Thursday, July 19, 2007

Job Success!

If you're at all curious about the economics of Wyoming, you should check out this great article Ed sent us. It's hard to describe the job search, but I've had many "heart-to-heart" talks with employers about how I'm "really over-qualified and they are worried about me professionally and feel that their job would not be challenging enough for me". This should be a big ego boost, but really it led to a month and a half of utter frustration. I was in the final running for a nice work at home position, but the schedule was rigidly unflexible and it would have required 6-8 trips a year. As you can see from a previous post, travel from here is a giant pain in the butt.

So, I went back to a field that combines my bachelor's and master's degrees and I was again "suckered" into teaching middle school science. Here's a brief transcript of how my interviews go:

Me: "Hi! I have a master's degree in Elementary Education and I am the qualified, enthusiastic candidate you are looking for to fill your [insert K-3 position here]."

Them: "Wow. I see you have a science degree. We have such a hard time filling our science positions, and since you are qualified as a teacher and a scientist, would you consider teaching middle school science." [insert giant puppy dog eyes from the administrator and interview team]

Me: "Sure! That sounds great! What a great use of my degrees"

Anyway, I'm definitely excited about the opportunity. I love the challenge and experience of teaching within Native American communities, and I love taking science classes and making them fun and engaging. I'm very hesitant about balancing the time commitment and grandma's needs, but the home health services are an excellent supplement. It'll also be a much needed kick in the pants for my time-management and organizational issues. So much for my semi-retirement :)

Monday, July 16, 2007

Walkin' close to midnight . . .

James and I have started a much needed routine of evening walks/runs. We've mowed a path around the field and have started with a very mild 5 laps (1.5miles) in the evening. This is great, but by the time it cools down, we're racing the setting sun. Words cannot describe how much Sky LOVES these walks. Though he has the option of rip-racing around the field at any time, he particularly likes to follow us, run past us, run behind us and then run past us again. Sky probably runs about 8 miles for every mile we run. It's quite possibly the best part of the day :)


This weekend brought our great trip to St. Louis for the Buskirk wedding extravaganza. The wedding was BEAUTIFUL and the reception lots of fun. Hopefully, someone who actually used their camera will share pictures soon.

The rest of the adventure was brought about by the joy of traveling across the country. For those curious, it takes about 1,160 miles and 18 hours to get to St. Louis (with only food/restroom/gas stops). When we traveled there, we had a series of medical mishaps that caused us to leave much later than expected. So, when faced with the choice of getting a hotel for 4 hours in Nebraska or just driving, we just kept driving. James met a nice officer who gave him a courtesy warning for traveling 83 in a 75. Otherwise, the drive was filled with unforturnately unhealthy food and lots of caffeine. The fact that from 1am to about 6am Nebraska is covered in a thick fog was just a nice added touch.

The return trip brought the most excitement. At about 11:30pm and about 40 miles from home (and 40 miles from anyone) we shredded a tire. This was probably brought about by the 15 miles of torn up road and pot holes we had just encountered, but really it was quite exciting. So, James and I set to work to change the tire, and are having difficulty with the mechanism that lowers the tire from the undercarriage.

A nice man stops by to help us get that step done, and we thank him and send him off, thinking we can get it from here. I mean, I've changed tires on other cars and James has specifically changed a tire on this car, how hard can it be?

Once we get the tire out, James and I are working to get the jack positioned under the car, which is only made worse by the 800 gazillion bugs that are attracted to our little flashlight, which is quite possibly the only light source for a good 10-15 miles.

Then two highly unfortunate events occurred.

1) our jack broke.
2) our battery died.

At this point, AAA is our best option, and we give them a call. They say the will send someone out and we patiently wait. As we wait, more good samaritans stop by. The first was "Meth Man Zak".

After jumping out of his truck to help, Zak gets straight to business, working faster than a NASCAR pit crew. At some point one of the lug nuts is stuck, so he breaks it off, mumbling that they're pretty cheap and we'll be just fine. He then gets the jack from his car which he "stole" from a friend and gets to work. In his flurry of enthusiasm he breaks our tire wrench as well. So, the story wasn't real clear, but he's from Texas, he was in WY for some reason and is headed to Albuquerque for a VA appt. However, he was also at one point on loan from the Marines, kicked out of the armed forces (special services?), responsible for a load of missing CIA operatives and/or offered a 300K/year job in Virginia which he turned down because in Virginia it "costs $5 for a hot dog and $20 for a Coke". Regardless, he managed to change our tire, break the rest of our tools, and explain his entire military career in seemingly 5 minutes. It was quite appreciated.

As he jumped in his car and drove off, we hadn't asked for a jump, so we went back to just waiting. The next good samaritan to show up was driving a double-tanked oil truck. Though understandably uncertain about parking his rig in the middle of a 65mph highway at midnight, he pulled up and offered us a jump. His rig was similar to this one, and getting the cars pulled up next to one another was no small feat:
We were however, able to get the car jumped easily without the truck impeding others' travel plans. While waiting for the car to idle/charge and make our next plans, the AAA help showed up . . . in a sporty red Mercedes. Not only was this unexpected, but they made exceedingly impressive time from town. Though everything had been taken care of, they offered to follow us back to town just in case. After the first 30 miles of my "slow" travel at 70mph, they called to say they thought we were going to be fine. They then passed us and disappeared over the horizon, and it became clear that at probably 110mph, we really weren't that far into the middle of nowhere :)

We made it home at the much later time of 2:30am, and were greeted by a barking dog and whining cats, as expected. Now James and I are recovering from our junk food, caffeine sugar hangovers and trying to get back to a normal week.

Hooray cross-country trips.

Saturday, July 7, 2007

War and Peace time

For those of you worried, we just wanted to update you and let you know the miller moths have made it to the mountains. There are just a few left hanging around the house. We await their return with vacuum and soapy water on hand, but are enjoying the rest now.

Rodeos and Rustlin'

Though every good 4th of July should end with the rodeo, we skipped out this year. However, our extended family invited us out to watch Don break colts that afternoon. I'll try and translate some of the cowboy, but I'm not very good at it, so these are my suburban approximations of what we did. Breaking colts is taking wild horses and getting them ready to ride. Don worked on Bugsy, a mustang they picked up last year. Also the mustang that broke a few of Don's ribs last year, but those are just old details I guess.

Anyway, it was quite fascinating watching Don work on this horse. He is quite the horse trainer and does a lot of his training with very subtle body language and gestures. By the end of the afternoon, the horse was following him, and had stopped leaning away and holding his mouth tight. (Apparently when horses are relaxed, they lick their lips.) He got the saddle on the horse and was working on getting Bugsy used to the rope. However, when he caught the rope under the stirrup it spooked Bugsy and he bucked. It was still too soon to ride him, but that day will come soon.

Don and Tina then invited us out to watch them rope on Friday. We went out and took Sky with us for extra entertainment. Sky did incredibly well with their dog Lily, though Lily didn't take too nicely to Sky. Sky also had his first encounters with horses and steers. Sky took a liking to one steer specifically. James likes to call the steer Skeletor, as it has a white face with dark circles (think goth eyeliner) around the eyes. Either way, the steer is kinda creepy and Sky decided to follow it around the arena. Eventually, he began to posture and the steer just looked at him funny and he went running with his tail between his legs.

More excitingly, James rode on a horse for the first time! It was a short ride as it was getting dark so no pictures, but we'll make sure to take some next time.
All in all, a good day at the arena.

Wednesday, July 4, 2007

4th of July

Any good 4th of July starts out with a good old-fashioned small town parade. James and I trucked down to mainstreet Lander for yet another great year of the Lander parade. We went to the parade nearly every year when I was growing up, and it was comforting that not much had changed. There were lots of horses, fair queens and princesses, community organizations and every firetruck from the area was there to hose down the crowd at the end of the parade. I don't take great live action shots, but more pictures from the parade are posted in our Picasa album.

After a morning of baking along mainstreet, we headed down to City Park for Buffalo Bratwurst. They were quite delicious and the park was full of all sorts of people. Though maybe not ethnically diverse, the mix of wildland firefighters, cowboys, hippies, yuppies, Native Americans, the rich and the poor made for a fascinating day of people watching. The park also has a small creek/irrigation stream running through it (which I swear was much larger when I was little!). This made for a great day of kid watching as they ran up and down this muddy, 1-2 foot wide path of water.

Anyway, in thinking about the diversity of Fremont County we came across the following statistics. Nothing suprising compared to what we see everyday, just something interesting to share.

White - 76.5%
Black or African American - 0.1%
American Indian and Alaska native - 19.7%
Asian - 0.3%
Native Hawaiian and other Pacific islander - 0.0%
Some other race - 1.2%
Two or more races - 2.2%
Hispanic or Latino - 4.4%
(from the City of Lander website)

Tuesday, July 3, 2007

Dr. Bill's Fireworks

James got to experience his first Fremont County 4th of July. We kicked it off on the 3rd with Dr. Bill's fireworks display. As noted in the paper and by the Chamber of Commerce:

"Kick off the 4th of July celebration with Dr. Bill's annual fireworks display. The fireworks are coordinated with a selection of music. Dr. Bill uses some of the same equipment used by Disneyland for their fireworks display."
To explain, Dr. Bill is the local orthodontist and puts on a "private" fireworks show on his property outside of town. There are thousands of people who come out for this show. According to the local gossip, Dr. Bill has his pyrotechnic license(?) and did some of the fireworks for either the opening or closing ceremonies of the Salt Lake Olympics.

Anyway, the show was incredibly impressive. Apparently we were a little late and missed the live re-enactment of the Revolutionary war, but the rest was worth it. He intersperses history voice overs, pyrotechnics and lots and lots of patriotic music. In DC they use Stars and Stripes Forever for the big finale, but Dr. Bill used it as his opening sequence!!!!

Other excitement of the evening included relatives, of relatives of relatives getting into a drunken brawl at the house behind us and being taken away Cops style. It was quite the evening!

Five on Friday

1.  Look at these winter white legs out enjoying the sunshine at the dino park.  Spring has FINALLY sprung! These boys went from winter di...