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Thoughts on Yellowstone:

“Throughout ‪Yellowstone‬, we were reminded that we were merely visitors in this place, which belonged to an amazing array of animal life, both abundant and rare.

Bison‬ have lived continuously in Yellowstone since prehistoric times, and today, there are about 4,600 in the park. We encountered these fellows on a snowy mountain road, and they were in no hurry to yield the right of way.

Bighorn‬ sheep are a less common sight, with fewer than 400 in the park. We found three grazing and sunning themselves on a hillside in the Lamar Valley. Yellowstone also has nearly 300 bird species.

Gray jays like this one are noisy, inquisitive forest birds know for stealing food from unsuspecting humans.”

– Scott Steen, American Forests, President & CEO

(Photographs by Chuck Fazio)

I was bored in class today so I doodled the Knope-Wyatt triplets’ signatures (with bonus John Swanson!). 

  • Stephen has been practicing his signature since he learned how to hold a pencil. With Sonia being the only girl and Wesley having glasses, Stephen is always looking for ways to define himself. Unfortunately, Stephen has terrible handwriting, and he quickly gave up on trying to make his name look fancy. To make up for his scribbles, he always makes the “S” of his name huge and unmistakeable, and always includes a clearly defined “t” so that no one mistakes his signature for Sonia’s.
  • Like her mother, Sonia has always dreamed about running for office. But Sonia also shares her father’s mathematical mind. For her, a signature is a practicality. She’s going to be signing a lot of bills into law when she becomes president, so a simple S.K.W. gets the job done without exhausting her finger muscles. 
  • Wesley’s signature is a perfect reflection of his personality: functional, unassuming, but not without a flair of creativity. 
  • While John Swanson is in no way a carbon copy of Ron Swanson, he is certainly his father’s son. He doesn’t put his signature on anything unless it’s something he feels strongly about, and if he does put his name to something, he does so plainly and boldly—no loops or frills.
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“But the thing I do remember clearly is a small scene I did in the pilot episode. It’s raining and Leslie is standing and looking outside her office window. In voice-over, she speaks about how this park project is going to take a lot of work and last a long time, but it will be worth it. […] I remember standing and watching the props guys make it rain in our fake outside courtyard as we shot the B-roll part of that scene—the shot of Leslie from outside the window that the audience would see as she spoke those words. I listened to the words being read aloud by Greg and Mike, and realized this was my new job. A tiny whisper, no louder than the Who that Horton hears, told me we were going to make it. I believed.” - Amy Poehler, Yes Please

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"Maybe Leslie doesn’t fit your personal idea of what a candidate’s wife should be. So what? That’s good! Because there shouldn’t be just one idea anyway."
"That’s right! If you wanna bake a pie, that’s great. If you wanna have a career, that’s great too. Do both. Or neither, doesn’t matter. Just don’t judge what somebody else has decided to do! We’re all just trying to find the right path for us. As individuals. On this Earth.”

Death Valley National Park - CA, USA: 

Rattlesnakes!

Just a heads up to pay attention when you’re out there, because the rattlesnakes are definitely awake!

Although the weather has been chilly lately, the really warm weather earlier in February roused the snakes from their winter nap. Rattlesnakes have excellent camouflage, so take the time to look a little closer before you step over an obstacle or put your hand on a high ledge. We get an average of about one rattlesnake bite a year here, and it is usually someone inadvertently tripping over a snake because they are not paying attention.

The most commonly seen rattlesnake in Death Valley is the Sidewinder (Crotalus cerastes). These snakes are surprisingly tiny, most only a foot to a foot and a half in length. They are ambush hunters, nestling down in the sand and depending on their camouflage to hide them from potential prey…

(read more)

Photograph by K. Duncan, text by DM - NPS

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When we worked here together, we fought, scratched, and clawed to make people’s lives a tiny bit better. That’s what public service is all about: small, incremental change every day. Teddy Roosevelt once said ‘Far and away the best prize that life has to offer is a chance to work hard at work worth doing.’ And I would add that what makes work worth doing is getting to do it with people that you love. I started my career more than thirty years ago in the Parks and Recreation department right here in Pawnee, Indiana. I had a lot of different jobs, including two terms as your governor. And soon, a new, unknown challenge awaits me which to me, even now, is thrilling because I love the work. Not to say that public service isn’t sexy because it definitely is, but that’s not why we do it. We do it because we get the chance to work hard at work worth doing, alongside a team of people who we love. So I thank those people who walked with me and I thank you for this honor.
Now, go find your team and get to work.