Saturday, August 29, 2009

Numb Kids



I hope that worked...

Videos

Here's one of the videos I made of the Pack kids. I tried uploading my first one, but Youtube blocked it, saying it violated some copyright law, even though I didn't ever claim to have written Linkin Park's song "Numb," and I gave credit where it was due. Well, whatever. Blogger doesn't seem to like me uploading videos the conventional way, either, but I'll try to come up with something, because it was a pretty neat video.

This next one was done at Kamryn and Noah's request. I'm going to go back and redo it later, though, because it gets boring after the first thirty-ish seconds. Actually, it's also somewhat unfinished. I got interrupted partway through and decided, "Meh, good enough for now." I could do better.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Meow :3

I still think Gohr is a fantastic musician. I wish I could download the full versions of his songs so I could put them on my Zune and listen to them in the car. Or maybe make another music video. Or something.

Life in general has felt better lately. I don't know if I just finally got over being unceremoniously kicked out in the street by--okay, apparently I haven't fully gotten over it. Maybe I've successfully banished thinking about it to the back of my mind. Maybe the medicine I'm taking is finally working regularly. (Apparently, it takes two or three weeks of taking it before it becomes really noticeable. So the bottle says.) Cindy says it's because I started reading scriptures and praying again. I even went to church this last Sunday. Well, the first hour and a half, at least. Then I had to go to work.

And of course, I got annoyed at the talk about tithing where the guy told a cute little anecdote about a lady who was paying tithing she could barely afford and someone told her not to and she rounded on him and put her finger in his face and said, "I FULLY expect blessings from this, and don't you DARE try to take that from me!" Cute, sure. But does paying tithing simply because you expect blessings defeat the purpose of paying it?

Well, at least nobody sobbed for five minutes over how much God loves us. I hate that.

I tried to talk to Rob about some of the questions I have and how annoying it is when we have the same ten lessons over and over at church. He shrugged it off, saying we have to have the same lessons because we haven't learned them yet, and it's wrong to want to demand deep doctrine when we haven't got the basics down. I've heard that before, and it's just as annoying hearing it now as it was then.

Don't get me wrong, though, I love Rob and Cindy. They're awesome. And I don't have any idea where I would be without them.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Unknown laws of physics

It never fails.

There are certain laws of physics that scientists never bother to explain. Whenever I'm working by myself, if I start to sing, someone WILL walk by. Whenever I'm cleaning a bathroom, if someone walks in, they WILL go into the stall I was planning to clean next. Whenever people see Woody, they WILL say something to the effect of "Wow, he's huge!" Whenever I'm in the room with a baby under a year old, it WILL start to cry.

I'm in the camper again this week because Cindy's mom is coming to visit. So when I came inside this morning, there were two children there that I don't know. One was a little boy named Tison (or maybe Tyson) who looked to be about two years old. He kept calling me "Mommy," but didn't say much else. The other was a baby girl named Chloe, who was, Rob told me, four months old. There was a movie playing called Race to Witch Mountain, but I didn't really get to see much of it because Noah kept talking. Okay, so I saw it, mostly, but I didn't hear it. Then Noah climbed in my lap and started shoving his head into my neck and forcing my chin up till it hurt. He kept doing it, even after I kicked him off my lap. Little bugger.

Rob put Chloe down for a nap, then left for a few minutes to go get tires or something. And of course, while he was gone, I heard Chloe wake up and start crying in the other room. So I went in and picked her up and brought her back into the living room, and she quieted down for a minute or so. She grabbed my thumb in her little hands and I was amazed at how long and thin her fingers were. I told her she had very pretty hands, and then she screwed up her face and started screaming. And then she stopped and farted real good. Then she started screaming again.

When Rob came in less than five minutes later, I was going, "I'm sorry! I broke it! I can't turn it off! Why's it making that noise? How do I make it stop?"

I don't like babies.

In other news, I got to talk to Jack yesterday! He started quoting at me some blog posts I had written about a year ago. It's really weird having old blog posts quoted at you by someone who read them maybe once or twice, six or eight months ago. Anyway, talking to him actually made me feel a lot better, and despite the fact that my stomach's still upset, I feel a ton better about life in general. But then, even with this stupid medicine I'm taking, I feel great one day and then bleh the next, and then great one day and bleh the next. Isn't there supposed to be some kind of happy medium??!?!!

I also had some extra time at work today (imagine that!) and I stumbled upon a Wikipedia article about the Dyatlov Pass incident. Apparently, back in 1959, nine people were hiking in the Ural mountains and something happened. Nobody really knows what. When they found the campsite, the tent had been ripped--it looked like from the inside. The temperature had been sub-zero, but the people had apparently run off without even bothering to put on shoes or clothes. They found some of the hikers in their underwear. Most were shoeless. There were no signs of a struggle, no footprints in the snow besides their own. They found five bodies pretty quickly. Three looked like they had died coming back to the campsite, about 150 yards away from each other. One had a slight fracture on his skull, but the detectives dismissed it, saying it was nothing fatal. Those five had died of hypothermia from being outside in the sub-zero weather without being dressed appropriately. But when the other four bodies were found, one had major skull damage, and two had their chests crushed with the force of a car wreck--injuries that couldn't have been caused by a human due to the force required. The fourth had had her tongue cut out. A few of the bodies had high levels of radiation on their clothing.

Talk about intense!

Even weirder: People who had been camping some fifty kilometers to the south reported seeing strange orange spheres in the sky on the night of the incident. Other people, including the military and the meteorology service, had reported similar spheres during the whole of that month (February) and the next.

Due to the absence of a guilty party, the incident was eventually dismissed, and it was concluded that the hikers had died due to an "unknown compelling force." (insert scary music here)

Picture time!

It's three in the morning, and I still feel icky, so it's picture time!!! Luckily for you, I brought my camera to work and got some decent pictures. Nothing great, but it's pretty cool stuff that you don't see too terribly often if you don't live on the ocean.

This is a rhinoceros auklet. He's one of the 71 birds we have here. Kind of cool-looking guy. He's called a "rhinoceros" auklet because he has a horn on his beak. Or bill. He's an alcid, which is a class of birds--the diving birds, which includes puffins. Most birds have hollow bones so they can fly better; diving birds have denser bones for diving. It's really cool watching them swim.


This one, of course, is a puffin. A horned puffin, not a tufted puffin. People think these guys are penguins a lot. It amuses me.


Here's Woody. Not the best picture of him. I spent two hours cleaning the newly-remodeled area outside his tank today, and in that time, every single person who saw him said something to the effect of, "Oh my gosh, he's HUGE!" That was pretty funny too.


These are the girls, Sugar and Kiska. They're about a third the size of Woody, but still pretty sizable. I think somewhere between 400 and 600 pounds.


Sugar walking. Watching sea lions walk is hilarious. They flop their front flippers and then kind of hop because they can't really walk with their back flippers. I should seriously get a video of Woody walking. It's hilarious!


These are the two male harbor seals, Snapper and Tongass. Not a great shot of them. Like Sugar and Kiska, they were enjoying the sunshine today.


The jellies. Not a whole lot else to say about them. They're jellyfish. 'Nuff said.


Weird-looking fish called a rat-tail. Apparently it's pretty rare, but a local fisher caught one and sent it in to us. I found it in research hallway and snapped a picture. Not sure what they're planning to do with it.


When I went outside, I watched an eagle catch a fish, eat it, clean its talons, preen itself a bit... and then I remembered, "Oh yeah, I have my camera on me!"


Here's the building where I work. Kind of a cool-looking building.


And here's part of the view from the back of the building. This is such a beautiful area. I can never get over it.


And just in case those pictures didn't cheer you up...

Monday, August 24, 2009

More blah

I think it's funny when I get comments from "Anonymous," saying s/he agrees with my parents. Gee, I wonder who "Anonymous" might be. Certainly not someone I know who has a very distinctive writing style... especially to a linguist.... And continued snide comments like the one a month ago about foolishly wasting time "mooching off benefactors" will result in my banning anonymous comments so that if you want to make a vindictive remark, you'll have to be man enough to own up to it.

But anyway...

I still feel blah. If anything, I feel more blah than before. In fact, I think I'm coming down with something. My stomach hurts, my head hurts, there's pressure behind my face, and I'm dizzy. But I'm not ENOUGH of any one of these symptoms to be able to actually say that I'm really sick. Just a bit off, I guess. There are doors here that I have to swipe a card to gain entrance through, and for some reason, I'm having difficulty getting the card in the slider today. Also, just looking at food makes my stomach groan and say, "Don't even think about it!" I ate lunch anyway, though. I sure showed it, huh? And yes, Dad, I'm drinking lots of water.

I don't really have much else to say right now. I just thought I'd update while I'm here. And bored.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Kids...

I felt really blah today. Maybe because the sun was shining. So hot and bright. Blech. I wonder if maybe my eyes don't dilate properly and that's why I hate the sun so much. Or maybe I just don't spend enough time out in it.

Well, I had to go out in it today. Rob insisted that nobody be inside on "a beautiful day like today." Yech. So I went outside and promptly got chased around the house twice by a wasp as big as my thumb. And my hands are huge, so that's a really big bug.

Rob and Cindy don't approve of my housing because I'll have two boy roommates. Rob says I should just save myself the drama, take out an extra couple thousand dollars loan, and get my own place. Mom says I should just get a shared dorm on campus. I just hate dealing with hassles. Sigh. (Even a shared dorm on campus would be over a hundred dollars more than I would be paying at the place I've got now... but it would be more convenient if my car happened to break down.) Frankly, I don't care all that much. I'll make do wherever I go, I just hate dealing with hassles. (And basically everything on campus is a big hassle.)

Kamryn basically begged me to come back to Seward again. She says she wants to come live with me. I can't believe how big she's getting. When I first met her, she was three, and now she's seven, reading by herself, taking care of her brother (which usually includes rubbing in his face that she can do stuff better than he can), playing tee-ball... She's getting so big it's starting to get hard to throw her around like I used to. Even Noah is older now than Kamryn was when I first came here. He's nearly as tall as Kamryn is, too, but Kamryn's getting a little paunch around her belly, so I expect she's going to hit a growth spurt pretty soon. Noah sure does whine a lot, though. He's been a terror this week. If anyone says no to him for any reason, he starts to shriek. I asked the kids to pick out a movie to watch, Kamryn picked Jurassic Park, and Noah threw a fit, and refused to get off the couch to pick a different one. He had a tantrum when Kamryn threw the baseball for him to hit and it was too high. He had a tantrum when he ordered his mom to throw his dirty paper towel away for him and she said no. He had a tantrum when his mom was solving a jigsaw puzzle and he tried to climb into her lap and she said no. Then he started kicking her. (This all happened today, too.) I'm kind of shocked by the way he treats his mom, to be honest. Then Dad came home, Mom talked to him, Dad pulled him back to the bedroom, and I don't know if Noah got a spanking or just a serious talking-to, but Rob came back whistling cheerfully a short time later, and Noah came out crying.

Rob gave me permission to smack his kids if they need it. I seriously think Noah needs it, but I don't think I'll ever be able to bring myself to do it. The other day, though, when Noah took my mag light from the pouch I keep on my belt for the umpteenth time without permission, I grabbed his arm and said, "What did I say about taking my light?" He refused to answer and tried to go to his mom, who was sitting across the room talking on the phone. I took Noah's other arm and told him to look at me and tell me what I'd said about the light. He refused and started shrieking hysterically like I was killing him, so I took him outside, sat down, and held him firmly and wouldn't let him go until he told me what I had said about the light. He shrieked for about ten minutes before he finally realized that he didn't even have to say sorry for taking it, just, "You said don't take it without permission." It feels so weird disciplining other people's kids in front of their parents, but Cindy didn't mind at all.

So... yeah... two child terrors and constant bruises on my arms from Jake chewing on me kind of make me want my own place when I go back to school.

And now there's a kid reading what I'm typing.

I don't want to go back to work tomorrow. I don't like my job. Well, I do. I just don't like having nothing to do. I kind of want to go hop in my car and drive home to my mommy sometimes. Am I homesick for the first time in years? Cindy says I'm homesick. I think I'm just generally frustrated and don't know what else to do because every decision I make seems to blow up in my face.

Now there's two kids reading what I'm typing. Except I don't think one can actually read yet.

Kamryn says hi. She also says, "What are you doing? How are the cat and dogs? Bye-bye."

Noah says, "How are the dogs? How are your dad? How are your mom? How are your cat? How are your swords? How are your horses? How are your dogs? How are your cats? And how are your dogs? There. That's all. And bye-bye."

Kamryn wants to say more. She says, "How are your pictures? How are your shelves? How is your daughter? How is your horses? How is your cat? How are your swords? How are your knives? How is everything that is in the house? Is the house all right? Bye-bye."

Noah demands to say more now: "How are your nights? How are your knights to the swords? How are your heads? How are your necks? How are your hands? How are your hands to hold a sword? How is your head to bang a sword? How are your hammers to bang a sword? And how is your legs to bang a sword? And amen, swordies! And good-bye, swordies! That's all."

And Kamryn says, "What do you want to do while your kids aren't there? Um. How are your plants?" I'm not even typing anymore. You get the idea. Also, Noah is eating my shoulder.

Kids are weird.

Cindy made lasagna tonight. It was fantastic. She says she's not a great cook, but every meal she's made has been fantastic, including the grilled cheese sandwiches.

Yay, kids are gone. Typing with kids climbing on you is hard.

...And now Noah's stealing the loose change I had on the dresser and putting it in his mouth. Gosh darn it. I gotta go.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Can't wait...

Good news! I do have housing this school year after all! I have to share a room, but that's okay, I guess. It'll work out. And if it doesn't, something else will.

I got so angry the other day that I started taking medicine for anxiety again for the first time in about six years. I've been on it for three days, and I'm not going to lie, I feel a ton better. And the fact that I only have to work at this job for another two weeks helps, too. I like the SeaLife Center, but I hate my actual job. I don't do anything. I spend the first half of the day, every Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday, sitting around doing nothing. Seriously, I check the bathrooms and glass every hour or so, then beg people to give me something to do, and they just say, "Stay out of sight in the basement." And I say, "What about this? What about that? Can I empty trash? Can I mop this hallway? Can I vacuum that room?" and they say, "No, Mike empties trash, and if you vacuum or mop, you'll get in someone's way. Just sit here in the basement and read your book." Well, I like reading. But I hate getting paid for NOT working.

I try to make up for it by working double-hard as soon as 5:30 comes around and it's time to clean the bathrooms. Once the Center closes, I clean the bathrooms as fast as I can so I can also vacuum the main walking areas and stairwells and wipe the dust off the ledge by the escalator... but it doesn't make up for having to sit around doing nothing for five hours.

Oh well. Less than two weeks till school starts and I can get back to my normal stresses: evil teachers, too much homework, frustrating school administrators, and boring classes where I don't learn anything worthwhile. Not to mention annoying roommates, an empty juggling club that I'm now president of, and intense cold. It'll be great.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Chicken Kickin'

It was a really bad day. There wasn't any real reason for it to be a bad day, either. I wasn't angry at anyone in particular, except possibly whichever idiot had designed the bathrooms at the ASLC. Nothing big or earth-shaking had happened, and no one had insulted or offended or snubbed me (or at least, not that I had noticed). It simply seemed like every time I turned around, a bathroom stall door would bang on me, or an automatic toilet would flush yet again, or a sink on the other side of the bathroom I was cleaning would turn itself on for no reason. I would open a paper towel dispenser and hundreds of M-fold paper towels would cascade onto the floor. I would bend over to pick them up, and a bathroom stall door would bang into me. I'd turn to get away from the bathroom stall door and crash into the wall. Then I would try to change a roll of toilet paper, the toilet would flush, the dispenser would have too strong a spring and go shooting across the room, the toilet would flush again, I would retrieve the dispenser, making another toilet flush, I would unwrap the new roll of toilet paper, drop the dispenser again, bend over to pick it up, get smacked by the stall door, the toilet would flush, I would bang my head on something, put on the roll of toilet paper, get my fingers pinched in the dispenser, the toilet would flush, the stall door would smack me again, the toilet would flush, and I'd trip on my way out of the stall and crash into the sinks while the toilet flushed once again just to spite me. By the end of my eight-hour shift, I felt that I couldn't possibly be in a grouchier mood even if I'd had an overweight retarded kid sitting on my shoulders all day hitting me in the head with a dead blue-ringed octopus while shrieking profanities in Swahili.

So I finally went home, and Cindy asked me to feed the chickens. I decided to feed the big chickens (the layers) first. But the moment I opened up the chicken coop, they all ran right past me into the yard. Controlling my worn-paper-thin temper rather well, I decided that since there was still a half hour or so until it got dark, I may as well let them peck at bugs or whatever it is they do in the yard for a while and round them up later. I finished feeding the big chickens and gathering eggs and headed over to the smaller chickens' coop. (By this point, the little chickens aren't really little anymore, but the title has stuck. Besides, it feels so much better than calling them "meat chickens" or "future supper.") As I walked over to feed the future supper, I saw Sparky, the rooster, near the little chickens' coop. He had climbed on top of one of the big hens and was, as Cindy puts it, "doing his thing." He finished his business and got off, strutting around and looking very proud of himself.

I finished feeding the little chickens (who decided they had to be obnoxious too and keep trying to run away) and decided it was about time to round up the big ones and get them back inside their coop. I clapped my hands the way Rob does when he rounds up the chickens. "Okay chickens! Time to go in!" I called.

They completely ignored me. Great.

I walked around and started shooing them towards the coop. "Come on, chickens! Get back inside! Go on!" They obediently started running back toward the coop. Except Sparky.

Sparky pecked at the ground. Took a slow step towards the coop. Pecked at the ground. Glared at me. Pecked at the ground again. He made it blatantly clear that I was not telling him what to do. 'If I'm going back in that coop,' he seemed to say, 'it will be because it's MY idea, you worthless overgrown bag of featherless flesh.'

"Sparky!" I snapped at him. I walked swiftly toward him, trying to shoo him towards the coop.

He rounded on me. 'I will NOT be intimidated!' he said in rooster-speak. He puffed up his feathers and glared at me, daring me to take another step toward him.

I did.

He charged at me, hopping up so he could get on my leg and spur me. I kicked him. (Don't freak out. He took a chunk out of my leg once before, and Cindy and Rob told me it's okay to kick him when he does that, because it will humiliate him more than hurt him as long as I'm just kicking him hard enough to keep him off. I didn't give him a full-strength WHONK! like I wanted to.)

Sparky flew back about five feet, landing on his butt. He scrambled to his feet before the hens could see this indignity and charged in again. I kicked him again. This time he scrambled to his feet, stood his ground, ruffled his feathers up, and started clucking threateningly at me. 'I haven't even started yet!' he threatened. 'I'll kill you! Don't even TRY to mess with me!'

"Shut up and get in that coop," I told him, taking another step toward him. He charged, and I kicked again, but this time, he hopped back away from the kick and came in after me as I pulled my foot back. Clever little bugger. I kicked him with my other foot.

He scrambled to his feet, ruffled his feathers up, and did the chicken equivalent of standing there with his hands on his hips. I, in turn, spread my legs out shoulder-width, put my hands on my hips, and then pointed at the coop. "Go!" I ordered him. "Now! Or I'll embarrass you again in front of your harem!"

He turned and started walking back toward the coop (rather faster than before), turning his head to glare at me. 'It was my idea all along,' he seemed to say. Then he walked into the wall of the coop because he wasn't watching where he was going.

As I locked the door to the chicken coop, I heard him crow angrily. I crowed back. Louder. Suddenly, I felt much better. Amazing how therapeutic it can be, kicking a chicken.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

What's a Gizzy?

"Mary?" I said, "There's a Thing."

"A Thing?"

"Yes," I said. "A Thing. And I want to know just what manner of Thing it is."

"Show me this Thing," Mary said.

So I led her into the research office hallway and pointed at the wall. Just inside the door, where a light switch would normally be, there was a small metal plate that looked like a light switch plate. But instead of a switch or even a button, knob, or lever, there was a small round plastic thing that looked like a round grate, about the size of a quarter. It couldn't be pushed or pulled or twisted or finagled or otherwise manipulated, and shining a light through the holes in this Thing showed only something that looked like solid copper.

Mary stared at it. She cocked her head. "Huh." She cocked her head the other way. She knelt down and peered inside it. "Huh!"

"What is it?" I asked.

"It's a gizzy," she said.

"What's a gizzy?"

"I don't have any idea. There aren't any others in the building, and frankly, I've never paid attention to this one."

We began poking at it and circling around to the other side of the wall to see if there was anything there. We shone my flashlight into it, flicked it, tried to pry it, inspected the wall opposite it….

A lady rounded the corner.

"Jill!" called Mary. "What is this gizzy?"

"What's a gizzy?" Jill came over and looked. "Huh." She cocked her head. "I've been here for years, and I've never noticed it before. No idea. Now I'm curious."

So the three of us stared at it and brainstormed. Another lady rounded the corner.

"Kimberly, what's this gizzy?" I asked.

And then four of us were staring at the gizzy, trying to figure out what it was.

"Maybe it's a motion sensor."

"Maybe it's a hidden camera to make sure we're working."

"Maybe it's an alien life form!" (Yeah, that was me.)

Then Mike happened along.

"Mike," Mary asked. "What's a gizzy?"

"A what?"

"A gizzy."

"A gizzy. I don't know of any gizzies. I know about thingummies and whatchamacallits. They're the ones hooked up to the whoosiewhatsits and the doodads. But I don't know of any gizzies."

So we showed him our gizzy. He cocked his head. "Huh. So that's a gizzy." He stroked his bushy beard and cocked his head and checked out the wall above, below, beside, and across from it. "Weird."

"And it's the only one in the building," Mary informed him. "I don't know of any other gizzies anywhere."

"Well, it's a good thing," Mike said. "If there were more than one gizzy, they might decide to have little gizzies, and there would be gizzies everywhere!"

"But since there's only one, I guess gizzies are an endangered species, huh?"

"I wonder if there are different kinds? Do you think the spelling is important?"

"How do you even spell gizzy?"

"G-I-Z-Z-Y, of course."

"Are you sure? What if it's I-E?"

"Maybe there's only one Z."

"What if the first I is really a Y?"

"No, it's definitely an I."

"How about a silent P at the beginning?"

Seeing motion, we all looked up to see red-headed Pam staring at us, eyes wide. Her expression changed from bewilderment to something akin to fear, and she fled into a side room.

"Aw, I guess she doesn't know how to spell gizzy either."

"Maybe it's her gizzy and we weren't supposed to know about it."

"No, there's no way it's her gizzy. It's our gizzy."

The side door opened and Pam tried to sneak away before we could see her.

"What's the matter, Pam? Don't you want to see our gizzy?"

"No!" Pam yelled, and broke into a run.

"Awww, she doesn't like our gizzy."

Then Randy, the security guard, happened by.

"Maybe Randy knows what a gizzy is!"

"Randy! What's a gizzy?"

"A gizzy?"

"Yeah, thingummies and whatchamacallits are easy, because they're hooked up to whoosiewhatsits and doodads, but we don't know what a gizzy is."

"A gizzy…"

"Yeah, see our gizzy?"

"Huh. Never noticed that gizzy before."

Then Darryl, the general manager, came by and found a group of half a dozen employees staring at a small metal gizzy on the wall. "What in the world are you all doing?" he asked.

"Trying to figure out what this thingy is."

"It's not a thingy! It's a gizzy!"

"It's not a button or a switch or a knob or a lever--"

"I've never paid attention to it before--"

"It's a good thing there's only one in the building--"

Darryl came over, glanced at it casually, and said, "It's the buzzer that used to sound if you opened the door without swiping your card, but it's disconnected now."

And he walked away.

"Oh."

"Oh."

"Huh."

"Makes sense."

I stared after him as the crowd of no-longer-curious coworkers dispersed, thinking, "Man… there has GOT to be a better way for that funny situation to have ended."

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Stupid animal...

The Sea Life Center was closed, and had been for over an hour. The lights were off, and I was in the Underwater Viewing area, where the only light in the room was what filtered in through the sea lion, alcid, and harbor seal tanks. I had finished cleaning the bathrooms with half an hour to spare before my shift ended, and so I had decided to wipe down the tanks one last time before heading home for the evening.

I started with Woody's tank. Woody is the Center's male sea lion. If you've never seen a sea lion before, I can describe one for you with one word: big. Woody may be the exception to this description, not because he's much bigger than average, but simply because he can be seen from up close, since he loves to chill out right by the glass, where he can see people passing by. The only adjective I know of that would accurately describe Woody would be the Latin word ingens. The closest English translation to this word, as my Latin teacher so delicately put it so many years ago, was something along the lines of "honkin' HUGE!!!"

Woody weighs 1,500 pounds and is roughly ten feet long. His head is about the size of my entire torso, and his head is dinky compared with the rest of him. I've seriously seen cars smaller than this animal. When people see Woody, they automatically think, "Oh my gosh, that is a big animal!" It doesn't matter if people don't speak English, or even if they have pet elephants at home. It's one of the lesser-known laws of physics. People see Woody and think, "Oh my gosh, that is a big animal!" just like they fall in the opposite direction when they get pushed, just like they close their eyes when a sudden blast of air hits them in the face, and just like they wet themselves when they're scuba-diving and they see an animal the size of Woody charging at them.

So I began wiping down Woody's tank, and Woody, who was bored now that the people were gone and he was no longer the center of attention, came over to watch. He stuck his face right up against the glass where my rag was, then floated up, took a deep breath, and gently sank down in front of my rag again. He blew a few bubbles, went up for more air, and sank down slowly again, staring at me.

With his enormous face only inches from mine, I became uncomfortably aware of the fact that a) my entire head would fit in his mouth, and b) if he decided he didn't like me, he could probably charge at the six-inch-thick acrylic, smash it apart, and squash me flat before I could even blink an eye.

The ingens animal floated back up and sank slowly down again, and I found my hand involuntarily slowing down as I stared up at Woody and thought, "Oh my gosh… that is a BIG animal!" We stared at each other for a few seconds, neither of us moving, and then, abruptly, he bared his teeth and jerked his head, charging at the glass, stopping just before he smashed into it.

I didn't see him stop. I screamed and leaped about four feet diagonally up and back. I looked up to see him float up a little bit higher, something that was unmistakably a pinniped smirk across his enormous face. Then he dropped down to the bottom of the tank and settled down in his favorite corner, with his eye pressed up against the glass.

Once my heart rate had slowed down enough to function again, I got up off the floor to continue wiping down the tank. Woody stared at me, but didn't move any more. Pretty soon, the only spot left to clean was the corner where Woody was resting with his eye up against the glass. Veeerrryyy sssllooowwllyyy, I knelt down by the corner and began wiping, making no sudden movements for fear of startling him. Not, I suppose, that someone like me could really scare an animal the size of Woody. Maybe I was just scared of him deciding I was annoying and that he should charge the glass for real and break me apart.

I wiped the glass, and Woody watched, about six inches away, not moving anything but his eyeball. Right up until I finished the corner and started to take the rag away. And then he jerked abruptly, spinning to face me, and shooting right up towards my face.

I vaulted about six feet back, nearly smashing into the row of chairs placed near the exhibit to allow people a place to rest while they watched this monster, and scrambled on all fours to get far away and around one of the pillars by the fish tank. As I settled down, urging my heart to start going again, I poked my head cautiously around the corner of the pillar. Woody was floating about halfway up, watching me through the glass, with his mouth open. I swear to Torvanos I could hear him laughing at me.

Stupid animal.

Friday, August 7, 2009

Whiiiiine

I've had the house to myself for the last two days. It's kind of nice. Jake isn't even around. The Packs went camping, and they took the dog, so all I have to worry about is feeding the chickens twice a day. I did dishes and laundry too, just for kicks. I think I may bake cookies tonight before I go to bed, too.

The last few days have been far from relaxing, to be honest, but what do you expect? The last month has been the same way. I went to Mike today to ask him to give me, in writing, the reason I got fired. First he said that I was no longer allowed on resort property at all, and then when I asked him to answer my question, he wouldn't tell me. He kept saying, "You should know. It's obvious. I don't need to tell you. Go ask Scott. I did a full write-up." Finally, I got him to tell me that he fired me for "insubordination" because the last thing I said before I got fired was, "I hate working with all these f@$#ing non-English speakers." I tried to call him on that, because I never said anything like that, but he claimed he had three witnesses and said I just didn't remember because I was too pissed off. Then, as if he didn't think he had been acting immature enough, he said, "You know everyone here hates you. It's like party time now that you're gone. Everyone's much happier, because nobody liked working with you to begin with. We're so much better off without you." Seriously? That's like the sort of thing a middle-school girl would say. And part of me says, "You know he's right and that's why nobody spoke up in your defense when you got fired." But the realistic side of me realizes that every word out of this idiot's mouth is a lie, and he'll say anything to justify firing me because he knows he didn't have a real reason.

So I went to Scott and asked him for the reason I was fired, in writing, and he said he couldn't tell me why, but that I'd had friction with Mike, and he would have Jewel type it up and have it ready for me on Monday. Yeah, right.

I want to just drop it and move on, but the fact that they're lying to potential employers when I apply for other jobs is kind of important. I filed for unemployment, but since I don't really want to work full-time while I'm taking 15 credits at school, I'm pretty sure I won't qualify and therefore they won't even look twice at my application. Beth says I should get the number for some HR person up at Ft Richardson and talk to them or something.

Garth says I should just sue the pants off him for lies, slander, and wrongful dismissal. I have to admit, the idea sounds more tempting every time I think about it. But I can't afford a lawyer, I don't like lawyers or court stuff to begin with, I don't like hassles, and I don't want to be seen as the person who goes crying to authorities as soon as people start picking on me. Then again, it's that or continue having a reputation as someone who punches people's teeth out or cusses out bosses or whatever else Mike can come up with.

Why is this turning into such a big deal? I hate this!

Changing subjects....

I picked up a hitchhiker today. I've never actually picked one up before, but this one looked like a friendly, adventurous girl about my age, and I knew she was going the same way I was because I was going to the far end of Seward, and the road pretty much stops there and goes no further. I never asked for her name, and she never asked for mine. She told me she was leaving Alaska after summer ends because she's moving to Iceland and has already applied for citizenship there. Of course I wanted to know about Iceland, and she happily told me about it. It sounds like an amazing place to live! I just may go there someday. Maybe after I graduate and leave the country, I'll go there instead of Canada. The towns are small, the climate is something like southern Alaska's, and the country uses mostly renewable energy, like geothermic. The main language is Icelandic, but they're taught English in school at a very young age, so everyone speaks English pretty fluently. She says it's a beautiful area, too, very green, but with volcanoes and geysers and other cool stuff.

I'm so going to Iceland.

Hmmm, what else? Oh yeah! I got bored last night and made a music video. It's kind of weird. It's of Kamryn and Noah. I wanted to upload it, but the internet here is so slow it didn't want to do it, so I'll do it at the library tomorrow or something. Actually, I should also probably ask Cindy if it's okay to put her kids on the internet first, too.

I guess the nice thing about having a really lousy summer is that I'll appreciate school more.

I've been so whiny lately. Sorry. Maybe someday I'll stop whining about how much my life sucks and start writing fun stories again. But first, I think I'm going to go make cookies.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Ugh, what now?

I was talking to the people in upper management at work today. Alice, the really nice HR lady, told me that when she called the resort to interview them before they hired me, the comment she wrote said something to the effect of "he tried, but we succeeded." She told me it was because Mike told them pretty much exactly what I said he would and that she could tell pretty quickly that he was an idiot and she couldn't really believe what he said, especially since everyone else they talked to said exactly the opposite. It pretty much made my day.

Later, I talked to Lloyd's dad, who's the general manager. I thanked him for whatever good words he put in for me that seemed to work, and he asked about the person I punched out at the resort. ....Sorry, WHAT?? "Yeah, when I talked to the guy at the resort, Scott or whoever, he told me that you had punched out one of the foreigners, knocked out her teeth, and called someone a mother-effer like ten times. I told them that's not the Lint Monkey I know, but I kind of want to know what happened." Suddenly, so do I. Seriously, WHAT??? Isn't them saying stuff like that slander or something? Is this going to jeopardize every job I ever apply for?

I think on future job applications, I'm going to say Rye was my supervisor, because he was a fairly good supervisor for three years, and Mike was only my supervisor for two or three months, and a terrible one, at that. But Darryl said SCOTT told him I had punched someone out...? Ugh, this is so annoying! I wish this would just hurry up and disappear into the past and be a bad memory, but it's following me around everywhere!

It didn't really help that today was such a slow day that I spent more time walking around trying to find something to do than actually working. I hate being paid for not doing anything.

Eventually, I went into the bird area and asked the interpreter to teach me how to tell the different kinds of birds. I'm trying to learn as much as I can, because the bulk of my job is wiping down the glass around the fish tanks and sea lion tank and other exhibits, so I'm out in public a lot. I asked Mary if there was some kind of booklet or something I could study to learn it, and she stared at me like I was insane and said, "You want WHAT? Why?? Custodians are supposed to keep their mouths SHUT!" Sigh.

I enjoy wiping down the exhibits, at least. I was wiping down the glass on the underwater viewing for the birds' tank (even though Mary says it's not our job and we don't have time... and yet she couldn't find anything to keep me busy today) and a murre that was swimming around saw the yellow rag I was wiping the glass with and started chasing it. It was cute.

Sorry for the depressing post. I guess I'm a bit frustrated today. At least it's my weekend, so I get to spend the next two days... finding stuff to keep me busy. Which means it won't be too much different than work-days except that I won't be getting paid for it.

I wish I had a piano to play. That would make me feel better.

I hate Mike.

Monday, August 3, 2009

Oh yeah!

Thanks for reminding me, Dubby!

I got to wipe down the glass (which is really acrylic) on Woody's tank this morning, and the sun was shining at just the right angle to put sunbeams in the water. So of course, I had to take out my phone and snap a picture. Then Woody decided to start swimming in circles, so I took another one. The picture quality is pretty terrible, but it's something, at least.



I've finished training, so I get to work normal schedule starting tomorrow, which means I get to sleep in! Yay!!!

And that's all for now. I should head home from the library and get a shower because I smell freaking terrible!

The Sea Life Center

Being at work by 6 a.m. is pretty tough. I'm working morning shift with Mary (my supervisor) while I'm in training, and then I get to switch to evening shift: 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. I actually enjoy being up early, but going to bed early enough is hard. I usually decide around 8 o'clock that it's time for bed, but I don't actually make it there until about midnight because I'll get to talking or someone will put in a movie and invite me to watch with them or offer me food or something. Because I've been up late and then rising super early, when I got off work yesterday, I stopped by the library for a few minutes to check e-mail, then went straight home to the camper and crashed. Didn't wake up until 10 p.m., when Cindy came to check on me because nobody had seen me all day, and she was worried.

I like my job so far, except I hate automatic sinks and toilets. Actually, "hate" isn't nearly a strong enough word. Loathe, abhor, despise… I don't know words to describe the sheer raw hatred I hold for them. There's a special place in hell where people have to spend all day trying to clean an automatic toilet that basically flushes repeatedly every time you move at all. I can clean a toilet in thirty seconds flat, but in that time, I'm not exaggerating, some of those stupid toilets flush five or six times. Not a nice quiet "sploosh" flush where the water goes down cleanly, no. We're talking the kind of flush that's like a freaking explosion, where water actually sprays out of the toilet because it flushes so hard. We're talking the kind of flush that makes small children cry. The kind of flush that is the reason some children are scared of flushing the toilet. Five or six times. Every stall, except the blessed ones where the sensor is broken. And, Asgard forbid, if the door is hanging at the wrong angle, the toilets think there's a person leaving, so they like to flush themselves more. I bet in the space of a week, those bathrooms waste more than enough water to completely fill up the sea lion tank. Twice.

And as if it's not bad enough having to put up with the toilets flushing themselves, the stall doors are probably the product of Satan-worshippers too. For one thing, they're the cheap ugly wooden kind. The stalls are uncomfortably small, but the worst part is that the doors refuse to stay in the position you try to put them. If you go in a stall and try to clean the toilet, no matter where you put the door (unless you completely shut it and bolt it), it swings and bumps into you constantly. And, of course, this is while you're busy swearing about the toilets flushing. It's like having a kid yanking on your arm to get your attention while you're busy trying to put out a fire in the oven while blocking out the sound of the fire detector blaring in your ear. Except worse, because it goes on and on, whereas putting the fire out would only take minutes.

Then there are the paper towel dispensers and trash bags. The trash bags are irritating because they don't want to open. I don't know how much time I wasted my first day of work trying to get those darn bags open before Mary taught me the trick: get your fingers wet in the sink, then put the trash bag in your fingers and snap your fingers. The paper towel dispenser is the kind where you put in a stack of C-fold towels. Side-loading. That means that if you bump it wrong, a stack of paper towels two and a half feet high comes cascading down onto you, and if you're unlucky enough to catch the stack with your arm, it's hell trying to get it back into the dispenser. And the whole time, they're dropping off your arm while you're fighting to save as many as possible because once a paper towel touches the floor, it has to go straight in the trash.

Then there's the automatic sinks, which turn on if you so much as walk past. I swear, walking to the end of the bathroom is like doing the wave, only instead of people standing up and throwing their arms in the air, it's sinks turning on and off. Sounds funny, right? Well, trying washing the hard water spots off a sink when it insists on running if you accidentally set off the sensor. Not that I'm bitter.

Other than that, though, it's a pretty great job. My favorite place is the underwater viewing area. In the morning, we have to keep all the lights off there. Something about not disturbing the animals. But the tanks are open to the outside, so light filtered down through the water, letting in blue light. My first day there, I was looking at a tank with pretty blue light shining into the room, admiring the water. I turned around to say something to Mary, turned back, and jumped about six feet when I came face-to-face with the 1500-pound sea lion, Woody. Seriously, he's huge! He swam right up to the glass while my back was turned and watched me, saying, "Wait a minute, who are you? Are you going to feed me? What's going on out there?"

Today I got to see the Catacombs. Basically, there's a large part of the building that never got finished. Nobody really goes there: there's nothing there except the unused building supplies. There's no electricity, no doors, no floor… nothing but gravel, concrete walls, and a few pipes. It was a pretty cool place.

The people who are special enough to have offices or cubicles like to bring in plants to make their offices look prettier. Unfortunately, it seems that most of them don't have time to repot their plants ever, so a lot of them are falling out of their pots, completely root-bound, with sprouts going off every which way in a desperate attempt to find more dirt. So far, if I say, "Wow, that's a lovely plant!" the people who own the plants say, "Why, thank you! Would you like a cutting?" I've acquired four new plants (two of them spider plants that I plan to give to the kids if they survive), and am hoping to get an
Aloe plant pretty soon too, since a lot of the scientists have those, and I've seen at least one or two that are shooting out stuff I could cut and repot if they let me.

Outside the bird exhibit is funny first thing in the morning. The birds are hand-raised, so they love people. They get bored at night, and when they see us cleaning first thing in the morning, they jump out of the water and come up to the glass and follow us around, saying, "People people people yay people! Are you gonna let me out? You should let me out! Hey, can we go play? Wanna give me food? Will you take me with you? Are you cleaning? Can I help? Yay, people!" I don't like birds much, but I can't deny that these guys are darn cute.