Sunday, October 29, 2006

Daylight savings time, as usual, has bitten me in the butt. I get to experience the extra hour while trying to stay awake all night. So far, so good - I've ushered a few students back to bed and kicked numerous Raccoons out of the trash cans. Most of these Raccoons are repeat offenders, squabbling amongst themselves over choice bits of refuse, and growling at me when I chase them away. A herd of deer passed through camp too, munching on fallen leaves as they went. I've watched three movies, had some coffee, eaten half a container of chocolate covered espresso beans, and made myself a quesedilla with ingredients filched from the fridge.
It's only 4:22 right now, but it should be 5:22. Only slightly over three hours to go and I'll have earned my $300 and I can go home. I love a job that pays me to watch movies and eat chocolate covered espresso beans. And blog, of course. I think I'll go do some stargazing now. It's a beautiful night.

Saturday, October 28, 2006

Look Out!

Look Out!
Originally uploaded by Corbie.
One of the good things about the hub host job is that I get Friday off, but still get paid for a forty hour work week. So Friday, instead of working, I went with everybody to the pumpkin patch. Alex actually used some of his own money so he could get a pumpkin larger than what we were willing to shell out for. The other kids were happy with slightly smaller pumpkins. For once, I didn't get one for myself, although I did get to carve Willow and Sophie's pumpkins. Alex's too, but he designed it. Nate carved his own. The boys seem to have developed an obsession with knives, and both proceeded to leave their jack-o-lanterns with pumpkin carving knives jutting out of them. I used to do this too. Not sure why - maybe it was all of the horror movies I watched at an impressionable age. Maybe it's just a boy thing, since we try not to expose our boys to that kind of entertainment.

Jen's getting some time away from home this weekend. Last night she went out with friends, and today she's out shopping with her mom. Willow and I are hanging out at home, playing board games and eating cookies. Willow has a fever, but seems to have improved over last night.

Later, I get to earn some extra money by going to work and staying there, awake, all night. A weekend group renting the site is paying me $30 an hour to be a night supervisor. I think the teachers are worried that their high school students will try to sneak out and make mischief. My job: catch them and send them back to bed. I might blog about how things are progressing sometime in the middle of the night. We'll see...

Thursday, October 26, 2006

As of today, Jen and I have been married for four years. I've been at work most of the day, but I'm near the grove of Redwoods that we got married under, and while the kids were having recess I put on one of the cds that we put together to hand out at our reception. The kids didn't notice, but then I wasn't playing it for them.

Happy anniversary to us! Here's to many more to come.

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

I've written over a thousand posts here, but who's counting?

I'm doing something a bit different this week. Instead of having a field class and teaching natural science, I'm the "hub host." A hub host is in charge of the day to day running of the camp - getting the kids in to meals, coordinating other activities with campers, cabin leaders, and classroom teachers, as well as other staff members, and being in the hub (camp office) so kids who are sick, injured, in trouble, or just plain clueless, can get the help they need.
Fortunately, I picked a great week to try something new - all of the kids, cabin leaders, and teachers are first class, making my job quite easy. Right now the kids are out on the trails and camp is quiet. A doe, with faun in tow, just passed through the amphitheater area. Yellow leaves are falling and it's quiet enough to hear them hit the ground.
Last night I got to hear a large group of coyotes yipping it up quite close to camp. I don't hear them often, so I'm always glad when I hear them. They almost sound like a loud group of people if one isn't listening carefully.

I just picked some Madrone berries too. I'll probably give them to Alex, since he's mired down in the middle of an Ohlone Indian project and the Ohlone ate the berries.

The ravens are croaking up in a nearby tree too. Very nice.

Saturday, October 21, 2006

Where Does It Lead?

Where Does It Lead?
Originally uploaded by Corbie.
As a child, one of my favorite pastimes was to go spelunking in the drainage tunnels connecting the city's network of drainage ditches and creeks together. A group of us would gather together bits of cloth and wind them around sticks to create makeshift torches. After setting these ablaze, we would enter the tunnels, with only the quickly dwindling firelight to push back the shadows. I suppose it was dangerous, but we were immortal, so thoughts of misadventure never crossed our minds.
With this in mind, I took a group of students into a short tunnel that leads away from Lake Ranch Reservoir - just for old times sake, and because they asked to go in. It's a lot harder to walk stooped over than it was when I was a kid, and the tunnel led to a drop off, so we had to turn around and go back. Still, it was fun. My job keeps me young.

The kids this week were probably the best informed of any of the groups I've led in the last two years. This meant that the "lesson" part of each class was short, and the experiential part was extended. The discussions went deeper and exploration time was longer. I suppose walking through drainage tunnels counts and learning about watersheds and water supplies, which are things we're supposed to teach. Maybe I'll do things like that more often.

Speaking of doing things more often, I ended up back at the children's museum today so I could borrow back my tarantula and scorpion. The girls went with me and had a great time until it became evident to them that we were about to leave. Willow had quite a meltdown at that point, but with a little help from one of the staff members I was able to get the arachnids and the girls back to the car.

A few hours later I put just about all of my animals in the car and took them all to Livermore for a Halloween party. We all had a great time, and the $150 I got paid for the trip definitely made it worth my while. While there I noticed that once again there were baby cockroaches in the cockroach cage - the day after I'd picked out all of the babies from last week.

Does anybody want some cockroaches?

Monday, October 16, 2006

Victorian Shadow

Victorian Shadow
Originally uploaded by Corbie.
Friday was a long day, starting with the last day of a nice week of camp at our secondary site. Afterwards, we had our Friday meeting during which the new lodge was discussed at length. I was supposed to have a mini-interview for the recently available permanent position, but managed to reschedule it for Tuesday so I could rush home and watch the kids for Jen. From there I had to pick up a science party kit for my weekend job with four kids in tow, combatting traffic both coming and going, and stopping on the way back to get Matt at the bus station, followed by a quick visit to the Children's Discovery Museum to drop off most of my arachnids and insects (which will be on display in their art space for the next month or so). Lisa, who I worked with while employed at the museum, and who runs the art space there now, had picked up some plexiglass ballot boxes, complete with the slot in the top, for the critters to live in during their stay at the museum. They actually make very attractive display cases. I might have to get some myself. Anyway, as I was getting out the Hissing Cockroaches I noticed that they'd had babies again. This meant that I had to take out the adults and bring the babies home with me so I could transfer them into a more escape-proof cage. I also met a woman there who is the sister of the volunteer who had been helping me out with my field class all week. After convincing the kids to leave the museum (no easy task), we rushed home just in time to drop the bigger kids off at their dad's, eat a quick meal, and hop in the car again (just Matt and I this time) to drive up to 21 Grand in Oakland for a most peculiar concert, billed as inn.aff.(orchext.) and featuring members of NF Orchest, Maleficia, French Radio, Petit Mal, and Opening the show was a brilliant acoustic guitar improvisor named Sean Smith, and a cool jazz prog krautrock band called The Why Because. Lots of nifty artwork on the walls too (21 Grand is, after all, a gallery). The inn.aff.(orchext.) show consisted of nine people broken into rotating trios. Three people started, with one leaving and being replaced after five minutes, followed by another switch-off five minutes later, and so on. Greg showed up for this in a top hat and suit (his shadow is pictured here). Matt brought his bass and a bunch of other little fiddly bits. I brought penny whistles, the Winnie the Pooh megaphone (taken from the girls' room), various other things, and some dry ice (which produces interesting sounds when metal is pressed against it). Dean Santomieri narrated over the top of the evolving soundscapes we produced. It was a lot of fun, and I'm interested in hearing a recording of it so I can more properly assess it. We got to bed at around 2 am.

Saturday I did another birthday party. Sunday I supervised the work crew at our school.

I need to recover from my weekend.

This week has started well. The weather is cloudy and cool. The kids are brilliant. Jen and Willow dropped in at lunch to say hi, which was a pleasant surprise. The Rattlesnake is back in its usual place, and I found the first Ensatina of the season. One of the kids decided that his camp name is going to be Salt Marsh Harvest Mouse. I like that.

Sunday, October 08, 2006


Originally uploaded by Corbie.
We went to Jen's sister's wedding on Saturday, leaving the kids with the ever dependable mother of baby O. It was a beautiful ceremony, and the reception was full of heartfelt toasts and really good food. I wish the pair of them all the best. The sky was cloudless and blue, and the temperature was perfect. What more could one ask for?

Lots of additional photos can be found on Flickr.

Today we had a small birthday party for Alex over at Nickel City. The kids loved it. The adults were a little exasperated by the rather disorganized staff. The key to the storage room where the beverages were kept had left the building in the pocket of a homeward-bound employee who had to be called back to work so the kids could have drinks.

I'm sure all of this is damn boring except to members of our immediate family. Sorry.

In slightly more universal news. Tower Records has been sold and is being liquidated. I spent a lot of time during my childhood taking the bus there to buy records, and more time during my young adult life working there for very little pay. I could probably write a book on my experiences there. The magazines, movies, and music that came home with me while I was a Tower employee (great employee discount and free video rentals - almost making up for the miserable little paychecks) played a great part in shaping my current interests. I went down to the nearest Tower earlier this evening to see if there was a sale on yet. There was, but so far the cds and dvds are only 10% off, with books 20% off and magazines 30% off. The woman behind the register told me that they'll be open for two more months. I think I'll wait for the prices to plummet further. So, instead of buying anything at Tower, I went to another nearby cd store where I ran into a guy who recognized me from when I worked at Tower. He was a tall, sort of crazy looking guy with a big beard and a handful of heavy metal cds who said he'd worked in the record department (I was over in books) at the same time I'd been there. I've just now remembered (I think) that he was clean shaven when he worked there. This was the kind of thing that happened to people who started working at Tower. They grew beards, stopped cutting their hair, adorned themselves with piercings and tattoos, and eventually just dropped out of sight, probably because their parents finally kicked them out and they had to go find real jobs or live on the street. This particular guy looked like one of the latter.

Friday, October 06, 2006

Cloudy Hills

Cloudy Hills
Originally uploaded by Corbie.
The rainy season snuck up behind us and smacked us in the head this week. It felt nice. The trails around my work are no longer dusty, and the newts are out foraging around for worms. Our night hike and the all day hike (pictured here) were moist. I neglected to wear any rain gear, but didn't mind. It was nice just to get out in the rain and fog and mud. I'm sure I'll be changing my tune by January or so, but for now I am content.

This was also the first week this season during which no snakes were found. I did come across a few scorpions, including one missing a claw, and a caddisfly larva that had made its home inside a little piece of stick.

On Tuesday night I went up to San Francisco to see Celtic Frost. Read more about it here. Read Umlaut's report here.

In the car, I've been listening to the Cowboy Junkies. It's just the time of year when their music meshes well with everything.

Tomorrow, Jen and I are going to her sister's wedding, which is being held in the same place that an old friend of mine got married a decade or so ago on Halloween.

Monday, October 02, 2006

Tarantula About to Call for Help

I finally found out more information about these spiders! I happened to flick through a bug book somebody left in the staff room at work. On the page with the California Ebony Tarantula (the big, brown, hairy tarantulas one often sees out and about this time of year) there was a passing mention of something called a Calisoga Spider. Sure enough, armed with the name and looking online, I found out that these spiders, which go by the common name Funnel Web Tarantulas, aren't actually true tarantulas at all. Just tarantula-like. This solved a little mystery for me. It's funny that the article I found advises people not to pick them up - you can pick them up if you do it really carefully. The one in the photo trying to use my radio only tried to bite me once. It missed. Another time I had one in my hand and it got startled by the kids all straining to see it. It lunged at my palm with fangs extended but stopped short of biting me. Bluff. I'm not sure if they're all bluffers or if I just got lucky with that particular individual.

Today's other animal story involves a pigeon that has moved into the staff room. It first tried roosting in the staff storage room we refer to as "the nook," but I evicted it by carrying outside the storage box it was perched on. Later, it walked back in and is now dozing on top of some shelves. It shows no inclination to leave. Judging by the bands on its legs, I think it was a captive pigeon. It sure doesn't seem to mind people...