Sorry about the potluck

Hi Dawn,

Thanks for your message.

I didn’t go to the potluck because I’m tired of the vegetarians and their cognitive dissonance.

It’s absolute bullshit. John is the worst and he started the group. He doesn’t even seem to contemplate what it means to be vegan and how vegetarians like him still pay people to kill animals for them. I don’t really care for his company.

I also didn’t go because I was laid off from my shitty wage slave job at the Holiday Inn Express.

A week or two before I was laid off I had several meetings with the general manager and assistant general manager and told them how upset and angry I was that so many of the housekeepers, mostly Navajo women, come in an hour early and work off the clock to get their carts ready and get all of their linen for the day. I told them that they feel pressured to work without clocking in because the hotel is run so poorly, there isn’t enough inventory, the storage rooms are rarely stocked properly, there’s one head housekeeper in charge of scheduling, ordering products, managing staff, keeping the housekeepers in line and managing the laundry staff. And the head housekeeper doesn’t even get paid benefits. It’s absolute bullshit. I told the GM that all of these issues are directly related to the absentee owners in Moab. Michael Henry Bynum, with the help of  his son, Zachary Daniel Bynum, has been exploiting Native American women at his hotels for 40 years in Moab and for 5 years now in Cortez.

Dawn… I just don’t understand how they are still getting away with this.

How can a world this cruel be allowed to exist?

The rich and powerful white men — whose faces change over the generations but never change — have so carefully honed and perfected this world to create a permanent upper class and a permanent lower class to exploit for their benefit. I see it in three phases, all intended to control the population. First, it was genocide. Get rid of the existing population. Next, bring in some slaves. We need people to work our fields for free. Now, it’s all about capitalism. Keep the slaves in the field but just change the laws slightly to let us pay them minimum wage and keep them on seven-hour shifts instead of eight so we don’t have to pay benefits.

How are they still getting away with it?

Why is it that when I try to tell the Navajo women to stop working off the clock all they see if an angry white man, an authority figure, who is accosting them for some reason but they have no education (part of the plan) or understanding of the world so they can’t even comprehend that they are being exploited and abused and manipulated and why I am so bothered by that exploitation? This isn’t how it has to be but I don’t know how to communicate that. I’m not from this world. I have no one to talk about these issues with in this town. If I mention capitalism I’m a fucking alien. So I further isolate myself.

This is all part of their plan and at this point I don’t feel like there’s anything I can do about it. I thought being a journalist would empower me to change the world because presenting the facts would surely change peoples’ minds. No. That’s very naive. I have no power. My writing is meaningless. For everyone decent journalism story there is an equal and opposite article from a capitalist propaganda outlet to counter reality. The world is evil, white men are evil and there’s absolutely nothing I can do about any of it. They are insatiable. I’ve talked to two union leaders and Denver and they said there’s absolutely no way any union is touching Cortez.

I’m unemployed now and have enough money to get me through the end of the year I think. I have my marijuana employee badge so I handed out my resume to the dispensaries but literally no one is hiring in this town for the winter.

I’m just one of the hundreds of souls in Cortez suddenly thrown to the wayside once the nice, rich, white families stop visiting Mesa Verde National Park. They all wear the same dumb clothes and white Reebok’s and Tommy Bahama shirts and when they go home they tell everyone they saw real Navajos (!) and I overhear them asking the front desk attendant what tribe they are from as they relish in their newfound multiculturalism. But it’s all a fucking game. The Navajo they see in the hotel are just being exploited by a rich white asshole developer in Moab who hasn’t actually generated any of his own wealth himself. No, his father owned a restaurant in Moab and then lil Mike was the star quarterback of the HS football team and got a scholarship to CU Boulder, where he studied law and then opened up a development/real estate law firm in Boulder with his good friend who went on to donate $10 million to the law school to employ in perpetuity “two senior faculty positions to be held by national-caliber scholars with a deep appreciation for and commitment to capitalism and free enterprise.” (Bynum and Chrisman also used their own law firm to work out all of their own development ventures, and the law firm’s name is on the bottom all of their Colorado business forms from that time. Great way to keep everything in house.)

Everyone praises the rich white men. He makes charitable donations! He creates jobs! He sits on corporate boards! Well, hold on now. He creates shitty minimum wage jobs because he’s incredibly selfish. He makes charitable donations because he is woefully under taxed. He makes charitable donations to ensure his money will not help the general welfare and the people he exploits, rather he wants his money to benefit people like him. Now because of his generous donation, young white men from privileged backgrounds can attend CU Boulder and learn all of the tricks to keeping as much money in his and his family’s pocket and far from the people who actually generated the wealth, working in the hotels, in the restaurants, with sore backs, endless cuts and scrapes on their fingers, getting sick from the women who had a cold in room 110, missing out on a day’s pay to take care of their child because any sort of sick time or vacation pay or healthcare is reserved for the people who actually matter! That is, the people who sit behind a desk all day and play with spreadsheets.

And the vegan thing. The GM called a staff meeting after I told him how I feel and they bought pizza. As I walked in, one of my laundry coworkers said she told the boss I’m vegan and they got a special pizza for me. My vegan anxiety began to swell. I’ve had plenty of experiences being vegan among coworkers and I always keep my expectations low. When the pizzas arrived I was not at all surprised to find a special small pizza just for me. I opened it up and found cheese all over it. So the head housekeeper took it back, which was very kind but totally unnecessary, and then she came back 20 minutes later and plopped a small pizza in front of me with no cheese. Then one of the housekeepers made a comment about how special and pampered I am. So I’m the weird one. I’M THE WEIRD ONE? I literally just don’t want to kill animals for no reason as well as destroy the planet and their own health. But I’m fucking weird.

It’s all bullshit Kathleen and I’ve decided that I’d rather just renounce the world. I’ve actually been thinking that it might be best to encourage the acceleration of global climate change to hasten our inexorable end. My fantasy is the world that will return after humans have killed themselves off. A balance will return to the Earth once we’re gone. That’s the only thing I look forward to these days.

 

Maybe I’ll see you around town,

Walter

The Monster

My byline sat atop every story I wrote for the past two-and-a-half years but with each edition I slowly lost a part of myself.

The reporter was stealing my life. There was a monster inside of me, in my mind, always lurking above, below the surface. I was afraid that if I didn’t kill it, it would kill me first. Sean Dolan stopped being a reporter so I could live. By the way, who am I?

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Metaphor?

There was a day that Sean Dolan couldn’t go to work. He couldn’t be a reporter that day. He couldn’t stop thinking about suicide. He was trapped in his bed, filled with anxiety and depression and fear and guilt and so many emotions that ended in hopelessness. He didn’t want to go back to the newsroom that another called suffocating or that courthouse where poverty, mental illness, substance addiction and overwhelming sadness are always present. I imagined what it would be like for my Mom and Dad to travel to Colorado from Virginia and walk into the duplex where their son died. I told my Editor I couldn’t go to work that day.

Sean Dolan stopped caring about covering these fucking redneck assholes who can’t seem to understand the concept of returning a damn phone call. They all love their guns and spreading fear more than they care about living. There is a victim mentality, a sense of entitlement, in rural, white America.

This is our land. We’ve been here for four generations. If you don’t like how we do things, then leave.

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And we leave our shotgun shells and beer bottles whereever we damn please.

Excuse me, sir, but the land itself has been here for many, many more generations. What even is a generation to nature? You do not own it. You have no claim. Your rights do not exist. You follow the law of man but you seem to have forgotten the laws of nature, my friend, and what about the Natives? Or the Anasazi? The ruins are right over there, but, I am sorry, you have been grazing and homesteading this land for the past four generations. I should step out of your way. Sorry. I don’t belong in the world you stole.

Hey, Sean, stop thinking that way.


I want to get back to that feeling of standing in the kitchen of my childhood home knowing I would never step foot in that house again, as my Dad kicked me out and was going to sell it, and that I might go to Australia. A beam of energy surged through me —  as I thought about the possibilities of life — from my feet to the crown of my head. I want to find that feeling, harness it. Untethered freedom.

That feeling of sitting in the dirt on the side of the rough, two-lane road beneath the Southern Alps with my thumb out, heading further south further south further south more south than I have ever been. Back then, I was on the spiritual path. I was trying to figure out who I am, but I lost all sense when I became a reporter in chains.

For the first time in two-and-a-half years, I feel like I am back on track. Me. Not Sean Dolan.


Page views is all that matters here. Shock and awe. Death and disaster. Chaos. Staff cuts. Newsroom consolidation. Parent company sold. Publisher fired. Editor quits. HR rep quits. Reporter quit. Everyone quits. Downsize. Misery. Two papers. Two-and-a-half years. The train never stops so you better keep up.

Car crash on the bridge, fatal, run past cars parked on the highway. Take a picture, not knowing someone died in that classic yellow pickup. Call sheriff. Call fire chief. Call state patrol, fatal, he said. House fire, fatal, interview the man who just lost his partner, burned. Take a picture. Call sheriff. Call fire chief. She died and you interviewed a man who just lost everything except his dog.

Do you hear that siren? It’s snowing. Turn on your police scanner app. Dispatch just said what mile marker the semi vs. subaru crash is at so you better get your jacket and and grab your camera and start driving. Is was fatal, later, after a coma. I didn’t follow up.

Drive to three car crashes in one day and send your photos and info to the Editor on his day off, but he never takes a day off. Chaos. Protect yourself. Don’t get sued. Don’t get in a car crash. You should just stay in your house where it’s safe and you can smoke weed and perseverate about your stories.

It’s dark in the newsroom when you come back from the last crash and the Editor is sequestered in his office. I’m on two hours of overtime now, so I shouldn’t work anymore. I gave him everything but the story isn’t up. I can tell he is sad, maybe frustrated, definitely lonely, when I leave. He is alone with his newspaper. I felt guilty, leaving him there with the car crash and Facebook.

Now I’ve completely abandoned him. Sean Dolan had to do it so I could live. I’m sorry.


My first day as a housekeeper at the Holiday Inn Express by the National Park was unusual.

Me and Patrice — who commutes one hour from the reservation in Utah for a job that pays Colorado state minimum wage for five or six hours a day — were supposed to watch Cory, the veteran, clean the fuck out of a hotel room like she has done for 20 years, but Maintenance was going to turn off the water in an hour so we had to clean all the bathrooms first. I didn’t really get the whole picture of how to clean a room. It’s not rocket appliances, though.

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Yeah, definitely a metaphor.

I quit being a reporter on a Friday, had a job interview at the hotel on Saturday and started cleaning on Monday. I have worked in hotels and resorts before, in food and beverage, but they were all in Australia so now I constantly fight the urge to call everyone mate and say, “How ya goin?”

The work isn’t bad but it gets stressful when your cart wasn’t refilled the day before and Laundry hasn’t restocked the storage room. It’s not bad if you’re assigned to the first floor, but when you’re on the far side of the third floor and have to briskly walk across the entire hotel to find a queen firm pillow case and you’re supposed to clean a room in 25 minutes, the stress can build. Breathe.

Today, the first day of week two, went swimmingly. Everything was in its right place. Rooms not too messy. Satisfaction. Clock out and there is no monster lurking because I killed it. I’m still lonely though. It’s hard to meet people out here in this isolated town — especially if you never try. Change that, please.


I have now returned to the spiritual path and I already remember what I began to learn in New Zealand. I have time now for it and space in my mind, now that I’ve killed the monster.

They, the unnamed spirits, have already reminded me that if I ask for help, they are there. If I slow down, if I listen, if I am willing to accept spiritual knowledge, they will provide it. They provide happiness, affirmation that you and now are all you need.

Go for a walk, clear your mind, they will drift in.

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How the fuck did I end up in southwest Colorado?

I started reading a book called “Meditation,” by Eknath Easwaran. He told me to wake up early and don’t be rushed. He told me working constantly, eating unhealthy foods, smoking cigarettes and giving your body little to no exercise is a recipe for a heart attack, which is something I am concerned might happen to the Editor.

Easwaran told me that the first stage of meditation is to realize that you are not the body. The second step is to realize you are not the mind. So what are you then? That’s the third step. Figuring that part out. I don’t know where it leads.

I am starting down a long path that I believe will help me control my mind, control my emotions, manage my stress, manage my depression so that Sean Dolan can someday be a reporter again. Journalism needs me, at least that’s what a reader told me once.

My therapist said today that he is excited for me. I am excited too. I don’t think I’m crazy.


I jumped off the train that never stops. Journalism is grueling, toilsome work with pay that doesn’t match the emotional damage and mental stress. You finish a story that took several days, hours and then all you hear is negativity. Nothing changes. Your story doesn’t matter. And tomorrow you have to find something new to write about that won’t matter.

You never hear from the print readers who genuinely appreciate your work. Reporters only hear the anger and hatred. They are forced to live in it.

Sean Dolan had to stop being a reporter so that I could live. The spirits have told me that Sean Dolan is a powerful creator, but I need to work on myself before he can save the world, save humanity from itself. 

Yes, the stakes are that high.

Advice from a NYT pro

Editor’s note: This actually happened.

Stories From a Drifter: What advice do you have for journalists who are struggling with declining readership, newsroom staff cuts, low pay and stagnant wages?

Nicholas Kristof: I think the business model issue is the big problem. And I don’t think there’s going to be a good solution to that. I think philanthropy may help in some places. Uhh, but, I think a lot of journalism is — especially local journalism — is going to be really kind of screwed for years to come until we find some kind of better business model. And, so, you know, for the individuals, I don’t have a great answer other than try to develop the skill sets that people are moving toward, you know, with multimedia, and this kind of thing, because it makes one more marketable. And the skill set is — even if one ends up doing something else — the skill set in journalism is incredibly useful I think in anything else but it’s going to be, it is rough times and it will continue to be rough times in journalism.

SD: Any advice for someone who wants to start being, like, some sort of foreign correspondent out there in the world?

NK: Umm, you know, one option is work for an English language paper in, like in Hong Kong, there is the South China Morning Post, or in Bangkok, the Bangkok Post, or wherever it may be. Those papers will often be willing to hire an American native English speaker who’s got journalism experience and it may not be, it may not pay great, but the cost of living is usually pretty low and it could be a great experience in a different country so that might be something to think about.

Climate change will increase global inequality

Professor Tord Kjellstrom gave a lecture and Q&A about the effects of climate change on workers for the Nelson Science Society on Tuesday night.

Kjellstrom, director of the Health and Environment International Trust and visiting fellow at NMIT, spoke of the “extraordinary inequality” between hot, poor countries around the equator and rich, cold countries in Europe and North America in the coming decades as a result of climate change.

Countries in South East Asia and West Africa will lose billions of dollars in productivity and work capacity, while countries like Canada and Russia have calculated that their economies will actually benefit from the effects of climate change.

Kjellstrom provided the example of the Le Lai shoe factory in Haiphong, Vietnam. During the summer, workers stay two hours longer everyday to produce the same output. It’s so hot and humid they have to take more breaks.

“The trends are always going up,” he said.

In the upcoming UN Climate Change Conference in Paris, scientists and world leaders will make plans to limit the global temperature change to 2 degrees Celsius over the next 100 years.

The graph below shows four plans for the expected global temperature change. The top blue line is unsustainable and the bottom line is not currently feasible. Kjellstrom says we can expect the temperature to rise somewhere around the green and red lines in the middle of the graph.

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Four plans to limit global temperature change. Most predict we will end up somewhere around the green and red estimates.

Kjellstrom added the expected life span of his two-year-old grandchild (yellow), and the successive generations. This child will almost certainly live to 2100, when the global average temperature is expected to be 2 degrees Celsius higher than it was in 1995.

“I imagine the sort of world he is going into,” Kjellstrom, who grew up in Sweden but has lived most of his life in New Zealand, said.

Kjellstrom and his research team have compared the temperature increases in places around the world and gauged the effects on working people in fields and factories.

Here in Nelson, with a booming fruit picking industry, the temperature has been increasing at a rate of 0.16 degrees Celsius every decade. It won’t make a huge difference in labor productivity.

Compare that to Singapore, where it is rising at a rate of 0.29 degrees every decade.

Or Istanbul, at 0.97 degrees.

Or Santiago de Queretaro, Mexico, where the temperature has risen at a rate of 1.29 degrees every decade since 1980. This is not a prediction, this is what has already happened.

It is clear that as the temperature rises, productivity falls. Workers have to start earlier in the day, take more breaks, take naps during midday or, in some cases, work becomes impossible.

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WBGT is a heat stress index created by the American Military. It takes into account temperature, humidity, wind and other environmental factors. As WBGT increases, productivity plummets.

With a wide disparity between hot, poor countries and cold, rich countries, scientists and economists predict mass migration, massive loss in labor productivity and mass fatality. Entire countries will become unlivable in coming centuries.

The Climate Vulnerability Monitor expects a global loss of $2.4 trillion (USD) in global labor productivity annually by 2030.

One of Kjellstrom’s colleagues estimates 100 million refugees will seek entrance to Europe by the end of century because of climate change. Compare that figure to the 280,000 refugees who entered the EU in 2014 and 350,000 from January-August of this year.

That’s a lot of people with no where to go. He says they might be resettled in the cold, safe climates of Siberia or Northern Canada.

“I hope you are educating this government,” a woman from the crowd says during the Q&A, alluding to the conservative Prime Minister John Key. Everyone laughed and one man quipped, “Is that possible?”

The discussion lasted longer than the lecture. I appear to be the youngest in the crowd of about 60 in the auditorium style classroom at the Nelson Marlborough Institute of Technology. Most of the attendees are the type of Kiwi mothers and grandmothers who wouldn’t allow you to refuse a cup of tea or coffee and homemade biscuits. Rumbles of mmm, mmm, mmm and head nods spread through the crowd when Professor Kjellstrom makes an especially poignant remark.

“Is there anyone here who doesn’t believe in climate change?” he asks the crowd. Just laughs.

One member said, “It’s not a belief system…We should not use the word belief.”

Unfortunately, many people don’t see it that way. I find it sad that we most certainly have the ability and technology to stop climate change, but capitalism is preventing progress. Too many corporations and lobbyists are simply making too much money from fossil fuels, agriculture and livestock. They like the status quo and aren’t willing to change.

Kjellstrom said with his age he has learned to be patient. He said it is difficult to find funding for research and even more difficult for people to believe your work if it is not published in a peer-reviewed journal. It’s clear this fight will take time, but by the time we take action, it might be too late.

P.S. I just watched Cowspiracy on Netflix. Holy shit. Mind blown. If you really want to be an environmentalist, stop consuming all animal products and go vegan.