Daphne 3.0

Basking in mediocrity since 2004.


More updates from Belize

December 3, 2009

This morning we met with Belize Natural Energy and got a tour of the first company to find oil in Belize. In the afternoon we drove to the Belize Zoo. It was the coolest zoo. Ever. I got to hold a boa constrictor! She was very nice and only a little creepy. It was 9000 degrees and I was sweating my ass off. Again. I actually felt sweat rolling down my legs during the tour. We got the VIP tour of the zoo with the director. She let us feed the animals and pet some of them. I got to feed a tapir and macaws. The zoo is small but really cool. The animals are very happy there. We met a jaguar that would do tricks for food. Another jaguar would roll over and give you a high-five on command. I got to tell him to roll over! And he did!

December 4, 2009

Best. Day. So. Far.

We survived the 6 hours in the car today but it was rough! We drove on a dirt/rock/pocketed road for 1/2 of it. Lot's of jostling around. But the drive was worth it! We arrived at Caracol, the Maya "center of the universe" and got a tour from one of the park rangers. Halfway through, Rafael, an archeologist joined us and started telling even more neat facts.

The ruins are in the Chiquibul National Forest and Reserve. They've only excavated about 2-5% of the ruins. The reserve is about 260K acres, the forest is about 140K acres, and the site of the ruins used to be home to about 100-150,000 Maya during the height of the Maya period. There are currently 300K people in Belize today, so the Maya used to equal half that. These ruins were so cool! I got to climb to the top of the biggest one -- it took several puffs of my inhaler to get all the way up. I was sweating buckets, out of breath and my legs were killing me from all the stairs. And these weren't regular stairs. They are larger that average stairs. Giant stairs. Made for Maya Giants.

The two awesome things that happened today were:
1. We got to see howler monkeys in wild. I took pictures, but the monkeys were about 200 feet up, so we'll see how they turn out.
2. A dog joined us on our hike and stayed with us the whole time. I named him Pedro. Soon the whole group was calling him Pedro. At one point, one of the other students asked me how I knew his name. Ha!

December 5, 2009

We went cave tubing today. It was amazing. I tried to capture it on camera but it was really dark in there! Afterwards, we got to jump off a cliff into the river below. I jumped twice.

I'll post December 6 in a separate post. It's a long one. (That's what she said.)


Belize Baby!

Greetings from the Jungle! I'm in Belize for 10 days for my Leadership course. Interestingly enough, we don't have cell service here - BTL has a monopoly on signals - but we have wifi. In. The. Middle. Of. The. Rainforest. Really. We're required to keep and submit a journal at the end so I thought I'd post some of my entries for you all. (I can't seem to upload photos, the wifi signal can't support it for some reason.) Some are more academic than others, so I'll try to only post the fun ones. Try.

November 29, 2009
Tomorrow morning I leave for Belize on my travel course. I’m filled with both excitement and anxiety. Excitement for the travel and learning opportunity. Anxious for the big unknown. I’ve forgotten how much work it takes to get ready to travel and it’s double that when you’re traveling for 10 days to another country. It seemed so much easier when I was an exchange student in high school. (Then again, everything was easier in high school.) Now, at 35, I’ve got dogs to take to the sitter, bills to pre-pay, mail to put on hold, a house to clean, work to tie up and, then, get ready to travel. I’ve been checking the weather, reading the required readings and catching up on Belizean history. Like most countries, it’s history is much more complex once you start reading about it. Belize has always been on my “dream” countries list and now I’m finally traveling there. It’s even better that I’m traveling not as a tourist but as a scholar.

November 30, 2009
The flight from Houston to Belize City isn’t full so there is a little more room than my first flight this morning, where were packed into the seats like sardines. There is an excitement on the plane as everyone is in good spirits waiting to land. I sat next to a man on my first flight who had been to Belize before. He had mostly positive things to say about the experience, mostly about boating up and down the islands. His only negative comment was the conditions in Belize City. I can’t help but wonder about the property laws in Belize. The history reading didn’t quite answer the question of what the laws are now. In my Essence of Enterprise class we read De Soto’s Five Mysteries of Capital. He described why Western property laws don’t always work in developing nations due to culture, history, bias, religion, lack of education, etc. But he also stated, and I believe, that the way out of poverty is tied to access to capital, to land, to saving money. I also believe that the way out of poverty is education. I understand that in the history of Belize public education was lacking or prohibited. I wonder what the policy is now? The article about science in Belize suggests that there aren’t enough role models or access to science in higher education. These seem like basic questions, and they nag at me.

I got to meet a few of the students at the airport. They seem like nice kids. I say ‘kids’ without being condescending. I’m 17 years older than them. But we still got along just fine. We’re all in this together. Even if we have nothing else in common, we have that.

We arrived in Belize City about 1/2 hour late due to plane maintenance in Houston. Once on the ground in BZE, it took forever to get through customs – they had one officer checking everyone out – and I had to show my passport three times. Then we had to drive for 2 hours to our eco-friendly resort/conference center in the middle of the rainforest. They served us a yummy dinner of rice and beans, chicken in some sort of yum-o sauce, fried plantains and some weird potato/egg/pea salad (it was good tho).

I'm already sticky from the humidity. We can't use hairdryers here so I'm going to be au natural for 6 days, maybe all 10. They are 100% solar powered and hairdryers use too much energy. There is only one plug in our whole cabin. Yay frizzy hair!

Tomorrow we drive to Galen University meet with some college students. Hopefully we’ll also stop at a store because I found something to take back for stocking stuffers already – Marie Sharp's Comatose Level Hot Sauce.

Oh, Belikin Beer is the name of the Belizean beer. It's like Coors if Coors had no competitors in the US. Kind of like going to Golden. Paul says it tastes better than Red Stripe. Not sure if that's a compliment or not. ;)

I'm going to try to get some sleep tonight to the sounds of the jungle.

December 1, 2009
It rained last night pretty hard and we've got tin roofs in the cabins. Needless, it was really loud! It's also really loud in the jungle from all the sounds of bugs and monkeys and what ever else is out there. Three exciting things happened today:

1) This morning at breakfast they served eggs, beans, papaya, Johnny cakes and the biggest avocados I've ever seen! I wanted to take a picture but thought I'd look like a dork. Now I regret not. So tomorrow if they have them again I'll take a picture. I have to wonder how big the tree is on which they grew.
2) We visited Galen University outside of San Ignacio. It’s a small, newer university focusing on sustainability issues. They provide dual degrees with the University of Indianapolis. Everyone was very friendly and welcoming. It was funny being seen as the "international" students after being around all the ones we have at DU. We had two presentations from professors and one from a representative from PACT. I found it both surprising and sad that in a country as beautiful as this that there are no environmental laws and/or the preservation laws they have are not properly enforced. It reminded me of the scene in Pale Rider when Clint Eastwood’s character visits the strip mining camp and has a disgusted look on his face as they blast the hillside with water to mine it. When we get to BNE on Thursday I will ask them about mitigation and reclamation on the oil wells, as well as capping natural gas wells – they currently let them burn off, emitting harmful chemicals by the ton, no doubt.
3) On the way back from the university one of our vans was rear-ended, which resulted in us waiting around forever for the Belmopan PD to show up and a drive to the police station to give an official statement. Luckily, the van I was in wasn't hit so we were allowed to go back to our "home base," the conference center and get dinner. While we were waiting, the mayor of Belmopan pulled up to see what we were up to. So we got to meet the mayor, the PD and the locals, all in one traffic accident.

December 2, 2009
I'm working on my entry for today... let's just say we were sweating our asses off and then we went to the sea.

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Powering through

I just finished the fall quarter and am enjoying a short break before my interterm class starts. Fall was stressful and as I turned in my project on Friday, a huge weight lifted off my shoulders. This project was 100% of my grade and I spent 10 weeks on it. I think I did OK but I'm really just too tired of worrying about it that I don't care. I do care, but I don't care right now.

Interterm is going to rock my socks off... I'm leaving on Monday for Belize. Central America. A dream come true. Or one of them at least. Just when I paid the last part of the program fee I learned that the course was downgraded from a 3000-level course to a 2000-level course. I'm at 4000-level with my master's, so a 2000-level is questionable for credit. Now I have to apply for an exception so it will count toward my degree. If it doesn't, I'm sure I'll get over it, but I really won't be happy. I was counting on these 4 credits for my degree and without them, I have to take yet another class on top of the two I'm already taking sometime between now and June.

However, this is the least of my worries right now. I'm going to Belize in a week. What's not to like? My worries right now swirl around Ace, my mental health and my physical fitness. The last nine months have been killer at work and school. There just isn't enough time in the day to take care of everything and everyone. I let exercise slip off the priority list and now I'm paying for it. Ace keeps acting like a woman, always asking me "where is this thing going" and telling me that I'm "not ready for a serious relationship." I always love it when people make up your mind for you. I really love it when I'm the one acting the guy in the relationship.

Then there was the ER visit. Long story short, I fell and hit my head. When I came to, the paramedics were there and forced me to go to a hospital I didn't want to go to (one my insurance won't pay for). They shot me up with sedatives and delivered me into a nightmare. I was restrained, stripped and injected with even more drugs while at the ER. They tell me I got a concussion, but I think I was mostly pissed off that I was begging for someone to help me but no one would listen. I'll never watch medical dramas the same way. Tonight I decided to stop bitching about how I was treated and do something about it. I've started making contact with the ambulance company and patient advocates at the hospital. I'm not going quietly into the good night on this one. H-E-double hockey sticks, no.

As a result of the concussion, I've been operating with 80% brain power for the last several weeks. Makes it hard to finish a project and go to work without falling asleep at one's desk. But somehow I made it through. The only thing that kept me going was Belize. Ahhhh, Belize.

Nevermind the $1700 for the ER and $800 for the ambulance, I'm going to Central America. Where malaria pills are highly recommended. And it's 70 degrees. In December.

The only question now is, which swimsuit should I take? Answer: all of them.


Single Mom

Do you have a "dream travel" list? I do. Countries like the Czech Republic, Greece, Cuba, Belize, and oh, everywhere, make my list. So when I found a class that lets me go to Belize and get 4 credits toward my degree, I jumped on it. The catch is that I'll be gone for 11 days and will need a dog sitter. With plenty of notice, I asked my ex to care for them. I thought, wrongly it would seem, that he would help. Because, you know, he wanted to keep them when we got divorced. Then, after a few months went by, he didn't want them as much, but said he'd watch them if I needed it.

Then, I got this email on Friday:
I'm really sorry but I will not be able to watch the dogs this time. I am planning to be in Vegas visiting the fam for Thanksgiving and won't be back before you leave. In fact I would prefer to be moved down the list of potential dog-sitters if you don't mind. This is very difficult for me because I do love them, but a lot of things are changing for me and it's just no longer comfortable or convenient for me to take them on, especially for such a long stretch as two weeks. I might be able to take them for a few days around Christmas/New Year's, but I can't commit right now.

There are a million different possible responses to an email like this. I really wanted to go to snark, 'cus that's what I do best. Here are my options:

1. I will make other arrangements from now on. You won't be inconvenienced again. Maybe I'll text you when Rocky dies. Maybe not. I'd hate to make it uncomfortable for you.
2. Oh, yes, I totally understand. Two weeks is such a long time. Why, I don't know how I possibly handle it for all the weeks in a row that I've had them.
3. Once again, I am so flippin' happy that we never had children together.

In the end, I think it's best to go with passive aggressive-infused guilt.

At first I was really upset. How dare he drop this crap on me when I'm working, going to school, being a single dog mom, and trying to have a life? Then I had a moment of clarity... I can take care of this on my own. I have been all this time. There are gobs of people more than willing to help me. My friends, people who care about me, are here to help. As a backup, I had the vet give them a bordatella shot yesterday just in case I need to board them. My brother and sister-in-law are going to let them stay at their farm, so it's all going to work out. This really is a blessing in disguise. Really. Now I never have another reason to see my ex again. I can finally let go of that part of my life. Let go of that person I used to be.

I think I'll celebrate by going to Belize.

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School Daze

Classes started a few weeks ago, but, I'll admit, I really haven't been "doing" anything constructive with my class. It's a directed study class so I'm never required to be in class, or do any homework, or really produce any product of notable value. Except an Integrated Marketing Communications Campaign for an actual company. Bahh, I can knock that out in a weekend, right?

Instead of doing homework, I've been engaged in a 10 1/2 week weight off challenge with Ace. (Yes, I know, he's still around. What can I say? He's delish.) We're locked in a head to head challenge over who can lose the most weight by Nov 29, before I leave the country for Belize for 10 days. Truth is, I just want some motivation to get in shape for my bikini-wearing-snorkeling trip in Belize. Oh yeah, that... going to Belize for a class. Gosh, if I wasn't me, I'd totally hate myself right now.

It occurred to me today that I moved almost a year ago. One year of Daphne 3.0. One of these days I'll post my greatest hits of the last year. Or memoir's. Or something.


Hi def nunnery

The AV Club had it's inaugural movie night last night with the big screen. It's a nice talking picture. We watched Seven Pounds. I really didn't like the movie (even though it was good) because I was confused the entire time. I don't like feeling confused.

I must say, I do like the gov't mandated digital conversion. Fortunately, I get great over-the-air reception. The new digital antenna picks up 30 channels. Most of them in Spanish and/or talking about little baby Jesus. I get MTV 3, which is in Espanole. There's one channel that always has a nun on it. She just stares at the camera and says something under her breath. It gives me the creeps. It's one of the channels with the best reception so sometimes I watch it just because it comes in clearer than Fox.

After 10 months without one, it's kind of weird having a TV again. I spent some decent money on it so I feel compelled to have it on. When I saw the nun show, I immediately I requested Mad Men and How I Met Your Mother on DVD from the library. They can't come soon enough.


Watch pots never boil, people.

Sooo, I've been away awhile. Doing dog knows what. Mostly working. We're making a new website at work and it's been a little overwhelming. I also have been doing things like saving lives (it's true), camping and working off the 10 lbs of work stress-related eating I've done since beginning the above referenced website.

First: Camping
Ace and I went camping last weekend. It was glorious. You wanna know why? There are no websites to make when you're camping. I know, I tried. Nor are there cell phones (little scary at first, but you get used to it). There are also no websites to make when you're hiking. Or mountain biking. Or making s'mores by the fire.

We went to the area south of Rabbit Ears Pass, near Steamboat. It was so, so, so beautiful that my eyeballs are still crying for having to look anything else now. I was a little happy to get back to civilization, just so I could use running water again. You never know how much you miss it (and making websites) until you don't have it anymore.

Second: Saving Lives
I was swimming in a duathlon this week when I came up on a guy who was not doing well in the water. One thing leads to another and I'm pulling him up from under the water just before the emergency people got to us. I feel good and all for saving someone, but I lost 5 minutes off my time and was kind of pissy about that. (At least it helps me move from driving the bus to hell to just riding on it.)

Third: Making Websites aka Dealing with Dumb People
We're redeveloping our entire site (all 1000 pages of it) from scratch and I get to proof read all of it. I also get to interact with some of our institutions best and brightest minds. My favorite line of the day today was, ahem:

Me: I don't think we should post students' home contact information on our website because it is a legal liability and violates privacy laws.

Dept. Secretary(!): Oh, it's OK, the students have said that we can post it. How else will people find them?

(Like the stalker who wants to hunt down one of our students and murder him/her in their sleep? Yeah, how else would they find them? Hey, maybe not through our website! Let the crazies work a little harder to find it.)

For the record, I have nothing against secretaries (and yes, that is her official title), I just have something against people that don't see the bigger picture and get mad at you when you point out that they are breaking the law. But that's just me.

As you can see, I'm living the dream here. So much so that I don't have time to post how exciting my life is. Somedays even twitter is too much content for me to update. Yes, I'm that sad.