Archive for December, 2004

Friday Funday XVIII

Friday Funday brings you some fun and interesting links from my travels around the internet during the previous week.

A Capella Horses [del.icio.us]

Conduct a quartet of a capella horses. What can I say? I’m a sucker for these things.

Hyper-RX Markup Language [del.icio.us]

Rob Cockerham strikes gold once again with his decoding of drugstore pricing codes. The article also reminded me that Longs Drugs is not exclusive to Hawaii.

The Mello Hippo Disco Show [del.icio.us]

I have no idea.

ZIONTALIS Rainbow Collection [del.icio.us]

Rainbow-themed prayer shawls for the gay Orthodox in your life.

Bush’s Speechalist [del.icio.us]

Did you think that all of Bush’s in-speech fumbling was accidental? Well, you’re mistaken, my friend. Meet Bush’s official speechalist. This piece is a rare three minutes indeed, as Andy Dick is actually funny.

The Real World: Hawaii – Episode Three

It occurred to me that I forgot to mention the food we ate after we went to Hanauma Bay and Sea Life Park. For lunch, Morah, Ashley and I went to a plate lunch shop called Loco Moco Drive Inn. The food there was excellent. For an afternoon snack, Morah and I went to Zippy’s where I had a bowl of their famous chili. Zippy’s chili is somewhat of an icon in Hawaii. I don’t think it’s possible to live in Hawaii and not at least have heard about Zippy’s chili. For dinner, Morah and I ate at a funky little Vietnamese pho shop called Pearl Pho. It was good, but there weren’t any other customers, so the employees just sat there staring at us. I couldn’t help but wonder if I was eating something the wrong way, but wrong or right, it tasted =so= good.

Tuesday morning found Morah and I at the Waikiki Aquarium. I took several pictures of various animals, including one really cool shot of a nautilus (not a link to the picture, sorry. I’ll have them online soon). The aquarium hadn’t changed much, but there was a new tank that had box jellyfish Moon Jellyfish in it, which kicked ass.

Right next to the aquarium is the Natatorium. It’s in better condition than it was when I left, thanks to a controversial $11 million renovation in 2000. Sadly, the saltwater pool itself is still in dire need of repair and the public is not yet allowed beyond the gates.

As you may have heard, the waves on the North and West facing shores of O’ahu were huge. The Eddie Aikau Big Wave Invitational is only held when the waves entering Waimea Bay reach twenty feet or larger, so the event is only held every once in a great while. We wanted to see the waves, so we ventured up to Waimea Bay where traffic was inordinately heavy. The waves were =HUGE=! I didn’t take any pictures because it’s hard to convey their size (it helps to know what Waimea Bay normally looks like), so you’ll just have to believe me when I tell you it was an amazing sight.

While on the North shore, we stopped by Matsumoto’s for shave ice and Giovanni’s White Shrimp Truck for lunch. I had never had my shave ice with adzuki beans before, but I was surprised at their pleasantly sweet taste. I do have to admit that eating beans, ice cream and shave ice all in the same bite is a bit weird, but if you get the chance, you should try it. The shrimp at Giovanni’s ruled. It was =smothered= in garlic and so ‘ono (Hawaiian for delicious)! In fact, I wouldn’t be surprised if they had used garlic to kill the shrimp before cooking them. My only complaint was that you have to peel (and in some cases de-vein) your own shrimp.

Before I go on, I should first explain something about me and the paranormal. Ghosts don’t really scare me; nor do most urban legends. I tend to doubt the existence/authenticity of most religious and ghost stories, =except= for those that pertain to Hawaii. It may simply be that I’m more inclined to believe because Hawaii is where I grew up, but as my aunt pointed out, the scariest stories in the world always come from Hawaii (they’re called Obake). I don’t care if any of the Obake are true or not, I don’t take any chances when it comes to Hawaiian mythology.

Our next stop was at the Pu’u O Mahuka Heiau; a 5-acre, 300-foot bluff overlooking Waimea Bay. A heiau is a sacred Hawaiian burial ground. I’ve been to several and they’re always creepy. Pu’u O Mahuka is one of the more peaceful ones, but it still makes me nervous. In 1989 and 1990, the Waha’ula Heiau on the big island was directly in the path of a lava flow. Both times, everyone was convinced that this piece of important Hawaiian history was going to be lost forever and both times, the lava flows went around the heiau, leaving it untouched. Shortly thereafter, I visited the site and it was amazing to see a field of nothing but ugly black rock with nothing for miles except for this heiau.

Our last stop on the North shore was to my parent’s A-frame house in Ka’a’awa, which was previously owned by movie star Jason Scott Lee (and may still be). My parents said that the neighborhood was significantly different. I never lived in the A-frame because my parents moved while my mother was pregnant with me. I wanted them to go knock on the door and if Jason Scott Lee answered, pretend not to know who he was, but they wouldn’t do it.

On our way back into town, we stopped at the Pali Lookout. We took a few pictures and I showed Morah the old Pali Road. I had never walked down the old Pali Road, and when my aunt heard this, she told us we had to do it. The old Pali Road is overgrown and really rundown (at one point, we found an enormous boulder sitting in the middle of the road. In fact, it was on a bridge. We were super nervous). Considering the weather and the fact that it was just the two of us, it was actually pretty scary.

So now let’s examine why the Pali is a creepy place. There are several reasons, each as important as the other. The word “Pali” means cliff. This is exactly what the lookout is, except with a railing. When King Kamehameha and his army invaded O’ahu in 1795 (as part of his successful attempt to unite the islands), they drove the opposing army over the cliff. Another legend tells of Poki, the polymorphic spirit dog, which guards the sacred burial grounds in the area around the Pali. The third legend states that pork cannot be brought over the Pali. As the story goes, if you have pork in your car, the engine will stop before you get to the top (if you’re lucky. There are other stories of less-fortunate souls who tried to take pork over and either didn’t live, or barely escaped with their lives). The reason for this has to do with the old battles between Kamapua’a, the half-human, half-pig demi god, and Pele, the volcano goddess. According to one website:

According to Hawaiian legends, taking pork over the Pali is linked to the turbulent relationship between Pele, the goddess of fire, and Kamapua‘a, a human demi-god – half-man, half-pig. The two agreed not to visit each other, but taking pork over the Pali means taking a form of Kamapua‘a from his domain (the wet side of the island) into Pele’s domain (the dry side of the island). Those who ignore Pele’s warnings risk her stopping the car from bringing Kamapua‘a’s body over the Pali.

So anyway, Morah and I were walking along the Old Pali Road (sans pork) and it was overcast and a little drizzly. Everything was wet and the colours all around us were very saturated, which only added to the dream-like quality of everything. My aunt had told us that the road wasn’t very long and just to walk along it to the end and back. Everything was so quiet and still that it was creepy. What was missing was life. There weren’t any birds chirping and the plants all around were yellowing. Even the ginger plants that were encroaching on the asphalt were dying, and ginger is a really hearty plant. The road turned out to be a lot longer than we thought (and extended beyond the point where my aunt said it stopped). Morah and I considered going back, but we decided to go on a bit further because we would hate to have gone that far only to quit twenty or fifty feet before the road actually ended. We had no idea how much farther the road really went, but we didn’t want to miss out, so we pressed on. About ten feet after we started down the trail, I heard something in the bushes and, knowing the Obake, froze. Morah started to ask me something, but I shushed her. We stood stock still in absolute silence for at least twenty seconds (it felt longer). I looked around and tried to see what made the noise, but there was nothing there. I looked town the path, but it curved around a hedge about fifteen feet ahead of us. My heart was racing and I was nervous as hell, so we decided to go back (we had been gone for a while anyway and it the drizzle seemed to be working its way up to actual rain).

An interesting phenomenon in Hawaiian legends is that the person in the back always gets it first. That is to say, if a group of people are walking single-file through a forest at night, the big, hairy monster will eat the person in the back first. This is why I prefer to walk in the back of a group of people; it allows me to protect them by sacrificing myself first. I don’t think I need to tell you the order in which Morah and I walked back to the car.

The Real World: Hawaii – Episode Two

I have so much to tell you about and I don’t know where to begin!

Right away, memories came flooding back. Everywhere I looked, I saw things that I hadn’t seen in years. It was interesting to see what I had forgotten that, for whatever reason, was important to me. A particular building, a specific tree, some pile of junk that had been laying in the same spot forever. It was also interesting to see how much has changed.

One of our first stops in Honolulu was at Longs to buy slippers for Morah. As we were leaving, I ran into my fourth grade math teacher (we had two teachers in fourth grade, a homeroom teacher and a “switch” teacher who taught us whatever subjects our homeroom teacher didn’t). I was in the fourth grade in 1990, but he remembered me. And it wasn’t just, “Oh, you were in my class,” but, “Hey, you’re Tommy Brown!” I was stunned. How many kids have passed through his classroom since I did and he still remembers my name? It was especially funny because we had been in the state for less than an hour and had already run into someone I know.

We ended up not finding any slippers in Morah’s size so we headed over to Local Motion, a local surf shop. The last pair of surf shorts I bought was from Local Motion and that was easily seven years ago, maybe more. So I don’t think I need to say that my old surf shorts were ready to call it quits and I was in dire need of a new pair. Morah also needed (read: wanted) a new bathing suit, and being so close to my grandmother’s flat, Local Motion was the perfect place to go. I bought a cool new pair of red surf shorts that I like a lot. Morah’s luck wasn’t any better here as she couldn’t find a bathing suit that she liked.

We decided to look elsewhere later and go back to my grandmother’s flat. It was super hot out and we were still wearing our jeans, so we wanted to change really badly. After we did, we went down to the beach so Morah could experience it for the first time. In my opinion, Waikiki beach isn’t the greatest beach out there, but it was the closest and we were working on carefully budgeted time.

That evening, Morah, my family and I went to Mark and Judy’s house. Mark and Judy are old friends of my parents who offered to let Morah and I stay with them. We were extremely grateful when we found out what living at my grandmother’s is like (I’ll tell you about it in a later installment). Mark and Judy threw a little “welcome home” party for us and we pretty much just spent the evening relaxing.

Sunday morning found us up early to hike Mariner’s Ridge. The hike was pretty tough (it’s a long hike that’s pretty much uphill the whole way and you’re left exposed to the sun for the first half), but entirely worth it as I proposed to Morah when we finally reached the top. My sister was there taking pictures of the event, so hopefully they turn out (I was going to have her use my digital camera, but I forgot it, =of course=. I knew that =something= would go wrong, but hey, it could have been worse). Morah hadn’t really been expecting it, so she was shocked and delighted when I got down on my knee and gave her the ring.

That evening my parents were celebrating their thirtieth wedding anniversary and they threw a big party to celebrate. The party consisted almost entirely of people we had known before we left and they were all delighted to hear that Morah and I had gotten engaged.

On the third day, we went to Hanauma Bay and Sea Life Park. At both locations, we saw tons of fish. I took plenty of pictures, which I think I’ll use to make myself a 2005 wall calendar. If I do, I’ll be sure to give you a shot at buying one.

Both Hanauma Bay and Sea Life Park held surprises for me. In order to get into Hanauma Bay now, you have to watch a nine-minute video. While we were waiting to get into the theatre and watch the video, I guessed out loud that the video would tell us the history of the park, not to feed the fish, not to touch anything in the water, and not to step on the coral. Sure enough, that’s exactly what the video told us. On top of it all, the video was rather poorly produced.

At Sea Life Park, there were two unsettling changes. The first that I noticed was that the masts of the ship are gone (for those who have been there before, you’ll know what I’m talking about). I don’t know why they took the masts off, but I got the feeling they were renovating the ship, so hopefully the change isn’t a permanent one. The second change was to the dolphin-penguin show. The penguins used to have a segment where they would jump in that water and swim around, as well as do some tricks. When Morah and I watched the show, the penguins came out, ran across the stage area, then were promptly put back into their holding area. That’s it. No swimming, no tricks, nothing.

At least we only had to pay ten bucks instead of the full twenty-five (because we got there in the afternoon).

Friday Funday XVII

Friday Funday brings you some fun and interesting links from my travels around the internet during the previous week.

You didn’t think I’d leave you hanging just because I’m in Hawaii, did you?

Scornaments [del.icio.us]

He’s right, you know. None of these should have been made into ornaments. I mean, what kind of holiday are we celebrating when you have Kobe Bryant, the short bus, and a stripping pig all hanging from your tree. Bonus points if you own any of these. Also note the URL to which scornaments.com forwards.

Give Me a Weapon of Mass Affection [del.icio.us]

I don’t expect anyone to watch this all the way through, but it is kind of good for a laugh.

Christmas Bukkake [del.icio.us]

Yes, this is work safe. If you don’t know what the hell bukkake is, click here.

Acapella Reindeer [del.icio.us]

Six reindeer sing an acapella version of “I’ll be home for Christmas”. You can find another similar one (and its sequels) here, here and here.

It’s A Wonderful Life in 30 Seconds [del.icio.us]

And re-enacted by bunnies.

Happy Chrismahanukwanzakah [del.icio.us]

Happy Chrismahanukwanzakah to you.

The Real World: Hawaii – Episode One

The people with whom Morah and I are staying have broadband Internet access, so it looks like I will be able to post after all!

We got to the Spokane airport about two hours before our flight was scheduled to take off. You always hear about how security takes forever to get through and is the worst part about checking in. That’s just plain wrong. The worst part about checking in is actually checking in. When Morah and I checked in at the Spokane airport, we had to wait for about ten minutes to be cleared from the no fly list. We’re still not 100% sure what happened as the woman was rather vague about the reason why one of us was on the list. She also wouldn’t tell us which one of us it was. She did tell us that someone with the same name had the same itinerary, so we suspect that because my dad left Spokane the night before to go to Hawaii and I was leaving Spokane to go to Hawaii and we have the same first and last names, the computer found that to be dodgy.

After we were cleared and our bags were checked in, we got through security rather quickly. In fact, we spent most of the two hours waiting at the gate. The plane we were supposed to catch had been delayed because landing in Spokane was extremely difficult as a result of the freezing fog (which had been in town for days!). We were afraid that we would miss our connecting flight to LAX, but fifteen of us were connecting to the same flight to LAX, so I the airline felt compelled to delay that flight as well. Once we got to Seattle, we booked it over to our next gate where, much to our surprise, a guy we knew was working. We got on the plane and landed in LAX around 11:30p. We waited for our bags to come out for the next thirty minutes.

They never came out.

As it happens, they weren’t supposed to come out because they were checked all they way through to Honolulu, despite our having been told that we would need to pick them up in L.A. and re-check them the next morning. The baggage guy said he could go get them, but we decided that it wasn’t worth the hassle

Next we called the Econo-Lodge to get picked up. Never, for any reason, stay at an Econo-Lodge. At least not the one in Inglewood. It was =so= dodgy that we barely felt safe sleeping on the bed. One part of me wanted to scan the sheets with a black light, but another bigger part of me honestly didn’t want to know.

I was supposed to see a friend from high school, but we didn’t manage to make contact while I was there. Perhaps on the way back.

Anyway, the next morning, Morah and I got up super early to get to the airport three hours before our flight was scheduled to leave (I had read online that three hours was the suggested time for LAX). We got there and it was a zoo! There were people everywhere and no one seemed to be sure of what was going on and what we were supposed to be doing. I had Morah stand in the queue while I tried to find a way to bypass the whole mess. I found a woman who worked for American Airlines (our carrier for this stretch of the flight) and asked her about it.

“If we don’t have any bags to check, do we still have to stand in the queue?”

“No, just go over to the electronic check-in behind the escalator. You’re lucky.”

Lucky indeed. I have no idea how long it would have taken to get to the ticket counter, but seeing the queue triple up on itself (once it finally got inside), was enough to make me glad that we opted not to retrieve our luggage. It took a while (there were some hoops that needed jumping through), but we finally had our boarding passes in our hands. We took the lift up to the security area and got in another queue. What we didn’t know at the time is that we had cut in front of about a hundred or so people. But you know what? No one said anything and I don’t feel guilty at all. We had prepared for a three hour wait that, in the end, took about thirty minutes.

Yes, killing two and a half hours is boring.

On the plane there were three little kids in the row in front of us and at any given time, two were sitting directly in front of us (we were on a 767, so it went two seats, three seats, two seats and we were in one of the sections with two). These kids were monsters. They were loud and obnoxious and their parents did little to nothing to prevent it. When we landed, I looked where they had been sitting and was surprised not to find feces. There was stuff all over the chairs and floor and it looked as though someone had opened a bag of pretzels, dumped them out on the floor, and stomped them into tiny pieces. These tiny pieces were also found in the children’s hair. Disgusting? You bet.

So finally, we made it to Hawaii! I don’t have a whole lot to mention about being here right now (most of it would be lost on anyone who isn’t (A) from Hawaii or (B) me. And since I already know what happened…). Anyway, don’t they say that it’s not the destination, it’s the journey?

There is one thing worth mentioning on the blog and that’s that Morah and I are now engaged (no we haven’t set a date. I wish people would quit asking. And despite what you might say, even without the damn date, it’s official). You probably want to know what happened (how I proposed, perhaps?). Sadly, I must reply to you that my fiancee is waiting for me to come to bed (no sex tonight, though. It would be weird considering where we’re staying) and I’ve already written this whole bloody thing (I wanted to make sure I got at least this far). But I’ll make a deal with you. Keep checking for another update and I’ll tell you about it next time. Sound fair? I’ll also tell you more about what we’ve done since we’ve been here (because there are a few things that some people might be interested in).

Warm wishes from sunny Hawaii!

Friday Funday XVI

Friday Funday brings you some fun and interesting links from my travels around the internet during the previous week.

And don’t forget, I’ll be in Hawaii until the 26th!

Chuck Lorre Vanity Cards [del.icio.us]

If you’ve ever watched Dharma & Greg or Two and a Half Men, you’ve likely seen that screen at the end of the credits with a big title that says, “Chuck Lorre Productions” with a ton of tiny text underneath it. At the end of the show, each production company gets what’s called a vanity card, and Chuck Lorre decided to have some fun with his. Each episode of aforementioned shows (both Chuck Lorre productions) has a unique vanity card with a special message from Chuck. This site has them all online and includes little insider explanations from (presumably) Chuck himself.

Guess the Dictator/Sit-Com Character [del.icio.us]

I thought I’d be clever and try to fool this thing. As it turns out, I was person 997 to choose Alice Kramden from The Honeymooners. I then tried Chief Wild Eagle from F Troop and it turns out I was only the 10th person to try him. I then went on to stump it twice. I can’t believe I haven’t seen this thing sooner.

Charlie and the Chocolate Factory Preview [del.icio.us]

You didn’t know they were making a new one, did you (okay, Kris, I’m sure =you= already knew)? Well they are and Johnny Depp is playing Willie Wanka. Not too bad, in my opinion. I just hope Tim Burton has a good reason for that kitschy 1960s motif. I have to warn you, though, that this preview has an infectious song attached to it, so if you get it stuck in your head, try getting it out with Maim That Tune, a site specially designed to put a different annoying song in your head. Hey, did you hear about how one of the workers dropped a $540,000 camera lens in a vat of chocolate?

The Most Hated Advertising Techniques [del.icio.us]

An interesting summary of a 2004 study conducted by John Boyd from Yahoo! and Christian Rohrer from eBay to determine how users perceive online advertising. Hate popups? Join the other 95% of us.

Fake Engagement Ring As Guy-Repellent [del.icio.us]

I had this idea so long ago. Morah and I were going to get a fake engagement ring so that people (landlords and such) would take us more seriously and not just write us off as an unreliable couple of kids. Does anyone else think this article sounds like it’s completely fake? There are just too many “weird” details (the description of her ideal ring, the adjectives she uses to describe the guys that hit on her, et cetera). Is that weird for the New York Post? I’ve never really read it before. Fuck the Post, I read the Times.

Hele on to Oahu

Tomorrow afternoon, Morah and I head out for Hawaii! I’m so excited to =finally= go home again. It’s been about five years since I was last in Honolulu and I’m told a lot has changed. This trip will be doubly nice for Morah because not has she never been to Hawaii before, but now she’ll get to see where I grew up (since I’ve already seen where she grew up). So if I don’t post for a while, that’s why. I’m not sure if I’ll have Internet access or not. I assume I’ll be able to jump on once or twice while we’re there, but don’t expect any daily updates.

In preparing for this trip, I thought a lot about whether or not I wanted to try to contact Lauren and see her again. I have come to the conclusion that, despite how much time has passed and that I’m well over it all, I don’t yet want to see her again. It’s not so much that I’m not ready, but more that it’s not the right time. Perhaps if Morah and I move to Honolulu (which we’re considering) I’ll feel more comfortable about trying to see her again. And what if I just happen to bump into her while we’re there? So be it. As I said, I’m looking toward the future and no longer dwelling in the past.

—-

From time to time I post viewer comments that we get here at Fox if I think they’re funny. This is quite possibly the single best viewer comment I’ve ever read:

10 Dec 04 – 1930hrs – Male Caller – “FUCK YOU!” Long pause. “I’ve been fucked over by Fox!” Another long pause. “Hello?”

—-

Oh! I forgot to tell you about the Fox Christmas party. Wait, we need some back story first.

Every year, our station holds a contest where the different departments decorate their doors (or one nearby as not every department actually has a door) and the winner gets a pizza party. The doors are judged by people who don’t work at the station (in the hopes that they won’t be biased toward a particular department) and the winner is announced at the annual Christmas party.

We have this digital clock that counts down to a date that you program into it (you may have seen it sitting on my desk in some of the work webcam shots) and I got the idea to use it as the centerpiece for our door.

It took a lot of effort and we =just barely= finished in time, but we ended up winning for the second year in a row. Pics of the door are on their way!

Do I have an idea for next year’s door? You bet I do. -)

Gregory House

Has anyone else noticed that the title character of Fox’s new show House has the same name as a death-row inmate?

Friday Funday XV

Friday Funday brings you some fun and interesting links from my travels around the internet during the previous week.

Optical Emission Security FAQ [del.icio.us]

Wherein the author describes, “a new eavesdropping technique that reconstructs text on computer screens from diffusely reflected light.” It’s a good thing we’re moving away from using CRTs…

The Bibleman Cometh [del.icio.us]

To your town! That’s right, Bibleman is on tour and he may be coming to your town. Bibleman’s previous credits include starring opposite of Chachi (Scott Baio) on “Charles in Charge” (I’m not kidding).

Team America Sex Scenes Revealed [del.icio.us]

Sadly, this isn’t the original, uncut sex scene (we are apparently not seeing the “golden shower” sequence) and there isn’t any audio, but this .wmv is the real deal. Probably not work safe (unless you work in a porn shop or from home. Or both), but they are just puppets after all. You be the judge (better you than your boss, right?).

Shhh! [del.icio.us]

Tired of people on cell phones USING THEIR OUTDOOR VOICES WHEN THEY’RE INDOORS? Let them know with these handy little cards. Just print out this .pdf, fill in the appropriate info and garner the respect of your peers by admonishing the offender. Here is a set for when you’re on the road.

How To Make A Telemarketer Cry [del.icio.us]

A somewhat dated account of how one lawyer, after having been woken up at 5:24 in the morning by an automated telemarketer, sued and won.

More Fire Alarm Fun

What the fuck is wrong with people?

I mean, seriously. How many fire drills did you do when you were in school? A million? Two million? =EVERYONE= knows that when a fire alarm goes off, you’re supposed to get out of the building and stand back. Well back. But, as you may recall from my previous fire alarm story, unless directed by someone authoritative, few people actually do what they’re supposed to.

A couple of nights ago, the fire alarms in our block of flats went off. Morah and I, having been trained in fire alarm procedure for the past two decades, quickly grabbed some coats (hey, it was snowing) and went out to the curb. No one else was out there, so we figured we were just the first ones. No fire trucks came roaring up (which was just as well, because there ended up not being a fire, but we didn’t know this at the time), no other residents came out to join us and no one authoritative came out to organise the residents and ensure our safe exit from the building.

In other words, no one else seemed to care.

We heard voices and I saw a few people exiting out toward the other side of the building where the parking lot is (and where, if the complex really did catch on fire, they would have had a hard time getting out safely. Were Morah and I =really= the only people who thought to go out to the road?) Then I thought I heard someone calling for help (I’ll tell you the full story in just a moment). We figured out who was calling for help and got her sorted out (just a confused little old lady who didn’t actually need help). Then I found out where everyone else was. Just milling around right next to the building in the (potentially) deadly aforementioned parking area. Then the building manager came out, shrugged and shut off the alarm. She didn’t tell anyone whether or not is was safe to go back into the building, but everyone returned to their flats anyway and the night’s excitement was over.

I was surprised to see so few people outside. Were they just waiting for someone to pound on their door and tell them to get out (which probably wouldn’t have happened)? Were they waiting until they saw the fire or smelled smoke? What the hell were they thinking? When fire alarms go off, get the fuck out! It’s a command, not just a polite suggestion.

I was also surprised that (A) it took the manager so damn long to get outside and (B) that once outside, she didn’t seem to have any sort of plan to help get the residents to safety.

Again, what the hell is wrong with people?

Now, for the woman yelling help story. I am appalled at not only other people’s actions in this case, but also ashamed of my own. Ever since this happened (Monday night), I keep thinking about how I didn’t react the right way. I keep playing the scenario over in my mind, trying to figure out what I should have done versus what I did do. Here’s what happened:

Morah and I were standing on the curb (alone) and the alarm was going full blast. I thought I heard someone calling for help, but I wasn’t sure if they said, “help” or something else. I mentioned it to Morah and we both stopped talking to listen. The woman called out again. Neither of us was sure what she was saying, so we walked in the direction of her voice to see if she really did need help. We got to the next stairwell and waited. “Help!” We still couldn’t tell for sure, but we saw a girl about our age walking around near the old woman, so I assumed the woman was calling her name (it sort of sounded like she was saying “Gail”, or something similar). When the young girl walked away (yes, she walked =right past= an old woman who was frantically asking for help and completely ignored her. Fucking bitch, huh?), the old woman turned toward us and shouted, very clearly, “Help!” So Morah and I walked over to her and asked her what was the matter. She said the her alarm was going off, but she didn’t know why and she couldn’t smell smoke. We told her that it wasn’t just her alarm, but that all the alarms in the entire building were going off. She seemed to relax a bit when she heard this. I set out to find out what was going on and Morah came with me. I assume the old woman went back to bed (she had been asleep when the alarm went off and was in her pajamas when we talked to her). We walked toward the parking lot and that’s when we saw the (few) other people and the manager.

Here’s what I regret: I regret not immediately trying to find the person calling for help, regardless of what I thought they were saying. From now on, I’m not going to wait until I know for sure that they’re calling for help; I’m going to run to help anyone who I even suspect may be calling for help. That bothers me more than anything else. Why didn’t I react sooner? Someone may have been dying! Why didn’t I do something as soon as I suspected that someone needed help? I was so lackadaisical about the whole situation and it kills me to think that the old woman, her husband, or someone else could have died as a result of my inaction. The second thing I regret is not hurrying up to the woman once I did knew that she needed help. Morah and I literally walked over to her. I should have ran. I wish I would have hurried and I feel terrible for not being quicker about everything. Seconds can matter and it took us at least two minutes from the time I first heard the woman call out. I also regret not being more authoritative about the whole thing. Granted, we didn’t know what was going on, but I should have explained it to the woman faster and clearer than I did and I should have told her to prepare some warm clothes just in case she did have to leave. If there really was a fire, she would not have been prepared to evacuate the building and I just left her in her flat thinking it was nothing (which it was, but I certainly didn’t know it at the time). I also regret leaving her there without someone to help her. As much as I wouldn’t want to abandon Morah or put her in danger, I should have told Morah to stay with her until we knew whether to stay or to leave the building. Finally, I regret not approaching the manager to ask what the situation was and to see if there was anything I could do to help. When I get into authority mode, I can bark out orders and get tough with people and believe me, they listen (after all, people want to be told what to do).

Am I a terrible person? Probably not, but I am sincerely disappointed in myself. I wish I could go back and do it over again. I do feel a little better knowing that I recognize that I didn’t react correctly and that I now know what to do in the future.

Some of you may think that my last regret (about helping the manager) is a bit out of the scope of what the average citizen should do. I disagree on two counts. First, I disagree because I was in ROTC (only for one year, but hey) and I was a Boy Scout (again, only for a year, but I was in Cub Scouts for few years before that). Those two experiences taught me to take a leadership position, especially in situations like what happened on Monday night. It’s just something that a person in my place should have done. The other reason I disagree is because I believe everyone needs to pull together in an emergency situation regardless of who you are or how much you hate your neighbors. If I lived next door to someone who I thought was a terrible, mean person, I would still try to save their ass in a fire. You know those scenes in movies where the good guy saves the bad guy’s life and he’s all confused as to why? That’s why. It’s the common, decent, human thing to do. I guess movies aren’t so far-fetched after all.

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Oh, and I have some sad news. It has started warming up here in Spokane, so the little snowman in the APLO picture for this week is no more. Last night one of his arms had sagged and this morning I found him slumped over. His name was Oats and he was the first snowman that Morah and I ever built together.

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