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Below are the 20 most recent journal entries recorded in Raccoon's LiveJournal:

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Sunday, January 10th, 2027
11:01 pm
Almost Friends Only Journal
Hah, it's been too long since I've looked at, much less updated, this post. This journal is no longer Friends Only, but about half public, and half friends-accessible; and it's getting more public as it continues, it seems. In any case, if you want to read this journal for some reason, reply here, and I might add you to my friends list.
Sunday, May 1st, 2016
7:42 pm
Been gone from LJ a while...
Okay, so it seems it's been about 3 years since I've written in this.  Well, if you aren't catching up with me on Tumblr or Facebook, here's a quick update about my life over the last few years.

In 2014, I graduated from college with a 4.0 GPA, earning a Bachelor's degree in Business Management.  I had long since been disgusted with the business world and capitalism, but it's a degree that can be used for many different things.  I tried getting a job with the National Park Service that summer, but I was applying too late to get a job with them.

In May of that year, my cat and best friend ever, Sabbath, died at the relatively young age of 9.  The pain has mostly dulled now, but I look back on my time spent with him fondly.  I feel the emptiness and sense of loss whenever I see a photo of him.

Later in May, I got a job as an overnight cashier at Kmart.  It was difficult for someone with my quiet nature to handle, but I adapted, and I eventually became known for treating people kindly, hating drama, and working hard.  2014 was difficult for me, since I was slowly getting over depression.  It was toward the end of 2014 that I finally started to feel okay about life.

In early 2015, I was promoted to cashier supervisor.  My cashiers generally really liked me, but my time as supervisor was short-lived.  I finally got a summer job as a Visitor Use Assistant (VUA) with the NPS.  I purchased a car, I headed across the country to Bighorn Canyon National Recreation Area in Montana.

Bighorn Canyon was very lonely initially, but I eventually became much closer friends with my fellow rangers.  As for the job, I developed a strong knowledge of the park's history and plant life, and I helped design and plant an educational garden of native plants.  The management loved me, and I got rehire status for 2016.  The job ended in late September, and I headed off to see friends and family.

I eventually settled back down in Illinois for the winter, and got re-hired as a cashier supervisor at Kmart (they REALLY wanted me back).  It's not the career I want, but I really made the best of things there.  I earned a reputation as a patient, caring supervisor.  I had a policy of never asking anyone to do anything I'm not willing to do.

In April, I quit my job at Kmart for the final time (it's closing), and began a 5000 mile trip to see friends and family across the country.  The trip has ended in Montana, and I'm once again a VUA at Bighorn Canyon.

This short version of the last three years leaves out lots of my philosophical and emotional development, among other things.  But I think it summarized the events well enough!  If you really want to catch up, ask!
Sunday, December 29th, 2013
6:28 pm
My history with history...
As a kid in school, I hated history, and always did poorly in history classes.  For one, I never really cared much for memorizing names and dates.

More importantly, though, history got me angry and/or made me sad.  I found the injustices that litter history to be unbearably terrible to read about, so I did so as little as I could.  The lack of studying history led to shit grades.

I also got confused as to why nobody else got upset over history.  Perhaps most kids don't give a shit about past injustices; or maybe I was too self-focused to realize they hated history as well.  I guess I'll never really know.

Nowadays, I study history on a daily basis.  A few years back, I realized that a complete human being must know their own history, and the history of the world around them.  Only by learning from our collective past can our species progress ethically and culturally.  When I first started studying history again, I still constantly felt upset about things long-since done.

Generally speaking, we humans are terrifying.  Consider the fact that we had to make a word--"massacre"--specifically to describe one powerful group of humans killing a helpless other group.  These massacres are done by both "good guys" and "bad guys," in all time periods, by almost every ethnicity and nationality.  As a species, we just really like to massacre each other.  (For a fun-filled example of the poor, oppressed masses acting like typical humans, look up the 1804 Haiti Massacre.)

I'm getting desensitized.  I still get angry, and I still hate injustice.  But now when I read about genocides and massacres and slavery, I no longer have a "WHAT THE FUCK IS WRONG WITH HUMANITY?!" internal reaction I used to have.  My reaction now is more of a "Ugh, not again. It's actually getting predictable..."  I suppose desensitization is natural and healthy.  I just don't like being bored by evil and stupidity.

I hate history.
Monday, December 23rd, 2013
10:18 pm
I'm not very surprised...
...So much for min/maxing, though. XP

I Am A: Neutral Good Halfling Druid (5th Level)

Ability Scores:

Neutral Good A neutral good character does the best that a good person can do. He is devoted to helping others. He works with kings and magistrates but does not feel beholden to them. Neutral good is the best alignment you can be because it means doing what is good without bias for or against order. However, neutral good can be a dangerous alignment when it advances mediocrity by limiting the actions of the truly capable.

Halflings are clever, capable and resourceful survivors. They are notoriously curious and show a daring that many larger people can't match. They can be lured by wealth but tend to spend rather than hoard. They prefer practical clothing and would rather wear a comfortable shirt than jewelry. Halflings stand about 3 feet tall and commonly live to see 150.

Druids gain power not by ruling nature but by being at one with it. They hate the unnatural, including aberrations or undead, and destroy them where possible. Druids receive divine spells from nature, not the gods, and can gain an array of powers as they gain experience, including the ability to take the shapes of animals. The weapons and armor of a druid are restricted by their traditional oaths, not simply training. A druid's Wisdom score should be high, as this determines the maximum spell level that they can cast.

Find out What Kind of Dungeons and Dragons Character Would You Be?, courtesy of Easydamus (e-mail)

Friday, December 13th, 2013
6:53 pm
I don't think I've been a good friend, lately.  I keep using so much of my energy and time to take care of other things, that I've neglected my friends.  I must make up for that, at some point.
Monday, December 9th, 2013
3:10 am
Today, I was at a restaurant with my family.  I was surrounded by people chowing down on meat, and listened to a guy one table across brag about treating people like shit.

I realized I was angry, and I thought to myself, "I'm fine with this."  I just let myself feel angry, rather than forcing myself to enjoy my surroundings; and that was just fine.

I am reminded about a lesson I've learned recently, and which I appreciate more and more each day:

Happiness isn't the only goal of life.  It's just one of the many things worth feeling.  Trying to be happy all the time is a form of clinging.

Anger, sadness, love, fear, happiness--these are the transient but important elements in these stories we live out. If you flow with feelings as they come, and handle them intelligently, you find yourself moving forward in your story and learning new things.  Clinging will just cause distress and drag the story out.
Friday, November 8th, 2013
9:53 pm
I have been in a very, very solitary mood the last couple weeks.  Probably because my group projects are forcing me to socialize with folks I don't like; and my coursework is taking up a lot of my time.  The idea of interacting on the internet OR in real life feels very draining at this point--thus, my absence lately.

That said, I'm not really in a bad mood.  On average, I'm doing okay.  I'm just feeling extra introverted, is all.
Tuesday, October 22nd, 2013
1:40 pm
People Suck
I am furious that--once again--I am stuck doing a group project that is worth 20% of my grade with lazy, dishonest fucks. I'm stuck in a group that jumps right to cheating and lying, without even attempting to learn or do hard work.

Ugh. Why are useless people so difficult to avoid?
Saturday, October 12th, 2013
3:40 pm

(Photo of the Perry Farm Park trails in Bourbonnais, IL)

I’ve spent most of my adult life thinking about leaving the midwest and never turning back.  But over the last year, I’ve seen the diamonds in the rough.

The plants, the animals, the prairie and its ecosystems, the rivers: all beautiful.  I realize, naturally, that all those things are marginal, being pushed back by gluttonous human expansionism.  And, well…

That just makes me want to pretect what’s left even more!  I think I love the midwest now.

Current Mood: good
Monday, October 7th, 2013
11:52 pm

I don't really know how to handle the fact that I haven't gotten a single family member to slightly reduce their meat-eating.

I always kind of imagined that by being a healthy, kind, fair, and logical vegan in their lives, I'd show folks in my life that it's possible and okay to be vegan.  Instead, I've just found that people like having a healthy, kind, fair, and logical person around.

Part of me feels like I should have an easier time affecting family I've known my whole life, than talking to strangers during vegan outreach (which I wish I had more time for these days).

Wednesday, September 25th, 2013
11:56 pm
After a long time of focusing on herbaceous plants, now I can't get my mind off trees.  So now I'm learning about the trees of the midwest!  It's pretty fun, and a bit easier to research!

*sigh*  I have nobody to talk about nature-nerd things with.

Current Mood: having fun
Saturday, September 14th, 2013
11:39 pm
I feel proud that today, I was able to finally identify a plant that I've been puzzling over for at least three months now.  It has leaves and a stem very much like lambsquarter, but doesn't have the telltale white powdery-hair stuff.  It has a dark green or red coloration like giant ragweed, but it's definitely not ragweed either.

Turns out it's amaranth, a valuable wild food plant!  Some even say that educating people about amaranth can be a key to reducing world hunger.

Plant identification is really difficult without having a more experienced forager around, but it gets easier the more I observe my environment.  Aside from the grasses and trees (which I still must work on), I can identify 95% of the plants within a half mile of where I live, to at least the genus level*.

Today's a good day!

*Identifying many plants at the species level is impossible for an amateur.  For example, I could say "that's plantago," but not "that's Plantago coronopus."  There are hundreds of species of plantago, whose differences are hard to discern and unimportant to an average forager.
Saturday, September 7th, 2013
12:10 am
More complete compassion?
I think I'm slowly learning how to feel and think more complete compassion than before.

I always thought of compassion as something that the strong feel for the weak or unfortunate.  But that's not compassion.  That's pity.  Compassion is a relationship that refuses to discriminate, and just experiences others as they are.

And so, maybe complete compassion should include people born into privilege.  And the ignorant or apathetic folk.  Also, people gifted with genius and talent than I have.  And naturally, compassion should include myself--a tough one.

I try this out, and the world feels completely different.  More understandable.  More fluid, more full of possibilities, and less isolated.

I haven't perfected it, naturally.  I still have mediocre-compassion days.  Heck, I still have some days when I hate everyone including myself.  It will be a long time before I can really achieve such an ideal state of mind.

But as a general trend, I feel like I'm moving in a good direction.
Saturday, August 31st, 2013
10:26 pm
Experiment: Never help others for free
(Note: The following doesn't apply to vegans, people who already help their community, etc.  I'm still working out the imperfections.)

What I really want to do with my life is to inspire others to be compassionate and caring, by living as a good example.  I now see I've still got a lot of maturing to do, in order to really accoplish that goal.  I've been allowing myself to be taken advantage of. I've been freely helping others with their problems, loaning out money, etc. for people who behave selfishly and hurtfully.  In effect, I enable them to remain selfish and uncaring--which obviously is quite the opposite of inspiring compassion.

As a remedy, I'm going to try to not help family or friends any more without asking something in return, such as:

  • Give me collateral.

  • Sign a contract promising repayment.

  • Go help someone else.

  • Go vegetarian / vegan for a period of time.

  • Volunteer at the animal shelter / soup kitchen.

  • Etc.

I'll give this "never help others for free" thing a try for a while, and see if it works!  At the very least, it should annoy lazy, selfish folk away from borrowing from me 'til I'm bankrupt.
Monday, August 26th, 2013
11:57 pm
Tonight's tough. There are friends I miss. I feel alone.
9:44 pm
Well, I'm 28. I'm better off mentally and emotionally than I was a year ago. I'm proud of what I've done in a year. It's felt like three years since I turned 27, so I'd say I'm spending my time very well! ^-^
Thursday, August 22nd, 2013
6:10 pm
A family member asked me why I don't garden or farm or anything, if I love plants so much.

How boring!  Why work and sweat and spend and plan to control a small plot of specific plants?  Plants grow on their own just fine!  I prefer to look at, and explore, and discover things, especially living things.  Must we own and control something to love it or enjoy it?  Nah!
Saturday, August 17th, 2013
3:36 pm
There are few things that make me as happy as walking through the prairie, enjoying the richness and diversity of the plant and animal life.  Or picking a bit of wood sorrel as a trail snack, and enjoying its sharp, lemony taste.  Or just listening to water flow.

The other day, a family member asked me if learning about wild plants was actually useful.  If it were really a worthwhile survival skill.  Honestly, at this point, such a question of "survival" doesn't matter as much to me as it used to.

Paying so much attention to my environment, learning so much about living things, enjoying a diversity I'd always ignored before.  It's as if the living things around me are whispering a secret, and I'm getting better and better at understanding and enjoying that whisper.  It's not a survival skill so much as a living skill.
Tuesday, August 6th, 2013
5:26 pm
I don't have much access to the Internet lately, so please forgive me if I don't reply to stuff.  I still read all your guys' stuff, and I still miss all my friends! I'll find time to reply to posts later this week.

I've been busy with learning skills, crafting stuff, and fixing problems here and there.  It's been interesting.
Saturday, July 6th, 2013
3:50 pm
Needing focus...
I haven't done much on LiveJournal (or Facebook or tumblr.) lately.  Nor have I done much socializing in real life.  I've been in a strong solitary phase.  I do love and miss my friends, naturally.  Yet, for the moment, other things are on my mind.

Things are getting a bit difficult for me.  I used to wonder if my life was going in the right direction.  Now, I wonder if it's going in any direction at all.  I start projects, then quit them half way.  I start friendships, then let them die down.

And most recent in this start-and-stop pattern is school.  I have no idea what my living situation will be next semester.  Anything resembling a plan has long since been ruined.  But let there be no doubt, I won't passively let finishing college be another start-and-stop thing.  I intend to finish before summer of next year.  Period.
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