Sunday, July 28, 2013

What Waterwork Is Like For Me

After eight years of working with dolphins, I can now officially and publicly announce that I am mediocre at best as a trainer who does waterwork in shows.

I am the clumsiest marine mammal trainer on Planet Earth (and possibly other planets, as well).  This is especially evident around dolphins, which poses a unique conundrum.  

What does everything think of when they hear the term "dolphin trainer"?  Do they imagine a thin, graceful female flying across the surface of the water via a foot push?  Launching from the water into a perfect dive, dolphin bowing behind them as if in some aquatic dream, only to resurface with perfect, Mermaid Hair and a Beautiful Smile?

That takes a lot of talent and coordination!

If you have that vision of dolphin trainers, stay away from my shows.   One look at my rat-nest hair and snotty face and you'll be forever disillusioned (and have a much greater respect for the trainers who DO look perfect!).

Now, let me toot my horn a little here.  Thanks to some great mentors, I've learned a lot about training the less intense forms of waterwork.  We're talking foot pushes, bullets (underwater foot pushes), dorsal tows, inverted tows, pec and rostrum tows, human hurdles, and the standard mimic sequence behaviors like spins, pec shakes, tail walk around trainer, fluke wave mimics, etc.  These can be difficult to train depending on the situation, but they are not nearly as flashy as the Waterwork That Would Definitely End My Life, such as roman rides, rockets/hydros, surfs, standing mans, porpoises, etc. etc. 

This is my kind of pace of waterwork.  Holding my breath a long time, swimming with the dolphins, and making sure gravity is always on my side.

It's not that I don't appreciate a good rocket ride.  I mean, wow.  The people that do them train a long time to do those behaviors safely, not to mention the amount of time and energy spent in training the animal (and hey, let's not forget the effort the animal puts in).  But let's all be honest; I can barely manage walking up, down (or stand still) on a set of stairs.  I trip over objects that only exist in alternative dimensions.  There is no reason for someone as accident prone as me to get shot out of the water by a 450 pound, muscle-laden animal.   I leave that to the real high energy waterwork experts.

But whether you're talking roman rides or dorsal tows, the way dolphins respond to waterwork, especially behaviors where they are pushing you through the water, strongly indicates they get psyched.  Most dolphins I've worked with on waterwork (training or maintaining) get really pumped to do the behaviors.   Here is an actual conversation I had* with a dolphin after a waterwork session.

Me: Wow, it's so much fun to swim along side of you underwater!

Dolphin: Yeah, it's been fun.  But I've been meaning to talk to you about that.  I like our laid-back moments and everything, but I feel we need to spice it up.  I can swim 18 miles per hour.

Me: My feelings are hurt.  It's normal for humans to only swim two miles per hour.  Except Michael Phelps who can swim like, seven.  I'll never be able to keep up with you.

Dolphin: Michael Phelps has alien arms, don't let it get you down.  I'm sure there are a lot of other things you're good at.

Me:  Thanks.  Hey, what if you helped me swim at your speed?  Push on my foot or something?

Dolphin: Okay, let's try it.

Waterwork commences.


Waterwork is equally reinforcing to the trainers.  It is a really intimate feeling to have a low-key or supercharged session or show with a dolphin with whom you have a strong relationship.   Just yesterday one  of the dolphins I interact with had an OMFG YESSSSSSSSSSSSSS moment after a great foot push approximation.  She came back to me with so much energy and focus, it was an amazing feeling.

What's not so amazing is how I look after all of this occurs.

Most dolphin trainers look like this after their waterwork:

No joke.

I look more like this:

….seven days….

First, my hair.  My hair is just your standard, run-of-the-mill white girl hair.  It's blond and it's straight, and it's kind of thick thanks to my Sicilian ancestry.  Nonetheless, when it hits water, it turns into matter not yet defined by science.  No matter how many times I try to pull my hair back nicely, once it hits water of any salinity level, it instantly turns into A Frigging Mess.  And then, after the session is over, my hair dries into what can best be described as Hardened Taffy Pulled Into Whimsical Wisps About My Face.

Please do not be distracted by the strange things happening in this photo.  The pufferfish is not important.  My puffer face impression is not important.  It's the WISPS I WANT YOU TO SEE

Some girls dive in the water and come up with perfectly slicked-back hair.  I dive in the water, and 39% of my hair volume ends up in my facial orifices.  A small amount remains trapped in my ponytail holder, and the rest spills out around me on the surface of the water like an oil spill.  I try to gracefully push the hair out of my face, throat, nose, ears, eyes, and slick it back onto the top of my skull.  Sometimes I dunk my head by tipping my body backwards, using gravity to reset my wayward coif.  But this is just an illusion.  Once my hair has 8 seconds or more to dry, the Taffy Wisps form, like some kind of geological marvel.

My hair doesn't slick back.  It forms a beard.  

True story, two days ago when I was running out onto the docks for the start of our show, I was temporarily blinded by several of these Wisps cracking at their foundation and falling into my eyes.  There was no showmanship, only pure panic as I tore at my face with both of my hands as though I was on some kind of Bad Acid Trip**.  I'm sure I really inspired the audience that day.  And I'm pretty sure I heard the dolphins laughing.

Now let's talk about ingesting saltwater. 

I work in a giant netty pot.  A saline solution created by Mother Nature that is piped in from a body of water mere feet from my place of employment.   Because I can't think of a better way to hang out with dolphins than to be in their element where they are in charge, I love to swim with them if they're in the mood for it.  I dive down and swim around, acting like a little kid.  I work on my water work behaviors.    The dolphins I work with now (and have in the past) seem to love playing with foot/basket/volley/soccer balls, so I hurl those out and around the habitats; sometimes we get more trainers and animals involved and play monkey in the middle.  Either way, I'm in the water a lot.    And I end up drinking a lot of it, like a little kid in a swimming pool.

At some point, I thought in my adulthood I'd learn the appropriate way to swim in a body of water without attempting to ingest half of its volume.  The problem is, I get so excited when I'm in the water that I can't stop laughing, smiling, or talking to the animal.  I'm sure with careful training I could learn to express this excitement in a way that has higher showmanship (like so many of my friends do…they are amazing), but I think I'll always just be a 10 year old kid trapped in an adult's body.

So I drink a lot of saltwater unintentionally.  This results in a queasy, overly-salty sensation in my digestive system that has only one cure in Western medicine: Ice cream.  No, Snickers.  Well, mega-stuff oreos can do the trick too.   Cupcakes.  Rice-Krispy Treats on occasion.

It taketh away the saltiness!

Another thing that occurs is the Great Flushing Of The Sinuses.  This doesn't occur until after I've gotten out of the water and the Universe knows I need to Talk To Guests.  So I swim around, swallowing water and my own hair, laughing with the dolphins,  sharing my life's passion with the rest of the world.  But the show or session must end and so I must get out of the water.  

And right after the Taffy Wisps harden on my skull, my sinuses suddenly pull the plug and everything inside of them attempts to blast out.

I can sniff and sniff but the only thing that can help me is, well, a tissue of some kind.  Which, this may surprise you, is not standard to have near a dolphin habitat.  So I have to kind of tilt my head back in a way that doesn't make me look like Linda Blair but also doesn't allow me to Snot Rocket any guests when I answer their questions.  

I swear, it's for your own protection from my Sinus Evacuation.

I can't IMAGINE what it'd be like to have me do a rocket ride with the problems I've just described to you.   The only thing I could hope for is when the dolphin shot me out of the water, that my Horrible Hair would be mostly plastered to my face in a way that would shield the general public from the Snot Rocket that would undeniably occur as a matter of simple physics.   But of course, it would suffocate me and I'd have to be rescued by some good looking paramedics who'd use the Jaws of Life of my hair/mucus mask that of course, would've hardened by the time they got me out of the water.  Trust me, I've thought this through.

Compare dolphin trainers' hair.  WHY DOES MINE DO THAT!!!!

So I stick with my fun swimming time in which I remain more or less in one dimensional plane (unless I'm underwater) and leave the airborne stuff to the experts.  I'm just having a good time with the animals.  And ultimately, I hope that's the message that the guests take home from the show or interaction.  Not that they had a trainer who looks like she got hit by a bus every time she takes a breath, but that we all (humans and dolphins) have a great time interacting in an environment that really lets us interface with each other.  Yes, the dolphins are a zillion times more adept, but us humans can hang to some degree.   We're all having fun, and that's ultimately what really matters, right?

* In my head

** I've never been on any Acid Trips.  I shudder to think what I'd be like if I ever did any illegal substances.

Monday, July 22, 2013

The Middle Flipper Is (Part 7)…..

…a praying mantis who can't handle being photographed.

"Waitwaitwait," you say.  "A praying mantis?  Like as in the insect? You're seriously going to write a Middle Flipper blog about a bug?"

Yes, you incredulous readers!  I realize bugs have tiny brains, and we think of them as small robots made of organic matter.  I'm no entomologist.  I have a handful of fun biofacts about arthropods and their behavior, and a passionate interest in ethology and the scientific method.  That is why I'd like to share with you my hypothesis that insects of the same species have different temperaments.  My entire sample study is a whopping three individual praying mantises. Mantisi.  Mantisouses? Manticies?

Where the mantiseseses live

About a year ago, I visited Ocklawaha prairie for the first time.  This is one of a handful of prairies found in Florida.  It's gorgeous, and kind of in the middle of nowhere.  There are two ways to view the prairie: from a lookout on a bluff overlooking the entire thing, or by walking across the prairie on a boardwalk.

Well, I had to experience it all.  I wanted to see alligators, wood ducks, wading birds of all kinds, snakes, birds of prey, you name it.  Armed with my camera, Russ and I set off to explore the prairie at the ground level.

Ocklawaha Prairie!

When we approached the boardwalk, there were several hypotheses (hypothesises?) my highly scientific mind made in quick succession.  First, the boardwalk had not been maintained by human beings in a long time, because it was overgrown by Some Really Cool Grassy Plants.  

Really Cool Grassy Plants (Reallius coolius grassius planticus)

Second, the most common pedestrian upon the boardwalk was the coyote.  These coyotes must be from New York City, because a) they walked on the only "sidewalk" in a gigantic natural prairie, and b) they used the sidewalk as a bathroom.  

But I digress.  My third observation was that due to government downsizing, the state of Florida could only afford to hire Writing Spiders (yes, they are real) to monitor activity along the boardwalk and ensure that everyone was behaving themselves.

A writing spider hiding behind her work

So we ambled along the boardwalk, taking care not to disturb any writing spiders, break off any parts of plants, or step in large piles of coyote leavings.  It was actually pretty awesome, and the view was amazing.  I checked every nook and cranny of the boardwalk to find little critters skittering around it.  I was especially impressed by the writing spiders though.  They spin a web and in it create what is called a stabilimentum, which looks like they scribbled a zig-zag or some kind of alien lettering through the center.  I've heard they use it to attract predators to their web (such as bees, wasps, politicians, etc.), but I'm pretty sure they just do it because they're all like, "Look, we all read Charlotte's Web as Required Reading For All Spiders Everywhere.  Everyday we're writing stuff in our web, but where's the media coverage? No where.  Why? Because the system is corrupt."  It's hard being a writing spider.


Then, just when I thought I'd seen everything I could see at the prairie, I see a large praying mantis perched on the railing of the boardwalk.  I walked over to her so I could take a couple of photos.  She immediately ran for cover.  Being the paparazzi I am, and assuming this little creature didn't know any better (you know, the Hairless Ape Hubris we all embody), I pursued her like she was the insect-version of a quasi-celebrity.   Nonetheless, she evaded me at every turn.  

I felt bad.  She probably saw this giant camera with a reflective lens come at her and thought one (or more) of the following things:



3) "Wow, I never knew I had bug eyes."

The scared mantis, hiding from me (she is actually upside down under the railing handle)

My guilt overcame me and I left the little insect alone.  Russ and I had come to the end of the boardwalk, so we turned around to head back.   Much to my surprise, I saw another little praying mantis.  I approached her more cautiously, but noticed right away that she had no fear of me at all.  In fact, she didn't seem bothered by anything.  When I got the camera right up next to her head, she turned her head, but didn't react in any other way.  I moved around her, wondering why she was so chill and the other mantis had been so eager to get away from me.  I chalked it up to my more careful approach, and left the brave little mantis.

The brave mantis, looking cute with her compound eyes.

Gorgeous! Work it, girl!

Then, just as we were about to exit the prairie, I saw the Last Mantis.  She too stood on top of the railing, looking at me like she just was dying for a photo session.  As I walked slowly towards her, she immediately locked eyes (all 3458907345 of them) on me and tracked me wherever I went.  

"Wow!" I thought.  "Look at how attentive this bug is!"

I got my camera close to her.  She stared back at me.  She reared her giant ninja scimitar death arms up at me and ATTACKED THE LENS.  I jumped backwards and may or may not have screamed a little/a lot.  Some expletives came out of my mouth.

This crazy chick (referring to the mantis, duh) wasn't finished with me.  She wasn't all bite-and-run.  She continued to track me like a jaguar stalks its prey.  I stupidly tried to take another photo, and she tried to decapitate me again with her crazy arms.

"Ima bout to kill you"

Once again my Scientific Mind formulated the most parsimonious of explanations.  

My explanation:
The praying mantis (species as yet unidentified by observer) reacts to visual, reflective stimuli in a camera lens.  The reflection appears as a conspecific and therefore elicits a territorial reflexive response.

Girlfriend be crazy.

I set the camera down, because I thought it was obvious this insect was responding to my camera lens.  I put it down and started walking away (backwards, you know, to keep my eye on this gangster)…AND SHE FOLLOWED ME.  I started to job backwards slightly, to which she responded by running faster and then LEAPING from the railing onto the camera bag that was by my hip.  I can only describe the reaction I had as "I'm On Fire" and I tried to take the camera bag off of me without killing the mantis but also without letting her saw my head off.

When I took the bag off, she kept turning to face me, no matter how many times I spun her around to face the Wilderness from which she came.  I finally shook her off a few inches from the ground, which still didn't stop the madness.  She ran down the boardwalk towards me on her skinny little legs and chased my ass off.

As I ran up the stairs, I heard a small voice yell, "YEAH THAS RIGHT". 


I couldn't believe it.  After experiencing a terrified and a docile mantis, I never expected to be ran down by one.  When my heart stopped racing and my mind exited FIGHT OR FLIGHT I'M GOING TO BE MURDERED mode*, I felt humbled and awe-inspired.   In one half-hour period, I got to see three completely different reactions from three individuals of the same species.  I assumed they didn't really "know" I was there, beyond whatever it is they do to survive.  But what I'd actually done is terrorize one, who knows what effect I had on the other (boost her self esteem with my photo session?), and definitely pissed off the last one.  The last one taught me the most, though.  She taught me that she had a right to be on that boardwalk as much as I did.  She taught me that it's pretty rude to stick a giant camera lens in the face of any non-consenting subject, especially if the subject is 89 times smaller than the camera lens itself.   And she taught me that I can't just get away with being rude because I'm a giant animal.  She took the gloves off and told me what's up.  She took my human pride and tossed it onto the boardwalk among the piles of dried up coyote crap, where it belongs.

Not pictured: My pride.

And I'm pretty sure she told all the writing spiders to scribble a picture of my face in their web, with phrases such as "KEEP THIS MORON OUT" underneath it.   Eat your heart out, Charlotte. 

* This mode is most commonly experienced by humans when they encounter insects, spiders, scorpions, or strange noises made by inanimate objects but sound like they are a serial killer entering the house.

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Tails From The Heart (Part 3): On Tuesday I Got Adopted By A Dog

So I got adopted by a dog.  

For fellow animal lovers, I accept your understanding of the aforementioned statement.  For those of you who read this blog but aren't gaga for critters, I understand that you probably think this is further evidence of my slow trend towards insanity and/or animal hoarding.

"Cat," you say.  "Animals don't CHOOSE you.  You're in the right place at the right time.  Or you anthropomorphically assume that an animal is reaching out to you.  Or you've suffered long term brain damage from all those head injuries you had as a kid."

Well, I'm not here to argue.  I'm here to tell you that this dog was all like, "HUMAN, YOU HAVE NO CHOICE.  ADOPT ME AS ONE OF YOUR OWN OR LIVE FOREVER IN GUILT AND SHAME."


Let me also say that I have a lot of animal family members.  I've got four parrots, a bunny, a gerbil (because I'm still 10 years old inside), and a lot of fish, snails, shrimp (more on that in later post).  So the last thing in the world I wanted was a) another pet and b) a pet that can eat all of my other pets.

Think about it.  Up until three days ago, the only predators I had in the house that weren't Homo sapiens were the panfish I have in my Florida native tank.  Otherwise, everybody else was of the OMG I'm Going To Get Eaten At Any Moment ilk.  

Two of my extremely intelligent, socially complex animals whose sole nature purpose in life is to be eaten by something with sharp teeth.

So on Tuesday, my husband and I were on our way to a delicious taco place for, you know, Taco Tuesday.*  Not two blocks from my house, I see a little dachshund lying on the street like it was the most comfortable place to hang out.  

Instantly, my animal-loving mind snapped into Caution-Animal-In-Road mode.  I slowed down, checked my rear view mirror to make sure no one was behind me should I need to suddenly brake.  The little dog looked directly at my vehicle, and made a series of Very Poor Choices.  First, he ran towards my moving car.   I veered off to the other side of the road with this dog still in pursuit.  By the time I came to a full stop, I couldn't see the pup anywhere.

His second bad decision involved running under my back wheels.  I didn't have my foot off the brake yet, and my car rocks backwards when I park and lift my foot off the brake.  I started to panic.  A scene inspired from Speed transpired.

There's a dog in the road running right at us.  Keep this vehicle at exactly 0mph.

"Dude," (this is of course referring to my spouse).  "I'm going to squash this dog if he doesn't get out from under my car.  I can't get out.  I can't lift my foot off the brake.  I have to keep this car in its exact geographical and spatial location.  I need you to exit this vehicle expeditiously but with great caution so that we may save a life."


"Can you get out of the car and pick up the dog?"

So he did.  I took a deep breath and parked the car in the middle of the road because, well, this was an emergency.

We tried to find this dog's home.  We went door-to-door, asking if anyone knew where the dog lived.  It was a little weird that no one in the neighborhood had ever seen the dog.  Meanwhile, the little guy was just hanging out, wagging his tail and looking at each of our faces like, "Hey! Hey! Hey! This is neat! I'm having a great time!"

Finally, I see someone walk outside of a house whose door had been wide open.

Hang on, let me address that a second.  This house was the first place we looked.  But being the door was wide open, and the fact that I've to date watched every episode of 9 seasons of Law and Order SVU, I am convinced that I'm going to be murdered, kidnapped, or worse, embarrassed by a total stranger.   It's terrifying to go up to a house whose door is wide open but no one's around, because obviously, a Class A felony is being/has been committed.  So we stood on the edge of the door frame and knocked loudly, hoping if something went wrong, Elliot Stabler would save us (and ruin my marriage, but oh well).

Christopher Meloni, if you're reading this,  I'm available.

I digress.  We could not rouse the residents initially.  But after a few minutes of asking neighbors about our little car-chasing friend, someone emerged from the Open Door House.  I asked him if he had a dog.  He said yes, thanked us for finding him, and took him into his arms.  I asked him what the dog's name was, to which he replied, "I don't know.  It's not my dog.  He just lives in this house."


A woman walked out of the house, saw the dog, and thanked us.  She proceeded to inform us that it wasn't really their dog; the previous tenant of the house left him there (?!?!).  Then she told us that the dog's name was Dusty Bottoms, and he was 13 years old.

Hey, any animal named after a Chevy Chase character has got to be awesome.  Although our Dusty has way more than three amigos.

"How could someone just abandon a dog like that?" I asked her.

"I don't know.  We're not really animal people though, and I'm moving out today.  We've been taking care of him but now I don't know what's going to happen to him."

Dusty Bottoms was set back down on the grass.  He ran straight towards me.  I looked in his little, cloudy eyes and felt sick to my stomach that his life was so meaningless to someone that they just left him in this pickle.   This is when Dusty made his third Poor Choice.  He started wagging his tail, which forced my neurological system to form a sudden, fierce attachment to the little guy. 

How can you say no to that face?

I looked back at my husband, not for approval, but for a, "You'll do as I say" look.  He loves all of our non-human children, but let's just say he isn't the first to high-five me when I bring home another animal in dire need.   Then the words rolled out of my mouth like hot lava** (or, no, soft serve ice cream. No no wait, hot fudge.  Oh god I'm hungry), "Well we can take him if that makes it easier on you guys."

The woman said she didn't mind that, but it wasn't technically her call, because Dusty's original owner said she might come back and get him.  Might? 

We gave the woman our number and hoped that we'd get a call.

For the next day, I felt sick with worry.  When I drove past the empty house, I thought of Dusty inside with a little bowl of food and water, wondering where everyone who had ever loved him disappeared to.  

Luckily, we got the call.  The owner was happy to let us take Dusty Bottoms, and said she'd give him to us the following day.  I was simultaneously ecstatic and terrified, because of the whole I Have Prey As Animal Children problem.

What did I do the night I picked up Dusty? When to get a burrito of course.  Here he is at the burrito place.

But, I'm happy to say, Dusty Bottoms has made himself a home here.  And it turns out he's 10, not 13.  He is missing some fur on his butt, he's a little skinny, and I don't know when the last time he's been to the vet was, but he's a happy little wiener dog.  He's great with people and loves other dogs.   He is desperate to befriend my bunny, Balls (yes, seriously).  Balls isn't so sure about the dog, but I think he'll warm up to him eventually.   Stay tuned for a Balls and Bottoms BFF post in the near future.

See? Balls already loves wieners!

So could I have dropped Dusty Bottoms off at a shelter somewhere?  Tried to find him a home?  Yeah. I could've.  And if I thought I really in no way could give all of the loves of my life at home the best possible life by adding a little red-haired senior, I would've fostered Dusty and found someone who wouldn't mind taking in an old dog.  But the fact of the matter is there was a reason this dude ran into my life, and he needs consistency.   He's got a big yard to play in, lots of good napping spots, and he can't ever be bored because he's got lots of stimuli in the form of parrots screaming, "HI!! HI? HELLO? COM'ERE! LOVE YOU!" all day long.  

So thanks for choosing me, Dusty Bottoms.  Welcome to the family!


* I love this place so much, I don't need a cute alliteration to give me an excuse to go eat there.  I've been there three times this week.  I LOVE BURRITOS

** Don't you find this term "flow like hot lava" really redundant?  Have you ever seen cold lava flow? No.  That's because IT'S JUST SOLID ROCK BY THEN.

Sunday, July 7, 2013

When It Rains So Hard My Soul Gets Soaked

If you live in Florida and/or have paid attention to the weather forecast for this area, you know we've essentially been underwater.

This is but a mere drizzle.  But I realized today that this is the only picture of me in the rain!
The past three days have been nothing but rain.  Not just little happy summer showers.  Imagine Forrest Gump-esque precipitation (you know, without all the Vietnam War stuff).

I get it, dude.

Of course, you all know that my job means I need to be outside all day.  For us there is no refuge from the elements, until it's time to go home.  So when the skies opened up and flash flood warnings poured in, my coworkers and I spent a lot of the day sloshing around.  

On Friday, I passed a coworker as she went to do a dolphin encounter.  Through the torrential downpour, our hair plastered to our faces and water streaming down the backs of our wetsuits, she smiled and started singing an 80s pop song (I can't remember which one, because my brain later flooded and I lost like half of my memory).   Everyone around us started laughing and dancing.  

The crooning coworker then said, "We are just a bunch of BAs*.  We just dance around in the rain and go about our day."

THE example of a BA

She was totally right.  Not to say I love all of the weather I experience as a trainer (I HATE WINTER WITH EVERYTHING INSIDE OF ME), but rain is FUN.  Especially when the air temperature isn't sub zero, you can have the time of your life in the deluge if only you just accept that every cell in your body is going to be thoroughly soaked.

What about the animals, you ask?  They're a bunch of BAs, too.  They dolphins don't have anything to complain about, because they're wet all the time anyway.  The pinnipeds celebrate the cooler temperatures with naps.  I mean, what better thing to do on a rainy day?  The otters play around in it, and then go dry off in their den, and then come back out and play, and find rocks, and look at shiny objects, and plot the demise of the universe, but not of course before they take a nap, too.

Think this BA cares if he gets rained on?

Now, there does come a point where we as trainers start to get a little sick of the rain.  Here is a list of things that sort of suck when it comes to working outside in a nonstop, 8 hour rainstorm:

  1. The parking lots flood, which means we have to move our cars while sitting in a wet wetsuit.  Nothing like a little SWASS** on your drive home.
  2. Forget about eating M&Ms (this is the worst one) without getting color dye permanently lodged into your skin 
  3. At some point, your physical body cannot become any wetter.  At this point, all metaphysical parts of you (e.g. soul, consciousness, sanity, intuition) absorb and retain water.  Sanity is usually the first to get water damage (please refer to my singing pal above).

But the fact is, the more we BAs thought about it, we realized there were a lot more pros than cons when it came to working in inclement weather:

  1. No blood-sucking bugs to bleed you dry and make you want to end your own life 
  2. You get to play in the rain
  3. You get to play with animals in the rain
  4.  You aren't judged too harshly for running into the laundry room and putting hot hand towels on your face
  5. Salty, crusty hair? No more, in a rainstorm!
  6. Don't have time to rinse your wetsuit at the end of the day? Whatevs! Just stand outside for 11 seconds!
  7. It's a medically-accepted fact that rainstorms increase your metabolism to the point at which the human body can consume up to three (3) times the amount of calories required for life mostly in the form of refined sugars.  
  8. It's a great team-building experience
God I love this job!

I don't have any pictures of me or anyone I know in the rain, because I'm too busy having a killer time.  But I did take this photo at another facility while I was visiting.  It's further proof that everyone's happy in the rain! 

* Here's a multiple choice quiz.  What does the acronym "BA" stand for?
   a. Brutish Algorithms
   b. Bench-pressing Atoms
   c. Bulgarian Armpits
   d. None of the above

** Wow, ANOTHER multiple choice quiz! What is "SWASS"?
  a.  South Western Ant Slap Stick 
  b. Simple wonderful amazing sensational slugs
  c. Scented woolen action sweat suits
  d. Find it on urban dictionary