athelind: (tell it like it IS)
I wonder how much of my disinterest in the zombie trend and its associated media and phenomena stems from having substantially more contact with dead things than most modern urbanites and suburbanites?

You want a lasting visceral reaction, spend some time working with a sea lion carcass so foul and decayed that seagulls won't eat it anymore.

That'll take some of the charm out of dressing up like a rotting corpse for a flash mob.


athelind: (work)
[Error: unknown template qotd]

What would you consider the worst job in the world, and why?

You know, I used to help drag dead sea lions off the breakwall at Monterey Harbor. Some of them had been rotting for three months or more. One time, the deceased was wedged into the rocks pretty firmly, and as the boat tried to drag it free, well, the tensile strength of the double-braided nylon line surpassed that of the putrescent pinniped. The sea lion ... parted, and the aforementioned nylon line snapped back toward the boat like the inch-and-a-half-thick rubber band that it was, the after portions of the carcass flailing violently and showering the witnesses and the ground crew with unwholesome corruption that requires a trip to Lovecraft's thesaurus to properly convey.

It was still preferable to telemarketing, door-to-door sales, or political canvassing.

(I've done the last on the list. Never again.)


athelind: (AAAAAA)
[Error: unknown template qotd]

Have you ever closed the door on an opportunity or a relationship in order to open another door, only to realize you made the wrong choice?

oh, for crying ...

Yes, okay, yes. I woke up to that running through my brain this very morning: sometimes it seems like every single time I've had a binary choice, I've picked the wrong one. On the rare occasions that I do make the right choice, I manage to screw it up somehow with later choices.

I reiterate my conclusion from the last "life of regrets" Writer's Block I answered, less than three weeks ago:

Shoulda-Woulda-Coulda is toxic.

You can't do a damned thing about where you've been.
You can only do something about where you're going.

Face Front.



Rassin' frassin' LiveJournal Drama Llama stereotypes. There should be a cap on how often Writer's Block can ask the same kinds of question in a single month.
athelind: (Warning: Memetic Hazard)
[Error: unknown template qotd]

Oh, good timing.

This month marks the 20th anniversary of my biggest mistake: leaving the Coast Guard.

If I'd stayed and become a Marine Science Technician, I'd have spent the last two decades actually doing the kinds of Making The World Better Sciencey Things that I went back to school to do.

Instead of still trying to get a career in Marine Science in my mid-40s started, I'd either have retired five years ago at half pay, or be getting ready to do so in five years at three-quarters pay. I'd be set up to start a second career, with a solid financial cushion.

It's entirely possible that, via various programs, I might have retired with that Baccalaureate that obsessed me for so long.

Would I have still met [livejournal.com profile] quelonzia if I'd stayed in? Probably.

Would we have still gotten married? I think we might have.

Would things have still ended as badly as they have?

I have no idea. Would the power disparity in our relationship have been any less glaring if the dominant force shaping our lives had been my military career?

Gods know that I've made a lot of mistakes in my time, but leaving the Coast Guard is the single biggest one.

But I closed that door a long time ago.

Shoulda, Woulda, Coulda is toxic. That's why memes are, as the icon says, a hazard.

athelind: (Eye of Agammotto)
[Error: unknown template qotd]

If you were given a life do-over card, would you keep it or give it to a friend? If you kept it, would you prefer to be born to the same or different parents? Would you want to keep your memories?

I'd keep it, most definitely. I can only think of one friend who's managed to screw up his life anywhere nearly as badly as I've screwed up mine.

I wouldn't trade my parents in for anyone. I would definitely keep my memories; that's the whole point of a do-over, right? "Putting things right that once went wrong", as they used to say on Quantum Leap.

If I had to limit myself to one, specific change, I'd have stayed in the Coast Guard and gone to Marine Science Tech school. I could have spent the last two decades actually doing Real Science That Made A Difference instead of pissing around struggling to get a science degree that I don't know how to apply.

If I kept my memories, I could still meet the people who mean the most to me.

And the one who made me happy.


athelind: (cronkite)
In 1989, when the Loma Prieta earthquake hit, I was in the United States Coast Guard, stationed at Coast Guard Group Monterey. Group Monterey (or Station Monterey, as it's called these days) is at Breakwater Cove, more or less at the other end of Cannery Row from the Monterey Bay Aquarium.

I was flopped on my bed, lazing around with the TV on after a long workday, waiting for the evening meal. October is when Monterey gets its brief glimpse at summer, so I'd doffed my uniform and was in my skivvies. I wasn't watching the World Series; a rerun of The Facts of Life had just started, and I was on the verge of grabbing the remote when things started shaking.

My reaction:
  1. Hm. Quake.
  2. Huh. It's still going.
  3. Holy Shit! It's the Big One!

Somewhere around 2.5, the reflexes of someone born in California and raised with earthquake drills through childhood kicked in, and I was under the table. The table, it should be noted, was Military Barracks Furniture, and probably sturdier than most houses: the legs were 4x4s. If the floor had dropped out from under me, I'd have been in some trouble, but if the ceiling had gone, I was, quite literally, covered.

When the shaking stopped, the power was out. I threw on some clothes -- I can't remember if it was my uniform or my civvies -- and ran downstairs to see if I was needed anywhere on base. I wasn't, so I jogged down Cannery Row at a good clip to assess the damages, particularly at the Aquarium; those big glass tanks were a particular concern, and I figured someone from an emergency service should look in on them.

The Aquarium was fine, as it turned out, and the docents were evacuating the tourists very professionally; power was out all up and down the row, and, in fact, in most of the town.

On the way back, I checked out the Marina, right by the pier; again, no serious damage, but the currents on the harbor were visibly off, twisting and turning and flowing the wrong way.**

Eventually, we heard from our engineers. Several of them had driven up to Alameda on a parts run. Before getting on the freeway, they'd stopped at a convenience store to get drinks for the long drive home -- and that's where they were when the quake hit. They stepped outside to see the section of Interstate 880 that they were about to take... collapsed into a sandwich.

The electricity was out for the next few days in Monterey; as a result, our commander shrugged and declared liberty for everyone but the watch crews, since the rest of us couldn't do much of anything without power tools. We had a generator to keep the Operations Center running, and it had enough juice to spare for the mess hall, as well.

I felt kind of bad, really: most of the coast was in chaos, and I got a long weekend and never even missed a hot meal. Even the duty days were surprisingly light; not many people go pleasure boating after a major catastrophe, and even the professional fishing fleet was taking a few days of downtime.

The aftershocks kept coming, though, for a couple of weeks, and we'd all get hyperalert when they did -- or when a truck rolled by. In fact, I was exceptionally vibration-sensitive for several more years, well after returning to civilian life and moving to Oceanside, in San Diego County -- just long enough to get jolted awake by the barely-perceptible fringes of the Landers quake in 1992.


*A decade later, taking Geography/Hydrology at CSUMB, I realized just what kind of underwater avalanches the quake must have triggered in the Monterey Underwater Canyon.
athelind: (Default)
In 1989, when the Loma Prieta earthquake hit, I was in the United States Coast Guard, stationed at Coast Guard Group Monterey. Group Monterey (or Station Monterey, as it's called these days) is at Breakwater Cove, more or less at the other end of Cannery Row from the Monterey Bay Aquarium.

I was flopped on my bed, lazing around with the TV on after a long workday, waiting for the evening meal. October is when Monterey gets its brief glimpse at summer, so I'd doffed my uniform and was in my skivvies. I wasn't watching the World Series; a rerun of The Facts of Life had just started, and I was on the verge of grabbing the remote when things started shaking.

My reaction:
  1. Hm. Quake.
  2. Huh. It's still going.
  3. Holy Shit! It's the Big One!

Somewhere around 2.5, the reflexes of someone born in California and raised with earthquake drills through childhood kicked in, and I was under the table. The table, it should be noted, was Military Barracks Furniture, and probably sturdier than most houses: the legs were 4x4s. If the floor had dropped out from under me, I'd have been in some trouble, but if the ceiling had gone, I was, quite literally, covered.

When the shaking stopped, the power was out. I threw on some clothes -- I can't remember if it was my uniform or my civvies -- and ran downstairs to see if I was needed anywhere on base. I wasn't, so I jogged down Cannery Row at a good clip to assess the damages, particularly at the Aquarium; those big glass tanks were a particular concern, and I figured someone from an emergency service should look in on them.

The Aquarium was fine, as it turned out, and the docents were evacuating the tourists very professionally; power was out all up and down the row, and, in fact, in most of the town.

On the way back, I checked out the Marina, right by the pier; again, no serious damage, but the currents on the harbor were visibly off, twisting and turning and flowing the wrong way.**

Eventually, we heard from our engineers. Several of them had driven up to Alameda on a parts run. Before getting on the freeway, they'd stopped at a convenience store to get drinks for the long drive home -- and that's where they were when the quake hit. They stepped outside to see the section of Interstate 880 that they were about to take... collapsed into a sandwich.

The electricity was out for the next few days in Monterey; as a result, our commander shrugged and declared liberty for everyone but the watch crews, since the rest of us couldn't do much of anything without power tools. We had a generator to keep the Operations Center running, and it had enough juice to spare for the mess hall, as well.

I felt kind of bad, really: most of the coast was in chaos, and I got a long weekend and never even missed a hot meal. Even the duty days were surprisingly light; not many people go pleasure boating after a major catastrophe, and even the professional fishing fleet was taking a few days of downtime.

The aftershocks kept coming, though, for a couple of weeks, and we'd all get hyperalert when they did -- or when a truck rolled by. In fact, I was exceptionally vibration-sensitive for several more years, well after returning to civilian life and moving to Oceanside, in San Diego County -- just long enough to get jolted awake by the barely-perceptible fringes of the Landers quake in 1992.


*A decade later, taking Geography/Hydrology at CSUMB, I realized just what kind of underwater avalanches the quake must have triggered in the Monterey Underwater Canyon.
athelind: (work)
I don't do a lot of this, but I'm feeling introspective today:

I've found far too many jobs that require a Master's degree; now I really wish I'd stuck around Monterey Bay and gone to Moss Landing Marine Labs to get it.

People look at my capstone paper on Elkhorn Slough, and express surprise that it's not a Master's Thesis; sitting right there at the mouth of the Slough, I could have turned it into one in two years easily, or three at the outside -- so, figure 2005-2006, and wham, more employable out the gate.

And that would have been a lot more productive than flailing around half-assed for six years on a hunt for an entry-level position.

Of course, if I'm gonna start doing Shoulda-Woulda-Coulda, if I'd stayed in the Coast Guard and gone to Marine Science Technician school, I could have retired in 2005, to start a whole new life with a government pension backing me up.

In this timeline, however, I'm looking for entry-level work at 45.

Oh, just to add you-know to you-know: NOAA's recruiting for officers. I meet the requirements perfectly, and exceed them in places, save one: "Be able to complete 20 years of active duty before turning 62."

I know I checked NOAA out right after graduation, when I was 39. Gods as my witnesses, the age cap then was 38. Not "complete 20 by 58", but 38, flat-out.

I would have turned 42 in 2006, incidentally. Why is that year the watershed date (pun inevitable) in all these what-if scenarios?



athelind: (Default)
I don't do a lot of this, but I'm feeling introspective today:

I've found far too many jobs that require a Master's degree; now I really wish I'd stuck around Monterey Bay and gone to Moss Landing Marine Labs to get it.

People look at my capstone paper on Elkhorn Slough, and express surprise that it's not a Master's Thesis; sitting right there at the mouth of the Slough, I could have turned it into one in two years easily, or three at the outside -- so, figure 2005-2006, and wham, more employable out the gate.

And that would have been a lot more productive than flailing around half-assed for six years on a hunt for an entry-level position.

Of course, if I'm gonna start doing Shoulda-Woulda-Coulda, if I'd stayed in the Coast Guard and gone to Marine Science Technician school, I could have retired in 2005, to start a whole new life with a government pension backing me up.

In this timeline, however, I'm looking for entry-level work at 45.

Oh, just to add you-know to you-know: NOAA's recruiting for officers. I meet the requirements perfectly, and exceed them in places, save one: "Be able to complete 20 years of active duty before turning 62."

I know I checked NOAA out right after graduation, when I was 39. Gods as my witnesses, the age cap then was 38. Not "complete 20 by 58", but 38, flat-out.

I would have turned 42 in 2006, incidentally. Why is that year the watershed date (pun inevitable) in all these what-if scenarios?



athelind: (veteran)
It doesn't matter if you call it Armistice Day, Remembrance Day, or Veteran's Day.

It doesn't matter what you think of the current war, or war in general.

What matters is that every day, there are those who put their lives on the line for others, on the battlefield or on the streets, in raging fires or in the face of raging storms, or striving to reach beyond the sky.

Some of them don't come back. Some of them do.

Honor them all. They've honored you.


athelind: (Default)
It doesn't matter if you call it Armistice Day, Remembrance Day, or Veteran's Day.

It doesn't matter what you think of the current war, or war in general.

What matters is that every day, there are those who put their lives on the line for others, on the battlefield or on the streets, in raging fires or in the face of raging storms, or striving to reach beyond the sky.

Some of them don't come back. Some of them do.

Honor them all. They've honored you.


athelind: (ME!)

The Three Things Meme


Snagged from A Whole Lot O' Folks

  1. Post 3 things you've done in your lifetime that you don't think anybody else on your friends list has done.
  2. See if anybody else responds with "I've done that." If they have, you need to add another!(2.b., 2.c., etc...)
  3. Have your friends cut & paste this into their journal to see what unique things they've done in their life.

Oof. This would be a lot easier if [livejournal.com profile] eclipsegryph and [livejournal.com profile] wy weren't on my f-list; a lot of my best stories are Coast Guard tales. Still...
  1. Visited a major landmark just because it appeared in a movie -- and then had natural phenomena provide better special effects than the movie did.*
  2. Attended the funeral (or other major occasion) of one of your all-time favorite writers (or other celebrities) in an official or invited capacity.**
  3. Gone from being a child-free bachelor to a grandfather less than two years.


* Devil's Tower, Wyoming: lightning storm. The year after Close Encounters of the Third Kind came out, no less!
** I buried Robert A. Heinlein.

athelind: (Default)

The Three Things Meme


Snagged from A Whole Lot O' Folks

  1. Post 3 things you've done in your lifetime that you don't think anybody else on your friends list has done.
  2. See if anybody else responds with "I've done that." If they have, you need to add another!(2.b., 2.c., etc...)
  3. Have your friends cut & paste this into their journal to see what unique things they've done in their life.

Oof. This would be a lot easier if [livejournal.com profile] eclipsegryph and [livejournal.com profile] wy weren't on my f-list; a lot of my best stories are Coast Guard tales. Still...
  1. Visited a major landmark just because it appeared in a movie -- and then had natural phenomena provide better special effects than the movie did.*
  2. Attended the funeral (or other major occasion) of one of your all-time favorite writers (or other celebrities) in an official or invited capacity.**
  3. Gone from being a child-free bachelor to a grandfather less than two years.


* Devil's Tower, Wyoming: lightning storm. The year after Close Encounters of the Third Kind came out, no less!
** I buried Robert A. Heinlein.

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