Friday, October 24, 2008

One Hump or Two?

Here’s a neat trick for remembering which type of camel has how many humps.

There are two types of camels; the Bactrian camel and the Dromedary camel. One type has two humps and the other type has only one.

Take the first letters of the two types: Bactrian and Dromedary, or B and D.

Turn those letters on their sides, or 90 degrees to the left.

Now you can clearly see that Bactrian camels have two humps (as indicated by the two humps of the letter B) and that the Dromedary camels have only one hump (as indicated by the one hump of the letter D).

Pretty neat, eh?

And, by the way, a camel’s hump is NOT filled with water, as is erroneously believed by some people. Rather, it is filled with fat reserves that the animal draws on when food & water is scarce.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Walkin' with my Camel

Today, I took my camel for a walk.

Not many people can say that! And, honestly, she’s not really “my” camel. She’s the Alaska Zoo’s camel, and her name is Tula.

Tula is a Bactrian camel who is about 15-16 years old. That’s quite old for a camel; average life span for her breed is typically around 16 years out in the wild. She is doing well for her age, although she does have a fairly advanced case of arthritis.

That’s why we take her on her daily walk – to get those joints warmed up and lubricated. Her weight is also a concern (show me a lady whose weight is not a concern and I’ll show you an actress or model who’s been on a diet their whole life) – we want her to be as healthy and active as possible.

This was my first time with her and I have to admit I was pretty nervous. She is an enormous animal, weighing in at around 1,600 pounds and standing well over 7 feet tall. But Tula is a sweet old lady who only spits occasionally – and never unprovoked. Thankfully, I had her handler with me to show me the ropes, and introduce me to her slowly.

I learned how to put her halter on and off, how to encourage her to walk (which she does not really want to do, since she is so stiff and creaky), as well as how to deal with her quick temper while on the trails at the zoo. I even got to give her the shot that she has to have twice a month!

This – by the way – makes four types of animals I have given shots to now: humans (myself), cats, turtles, and camels!

Since I have all this time on my hands now, being unemployed as I am, I will hopefully get on a fairly regular schedule with her. If and when I find myself a new job, I will most likely be able to continue walking with her, just after zoo hours instead of during the day. By then, I will be more confident about the whole thing, so hopefully the darkness & cold will not be a hindrance.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008


Those who know me know that I never answer my phone. That’s why God made answering machines, so I don’t have to answer the darned thing. I typically just wait to see who it is: if I recognize the voice, I’ll pick up. Otherwise, I just ignore it and call them back when I feel more like talking.

I definitely picked up the phone the other night: it was my niece down in Seattle! She is going to school down there, and had called just to chat while on her way to class.

I had sent her a little package; just little stuff like Halloween magnets, note cards, gloves, a cute little froggy coin purse, and some chocolate. Her phone call was initially to tell me she’d gotten it and that she loved the gloves – but of course we got to chatting on other subjects, so that the call lasted a good 45 minutes.

It was great talking to her, and it's even better having her nearby – as opposed to last year when she went to school all the way over in Scotland! I actually have enough mileage on Delta to get a ticket, so am seriously thinking about a trip to Seattle for a long weekend visiting her.

Lunch with Mother

One of the advantages of being unemployed is that I have all this time on my hands. Thankfully, I’m in a good enough financial state that I don’t have to panic: if I’m really careful with my spending habits, I’ll be ok for a little while. Hopefully long enough to find a new (better) job.

On Monday, I got to have lunch with Mother! She met me in Eagle River at Jitter’s Coffee Shop, where we grabbed a cup of hot coffee/tea and then took off walking.

It wasn’t the most strenuous walk we’ve ever done; just ambling through some of the old neighborhoods, looking at houses and reminiscing about the old times (Mother used to work in Eagle River back in her Meter Reading days).

The weather was chilly; not quite freezing, but with a definite nip in the air. It warmed up a bit once we got moving, of course, but my cheeks & nose were a rosey-red color by the time we made it back to our cars.

As always, there was an exchange of stuff from one car to the other. I had two bookshelves to hand over to Mother so she can paint them for me, and she had a bag full of clothing for me. Once we got everything situated, we took off to Jalapeño’s, a cute little Mexican place, for a bite of lunch.

If you’re ever in Eagle River, I recommend this place highly! I had their chili rellano lunch special while Mother tried a chicken dish: both were totally scrumptious! The décor in the place is quite something: bright colors and plants everywhere, so that you feel like you’re out on somebody’s patio in Old Mexico. They even have mariachi band music playing in the background.

After eating till we could stuff no more food down, we headed out for another walk through the neighborhoods around that part of town. By then, it had warmed up so much that neither of us wore our coats. Mind you, it’s still in the low 30’s – but we’re both “tough Alaskan women,” don’t you know!

My Best Friend

I’ve known Kathryn since the second grade. We weren’t friends back then: in fact, she thought I was weird (I still am). It wasn’t until junior high that we became best friends.

I remember sitting at the end of the hall every lunch hour, eating ice cream sundaes and playing Speed – a very fast-paced card game. We’d both get so wound up that we’d just basically end up with tears streaming down our faces because we were laughing so hard. I’m sure the sundaes helped emensely.

I never quite understood why she liked me; we were so different in character. I was the shy one – never going out to parties or skipping classes. Kathryn was more adventurous, and I have to say she was always getting into trouble. Her mother had hopes that my influence would tame her down a bit, but I can’t say that ever happened.

We stayed close all the way through grade school and on into adulthood. I went to a trade school down in Arizona and she joined the Air Guard. We both got married, and then divorced. She remarried and had two wonderful children, while I remained single. Our busy lives have caused us to drift apart a little bit, but I still consider her my best friend.

She and her family recently moved out of state – to New York, actually. It’s a good move for her, but I have to admit I miss my friend.

She recently came up for a visit, however. Her whole family is still here, and she came up as a surprise for her sister’s 50th birthday party. Her kids came with her, so they spent about two weeks visiting family and friends both here in town and out in the Valley where she grew up.

I got to see her twice while she was here! The first time was when she dropped her kids off at the mall for an afternoon spent with their friends. She came over to my house and sat at my table with a cup of tea to visit for a good two hours. The second time she again dropped her kids off at the mall, but this time she and I went shopping ourselves. Apparently her new home in New York is small enough that there really isn’t any good shopping there.

Who knows; maybe someday I’ll head down there to visit her!

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Lunch with My Friend Rikki

I haven’t seen my friend Rikki since I got laid off almost a month ago. In fact, it had been several weeks prior to that event that I last saw her. So, we finally managed to get together for lunch!

She works a state job, so since I have the whole day open to me - we were pretty much on her schedule as far as the amount of time we could spend. As an unexpected bonus, it turned out that the day we chose to get together just happened to be a state holiday – so we got to spend several hours together!

We had a lot to catch up on. She is recently married, and the job she has is a new one, too. And of course, there’s all that’s going on in my life to talk about.

We met at The Yak & Yeti, that wonderful Tibetan place that recently opened it’s doors. I have been there before, so knew what to expect – but this was Rikki’s first time. As she read the menu, trying to choose one entrée for lunch, she kept saying, “Oh, I gotta come back for dinner! This one sounds perfectly scrumptious!”

After lingering over our meals & tea for about an hour and a half, we headed over to New Sagaya to do some shopping. I needed some mulling spices for hot apple cider, and hoped to find some there in a pre-packaged pouch so that I wouldn’t have to buy all the individual spices.

The only stuff we found was a rather large tin by Dean & Deluca costing over $8.00. But it really was all that I could find, and I’ve looked at other stores – so, I bought it. Hopefully, the hot cider will be worth the cost.

After that, we headed over to the bank and then to the post office. We were in my car by that time, and I had a few things to do at both places – so she was pretty much stuck with me. But, I eventually took her back to her car so she could go home and enjoy what was left of her day off.

All in all, at least from my point of view, it was a good day.

City Church

My friend Corissa invited me to go to church with her a few weeks back, so today we finally coordinated our schedules and went.

We decided to try a new church, since neither one of us really "belongs" to one individual church. The place we chose is called City Church, and is a non-denominational one. It's located really close by, so getting there is no hassle at all; in fact, Corissa could walk to it - weather allowing.

The building it occupies is an unusual one; it's most prominent feature is the circular entryway. I'm sure there's a special word for that in ecclesiastical speech, but for now I'll just go with entryway. Anyway, the roundness of it coupled with the high sloped ceiling really gives it a unique feeling. I like it.

I also like that the people attending services were very relaxed, comfortable, and welcoming. I am not one to dress up (in fact, I don’t own a dress, skirt, or anything much better than jeans) so was a little bit worried that I might not fit in. Thankfully, I fit right in.

The service began with music, which is the one thing I love most about worshiping with a group! The band was composed of young teenage boys – with the token female voice, for good measure – all playing electric guitars, drums, and base. Their repertoire of music came straight from KLOV radio, the Christian rock station I listen to all the time, so I knew most of the words. For those who did not know the words, they had two projection screens going – just follow the bouncing ball!

The only down side to my experience at City Church was the speaker for that particular day. She was a beautiful black woman from Jamaica who came to talk about her work with troubled youth. On the face of it, it should have been a very interesting sermon. Unfortunately, she pretty much shouted the entire half hour – it ended up that I couldn’t hear anything she said because she was yelling so much. I do not like yelling.

Perhaps next time they will have a “better” speaker, and I will enjoy it as much as the music. We shall see.

Monday, October 13, 2008

What the World is Reading Now

I’m going to try an experiment here: I want everybody to post a comment on my blog and tell me what you’re reading.

If it’s a book: tell me the title, the author, and a little bit about it. Maybe even tell me why you chose to read it.

If it’s a magazine: tell me the title of it, the title of the article you’re reading, and why you chose to read it.

If it’s a text book: tell me what class it’s for, what you’re learning from it, and why you’re taking the class.

If it’s an instruction manual: tell me what it’s for, why you’re reading it, and what you hope to get out of it.

Lets see how many responses I can get!

Thursday, October 09, 2008


I don’t know about the rest of you guys out there, but I am getting really tired of all this spam.

What can we do to stop it, though? I’m told that if you even just open the email to see what it says, they somehow know that, and will then send you thousands more just like it. I was also told that you should never, under any circumstance, click on the “unsubscribe” hyperlink. But they just keep coming…

I did a count this morning. When I opened my email, I saw that I had 346 emails in my junk folder.

41 of them were in a completely different language.

What’s up with that? Why am I getting so many emails in a language I can’t even read? What’s the point in that?

211 of them assured me I could have a larger penis.

First of all, I’m female: I don’t have a penis, large or small. And if I did have one, is it really that important that it be an enormous one? Are guys really that insecure about it? Please note, too – I didn’t get a single one assuring me that I could have larger breasts. Not one!

93 of them were miscellaneous ones.

These ranged from getting an on-line degree without having to actually crack open a single book – to eliminating my credit card debt absolutely free – to that dear old man from Nigeria who desperately wants to give me $80,000,000.00 if only I’d send him my bank account number.

Monday, October 06, 2008

Hibernation Day

Saturday was Hibernation Day at The Alaska zoo - a day to celebrate our bear's hibernation, to learn all about them, and to play games.

We had tables set up throughout the zoo, with different games at each one. Table #1, set up near the black bear exhibit, had paper & crayons where you could learn to draw a bear. Table #2, set up near the empty bee exhibit, had a game where you match different characteristics to the bear they belong to. Table #3 had mazes for the kids to work on.

I was assigned to Table #2 for the second half of the day. I arrived early (as is my usual practice) so wandered around the zoo for a while first. When it was my turn to go to work I relieved the person manning the table for the first half of the day, and settled in to play some games.

I had a lot of fun: kids stopped by pretty much non-stop for two hours. I would read the cards to the younger ones but let the older ones do it on their own. Most of the cards were easy ones, like "This bear is a good climber." or "This bear has the longest claws." but some of them were harder or had multiple answers depending on your point of view, like "This bear is the most dangerous." or "This bear has the longest neck."

Once the kids played the games at each of the tables, and got the appropriate stamp on their game cards from each one, they got to have a special behind-the-scenes tour of the polar bear! I know, I know - polar bears don't hibernate. But, they are bears - and pretty spectacular ones, to boot! I don't think anybody complained.

The bee exhibit was empty this year. Not only is there a world-wide crisis going on with bees but our volunteer bee-keeper was not feeling well this year and needed to take some time off to rest up a bit. So - we're hoping next year to have an active hive again. They are definitely fascinating creatures, and the kids love to peek in the window and watch them work in their hive.

The camel exhibit is right next door to the bee exhibit, so I got to spend some time with Tula and Knobby. Having read Dr. Reading's book on camel research out in Mongolia has given me new insights into this wonderful breed of animal.They are such beautiful animals (beauty is a relative term, indeed.)

Tula, our elderly camel, has a bad case of arthritis so has to be exercised each day. She gets her halter on and her handler takes her for a walk-about around the zoo. It takes two people to walk her – one in front on the leash, and one on the back with a pooper-scooper (just in case). I’m thinking that since I have all this free time on my hands anyway – I should volunteer to be the back end person!

Now, there’s a skill I could put on my resume! I’m sure it would garner me an interesting job, to say the least.

Termination Dust

So, I get up this morning – and what do I see out my front window?


This is going to be a long winter…

Thursday, October 02, 2008

Interview #1

I had my first job interview yesterday.

It wasn’t really a job interview, though. It was more of an introductory interview with an employment agency.

I found their add in one of the job listings on-line saying they needed drafters, so sent them my contact information. They promptly called me and we set up our meeting for 9:30 on Wednesday morning.

I went over there with my resume and a letter of reference in hand, expecting to be there for an hour or so, but it turned out to be barely 15 minutes. The lady greeted me at the door and took me back to her office. We sat and talked for a little while about me and what I do. She admitted that the positions she had didn’t really fit me, but was going to talk to the employers about me anyway, just to see what they thought. We shook hands and that was that.

All in all, it was rather disappointing – but at the same time, pretty much what I expected. There are way more people out of work than there are jobs for them to apply to, and to think that I would find a job after only a week of unemployment is unrealistic.

I just have to keep on trying…

Falling Head Over Heals

OMG - I met the cutest guy yesterday!

My niece brought him over to Mother’s place for lunch, and he sat right across the table from me. He spent almost the entire time staring at me. Every time I would look at him, he’d flash this big huge smile at me, too. His name is Corbin Sullivan and he’s just my type: short, fat, and bald.

He’s also 5 months old, and is my niece’s son.

Corbin is just the cutest little guy. He recently learned how to sit up all by himself, and is working on figuring out how to crawl. He knows all about rolling, which is how he gets around currently: set him down on the floor on his belly and he just takes off sideways. He’s very attentive, looking right at you and following your every move. He’s big and strong for his age, and is just starting to get some hair on his head.

A guy after my own heart = he loves books! His mother says he’ll sit and listen for hours as she reads to him. Unfortunately for the book’s sake, he promptly chews on the book once you’re done reading it to him – but that’s just a phase he’s going thru at the moment. I’m sure he’ll grow out of that eventually. They’re going to get him a library card as soon as they’ll let him, so he can read all the books he wants to.

He’s so cute!