Monday, October 10, 2016

"The system is rigged" is a lazy excuse.

The voters of the Democratic Party selected Hillary Clinton to be the nominee, not someone else.

The voters of the Republican Party selected Donald Trump to be the nominee, not someone else.

I sincerely believe that our democracy reflects our citizens and their priorities more than social media trends might imply. You don't like either of the candidates? Tough. You were *literally* outvoted. Time to make a compromise and face the fact that you can't have everything your way.

That's how our system works. The Constitution is literally one big compromise. Nobody got everything they wanted when it was ratified. This sentiment holds true today. Not everyone gets what they want all the time, because everyone wants different things.

The "system" can only shoulder so much of the responsibility. You can make an argument about gerrymandering or campaign finance, but when 28.5% of eligible voters participate in the primary, those arguments begin to lose credibility.

"The system is rigged" is a lazy excuse for not recognizing the necessity of compromise. Get off your high horse, and accept the divisive reality that is American politics. The system reflects the people who comprise it; both the voters and the elected officials.

I also sincerely believe that we'll move past this ugly time in our national conversation. The passion in this election reminds me that there are good people out there fighting to make this country and this planet a better place to live a life. That gives me hope.


Friday, August 21, 2015

First Friday of Teaching

Well, it sure has been too long since I've updated this blog.

Marie and I have kept busy over the last several months, and long story short, I accepted a job teaching World History and Government at Capital High School here in Santa Fe. And so I find myself now done with my first week.

I survived intact!

This photo sums it up - hanging out at Santa Fe Spirits on the evening of my first Friday, pretty tired, but enjoying life. A much better photo than if Marie had taken one of me grumbling in the morning this week. I'm sporting the Capital High turquoise school colors too, since Fridays are spirit week. Go Jaguars! 

This week was one of the busier weeks of my life, with lots of ups and a couple downs but nothing too bad or all too unexpected. I feel grateful for my past experiences working with high school kids and I love to be a part of a team again. While a wholly new experience, it brings to mind memories sometimes of YRUU, Key Service at CSU, Naturalists at Large, Camp Emerald Bay, and of course my days at Wheat Ridge High. 

Sending love out to everyone who inspired me along my path! Especially Marie. She made cheddar jalapeno sour cream biscuits this afternoon. Those help.

Saturday, May 2, 2015

AdiĆ³s, April

Hello blog, its been awhile, hasn't it?

At the beginning of 2015, Eric and I toasted to having a year that would be so much less busy and stressful than 2014 - without a wedding and honeymoon to plan, we reasoned, life would be a breeze! We'd finally have time to do all the things we wanted to do, see all the people we wanted to see, and relax.
You need the right snacks to properly relax.

HA. While 2015 has generally been kind to us, the month of April was a pretty intense reminder that, uh, stuff happens. Here's a list of some of the things we experienced in one short (but very long-seeming) month:
  • Eric's beloved truck broke (like, for good)
  • At work, we turned in a humongous funding proposal and subsequently received some funding (!!!)
  • Also at work, we found out that the building our office has been in for the last 12 years was sold and we had to move out by the end of the month; in four weeks we found a new office space, packed, and moved, all well mostly keeping business operations running
  • We went to Colorado for 36 hours for Eric's parent's band's album release party and to celebrate Eric's grandparents' birthdays (which are only two days apart!); we also had brunch with my brother on the way down
  • We celebrated Zeezy's 4th birthday/having him as the best pet ever for two years
  • We found a new favorite cookie recipe
  • Eric started planting our garden (and I occasionally helped out with weeding) and has been very busy at his job with the gardens in the park and the volunteers he manages 
  • Also, back in March, I decided it would be fun to take a Spanish class through our local community college's continuing education program while at the same time working full-time and coaching with Girls on the Run once a week (in hindsight, that seems ambitious); all those time commitments continued on into April*
 So anyway, we have been BUSY, and stressed, and sometimes despaired and sometimes pretty dang content with life, but all the while longing for a few days where we could just be lazy and boring.

Yesterday, to celebrate the end of the wild month that was April, we went out for dinner, drinks, and a movie. It was nothing fancy; we went to a restaurant where we had a coupon, I ate a pulled pork sandwich at a remarkable speed, and we saw the new Avengers movie. I drank a margarita and wore a dress without tights for the first time this year. It was amazingly low-key and fun, and now we have a weekend with great weather and relatively few plans.

So, cheers to May, which we are optimistically (but cautiously) hoping will include a little more relaxation.

* MAJOR shout-out to Eric for letting me (and even encouraging me to) have kind of a hectic weekday schedule these last couple months. He's been making some amazing dinners and bringing bunches of lilacs home after work and overall being an awesome partner. Seems like that whole marriage thing was a good call! Here's a cute picture of him with Zeezy.

Sunday, February 1, 2015

Notes from January

Kind of hard to believe that the first month of 2015 is already over (and I'm still writing 2014 whenever I need to write the date). The first few months of any new year always make me feel impossibly ahead of schedule - like how can it be 2015 already?? And how is it possible that we just extended our lease until 2016? But since we haven't taken a ride in a DeLorean lately it seems like 2015 is really here, and we'll probably be used to it after a few more weeks.

So far 2015 is treating us pretty well; in the last month we've done a few noteworthy things.

Bosque del Apache

Eric's family had been to this wildlife reserve a few times during his childhood but I had never been, or even heard of it until we moved here. So we took advantage of the long weekend and drove south to see some birds. And did we ever! In addition to the famous sandhill cranes and snow geese that migrate there in the winter (mostly from Northern Alaska), we saw bald eagles (at least six, including some adolescents!), kestrels, a roadrunner, Canadian geese, and a coyote. And the reserve itself was beautiful. (I didn't get any good pictures of birds on my point-and-shoot camera but trust me, we saw them.)

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Space: The Next Frontier, But Certainly Not Final

Marie and I went to Mexico for a couple weeks in November. One of the many times we found ourselves looking out at the horizon line over the ocean, I wondered aloud why so many humans take comfort in looking at the ocean, why so many humans find solace in the unknown sea.

I thought about this for a while. I realized we are only a few generations removed from those who looked out at the ocean as an unknown world, foreign to our senses, our adaptations, and our knowledge.

Now, thanks to the TV show Planet Earth, metallurgy, and James Cameron, we know more than can fit in to our brains about the 2/3 of our planet that is underwater. The ocean represents a physical world that we can just barely touch, just barely experience, but just barely enough to know it and to learn from it. The ocean was (and currently is) the last great frontier for humans to explore on the planet.

Just as early explorers set out to know the oceans, we are setting our sights on space exploration, and I couldn't be more excited to live in this era.

I can't talk about my interest in space without mentioning my Dad. When I was in elementary school, he built this huge 8-foot-tall telescope. It looks like this:

Not actually my Dad's scope, but looks just like this one.
He'd set it up in the field at school and invite the class to come out at night and check out the sky. Some of my best memories of my childhood were going camping with my Dad in Fox Park, Wyoming. We'd load up the telescope and drive out to meet other astronomers quite literally in the middle of nowhere, and stay up until late walking around, gazing at the stars, nebulae, globular clusters, planets, and other celestial wonders. At home, he'd set it up in the middle of the street. Cars would stop by asking what it was... sometimes people even stopped for a look. I took this for granted at that age. Doesn't everyone's dad build a huge telescope and plop it down in the middle of the road?

My Dad, bringing the world a bit closer for my sister.
It was my Dad who unknowingly introduced me to Carl Sagan. When I was in high school, I remember he was putting together a box of books to take out for donation, and I grabbed "Pale Blue Dot" off the pile. I've read and reread it several times over since. Just this Christmas break, he took us all out in freezing weather over Christmas break to catch an amazing pass of the International Space Station.

It's easy to forget where we are. It's easy to forget how infinitesimal our place is in the universe. Understandably so, because we literally cannot comprehend the size of the universe let alone our own solar system. But it's also easy to forget because we have to consciously take a minute out of our daily lives, look up, and wonder.

This simple act of changing perspective, I believe, is deeply embedded in our consciousness. It's why we evolved. It drives us to explore. It's what we feel, standing at the ocean shore. No other life form that we know of exhibits inquisitiveness and curiosity to this degree. We constantly are exploring and learning, just for the sake of it. Exploration makes us human.

This may not be a revolutionary realization, and it should be noted that I am not a scientist. I'm more of a daydreamer. And my scientist friends out there may shake their heads at my probable lack of understanding of the true nature of the industry. But I truly believe that we, as a nation, need to find the passion that John F. Kennedy ignited when he announced our lunar ambitions. I think the world needs more daydreamers to push the industry in the direction we want it to go.

With that being said, critiques of NASA often include worries that we shouldn't be sending our money in to space. (As if space exploration isn't awesome enough.) Those arguments don't hold water in my mind. NASA and their contractors also innovate and create new technologies that greatly improve our society here on the ground. Power drills, firefighting technology, memory foam, solar panels, water purification systems, and artificial limbs, to name just a few advances resulting from space exploration and related endeavors. And they do it all on a shoestring budget.

The Department of Defense is the one of, if not the greatest driver of scientific innovation today. And often, the interests of organizations often overlap; many contractors who work with NASA make their bread and butter through defense contracts. It's a fine balance between the two diametrically opposed forces of exploration and destruction.
"And yet we’ve always had an odd standard for judging the cost and the value of manned space exploration. As it happens, the cost to run and sustain the Space Station is about the same as the cost to run a single U.S. Navy aircraft-carrier battle group. We have 10 aircraft carriers at sea, with two more under construction. And while an aircraft carrier at sea is a hive of nonstop activity, that activity is arguably just as circular as what goes on in space. It involves maintenance and routine operations and practice for fighting that most likely will never happen." The Atlantic

Isn't that the great irony of the space industry? With the ongoing face-off between exploration and destruction, I wish I had the power to tip the scales.

I know who does have the power. Unfortunately, it's a lot of people; a critical mass of citizens telling their leaders where our priorities should lie. Fortunately, space exploration has universal appeal. Space has awoken the imaginations in every culture in every part of human history. Now we have the power to explore it.

We were bounded only by the Earth, and the ocean, and the sky. The open road still softly calls.
- Carl Sagan

Saturday, January 3, 2015

2014: the year we got married

2014 was a pretty great year for the Brayden-Schow family - we traveled internationally, explored New Mexico, accomplished some great personal goals... oh, and we got married!

That was pretty big. And it's been on our minds a lot this week, since we've been looking over our wedding pictures and picked some to put in a frame (which is maybe the most adult thing we did in 2014). And we watched our wedding video for the first time.

A whole lot of the last year was spent planning our wedding - in fact, a year ago today we were sleeping in the back of Eric's truck across the street from the Hyde Memorial State Park office so we could reserve our date before anyone else. And once we had our date and venue, we started planning in earnest, and kind of didn't stop until the day before our wedding.

Sunday, December 21, 2014

The Best Day of Our Honeymoon

Two weeks ago, Eric & I got back from our honeymoon - two fun, fascinating, adventure-packed weeks in Mexico. Neither of us had ever been to Mexico and we loved it and want to go back as soon as possible.

December is usually my favorite month of the year, in large part because with my birthday and various holiday festivities it always feels magical and celebratory and exciting. In the weeks since we've been back it's been a little hard to focus on those feelings because of various small stressors in our personal lives and because of some awful, depressing, soul-crushing current events from the last couple of weeks.

In an effort to relive some happier memories - and because people have asked about the trip and I have been too busy to put all our pictures and stories on the internet - here is the story of the best day we had on our honeymoon.