Tuesday, May 19, 2015

"Owl is the grand and rather clever old man of the forest. He can also spell Tuesday.." - Winnie the Pooh

I was picking up some kids for school and saw this guy on a wire. the kids who lived there said they saw him there the day before also.   i didn't have my glasses on, so at first he just looked hurt and blurry.. but when Colin and I rode back later on our bikes (with glasses on), i realized that his foot was stuck in the twists of the wire.  it was windy and he was exhausted and trying to keep his balance on one foot.  the more he tried to fly away, the tighter his foot wedged in there.

I called a rescue, who said to call PG&E, because of the wires, and that they are under obligation to come out.  so i called them and we decided to wait and watch.  I didn't know how long they would take, but to their credit, a nice guy and his bucket truck showed up within 15 min.  He was surprised to see the owl alive, because "usually, they are electrocuted".  He got  gloves and an extra shirt to put over him.  he had some trouble freeing his leg, and ended up hurting him quite a bit (pulling the leg at bad, bad angles) to free him.  then he lost his grip and the owl spread his wings and floated down to the ground.  The guy tossed me his shirt and i tossed it over the owl.

His leg was in terrible shape, black and rubbed all the way to the bone.  It looked burned, and the foot was swollen.  But he was a magnificent creature.  I have never seen one "in real life".  His coloring, his alien face, his huge, pupil-less, starry eyes, and his sharp beak and talons made for an almost unreal experience.  it felt like i had captured a ghost or a pixie.  About the same size, chickens are heavy and the owl was like holding a feathery balloon.  He weighed almost nothing.  When we put him in a plastic tub, he immediately went to sleep... or died.

We got him home,which was tricky because it was a BIG plastic tub, and colin's tire decided that was the moment to go flat and it was 3/4 of a mile away. 

When I got no response from the first 3 phone calls, and it looked like i might have to keep him over night,  I looked up how to care for injured owls.  I found an article that was hell bent on making sure you didn't even THINK about keeping that owl - "unless you are ready to commit to obtaining, thawing, and dissecting copious amounts of dead rodents, at all times of day and night for the next 10 years, an owl is not for you." - was my favorite argument.

well we found a rescue and a vet and raced to make it there by closing time.  All 7 of us went in to the tiny waiting room... a girl took the box and said, "ok".

then he was gone and we all stood there for a few extra minuets, to see if anyone wanted to make a nat geo special about us... no interviews?...
ok.  um.  bye.

Monday, May 18, 2015

You had me at "surprisingly"...

Since I'll be leaving this job in a few months, it could be a long time before I have the enjoyment/pain of going through resumés again. It hasn't been a huge part of my job, but it would come around every once in a while. 

It is exhausting sometimes, to have to review hundreds of job applications, but it can also be quite entertaining. I've posted about a few of these before, but thought I'd catch up with some more highlights. Maybe some other time I'll document the amazing interviews I've seen.

One of my favorites, listed under Academic Accomplishments:

-California Scholarship Federation: Surprisingly stayed in for several semesters

Or these lines, listed under Traits or Skills:

-Proficient in email and using the search engine (like anyone, ever)
-Competitive athletic experience in figure skating (admittedly, not like anyone, ever)
-Great Communication Skills (Oral and Written), Experienced in Costumer Service
-Proficient in word processing and other emerging technologies.  (like the fax machine, presumably)

One person just wrote: 

-Organized, (yes, it ended with a comma)

And my personal favorite

-Predicted 10 out of the 11 games in the 2011 NFL Playoffs (82%)  

Depending on the position, we might have specific questions we want them to answer:

Describe your purchasing experience using automated purchasing systems.
-I have used systems like amazon and ebay.

Describe your experience working in a business office setting performing purchasing, receiving, accounts payable or other business transactions.
-coworkers were friendly and team players. They also let you do your thing.   

Other gems- the resumé I got (as a pdf) that was 6 pages in 48-size font, the applicant who had written a self-published novella about her cat, and the guy who went into detail about his experience helping to recycle boxes by carrying them from the 3rd to the 2nd floor.

The most memorable application I received, though, was an email from the automated job site, with nothing but an attached file, titled Resume.pdf. When I opened it, all I found was this*:

I might have hired the guy if he had included even a shred of contact info.

*Not the actual photo, as I felt that might be unethical, but this was very close. 

Thursday, May 14, 2015

What Does Carrie Do All Day?

I know you guys are wondering. "She doesn't cook, or clean. She barely has any hobbies. Her kids leave for school at 6:30. What on earth does she do?"

So, though this might be the most boring blog post of all time, I thought I'd publish today's 'To Do' list:

-talk to Ralegh's mom about Minecraft playdate after school. Figure out how to get Ralegh to go home when playdate is over.

- Email school transport office about Theo's bus plans tomorrow

- Prepare lesson for Sunday. Ask Viv for funny story.

- Fill out/scan 8 pages of medical history forms to renew everyone's medical clearance for living overseas

- Call to make medical clearance appointments.

- Nap

-Call maintenance for broken AC in Lucy's room

- Go to Pharmacy for Lucy

- Write an outline for the discussion section of the malaria paper I'm writing

- Configure 'local reactions' table for same paper. (People were bitten by mosquitoes. The bites were itchy.)
- Mail pictures to Viv for Jackson baptism project

- Make kids practice instruments

- Foot massage

- Take Lucy to orthodontic appt

- Take Theo to grocery store to spend his money on root beer.

So see? Except for the no cooking or cleaning, the naps and the foot massage, I'm just like you.

God Bless Lionel Messi

Starting the very day I got here, we were on the longest run yet for not having any new Ebola cases or deaths in Sierra Leone. I liked to think that my mere presence in country was enough to get rid of Ebola for good. We were going strong for 10 DAYS! Then on Wednesday some thug had the nerve not only to start showing symptoms (poor guy) but to decide that he should now escape from quarantine, run across the city, infect his girlfriend, and expose 50 new contacts. Ugh. Looks like it's not over yet.
There are two Sierra Leonean med students, Chernoh and Ibrahim, who have been contracted to help our team with site assessments, trainings, etc. When we were out driving around yesterday I got to talking with them about football. Luckily, Dad had told me that the Champions League is going on, so I've been watching the games and have stuff to say ("Oh man, that Bayern Munich - Barcelona game was sooo good!"). Chernoh passionately loves Real Madrid, while Ibrahim proclaims Barcelona the best team in the world... so I found myself in a tight spot when they asked me who I support. "Well, I mostly just have individual players that I like to watch." "Then who is your favorite player?" I felt like their respect and friendship was riding on my answer. "Probably...Messi" I said. Ibrahim looked at me approvingly and said fervently, "May God bless you for that." and then all three of us got into a conversation about the many merits of the talented but humble soccer god that is Lionel Messi.

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

This I Believe

Sarah Ashby
Sis. Abenroth
Eng. 106
12 May 2015
“This I believe”

I believe in sisters. Sisters can be the worst and the best. How are they the worst you ask? I will tell you. When you were younger having a room to yourself was probably unheard of. If you were in my family you didn’t even get your own bed; my two younger sisters and I shared a king-sized bed for most of my childhood. And because you had to share a room, if you had to go somewhere in the wee hours of the morning, 7:00 am or earlier, you had to get dressed in the dark, so your socks probably didn’t match. You most likely had to share a bathroom. I had to share mine with five others, sheesh. If you had more than one sister, like I did, your mom probably had to initiate some sort of quiet time. We actually had to read books and we couldn’t talk above a whisper.
Sisters can also bring on arguments (that of course weren’t your fault). There were two doozies in our family that I can remember. One was over chapstick. The other was about Barbie clothes. Someone wouldn’t give something back…ok, so that one was my fault, let’s move on.
It was on my 18th birthday when I thought sisters were the worst. My sisters thought it would be funny to make me do things I didn’t like in order to get my presents: walk across poky grass in my bare feet, eat raw onion, beets, egg yolk, and other things. I’ve tried to block that day from my memory.  If your own family is out to get you, what do you have left?
What you have left is why sisters are the best. If you are like me you have a built-in best friend. I have five best friends. We are there for each other anytime day or night, except when they live clear across the world, “Now let’s see, it’s 12:00 noon here. Thailand is three hours ahead of us, tomorrow night.” Then I might have to pick a different sister to call. But even if I called that groggy sister I know she would still be there for moral support.
They make me laugh. When we are all home for holidays or when we’re all at the beach together you might find me on the floor from laughing too hard. That might also be that the clock says 12:30 am, but we’ll say it’s because they know how to tell a good story.
Sisters will listen to you complain, at least mine will. I have a deal with one of my sisters: that when you want to complain but don’t actually want advice, the other person just listens. But if you want advice, they will give you that too. Sometimes they give it even if you don’t ask.
So as you can see having five sisters can have its downside but for the most part my sisters are my life. If something ever happened to one of them nothing would be the same. We laugh, we cry, we love. What more could you ask for? We are the Ashby girls.

Monday, May 4, 2015

Notes From A Rachel

Just wanted to send a quick update on the last couple of days. Things have gone about as smoothly as possible…but, for Sierra Leone, that still means complicated. Before I left Atlanta I got an email that said, “your flight is scheduled to land at 5:45pm; if all goes according to plan, you’ll get to the hotel around 11pm”. I would hate to think what would happen if things didn’t go according to plan! I expected standing in long lines at the airport without A/C for immigration and a mandatory Ebola screening. I even kind of expected the luggage madness (of the dozen CDC employees traveling with me, 3 of the people’s luggage was lost). What I didn’t expect was the “water taxi” journey that was a 45-minute long, high-speed, jerky, roller-coaster-of-a-speedboat ride that slammed into 6-foot waves all the way across the bay. After 24 hours of traveling, that is not something your brain or body wants! Wish I had been warned to take Dramamine and wear a neck brace.
Speaking of medicine I’m glad I’m taking anti-malarials: there are mosquitos everywhere, even inside my hotel room. The stat today was that if you don’t take prophylaxis your chances of getting malaria are 10-50%. Yikes! I’m more worried about forgetting to take a pill one day and getting bit than I am about Ebola. I’m also glad I decided to get the rabies vaccine series before I came, since I learned today that Sierra Leone has the highest stray dog population in all of Africa. However, there is no bat infestation, as far as I can tell. I’ve had enough of that.
The hotel is nice enough but the air is stale and it smells like bleu cheese. Throughout the day there have been about 10 power outages ranging from 30 seconds to 30 minutes, which can be inconvenient if you need to charge a phone or use a wifi router to send an email. It can also be quite concerning if it happens when you are getting into an elevator, as I found out for myself this morning – as I was walking into the elevator, it slammed shut behind me, jerked a bit, and then audibly turned off. Not something you want to happen anywhere, but much less when you are on your way to have your first meeting with your team lead in a country that isn’t well known for responding quickly to emergencies. After a minor freakout (mostly about how I was making a bad impression on my new boss) and right as I was about to try to jimmy open the doors with a bottle of bug repellant…the power came back on, the elevator reset, and it took me down to a secret basement floor that I shouldn’t have access to. A confused laundry worker and I stared at each other for a minute as I furiously kept pushing the lobby button until the elevator finally started moving again.
Speaking of electricity, I just tried to plug in my blow dryer and even though I used an adapter and was very careful about putting it on the right setting, I short circuited my whole room (and possibly the whole floor). Sorry, neighbors. My boss is right next door to me, too; hope he brought a headlamp, and no, I’m not going to tell him it was me. I’ve already made bad impressions.
I found out today that I’ll be staying in the capital almost the whole time, which is good because I’ll be at the hotel all the time (somewhat reliable wifi, hot shower, nice bed) and bad because I’ll be at the hotel all the time (boring, and smells like bleu cheese).
That’s all for now. So far there has been a lot less crying on this trip to west Africa than the last. A good sign.