My Wildlife Expedition in Jackson Hole

Ever wondered what it’s like to get up close and personal with bison? And a dynamic bald eagle duo? And a nursing baby mountain goat? In this post I wrote for the wonderful Jackson Hole Traveler, I spill all the beans about what it’s like to encounter wildlife at close range in their beautiful natural setting. I wish I could go back to Jackson Hole and Yellowstone now, but re-reading this article will have to do! Enjoy.

My Wildlife Expedition in Jackson Hole

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Photo Credit: Latham Jenkins

Your Sunglasses Are Not Disruptive Technology

The other day I was thumbing through an issue of Wired, when I stumbled upon a sunglasses ad claiming that their product was TOTALLY DISRUPTIVE.

Actually, I didn’t do any stumbling at all. The ad – all 3, unnecessary pages of it – stumbled upon me and out onto the floor, and then wouldn’t fold back neatly into the magazine, and I had to go through the same thing every time I opened the magazine.

1. Yards of Advertising

It seems like these days every company has a “disruptive” or a “revolutionary” product to sell. As a copywriter, I thought I could help clarify what these terms actually mean, since there seems to be so much confusion. Accordingly, I’ve put together a little checklist you can use when deciding whether or not they’re appropriate for your product.

2. Checklist 13. Is It Dominoes4. Is It Sunglasses5. Companies Should Innovate6. Save it7. PB & J rocket

The Totally-Not-Texting-Acceleration

Texting while driving is a real pet peeve of mine – and yes, I’m talking to you, person who thinks they’re somehow more adept at it than other people (you’re not, I know because you’re human and humans have trouble eating pizza while typing, let alone driving at 80 MPH and typing away at a tiny touchscreen keyboard). But there’s an aspect of texting and driving that no one ever talks about, and I think it deserves a little attention.

I call it the Totally-Not-Texting-Acceleration.

You know what I’m talking about – probably because you do it. The Totally-Not-Texting-Acceleration has several stages.

1. Pulling Up to the Stop Sign2. Texting the Day Away3. Good to go!4. Runners5. Car Lineup 6. Well, Fuck It7. TOTALLY NOT TEXTING!8. PSA

Dogs Snooze in the Darndest Places

This is Miri. Smiling By the Couch   We love Miri a lot, and of course want to provide her with the best things in life. That’s why, when her bed was recently puked on and a round in the washing machine only made it ten times worse, we decided to replace it with something that better demonstrated our love for her. And so we got her an expensive, plush bed, with many cozy nooks and crannies and…a removable cover, for all subsequent pukings. But much to our surprise, Miri had her own ideas about comfort. Below, a depiction of Miri’s sleep choices.Where Miri Could Sleep2. Where Miri Does Sleep Very well, Miri. You keep on keeping on right on that hardwood floor you love so well. We’ll take the money we save on dog beds and spend it on treats. We will spoil you somehow, however you may resist. Deal?

The Three Stages of Reality Show Addiction

In certain circles of society, admitting that you watch reality shows is akin to saying casually, “My mind is a soft jelly – best served cold!”

On one level, I agree wholeheartedly with that statement. And yet, even though they’re vehicles for the worst human behavior, there’s something strangely addicting about reality shows, in all of their vapid, cheesy glory. Perhaps it’s the easy access to over the top drama, or the idea that we can all be Andy Warhol’s brand of famous one day, or maybe it’s just a good case of schadenfreude. Whatever it is, there’s a reason why the genre is so popular.

For me, though, I find I can only watch reality shows when I am in a very particular place in my life. I’ll go months without watching them, and then I’ll gorge myself until I’m sick. It is a quick but intense addiction cycle, that looks a little bit like this.

1. Stage 1- Catharsis2. Stage 2- Building Stress3. Stage 3- Avaricious Never Good Enough4. Stephen Enters the Scene5. Smash the Electronics6. Moral of the Story

A Dog’s Map of the World

Growing up with two border collies, walks with a dog to me always meant focus and intensity. To border collies, a walk is work — and you don’t mess around with work, unless the need arises to herd your people together or to ensure bike and stroller tires don’t get too uppity.

And then we adopted Miri.

Miri Selfie

As you probably can tell, Miri is part border collie, but she is also Great Pyrenees, Akita, Sharpei and a whole bunch of other things (or so the test we paid way too much for said). Perhaps it’s because she was found starving in a field, or perhaps it’s a trait found in one of the other breeds she’s got mixed in there, but walks for Miri are far less about work and far more about finding food in even the most unlikely corners of our neighborhood. And by food, I mean something she can chew, which may or may not actually be edible.

This means our walks are always entertaining. Often, I play the, “Is this the pre-poop sniff or the about to eat something that will require gastrointestinal surgery sniff” game, as well as the also fun, “Guessing what she’s sniffing in dim light” game. Winners, both of them.  Never a big fan of yard work myself, I have come to hate people who leave their grass long and don’t rake their leaves, for these are Miri’s “Mystery Grab Bags.” Down her nose will go, disappearing deep into a pile of decomposing leaves, only to reemerge with a dead bird carcass or worse, moldy fast food. Even higher on my hate list are homeowners who, for some reason I cannot even begin to discern, discard chicken bones — chicken bones! — on their lawns, as if that’s the most natural place for them. And don’t get me started on the people who discard their jackets just because it gets hot. I shudder to think what lies beneath those earth toned folds.

But worst yet is the map she keeps in her mind. Sure, I might avert chicken bone disaster one day by jerking her away just in time or even pulling bits and pieces out of her mouth, and I might even continue to do so for several days forward. But one day, I will be distracted crossing the road, absorbed in a podcast, or talking to a friend, and Miri will pull the map up in her mind (“From: Miri’s Current Location, To: Thing She Shouldn’t Eat”) and before I know it, that octopus leg/rodent carcass/bag of chips has disappeared, never to be seen again (if we’re lucky).

This is my best attempt at rendering a mockup of Miri’s Map of the World:

 

\Miri's Map of the World 1

 

Naturally, it changes with the help of racoons, who dutifully scatter garbage across the neighborhood, and with the addition of new carcasses, which other animals drag into the most highly trafficked areas (how polite!). The only thing I can do is update my own map as frequently as possible and hope that one day leash training is more than that thing Cesar Milan says. In the meantime, I think it’s time for Miri’s walk.

COMIC ALERT: Top 5 Jobs for Liberal Arts Grads (Pro Tip: Learn to Love Kittens)

As you may or may not know, I spend a good portion of my days helping eager students apply to college and graduate school through my business, Just Start Storytelling. More often than not, my graduate applicants apply to science, business or technical programs because, you know, there are actual jobs available in the those industries. I am amazed on a regular basis at how many interesting niche programs there are, and find myself wishing I could apply too.

However, as someone who has made extensive study both of the Sciences and of the Humanities, sometimes I’m a little concerned that more Liberal Arts grads aren’t finding their way into graduate degrees. Even more worrisome is the perception in the mass media that a Liberal Arts degree will land you back in your parents’ basement, working fast food jobs until you’re 50 just to pay for mom and dad’s heating bills. As someone who spent a long time searching for her own post-collegiate career path, I can tell you that this is absolutely false. In fact, if you’re willing to invent your own job, there is a world of job possibilities out there for any hardworking Liberal Arts grad. You just have to know how to do one thing: mix and match adjectives and nouns. That’s right, it’s Invent Your Career Via Random Word Generator!

From “Professional Hemp Baker” to “Extraordinary Leaf Pruner” and everything in between, there are many excellent options. Don’t believe me? Just take a look at my top 5 picks below. (To make this read extra fun, see if you can guess which ones I actually encountered when I was first began my desperate search for employment so many years ago).

1. Kitten Dialysis Operator2. Professional Measurer3. Passive Aggressive Security Guard4. Random Knowledge Generator5. Fungineer

So you see, all you have to do is shove a few adjectives together and you’re good to go! Don’t you feel so much better? I know I sure do! But seriously folks, I actually do believe you’re well-qualified to do so many jobs with a liberal arts degree, as long as you get a little inventive. I detail a few of these paths for writers in this old post up on Write By Night, but there is so much more you can do than just that. So if you’re seeking to apply those skills somewhere, don’t give up hope!

P.S. Have you guessed which job (other than the Fungineer one, because that’s obvious), I actually encountered in my hunt post-grad school? Give it a guess in the comments below!