Thursday, August 31, 2006

Thar She Blows

In my 13 years of sailing, I have never been ordered to wear a life vest.

Before you start yelling and screaming about how unsafe that is, let me explain a few things. First, the US Coast Guard requires all vessels to have approved personal flotation devices (pfds) on board. It is not law to have them on, just available. Second, US Coast Guard also requires an approved life ring, so if someone does go over without a pfd, one that is tethered to the boat can be thrown to them (and having an ex-Coastie aboard, aka Dad, we must be in compliance). Third, there are plenty of people around under racing conditions (the crew of your own boat, and that of other boats) that if you were to hit your head and fall off, many people will be in a position to help you (very unlike kayaking, where I never go out without my pfd on and zipped and properly fit. Not so many people are around to help you if you hit your head and can't keep yourself afloat). There are a few more points I could add; possible wind conditions, proximity to land, personal swim ability, stuff like that, but all of this pretty much means that personal risk while on a sailboat is relatively low. Also remember that the boat itself wants to stay upright!

The last one or two races take place in the Atlantic Hurricane Season. This usually means some pretty high winds and swelling seas. At the start of the race, our captain ordered pfds on, where none of us had ever had to do so before. I glanced over at the wind indicator a few times and saw it read as much as 22 knots of apparent wind (apparent, because it's not calculating the speed of the boat over the ground. True wind could be more or less). 22 knots is a lot of wind! I was happy for the pfd, not because any of us went overboard and therefore needed it, but because of this boat. For 11 of my 13 years, I sailed on a boat that had quite a lot of freeboard. This means that the deck is considerably above the waterline. The current boat is not that way, the deck is considerably close to the waterline. When there is so much wind that the low side of the boat is in the water, you want a little assurance!

It was a really fun night to be out! The race was over in about an hour and a half. During the course, a little fish flopped on board, and then was washed away by the next swell. What a way to end a season! WooHoo!

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

It's Gone!!

The Woodrow Wilson Bridge, the vice of my 50 mile commute, has been mostly blown to smithereens.

It happened, well, late. As most things that involve the drawbridge do (like me getting to work). Commuters came from far and wide to get a good view of the dreaded WWB booming into traffic oblivion. It was they who caused the delay, ignoring the barriers to get the best spot.

This crossing is so notorious, the WWB Project even held a contest: the one with the worst WWB story got to push the button on behalf of hundreds of us who equally loathe the back-up causing drawspan. The winner was definitely worthy. A gent who had been commuting hundreds of miles for 28 years. His story was a no contest. He had been involved in an accident on the bridge with an 18-wheeler. They managed to get him out of his vehicle and into an ambulance with a crushed hip. The ambulance started to go, to carry him into Virginia, make a u-turn, and cross the bridge again to bring him to Prince Georges Shock/Trauma center. But they didn't make it very far, the dingbat in the operation booth opened the drawspan! He said on the radio this morning that it was an honor to push that button. And it was an honor for him to do it for me.

Now, you can't take out a major piece of road and expect people to get to work. They are building a new bridge, right next to the old one. One half of it is already complete, and we've been driving on it for a few months now. The new WWB does seem to be better. It's higher up, making the need to open the drawspan significantly less frequent. When the whole thing is done, both directions will have 6 lanes and 2 breakdown shoulders, this is much improved from the 3 lanes an no shoulders of the previous bridge.

Thanks Dan, for blowing that horrid piece of architecture to bits. Thanks WWB Project for building us a better bridge (we all hope). You can follow their progress at

Here's to blowing stuff up!

Monday, August 28, 2006

Try Something Else

Ok, so I haven't gotten very far on the online dating website I subscribed to for 3 months. I'm now moving on to one of the bigger ones. We'll see how that one does.

You know, it's hard to think that you're not doing something wrong when almost every last one of your friends constantly tells you you're attractive and is always wondering why you're still single. I'd like to know the answer to that too. What am I missing? What does everyone else around me have that I lack?

I'm not going to try to answer that, because I know I'm a catch. =D The right one just hasn't found me yet.

Saturday, August 26, 2006

Busy Time

I'll say it again and again, this is my busy time of year. Any of my friends who know me know that they can't hope to have any of my time while the Maryland Renaissance Festival is running. I managed to not be working at all this opening weekend, but I don't think I'll be going tomorrow. I made the rounds today and then found myself incessantly bored. We'll see.

Here's hoping for some good looking, single, appropriately aged, non-smoking males crossing my path this year. I really only need one, if he's the right one....

Sunday, August 20, 2006


Fox and my mother and I went kayaking today. We went to that place on the Patuxent that is really swift. It was great! There were times when we had to get out and pull the kayaks along because the water was too shallow or the current too swift to paddle through. We had to climb over a log too. Sadly, we didn't make it to the bridge at route 214, which I wanted to, because there was a really big log in the way. Maybe next time we'll get to it with more energy and be able to climb over that one too!


Back to PennFaire

We drove up on Friday night, stayed at a rather nice hotel, then went to the Pennsylvania Renaissance Faire on Saturday. Given that last year I said our local faire is better (it is), I did have a purpose for going. Did I tell you about the corset I bought at the VA Faire? Well, that shop also sells at Penn, and I wanted the matching skirts. I got them too.

I also got to see my wonderful friends, which makes any trip worthwhile. We hung out, saw some shows, did some shopping, then drove the long way home.

Not a bad way to spend a Saturday.

Thursday, August 17, 2006

Can We Save the Animals?

I saw this article today and my heart just broke. The United States' largest wildlife sanctuary is closing because of lack of funds! Everyone was busy donating to tsunami and hurricane victims, and funding that kept the sanctuary operating fell short. There are more than 150 large carivores living here, and if the non-profit can't find a place for them before they run out of money, euthanasia is the only option.

Since I can only wish for the $600,000 a year it takes to keep them running, I've got nothing left to do but pray, and spread the word.

DENVER, COLORADO – August 14th, 2006 The Wild Animal Sanctuary (also known as Rocky Mountain Wildlife Conservation Center) has announced the non-profit sanctuary for Lions, Tigers, Bears and other dangerous carnivores is closing. Devastated by the negative effects of world-wide disasters in 2005 – the sanctuary will be forced to close its doors - leaving over 150 wild animals homeless. The 140 acre sanctuary was the largest of its kind in the United States, but now its residents face an uncertain future as their caretakers scramble to find alternatives to euthanasia.

Like many other non-profit animal organizations in the U.S., the Colorado-based rescue organization was devastated financially last year when their donations all but disappeared as people shifted their support towards helping tsunami, hurricane, and earthquake victims. The sanctuary fell into major debt last year as donations dwindled and the year wore on - and even though they did receive some renewed support late in the year, the funds that came in were not substantial enough to allow the organization to fully recover. Facing massive shortfalls, management has decided that it is in the animals’ best interests to close its rescue operations as soon as possible.

The sanctuary, which has operated in Colorado for nearly 27 years, is home to over 150 lions, tigers, bears, leopards, wolves and other large carnivores that were originally confiscated from illegal “pet” situations by law enforcement agencies. The sanctuary will do everything in its power to try and find new homes for the animals… however, there are very few organizations in the United States that have the ability to take these kinds of animals in, so placing all the animals will be a very difficult.

“Most people logically expect their local zoo could take these animals in,” says the Sanctuary’s Executive Director, Pat Craig, “but that isn’t the case. The fact is that almost every zoo in the country already has a serious surplus problem of their own, and are unable to help in situations like these.”

The 140 acre sanctuary is the largest of its kind in the U.S., as the facility has more large carnivores than any other large carnivore sanctuary, including 75 tigers, 30 bears, 20 mountain lions, and dozens of leopards, African lions and other big cats. “The only way we will be able to place this many animals is with ample time,” says Craig, “as it’s going to take an incredible amount of work to find that many homes, and to also get the animals moved across the country when new homes are found.”

However the Sanctuary doesn’t have sufficient time to accomplish their goal of placing 100% of the animals since it costs over $15,000 per week to operate the facility and their operating funds have been completely depleted. “We may be able to stay open for another week or two, at best, so if we don’t find more resources right away we will be forced to close before new homes can be found for each animal.”, states Craig “Any support we can get right now will allow us to stay open another day… and each additional day we get will increase the odds for saving another life.”

Information and Time Frames:
Sanctuary Open to Public: Now till funds run out…
Placement/Transport of Animals: Now till funds run out…
Special Sales/Auctions: To be announced – check our web site or call, 303-536-0118 Information/Donations: On line @ via mail, or at the Sanctuary until closure is complete

Our immediate focus is to find homes for the animals and get them transported. We will be continuously trying to raise funds to that end, as well as to meet other needs, such as food, utilities, equipment payments, and paying people to help close the Sanctuary.

Copied from their website

Sunday, August 13, 2006

Challenging Spot

Today, my kayaking buddies took me on a new section of the Patuxent River. They had all been there before (while I was in Boise), so this was new to me.

This part of the river is significantly North of where we usually paddle. I had been warned that there are felled trees and things in the water, so I left my peddles at home. The current was very swift, and I liked it except when I wanted to stop to take a picture or get a better look at the Great Blue Heron in the trees. This (stopping) proved to be impossible and it was very frustrating.

But other than that, it was great! We were only out for a few hours, 0900 to around 1200 or so, but it was a lot of fun. We hope to go back next week and maybe climb over the tree that impeded our progress to see how much further up river we can go.

In other news, I have passed my level 2 Reiki assessment and am now moving on to Reiki Master training! YaHOO!!

We're Not Going On That

I'm talking about the HyperSonic at Paramount's Kings Dominion Amusement Park in Virginia.

I'm pretty good with roller coasters, you see. It was a decision I made about a dozen years ago. My first roller coaster experience wasn't great. It was at Wild World (which later became Adventure World, which later became Six Flags Over America) on the Wild One. I was pretty young at the time, and a very small child. I rode with a girl who was my age but significantly bigger than me. This was also during the time when one flimsy seat belt was all that held you and whoever was in the car with you in, and you sometimes had a bar to hold on to. That flimsy seat belt didn't touch me, due to the vast difference in our sizes. Therefore, it didn't really work to keep me in the seat. I was holding on for my life during that ride, I wasn't even touching the seat. After an experience like that, you can understand why I stayed away from them.

I'm also slightly gephyrophobic (those who know me know how ironic this is). Granted, they're not the same things, but you have to admit, a roller coaster does have many similar qualities.

But, I decided one day that I was going to be the type of person who liked roller coasters. So, I started going on them, telling myself I enjoyed them. It worked, eventually and to a point. So when we went to KD once a year while I was in high school, I could actually enjoy it. So, when I went with a coworker yesterday, I could actually enjoy it. Migraine notwithstanding. (Aside: if you ever have a headache at an amusement park, make your way to first aid. They should have pain killers there for your free use, you only need to sign your name and attest that you are not allergic to it. At least you save some money over buying something at the shops there!)

I don't know where everyone was yesterday, but there were hardly any lines to wait in (only two major ones, and we only stood in one of those. It was well worth it). This strikes me as unusual for a beautiful, not-humid Saturday in the Summer. But I'll take it!

So, what's wrong with the HyperSonic? There's a point where it goes straight up, pivots, and then goes straight down. There's no incline here like in a normal roller coaster. No, thank you! And when it stops at the end, it sounds like it's crashing into something. No, thank you!

Despite it all, my coworker and I had a great day at the park!

Friday, August 04, 2006

I'm Back!

Even with my festival experience, Goddess Fest was like nothing I had ever done before. My hosts were wonderful, and I was very sad when it came time to go home. I'm not going to elaborate any more than that! Go and have a look at my pictures

And if you haven't given them a browse already, check out the webstore run by my incredible friends! (But I know you've been there, because they're linked from my website too =)