Our Recycling Program: A Smashing Success!!!

I’m so proud of the employees where I work. A few weeks ago, I noticed that there were plenty of recyclable items being thrown away in the trash in our break room, which prompted me to post a few signs pointing out that recyclable items should go in, well, the recycling containers that are about a foot away from the trash. I even used pictures of Terry Tate as motivators. I didn’t think it was working very well because every now and then I’d still see a tin container or plastic cup in the trash; however, this morning’s discovery has convinced me that indeed, there are some *very* dedicated recyclers in my office:

Ok, this obviously leads me to several questions. First, is someone really drinking vodka and making lemon drops at work? And second, why was I not invited to the party???

Snowmageddon? Really?

Are we really calling the storm that struck the East Coast over the weekend Snowmageddon now? Come on – yeah, some flights were canceled (uh, mine in fact), but really…I’d hardly say that the storm resulted in an armageddon-like disaster. Maybe we should ask the people of Haiti to chime in on this one? Did their natural disaster get a fancy nickname yet?

Yeah, ok, Dulles got some snow, but it’s not like they’ve never seen snow before. Wimps.

At any rate, yes, I had a flight scheduled on Sunday to Dulles (Washington, D.C.) so that I could take a course entitled “Resource Management Implications of Climate Change” at NCTC (the Fish and Wildlife Service’s National Conservation Training Center). NCTC is in Shepherdstown, WV, which is about a 2 hour drive from Dulles and apparently currently inaccessible…so the course was generally canceled as well. About 7 brave souls managed to survive Snowmageddon and reach NCTC mostly unscathed (not sure how many emergency amputation were performed yet…news comes slowly when communications are down), so some of the sessions are being broadcast over the web, which I get to watch from work (which is what I’m doing right now…). On one hand I was really looking forward to the course (and racking up almost 16 hours of travel comp time – woo hoo!!!), but on the other hand, I was really not looking forward to spending almost 16 hours of my own time traveling. Luckily, I found out that my flight and course were canceled Saturday night, so I didn’t have to drive to the airport at 5 am on Sunday to get that bit of news. I was very tempted to just not show up at work this week to see if anyone would figure it out…but in the end, my conscience won the battle and I decided to report for duty.

On an unrelated note, I made my modeling debut a couple of weeks ago for a bellydance-wear company here in Portland. It was a lot of fun, but I think some of my pictures turned out better than others. For most of the photos I was wearing this humongous coin bra that made my boobs look incredibly huge – really, I’m more of a B cup kinda girl, and not the FFF that the coin bra makes me out to be. So, to satisfy your curiosity, here’s a photo that will also be featured on the back cover of Yallah magazine next month.

That’s me with the incredibly goofy look on my face and ginormous-looking boobs in the middle of the bottom row. But in case you’re wondering, I’m still dancing, still love it, and am getting a bit less sucky at it! :o) This is mostly due to the constant encouragement, guidance, and entertainment provided by one of my instructors, Ziggy (top left, yellow skirt).

New Digs

I know I’ve totally been slacking on my blog. Sorry! But facebook has been getting a lot of my attention – so if you’re on facebook, you can check me out there. I’ll attempt to catch up a little bit now though, for all you non-facebookers…

First off, before I left for Portland, my friends in Carlsbad threw me an AWESOME going away party. Susan hosted and nearly all my friends made it to the party – there was even a Snow White pinata filled with mini-alcohol beverages, courtesy of Michelle and jeep. And the food was awesome! Everyone chipped in to get me a $170 gift card to Powell’s Books, and I gave everyone an appropriate Non-Performance Award.

The next day several folks helped me with loading the truck. At one point they were convinced that not everything would fit and I almost had to rent a trailer, which I was definitely not looking forward to doing. However, everything was jammed in – not a square foot to spare – and only two things didn’t make it: the cat tree was donated to Sparkles (Michelle’s new kitty), and jeep had to bring up my office chair the following week. It always works out in the end, but I’m thinking that my next move will entail a 17′ truck instead of a 14′ truck. At least.

It took two full days of driving, but Mom and I finally got to Portland. My apartment managers are assholes, but I’m trying to forget about that. I got really lucky in finding my apartment – it’s in the Bretnor Building, constructed in 1912, on NW 20th and Lovejoy – right in the heart of all the cool stuff that happens in Portland. 21st and 23rd have a ton of restaurants and shops, and I’m about 6 blocks from the Pearl District. Everything is within walking distance, too – aside from work, I don’t have to drive my car. I’ve walked to Powell’s Books a few times, and even down to the Saturday Market. And now that I have a bike, it will be even easier.

I had to start my new job at the Columbia River Fisheries Program Office the next week – I wish I had some more time off, but dems de breaks. Gots to make money, you know. The new office is nice – lots of native plants around the building, and one entire wall of my office is windows that look out into a virtual jungle of bushes and trees. I’ve been enjoying watching hummingbirds and chickadees – and a towhee – along with bees and other insects buzzing around. My office seems to have quite the spider population in it, but so far it hasn’t been a problem. Once those little guys grow up though…that’s another story…

Catching Up…

So…lots of stuff has happened between now and my last post. There’s too much to write about right now, but I will provide you with links to pictures. That’s the good part, anyway, right? The big news is that I recently moved up to Portland, Oregon, where I will be starting a job with the Columbia River Fisheries Program Office in Vancouver, Washington. I guess my official title is Recovery Assessment Program Leader, but basically I’ll be a fish biologist for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. It was definitely sad leaving all of my friends behind in Carlsbad, but I’m very happy to be up here in Portland. I found a great apartment in a really cool part of town…the next step is getting a bike! I’ll post some pictures of my place once I get a bit more unpacked.

In the meantime, here are some photos from previous events.

First, in the beginning of July, my friend Michelle came and visited me from Pennsylvania. I hadn’t seen her (or talked with her) since graduating from West Chester University in 1998, but we found each other on facebook. We met up in Old Town San Diego, went to the Wild Animal Park (of course), and cruised around Point Loma and downtown San Diego over the weekend. You can view the photos from her visit here.

Next, at the end of July, I drove north to Blue Lakes (near Ukiah) for a Koski family reunion. I was there for a couple of days and it was really nice to see everyone, especially the next generation of Koski’s. The weather was perfect and it was great connecting with most of my cousins, although three of my blonde beautiful cousins were MIA (you know who you are, H’s!). Check out the photos from the reunion here.

After the reunion I drove up to Eureka to meet my friend Cara. We went to a Roller Derby (go, North Jetty Betty’s!), then went to Arcata to dine on crepes at one of Cara’s favorite restaurants. The crepes were FANTASTIC! Cara works and lives at Redwoods National Park, so the next day we hiked the Damnation Creek trail to the coast where we explored the tidepools. Then, it was time for me to head back south (sigh)…but the photos still linger here.

The only unfortunate part of the trip was that my check engine light went on, and upon taking it to the shop for a diagnosis, I learned that one of the catalytic converters has crapped out on me and it would cost $2000 to fix in California. Fortunately, I’ve moved to Oregon where it may not be illegal to use an after-market catalytic converter so I might not have to junk my car…but like I said, it looks like I’ll be wanting to invest in a bike soon. It won’t work for getting me over to Vancouver every day, but it’s at least a little less pressure on my aging Outback when I need to go out for groceries or local errands!

They Finally Let Me Outside for Good Behavior (or Something…)

In the past two weeks, I’ve actually gotten to go outside three times for work. Wow! Imagine that – a biologist actually being allowed to go outside…since I have no window in my office, I’d practically forgotten what sunlight is like. Which may explain the pale, pasty complexion and vitamin D efficiency that I’ve fallen prey to lately…

Anyway, I spent two days looking at project sites on Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton, which is my new turf. On the first day I got to see my first endangered arroyo toad, along with some of the beautiful beaches and heavy amphibious vehicles the Marines use in their water-to-land assault operations (guess which I was more excited about).

On the second day, I assisted one of our office ornithologists in his weekly endangered least Bell’s vireo nest surveys. Which was really cool – we found several nests with eggs and chicks, and lots of other cool critters as well. I’ll put a link to some of the more interesting photos to the right so you can view them all!

The following week I participated in searching for endangered light-footed clapper rail nest surveys at the Tijuana Estuary just south of San Diego. It was a lot of fun, but a lot of work! We were walking around in boot-hungry mud and cord grass trying to find nests with eggs, but not step on them. We only found three nests with eggs, and they all appeared to be viable (I checked the fetal heartbeat with the Egg Buddy) so we didn’t collect any of them for contaminants analysis. We did take one egg back to the refuge to be incubated, as it appeared to have been abandoned by the parents. We saw several clapper rails, but they’re very speedy so I didn’t get any pictures of them. But I did get lots of other photos, so take a look at the slide show link to the right. I was completely filthy and muddy and sweaty and sore, but I also had a really great time – I think I might have even got a little sun on my neck. But just a little…I was wearing a big hat and plenty of sunscreen. I’m still working on keeping up that pale complexion and vitamin D deficiency…

Hope you’re all doing well and enjoying the spring!

Last Post of 2008!

Are you ready for this stupid year to be over? I am. So get the hell out of here, 2008; don’t let the door hit you on the ass on your way out. I actually can’t believe that 2008 is gone – I remember being a kid and time seemed to goooo bbyyyyyyyy sssssoooooooooooo ssssllllllooooowwwwwwwlllllyyyyyyyyyyyyyy…and now (that I’ve probably gotten Alzheimer’s as a result of extreme boredom; see previous blog) time sms to go bi 2 qwik. I can’t fathom that I’ve been in Southern California for over four years now – what the hell??? So, for those of you who haven’t been reading my blog (or who have just been reading about the good times), here’s a little recap of my 2008 for you (in no particular order):

  • Teddy Bear is still alive. Slower, more insane, more needy, more apt to urinate on the carpet, and apparently immortal. I suspect that he is surviving by consuming my soul and happiness.
  • I spent vast quantities of money to keep Zoe going. She seems to be happy and active.
  • Related to the above, I pretty much broke even in my attempts to work down my debt. I haven’t really decreased it, but haven’t really added to it either.
  • I only noticed about half a dozen visits by the cops to my apartment complex. This ‘hood is really cleaning itself up!
  • My ceiling collapsed zero times.
  • I failed (yet again) to procure an acceptable boyfriend, as all men in SoCal are either gay, taken, or total assholes.
  • I developed secret crushes on my cat’s vet and one of the vet techs, at two different offices. Zoe has all the luck! However, there are complications which prevent me from pursuing either of these as potential relationships (see above point).
  • I watched my arch-nemesis perfect her rimming skills and be rewarded for it with a promotion and office upgrade.
  • I devised an airtight excuse to visit Las Vegas.
  • I managed to lose almost 15 lbs, which includes the mole I had removed from my face.
  • Although, in the past week I probably gained about five of those pounds back (but the mole is still gone, so I’m psyched about that).
  • I perfected the fine art of applying liquid liner to my upper eyelid, with the results not completely appearing as if I stayed up for three days smoking crack with Amy Winehouse (see new year’s resolution discussion, below). Additionally, my hair finally realized that I mean business when it comes to straightening, armed with a split-end inducing arsenal of flat irons and straightening gels.
  • My brother spawned, so that alleviates the need for me to breed in order to make a genetic contribution to future generations. Ok, so I realize that it’s my brother’s kid which means that my genes will not be represented as much as if it was my kid, but I don’t have to get pregnant and squeeze a small human out of my vag. So it’s a fair trade-off, I think.
  • With minimal effort and a little bit of practical application, I vastly improved my nick-name generating and limerick-writing skills (just try me sometime…).

That’s all I can think of for now. Actually, that’s not completely true – I can think of a lot more. But I don’t want to rehash ALL the super fun times I had; I’d like to keep many of those moments private, just for me to own. Anyone have any resolutions? I’m generally against those – “I resolve to lose weight, stop drinking, quell my road rage, kick the crack habit, etc.” But this year I think I’ve come up with a good one – I’m going to stop eating factory farmed meat. I haven’t really eaten red meat in over ten years (with the exception of critters that friends have hunted, or that was raised organic and free range – yeah, buffalo, I’m talking about you), but it will be difficult to cut out the chicken and turkey. I’ll eat it occasionally if I can get the free range variety, and I’ll still eat fish. But I just can’t stomach (literally) anymore the thought of supporting those massive henhouses that cramp chickens in shoebox-sized cages for their entire lives. I think my decision was made when I saw the video of Sarah Palin at the turkey slaughterhouse, with turkeys getting killed right behind her, saying she was having a “great time”. Blech.

Anyway, happy new year, y’all. Have a good one.

And we set off two ground sensors, too!

I was fortunate enough to be able to leave the confines of my windowless cube-shaped office on Friday and escape into the Otay Mountain wilderness, just north of the US-Mexico border. A couple of us went on a tecate cypress reconnaissance mission for a monitoring program we’re developing for the Thorne’s hairstreak, a rare butterfly that lives in tecate cypress stands. It was a super nice day, and trekking through very dense prickly stabby vegetation left me sweaty, covered in charcoal (some of the stands we visited had burned recently), scratched, and minorly impaled. Needless to say, I was happy – I really do like being out in areas where I’m more likely to be speared by some sort of yucca plant than shot by a stray bullet (as is the case at home) or succumb to a severe case of carpel tunnel syndrome (as is the case at work).Actually, it was kind of sketchy – we came across numerous signs of illegal immigrants who cross the border and travel through the mountains (sneaker-not boot-tracks, empty waterbottles), and the brush is so dense that you’d practically be on top of someone before you knew they were there. Luckily, we didn’t run into any trouble, but we did set off at least two of the Border Patrol’s ground sensors, who deployed a helicopter to investigate us on two separate occasions. And holy balls – we saw a lot of BP agents, all driving brand-new trucks. Our government spends a lot of money trying to keep people from crossing the border, but I can’t see how it’s really worth it. We went to take a look at the border fence – we went all the way to the end of it – and people cut through it and tunnel under it, and the feds just patch the fence and wait for them to do it again. It’s just a cat and mouse game, and we keep spending the money to play. Pointless – we could be doing so much more with those dollars! Sigh…

Oh well – enjoy some pictures I took…

I spotted this burrowing owl from the road – the first one I’ve ever seen in the wild!

Moon setting over a ridge…

Looking southeast into Mexico…

The end of the border fence. Guess which side is Mexico!

Stress stress stress

I know I haven’t written in a while, and I’m sorry to say that I don’t have anything particularly interesting to report. No pictures, either. But I’ve been busy, alright??? Work has been particularly chaotic – I’ve had to make some BIG decisions concerning my job, but I finally got my promotion so money will not be an issue. Basically, I was offered a position as the Recovery Branch Chief, and I went back and forth for a couple of weeks trying to decide whether or not to take it. In the end I decided to decline the offer; mostly, I feel like I still need to spend some time in the trenches, and one of the things I like most about my job is seeing the results of my work fairly quickly and concretely. For example, there are projects that I’ve worked on that have ended up having more habitat conserved partly as a result of my efforts. And I like that. So, that’s pretty much what it came down to, among a few other factors.

I’ve also been looking for a new place to live. I want to move to Carlsbad or Oceanside to be closer to work and friends, and to get away from the heat of Infernodido. Rent is a little higher on the coast, but with the way gas prices are going, I’ll probably spend less money just having a shorter commute. But, looking for apartments is one of my VERY LEAST FAVORITE things to do, and I have very limited tolerance for trying to get in touch with potential landlords and viewing crapholes. So, if anyone knows of a really great place that takes dogs and cats and is big and cheap and requires no security deposit and has a great view of the ocean and a complimentary on-call masseur, please let me know.

Sound good? Hope you’re all doing great and are having a fantastic summer!

It’s the story…of a girl named Marci…

I can’t believe that I’m 34 years old and I have never met a celebrity…before today. Yup, that’s right, I spent the afternoon hob-nobbing with the celebs when I went to Agua Hedionda Lagoon’s First Annual Celebrity Fishing Tournament! The main reason I went was to support the cause of protecting the lagoon, of course, but the other main reason I went was to meet Christopher Knight, a.k.a. Peter Brady. He was so nice! And he even remembered my name after a couple of hours of meeting other weirdos like me…actually, all the celebrities there were pretty nice. Hmmm…let’s see…who else did I meet? Adrianne Curry was there (who is married to Chris Knight and won the first season of America’s Next Top Model), but I won’t be posting the photo that was taken of me and her together because me standing next to a supermodel is hard for me to look at. Also attending was Brett Cullen (who plays Goodwin on Lost), Christopher Atkins (who was the boy/man in The Blue Lagoon), and Marc McClure (who played Jimmy Olson in all of the Superman movies). There were other people there too – soap stars, mostly, that I didn’t recognize. Anyway, it was pretty fun and I’m glad that I finally got to meet one of the stars of my all-time favorite TV shows. He even signed my program! Woo hoo!!!

It’s not all about birds and butterflies…

It’s also brodiaea season! Brodiaea filifolia, or thread-leaved brodiaea, is one of the several endangered species that I work with in my turf. It was a nice rainy winter, so the brodiaea is up and blooming. Some years it doesn’t bloom at all, so it’s always cool when the purple flowers open up and you can see where the populations are. These pictures were taken Monday, when I went to see one of the largest populations left in Carlsbad, on the La Costa Greens preserve. Enjoy!

We also saw tons of ground spiders. They usually hide down in the hole when they see you coming, but this bad-ass came up to see what I was doing as I snapped a few pictures of him.  Also, a couple of days ago I finally got my first view of El Salto Falls, on Buena Vista Creek in Carlsbad. It’s a wonderful waterfall (very rare in the area) that has about a 40-foot drop. Native Americans have been visiting the falls for about 9000 years, and it’s on their list of sacred places; you can’t access the falls, but if you park at the northwestern corner of the Kohl’s parking lot off of Marron Road, peek over the fence and you’ll have a great view. Very cool!