Friday, April 30, 2010

Oil Spill Disaster

When I watch the news and see the massive oil slick in the Gulf, it honestly makes me nauseous. I'm not even kidding, the mixture of dread, sadness and knowing all combine to make me a little bit queasy.

There are so many thoughts running through my head about this disaster. Didn't anyone have a plan in place for this sort of thing? It certainly doesn't seem like it. And in retrospect, when I hear the details of how far down the platform had drilled to get oil, I think "what the f*ck business did we think we had doing this?" I mean COME ON, we are a nation of smartass people, why have we sat back and not found a solution, an alternative, to offshore drilling? I work in a place that's curing cancer, for eff's sake, we are smart enough to come up with a new plan...why haven't we?

Oh wait. Probably because of all the people like the rich people with vacation homes in scenic vistas which also happen to be the perfect spot for a wind farm. Right. The same people who want to build their megamansions on eroding beach, mow down forests for their vacation cabin, shoot wolves from helicopters, and crush piping plovers under the tires of their gas-guzzling SUV's. But I digress...

I guess the reason I'm so cynical about this oil spill is because I've been there before. In 2003 I worked for a summer helping out with this environmental disaster. Let me tell you, compared to poor Louisiana, we were damn lucky. The Buzzards Bay oil spill took only 500 birds, which was a travesty at the time, but for NOLA and the gulf, 500 birds is gonna be the tip of the iceberg. The USCG, despite their best efforts, will absolutely NOT be able to contain the spill - I mean, we kind of already know that. Let me tell you what's going to happen (in my opinion/estimate): it's going to spread, it's going to wash up on the beach, and it's going to start coating and killing things. What it doesn't get on the shore, the slick will get as it slowly starts sinking to the bottom of the ocean, drifting through one layer of sea at a time, one ecosystem at a time, until in reaches the bottom and sits, smothering clams, shellfish, crabs, any other benthic creatures you have living down there. The birds are going to be absolutely covered with oil, and while some rescuers may be able to catch and clean them, for many it will be too late; birds instinctually preen their feathers, and whether or not they're fouled with oil is no exception. Feather preening will lead to oil ingestion, and this will lead to death. There will be carcasses washing onshore for weeks. Even after the oil is visibly gone, dead crap will be washing up for months.

My hope is that the cleanup is at least somewhat successful. The fact that Buzzards Bay and Barney's Joy made the recovery that they did is, in my inexpert opinion, nothing short of a miracle. I send good cleanup/recovery karma down to the Gulf, because they surely need it. It will be interesting to see how Obama's plans for offshore drilling change in the wake of this tragedy (hopefully they will). It will also be interesting to see how (or if) opinions change towards alternative forms of energy in the coming months. I am seriously keeping my fingers crossed. It's almost humorous to compare the environmental impact of a wind farm to the environmental impact of a massive oil spill. It's like comparing apples and a nuclear warhead. Let's get it together, people.

For me? I think it's time to think about moving closer to work where I can depend on public transportation and researching hybrid vehicles. Yeah, I dream of a brand new Subaru, but enough is enough, it's definitely time to break up with oil...a little bit at a time...

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Weird Formatting, The Knot Ticker

Ah, my blog is looking strange!
I added a new wedding ticker here....I love one but their site is undergoing maintenance and I didn't want a huge obnoxious advertisement hanging out at the top of the blog. The new one is a little more subdued, but maybe a bit more refined? ha ha ha who knows.

I am off to donate platelets. Last time it didn't work out so well, my blood splurted right out from my vein all over my arm, the tech, and the blood pressure cuff. Hopefully this time I will have more success...

Picking Up Where I Left Off a Year Later

I began working on this list nearly a year ago. I found it out there in internet land and it's kind of fun. I think it'll help me come up with those 100 things in 1001 days list I was talking about yesterday...

Found this on someone's blog. The instructions are simple: just copy the list of 100 accomplishments, highlight the ones you've achieved in bold, and elaborate as desired.

It's big. But it's fun.

001. Started my own blog. Yep. I had three, two Africa-themed, and this one. The others have fallen by the wayside.

002. Slept under the stars. I dozed under them...out in the Mara...but not full-on sleep

003. Played in a band. HS marching band count?

004. Visited Hawaii.

005. Watched a meteor shower. Ok this is an "I think so" Every summer I lie out on our dock over the lake in NH and watch the stars fall. I guess it counts!

006. Given more than I can afford to charity. It's a vice. Not a bad one. But the whole "living beyond your means" bit comes up lol.

007. Been to DisneyWorld/Land. 1992. Oh the good times.

008. Climbed a mountain. (Kilimanjaro calls me sometimes.)

009. Held a praying mantis. Holbrook....never in Hanover.

010. Sung a solo. Kindergarten graduation "L for the lovelight in your eyes." Never again since.

011. Bungee jumped. You must be kidding. NO NO NO.

012. Visited Paris.

013. Watched lightning at sea. I can't quite remember, but surely on one of our mainland/Nantucket journeys. We were in a hurricane once....

014. Taught myself an art from scratch. A lot has been self taught with people weighing in.

015. Adopted a child. (Maybe someday)

016. Had food poisoning. Oh hells yes. J.F.K. School lunch: fish. Ugh. Kenya, the V-D (vomiting-diarrhea) One way to find out who your true friends are is to have terrible food poisoning around them - if one holds your hands while you go on the toilet and throw in the sink, and the other doesn't hate you forever for hogging the bathroom while she throws up in a trash barrel with HOLES in it, then there you have it, true friendship 4EVA.

017. Walked to the top of the Statue of Liberty. (No. Next time we go!)

018. Grown my own vegetables. Tomatoes only, but one day much more.

019. Seen the Mona Lisa in France.

020. Slept on an overnight train. I don't think a 3AM departure from Penn counts...

021. Had a pillow fight. Absolutely.

022. Hitchhiked (not sure I ever will.)

023. Taken a sick day when you're not ill. um. obviously. But not a lot! Maybe 3 times total!

024. Built a snow fort. Hells yes! Only reason to live in such a wintry clime!

025. Held a lamb. As it came out of its mom. It sounds gross, but it was freakin' amazing and I hope someday I'll get to do it again here: (who will do this with me??)

026. Gone skinny dipping. Beginning of every semester at Smith, in the pond (ew!) and at home of course...that infamous night. heh.

027. Run a marathon. (a half. hope to change that soon)

028. Ridden in a gondola in Venice.

029. Seen a total eclipse. It was a lunar eclipse. Solar: only partial.

030. Watched a sunrise or a sunset. I love watching the sunrise. Love love it.
Seaplane over the Mountains

Small Ripples

031. Hit a home run. (can't remember!!)

032. Been on a cruise. Alaska. It was glorious.

033. Seen Niagara Falls in person.

034. Visited the birthplace of my ancestors. (not unless we're talking about the cradle of life, the Great Rift Valley!)

035. Seen an Amish community.

036. Taught myself a new language.

037. Had enough money to be satisfied. Here and there. I think when Jam and I marry we might truly experience "satisfaction" because neither one of us are "we must have the newest car, the biggest house" type people.

038. Mastered the cartwheel.

039. Skimmed the surface of water on waterskis. (odd considering the opportunities to do so!)

040. Seen Michelangelo's David.

041. Sung karaoke. Cathay Hanover, "It's Raining Men"

042. Seen Old Faithful geyser erupt. More than once! It's great.

043. Bought a stranger a meal at a restaurant.

044. Visited Africa. Twice, and I hope for more returns. It holds my heart.

Kili in Clouds and a Zebra

045. Walked on a beach by moonlight. YES. And saw blue phosphorescent algae in the sand!

046. Been transported in an ambulance.

047. Had my portrait painted.

048. Gone deep sea fishing.

049. Been to the Sistine Chapel in person.

050. Been to the top of the Eiffel Tower in Paris.

051. Gone scuba diving or snorkeling. Snorkeling in Ketchikan, Alaska. Amazing. Scuba scares me :P

052. Kissed in the rain.

053. Played in the mud. Kenya again.

054. Gone to a drive-in theater. (No but I found one in Mass and we must go!)

055. Been in a movie.

056. Visited the Great Wall of China.

057. Started a business. Landscaping, 97-02. Made good money. Gave it up to work for the Audubon Society.

058. Taken a martial arts class.

059. Visited Russia.

060. Served at a soup kitchen. Mainspring House, thanks to Jr. High Fellowship

061. Sold Girl Scout cookies. But of course.

062. Gone whale watching. Stellwagon Bank and Gulf of Maine.

063. Got flowers for no reason. Jamaal has sent them "just because."

064. Donated blood, platelets, or plasma. Blood, here and there, platelets every two weeks.

065. Gone sky diving.

066. Visited a Nazi concentration camp site.

067. Bounced a check. Oh yes. Actually, I overdrew my bank account 7 times in one day in January. Granted it was a processing thing at the bank....but still lol

068. Flown in a helicopter. MSP Helicopter N20SP. Crashed in the Charlers River two months later.

069. Saved a favorite childhood toy up until my late 20s. Um do you think I would ever give away teddy and purple doggie after they survived being left behind in Canada and made the 3,000 mile journey home in a shoe box. HELLS NO.

070. Visited the Lincoln Memorial. I would like to see it again though.

071. Eaten caviar. It's too salty, though I like to pretend I have refined taste and will eat it anyways.

072. Pieced a quilt. Yes indeed.

073. Stood in Times Square. It is daylight even at 2AM there!

074. Toured the Everglades.

075. Been fired from a job.

076. Seen the Changing of the Guard in London.

077. Broken a bone.

078. Been on a speeding motorcycle. Probably not "speeding" but it was fast enough for me!

079. Seen the Grand Canyon in person.

080. Published a book. I made two blurb books! I'm counting it!

081. Visited the Vatican.

082. Bought a brand new car. (my next forester will be new)

083. Walked in Jerusalem.

084. Had my picture in the newspaper. 1st grade, 3rd grade, college, for my job. I'm soo famous LOL.

085. Read the entire Bible.

086. Visited the White House. Got the super secret tour.

087. Killed and prepared an animal for eating. This is a weird 50% one. Participated in goat slaughter. I did not draw the knife across its throat, but did carve it up in the kitchen. It was gross. Goats taste like they smell.

088. Had chickenpox.

089. Saved someone's life.

090. Not known that 90 comes after 89, not 91. laaaame

091. Met someone famous. Minor celebs/sports figures. Good enough for me!

092. Joined a book club.

093. Lost a loved one.

094. Had a baby.

095. Seen the Alamo in person.

096. Swam in the Great Salt Lake.

097. Been involved in a law suit.

098. Owned a cell phone. A couple, actually.

099. Been stung by a bee. More than once. Ouch!

100. Ridden an elephant. I know I did at those seedy fairs and local zoos. Poor elephants!

I have a 52% completion rate on this one...which honestly is a bit of a relief given my 37% on the list from yesterday. Maybe I do better with long-term goals??

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Things I Didn't Get Done This Year

I find that I am funniest when I am filled with self-mockery and deprecation, especially when telling a story. People love stories where I make myself look like an ass - take my favorite story from Kenya, for example, the now infamous "Bunny Story." It almost always gets a laugh.

Lists are no exception to the mockery and deprecation. Sometimes I almost wonder if I make lists because I KNOW I will not complete them...thereby giving me a reason to make ANOTHER list. It's a vicious cycle - there's the "good" side of my brain that says "go! achieve! accomplish! be brilliant!" and then there's the wicked side of my brain that laughs and points and says "ahahahahah I sooo knew you wouldn't get that done."

Some may be upset by the lack of accomplishment, but I have decided not to worry too much about it. Because one makes a Bucket List in order to have a list of things to do before one dies....and this always leads me to think that with the completion of a Bucket List one does not find an overwhelming sense of self-satisfaction but DEATH.
Therefore in my lack of completion I have, for another year, cheated death!! VICTORY!

Seriously though, here's what I did and didn't do:

27 Things I Want to Do Before I'm 28:

1. Go somewhere new and somewhat faraway NO
2. Make a superfluous and ridiculous cake for no reason YES! I made not 1 but 2 bee cakes
3. Finish my running excel file bird life list (uber DORK!) there is plenty of time to be dorky!
4. Make a blurb photo book Yes - made two!
5. Run the Boston Marathon* No. Stress fracture, shin splints blah blah blah
6. Take more photos of everything, especially people Yes
7. Become insanely and enviously organized ha ha ha yeah right
8. Finish a long-abandoned craft project (under the sea cross stitch? sr year calligraphy project?)
I count the lizard ridge afghan because I bought most of the yarn for it years ago:
Lizard Ridge Afghan
9. FTDS and move in with Jamaal, opinions and judgements be damned No, but that's because the opportunity did not present itself. I will be doing this this year, and soonish. And actually there won't be judgments or opinions. I must've been very angsty when I wrote the original list!
10. Memorize a poem. Or two. "Bright Star, were I would as steadfast as thou art..not...alone..." um. No.
11. Set the bar higher at work- I'm not organized, I'm not putting in 100%, and that makes me sad - Kinda sorta.
13. Spend more quality time with Jamaal. We hardly have any down time or time to do fun things beyond go out to dinner. I want to do fun stuff for a change (not that food isn't fun, but you know). I want to do photo-worthy things. eh No
14. See a Red Sox game LIVE (bonus points for a stadium other than Fenway!) Nope. Damn.
15. Skip work, even if just for a day, to do something furtive and fun, like go to the beach. ooooh the indulgence! Uh, I took a personal day for a facial! Does that count?
16. Have the wedding planned out almost to completion so I enjoy the day Not precisely, but I'm doing OK
17. Take advantage of what Boston has to offer (restaurants, museums, shows etc) No. I suck.
18. Help more people and animals. I donate platelets and all, but it's kind of removed from the situation. Uh, ha ha ha I comforted a catbird while it died in my backyard...and I totally saved a woodpecker this Christmas. Oy.
19. Bird watch more - see five new species! (neeerrrddd alert) Yes. Super-Nerdy
20. Take better care of my skin (beyond sunscreen, I don't do much of anything) This is a yes. I just bought a Clarisonic too (dying to use it, Sephora is taking its sweetass time sending it!)
21. Chillax more. I am overbooked always, and feel guilty when I don't want to go to something, but have nothing to do otherwise. Have to stop feeling guilty too. Oh GOD no, I am not chillaxed. I have less guilt though.
22. Conquer a fear (this will be the hardest thing on the list!) Um. I don't think I really did this....unless you count "letting Jam pick a DJ" as one, lol
23. Reduce that knitting stash! No...BUT I did not add to it. Key.
24. Visit the Mapparium NO
25. Reconnect with someone YES
26. Spend more time in my kayak taking in the world. YES
27. Make a five-course dinner for me and Jamaal. I don't even know what those five courses would be really, but it's the kind of thing you hear in movies, and I'm gonna do it! YES! OMG and it was so good, even if the main course was spaghetti and heart-shaped meatballs!

I have a 37% completion rate here. Eck, that is bad! I am thinking of adding to this list and making one of those 100 things in 1000 days list, because I am self-centered and like thinking about all the stuff I want to do and goals and sh*t. Maybe that's what I'll do tomorrow to escape the mundane happenings at the office. Maybe....

Friday, April 23, 2010

For the Cat Lovers

Forgive me for my lack of fluency in lolcat speak ;)

Finepix 2009 045

"I'm sittin' on ur table, vanquishin' ur efforts"

Finepix 2009 024


Finepix 2009 085

"I'm sleepin' on ur stuff, preventin' accomplishments"

I admit it - I miss the kittens.

Finepix 2009 073

Macaws say "Come closer so we can bite UR FACE!"

Friday, April 09, 2010

Spring Cleaning


Just spent about three hours despamming my blog comments and deleting draft posts. I thought I was on my 600th post, but after deleting the drafts I realized I am about 25 posts short. Dang - I was hoping to hit 600 on my bday! Oh well...

In reviewing all the comments, I found some hilarious stuff. There were some really sweet anonymous or one-time commenters, especially on my mbta posts. There was one post I wrote that was called something like "I wish you would go away and f*cking die" Oh, the angst of my days with a particularly troublesome coworker, she really brought out the worst in me!! Ironically enough, I'm sitting in the office with one other coworker right now who is completely quiet - it's hard to believe that four years ago I was so incredibly miserable!

I also found interesting posts filled with lists of things I wanted to do, failures, accomplishments, crafts, lists of complaints...and videos, most notably of THE BRUISE:


Anyways, I do have to get back to work after wasting so much time on blog maintenance. First though, I will quickly wrap up petsitting.

The goats were NOT escaping because their manure pile was too high. Oh no. I can't believe I was dumb enough to think that was the cause. The goats succeeded in escaping three additional times before I figured out what I really needed to do. They were pouncing on their pen fence over and over until they either broke through it or trampled it to the ground and then pranced their merry way out. The final straw was coming "home" to find them in the FRONT YARD. Some random guy was scritching their heads and keeping them entertained...and by entertained I mean keeping them from running out into the street and getting nailed by a car or a fast-moving mail truck or hearse (there's a funeral home at the end of the street!). The guy introduced himself as the neighbor's grandson, adding to the introduction "You should really build a better fence." Um hi, I don't actually own this house, but yes, a better fence should be built." I actually came home early that day because I had to take my own pet birdie to the vet (he's fine) so I shut Penny and Copper in their goat house and took off for the vet, resolving to fix the fence when I returned.

The fence repair took a looong time. When I finally got back from the vet (after stopping at my house to get my bird's cage - I had to move him in with me because he needed twice-daily medication) and changed, gathered tools, etc, it was already late afternoon...I settled in for a long afternoon/evening of fence repair.

First the holes:

It's hard to see here, but Penny and Copper basically destroyed about a 6 foot-wide section of fencing.

They used a team approach when smushing down the fence. Copper would weaken it:

Then Penny would deliver the final blows:

I knew I had to rewire the fencing sections that were completely destroyed, and reinforce the width of the fence with additional posts I found lying around the yard.

The goats did not tax themselves whatsover, but rather sat back and watched:

And of course, I cut my hand:

Lulu the Grumpy Dog was my steadfast companion throughout the entire ordeal. She had decided to become my friend (probably after all the peace offerings of cheese and turkey pepperoni) and continued to sit by whatever area of the yard I was busy repairing. Once I finished the fence around the pen, I worked on reinforcing the fence around the yard. This was more of a quick and dirty fix, which involved wiring an old portion of the stockade fence to the wire fence; couldn't get the wire fence taut enough to keep it from bending every which way, and I knew that as long as the fence was bendable the goats could escape. The stockade fence, though a bit run down, would block the goats' exit from the yard.

Obviously, there was a lot of stress over the next few days whenever I had to leave and go to work. Would I return home to find the goats frolicking in the middle of the street?? Luckily, I turned out to be quite skilled in the field of temporary fence repair. Score.

This meant I was able to turn my attention to the other creatures, like the 28 exotic birds in my care, Lulu the dog, and the two kitty cats.

Now there's a group of people out there that hate cats. I understand that some of them have had bad experiences or are allergic or whatever, but I think there might be some that don't really have any legit reason why. I totally respect irrational fears, I have a ton, but to just hate something for the sake of hating? STOPPIT. Because I learned during my two week stint that cats are awesome, hilarious, and easy. These two made my petsitting life fabulously entertaining (except the time they were playing in a paper feed bag at 3AM and making an ungodly racket):




The cats were so low-key, however, they almost resulted in my ultimate petsitting FAIL. The homeowners were scheduled to come home on a Tuesday night. On Monday, I went crazy cleaning the house, and on Tuesday morning I was running around like a chicken with my head cut off emptying the trash, cleaning to toilets and tub, sweeping, etc. I packed the car and trundled off to the mbta lot, planning to stop by later that night to drop off the house keys.

When I drove up around 6:30pm, I could tell no one was home. I rang the bell and knocked and Lulu went NUTS. Finally, I used my key to get in. It was a little chilly in the house - had someone been home with the door open and left again? I called out - nothing. NO cats either, and the two of them usually came bounding from wherever the moment they heard the door open. It was eerie. As I went through the house I realized everything was exactly how I left it. I called to the cats. Nothing. I scratched Lulu's head, checked on the rest of the birds, and then locked up. Weird. I figured the homeowners would be home soon, so I tried not to worry...but I was stressed. They were supposed to arrive home around 1pm. Where were they? Where were the cats? What happened? Why was it cold in the house? Was it me, or was there a problem? What to do?

I sent out an email to our volunteer group. Someone replied "oh they're back in the US, safe and sound"


Finally, someone who had been on the trip emailed me back "we are running very late and won't be in til 12AM." Thank you, that is the kind of constructive information I wanted. I used this as my excuse to head back to the house. I was feeling very uneasy about the disappearance of the cats, wanted to put the goats in their pen and let Lulu out to pee, and make up the homeowner's bed (I had slept in it) because I had stripped in that morning and knew the last thing they'd want to do after 18 hours of traveling was find some sheets and make up the bed.

When I arrived at the house, the scene from earlier in the evening replayed itself. Lulu excited to see me, the birds chirping a greeting....and no cats. After doing some of the basic chores, I began a room by room search of the kitties, opening closets, checking every nook and cranny of the barn, searching the yard. Nothing. Finally to calm my own mind I told myself that they were probably hiding from me on purpose and as soon as the homeowners came back they'd be prancing around the house like always. My next step was to make the bed.

You see where I'm going with this, right?

I opened the bathroom linen closet.

And out sprang two cats.


I used the linen closet to hang up my work clothes for the next day, otherwise they'd be covered with cat hair by the next morning. On Tuesday morning in my rush, I had left the linen closet door open while getting dressed, and then closed it during my last run-through of the house without checking inside. The cats must've gone in there while I was getting dressed or checking the house. That had been at 7AM. I checked the closet 13.5 hours later at 8:30PM. EPIC EPIC FAIL.

Naturally I felt awful, especially when the cats glared at me after leaping out of the closet. OMG. I felt like the worst person in the world. The only clutch things? The cats are so awesome that they didn't pee or poo in the linen closet and I discovered my mistake before the people came home. Thank GOD.

That was the crowning jewel of my petsitting experience, which ended up being "dampened" by the homeowners complaining about the fact that they lost their boiler while they were away. Apparently their basement, accessible only from outside of the house with a key they did not leave me, flooded on Monday night, and the boiler died. That's why the house was chilly and there was no hot water on Tuesday morning. The blame was publicly, though indirectly, placed on me via a group email. It kind of sucked. All in all, the experience was rewarding, and I was paid fairly well for it, but the complaints and accusations in the end left a bitter taste in my mouth. What can you do though really? Oh well. It couldn't have been THAT bad since I was asked to petsit again in October, but I was actually secretly glad that the wedding was my excuse to say "no."

In the end I also learned a lot. I never want to own any exotic birds besides the ones I have now. Cats are awesome. Goats are a handful. Dogs can be won over with cheese and pepperoni....oh, and basements flood.

Thursday, April 08, 2010

MBTA Bus Hits, Kills Bicyclist - Most Popular News Story - WCVB Boston

MBTA Bus Hits, Kills Bicyclist - Most Popular News Story - WCVB Boston

When I saw this headline I thought "It has to be the 39 bus"
Put it this way - I don't ride the 39 bus a TON, maybe once or twice a week from Brigham Circle to Copley.
Some of the drivers are nice. Most are not.
Most ARE good drivers.
A few are miserable. Yesterday I had to stand because there were no seats. I finally had to squish into a seat at the Prudential stop.
Why? The driver was one of those who would accelerate hard when the opportunity presented itself and then SLAM on the brakes. This happened about 10 times - 10 bad times, with my shoulder feeling like it was about to be dislocated as I swung from the pole. The way the guy was driving was TERRIBLE and felt dangerous.

In defense of the MBTA, I have encountered lovely bus drivers. One guy used to wake me up when I fell asleep on the CT3 so I would get off at Andrew Station. He knew I was working and in school and EXHAUSTED - we talked about it a lot in Melnea Cass traffic. Another lady I encountered used to try her hardest to be perfectly on schedule because one of her regular passengers had to transfer to another bus which literally would be pulling away as our bus would stop. I think overall the MBTA bus drivers are patient and skilled, absolutely. The ones on the 39 route, however, are nothing to write home about. And given the congestion at Huntington and South Huntington, the ridiculous mazework mishmash of trolley tracks intermingled with traffic and criss-crossing streets, and the fact that SOME of the bikers in the LMA area have no regard for the rules/laws of biking whatsoever, I'm not even that surprised someone got killed down's sad though...sad like the family that let their dad/grandfather with Alzheimer's walk the streets alone, but that is a whole other story...

Friday, April 02, 2010

I am coming back soon....

...I promise. I even have more pet pics...

It's just that it's been raining here, a lot too. The sun is finally out though, and it's too bright and cheerful to be brooding in my office behind the computer.

I'm out :)