Archive for the ‘Aquarium’ Category

After almost a week of trying, I soloed at Paine Field today. This is important because it’s a busy, towered airport with a small runway rather than a nice, quiet, non-towered airport in the middle of nowhere like Arlington.

On Monday, the clouds were too low for me to fly at all. On Tuesday, the wind was too gusty for me to chance flying alone. On Wednesday, my brain and body were being bitches, and there were 5 planes in the pattern because the weather was nice. Today, I had my first send-off lunch at Fiesta Latina before my lesson, and it looks like a burrito drenched in creamy tomatillo sauce made all the difference.

Why a send-off lunch? As of Monday, I will no longer be driving to Everett three days a week (or more). I found a job close to home and I’m excited to start! I’m going to keep flying and temporarily contracting at my current job until they replace me, but I’d rather spend a long Saturday up here doing a little work, flying for a bit, and then playing cards up at Tulalip than barrel up and down I-5 three weekdays.

I’ll be busy as hell getting on board at the new job, but I still plan to keep doing aquarium stuff. Apparently, WordPress, Blue Host, or some other web entity didn’t like my use of J-word when referring to a picture of an octopus spermatophore. The male octopus had a release a few days before he was to mate with our female octopus on February 14th. All that went well, and they have since been sent back into the wild and replaced.

Just to show my Internet Big Brother who’s boss, here’s a picture of two harlequin shrimp mating:

The crab in the background totally wants in on that action. He had a better view than my scrambled-aquarium-pr0n camera, too.

My favorite thing at the aquarium right now:

The video doesn’t do it justice. I could watch this (and seahorses) all day.

(He’s really not that hard to find.)

…has the largest penis relative to body size.

Enjoy yourselves, lady barnacles.

We welcomed some new animals to the aquarium last week, but they’re not otters (I’ll get to that). We now have two juvenile wolf eels, which will grow to be big, ugly and scary-looking. Here’s one resting at the bottom of his tank:

Throughout my shift, the two little wolf eels were facing their own reflections in the side of the tank, swimming toward them, getting freaked out, sharply wincing back, and promptly forgetting why so they could do it all over again. It was so cute I took video of it with my new iphone, which I didn’t realize I was holding the wrong way (derp).

I also volunteered at Seattle Tilth with the Junior League. Since it was a chilly day, I offered to be a multch shoveller/transporter. I got a nice little workout and managed to take a few pictures as well:

View all the pictures of Seattle Tilth!

The auto show was in town, so I checked out the newest Cadillacs (among other cars). The photo below shows me in the latest CTS. I was disappointed to find there were no Ciels for me to drool on.

View all the pictures of the Seattle Auto Show!

And it’s always fun to play a tourist in your own town. After taking this picture, I went into the store and bought some Seattle-themed tchotchkes.

Cool insurance, bro.

Yesterday was a complete shitshow for just about everyone. Steve Jobs felt the cold hand of death. 25 people were arrested for exercising their right to assemble during the “Occupy Seattle” protest. An accident on 405 caused a giant pile-up and wedged a car under a semi. My coworker’s dad chopped his hand off. Just about everyone is in a funk.

No need to trivialize my silly problems, world. I read you loud and clear.

Thankfully, I got to hide out at the aquarium for a few hours. Despite my very brief appearance at the volunteer appreciation party last week, I won these little guys:

Speaking of having a bad day, things weren’t going well for these two:

But I guess the keyhole limpet snacking on the one on the left was happy. Here’s the smug cephalopod responsible, appropriately named Mayhem:

The seahorse exhibit has some distant cousins visiting for the summer: three alligator pipefish. (Yes, the link from the Shedd Aquarium was more informative and had better pictures than the Wikipedia article. Their amazingly full collection of sea life is one of Chicago’s few saving graces.) Not surprisingly, these fish look like a cross between a seahorse and legless alligator. They have prehensile tails and eat the same stuff seahorses do. Welcome, alligator pipefish!

Now that it’s summer, the aquarium is jam-packed with strollers, hyperactive kids, screaming, crying, etc. I went out to the pier to get some air and an elderly lady approached me.

She: “Can I ask you a question!”

Me: “Sure!”

She: “I was interested your volunteer program. There are so many nice volunteers here and it’s just wonderful!”

Me: “Thanks! It’s a great program. We have a pool of about 700 total, and that includes regular shift volunteers, life sciences, beach naturalists, program leaders, and teen volunteers.”

She: “So do you think you’ll pursue marine biology after this?”

Me: “Well, I’m 30, and I’ve been working in the technical field for the last 10 years, so I’m pretty sure I’ll stick with that.”

She: “I thought you were a teen volunteer!”

Some slightly uncomfortable laughter and many looks of shock on both our parts were exchanged. I thought the youngins are supposed to flatter the old ladies, not the other way around. Then, like the mature adult that I am, I went inside and had a teen volunteer paint a seahorse on me:

I am the toughest mermaid under the sea!!!

Alternate Title: My Year in Review

I’ve been back in Seattle for exactly one year today, and it has been glorious. After a myriad of employment, relationship, legal, and auto snafus (among other things), I was more than ready to ring in the new year. I knew there was a lot in store, but I never could have dreamed things could be so good. Here are the highlights:

I’m back in Seattle!
This is the single most important change upon which all awesome things hinge. The hills, the rain, the cold, GIVE IT ALL TO ME. I was more than ready to be anywhere outside of California, and Seattle was a great place to land. I immediately jumped back into going out with friends, strolling Pike Place Market and Puget Sound, and eating and drinking some of the best tastes on earth. Every sunset here is different from the ones before it and better. I sound like a total cheeseball and I don’t care. I’m going to enjoy this Seattlegasm for everything I can.

The hearse is complete and ready for business.
After almost a year of painstaking project management, which naturally came with its share of disappointments, I finally got the hearse up and running. For years, I couldn’t stop thinking about it. The idea seemed so far-fetched and absurd, how the hell was I going to do this? Yoda was right, there is no try. Just get up and do something. Fortunately, I did lots of things and ended up driving awesome events including the Seattle Erotic Art Festival, Crypticon, Decibel Festival, and ZomBcon, not to mention tons of weddings and parties. This is the most fun anyone could ever hope to have completely sober and with (moderate) clothes on.

I found a place to live.
After searching far and wide for months (seriously), I ended up back on First Hill, the same neighborhood as last time. But what a difference a short hike uphill makes! Back in Sacramento, some very wonderful people helped me write a list of everything I want in a new home, no matter how small, no matter how silly: an in-unit washer/dryer, a parking space big enough for Barbie, the ability to walk places, a gym, allowance to have my dog… It all came true! I even have a view of Mt. Rainier. I’ve always been a sucker for a nice view, but hadn’t even thought to ask for it.

I got my dog back.
At long last, I’ve settled down and found a home for Zoey and me. We spent the summer taking many nice walks through Capitol Hill, the Central District, and beyond. She has aclimated well to the drastic weather change and even enjoyed her first snow day this year.

I volunteer at the Seattle Aquarium.
When I first moved here back in 2007, I was nervous about finding a job and a permanent home, and basically having to redefine happiness as I understood it. So I went the Seattle Aquarium and encountered my favorite exhibit: the seahorses. Never has there been a more beautiful, tranquil animal to take a wound-up human’s mind off of what ails her. I wanted to go back again and again… and now I do! I’ve met many wonderful people and formed some nice friendships as a result.

I found a full-time job.
I now work as a technical writer at a water treatment company in Everett and I absolutely love it! My boss and coworkers are very flexible and nice, and I’m learning tons of new things. Right before I was hired, we took on a new client that has been bringing in lots of business for us. We had a great year, and we plan on having many more!

I write for SSG Music.
One of my favorite things about living in Austin (and something easily replicated here) was being involved in the music scene. I miss my busy nights working at the now-defunct electronic music magazine from my early years, so I applied to write album reviews for SSG Music. Now I can stay in touch with what’s happening out there AND keep my review-writing muscles toned.

I’m taking flying lessons.
I’m about seven hours into receiving my VFR pilot license at Northway Aviation. I fell in love with flying the moment I started, and it’s really no suprise considering the abundance of mountains, islands, and greenery here. This is one of the most difficult activities I’ve ever tried, but I am so happy to be giving it a shot!

I finally finished The Guide to Getting It On.
Reading a book about sex may not seem like that big of a deal, but when it’s 800 pages long and you have the attention span of a tse-tse fly, I say it’s a big deal. I’ve been reading it on and off since I lived in New York, sandwiching chapters between activities and other books, all of which I have reviewed on my Goodreads profile. My review of The Guide is all the way at the bottom. Told you it was a long time ago!

I turned 30!
Yes, it’s quite the accomplishment. I somehow managed to stay intact with fully functioning limbs and organs for three decades. I had a great party at the Comet with multiple cakes, great gifts, and friends from Queen Anne Poker Night, Capitol Hill Reddit Game Night, and beyond! I’m extremely thankful that so many of my friends rallied on a Tuesday night to celebrate this milestone golden birthday. (It’s golden because I was born November 30th, nameen?)

I joined the Junior League of Seattle.
I wanted to get more involved in the community in a charitable way (more so than going to shows and looking at seahorses), so I joined the Junior League. My provisional group’s project is called Kids in the Kitchen, a workshop for school-age children to learn how to make simple, healthy snacks at home. We’re having a fundraiser at Vermillion on January 27th at 6pm. Come out and enjoy Jesse Higman’s beautiful paintings, drink some fantastic wine selections, and donate to a great cause!

All in all, this has been a great year. I’m so excited to finish this year with a bang and celebrate 2011 all year long!