If you’ve ever seen my project Rockwell’s Camera Phone, then you know how much I love Americana, especially Norman Rockwell. His paintings capture something innocent and profound about our daily lives, as if every moment has the potential for wonder and surprise. It’s fun to think that the everyday is an adventure. This is part of the reason I really enjoy American events like baseball games, Thanksgiving, and, well, chili cook offs. A couple of weeks ago I went to a chili cook off in North Park, San Diego, and I snapped some pictures.
This weekend, I was lucky enough to visit the incredible White Oak Conservation in North Florida located on the banks of the St. Mary’s River, where my sister (I hate using “in law”) and her boyfriend work. They are so passionate about their job, and their mission in life is to conserve and protect birds, big cats, and other animals. At White Oak, they’re trying to presevere the future by protecting endangered species. I was able to see animals I would never have had the chance to photograph, and during tours, visitors are allowed to touch rhinos and have unprecedented access, while never invading the animal’s space.
I’m happy to share with you the photos from my time at White Oak, braving the rain and mud. Below you will see pics of cheetahs, rhinos, tigers, and cassowaries. There are so many different types of animals; I wish I could have taken photos of all of them. “White Oak is well-known in the conservation and zoo communities for their rhinoceros, cheetah, antelope, and okapi (a rare giraffe relative) programs, and for their support of conservation in Africa, Asia, and the United States,” according to their homepage.
My sister works with the cheetahs, and she has actually hand reared some of them. When she approaches the cheetahs, you can see how much they love her. I swear, they think of her as their mother. It’s incredible how much space the cheetahs have to run, and they are so elegant when they walk. As you can see in one of the photos, they have a dog, an Anatolian Shepherd, mixed in with the cheetahs. The dog is there to help calm the cheetahs down, and it’s a tactic widely employed.
Space is what makes White Oak so special. It’s hard to imagine another facility where animals have the room to wadner and feel somewhat like they’re in their natural habitat. White Oak sits on 7,400 acres, and that’s why I’m able to shoot photographs of such amazing animals like those you see above. Rhinos are so important to conserve because of the popularity of their horn, which is valued as a type of medicine and aphrodisiac by many. According to The Guardian, over 1,000 rhinos were killed in South Africa in 2013.
Finally, I’m grouping the tigers and the cassowaries together because I’m not sure what animal scares me more. Most people are aware that tigers can be deadly predators, but I’m not sure how many people know how terrifying a cassowary can be. According to White Oak, “Cassowaries are found in Northern Australia, New Guinea, Ceram and Aru Island … They can weigh up to 165 lbs. and grow to be 5 ft tall at top of head.” Cassowaries are pretty fast, and they can run up to 30 m.p.h., but they might not have much of a reason to run, because they’re one of the toughest fighters in the animal kingdom.
Here is why cassowaries are so scary to humans, according to White Oak’s website:
“A kick is capable of delivering a crushing blow, none more so than that delivered by a cassowary, a bird to which more human fatalities have been attributed than to any other. The inner of the three toes of each of the cassowary’s feet bears a long, dagger-like claw. Cassowaries are among the shortest – tempered of birds and will go on the defensive with very little provocation. The adult’s coarse plumage serves well in damp jungle undergrowth.”
This is what I admire most about White Oak and conservationism in general: It doesn’t matter how dangerous an animal is or what potential threat they can cause to a human; conservationism is about protecting endangered species. Because from what I can tell, humans are still the most dangerous species, and we wreck more homes for animals than we’ll ever know. Your comments are always appreciated.
Last week, GQ released an article called, “The 21 Best Albums from the 21st Century Every Man Should Hear,” and I thought it was such an excellent list with some great choices. I started listening to some albums that I hadn’t actually heard yet that they suggested, which I think is the point of these articles. I’ve written a few of these lists in my life for the Heard Mentality (10 Classical Albums to Listen to While Studying and 10 Jazz Albums to Listen to Before you Die), and I understand people can become enraged by some of these picks, and the discussions around these lists can grow out of control. When it comes down to it, these articles are just people’s opinions. In this case, it looks like the GQ editorial team and some fantastic musicians decided on their favorites. It’s fun to write these pieces, so I figured I would create a list outlining my picks for the best albums of the 21st century.
1. Wilco, Sky Blue Sky (2007)
2. Hans Zimmer, Interstellar Soundtrack (2014)
3. Alabama Shakes, Boys and Girls
This past weekend I went to watch the New England Patriots take on the San Diego Chargers at Qualcomm Stadium, and it was a game that put the Patriots one step closer to a first-round bye and home field advantage in the playoffs. I had the hook up with the seats, and I was sitting at field level, where I could see just how big Rob Gronkowski looked next to Julian Edelman. (It was like looking at a hobbit standing next to those giant walking trees in Lord of the Rings.) The game was unbelievable, and the Patriots took control in the fourth quarter. But for the people who couldn’t make the game, I wanted to share my observations. These aren’t the type of observations that would show up on ESPN; it’s just the way I experienced the game. Hope you’ll enjoy. Your comments are always appreciated. (By the way, I took the following photos on my phone, so they’re not the highest quality.)
5. Qualcomm Stadium is a Disaster
I heard that Qualcomm Stadium was a disaster from many people, which is probably why there are so many rumors out there that the Chargers are moving to Los Angeles. They haven’t put money into the stadium seemingly since 1992. We heard the traffic was awful too, so I had my wife drop us off at IKEA, and we walked over to the stadium, cutting through corporate industrial parks and trails on the side of a steep hill. It was hilarious because at the end of the night there were so many drunk fans trying to scale the hill that it turned into a traffic jam. At the same time I’m bashing the Chargers’ stadium, it really reminded me of being a kid and going to the original Foxboro Stadium. The seats were all metal, so you would freeze your ass off in the middle of the game. I loved that stadium and hated it at the same time.
4. Chargers Fans Secretly Love Tom Brady
This guy was sitting behind me. He was holding this photo up real proud. I’m not really sure what he was trying to accomplish here. Yeah, I get it; he’s trying to say that the Patriots are cheaters because of Spygate, but what’s up with putting Tom Brady on a poster hugging a ball with his shirt off. This guy secretly loves Tom Brady. The fans were screaming, “Tom Brady runs like a girl.” I saw someone had taken an image of Brady and put a wig on him. Even girls were yelling he runs like a girl, and I was just sort of questioning the root of all this “shit” talk. They were really trying to emasculate Brady. That’s fine. But don’t you kind of look silly with signs like this? Continue reading “Five Observations from the Patriots Chargers Game”