Brainstrummings from a Bug-Eyed Bookworm

Tiff is a PhD student in English literature at UC-Berkeley. She takes no prisoners, bars no holds, holds no bars.

Sunday, July 29, 2007

Adventures with Archanids

Contemplative Part....skip this section if you want to get down to the nitty gritties.
Although, sometimes I'm deluded by my overactive imagination and the head-fantasies that ensue, that I lead an exciting life, I actually don't. Yes, that's right. A big shocker to you all, I know. But there, I've said it: I do not lead lead an exciting life. It only feels that way to me because in response to random mundane events or verbal cues, I'll envision strange things in mind's eye. Things like poopless house-chickens that we could keep in kitchen closets, and then when we needed to clean up, we could just sweep all of the food debris onto the floor and yell, "Release the chickens!" and then they would come scurrying out and voila! A floor you could eat off of. Or a really large human-eating creature which has moles shaped exactly like hamburgers, and when some hungry person at a barbecue spies a burger on the picnic table and picks it up and attempts to gnaw on it, the huge creature rises out of the earth and swallows the person whole. That would be kind of cool.

But I imagine that we all imagine like that. It's probably what keeps us non-ninja, non-spy, non-battle-fighting, sedentary and safe types complacently happy in our ruts in life. (And according to a reliable source, even spies have long periods of boredom.)

The Nitty Gritties: Two Goths, a Phony, and a Spider.

It was 3 o'clock on a lazy Sunday afternoon, and I was about to contemplate perhaps going for a jog when all of a sudden my cell-phone rang. It was G, my co-worker from the Bone Room. The Bone Room is the natural history store I work part-time at, and as fortune would have it, I recently moved into a house which is only 3 blocks away. (Very convenient to get to work.)

Anyway, back to the phone-call.

G: Hey Tiff, are you at home?
Tiff: Yeah, what's up?
G: So, one of the pink-toes that R (our boss) bought yesterday got loose in the rodent room, but he's really jumpy and spastic, and E and I are freaking out, because it's like jumping all over the place, so we were wondering that since you seem to be good with handling spiders, if you want to come in for a few minutes and help us get it back in its cage.
Tiff: G? Is this G?
G: Yeah. And J doesn't want to touch it either.
Tiff: Okay, I'll be right there.

There's a little more to tohe conversation, but let's pause for a minute and explain some things. What the hell is a "pink-toe"? What is "the rodent room"? And since when did Tiff become an expert spider-handler that even tough-looking goth girls call to help wrangle a spider back into its lair?

1. A pink-toe is a species of hairy tarantula. They make good pets, but can be REALLY jumpy when not used to being handled. And this particular one was REALLY REALLY JUMPY. Like, it had a miniature pogo-stick up its butt, and it was uncomfortably angry about it. Yes, my friends. When something is hairy, befanged, and possessing multiple legs, the last thing you want is for it to jump on your face.

2. The rodent room is a room in the back of the store where we used to keep lots of rodent cages, but now we soak bones, scrub skulls, and deflesh animals. That probably just puzzled you even more. Don't ask questions. Suspend disbelief, and let's move on.

3. Tiff is an expert spider-handler? False. In fact, VERY far from it. The day before this whole spider-on-the-loose incident happened, while R (the boss) was trying to figure out which spiders he wanted to buy, Tiff handled a spider for the very first time. And Tiff specifically avoided handling the super jumpy pink-toe, which the arachnid-seller himself seemed to be having a tough time with as it attempted to leap around the store and escape. Tiff chose a very laidback looking rose-haired tarantula, which in fact looked so laidback, one might have called it the stoner of all spiders. "Hey dude," it seemed to say, "I'm, like, a spider, and you all know that, so I'm like, not gonna try to prove anything, kay?" And that was perfectly fine by me. Tiff was even a little nervous about handling the stoner-spider, but was putting on a brave and nonchalant front to impress her boss. Also, Tiff had heard that the minute you tell R you're afraid of spiders, he will try to cure you by making you handle a lot of them. And Tiff didn't want any of that.

In any case, let's continue the conversation:
Tiff: actually, the first time I handled the spider was yesterday. But I'll give it a shot!
G: Yeah, just come over.
Tiff: See you soon.

And then I hung up the phone and ran over the store. Upon entering, J, who was (wo)manning the counter, exclaimed, "Tiff! You're here!"

"So, where's this spider?"

"It's in the rodent room."

A little kid turned to me, wide-eyed. "Are you here to catch the spider?"

"Indeed, I am," I replied coolly, and strode into the back to capture this renegade spider. It was really very bizarre. Overnight, and without any efforts to deceive on my part, I had turned into some sort of spider-wrestling legend. I felt braver already. Besides, this seemed like it would be fun.

"Hey Tiff," E said, as I entered the rodent room. G, who was standing in the doorway, warily eying the spider, inched aside to let me in.

"So, actually the only time I handled a spider was yesterday. But I'll do my best. What happened?"

E answered. "I was trying to put it back in its cage, and then when I opened the top, it sprang out, and that's when I freaked out. Like, I literally screamed. And then it kept springing about. Like he's f-ing fast, and it's really hard to predict his movements. Don't make any fast moves. He seems to be attracted to them instead of scared of them."

Now, I wasn't really a happy camper either. "Where is it?"

"It's on that bucket near the cage. On the bucket, behind the enzyme solution bottle."

"Maybe if I move the enzyme solution bottle veeeeerry slowwwwwly."

(Tiff moves enzyme solution bottle veeeeerrrry slowwwwwly...spider makes sudden move.)

Tiff: Gah!

G: S*&%!

Tiff: Hmm...I see what you mean.

At this point, G passes me an insect net, and I begin brushing at him very slowly with the netting to move him in the direction of the cage. I think by this point, he was really tired out from E and G trying to catch him, and was behaving a little more sedately.

E: That's good...that's good...just keep moving him in that direction, and maybe he'll just climb back into the cage.

G: I hate those cages. The lids get jammed and you can't close them fast enough. I mean, that's how he got out in the first place.

E: Okay. Now he's on the bucket lid.

(Tiff manipulates the net so that the pink-toe is trapped in the netting on top of the bucket-lid.)

E: Okay. G, now if we can just lift the bucket lid up with the netting around in, and then maybe we can shake him back into the cage.

(G gets thick gardening gloves so the pink-toe won't bite her, and G and T both try to manuever him into the cage.)

G: Damnit! He's crawling towards me. Gah! Gah!

Tiff: Let's switch places. Give me the gloves.

(G and Tiff switch places)

E: Oh, oh! He's crawled inside the net. This might be good.

G: Cut the net. Just cut the net so that he drops in with the netting, and then we slam the lid shut.

E: We can't do that. R will see the netting.

G: Screw R.

Tiff: Yeah.

E: No, he'll see the netting, and he will NEVER let us live this down. R must never find out that we're all bad at handling spiders.

Tiff: Okay, how about this? I'll sort of enclose him through the netting in my gloved hand, and then we open the cage lid, I'll sort of invert the netting and thrust him in with my hand, and then you guys slam the cage lid shut.

E: That could work. I think that could work.

Tiff: Okay. Um...he can't bite me through the glove, right?

E: No, he can't.

Tiff: Yargh..okay. Tiff be brave. Here we go. (Tiff slowly encloses tarantula through netting with gloved hand.) Urrgh.

G: He can't bite you.

Tiff: I's just...

G: Yeah. It's creepy.

Tiff: Okay. I'm thrusting him in. Ready? One, two, three!

(Tiff thrusts pink-toe in, E and G slam cage lid shut.)

E: Wow! We did it!

Tiff: Phew. That was kind of fun.

E: Make sure you write down your hours.

Tiff: Oh, I most certainly will!

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Holiday Snapshots!

This past week, PM and I took a road trip to Northern North California and Southern Oregon.

The diversity of climate and landscape that we saw was...diverse! This trip only confirmed what past excursions into nature have already confirmed.

1. People build cool things. But God totally whups our to speak.

2. Urban life is overrated, and perhaps when I'm old and grizzled I shall move into the mountains, live in a cabin, and raise bees.

We visited Lassen National Park (famed for its past volcanic activity), drove through Mt. Shasta National Park (it was a rainy and cloudy day), visited Fort Rock (in Southern Oregon, right on the border where the pine-trees stop and desert desolation begins), and then went to Crater Lake National Park (big lake formed by big volcano losing its cool).


(From back to front). Mountain. Forest. Meadow. Brook.

Hot Springs (behind hot guy).

Desert. (Green bits are patches of irrigated farmland).

Island in the middle of (Crater) Lake.

Fossilised Volcanic Vents (called Fumaroles).

Why I've Not Been Good at Updating This Blog.

My only excuse is quite lame: I keep wanting to post pictures on my blog, but then I'm too lazy to download the photos on my camera onto my computer.

Yes. Lame excuse. But I finally downloaded pictures onto my computer!

These are pictures of Belteshezzar and his tiny bell-peppers (he owns a fancy sports-car to compensate).

In other news, remember how Bebop and Archibald slowly grew from tiny black and white caterpillars into fat green and yellow caterpillars?

Well now, feast your eyes upon the lookers they turned into: