08/01 Direct Link
Another Sunday of doing absolutely nothing. Fortunately though, it was a pretty nice day. It was only about 102° and fairly cloudy; they're forecasting storms for this evening. So I spent a good amount of time at the treatment pond watching birds and mentally tracing mountain-bike routes along the network of dirt roads and washes in the vicinity. I think I'm going to bring my bike on post and store it at work somewhere. I would probably get more use out of it here. They have bike lanes on most of the roads, and off-road opportunities when I want them.
08/02 Direct Link
I just got a call about a coyote at TMP. Russ is out today, so I grabbed Brian and went out to try and catch it. Of course there's really no way to hem in and catch a healthy coyote with two people and some catch-poles. It just ran away very fast and left us there looking stupid. I suddenly remembered the tranquilizer gun in the cubicle. I've never learned to use a gun, and I really have no desire to. Even if I didn't screw up it would be painful. But I'm starting to think it might be necessary.
08/03 Direct Link
Big tortoise survey this morning. The captain told us yesterday that he's starting construction of a rotational training camp on Friday, so he's demanding that our surveys and reports be done by then. Trouble is, he won't tell us exactly where he's building, so we have to survey (physically walk and search) the whole gigantic area. There's no way in hell we can do all that in three days. Asshole. We did what we could today and, lo and behold, we found an active tortoise burrow! An endangered species, in case you didn't know. Now they can't build there. Ha-ha.
08/04 Direct Link
Six hours is way too much time to spend in a truck with Russ. We had to drive around to a few different cities to check out landfill coyote-exclusion techniques. Victorville was the only place that would even let us in, and they were very helpful but didn't have any ideas we hadn't thought of. Six hours of mind-blistering irritation and nothing accomplished. Mark and Brian were supposed to cover animal control while we were gone, but they decided they didn't want to, so when we got back we had three "urgent" calls to go catch up on. Thanks, guys.
08/05 Direct Link
I finally went to the gym last night. I've been meaning to go to the one on post here for awhile, but never did. Then I heard about this one on the Marine Corps base (only a 10 minute drive away) that we can use, so Mark and I decided to check it out. When he heard us talking, Russ invited himself along. He then proceeded to offer himself a ride in my car. Sigh… We went and it was pretty nice. Mark and I are going again tonight and we're trying very hard not to let Russ find out.
08/06 Direct Link
I was so very tired this morning. The cats woke me up around 6:30, which is kind of early for a day off but sleeping in on my usual schedule. I got up, had breakfast, and got dressed, but I was still a zombie. So I laid back down "for a few minutes" and woke up at 11:00. I had planned to go to Victorville today to avoid the weekend rush, but considering that there are other things that needed to be done today and it was already getting late, it'll have to wait until tomorrow. Now I'm all discombobulated.
08/07 Direct Link
I've been doing pretty well money-wise since I got here. I've managed to pay all my bills on time and still put some away in savings. That all changed today. I've had bills piling up throughout the week, and I finally got around to opening and paying them. All my credit card and car payment bills finally caught up with me from the move. Between those and my regular bills I dropped somewhere in the vicinity of $1700. Then I went to Victorville and spend a few hundred more. Almost emptied my hard-earned checking account. Thank God for direct deposit.
08/08 Direct Link
Two and a half months. That's how long I lasted at this job. I just updated my resume and will be delivering it to ITAM when their office opens tomorrow. I'm really really hoping they decide I'm qualified. Yes, it will still be Fort Irwin and Barstow, but at least I won't have to go through all the craziness of switching employers since they're run by the same company. I'd have my own office, I'd be doing actual biology, I wouldn't have to deal with the stupid public nearly as much, and I would be Russ-less! Keeping my fingers crossed.
08/09 Direct Link
I have been acquainted with the night.
I have walked out in rain - and back in rain.
I have outwalked the furthest city light.

I have looked down the saddest city lane.
I have passed the watchman on his beat
And dropped my eyes, unwilling to explain.

I have stood still and stopped the sound of feet
When far away an interrupted cry
Came over houses from another street,

But not to call me back or say good-bye;
And further still at an unearthly height,
One luminary clock against the sky

Proclaimed the time was neither wrong nor right.
08/10 Direct Link
We came so close this afternoon to blowing off the survey and having a cookout instead. As usual, there's really no point to doing the survey because the army's going to do whatever they want regardless. And this terrain was particularly unpromising. We went out in the morning with some of the higher-ups, so we had to walk it, but we had planned on going back out to another site to "pre-survey" for tomorrow with our hot dogs and pop. But Brian had to leave early and the other Brian was too tired to go downrange again. Another time, perhaps.
08/11 Direct Link
Sticky summer weather always pains me
It's like living beneath a blanket I can't breathe
The days are like an oven, the nights forever
Nothing to do and not much else to see

Then again, I can't stand the thought of winter
Ain't got a fire, there's nobody to keep me warm
The night is gray and my coffee tastes so bitter
My memories go raging like a storm

There was a time I think when I remember dreaming
There was a reason but I can't find it now
As I recall it almost made my life worth living
08/12 Direct Link
Damn, damn, damn. I hate this job. Another pointless survey today. Terrible terrain: rocky, full of ravines, and littered with shrapnel, UXOs, and trip wires. If any tortoises were stupid enough to live there, they deserve to be killed. A bee stung me on the back, so I had no choice but to have one of the guys go down my shirt and pull out the stinger. If I was allergic I would be dead, we so far from anywhere. I wore my good hiking boots because of the terrain, and they melted! The glue just liquefied. Damn, damn, damn.
08/13 Direct Link
I have spent the day doing absolutely nothing. Well, I did go grocery shopping and take in my recyclables, but that only took an hour or so. I had a whole list of housework to do, but none of it got done. For some reason, I was seized by this insuperable lethargy. All I could do was sit around and think about all the stuff I should be doing. I couldn't muster the energy to get off my ass and do it. Still can't. I hope I'm not getting sick. I don't even know where to look for a doctor.
08/14 Direct Link
I'm in a poetic mood this week.

Somebody once asked could I spare some change for gas?
I need to get myself away from this place
I said Yep, what a concept
I could use a little fuel myself
And we could all use a little change.

Well the years start coming and they don't stop coming
Fed to the rules and you hit the ground running
Doesn't make sense not to live for fun
Your brain gets smart but your head gets dumb
So much to do so much to see
So what's wrong with taking the back streets?
08/15 Direct Link
Another call story: Someone called me all freaked out because she had a "poisonous lizard" on her fence. As far as I know, there are no poisonous lizards hereabouts, but I could certainly be wrong. I asked her why she thought it was poisonous and she just said how incredibly big it was and that her husband thought it was a Gila monster. Why do I always get the exotic animals when I'm here alone? I drove out, somewhat nervously, only to find a juvenile iguana, probably an escaped pet. I've got to stop taking people's word on this stuff.
08/16 Direct Link
For The Group, and various members thereof. Thanks for the memories.

Zombie Cucumbers
"Oh my God, I'm shaking like a fish!"
"Uh… I don't have a camera"
"punk ass fuck"
Piss-in-the-salsa moments
"Fred's flying flamboyant flip-flops…"
P.J. (enough said)
"Tearing it up _______ style"
The death cloud
Fire Hazard Guy
"Caution! Large animals on road"
The painted banana
"Somebody people see when they're crazy–"… "Jesus!"
Rockford, IL
Waterford, PA
Math fights
"Naked Eggroll!"
Project Chaos
"Just stomp on it."
The Purple People Bridge
"When I die, I want people to bake my ashes into cookies and eat them."
08/17 Direct Link
I rode my bike to the gym last night. I figured it would be a good thing: warm up for four downhill miles, lift for half an hour or so, get in some uphill cardio on the way home. It was in fact a very good workout, but it left me so tired. I'm so out of shape. I knew that, of course, but it's depressing to be confronted with it. And it took so much time. I didn't get home until after dark. I had no time for anything else. I may not be able to keep this up.
08/18 Direct Link
The current rumor is that we should know by the 25th whether or not our contract has been renewed. Brian and I decided that if Charis loses it, even if the winning company offers us our same positions, we're getting the hell out of here. That way we can avoid the shame of quitting or getting fired, but we still get to leave. We talked about taking our time on the way back home. Going up through Utah, exploring Montana, maybe even visiting Canada. It won't happen, I'm sure, but it got me thinking: am I making a friend here?
08/19 Direct Link
We had to give our first in-processing briefing yesterday. To an auditorium full of very bored soldiers who've been sitting through this all day and won't remember a word of it. I can't remember when I've gotten a colder reception. Furthermore, none of the speakers coordinate, so we may well have been repeating some things that they'd already been told. And, true to form, Russ stole the show and presented them with misleading, if not false, information. Then again, the acoustics were terrible, so they may not have even heard half of what we said. We'll do this every Wednesday.
08/20 Direct Link
One-day weekends just don't cut it. I spent all day today cleaning and doing chores (finally), which is fine; it needed to be done. Tomorrow though, when I could usually relax, I have to drive into work and stand around at the "CAIR Fair" so I can put that 8 hours toward my vacation and not take unpaid time. That also means I have a six-day week coming up. Then the red-eye. I'm going to be a zombie by the time I get home. Then I have the whole wedding thing to do. I hope the visiting is worth it.
08/21 Direct Link
Sigh… stupid people. The CAIR Fair was a big hit with the army folk. Lots of people coming to look at the animals and biofacts and ask stupid questions. We have a stuffed badger that was taxidermied in a somewhat strange position, but nothing you couldn't figure out with a second glance. I had more than one person ask me, in all seriousness, if badgers really have six legs. We also had some dead desert tortoise shells on display to demonstrate growth and raven predation. These prompted lots of people to ask if the "turtles" around here shed their shells.
08/22 Direct Link
One thing that I really like about working Sundays is that it's almost like having a three-day weekend every week. I do have to come in, but I rarely get calls and I have the building to myself, so I can do whatever I want and leave early. Well, usually. Today, and for several weeks to come, I have a "volunteer." He was ordered to do 35 hours of community service for getting in a fight, and since he has school during the week, I ended up with him on my Sundays. Now I have to keep him occupied somehow.
08/23 Direct Link
Sometime during the past week, I reached a turning point. I suddenly started to see this place in its own right, instead of simply "not home." I'm not sure why, or whether I'm happy about it or not, but the fact is that it doesn't seem so bad anymore. Oh, I still hate the army, to be sure, and the sooner I'm off this post the better. But the weather, my apartment, the (relatively) nearby parks, have become compelling reasons to stay in the area. Maybe I've finally accepted the fact that I couldn't really go home if I tried.
08/24 Direct Link
Yet another song:

But I have to say it now
It's been a good life all in all
It's really fine
To have a chance to hang around
To lie here by the fire
And watch the evening tire
While my friends and my old lady
Sit and watch the world go ‘round

And talk of poems and prayers and promises
Things that we believe in
How sweet it is to love someone
How right it is to care
How long it's been since yesterday
What about tomorrow
What about our dreams
and all the memories we share

-John Denver
08/25 Direct Link
For years, my dad has been trying to get me to read "Time Enough for Love." I finally started it a few weeks ago. What a depressing book. For me at least. Not surprisingly, one major theme is the ultimate importance of human love. Eros and Agape. Coupled with Becky's approaching wedding, it plunged me into a shameful state of self-pity. No matter how long I live, it's doubtful that I will have time enough for love. Apparently it's forbidden to me. I've quit wondering why, but my new question is: if I don't, is my life still worth living?
08/26 Direct Link
I'm going home tonight. Real home. To my friends and family. My well-trodden trails, my river, my woods. Humidity. My roads and my bike routes. Grass. My old co-workers and co-volunteers. Rain. My schools. My house, my yard, my gardens. My room. My heroes, my enemies. Trees. My old haunts and new discoveries. My memories. Where the seasons change. Where every building, every street sign, every stone is seeping with nostalgia. It's strange, now, how badly I wanted to leave. It will be a bittersweet visit, and all too short. I don't know how I'll be able to leave again.
08/27 Direct Link
What a night. No sleep at all. One never knows how long it will take to get to Vegas, so I left early, made record time, and sat at the airport alone for five hours. The plane was packed, the seats uncomfortable, and the air smelled like cigarettes. We flew through a thunderstorm that was exciting at first, but soon turned – and stayed – dangerous. No emergencies, fortunately. Just before landing, we cleared the clouds and I got the most incredible view of Orion. Just then, a blue blaze of meteor seared through the predawn sky. That alone was worth it.
08/28 Direct Link
There is no way that I could possibly sum up this day in 100 words. But being my stubborn self, I'll try anyway. Nonstop chaos and mayhem for 16 hours. Everything that could have gone wrong went wrong until about 4:38 PM. The actual wedding, though, was beautiful. No one (i.e. me) screwed anything up and there was just the right amount of crying. The reception was also a success. Dinner was fantastic, the music was perfect, most people got drunk but nobody fought, and everyone went home happy. Including the bride and groom. What more could you ask for?
08/29 Direct Link
I can't believe I'm writing. I just want to crawl into bed and die for a few hours. Oh, the day was a lot of fun, certainly, but very busy and I'm still a day or two behind on sleep. I visited NN this morning and had a good chat with Deb. I came home for the gift opening party and socialized. Then it was off to Jackie and Jason's to catch up with my friends. As usual, I mostly listened and kept quiet. I don't know why they say they miss having me there. I enjoyed the visit though.
08/30 Direct Link
Today was perfect. Midwest summer at its finest. NN is short on people lately, so I went in and day-kept today. It felt so good to be working there again, however temporarily. Then I went to Anderson's and did a little shopping. That felt good too. I had lunch at Subway, one where the ingredients actually taste good, then had beans out of our garden for dessert. Later Andy and I went for a walk at Oak Openings, then went out for pizza and, loathe to part, then for ice cream. The best day I've had in a long time.
08/31 Direct Link
Another beautiful day in T-town; unfortunately my last for a while. I visited good old TDOES and went to Downtown Latte with the girls: now official employees. We got all caught up. Then I shopped around at the market and got one of TJ's famous wraps for lunch. That was all I had time for. I headed home and packed up; needing to borrow an extra suitcase for the stuff I've accumulated over the past few days. I went out for coffee with dad, and now I'm just waiting to go to the airport. Farewell, Toledo, until we meet again.