Finland

2013 is going to be an extremely busy year for me. Not only is it the third year for my newly founded charity, Snagging Baseballs for Puppies, but I’m also donating some of my personal time to help out at the Seattle Humane Society shelter. It’s a six month committment. Basically, I’ll be walking the dogs on the campus. When I was recruiting in Alton, Illinois, I volunteered at the local shelter and did the same thing. It’s actually great therapy for me and it’s great for the pups because they get that time out of the shelter and with human interaction.

Before all this can happen the Seattle Humane Society has set up a quick orientation to familiarize volunteers with the shelter, the animals, policy and procedures and what they expect. It’s a great way to get to know the volunteers, meet the staff, and start an awesome experience volunteering at the shelter. They also have a jog-with-the-dog program. But since the Army left me unable to run, I won’t be doing any of that.

So what’s all of this got to do with Finland, you ask? Well, I’m about to tell you. I recently wrote up a blog entry about my future endeavors on travel plans, charity involvement, etc. You can click here and read all about it. I had plans to travel to Egypt. Since there is mass protesting and a lot of fighting going on over there, the U.S Government has put out an advisory for U.S citizens to avoid leisure travel there. Good god, so now what? The middle east is practically off-limits and I really don’t have a huge desire to travel to Europe mainly because there are a lot of terrorist sleeper cells hiding out in those countries and a lot of Americans always travel to Europe for vacation. I’d like to take a trip and avoid seeing very many Americans while I’m in country.

I’ve decided on Finland. Before I get into a long, drawn out explanation about my trip to Finland, I also have other plans. My trip to Finland may not happen for another year or so. Now that I have this six month obligation to the Seattle Humane Society, right after that ends, I’ll hopefully be boarding the Sea Shepherd to head out into the Pacific ocean to hunt Japanese whaling boats with an outstanding crew of volunteers. More importantly, in the fall of 2014, I’ll be teaming up with a new friend of mine and we will be heading to the Cove in Taiji, Japan to help the Sea Shepherd Cove Guardian crew.   If you haven’t heard of what’s happening in Taiji, Japan, you really should watch The Cove documentary. It’s about Japanese fisherman that launch boats and chase Rossi dolphin pods into the Cove and slaughter them for human consumption. Since I’m passionate about animals, well, I’d like to engage these fisherman and help stop this type of stuff.

So back to the whole Finland trip. I decided on Finland because the Helsinki airport is approximately 187 miles from St. Petersburg, Russia. Here, take a look:

The red line is a direct flight I can take into Russia. Or I can take the purple line via alternate transportation (whatever that might be) to my destination. There are plenty of small towns, hotels, and great places to visit along the way. I don’t really have a plan on how to exactly get to St. Petersburg, but I do know this; I want to cross into Russia on foot. That’s all I want to do. And, of course, see lots of St. Petersburg. Right now I’m working on learning basic phrases in Russian so I don’t look like a total idiot when I’m visiting.

 

Advertisements

Adventures

I’ve met a lot of interesting people during my 32 years on this planet. And since I’ve been out of the U.S Army, I’ve been involved in charity work. I created a local charity called Snagging Baseballs for Puppies. So far, in the two years it’s been active, I’ve been able to raise just shy of $500 dollars for the local animal shelter in my area. Yeah, that’s not a lot. But it’s a lot more than you really think. $500 dollars can go along way for one or two animals regarding food.

I had this whole plan to fly to Egypt and see the Nile river. My intentions were to watch the great migration of the Wildebeest crossing the Nile that try to evade the resident crocodiles. I think it would be such an amazing thing to witness in person. The migration of the Wildebeest are so scattered, so I’d probably have to spend at least two weeks there to increase my chances of seeing such a thing.

Anyway. I’ve dealt with depression and loneliness since I’ve been out of the service. I spend entirely too much time by myself. At work, and at home. It’s partly my fault because I have quite a few people who have reached out to me and I’ve just ignored them because of some…reason. I can’t really put my finger on it. I guess it’s one of those things that I’ll have to discuss with my psychiatrist. The good news is this; I’ve met someone who is nearly on the same playing field as I am. I’m not going to go into a lot of details but I will mention that I can foresee a very respectable friendship blossoming.

A couple of years ago I watched this documentary about the slaughter of dolphins in Taiji, Japan. I recently took a trip to Tokyo to watch baseball in the Tokyo Dome, and it didn’t really occur to me how close I was to that area. I’d like to go back and help out. Since I’m big on charities and trying to save the world, I think this would be an awesome experience to help do some good. I’m contemplating a trip to join the Sea Shepherd crew to help fight the Japanese whalers that slaughter 20,000 different species of whales and dolphins a year:

Once the holidays wrap up and pass, I’ll be checking my schedule and joining one of the massive boats that sets sail on the open waters to stop the slaughter of those beautiful animals. I don’t really know how long I’ll be gone on that mission, I’m hoping at least two months. Once I return from that, I’ll be looking forward to a return trip to Japan. I’ll be headed to Taiji to the Cove to help battle on the front lines to save dolphins from inhumane slaughter.

In the meantime, I’ll still be working my way around the United States to see a live baseball game in every pro baseball stadium. You can read all about those adventures in my baseball blog. The two Sea Shepherd missions and the trip to Egypt (when they happen) will be featured in this blog site.

Every year I’d like to go somewhere in the world I’ve never been. I’d like to eventually visit Russia, South Korea, Denmark, and New Zealand. Among other places, of course. When I was in Germany I wish I would’ve traveled more. I saw a lot of the country but it was mostly in a drunken haze. I’d actually like to go back and see Germany without all the alcohol induced fun and just see the country. I did make it to Austria for a brief moment. But again, drunk most of the time.

The next ten years of my life should be good. Traveling and seeing different parts of the world has become so important for me. I want to see the world. It gives me a sense of accomplishment to leave the United States and travel abroad. It gives me a sense of pride to meet new and interesting people, learn their culture, and survive in someone elses backyard. Let me tell you a quick story before I end this blog entry. When I planned my trip to Japan, I really had no game plan when I landed in country. I figured I’d be able to find someone who spoke english to help me navigate. Boy, was I wrong.

Luckily for me, when I flew out of Los Angeles, I sat next to a Japanese/American guy that lived in the same town as where I was staying. He let me use his wifi to look at a map, he told me some key phrases, and informed me to stay out of taxi cabs. He also told me if anything happens, if I get lost, just find the nearest police sub-station. They’re virtually on every street corner. It was fun being lost. When I got off the airplane, my next stop was boarding a train. I took the train to the city of Ueno. When I left the train station, I walked out onto the streets and instantly felt helpless. I was like, 3,000 miles away from home, my cellphone didn’t work, no one spoke english, and I didn’t know which way north was. I was literally lost in Japan,

How exciting, though! I ran into one english speaking native and an American. Both were no help at all. I asked nearly 25 taxi cabs where my hotel was (while pointing on a map) and not one of them could understand me but were so willing to help. I was truly grateful. Japanese people are very honest and strive to be of service if they can. It was very enlightening. Eventually, I found a lone taxi cab and gave it one last-ditch effort to ask where my hotel was. He spoke enough english to get me there and I gave him many thanks (in the Japanese culture, tips are considered unacceptable) for helping me. It was an experience of a life time and I’ll never forget it.

I hope to have many more experiences like that.

Minus Human

“Don’t you leave me Father Time
Take me with you
Tell me does your sun still shine
Come squeeze the world and drip it down my throat.
Down my throat again.

You got to breathe man, breathe!
Coming up for Air
Breathe man, breathe!
Coming up for Air

Touch me so I think I’m here
Skin my senses
Barely breathing
Minus Human
Please squeeze the world and drip it down my throat again
Down my throat again.”

I don’t want to be the dog at your back step anymore.

I want life to catch me in the wilderness and end this misery.

I want you life, to catch me.

I don’t want to be the dog at your back step anymore.

Catch me, life. Catch me and do with me what you will.

I want you life, to catch me.

All the things you’ve said to me.

Like a dog let back out into the rain.

Set me free. Set me free.

I want you life, to catch me.

Black Friday

I work retail security. I have ever since I was discharged out of the U.S Army. It’s not exactly the most rewarding job I’ve had but I get a level of accomplishment when I make a good apprehension on a large quantity of merchandise attempting to walk out of the department store. The hours suck, I’m working a lot of weekends and holidays because crime doesn’t take a day off. It’s a 13 billion dollar problem and I’m just one man trying to make a small dent in that figure.

The biggest complaint I have about working retail security is Black Friday. I can’t stand that day. And I don’t know if other countries have a Black Friday, but I think it should be banned. Only in America do people spend so much time standing in line for worthless crap. Only in America do people claim to be so thankful for all the shit in their house and lives and then set out 24 hours later to trample the shit out of each other over materialistic bullshit they could probably live without. I’m not against people coming out and spending money and buying cool trinkets and gadgets. And a lot of anti-Black Friday people want to shove the blame towards the big corporations by calling them greedy. Well, here’s how I look at it. I blame the consumer. If you schedule an appointment with someone for them to come to your door at midnight to give you $100 dollars and they call you the night before and tell you they’d like to re-schedule that appointment for 8pm that night instead, I’m sure you’d happily oblige them, right?

The main problem I have is the complaining. We had a problem with the television sets being sold. The department store I was working at during Black Friday only had a certain amount of tvs to be sold. There was a voucher system for those tvs that really didn’t work out. Tvs were sold to people who weren’t supposed to be buying, etc etc. It was chaos. Just as I had expected, though. When you cram that many people into one department area and have limited merchandise for everyone that wants one, that creates a problem. Black Friday sales never run smoothly. It’s not designed that way. It’s utter chaos.

A lot of the complaining I heard from people was just petty. It made me sick to my stomach mainly because I served a combat tour in Iraq and I know I still have brothers and sisters still in harm’s way in the middle east. I had one guy approach me and he was whining and crying about how long he’s been standing in line and all he wants is his tv. I wanted to smack the shit out of him. Truly, I did. What do these people expect? The store is over capacity. Everyone has been standing in line for hours. I’m supposed to have sympathy for people who stand in a line for hours (sometimes days on end) just to save a few bucks on some cheap piece of shit tv? I don’t think so.

One lady approached the store manager and told her “you better get me my Nook like the ad says. It would be in your best interest.” Are you fucking serious, lady?! It would be in your best interest? Who the hell do these people think they are? They’re spoiled, whiny, ungrateful Americans. That’s who they are. Black Friday brings out the worst in everyone. People bitching out sales associates, people cussing and crying about pointless crap…and it turns the associates into angry, bitter human beings. The whole thing is rigged to fail. Once one sales associate gets bitched out, they in turn, bitch out other associates and management that need help, thus upsetting the management because they feel disrespected by their own associates, which causes the management to fall apart. With customers going ape shit for no reason, the associates are now all upset, and nothing can run smoothly anymore.

What the fuck is the point in all of this? Are you that hard up for a tv that you have to show up at a retail store and embarrass yourself in front of thousands of people by throwing a child-like temper tantrum over what, a tv? Or a Nook? And what the fuck is a Nook anyway?! Someone please explain this horse shit madness to me. I recently bought a 42 inch Sanyo tv for $250 bucks. I went into the store like a normal human being at a reasonable hour and purchased the damn thing. You people who bought the $100 dollar tvs that they sold on Black Friday were literally scammed out of your money. Do you even know what a fucking Proscan is? It’s a knock off brand made by a big name Tv manufacturer like Toshiba or Sony specifically for Black Friday. It’s a junk tv. And your stupid ass stood in line for 8 hours, pitched a fucking fit over it all, and left the store with bullshit.

If you fucking morons wouldn’t line up at stores like idiots on Thanksgiving, we could all get a break with our families. Why can’t you Black Friday shoppers spend an entire day relaxing with your families or friends or just sitting on the couch doing nothing. Why do you have to always want shit? Why do you have to take away from others’ holiday because you want a cheap, piece of shit television? Why? I don’t understand.

Black Friday, for most, turns people into hateful, angry folks. For some, it’s a chance to get the things they want or need at discounted prices. For others, its fun to walk department store after department store to watch the chaos and utter confusing amongst a bunch of estranged individuals. And for those that stand in line, bitch out sales people, complain the whole time, yell and scream and punch others over Elmo dolls, try to express a little more gratitude with the crap you already have and learn to be less of an idiot. In America, we live pretty amazing lives. We are the most wasteful country on planet Earth and the wealthiest. I think we all can afford to be a lot less idiotic.