Time for a reset

I restore myself when I’m alone. ~ Marilyn Monroe

It’s been a hell of a year. Honestly this spring semester has been the hardest semester since that very first semester of the pandemic. I’ve spent some time thinking about why? The best I’ve come up with is that after two years of full on pandemic everything, people finally feel like the world should be back to normal again. Except that the normal we remember no longer exists and those who are trying to squeeze reality back into that space are trying to jam a square peg into a round hole. Now trust, if you swing a big enough hammer hard enough, you can make that work, but not with out a lot of noise, splinters and destruction. And honestly, noise, splinters and madness feels a lot like the last six months.

I am beyond tired and worn out mentally, ironically this comes as I have finally started to feel myself again since the beginning of the pandemic. This past semester at work I’ve had more HR issues, fired more people and had more issues than in a normal three year period at a job. It’s been absolutely nuts, and it feels like people have begun to take the trust I’ve put in them and burn me with it. Add to that, massive employee turnover above and below me on the responsibility ladder and it’s chaos.

So it’s time for a reset, and I’ve decided the best way to do that was to take a week someplace quiet. To do nothing but walk on the beach, swim in a pool, listen to waves, get some massage and to write. So that’s what I’m doing. The place that I’ve retreated to is a place I found when I was the most burned out I’ve ever been at work. When I first retreated to this hideout on the central coast twenty years ago, there was no cell service here, which heightened the ability to disconnect. Now, with WiFi and the ubiquitous nature of cell towers that is no longer the case. So instead, my phone is on do not disturb, all notifications are off, and no email shall be checked this week. Let the work world get along without me this week, I don’t need it encroaching on my peace.

So today I walked around, had a nice dinner and tonight I sleep with the windows open and the sounds of the waves to fall asleep to, my idea of peace. We all need these times, and they’re hard to come by, but they are also incredibly important. So find time to reset, find a special place to do it and you’ll have happier days my friends. ~ Rev Kane

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Layers of Love

Love cures people – both the ones who give it and the ones who receive it. ~ Karl A Menninger

I’m someone who prefers to sleep warm in a cold room. Living in the Bay Area of California, on the San Mateo Peninsula wedged in between the Pacific coast and the San Francisco Bay a mile in each direction, cool nights are a given. so on my bed each night I have four blankets. The first is a basic store bought cotton blanket, the other three are much more special.

I have been blessed in my life to be surrounded by women who knit and crochet. As such, I’ve always had large numbers of homemade blankets at my disposal. The three pictured above are the ones the reside on my bed at night. The blue and white blanket was made by my mother years ago, the patterned blanket in the middle by someone who has been a student, a lover and an incredible friend, the white with diamond patterns on the left was made by my Granny.

These layers of love and warmth that I sleep under each night are constant reminders that I am/have been cared about. It takes hours and hours and hours to make a blanket like these and I appreciate the love imbued in each stitch. Sometimes the simplest things in life carry the most meaning.

So hang on to the simple demonstrations of love my friends, they’ll bring you happy days. ~ Rev Kane

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Life’s Significant Moments

It’s graduation season, working in education I’m seeing lots of photos on social media from friends and former colleagues posting graduation pictures. Without a doubt, graduation can be a significant life moment for many people and congratulations to all who are graduating this year. But for the moment I want to reflect on, I’m going to go back a bit further than graduation this year. In fact, I want to go all the way back to 1972 or 73.

My mother raised three kids as a single mom, I have tremendous respect for what that took. All three of us are college educated, decent people. Two of us working in education, one an entrepreneur and artist. She did all of this without a college education, or parents with money to support her. Normally as a kid, you really don’t know what’s happening, but I was both old enough and smart enough to understand more than most kids do. For this reason, my mother will never want for anything.

In the early seventies, after a bad divorce and a bit of a dead beat ex-husband being continually late on alimony and child support, my mother ended up unemployed. As you can imagine, this was utterly devastating for her and us. She did her best to conceal the financial realities at that time, this moment was the moment that the mask of childhood fell completely off for me.

We were having dinner, turkey Banquet Cooking Bags, poured over white bread. It’s funny how white bread back then was a luxury and now it’s wheat and multi-grain breads that hold that status. For those of you unfamiliar with cooking bags, these were single serving plastic bags with a couple pieces of processed meat and gravy that you could buy in the freezer section. You would take them out of the box and drop the plastic bags into a pot of boiling water. After they heated up, you plucked them out with tongs and usually burnt your fingers trying to cut them open to pour the contents over bread or rice.

I was excited that night to watch a TV show, Hogan’s Heroes if my memory serves me, and so I set up my tray table in the living room. I got my plate and when into the living room and being a little kid I did something stupid and flipped my plate to the ground. My dog of course pounced on his good fortune and scarfed up what was on the floor. I returned to the kitchen where my mom was eating and told her what happened and asked for more. Likely tired, stressed, and hungry my mom snapped at me, “there is no more.” Then she burst into angry and quickly much sadder tears. She then scraped half of hers onto my plate and I slunk away into the living room to eat my dinner. While this might not seem the most significant event, for me it was incredibly so.

I was at the right age to just be hitting the reality of the world face first. In that moment I came to face with a couple of realities. First, up to that point, because of the second thing I had thought, that our parents were omnipotent, I just assumed food was a guarantee, that only poor kids and staving kids in China didn’t have enough to eat. So now I was hit with the reality that my mother couldn’t solve every problem, she was just a regular person like I was and that I suddenly lived in a world where not having something to eat was a possibility. In that moment I had both become an adult mentally and a poor kid, a lot to handle all at the same time. I think it’s a bit rare that we remember the exact moment when we had to grow up, this was mine.

One of the bigger impacts this moment had on me is revealed by a joke that was often related about me when I was growing up, how I went from slims to huskies overnight. This is actually a reference to the sizing of Sears pants back in the 70’s. There were regular pants, slims for skinny kids and huskies for the fat kids. Up until the point of this happening I had been a stick thin kid, afterward, I put on a lot of weight. Basically, think of an 8 year-old with a beer belly. This all happened as a result of my awareness that food wasn’t a guarantee. I began hustling. Finding ways to make little bits of money here or there, folding pizza boxes for free slices, raking leaves, shoveling sidewalks in Winter. Hell, even gambling with my friends and yes, a little bit of theft thrown in for good measure. At times I even sweet talked my way at school into the lunch ladies giving up a chocolate milk or ice cream to me for free. And I was a kid, so it’s not like once I got money that I spent it on highly nutritious foods. I was buying donuts for breakfast, cookies, cupcakes, pizza, lots of soda, chocolate and candy. As such, I put on weight, it was an emotional reaction to the new realities of the life I was facing.

Crazy ripples click through our lives. Eating the type of foods I ate as a kid turned into the way I dealt with emotional turmoil, which also bled over to then using alcohol and drugs the same way. I’ve spent a lot of years trying to rewire my stress responses. Happily, drugs and alcohol no longer serve those purposes in my life, but food, well it still does. Those early coping mechanisms are the deepest and most ingrained and without a doubt have contributed to my diabetes as well.

We face so many of these type of moments as we go through life, at the time we are often wholly unaware of their seriousness or impact. We often don’t understand until we are unwinding our psyche through our personal work or with the help of a therapist years later. It’s why self-reflection, mindfulness and being present is so important in our lives. For us to be happy, to be content in our lives, it’s important that we pay attention to what’s happening each day, each moment in our lives, you never know when one of those moments will turn out to be incredibly significant and help us have happier days my friends. ~ Rev Kane

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The Importance of Kindness

Kindness in words creates confidence. Kindness in thinking creates profoundness. Kindness in giving creates love. ~ Lao Tzu

I’ve written about kindness a lot over the years on this blog:

Happiness, Gratitude and Small Acts of Kindness

Quotes about Happiness, Gratitude and Kindness

Random Acts of Kindness & Happiness

Happiness is Thanksgiving, Gratitude and Kindness

Happiness Resources: Positivity, Gratitude and Kindness

They’re are Angels Among Us: A True Story of Kindness

That kindness is important is something I think that all of us can agree on. That at times it’s hard to be kind is something we all deal with in our lives. We’ve all had instances where we’re stressed, tired or distracted where we react in unkind ways. We feel bad at those times and that’s understandable, but what we all have to endeavor to do is not compound the error by letting it stand. It’s important when possible to go back and make it right. This is particularly important with children. Sure, you’re making dinner, someone’s calling on the phone, you have a headache and the munchkins have been bouncing off of the walls for hours. They’re tugging on your shirt to ask the same question they’ve asked a hundreds and you gruffly say something like, “not now!” but with a little too much force. They break down into tears and run off, now you feel awful, we’ve all been there. It’s that moment to take a deep breath, to turn down the burners on the stove, end the phone call and go hug your kid and tell them you love them. I was thinking about this because this week my young niece went to her first school dance.

When she came home I called her and we talked about the dance, how much fun she had, whether or not she danced with boys (she didn’t, safe so far), about the blisters on her feet from wearing high heels and dancing. But she also related this story and it pulled on my heart strings and got me thinking about how important kindness is, and how sometimes it’s really hard to find.

I think we all remember what it was like when we were tweens and teens, the desperate need to be accepted. The crushes we had back then often seemed like the most important thing to have happened in all of human history. As such, when things went well we floated on clouds, when they went wrong we wailed as if the world was ending. Anyone who is a parent of a tween or teen completely gets this and has my unending empathy, it’s a hard job. So, when in those vulnerable years you worked up the immensity of the courage to put yourself out there and ask another to accept you, it felt like a life and death endeavor. When you got rejected, devastating. So one of my niece’s friends worked up the courage to ask a boy to dance, probably the first time she’s ever done something like that, he said no. She broke down and called and asked to be picked up and taken home and got rejected again as her parents couldn’t come at that time. My niece and her friends consoled their friend.

This story broke my heart, we’ve all been there, even as adults we know the feeling of putting ourselves out there and being rejected. We never know who is facing something like in their lives. People are very good at wearing masks in front of others. So be kind, it’s important, never to the point of being unkind to yourself, but when you can, make the effort as it often has more impact than you can imagine. And it will certainly help others have happier days my friends. ~ Rev Kane

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Keeping employees happy at work

Research indicates that employees have three prime needs: Interesting work, recognition for doing a good job, and being let in on things that are going on in the company. ~ Zig Ziglar

According to an article referencing a survey they had done, Forbes magazine lists the following as the top factors in employee happiness:

  1. Appreciation for your work
  2. Good relationships with colleagues
  3. Good work-life balance
  4. Good relationships with superiors
  5. Company’s financial stability
  6. Learning and career development
  7. Job security
  8. Attractive fixed salary
  9. Interesting job content
  10. Company values

For tonight’s post I really want to focus on the first item as it’s particularly relevant to me right now. Before that however, I want to draw attention to number 3, Work-Life Balance as this is something that I very often talk about and I do keynote talks at conferences and trainings about this very subject and it is something I’m very passionate about in my own life.

This past week I spent two days at the ECEPTS, Early Childhood Apprenticeship conference in Ontario, California. I was there to attend sessions, to do a panel presentation as well as meet with some folks from the Biden Administration. However the conference turned into much more, I happily made some connections with people whose names I’d often heard and had even been on email chains with about apprenticeship. Is was particularly nice to get to work with another dean who I have a lot in common with, as well as finally work in person with many of the ECEPTS team who I had only worked with via Zoom.

I was very proud of my team and our program, we got lots of positive recognition for the work we’ve been doing and my team and I were in demand for lots of side discussions and questions. Personally, the conference was very satisfying because I got a lot of positive attention and recognition for my role in the work we’re doing and for the development of non-traditional apprenticeships in early childhood education.

The attention went further than just compliments and kind words, in fact I was offered some consulting gigs, some partnership opportunities for our college, as well as a straight up job offer. So the appreciation felt truly sincere. And this lead me to really think about job satisfaction and recognition.

Both the Zig Ziglar quote and Forbes magazine survey results above reference the importance of recognition for doing good work on the job. In higher education where I work, unfortunately as a manager, I don’t have the authority to give that recognition in the form of financial compensation. So as a manager I have to be creative about showing people how much I appreciate what they do. Simple compliments are more powerful than you might think, emails and most powerful hand written notes of appreciation work well. But there are other ways as well, giving someone professional development opportunities, being more than flexible for people doing a good job and even taking opportunities to make sure others on campus know how good of a job they are doing. I’m also very fond of giving people cupcakes and the occasional bottle of wine. And as hard as this can be, it’s critical as a manager to find ways to make sure people know they are appreciated.

This is why this past week felt so great for me. But it also was a pretty strong reminder of what I don’t get from my current job. It’s unfortunate for any employee to find out that they are more appreciated, regionally and even nationally, than they are on their own campus. Typically, for me, this is the type of revelation that really tells me it’s time to move on from my current position. The message tonight my friends is simple, if you’re not getting what you need from any job or any type of relationship, it’s time to take care of yourself. Do the analysis of whether or not it’s better to stay or move on, there are always costs for both. But at the end of that analysis, if you’ll be happier and better off moving on, as hard as that may be, be good to yourself and move on. The goal for all of us is always, happier days my friends. ~ Rev Kane.

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A Happy Student Loan Monday

A wise man should have his money in his head, not in his heart. ~ Jonathan Swift

I did not grow up in a family with a lot of money. Luckily I was born with a big brain and did well in school so I was able to gain some scholarships as I headed off to college. College was a big deal where I grew up, only a couple of us got out of my neighborhood that way. Most of the kids in my neighborhood went right to work, into the army or into jail right after high school.

My college plans were not deeply thought out. My high school counselor had also been my little league and peewee bowling coach. He brought me into his office for the big career and college talk during high school. He said to me that since I was good in math and science, and my dad worked for the power company, electrical engineering made sense. I said ok, and as I applied to college, electrical engineering it was.

I had two criteria for college, first I needed to stay in state because I had no chance of paying for out of state tuition. Second, I wanted to be as far away from my family as I could get. I really didn’t get along with my father and wanted to maximize that distance. Luckily, New York State is both long and wide and I went wide, a full five and a half hour drive west of my family home.

Initially, I was doing a 2+3 program with Eisenhower College and the Rochester Institute of Technology (RIT). This meant I would do my general education work at Eisenhower for the first two years and then transfer to RIT for engineering and coop work. Then three weeks before I was leaving for college, I got the one and only telegram of my life. Someone knocked on the door, I answered, and they said, “telegram for Michael Kane.” The telegram informed me that Eisenhower College was being closed down and I would now be starting my education directly at RIT. Like everything else in my life, not even my educational path went in a straight line. This was also when I took my first student loans. Although I had several thousands of dollars in scholarships, RIT cost $12,000 a year and so I, and my parents, took student loans as a way to pay for my education and living expenses.

So I shuffled off, nearly to Buffalo and started my college experience stacked up in a triple roommate situation in a double room in a dormitory that also served as the home of a fraternity. Being out from under my father finally, I fully cut loose. In my first semester I pledged the fraternity and started drinking pretty heavily. Over the next year and a half I would progress into full-blown alcoholism and become an addict. Not too mention, decimate my GPA, culminating in a 0.27 GPA my last semester when I was academically dismissed.

I bounced through the Phoenix Program, a program to resurrect the career of students who had gone off the path to success. In engineering programs, that often has a lot to do with poor math skills. Of course I’d come in with AP math credit for the first two semesters of calculus and had completed calc 3, linear algebra and differential equations. Which was a higher level of math than the person doing the math testing actually had completed. So I was also dismissed from the Phoenix Program. I finally met with someone for whom I will be eternally grateful, the first person who ever spoke absolute truth to me and he was a dean. And for the last twenty years as a dean, I’ve tried to emulate his example of helping students by being truthful and honest with them. Dean Kenyon brought me in, looked through my file, put it down, looked at me and smiled, then he said. “I’ve looked through your file, you’re an incredibly intelligent young man, I see the Phoenix Program report and I’ve come to a conclusion, you’re a fuck up.” The early 80s were quite obviously a different time in education. He then explained that if I wanted, he would readmit me immediately, but if I had a single quarter under 2.00, I was out permanently with no appeal. He also explained that even the best students often ended up on probation at some point. So we sat there in silence for a few minutes and finally I said, “I think it’s time I go home.” Dean Kenyon smiled and said, “Good, you are as smart as I think you are.” He then told me that once I got my shit together if I wanted to come back, just to contact him and he’d readmit me with no conditions. I never did, but that combination of honesty, as well as compassion, caring and a demonstration of faith was incredibly beneficial to me.

Unfortunately, I never really did a good job early on, or hell, later on, figuring out my path in school. So I took a very non-linear, nineteen year journey through my educational pathway and into the workforce. This included an associates degree, two bachelor degrees, a masters degree and ABD on a PhD, not too mention a year of law school. This all meant a lot of student loans and eventually a total debt of $200,000 including $140,000 in student loans.

And I want to say a bit about that. After failing out of college the first time, my parents made it clear that I had blown my chance and any financial support they had. That hurt, but I understood, we didn’t have much money and my sister was also about to go to college. I was the first person in my immediate family to go to college and after getting clean and sober, I eventually got my shit together and worked my way through college and the loans and credit card debt that made that possible. Without that debt I would not be where I am today, making more money than my parents ever dreamed of making, and being 18 months out from retiring at 60 with a very good pension that should give me a comfortable retirement. The very definition of good debt, although I realize it’s not that way for everyone and why I support student loan forgiveness. I even held out some hope that I might actually qualify for the Public Service Student Loan Forgiveness Program. I had applied for loan forgiveness about 15 years ago, and even though my work qualified, because I hadn’t been in a particular type of repayment plan, I was denied.

This past week has sucked, I hurt my knee then I hurt my back. That wasn’t enough self-inflicted pain, I also bit through my lip while eating so badly that 5 days later I’m still not able to eat or brush my teeth without being in a significant amount of pain. Work was it’s normal circus, my ex-girlfriend of course picked this week for her bi-annual emotional drive-by and the standard familial insanity reared its ugly head. Then toward the end of the week, the kicker. The Biden administration had made changes to the Public Student Loan Forgiveness Program making it less restrictive so that those of us who hadn’t previously qualified now could. On Thursday I received a letter informing me that I was once again denied for the loan forgiveness program.

So, it’s important to turn things around when possible. So I did my best this week to turn things around, particularly by bringing some toy duck jeeps designed by my little cousin to the toddlers at our child development center and I added to my garden. Hanging out with the munchkins always puts me in a better mood. And today, I made a decision that while the government has decided not to forgive the remainder of my loans, it’s time to finalize this chapter of my life.

I took a total of $140,000 in student loans, I have repaid over $280,000 back to the government for the privilege of receiving that assistance. I was scheduled to finish repaying these loans in 2032, so I feel pretty good getting them paid off nine years early. Monday morning, (I was still 17 when I took the first loan), will be the first day of my adult life when I will wake up not owing the government for my student loans, what I believe will make for a very happy Monday. Hope yours is as well my friends. ~ Rev Kane

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My Happy Little Garden

An AI generated image of me gardening, an over weight, long-haired, sleepy-eyed gnome.

If you have a garden and a library, you have everything you need. ~ Marcus Tullius Cicero

One of the downsides of apartment living for me is the lack of opportunity for gardening. Ever since I was five, I’ve grown my own garden, that first one with the help of my mother. There is a lot of joy for me in eating something that I’ve grown. When I owned my last home I had a huge garden. The main plot was fifteen by twenty feet. Additionally, I had a ten by fifteen foot greenhouse and three, four by eight foot raised beds and an area with a dozen rose bushes. Not to mention apple and plum trees. I also would grow pumpkins and winter squash in the back corner of the yard. By late summer I had a continuous bounty of tomatoes, carrots, peas, cucumbers, peppers, squash, scallions, basil, cilantro, dill and blueberries. I really miss that level of gardening.

For the last three years I’ve lived in a studio apartment. A noisy neighbor drove me to have to make a change of apartments and I consciously picked one with a balcony that faced east so that I’d have a lot of morning sun in the spring and summer. I did this for one simple reason, to be able to put together a container garden together. I’ve got most of the garden up and running. The only additions I need to make are a couple of herbs, spearmint and basil in particular.

I’ve got several window boxes that currently have carrots, radishes, scallions, cucumbers and peas in them. Of course I also have four containers with tomato plants, my two favorite things in the world to grow are tomatoes and roses. Both remind me of my Grandpa Kane, he taught me how to grow roses and one of his favorite things in the world was to eat that first ripe tomato each year like an apple, covered in salt, with a bottle of beer. Which was what both what my brother and I did to honor him the night he died.

Finally, I also decided this year to hang up a hummingbird feeder. And happily, after taking a few days to find it, the ruby-throated hummingbirds in the neighborhood have located the feeder.

This past week, I had a very happy morning, just sitting on the balcony in the sun, looking at my little plants breaking through the ground and watching the hummingbirds dive bomb me and the feeder. It’s important my friends to find those tranquil places and times to just sit and be. Have a happy day my friends. ~ Rev Kane

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Relative Happiness

Very little is needed to make a happy life; it is all within yourself, in your way of thinking. ~ Marcus Aurelius

It’s been a cold and very rainy winter in the California Bay Area, at least by our normal winter standards. As a nomad I have the ability to adapt to the climate where I live and even for me, mornings this winter have been chilly. I especially have a hard time keeping my hands warm and so I spend a lot of time in gloves most mornings. The other day I noticed that it was a chilly 52 degrees and I chuckled to myself.

I started thinking back to one of my previous lives, when I was a college student at the State University of New York at Plattsburgh. Given that it was mid-March I realized that back in Plattsburgh, 12 miles south of the Canadian border, in the lovely and freezing Adirondack mountains, it was likely still at or below freezing. I can specifically remember a day in March when it in fact did hit 50 degrees. It was like a vacation, people were out everywhere on campus playing hacky sack, frisbee, hell there were even people laying out tanning. And here I was at 52 degrees freezing my ass off!

What it brought me around to think about is a very important concept in happiness, the idea of relative happiness. You see here at 50 degrees in March and I’m freezing and bummed out, in Plattsburgh at 50 degrees in March and I’m joyously warm. The rational and simple reason for that of course is that 50 in March in Plattsburgh is a day 20 degrees warmer than it would normally be, so it feels like a windfall. However, I’m the same human in both places at the same temperature, so it reminds us that the choice of whether or not to be happy about the weather on a 50 degree morning is entirely contained within us.

Now I’m not an absolutist, yes, happiness is a choice, but in the middle of having a bad flu I’m not going to suggest you can be yippy skippy while you’re vomiting in the toilet. But most of the time, in fact, it is completely up to us whether or not to be happy in any given situation. I’m trying to keep this in mind these days at my job. So make the good choice and have a happy day my friends. ~ Rev Kane

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A Happy Day at the Bigfoot Museum

The inclination to believe in the fantastic may strike some as a failure in logic, or gullibility, but it’s really a gift. A world that might have Bigfoot and the Loch Ness Monster is clearly superior to one that definitely does not. ~ Chris Van Allsburg

I had planned a week off to go to Sequoia National Park and spend some time out in the forest with the giant redwoods. I had gotten the time off, booked my rooms and was waiting to see if one of the cabins would be available inside the park on March 24th. When March 24th rolled around I went to the park site to check on cabins and what I found instead was several alerts for the park detailing the damage the recent atmospheric river storms had done. This included washing out the entrance roads, so not only would there be no cabins available, the park itself is likely fully closed until May. I was really disappointed, and after a couple of days of sitting with my disappointment I decided that if I couldn’t see giant trees in central California, I could certainly see them up north. So I made a detour and headed north to Redwoods National Park. The park is actually a series of state and federal parks that run for nearly a hundred miles.

This of course is also Bigfoot Country. I’ve always been interested in cryptozoology and have always had a serious fascination with the Loch Ness Monster and Bigfoot. In fact, my first presentation in tenth grade was on the Loch Ness Monster which included showing an episode of In Search Of with Leonard Nimoy. This even inspired my first hike in Scotland, the Great Glen Way which ends at Loch Ness. I first entered Bigfoot Country in 1988 when I came to Arcata, California to be the best man in my friend John’s wedding. I even bought a Bigfoot sightings map that hung on my wall wherever I lived for at least a decade afterward. And in searching for an image of it, I found and have just purchased it on eBay.

So since I was making the trek up north I looked into what I might be able to visit related to Bigfoot. What I found was the Bigfoot Museum in Willow Creek, just south of where the most famous Bigfoot sighting and filming took place at Bluff Creek by Patterson and Gimlin.

A selfie with me and “Patty” the Bigfoot seen here in a still from the Patterson-Gimlin film.

The Museum at China Flat hosts the Bigfoot Museum collection, it’s one room in the back, but it’s definitely worth the trip. I was excited while reading through the website only to find that I’d be able to be in town on Tuesday, but this time of year the museum was only open Wednesday through Sunday. I was completely devastated until I read a little sentence on the site about possibly open by appointment. Normally I would have just planned not to visit, but I really wanted to go and so I took a shot and fired off an email to the museum. I got a fairly quick reply back from the director who was very nice and the message said that if there was a volunteer available, we might be able to work something out. A day or so later another email came in saying that a volunteer name Terri could be available at noon on the day I was in the area. I was totally excited!

Willow Creek is no metropolis and other than a few restaurants, there isn’t a lot there. But I got into town about an hour early, walked around and checked out the Bigfoot Capital of the World. It’s a cute little town, people were generally nice and welcoming and there’s a nice little park next to the museum.

At the appointed time I walked up to the Museum to meet Terri, who greeted me by name as I arrived. She was super friendly and nice, and by chance I even got to meet the director I’d been emailing with, she was also incredibly welcoming and nice. The main part of the museum is really interesting, there are a lot of cool little exhibits about the history of the area. Terri was super knowledgeable and clued me in to some of the neat facts about the exhibits that I wouldn’t have picked up on my own.

But of course, the big prize for me was the Bigfoot Exhibit. The exhibit is in the back corner of the museum and while not a big room has a ton of information and displays. For the uninitiated, the room will give you a great background into the Bigfoot phenomenon. For those of us that have been digging into this for some time, it’s a bit like coming home. Yes, I knew the general history of Bigfoot, I’d seen the lists of sightings, well over 100, as well as the details of some of the more famous cases. But the real treasure of this museum is two things. First, the casts, there are a bunch of casts including a lot of casts that Gimlin made including some replicas of the casts from the famous film.

My own foot, a size 11 in comparison to some of the plaster casts in the museum

There was also some cool info on some DNA testing from a local sample that matched human-ape DNA but didn’t match any known DNA specifically.

The second treasure of the museum is the fact that it’s there, that the volunteers have been around this for there adult life. Terri was full of stories, but not the stories you expect. There are notebooks in the museum where people have written down stories of encounters. But the stories I found really fascinating were those about how the museum got started, the donations by Bob Gimlin that made it possible and a further donation that included an early copy of the Patterson-Gimlin film. The early copy was digitized and is likely the one you now see when you watch Bigfoot documentaries. Terri was amazing and a wealth of information about the researchers and especially Bob Gimlin. It wasn’t what I expected but it was so much better than I could have hoped for.

Of course there was also Bigfoot merch and I loaded up, cool stuff, decent prices and so my nieces and nephews are all getting there own Bigfoot gear. The museum was a blast, even got to give Bigfoot a little fist bump before heading out to the Mexican restaurant next door, for a very solid and huge portioned lunch before leaving town. The museum was fun and I’m thinking now I’ll have to make a return visit for Bigfoot Daze in July. If you’re a Bigfoot fan, definitely worth the visit.

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Happiness and Technology

Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic. ~ Arthur C. Clarke

The impact of technology on human happiness is a subject of much debate. While some people argue that technology is making us more isolated and unhappy, others suggest that technology can be used to improve our well-being and increase our happiness. Here are some ways in which technology can be used to promote happiness:

  1. Apps and Online Programs: There are numerous apps and online programs available that can help people improve their mental well-being, such as meditation apps like Headspace and Calm, and therapy programs like BetterHelp and Talkspace. These apps offer guided meditations, cognitive behavioral therapy, and other tools that can help people manage stress, anxiety, and depression.
  2. Wearables and Health Tracking: Wearable devices like Fitbit, Apple Watch, and other fitness trackers can help people monitor their physical activity, sleep, and other health metrics. This can encourage people to be more active and engage in healthy behaviors, which in turn can improve their mood and overall well-being.
  3. Social Media: Social media can be a double-edged sword when it comes to happiness. On one hand, it can connect people with others and provide them with emotional support. On the other hand, it can also lead to feelings of jealousy, FOMO (Fear of Missing Out), and other negative emotions. To promote happiness, it’s important to use social media in a way that fosters positive connections and avoids comparisons with others.
  4. Virtual Reality: Virtual Reality (VR) technology can be used to create immersive experiences that promote relaxation and reduce stress. For example, VR environments can simulate a relaxing beach or nature scene, allowing people to escape from their everyday stresses and immerse themselves in a calming environment.
  5. Gaming: Video games can also have a positive impact on happiness. Gaming can provide a sense of achievement, improve cognitive function, and create social connections through multiplayer games. However, it’s important to ensure that gaming doesn’t become an addiction and doesn’t interfere with other aspects of life.
  6. Online Communities: Online communities can provide people with a sense of belonging and emotional support. For example, people with chronic illnesses or disabilities can connect with others who have similar experiences and find comfort in shared experiences. Online communities can also provide a space for people to share their interests and connect with others who share their passions.

While technology can be a powerful tool to promote happiness, it’s important to remember that it’s not a panacea. It’s important to use technology in a way that enhances our lives and doesn’t replace real-world interactions or healthy behaviors. By using technology thoughtfully and intentionally, we can leverage its power to promote happiness and improve our well-being.

This post is an absolute testimony to how technology helps us in our lives, because everything below the opening quote and above this paragraph was generated in about 30 seconds by an Artificial Intelligence (AI) called ChatGPT. That’s right the AI allowed me to cut my normal 30 minutes to an hour down to about 15 minutes. Canva’s AI Image generator also created the image and both AI’s are available to use for free. So technology can also help us be happier by expediting tasks that then free up more time for us to do the things that truly make us happy. ~ Rev Kane

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