Quick Trips to Take if you Live in Missoula, Montana

A Weekend on the Coeur d’Alene River

After a two and a half-hour car ride from Missoula, we arrived at the Little North Fork of the Coeur d’Alene River for a weekend of secluded camping!

 

 

We spent our time learning how to fly fish, (catch and release, of course), swimming in the water, laying in the sun, and exploring the beautiful remoteness of North Idaho…

 

… and we met this little guy!

 

 

 

A Day Trip to Glacier National Park

We woke up early in the morning and drove 4 hours to Going-to-the-Sun Road, making frequent stops along the way. Here’s a look at what we saw!

An Afternoon at the Hot Springs

One afternoon, we drove an hour and a half toward Jerry Johnson Hot Springs to warm up on an overcast day.

It’s an easy, short hike along the river until you reach the pools.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Once you’re there, you can explore a variety of pools ranging in temperature, depth, and size. 

The Best Wearable Tech I Have Ever Used!

Over my lifetime, I have had many different types of wearable technologies, ranging from various versions of the apple watch and a Fitbit. Over the past few months, my mind changed to Whoop Strap 3.0, which is the best wearable tech for what it offers. The Whoop provides a sleek design and a comfortable band to pair it with; it’s so comfortable you don’t even notice that it is there most of the time.

The Whoop strap is a 24/7 wearable that tracks how well you sleep, recovery, and how much strain you put on your body from day to day activities.

Strain

At the beginning of the day, the Whoop Strap gives you a strain number based on your recovery store and tells you how much strain your body can handle that day.  Strain for the Whoop Strap ranges 0-21, and the higher your number gets, the more strain you are putting on your body.  A strain score is ensuring that you are not overtraining yourself in your daily workouts.

When you are restoring your body, it means that you are taking on less strain than your body is prepared to handle, and it can accelerate your recovery process.  Optimal Training is the perfect balance of pushing yourself but not overdoing it.  Overreaching is when you try to push your body past your optimal strain score, this can lead to fitness gains but can be more detrimental than helpful.

Recovery

 

 

 

 

 

 

Recovery is probably the most important one of them all.  Recovery determines how prepared you are to take on strain. When you are in the green in the morning, this is a sign that your body is ready to put on a lot of strain and give it all you got.  When you are in yellow, it means that your body is not fully recovered but will still respond well to working out.  If you get a red recovery score, take it easy that day because your body might need more time to recovery, or you might risk injuring yourself.

Sleep

Sleep is probably something everyone thinks they do well.  When I received my Whoop Strap, I felt that I would see that I was sleeping great, but that was not the case.  Sleep was horrible for me, and once I was made aware of it, I changed things that made my sleep better.  In the app, it gives a break down of what type of sleep you are getting in a night, awake, light, REM, Deep sleep. The two important ones are REM and Deep Sleep because that helps you recover from the previous day.  REM Sleep helps recover the might, so you are mentally prepared the next day.  Deep sleep, also known as (SWS) or slow-wave sleep, helps your muscles repair themselves from the day before.

These are just some of the things that lead me to buy it in the first place, that and countless athletes and many other people that were using them, and it made a positive impact on their lives.

You Need Great Friends: Why life is better when you do it together

Friends can be a tricky avenue to maneuver. Within friendships, you have a person, other than yourself, who can be affected by the choices and decisions you make. There’s conflict and restoration. There’s an external being that feels emotions toward you. There’s someone who cares deeply about your life. This relationship can be both beautiful and broken. As a young adult with little life experience, I’m in no way a friendship expert. However, I’ve had many people in my life who have taught me how important it is to have great friends. Life becomes a wonderful journey when you start to do it with people. Especially when those people are great friends. 

You need honest friends. We’ve all heard, “honesty is the best policy”. It’s real, especially with friends. Having people who are honest with you is not as common as one might think. The people that encourage you one hundred percent of the time aren’t great friends. Sounds bold, right? What if that friend encourages you to do something that you will regret for the rest of your life? Great friends tell you what you don’t want to hear. The caveat is it must be in truth. What your friend says must be based on a reputable source for it to be truth.  

You need loving friends. To be a loving friend, he or she needs to be a solid friend. These people are so secure that no matter the cause, they will forgive you. It’s an unconditional type of love. It’s a love that won’t leave you because of your own brokenness. Because we are all imperfect. A great friend is someone who sees the parts of you that the world doesn’t see and still chooses to stay.  

You need great friends. Life is hard to do on your own. It’s demanding, chaotic, and draining. However, it can also be beautiful. The joyful moment’s everyone has in life are meant to be shared with others. Shared experiences of high points in life that make an impact on you are memories meant to be made with people. We are designed to live life with people and to let others in and to be let in. 

Seek great friends. Life’s burdens are too heavy to carry on one back. Let others lighten the load and have the freedom to be vulnerable, laugh without restraint, and be loved unconditionally.

 

Why You Should Switch to a Toxin-Free Lifestyle.

Look under your kitchen sink, pick out any random cleaning product that you have purchased and use, turn it around and look at the label, I would be safe to bet that you couldn’t tell me what more than maybe three of the ingredients in that bottle are. That’s because companies don’t want you to know exactly what is in their products because some of them might scare you! Environmental experts say that the average household contains about 62 toxic chemicals that we routinely expose our bodies to, from phthalates in synthetic fragrances to noxious fumes in oven cleaners that we willingly heat up! These common ingredients in our household products have been linked to some seriously scary things like asthma, cancer, reproductive disorders, hormone disruption, neurotoxicity and the list goes on and on! I know some of you are thinking, if this what such a outright cause of these diseases why hasn’t something been done about it and why are they still being made and used without any second thought? The answer to that question makes me sad, scared and angry all at the same time, manufactures continue that in small amounts these toxic ingredients  aren’t likely to be a problem but you can’t tell me that you use a product once and throw it away and if you have found something that you think works well you go buy more right!? Well that’s the issue, the routine exposure to these chemicals and in combinations of other products you may use with it haven’t been studied and it’s impossible to accurately gage the risks that you are exposing your body to. There is no federal regulations of chemicals in household products nor are they required to meet any safety standards, supply in testing data or notifications in order to bring the product to the market. This is why you see many household products, like Roundup and Johnson & Johnson’s talcum powder, come out years later as products that have been substantially linked to cancer.

Ok so now that I have officially freaked you out, let me help you. We are all keepers of our respective households, you control what comes in and what leaves. Now is a better time than ever to ditch and switch your toxic everyday products for mirroring ones that give you the same result without harming your body. Most of the time the excuse people have is that it’s too expensive and you already have the products so you may as well use them and I totally get where you’re coming from because I have been in your shoes but it’s also really not that expensive, and many of the products/cleaners you can make for yourself with other products you already have around your house. I have made the personal choice to add essential oils to my lifestyle because they have so many great benefits that are natural and do not harm my body. My personal choice in an essential oil company is Young Living because I like the platform they stand on and they are 100% upfront and honest with what exactly is in all of their products but not only that, they tell you where each and every product is derived from. This give me a peace of mind knowing that I know exactly what I am breathing in or putting into my body and allows me the freedom to make cleaner choices within my household. I haven’t even mentioned their cleaner but you know how cleaners tell you to induce vomiting or call poison control in chemical is ingested, well Young Living Thieves Cleaner just says to dilute with water. Ummm what?! How crazy is it to know there is a cleaning product out there that is so toxin free that even if it does get ingested all you have to do is drink water to dilute it because your body doesn’t need that much essential oil!

Change is possible people and the time is now to rethink what is under that kitchen sink! You are the keeper of your own home and only you have the power to make a difference in what products come in that door!

Private Prisons Are Unethical, Dysfunctional, and Should Be Closed

Private Prisons Should Be Closed

When a father went to visit his son in a private prison, the staff told him his son was not there and that they didn’t know where he was.  After 6-weeks, he found his son in a local hospital.  His son had suffered severe brain damage and now has the mental capacity of a two-year old.  He was injured in a brawl that investigators found was instigated by a guard who was running a prison fight club.

If you were incarcerated, wouldn’t you want the state to ensure your safety and that your rights would not be abused?  As taxpayers, you should be concerned about how your money is used to fund these unsafe and inefficient private prisons. From the research I have gathered, it is apparent that the use of private prisons has too many trade-offs to be considered viable due to their widespread issues of cost effectiveness and mistreatment of prisoners. Throughout this post, I’ll explain the advantages of ending the use of private prisons, which are: an increased focus on rehabilitation, better treatment of prisoners, similar or lower costs of operation, and a reevaluation of the harsh penalties that have contributed to overcrowding.

In the U.S., not all prisons are run by the government.  Some are operated by private companies that the government pays to house prisoners.  The three largest companies are the Corrections Corporation of America, the GEO Group, and the Management and Training Corporation.  Operations of these prisons are handled by these companies instead of the government.

The first advantage is that public prisons would focus more on rehabilitation than private prisons because the government does not benefit from repeat offenders. Private prisons claim they can lower recidivism (reoffending) rates with state-of-the-art rehabilitation programs. However, according to Anita Mukherjee’s August 10, 2016, study in the Social Science Research Network, prisoners in Mississippi’s private prisons recidivated no less than public prisoners despite serving more time (Mukherjee 2016). Brian Kincade cites a study of recidivism rates in private prisons in Oklahoma in his March 23, 2016, article in Smart Asset that found private prisoners recidivated 4% more than their public counterparts (Kincade 2016). State of the art rehabilitation programs would cut into corporate profits and would interfere with the steady flow of incarcerations private prisons depend on to make a profit. Public prisons do not operate to make a profit.  They have more of an incentive to properly rehabilitate prisoners to lower crime rates.  Because with lower crime rates, the government saves money and society is overall safer. Now that I’ve discussed why rehabilitation will be focused on more, I’ll explain how prisoners will be properly treated.

The second advantage is that states would directly oversee the treatment of prisoners and ensure their rights are not abused. One example of prisoner mistreatment is the conditions that led to the recent closure of a GEO Group prison in Mississippi.  The Southern Poverty Law Center wrote about the conditions on their website on September 15th, 2016 (SPLC 2016). Department of Justice investigators found frequent sexual abuse, widespread violence, and that the prison was controlled by gangs with help from the guards. U.S. District Judge Carlton Reeves found the state was violating the rights of prisoners by not protecting them from the gang control and stated “the evidence…paints a picture of a facility struggling with disorder, periodic mayhem, and staff ineptitude which leads to perpetual danger of the inmates and staff”. These are not isolated incidents and issues like these are widespread in private prisons across the country. The federal government itself has stated that private prisons run less safely than public prisons.  An August 18th, 2016, article by Gwendolyn Wu published by TakePart cites that Deputy Attorney General Sally Yates said that private prisons “compare poorly to our own Bureau facilities…they simply do not provide the same level of correctional services, programs, and resources…[and] they do not maintain the same level of safety or security.” (Wu 2016). States can provide better quality treatment to prisoners and can directly oversee that the rights that they guarantee the prisoners are not abused. Now that I’ve discussed how states will directly oversee that prisoners are treated properly; I’ll explain how ending the use of private prisons will not increase costs.

The third advantage is that states would not be taking on new (long-term) costs and in many cases, states would save money by ending their use of private prisons. On paper, many private prisons seem to have a lower per diem rate (per prisoner cost) than public prisons, however they aren’t paying for the same things that states must. In his 2016 article in the Fordham Urban Law Journal, Alex Friedmann lists the many ways private prisons offset their costs to the public in order for their per diem rate to appear lower than public prisons (Friedmann 2016). They tend to only house low-security healthy adult males, the least expensive type of prisoner to house.  This leaves the most expensive prisoners for the states to house. States still have to pay for medical care for prisoners in private prisons. Wages paid to prisoners in private prisons are reimbursed by the state.  In one year, the Corrections Corporation of America saved $30-66 million and the GEO Group saved $33-72 million from not paying prisoner wages. After adjusting for these factors and others, Alex Friedmann wrote in the same article that in many states private prisons were more expensive than public prisons (Friedmann 2016). States would be paying just as much if not less to house prisoners in their own prisons.  The only new cost they would be taking on would be the short-term cost of buying the private prisons that aren’t already being rented from the states. Now that I’ve explained how costs of prison operation will not increase, I’ll explain how ending the use of private prisons would force officials to rethink harsh laws that have contributed to overcrowding.

The fourth advantage is that by ending the use of private prisons, companies would no longer lobby for harsh punishments, forcing officials to reevaluate tough on crime laws to deal with overcrowding. Harsh penalties for non-violent offenders are the major causes of overcrowding. Michael Cohen cites many cases of private prison companies spending millions of dollars in campaign contributions and lobbying in his April 28th, 2015, article published in the Washington Post (Cohen 2016). The GEO Group and the Corrections Corporation of America have paid over $10 million in campaign contributions and over $25 million for lobbying. They lobby for laws that will punish non-violent offenders harshly and contribute to candidates who will vote for these laws and who will give the companies lucrative contracts. By eliminating the use of private prisons, government officials would no longer receive monetary incentives to harshly punish petty offenders.  Ending the use of private prisons to combat overcrowding would force lawmakers to reevaluate these severe penalties.

I’ve told you about four advantages of ending the use of private prisons; an increased focus on rehabilitation, better treatment of prisoners, similar or lower costs of operation, and a reevaluation of the harsh penalties that have contributed to overcrowding. With these advantages in mind, states should end their use of private prisons. The young man I mentioned at the beginning of my speech could’ve had a brighter future if he was housed in a public prison.  Instead of suffering debilitating brain damage, he would’ve been properly rehabilitated, and after serving his time he could’ve returned to the general public and contributed to society.

 

References

Barbaric private prison in Mississippi closes its doors after SPLC lawsuit. (2016, September 15). The Southern Poverty Law Center. Retrieved from https://www.splcenter.org

Cohen, Michael. (2015, April 28). How for-profit prisons have become the biggest lobby no one is talking about. The Washington Post. Retrieved from https://www.washingtonpost.com

Friedmann, Alex. (2016). Apples-to-fish: Public and private prison cost comparisons. Fordham Urban Law Journal, 42(2), 502-568. Retrieved from http://ir.lawnet.fordham.edu

Gilna, Derek. (2016, September 6). GEO Texas immigration facility hit for substandard health care and understaffing. Prison Legal News. Retrieved from https://www.prisonlegalnews.org

Kincade, Brian. (2016, March 23). The economics of the American prison system. Smart Asset. Retrieved from https://smartasset.com

Mukherjee, Anita. (2016, August 10). Impacts of private prison contracting on inmate time served and recidivism. Social Science Research Network. Retrieved from http://papers.ssrn.com

Wu, Gwendolyn. (2016, August 18). Activists to feds: closing private prisons won’t help most inmates. TakePart. Retrieved from http://www.takepart.com/