I had been writing all day and was not looking forward to siting down to draft a blog post, when I opened an email from WildCare and came across this video. Read more about these adorable little guys (and one girl) here.
If you were wondering why my posts are a little less lengthy these past few weeks, it’s because employment is really eating into my writing time. So for now please keep following along as I post videos that I come across.
Milo had been chasing roughly five different balls this morning and suddenly all of the ball throwers disappeared.
Today I had the opportunity to promote a joint campaign between my new employer, WildAid, former NBA star Yao Ming, and several of our partners. Check out the trailer my colleagues created for ‘The End of the Wild’, our upcoming film featuring Yao’s visit to Africa. Some of the content is graphic so take a moment before scrolling down and pressing play.
ByeByePet is a simple idea: go online and share memories of your pet after they pass away. Sounds ok right? How about the part where they market a box?
My wife sent me this video almost a year ago. It’s been sitting in my Inbox since then because I didn’t really know how to share it. My first thoughts were that it was a clever way to sell a white box and that it was also incredibly manipulative of people’s raw emotions. I waited for my views to change, but they haven’t except to say that I don’t think it’s that clever anymore. What do you think?
The surgical mask channeled each breath up and under my glasses, steaming the rims with each exhalation. The surgeon stepped back as I leaned forward, over the drapes, careful to keep my gown from touching the table. A bright light shone over the small rectangle, pulled back with several metal forceps.
I extended the camera out over the patient and just above my own eyelevel, shifting slightly to remove any shadow from the frame. Click, click. I pulled back the camera, scrolled through the photos, checking for focus. The surgeon pushed back in, taking and replacing tools next to the saw and piece of skull already on the tray.
When he pulled back to review the MRI capture hanging on the wall I slipped forward again. Click, click. Checking the focus again. The brain was clear and the edges of the hole were sharp. Nobody beside myself would see these photos but I needed the practice, plus it was an amazing opportunity.
Very few of us will ever photograph a living dog’s brain while at work. So why am I writing about such a rare occurrence? Because it holds several lessons, the first of which is to never pass up an opportunity to learn.
The 30 minutes I spent dressing for surgery, watching the surgeon saw open the dog’s skull, and photographing the resulting hole is not why I was standing in that surgical suite. I was there because I was looking for a story. It’s true that these photos were deemed too gory to share with our audience. I made the decision not to share them among our donors or send them to the press. How would they ever help a nonprofit gain more support? There wasn’t a story there.
I did put myself in that room though. I wanted to see the surgery firsthand, practice my photography, and chat with the surgeon. He’d been taking on increasingly aggressive procedures and if I was going to be there when a story was needed, then I needed to build a repertoire with him.
It was a teaching hospital so chatting with me was never a distraction. He had The Grateful Dead playing in the background as he placed orders for more tools with his assistants. We were getting along and that was exactly what I needed.
I needed to practice my photography as well. I’d been capturing close-ups of surgeons’ hands for the past few weeks, working on detailed focus as the trained fingers swooped and arced as sutures were tied. Lighting was crucial in surgery and I made adjustments between shots, working now so that when an emergency came in instinct would take over, switching to the best settings without much thought.
I had a great office. I had a sink, closet, mini-fridge, teapot, wrap around desk, and enough room for visitors. Best of all, I had a door. People make the mistake of thinking a door’s purpose is separation when it’s really connection. The most powerful use of a door is to always keep it open.
That said, my door was closed about half of the day because I wasn’t in my office, I was walking and talking, like some reproduction of “The West Wing” without the perfection of Sorkenese.
The more I was out of the office the less I depended on people to come to me. Each minute that I spent poking around meant that I spent about half of the time in front of my computer writing up press releases, speeches, or forcing the creation of poor ideas to pitch to my colleagues. When you’re surrounded by news, and at work you really are if you just tune in to the right channel, you can draft everything in your head as you walk and quickly pour out a near-finished copy in record time when you sit down.
I’ve helped intubate animals, shaved bellies for sterilization procedures, assisted in necropsies, and herded feral cats. It’s easier than you think to use your hands; that’s why they invented soap. The hardest part is making sure that you experience the world you don’t know so that you can tell the best story possible.
The more you put yourself in the middle of things the harder it will be to look away. You need to keep moving, keep observing, and take notes. Some things you will be able to share and other moments will be only for you and the people in the room. After awhile photographing a dog’s brain won’t seem that strange.
“It’s vegan,” she said, knowing that I would check the ingredients. “They printed the wrong label, but it’s vegan.”
The Whole Foods label listed my dietary nemeses including the stalwarts of baked goods: eggs and milk. I used to drink milk by the gallon daily, actually mixed with at least half a dozen raw eggs among other protein rich ingredients.
“But the label says…,” I drifted off. Edwina never took the vegan leap with me but she eats much healthier than I do. Did you know that at least one type of Doritos does not contain real cheese?
“Well, I’ll eat it if you prefer,” she countered.
Who was I to trust? It was in black and white. Labels don’t lie, right? On the other hand, my wife is the one who interrogates the poor unfortunate that answers the phone at our local Chinese take-away to ensure the egg rolls contain no egg and that the fried rice is pork-free. When they try to dodge her questions she slips into Cantonese and even Mandarin if they retreat further into their dialectic fortress.
It’s a question that needs not be asked. Of course I trust my wife over a label. But it raised an interesting point. Who do we trust when our allies are not around? The writing on the box has always held its vagaries for all to see: “natural ingredients”, “flavors”, etc. I studied enough nutrition over the years to identify the loopholes on the packaging.
So I grabbed the fork Edwina brought, then put it down, and dug in with my fingers. I cared for four horses as a kid and I’m pretty sure they never tasted this good.
*While this cupcake was bought at Whole Foods, I have no reason to believe that it actually contained horse meat. It was actually rather delicious.