and most importantly, she has experience dealing with workplace stress and has spent time in the corporate world. Ya know…the little things.

I got super lucky and like her fairly well. I started writing to her once every day or two, and she has always responded within 12-24 hours. I dumped a bolus of information about my situation on her, and one-by-one we started picking through the individual stressors. As we began to resolve those we found some patterns of behaviors and reactions that have popped up in other places in my life, and sometimes we spend some time examining those. I’m into my second month of chatting with her and it’s overall been a very helpful experience.

One immediate benefit of this therapy was that I was able to stop vomiting my emotions all over my close friends and family. That took a lot of guilt off my shoulders and now I can hang out and talk about things other than me and my troubles. My husband doesn’t have to shoulder the weight of a despondent, self-absorbed partner five days a week. He’s also not eating quite as well, but he thinks that’s a fair trade-off.

Having a therapist who I feel hears me and recognizes and validates my stress and emotions has been profoundly healing. It’s probably an appeal to authority, but when my friends say “you’re being very hard on yourself” it doesn’t have quite the same as effect on me as an unbiased professional saying “you’re being very hard on yourself.”

I’m also more focused on recognizing and sorting through my emotions in the moment. One of the benefits of the therapy app is that I can sit down in the moment and let all of the Very Big Emotions out in writing. I don’t have to save all of my thoughts up between physical sessions. Even if it’s mid-work day, I have a job where I can take a few minutes to write, feel better and then get back to work. I know that what I’ve written will be heard and responded to. I don’t feel alone with the stress.

On the whole, talk therapy via a therapy app has been really good for me – a fairly neurotypical person who decided to stop taking her mental health for granted and dedicate some time to examining and improving it.

I’d be interested to hear from people who have tried both remote therapy and face-to-face therapy. What were the pros and cons for you? Do you prefer one over the other?

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Wow – it’s been a while https://the-orbit.net/biodork/2017/08/15/wow-its-been-a-while/ https://the-orbit.net/biodork/2017/08/15/wow-its-been-a-while/#comments Wed, 16 Aug 2017 02:15:19 +0000 https://the-orbit.net/biodork/?p=12873 The post Wow – it’s been a while appeared first on Biodork.

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So yeah…the bunnies are a tad bigger now.

First I was busy doing other things, then Mom moved to Minneapolis, then the elections, and a new position at work, now Nazis.  ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

I’ve been getting my writing and sharing itch scratched by doing updates and conversations on Facebook. I’ve done a small amount of short story writing, but not as much as I’d like.

As an aside – I think it’s fun that I’m writing on my SJW blog again at the exact same time as the red pill scene from the Matrix is playing in the background. As another aside…jeepers Reaves is a bland actor. I made the mistake of watching that Netflix movie about the girl going through a stay-away program for people living with eating disorders, and he was pretty much Neo in that, too. He’s always Neo, even before Neo was a character.

Let’s see…what else…I decided to be kind to myself and not worry too much about what I’m writing so this is going to be disjointed. Just is. I forgot all of the blogging tricks. I wonder if I can remember how to post a photo…

two cats sleeping on a cat bed - a tabby cat is curled around and hugging a smaller tortoise shell patterned cat.

Ehhh…seems to do the trick. Oh yeah, I got two cats. This is Ori and Dori. They’re sweet but shy reformed ferals – brother and sister. Dori, the little tortoise-shell, still won’t let me pet her (it’s been three months), although she’ll sometime stay put if I slowly approach her with a treat extended. I’m worried about what will happen if she gets sick and I have to take her to the vet :/ Ori has turned into my little cuddlemeister for brief periods.  You can see that he’s all about the cuddles.

I’ve stepped down from the atheist radio show that I was doing. It got to be more work than fun, and when that happens to a volunteer position, that’s the beginning of the end. The show, Atheists Talk, is still going strong, which makes me happy. After a brief hiatus from that, I joined up with two friends to start a podcast called Super Serious Social Justice. We dawdled with setting it up for about a year, and finally got our first episode out at the end of this past May. We’re releasing episodes every other Wednesday, and on iTunes – which is a trip for all of us because we’ve never started a podcast before! We’re still pretty rough – if you’re an audiophile you might want to just skip over the first couple of episodes – but we’re having a blast. We find ourselves very funny.

icon in shades of purple that reads sssj. The j is a microphone with a curly cable
More later…I think tomorrow I’ll write about the Charlottesville vigil that I attended on Sunday night here in Minneapolis.

Toodles!

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Officer Hops and Becky https://the-orbit.net/biodork/2016/07/31/officer-hops-becky/ https://the-orbit.net/biodork/2016/07/31/officer-hops-becky/#comments Mon, 01 Aug 2016 04:33:47 +0000 http://the-orbit.net/biodork/?p=12861 The post Officer Hops and Becky appeared first on Biodork.

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This weekend was spent preparing to bring two new bunnies home! My friend’s French Angora gave birth to 10 healthy babies two months ago, and now – eight weeks old – they’re ready to be weaned and brought home!

A man, looking at the camera with a small smile, sits with a small white bunny on his lap and a small brown bunny cuddled on his arm

The Hubby sits with two-week old Officer Hops and Becky with the Good Hair

A couple of weeks ago we began looking for hutches. We found a large hutch for sale on craigslist for $25. It had previously been used as a chicken coop and needed some work – stabilizing the legs, replacing the wood floorboards with 16g wire mesh, cleaning the heck out of it. But it is large – about four feet long by two feet deep by two feet high. It’s an outdoor cage. The bunnies will live outside year-round barring extreme temperatures. They’ll be well-suited for the cold weather, and during these hot summer months they stay cool with a 2L bottle filled with frozen water.

Me, grinning, with a month-old Officer Hops sitting on my chest. Her brown fur is already changing to a lighter brown/grayish color.

Me with Officer Hops, about one month old.

I’ve been doing reading on diet, anatomy, behavior, brushing. The brushing is a big part of this whole deal because French Angoras are long-haired rabbits, and because we’re getting the bunnies in exchange for collecting the fur for my friend’s spinning wheel.

And today was the big day! The final touches were put on the hutch, the bunnies took a short car ride in the cat carrier (done purposely to help introduce the cat to the smell of the bunnies), and then were introduced to their new homes. We left them alone for a couple of hours and then brought them inside for some socialization and brushing.

The cat perked up when she saw the bunnies. The Hubby was on Operation Cat Watch aka Operation Don’t Let the Cat Attack the Bunnies; he was at the ready as Prada jumped up on the ottoman to sniff at Becky, but she lost interest after the initial sniff. For her part, Becky barely acknowledged the cat. Officer Hops was sitting across the room on my friend’s lap and also had no fucks to give about the fact that a known baby bunny murderer was sitting less than three feet from her. I read that when cats are introduced to rabbits in a non-hunting environment…say, when a rabbit is sitting in their front room on their owner’s lap….they are less likely to see them as prey/play. So I think we’re going to be aright when the rabbits are brought inside for lap time.

Officer Hops and Becky are outside right now, cuddling together in their hide. They’re so, so, so soft. *squee!*

Here’s a video from earlier of the two of them enjoying some clover. They’re like little furry paper shredders y’all.

 

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CONvergence is Upon Us! https://the-orbit.net/biodork/2016/06/29/convergence-upon-us/ https://the-orbit.net/biodork/2016/06/29/convergence-upon-us/#comments Thu, 30 Jun 2016 03:27:32 +0000 http://the-orbit.net/biodork/?p=12859 The post CONvergence is Upon Us! appeared first on Biodork.

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Tuesday after work marked my beginning of CONvergence 2016. Tuesday night I learned more about Cinema Rex couches than I ever thought I would know. Carpet powder, vacuuming, quality inspection, layout, the history of couch acquisition. Daymn, Cinema Rex has their shit together.

On Wednesday I had an opportunity to volunteer for three other groups that I’ve never worked with: Logistics (hauling heavy stuff), Connie’s Quantum Sandbox (helping organize the kids activity room. ALL the arts and crafts), and Programming (panel room layouts, floor taping). It was a solid day that started at 9:15am and ended around 5:30pm. Afterwards, dinner in the hotel bar with, and then back home to pack up clothes, costumes, board games and bourbon.

I’m participating in eight panels this year (lolsob).

Thursday
*Balloon Hovercraft Activity
*Scotch and Cigars

Friday
*Oddities of Animal Transport
*Our Favorite Board Games

Saturday
*Road Tripping the Light Fantastic
*Face Value: The Truth is Trickier Than You Thought
*Space Plague and Goblin Pox

Sunday
*Sense8

The full schedule with panel descriptions can be found here.

It’s worth noting that my Friday, Saturday and Sunday panels are all 9:30am panels, which is the “early” panel. I also managed to draw a 11:30pm Saturday night panel, which is the latest panel one can have. That there’s some timing magic. I like my Thursday lineup. I think I should invite the kids from the Balloon Hovercraft Activity to the Scotch and Cigars panel. I joke, but that’s one of the things that I love about CONvergence – there’s something for everyone and for kids of all ages.

I’ll also be hanging around in the Skepchick Party Room and volunteering around con all weekend. If you’re going to be there, I hope you have a wonderful time! I look forward to seeing all of you nerds.

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New Computer is New and Powderhorn365 https://the-orbit.net/biodork/2016/05/29/new-computer-new/ https://the-orbit.net/biodork/2016/05/29/new-computer-new/#comments Sun, 29 May 2016 17:21:43 +0000 http://the-orbit.net/biodork/?p=12852 The post New Computer is New and Powderhorn365 appeared first on Biodork.

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Eeeeee! New laptop acquired!

It’s pretty, too.

I went with an ASUS Q553 PC Notebook this time around. I’m managing my way around Windows 10 (a moment of silence for Photo Gallery and I’ve yet to figure out how to resize photos within W10. Hello Paint, my old friend). I’ve managed to sign into the most popular of all of my websites. I’ve adequately convinced both Origin and Steam that I actually own the games that I’d purchased on my other computer AND I’ve been able to open them and confirm that all of my saves carried over.

And here’s my latest submission to Powderhorn365. It’s not up on the website yet, so you get the sneak peak of the newest photo in this year’s record!

Rainy Day Walk in the Park

Two people walking across the grass down a slight slope, their pink umbrella a contrast against the lush green trees behind them.

These two shared an umbrella for a drizzly stroll through Powderhorn Park on Saturday.

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Powderhorn365 – Kite Eating Tree https://the-orbit.net/biodork/2016/05/01/powderhorn365-kite-eating-tree/ https://the-orbit.net/biodork/2016/05/01/powderhorn365-kite-eating-tree/#comments Sun, 01 May 2016 12:37:55 +0000 http://the-orbit.net/biodork/?p=12846 The post Powderhorn365 – Kite Eating Tree appeared first on Biodork.

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I am a volunteer photographer for the Powderhorn365 project. This was yesterday’s submission:

Dark gray clouds fill the left two thirds of the photo. On the right margin, a small diamond-shaped kite decorated with the drawing of a red metal mask from the Transformers cartoon, is stuck in the branches of a tree. The branches extend from the right margin, no tree trunk is visible.

An overcast, windy day makes for good hunting for the Kite Eating Tree. Although that’s Transformer kite and it looks piqued by the turn of events. The tree might end up with a fight on its branches.

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Frivolous Fridays: Mobile Gaming https://the-orbit.net/biodork/2016/04/29/frivolous-fridays-mobile-gaming/ https://the-orbit.net/biodork/2016/04/29/frivolous-fridays-mobile-gaming/#comments Sat, 30 Apr 2016 03:20:49 +0000 http://the-orbit.net/biodork/?p=12838 The post Frivolous Fridays: Mobile Gaming appeared first on Biodork.

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Frivolous Fridays are the Orbit bloggers’ excuse to post about fun things we care a lot about that may not necessarily have serious implications for politics or social justice. Although any day is a good day to write about our passions outside of social issues, we sometimes have a hard time giving ourselves permission to do that. This is our way of encouraging each other to take a break from serious topics and have some fun.

I am lurving the mobile gaming these days.

I dabble in some PC and console gaming, but I really hit my stride with easy to transport world-building games, collecting games and daily challenges – games that I can carry with me, and check in on periodically…say…over my morning coffee, in line at the post office or over lunch at work.

Screenshot of my iPad games folder and twelve game icons

My 12 top games on iPad right now, in no particular order: Plants vs. Zombies 2, Simpsons Tapped Out, Lords of Waterdeep, Ticket to Ride, Splendor, Smallworld, Clash Royale, Clash of Clans, Dragon Story, Seeker’s Notes, Diamond Quest, Tikal, Plants vs. Zombies (original), Temple Run, Minesweeper.

Simpsons Tapped Out is probably my longest running game. I know that I’ve been playing for a couple of years at least, because it was back in 2014 that I met a gentleman who I know only as “That guy who I only see once a year at SuperCon and all we ever talk about is Tapped Out.” That guy is fun. I should ask his name next year.

A screenshot of Simpsons Tapped Out. People are milling about and some of the iconic Simpsons buildings are visible: The Simpsons House, Kwik-E-Trip, Krusty Burger, Moes and the comic book store.

A screenshot of Simpson’s Tapped Out showing some of the iconic buildings from the Simpsons. On a related note, Universal Studio’s Krustyland was eerily familiar after playing this game daily for over a year.

My current favorite obsession is Clash Royale, which I only found while looking for Clash of Clans. CoC has been around for a while, and one day about a month ago I decided that I should finally jump on that bandwagon. In the Apple App Store, right next to CoC, was Clash Royale. What caught my eye was the number of reviews that it had. I think I remember that at the time there were about 60,000 reviews and a rating of between 4 and 5 stars. By contrast, CoC had a couple of thousand reviews. Checking back on it now, the App Store is showing over 98,000 reviews and it’s still in the 4.5 star range. Wikipedia says the game was only released earlier this year. There appears to be some complaints about monetization, but I haven’t come across that issue in the early stages of the game.

A screenshot of Clash Royale. Two arenas are shown - mine on the bottom half of the screen and my opponent at the top of the screen. Two battles are currently being waged, involving a prince, a knight, a horde of skeletons, archers and spear-throwing goblins

In Clash Royale, you play against a live opponent for three minutes. The goal is to demolish the opponent’s three castles using characters with different strengths and abiities. The characters are earned over time and with experience. You’re only allowed to choose eight characters per battle, but you keep gaining characters, so it’s a bit of a deck builder. When you win a battle you gain trophies. When you loose a battle you lose trophies. The game matches you against opponents with similar a similar amount of trophies, so the battles always feel challenging.

I’ve been trying to think on what makes a mobile game interesting for me. Customizable to some degree is good (world-building like Tapped Out, Clash of Clans, Sims, etc.). Some element of nail-biting is good (Clash Royale, Temple Run). Castle defense – thumbs up. I’m a sucker for collection games, but I usually only run one of those at a time. Right now it’s Dragon Story, but for a long time it was Pocket Frog. I managed to avoid most of the Farmville-type games, but I did get dragged into Township by my mom. Board game adaptations are good, although I tend to get spoiled by the computer’s speed, which can make playing with, you know, actual people who need time to think and make decisions feel agonizingly slow. See: games like Ticket to Ride, Splendor and Smallworld. And I love the cheats in the electronic version of Carcasonne, which has an option to display remaining tiles and to highlight available tile placements.

What are you playing? What makes mobile gaming fun for you?

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Grandma’s Passing: A Humanist Funeral https://the-orbit.net/biodork/2016/04/28/grandmas-passing/ https://the-orbit.net/biodork/2016/04/28/grandmas-passing/#comments Fri, 29 Apr 2016 00:32:50 +0000 http://the-orbit.net/biodork/?p=12828 The post Grandma’s Passing: A Humanist Funeral appeared first on Biodork.

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Back at the beginning of April my Grandma De died. It was expected; she was ill and had achieved a respectable 83 years of life. I had actually spent a week down in Southern Illinois with her and my family two weeks prior because everyone, including her, knew that she was…

cue five minutes of typing and deleting and typing not trying to write poetry or be trite or robotic or grotesquely blunt and finally settling on

…dying. She was dying. And on April 3, 2016 she died at home in her sleep with my aunt by her side and her dog, Buddy, sleeping at her feet.

When my Dad died I was a mess. I felt hopeless and helpless. I was living and working in Minnesota while he was dying eight hours away in home hospice with my mother caring for him on her own.

cue unanticipated crying break

aaaand we’re back.

I came home for his funeral, but I could do nothing but grieve – which is a nice way of saying I stood around alternating between feeling numb, guilty, angry and fornlorn. It was my Dad, and he was too young, and he was gone. I was a mess on the ride home. I was a mess at the visitation, at the funeral, and during all of the in between times. I was a mess on the trip back to Minnesota, and for quite a while afterwards.

For many reasons I felt much more at peace with my Grandma’s passing and funeral. I have memories of her that were formed over family holidays and celebrations – and they are good and plentiful. But they are the simple, uncomplicated feelings of a granddaughter for a grandma who never lived closer than six hours from us. This was a woman who almost always put on her happy face for me. A woman who sent checks at Christmas and birthdays and gave hugs at parties and kisses at weddings. I know that she was so much more complex than that – and I enjoyed seeing glimpses of this more nuanced woman as I grew older – but the distance affords a bit of a buffer. I can consider her passing and think “Thanks for all the good times. I hope you had a good run, Grandma.”

Don’t get me wrong – there have been tears and grieving. But acceptance felt a little easier this time around.

I was the celebrant for my Grandma’s funeral. My Catholic Grandma apparently didn’t care to have a Catholic funeral, and her children run the gamut of spiritualities and religions. So in mid-March when my mom and aunt were sitting around the kitchen table discussing the likely soon-to-be funeral, I volunteered. My aunt was surprised to hear that I was a celebrant. I told her that as a Humanist celebrant I would strive to ensure that Grandma’s beliefs, as well as all of our beliefs, would be respected, and that we could work together to make sure that they got a funeral service that worked for the whole family. Long story short, they said yes. More importantly, Grandma said yes.

I arranged a service that didn’t deny (or support) the existence of a soul or afterlife. I filled it with readings by Robert Ingersoll and other poetry that celebrated a life well lived. I worked with the amazingly wonderful Bailey Funeral Home to finalize the order of service, to make sure the right music got into the right spots, to arrange the printed materials, and to organize donations to Grandma’s chosen charity, the Southern Poverty Law Center (hell yeah, Grandma!).

Much of the family had a role in the funeral. Each of Grandma’s four kids were present and spoke, told stories or performed short readings. One of my cousins arranged the music. And so many people pitched in to handle all of the little details and logistics. My paternal aunt and uncle put us up at their home and drove us around. Grandma’s friends brought food. Her friend, Rosemary, gave a wonderfully happy and spirited eulogy. After the funeral we had a short graveside service that consisted of my mom reading a letter that had arrived for Grandma after she passed away, with the author fully aware that it might arrive when it did (oh, the tears!), a brief Bible reading from the practicing Catholic son, and this reading by Samuel Butler:

Continuance
I fall asleep in the full and certain hope
That my slumber shall not be broken;
And that, though I be all-forgetting,
Yet shall I not be all-forgotten,
But continue that life in the thoughts and deeds
Of those I have loved.

It was good. I found joy in learning more about Grandma so that I could pay per a proper tribute on the day of the funeral. I had the honor of helping to ensure that my family felt that they had a chance to pay her a proper tribute.

I love you Grandma.

A portrait of Grandma De in her 50s

Betty Deleonardo
November 6, 1932 – April 3, 2016

I chose this for the printed program. It’s hard to go wrong with Ingersoll.

Mystery of Life
Before the sublime mystery of life and spirit,
the mystery of infinite space
and endless time, we stand in reverent awe…
This much we know:
we are at least one phase of the immortality of life.
The mighty stream of life slows on, and, in this mighty stream,
we too flow on…
not lost…but each eternally significant.
For this I feel: The spirit never betrays the person
who trusts it.
Physical life may be defeated but life goes on;
character survives,
goodness lives and love is immortal.
– Robert G. Ingersoll

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Calling Bull on Service Trips https://the-orbit.net/biodork/2016/03/26/calling-bull-service-trips/ https://the-orbit.net/biodork/2016/03/26/calling-bull-service-trips/#comments Sat, 26 Mar 2016 22:37:23 +0000 http://the-orbit.net/biodork/?p=12729 The post Calling Bull on Service Trips appeared first on Biodork.

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I read an article last week that made me really uncomfortable. Because, dang it, I fall right into the population that the article is calling out.

In her December 2015 article 7 Reasons Why Your Two Week Trip To Haiti Doesn’t Matter: Calling Bull on “Service Trips”, Michelle Lynn Stayton points out that “helping” isn’t synonymous with long-term solutions to the problems that local populaces are facing. And that wanting to help isn’t the same as actually helping. And that spending a buttload of money to travel to somewhere new and exciting under the guise of “service” is a load of self-aggrandizing hooey.

It’s another in-your-face call out of voluntourism, and a decently-referenced one; Stayton links to supporting articles and reputable sources on the topic that I won’t reproduce here.

I’ve never taken a service trip, but I imagine that I’d feel pretty proud of myself for many of the wrong reasons that Stayton spells out. I would justify it like this: “Hey, I want to go on an adventure and see new parts of the world. I’m going to spend the money anyway, so why not do some work that could make a difference along the way?”

I think that, in and of itself, might actually be okay IF I did the research beforehand to make sure that I was working with a reputable aid organization that first and foremost served the needs of the local population in a responsible and sustainable manner. IF I made sure that I wasn’t endangering or exploiting the people that I would be working for.  IF I was realistic about the effects that my volunteerism would have on the population and region.

Of course, if I did all that, I’d perhaps come to the conclusion that the money spent on my theoretical service trip would be better spent as a check, and that if I want to see the world I should go on a vacation.

I’m friends with an American man who currently resides near Belize City, BZ.  He had this to say about voluntourism in his area:

We see lots of large groups that come to Belize to paint schools or build churches. That $1000 they spend to come work for 5 to 10 days can employ a local person for 40 to 80 days.

On the main land a general labor [sic] makes $25 BZD ($12.5 USD) a day. On the Islands they make $50 BZD ($25 USD) a day. Minimum wage [is] $1.60 USD an hour….The locals can build a two bedroom home and deliver it for $15,000 USD. So if 15 people stayed home and donated the cash they could buy a family a home.

Belize is a particularly attractive place for many Americans to to visit because the local currency is set at 2:1 BZD:USD and English is the national language. And it’s freaking beautiful country that has an abundance of history, cultures, and environmental treasures. It’s also a country that has areas of enormous poverty and a developing infrastructure that’s not nearly as advanced as most first world countries. It’s a great place to vacation, and it’s a great place to support financially. Just…maybe not at the same time.

How we spend our money and how we contribute to the world are deeply personal things. How we balance our privileged position as citizens of prosperous first world countries and our knowledge that shit is real bad in other places (some of those places being within our own borders) is deeply personal. How we decide to “help” is deeply personal. I’m not judging your experience or your decisions. And I think that one can participate in useful service trips that have beneficial and sustainable effects.

But…

Articles like Stayton’s serve to remind me that what feels good and exciting and adventurous is not always the same as making a beneficial, sustainable difference. It reminds me that I need to dig deeper – do the research and examine my motivations for getting involved in causes, fundraisers, volunteer opportunities.

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Happy Spring! https://the-orbit.net/biodork/2016/03/20/happy-spring/ https://the-orbit.net/biodork/2016/03/20/happy-spring/#comments Sun, 20 Mar 2016 17:21:40 +0000 http://the-orbit.net/biodork/?p=12769 The post Happy Spring! appeared first on Biodork.

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Last weekend we were all it’s happy spring timey growing season!

Me and the neighbor kid kneeling at a raised bed garden, preparing the soil for the spring growing season. It looks warmish

Then yesterday morning we were all WTF just happened???

Early morning before dawn. Everything is covered with about an inch of snow. Tire tracks run through the street and the intersection is lit by a street light and the head lights of an oncoming car.

And today – the first day of Spring – is like, yo! Let’s have a picnic.

A sunny patio - picnic tables, a grill off to one side. Trees, green grass and a calm blue lake in the background.

Happy spring, Twin Cities!

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