girl_on_a_stick: (Default)
Gah. Trying really hard to be patient at work, but it is NOT a great feeling to be training the person who got the job you applied for. Kelli has 28 years(!) experience as a ranger and I'm having to show her basic, basic stuff. She can't fix plumbing, she doesn't know how to operate the reservation software, she's abrasive with our volunteers who then dislike her, she can't drive any vehicle that has a manual transmission. At first I was all "oh well, strengths and weaknesses, we all have them I'm sure she's good at some thing I can learn from." But that attitude is fading fast.

Today we had two campers who had come in the day before using a disabled veteran's pass (they get 10 days free camping in state parks per month). Our checkout time is at 1:00pm, by 2:00 their tent and piles of crap were all over the campsite and they were nowhere to be seen. We didn't have a phone number for them either and we had people coming into that site as they'd reserved and paid for it online already.

So by 2:30 we had to pack up their stuff. I called Kelli and told her I'd need help as it was a LOT of stuff. She tells me she'd never done this before (?!) so I had to walk her through the process, the paperwork. We have to make a list of every single item. So I start packing up shit and instead of helping me with that she sits down and waits for me to dictate each item so she can write it down. Thus avoiding picking through piles of dirty clothes, half eaten bags of food, smelly sleeping bags, crack pipes, knives, rope and a mysterious small metal box while calling out to her "one pair sweatpants, purple."

My only bit of revenge is that I put the box on the picnic table next to her and told her she needed to open it and write down the contents. (yes, I am a ranger assistant giving orders to a ranger 1 because she's clueless, but I digress). Ha. Inside was a whole collection of dildos and lube. She got all flustered and didn't know what to write. "Uh, how about dildo, flesh colored?" I offered.

Oh well, I still like my job. I like being outdoors. I like the rest of my coworkers. It will all be fine, I just am going to have to focus very very hard to not get impatient with her this summer.

Today is my Friday. Tomorrow the cement for the foundation for our garage is being poured and I might go out to watch. I will also paint and cook and box and do happy things. Last night Mat and I went out to dinner, which is a rare occasion, but our favorite restaurant here does a $14 steak, fries, salad and a glass of wine special that we love. We talked money and plans and Mat asked me if he won a couple million dollars tomorrow what would change. We both decided we'd get new motorcycles and work only during the summer months. Everything else we'd probably keep the same. Same house plans (maybe we'd upgrade the windows), same jobs, same plan to drive to Argentine in a few years. So yeah, that's a pretty good feeling knowing that if magically you had a bunch of money you wouldn't change much. Mat also said he'd get a camel. Yes, a camel.
girl_on_a_stick: (Default)
I got this BestSelf journal thingy and while it's really beautiful and I see how useful it will be I'm not sure this is the right time for it for me. It's based on a 3 month goal cycle and the next three months for me are going to be pretty chaotic. I just don't know what much of it is going to look like between the yurt going up, garage built, moving out there and the fact that I won't know my work schedule for much of the time.

I was just thinking it's been 7 years since I had a M-F 8-5 job. I kind of miss it in some ways. For starters it would be nice to be home the same time as my husband. It would be nice for things to be regular. But I don't miss rush hour traffic and having my favorite trails and such be crowded because I can only access them at the same time as everyone else.

Off to the park for rangering. Just me and Blythe today and I'm looking forward to it. She's a joy to work with and I learn a lot from her. Still bitter she didn't get the full time Ranger 1 job.
girl_on_a_stick: (Default)
My dream schedule would be to have Sundays and Mondays off. That way I'd get a whole day to do something with Mat and a whole day to myself to do shit I like to do. Today I've already been to the gym, now I'm going to paint, make chicken stock and read a bit. I ordered one of those Best Self journal thingies and am going to give it a try. I'm already pretty organized and list-oriented, but I like how pretty it is and after our move I'll have less internet access so keeping everything online might not be the best option anyway. We'll see.

I'm already thinking ahead to this winter. I think my contract will finish up around the end of September. Early October will be for getting the nordic season volunteers recruited and trained and doing a bit of camping. Late October we're going to Cuba. When then?

Mat says I don't have to work if I don't want to. But I like working (sometimes). Maybe I could find a part time gig coaching someplace? I could put way more effort into writing. Mat is going to build me a little artist's studio this fall so I'll have a quiet place to paint and write. I could go teach scuba someplace warm for a month and Mat could join me for a bit?
girl_on_a_stick: (Default)
Rest in peace, Dylan Dog. You were a good boy for me and a good boy for my mom. Thanks for all the hikes, camps, walks on the beach, licks and endless games of catch.
girl_on_a_stick: (boxing)
The movies have lied to you, even the nature documentaries we grew up with as kids miss the mark. I won’t even mention a certain animated film and stage production.

Let’s start with their characteristic call. The roar. Ask most people what a lion sounds like and they answer with ‘rawr’, or a raspy imitation of the MGM Grand feline who announced our favorite childhood films.

Lions do go ‘rawr’ and ‘grrrr’ but this isn’t a true roar. These are minor vocalizations, often made while squabbling over food or as a warning to a nearby threat such as a jackal trying to sneak off with a morsel of meat.

The lion’s roar is much more magnificent, vastly more impressive. It is a great, heaving sound, a rhythmic boom and panting that can be heard as far as 5 miles away on a still night. If a lion is actually close to you and roaring it feels as though the earth is vibrating beneath you, you can feel it in your chest.

Lions roar for a few reasons, the primary one being territorial. A male lion will use this call to announce to any competitors in the area that this is his turf and his females. Females then often join in, in what is known as ‘contagious behavior.’ This is just as it sounds: an action in which a social group of animals participate en masse in order to cement bonds between them.
Scarily it’s when you don’t hear lions that they are most dangerous. For obvious reasons, when they are hungry and hunting they are completely silent.

Everyone knows lions live in a group known as a pride. A pride consists of multiple females, their young, and a male with a magnificent mane. Only this is just one of multiple configurations that a pride can resemble.

Male lions don’t always just have one group of females that they protect and service. Sometimes they enjoy the company of multiple clusters of females within their respective territories, moving between them depending on who needs protection from competitors and who is in season for mating.

The male lions that are usually most successful at maintaining a large territory with several groups of females are often not acting alone. The iconic solitary, lazy male lion doesn’t usually last long in areas with dense populations of lions and other large predators. To be successful he needs a bit of help, and for this he often turns to his brothers.

A coalition is a group of mature male lions, usually a pair but occasionally up to four, working together to maintain a territory. They are often, but not always, related, brothers from the same litter or from another litter in the same pride (so they would share a father), born at about the same time. When these cubs reach maturity they are rudely pushed out of the group by the current dominant male. They then spend the next few months to several years together, hunting on their own, watching and waiting for signs that they could kick out another male and take over their pride. Often this other male is their very own father.

This lion is one of The Killers, a coalition of four magnificent males that have patrolled the Serengeti for years. They have a reputation for brutality, claiming a massive territory near the area where the wildebeests give birth every spring during their migration.

When competing males meet either someone turns tail and runs, or a nasty bit of violence erupts till someone is the clear victor, the loser having retreated or been killed or severely injured. At this point, if the victor is not the current dominant male, he will brutally murder every cub in the pride. This causes the females to nearly immediately go back into estrus, ensuring the stronger genes are passed to the next generation. If the victor belongs to a coalition only the top cat will mate with the females. The others are sidelined while he takes his hard won woman into semi privacy and mates with her once every 20 minutes over 2-4 consecutive days.

A male lion with battle injuries. Masai Mara, Kenya

While it’s true that the males will boldly shove the females in the pride aside at meals, even when it’s the females who brought down the kill, it’s far from true that males don’t hunt at all. Tactics vary from pride to pride, mostly depending on their numbers and their intended prey, but some groups do tend to prefer macro-prey, the really big stuff like buffalo, giraffe and elephants. To take down something of this size involves a big risk with everyone’s involvement crucial. Most often the males will be in the thick of it.

Male lions spend a large amount of time on their own, first when they are young adults and looking to take over a pride and once they’ve established their own group of females they are solitary or only with their coalition while they patrol the area for the constant threat of other males. This cycle of constant battle with threats and solitary hunting is so taxing risky that the average lifespan for a male lion in the Serengeti is just eight years. In captivity this same cat could reach nearly 20. In the wild male lions rarely live out their old age in the peace of the savanna, instead they face a slow, cruel death due to injuries from fighting other males or from their prey fighting back. Sometimes they simply starve to death.

This male lion in the Masai Mara was panting from eating a very heavy meal of buffalo, whose corpse lay beside it. Most likely he had made the kill on his own. It was a powerful sight, made tragic once we saw him attempt to leave. He was dragging his rear leg, an injury no doubt sustained during the kill that would mean his eventual death by starvation.

This is why if I’m lucky enough to be in a situation where I am able to view a hunt I always cheer for the predators. Some feel badly for the charismatic zebra, and it’s hard to deny the awkward adorableness of a baby giraffe, but unless there’s a major natural catastrophe the herbivores don’t often tend to starve to death. Predators do. They also have to provide food for their young in a much greater capacity and for a longer period than their prey. Baby zebras are able to run minutes after they are born and can begin digesting grass within days. A lion cub is born blind and defenseless and relies on lessons from its mother for a year before it is self-sufficient. It’s tough to be a predator.
girl_on_a_stick: (camera)

Finally edited some of my goat polo footage. The soundtrack is a mix of Kyrygz hip hop artist, Kiggaz.
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