elionwyr: (write hard)
This past weekend was Blogathon.

Over $500 was raised for [Bad username or site: http://www.livestrong.org @ livejournal.com]LiveStrong. We had about 20 people donate, and varied people who followed along, reading, responding, cheering the bloggers on (which was a fantastic gift). I was hit by a virus (Antivir Solution Pro) on two separate laptops, had some sick kitty drama, and managed to post roughly 80 blogs.

If you'd like to see what you missed, check the following tag links:

My plan of attack for Blogathon was this.. )

[livejournal.com profile] contrary74 is doing part two of this fundraiser - the Philadelphia LiveStrong Walkathon - on Saturday, August 21st. We'll be taking donations up until then, if you'd like to contribute to this cause.

Because cancer can bite my shiny metal ass.

Click Here to Donate

elionwyr: (write hard)
Greetings, Sunday readers!

I have spent the past 24 hours participating in Blogathon - an event wherein people across the internet decide to blog their little hearts out for charities of their choices.

My charity of choice has been LiveStrong. Because cancer can bite my shiny metal ass.

I am doing this for [livejournal.com profile] contrary74's sister in law. And the people in my family that have suffered from skin cancer and breast cancer. And my friends who have been diagnosed with thyroid cancer. And people I know who have had jaw cancer.

Cancer is not the fate of our species. It is a dis-ease of our present-day world. We do not have to accept as a plague we are doomed to experience.

This is the 49th post written in 24 hours. Missed some? Click here. Like what you read? Consider tossing some money into the pot. Consider it a tip jar.

To date, I have raised $475 for LiveStrong. [livejournal.com profile] contrary74 and I will continue to take donations until the weekend of August 20th, so you have some to decide whether or not you'd like to contribute. :)

And this? This thread of stories and technological borking? Over 80 posts, apparently though I don't trust my ability to count right now? This has been Blogathon 2010.

Thanks for your support - your laughter - your hand-holding - your feedback - your attention.

You are all made of awesome. And win. And an eternal supply of cookies.

Good night.

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elionwyr: (write hard)
Well. Fairly completely off-topic.

One of my goals for 2010 - not a resolution because I don't do that - was to get back in touch with my spirituality. I've had people in my life that have drained much of that, drained much of me, or have drawn me into the illusion of what they would like the world to believe of them rather than the reality of who and what they really are.

I think - I hope - all of these people are out of my life. And I found that my spirituality was starting to kick me in the fanny in ways that were observable/measurable by those around me.

I have a long way to go in my stated goal. But a step along the way has been to reconnect to my Runes.

My mother gave me a set carved in quartz crystal many years ago. Over time, a few of the stones have gone missing, and I've felt damned guilty about that. Replacing the missing stones with others didn't feel quite right. Eventually I purchased a set of these:

When I first saw these in a photo, I swear they looked like they were made out of silver. As it turns out, it's antler. Which is pretty darn perfect for me. The Scholar also made me a set out of antler - elk, I believe - and they are as ritualistic and holy as every other creation accredited to his name.

I've written previously about my camping trip with [livejournal.com profile] adelheid_p that involved time spent in a Norse sacred space. I think it had an effect on my dreams. I'm dreaming of Rune casts, and of spaces holy to Odin and frequented by vultures and ravens.

At the moment, Kali is giving me a break. I am taking advantage of the time.

So much of my time spent here in western PA has been a sort of concentrated reliving of my childhood. The part that's been missing has been that sense of spirituality that defined so much of my world once upon a time. It's definitely taking a different turn now.

I'm rather eager to see what comes next.

I'm also curious to see if this post makes any dang sense after I've had some sleep. If it doesn't...my apologies. I'm seriously dizzy.

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Aug. 1st, 2010 07:32 am
elionwyr: (cephalopod)
And FINALLY the world is starting to spin.
elionwyr: (flying squirrel)
Several years ago, in Philadelphia, [livejournal.com profile] raaven introduced me to Foamy the Squirrel. (I have since gone on to warp The Scholar's mind a little further than it was naturally by bringing the manic rodent to his attention.)

I liked squirrels just fine. I owned a bunch of chinchillas, which look a lot like exotic squirrels. And I've always talked fast. So I suppose that my relating to Foamy was an obvious, but it didn't actually click for me until I found myself chittering angry thoughts one night as I was leaving the zoo.

I called [livejournal.com profile] raaven. "Oh my GOD. The voice in my head is FOAMY. This is YOUR fault!"

Flash forward a few years. I've moved to western PA and I'm working on a project given to me by my haunt boss. It's a..shall we say ill-advised task. I was to go over lengths of rusted-out fencing and attempt to knock the finials off of the tops.

Anyone who knows anything about the finials on such things knows they are welded onto the tops of the fencing, and so the weakest point is not the weld..it's the thinnest part of the metal.

But! I am a good little solider, oh yes I am, and I tried to do as I was asked.

And the finials kept breaking in half.

I went back and asked for some advice.

"Try using a screwdriver as a wedge against the weld."


This did not work. (Tell me you're surprised.)

Both frantic and frustrated, the last thing I needed to see was the boss walk up to me with another man, talking and laughing. Because clearly they must be laughing at my expense.

"So how's it going?"

This, Gentle Readers, was the only time I actually got angry at the boss in question and reamed him out.

Unfortunately? I was channeling Foamy the squirrel at the time.

All that anyone heard was, "CHITTER CHITTER CHITTER CHITTER CHITTER fuck you fuck you fuck you!!"

And then I ran away.

Because that's how I roll.


It wasn't until I'd gone home and looked at the calendar that I realized what part of the problem had been.

The date? September 18th.

The day I did the impractical, the impossible, back in 2000.

The day I got married.

*facepalm redux*

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elionwyr: (gorgeous)
I beg your forgiveness, y'all, but I forget who asked me to write about costuming and what exactly the question was, so you're gonna get the post in my head.

Which is this:

I am a shy creature (shut up, I am), and so it must seem odd that I nearly never have a problem walking around in costume.

The secret has a few different parts to it.

1) I truly think clothing - all of it - is a costume. We dress a part for work, for play, for dating, for lounging.

2) I was broken of my reluctance to be seen in costume by working at a tiny Renaissance faire in Kutztown, PA. A once-upon-a-time friend persuaded me to join her there, to work as a strolling Rune reader during their Christmas banquets and to do more formal readings at their actual faire in the spring.

I did this because of my friendship with her - witness the story of me dressing like a bunny as a result of a friend's request - and within the confines of the event I had no problem with being in garb.

Walking to the local ATM machine, though, was a whole other story.

"You want me to go with you WHERE?"

"Oh, come on..."

I can't remember how much persuasion it took - probably not that much, little submissive that I apparently am - to get me to cross the road that served as a DMZ of sorts between the ren faire and the mundane world. One small step for gal, one giant step for squirrel.

And now, when someone squawks about getting out of the car to pump gas in a kilt because, dude, he's in a kilt, or when someone raises an eyebrow at my stated intention to go out to get lunch dressed as a pirate, I don't really get why this is a problem. Nor do I always remember - at least not right away - that most of the world doesn't go to social functions, or McDonald's or what-have-you dressed like a pirate.

But ya know? They darn well should.

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elionwyr: (write hard)
I am a PASSIONATE believer in the lack of necessity of using live animals in haunted attractions.

I've been preaching this opinion for years.

I've heard all kinds of reasons given as to why some haunt owners feel it's important to use living critters. Their customers expect it. They're more impressive than fake animals. It's a cheap way to get a scare.

Let me tell you about Grisly's "rat hall."

This was, hands-down, the scariest area of our haunt. People screamed. They froze in place. We frequently had to have people ready to get behind groups and push them through just to get them the heck out of there.

And what caused that terror in this more-or-less S-shaped length of maze?

1. A series of plastic tubings run through pieces of 2X4s and screwed to the walls at about ankle level.

2. Sporadically placed fake-fur-covered blocks of wood, screwed to the wall.

3. A recording of rats squeaking and scraping.

4. Absolutely no light.

That's it.

No actors. No animals. No special effects. No animations.

As silly as it sounds? It was, without fail, the best darn scare we did.

If you can get the mind to buy the fantasy of what you're creating? You don't need lots of money and you sure as heck don't need to torture animals to make a few bucks.

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elionwyr: (please)
Just finished running that malware scanner thingala and have restarted my computer.

Am now downloading the same program to [livejournal.com profile] adelheid_p's computer.

[livejournal.com profile] sealgair, within the past half hour, had early warning signs that she was about to get hit as well; however, she has a script blocker add-on for her FireFox.

We've pretty much been visiting the same sites, so it makes sense she'd get hit eventually.

I've taken GoogleAds off my LJ, in case that was the gateway drug. Er. The gateway.

I don't know if there's any way of this being possible, but..[livejournal.com profile] slipjig, we both visited your LJ and had Antivir Pro hell afterwards. Could there be a connection..? [livejournal.com profile] elfowls_nest did NOT, and has had no problems - and hopefully that trend will continue..
elionwyr: (write hard)
[livejournal.com profile] blkstarsapphire asked for a story about dragons.

The first fictional world I can remember being able to visualize is Pern. Namely, it was the trio of books about Menolly and her fire lizards. I could see them in my mind; I dreamt about them sometimes; I drew sketches of fire lizards and dragons for [livejournal.com profile] irisl.

Because of my weekend experience at Fort Weyr this summer, I have been trying to write some fic to explain how exactly El'wyn came to be at the Hatching Grounds and accidentally adopting a green hatchling. The little green dragonlet statue created by [livejournal.com profile] mewsgryphoncat to symbolize my dragon catches my eye just about every morning, reminding me that there is a story yet to be told.

Some days, I have trouble meeting his glassy eyes because I feel guilty for not being able to follow the trail of his story far enough to set anything to "paper."

My mom still, every once in a blue moon, talks about the dragons I used to draw for her and bemoans the accidental loss of said photos. It reminds me that I was told I had talent for such things, and that I didn't have the opportunity in school to really stretch those muscles very much, so that now they've atrophied much more than my writings muscles have.

But. Maybe someday I'll find inspiration to put the fantasy of webbed wings and reptilian beaks on paper once again.

However. If what was being sought was, indeed, a story about dragons?

I give you steampunk dragons, written by two of our fellow LJers, [livejournal.com profile] ladyjaida and [livejournal.com profile] danibennett. *nod*

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elionwyr: (dance)
I am again unsure who's donated, but I see we're up to $475.


I know the quality of my posts is fading a bit. Or at least I feel it is. I remain not sleepy, but definitely unfocused and distracted by my virus hell.

(Though the amount of cursing that's starting to crop up in my postings tells me I'm a bit more sleepy than I realize.)


THANK YOU, my amazing fabulous incredible sponsors! And much love to you. And hopes of restful sleep. :)
elionwyr: (please)

(did that work? *hopeful look*)
elionwyr: (fucktards)
*type type type*


"Fuck you fuck you fuck yoooooooou!" (generally sung to the computer screen as I try to get out of the offending window)

So much FUN!
Don't you wish YOU could have this much fun?

elionwyr: (write hard)
(Seems like a good subject to talk about at the moment. *eyeroll*)

Working in a haunted house is many things - challenging, fun, pretty, creative, funny.


You are dealing with people who are paying you to scare them.

And you have no IDEA how they will react to being scared.

Some will totally buy the fantasy that this is real, you are truly dead, and you are going to kill them.

Others will freeze in place.

A lot of people will take a swing at the monsters. A staggering amount of those people will ask, before they go inside, "Can I hit the monsters?"

(The answer to that question is always ALWAYS, "Hell NO." Just in case you wondered.

So some people are just a**holes. They want an excuse to take a swing at someone, or to destroy someone else's property. I'd say the percentage is about 50/50 as to motives for throwing a punch.

As a haunter, you have to be prepared.

I didn't take this as seriously as I should have until a visitor punched [livejournal.com profile] annachria square in the face after being inside Grisly for less than five minutes. I didn't even see what happened. Her reaction was swift and angry: she grabbed the guy, dragged him outside, and literally threw him out of the haunt.

His friends were as confused as the rest of us, I think. "What just happened?" they asked their guide, Mari.


"Well. You were all told to not touch any thing."

"But she scared him."


"Did you forget you're in a haunted house? Now. Shall we continue?"

Lesson learned: Never underestimate the public's ability to be needlessly stoopid.

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elionwyr: (write hard)
So as I've said, Burmese pythons are susceptible to respiratory infections.

Ours was no exception.

At some point, the female was shipped off to Reptiland, after she'd laid a clutch of 34 eggs and we kept a few of them to raise and include in our collection; and the male (if my vaguely sleepy memory serves) was moved into a healthier-for-him enclosure in our reptile room.

He was struggling with respiratory ick, and we were instructed to medicate him. Part of his health care regime involved his getting sub-cutaneous fluids.

Allow me to share the following illustration with you:

Check out those lungs and other organ placements.

Giving any kind of a shot to a snake? Friggin' SUCKS.

Again, this snake weighed over 100lbs. Giving him fluids was a multiple person operation. One keeper had to restrain him; at least one had to be in charge of the bag of liquid and the needle; and one had to hold the tail up so that we could get that needle into the right position on the snake's body.

The snake was less than grateful, but was - generally speaking - fairly docile for this operation, which went relatively quickly.

On the day of which I write, I was one of the few, the proud, the terrified that were giving the python his fluids...a process suddenly interrupted by the very obvious signs that he was about to defecate.

*insert sounds of screams and running feet*

And then we realized that the fellow holding the tail? He hadn't left his post.


Man, it looked like a green poop-volcano.

..I'm sure the smell came out of his clothing eventually...

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elionwyr: (Default)
The zoo I worked at is located in a very old museum. For many years, there was an exhibit on one floor that housed two rather large Burmese pythons.

One of my interests in zookeeping is in learning about the roots of husbandry and all the things good-intentioned people did not knowing they were doing things very very wrong.

Oo! These snakes are from warm climates! We'll put blankets into their cages to keep them warm!

..Oh. They're cold-blooded.

.....Oh. They ate the blankets.

In the case of these Burmese pythons, who were ZOMG huge - moving the male meant gathering up 5 people to lift his 125lb+ body, hold on tight, and keep on walking no matter how much the snake decided, "No, really..I want to go over THERE! *wriggle*" - blankets weren't the issue. Proper heat and humidity were. They tended to have a lot of upper respiratory issues, which isn't that unusual. And when it came time to feed these guys - well, ok, they were a mated pair, but you get the idea - you really didn't want to go in to feed them alone.

Because if a snake bites you? It sucks. It sucks a lot. I know one keeper who was bitten by one of these snakes. Basically, she was handfeeding the snake and it went for her hand. And swallowed her up past her elbow, if my memory serves me correctly. The trick is - as that link above shows - you can't just pull your hand back out of the snake's mouth. The teeth curve backwards. You really have to wait - or encourage - the snake to decide to release you.

So there used to be a hammer kept by the door to the Burmese enclosure, and one day I asked what was for.

"Well...if you're up here alone and one of those snakes bites you? Hit it on the head with that hammer until it lets go."

This is not a zookeeping trick I can actually document. But I swear it's what was told to me.

(Needless to say, I neither did this or needed to do this. And by the time I was a fully trained keeper, we had much more civilized ways of dealing with this potential problem, which was to spray a nasty-tasting liquid into the snake's mouth so that it would decide you were a very bad tasting dinner and would then release its bite.)

Lesson learned: Anyone who has a huge damn snake and lets their little kids play on and around said snake is a dumb ass.

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elionwyr: (coffee)
[livejournal.com profile] k2rider78, I believe, asked me to write about the best cup of coffee I've ever had.

Here's the dealio:

When I was a pre-teen, I remember that my family went to the shore for a weekend-or-so getaway. And my father had left a cup of coffee on a counter.

Dear lord, it smelled amazing. AMAZING. It was ambrosia in a styrofoam cup.

So I took a sip.


It was black and bitter and how could anything that smelled so amazing taste so damn bad??

I have been on a quest ever since to find something that tastes anywhere close to as good as that cup of coffee smelled...and I still have the vague hope that I will someday be able to take my coffee with no cream or sugar. I've cut back on the additives a lot, but I'm not there yet.

I like my coffee chewy-strong, oh yes I do. And the hands-down best coffee I've had is Vietnamese coffee, which I discovered at a now-defunct (I think) restaurant south of South Street in Philly, somewhere around Catherine Street. I think.

And this is why I love Cafe du Monde coffee so much and will squirrel away as much of it as I can as often as I can.

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...Oops, hit send by accident. D'oh! Ah well, so it's a few mins early...

State of the Dusti:
I don't think I'm out of words yet. (And the intarwebz scream in terror.) But the focus I've admittedly had trouble keeping for Blogathon is growing progressively more scattered.

*looks at clock*

Really, not that much more to do. I just need to stay on top of my schedule.
elionwyr: (i heard that)
A large part of our job at the zoo involved talking to the public and educating them about our animals - why we had them, what their stories were, what kind of natural behavior they were demonstrating.

"Oh, look! The coyote wants to play with my child!"

"No, ma'am. The coyote is hunting your child."

Some of the questions we were asked were not the type of questions you'd expect to hear.

"Can I pay you $5 to let my child go into the coyote cage to have his picture taken?"

"Ma'am, that animal is a predator. If he were a tiger, would you make the same request?"

*blank stare*

"The answer, ma'am, is no, we can't do that."

As an animal handler - a person hired to bring animals out into public spaces during after-hour parties and functions and walk amongst the guests with a wild animal, I'd like to say I learned diplomacy.

What I mostly learned was that the reason I liked being a zookeeper was that I really didn't want to talk to people.

My friend Dave shared a rather dramatic example one day of what it could be like to talk to the public. He was handling a snake in a public space and was approached by a visitor.

"Excuse me, could you answer a question for me?"


"How do you kill a rattlesnake?"

"How do you...what?"

"Well, we were out west and we caught a rattlesnake. We still have it in a bag. And we want to kill it but we're not sure how."

(I don't think Dave ran screaming. Nor do I think he did the woman a violent mischief. But we've both managed to forget what exactly he *did* do, more's the pity.)

When our zoo was moved into a more public space, we eventually incorporated the use of outside microphones and inside headsets to communicate with the museum visitors. The system was only on for a hours a day, but those few hours could be a bit...shall we say challenging. Some of the animals thought those headsets would make dang good toys. We had to learn to censor ourselves. A lot.

"NO DUCKIE DON'T EAT THAT YOU CROW-KILLI- Oh. Hi, folks! Do you have any questions?"

Sometimes the challenge was simply to think quickly enough to come up with a family-safe answer to what the visitors were observing.

"Hey lady! What are those tortoises doing?"

"Ask your mother! Goingtolunchguysseeyabye!" *click*

Actually, running away from a visitor was..well..one of my better tricks.

When a child runs into an exhibit, points joyfully at a bald eagle, and chirps, "Wow! Look at the vulcan!" I...had, and have, no words.

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elionwyr: (write hard)
As well as working in the mini zoo, I also worked in our butterfly exhibit for a few years. It was a unique exhibit in that everything about it was, well, unnatural - located inside, all of our 'sunlight' came from huge bucket-shaped lights, our plants were imported from warmer climates, and our butterflies were all purchases as pupae from suppliers in varied rainforests.

We included some other critters in the exhibit. A tank of poison dart frogs were popular non-insect tenants, with one frog frequently filling the air with his plaintive, "Is there a beautiful amphibian love for me out there somewhere beyond the confines of this cage?" Another tank held an impressive dark red emperor scorpion that inspired the frequently-asked question, "If it stings you, would it hurt?"


"Have you ever let it sting you?"


"What would it feel like?"

"I'm told it feels like someone shoving a pencil through your hand."


Back in our office, there was, for a while, a relatively small tank that contained a black widow.

Or so I hoped.

One day, the boss called. "Hey, do me a favour?"

"Sure - what's up?"

"Do you see the black widow?"

"Um. Excuse me?"

"Do you see her in her cage?"

"Is this a trick question?"

"Seriously. Take a look."

I looked. "Actually...no, I don't."

"Ok. I haven't seen her for a few days. So just..keep an eye out for her, ok?"

I realized he wasn't joking. "Kay. I quit."


"There is no WAY I'm gonna poke around this office looking for a black widow!!"

"Ok, ok. Don't look for her. That's not really what I want you to do. Just - don't panic."


(As I write this, I *think* she did eventually wind up being spotted curled up something tiny in her cage. Still? Not such a good moment.)

Lesson learned: Venom? No sir don't like it.

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elionwyr: (Default)
MUCH much thanks to the ever-fabulous [livejournal.com profile] shadowwolf13 for her donation!

We are now at $435!

*insert happy dance here*

And we're nearly at the three quarter mark. I admit to starting to run out of steam. Vaguely achey, mostly in my knee. [livejournal.com profile] elfowls_nest has just gone to bed. Coffee has been made. [livejournal.com profile] contrary74 is very thankful for all the support y'all have given us today.

Despite the sick computer and sick kitty, this has been a most excellent almost-18 hours so far. Thanks, y'all!
elionwyr: (write hard)
[livejournal.com profile] shadowwolf13 asked for a wolf story. I’ve been given permission to make this a coyote story instead, as I don’t really have a quality wolf tale to tell.

I’ve been talking quite a bit about the Chuck Jones exhibit, and that we had varied animals featured in Warner Bros cartoons. Perhaps the most impressive critter we had was Chinook the coyote.

Chinook had been found as an orphan in New York and had lived much of the first part of his life in a small concrete room. Moving to Pennsylvania was definitely a huge improvement.

And ya know? A coyote is a LOT larger than you might think. More than a few of us took one look at Chinook and asked, “Um. Are you sure that’s not a wolf?

Our boss spent hours and hours with Chinook, comforting and bonding with him. For the entire span of time he was to stay with us, she was his alpha. Jason became an alpha of sorts to him because one day, when Chinook got a little aggressive, Jason pinned the critter to the ground and bit him.

“Ok! Dude, man, we’re cool, we’re cool. Let me up, ‘kay?”

For a time, Chinook lived in our boss’s office, in an enclosure that took up the better part of the space. And sometimes people would clean his cage and throw his poop into a nearby trash can.

Lesson learned: Carnivore poop smells bad.

One day, my mother ([livejournal.com profile] irisl) came in to visit me whilst I worked, and took a seat in my boss’ office at a safe distance from Chinook’s cage.

“I need to get his food bowl out of there,” I said. “No poop. I promise. It’ll just take a second.”

Now, I was not one of Chinook’s peeps. He tolerated me well enough, but if he had his druthers, he’d druther I left him alone. Usually when I went into his enclosure, he’d keep his distance and largely ignore whatever the heck I was doing. (Unless it was something interesting like cleaning or bringing in food – in short, if I had something he could steal, he was VERY interested in me.)

I opened his door, hands empty, fully expecting him to do his normal ‘la la la I’m ignoring you’ routine.

Instead, he came barreling at me, pushed the door open, leapt at my mother, put his front feet on her knees, licked her on the nose, and ran back into his cage.
My mother was both pleased and amused, if memory serves. In her shoes, I probably would be, too.


Lesson learned: Keep valium on hand at all times.
…For me.

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