I'm working as a Fish Culturist at Hidden Falls Salmon Hatchery in a remote spot near Sitka, Alaska! AM I CRAZY!? I'm starting to think so...

Sunday, May 27, 2007

A Special Shout Out

SHOUT OUT OF THE DAY - On this fine Sunday morning/afternoon (depending on what time zone you're in!) I would like to send the shout out to my little brother, Steven, who is graduating from High School today! I wish I could be there man! It really makes me sad. But I am so proud of you!! CONGRATS!!

Saturday, May 26, 2007

Sun for days!

Hey, I've been really lazy today and still feel like I'm forcing myself to write this one today...

The weather for the past week has been GREAT (minus the past few days) but today it did nothing but rain. Yesterday was very overcast with some sprinkles. I guess we knew it couldn't last forever!

Well, the weekly recap... there's not all that much to tell really. Sunday was a really really REALLY nice day! After feeding first thing in the morning, Adam and I pulled a few pots and then decided to explore in the other part of Takatz Bay. It was low tide so we found this spot that is covered with water during high tide but was exposed at the time. So we walked around and found alot of cool stuff. Lots of sea cucumbers, starfish and sea anemones INSIDE OUT which looked like crazy colored piles of snot!, and beds of old clam shells, which I found really cool. We just walked all over. On the way back to the boat, I kept finding cool colored starfish, so we decided to bring some back to the house so I could take a picture of them.

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That weird reddish shiny thing is a sea cucumber. When Adam picked it out, it looked alot cooler, but it lost all it's COOLNESS. Next to it is this little eel-looking fish. It was cool too.

Really, I intended on tossing them back in the water right after I got my pictures, but a few were such cool colored that I decided to see if I could dry them out and keep them. I kept 4 of them and they dried out pretty good (when I left Takatz, the middles were still a tiny bit soft). The sad thing is that, though they dried nice, they lost alot of their color. I kept the orange one (close to that shell), the blue one on it's right (which was a cool blue and green shade if you looked close), the purple-ish blue one on it's left, and that purple one up on the left corner. I did take individual up-close pictures of the nice colored ones too.

Anyhow, so when we got back, I decided to sit outside and call Melissa and Valerie. Talked with them for a little bit while I watched Adam make a shower outside because he had his heart set on taking one! There was this bucket set-up in the bathroom in the house with a shower head that looked like a watering hose and nozzle from the greenhouses! Anyhow, he rigged it up outside and attempted to heat up some water in the bucket by leaving it in the sun, but apparently it didn't warm up much. Well, after the 2nd feeding, we decided to lay out in the sun, which was great!

Dad, you'll appreciate this. It was literally only about 55 degrees out, but I was seriously contemplating putting my bathing suit on! That's how warm the sun felt! Instead I was out there in shorts and a tank top. Adam got so hot that he decided to jump in the water! The water is like 50 degrees... that's pretty cold! ha ha After work, he did end up taking a shower under his Bucket O' Shower.

The next day started off a little on the shaky side! While using the hand push cart dealio to carry bags of food (not the motorized one I like to crash, but the kind with 2 wheels that you tip back and push) I tipped it forward to set it down and 2 bags of food flew into the water! These are 44 pound bags of food, and one of them even ripped on the way in! Well thankfully, they float! Chris and I actually learned that a few weeks ago but who knew it would actually float with a hole in it too! I ended up bruising my same knee when I must have dived onto the metal deck to try to save them. Then later on in the day, I was sitting outside in the sun reading because I was getting cold inside. I had a cute little wet mink sneak up on me from around the corner of the building! It was funny, but it was weird too! It was like I saw it coming almost... but it felt sort of like a cat coming up to great me until I realized "WAIT! We don't HAVE a cat!!" Once it saw me, it turned and ran so I chased him around the building just so he wouldn't run up the stairs into the house because Adam wasn't in there to chase him OUT! It ended up going into where the food was and eating food out of a bucket, which was sort of funny.

Anyhow, Monday and Tuesday wasn't quite as warm but it was still nice and sunny. Wednesday still felt sort of warm but was overcast all day. Then Thursday, my work day at the hatchery, it was overcast too with some sprinkles. I worked with Angie on land, which was a nice change. A day off from feeding crazy chum. I helped her sample all of the fish she has in the back which are all in freshwater. Teeny tiny coho... I'm not sure if any of the tiny ones are chinook too. She does have some chinook back there though that I haven't looked at for a while and they are huge! 3 grams, which look huge. The tiny tiny fish she has were just ponded into a few raceways a few weeks ago so they are like 0.2 grams or something. I felt like I was going to smash them! Then that night we had a fire in the fire pit and hung out which was pretty nice.

Now a few more pictures...

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This is one of my new favorite pictures. This was at 10 pm just the other day. It amazes me how light it can be at 10 pm.

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I just think this is funny. There were a few stacks that I needed to move from the corner so we could use them. Well this stack had a bit of a lean... At one point, while I was moving it on the pallet jack, I really thought the whole thing was going to tip over! When Adam saw it, he was like "It's missing a bag from the very bottom... OH YEAH, I think I pulled that out because it was sticking out." HA Yeah... thanks. By the way, those stacks are 1200 pounds. :-D I can move one by myself too.

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Last week, I showed a picture of Angie and Branden working with one of the ponds. They were pushing out some of the Coho into some saltwater pens. Well, now ALL the Coho are gooooone! The last of the Coho got directly released into the ocean, where as before they went into pens. Some of these ponds in the picture ARE empty, but some (like that 2nd one back) has water in them but no fish. At the time I took this, the water in that pond was swirling all crazy! It was cool.

Well, I'm not sure if I said this last week, but last Thursday we got a new guy in to work for a few months. In a few days, Chris will be leaving to work in town, and a different guy is coming in to take her place. We'll be releasing our chum within the next few weeks too, so I think I will be out at Takatz for an extended amount of time. Maybe like 6 days instead of 4. I'm not even sure yet. So if you don't read anything on here, that's the deal... or I was just lazy! :-D

Sorry, no Shout outs... *shrug*

Friday, May 18, 2007

"One up" the bear picture

Alright so just a little bit ago I was able to "one up" my first bear picture... 2 bears at once!

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I'm guessing that the big bear might be that same bear in the first picture... maybe?

There IS a real post under this one... so READ IT! :-D

Otters & Box Crabs & Bears, OH MY!

Hey everyone! Well it's been a good week... Very good I'd say.

I'm gonna start off by saying I am excited to show you my very first BEAR PICTURE! :-D Please, no comments about "oh be careful!" or "yikes... scary!" I never get close to any bears... I'm not dumb. The amount of bear sightings has raised... though I think it's the same few bears every time. This guy was across the lagoon.

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He was probably checking out Waylon, the dog, who was barking at him.

Yesterday, Sarah and I took care of the chum here at the hatchery, but before our last feeding, Scott asked us to go out and feed the 5 pens of Coho. The Coho pens are right near the chum pens but a little closer to the shore. Well, as we were feeding, a bear down the hill onto the shore. It was really cool! I was mad I didn't have my camera because I could have gotten some amazing pictures because we were really close to him. Again, please... I know. We were separated by water and plus, he could have cared less we were there. Ada, the dog, was out there and didn't see him at first but once she did, she wouldn't stop barking! Even when she was going nuts, the bear could STILL not care less!

Anyhow, another good week at Takatz. For a few days, we kept ourselves pretty busy pulling and then dropping the nets. We pulled the nets up on one side to just dry out the algae growing on them, like what I did a few weeks ago at the hatchery. Then we dropped the nets. This is just where we dropped the nets down to the level of the deck to give the fish more net room since they are growing alot. They fish around probably around... uhh... 1.3-ish grams maybe. Last week when they sampled them, they ranged from 1.05 to 1.17 grams so I guess 1.3 is a guess. We are now feeding 3 times a day and it feels like it takes forever. They are eating alot now so we are trying to fill them up more at each feeding. I know you guys are probably thinking "I don't even know how big a 1 point something gram fish looks like..." Well I have a picture... :-)

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These fish were probably about 1.1 grams-ish. As I've seen them grow from the tiny tiny things they were when they came out of the incubators, they look so big to me, but I know to you, they still look pretty small. Yesterday, Sarah and I morted a pen and among the dead, there was this huge baby that we both immediately knew we had to save cause he was big! A fat little thing... quite a bit larger than these... but again... probably only about 1.4 grams! Sorry it's a little blurry... lemme tell ya, these guys didn't want to lay still for my picture! :-D he he

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This is what it looks like now that the nets are dropped to the deck. You can see all the way to the end now.

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This is the view standing on the Takatz house balcony.

Anyhow, Adam and I decided to pull some pots the other day, and the shrimp pot was one of them. Though I say "shrimp pot" loosely because I think there was more OTHER stuff in the pot than shrimp! It was a pretty sad catch but we got some cool stuff. There were a ton of snail and box crabs, which I'd never see and found pretty SWEET!

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That was our catch... minus some tiny shrimp I had already picked out.

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Box crabs. That little one down on the bottom is all closed up and pulled in. Some of them had these cool orange spots on them... maybe sponges growing? They closed up to be this real tight rock looking thing.

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This is one of them closed up. They looked so cool because of those holes on the front. However he folded up created these holes.

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Adam and his pet box crab. He wanted to keep this guy because it just hung out on his shoulder. The other one in his hand wouldn't let go and for being small, they're pretty strong monsters! We decided we needed to get an aquarium so we could keep all the cool things we find. But he let him go. A few minutes later, Adam came up with the idea that would should have kept him in the back of the toilet because it gets a steady flow of saltwater! (It's a saltwater toilet.) Maybe next time Adam... Chris and I were entertained one afternoon by some umm... mating otters. ha ha Atleast we thought they were otters... we weren't sure what else they were but we were pretty sure they were mating.

Anyhow, last week I talked about the large boat that anchored up in Takatz and the small boats that accompanied it. They were the NOAA crew doing the surveying. Well they came back to the bay. It must have been lunch time for the crew because the big boat came in to pick up the little one. It was like Daddy boat picking up the kids... ;-D ha ha

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The Davidson...

We also had a real nice looking yacht come into the back of the bay. I'm not sure how long it stayed because we didn't see it leave but about 30 minutes after it got back there, the smaller boat it was towing came cruising out pulling something... like someone was in the back tubing! You could hear shouting and stuff. EHH I sure hope they were wearing a wetsuit because the water is only like 45 degrees!

At about 2 in the morning one night, there was alot of Coast Guard activity on the radio. Some 300 person cruise ship ran aground and was taking on water. I ended up getting up to turn the radio down but yesterday I found a picture about this incident.

Things seems to be going alright here at the hatchery. Though I'm still not sure about the food situation. I know I reported that our food wasn't effected by the melamine contamination but I guess they found out some of it might have been after all. We had to get some inventory at Takatz of certain food, but a few of us were still confused at what was going on with that so I'm not sure. When I was in Takatz, Branden released all of his chinook... remember those big guys that I said were fun to feed? Yeah, those. Now as we speak (type? heh) Angie and Branden are out IN the round ponds sending the rest of the Coho out to saltwater.

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That's Angie in the waders and that's Branden's head sticking up... he's standing inside the super slippery pond, probably pushing out the very last of the ones left in that pond down the drain.

Well, when I got back to the hatchery on Wednesday, a few things put me in a good mood. I think you'll find one of those interesting. SOOO last weekend when I was bored, I decided to send in a few pictures and a little story about how I'm working in Alaska to the drum corps website, DCI.org. They do this "picture of the day" thing and since Alaska isn't one of those states that anyone gets to see because of drum corps, I thought people would find it interesting. I called it "The state untouched by drum corps." Well upon my return, I got an email back about my submission from someone who works there (he happened to be a former drum major for The Cavaliers and I used to be a FAN of his...;-) he he) He said that instead of putting it on Forzato, "the picture of the day" thing, he'd like to write an article about it... that they are always looking for stories about cool things people are doing after they age out from drum corps. I had a good laugh about that! That's not what I was expecting at ALL! But I agreed... he said he was going to send me some questions for me to fill out. HA I still find it funny.

Well I guess that's all for this week. I'm happy to report there was NO push cart accident this week. Thankfully Dan pushed it up back to the shop this week. Alright, how about that American Idol though!? Mom, what'd I tell ya!? Blake would win or atleast be in the Top 2! I personally still think he'll win... Jordin's good... Melinda was good and so was LaKisha but... I still think I'll be Blake. What do you all think? Speaking of tv... anyone watch Grey's Anatomy?? Heck of a Season Finale... and this new show "Private Practice"... I knew it was coming. Well, if anyone wants to talk tv, lemme know! :-D Have a good week!

SHOUT OUT OF THE DAY - To Traci and Lee, heck of a Mother's Day present ya got there! :-D Congrats! Now when do I get to see some pictures!?

Friday, May 11, 2007

To Close For Comfort...

Back for another episode in the life of MOI, eh!?

Well, really it's been sort of a boring week until yesterday... then something hit a little too close to home. I'm sure you guys are all aware of this pet food recall that was going on a little while ago. Well we got word yesterday that whatever was in that pet food was in the baby fish food from this one company we use. The company must have notified us. Sarah and I were on the chum pens feeding when Branden (her husband) drove up in the boat and told us. He also came to get Ada, their dog, who was out with us because well... the dogs love to lick this food up if you drop any of it. Not good... So there was talk of what was going to happen. We JUST got a large delivery of food from this company the day before and we have been feeding the babies for quite a while. I don't really think the issue was how it would effect the FISH, but how it would effect the environment or any birds that may eat the fish. Some of the options I heard was that maybe it wouldn't have any effect at all... or to keep feeding the fish the food and maybe treat them with something later... or to just release the fish... or to unfortunately KILL all of the baby fish.

After coming in to help Angie after one of our feedings, Scott immediately sent Sarah and I back out to get the lot numbers for as many of the palettes of food that we could. That was an interesting task because 1) you couldn't even walk inside of the house where the food was because it was so packed and 2) the food was stacked 2 palettes high (like in that picture I showed before) and 3) each palette had cardboard around it. So Sarah was up climbing on the palettes of food and trying not to bang her head on the trusses of the house. Thankfully you could see the lot numbers on the top palettes of food and there were only a few different lot numbers. WELL, to make a long story short, I found out today that WE ARE CLEAR! None of the lot numbers we had were any of the contaminated food so we can all breath again!

Anyhow, like I said before, it wasn't a very interesting week so I thought of some random stuff that I could talk about. Actually there was one cool thing. On the way back to the hatchery to drop off Adam and pick up Chris the other day, Adam spotted some porpoises swimming around. He told me to head over there and see if they wanted to play. So I headed over and slowed down to their pace and they decided to play! A few of them were swimming at the front of the boat... criss crossing in front... splashing water up a little. Just like you'd see in the movies. It was pretty cool. Sorry, no pictures or anything. And speaking of boat rides, I drove my first choppy seas boat ride by myself on Wednesday. Chris was there but I mean, I didn't have an experience boater like Adam with me. It wasn't too bad actually... there has been alot choppier of seas but ya know. I made it safely.

It was a good week in Takatz. The weather stayed nice for a few days. It's nice to not have to put on rain gear to feed and the fish like it too. The water got up to 7.2 degree Celcius, which is pretty high. It's about 45 degrees F. Our fish are growing nicely.

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It was feeding time for the fish. It's hard to catch the feeding frenzy but this was the closest I could get. All those little white dots... it looks like snow or something. Well it is actually the fish grabbing the food at the top of the surface and the light catches it. If you see this on a sunny day, it looks like a bunch of flash bulbs going off. That streak of coloring is just some food drifting in the current.

We are starting to see alot of boats in Chatham Strait and even coming into Takatz Bay. When I arrived on Saturday, there was a really big boat with a few smaller boats in the bay. We weren't sure what they were doing but the smaller boats were just sort of driving around and seemed to be circling the same area alot. One of the days we went to pull up our crab pots and one of the boats came over and asked us about our pots and then Adam asked what they were doing. They ended up being from NOAA (National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration) and they were surveying or mapping the area or something like that.

Some days I find myself being surprised about how light it still is later in the night or even find myself waking up thinking it's close to WAKE UP time but finding it's only 5:30am! Then I have to remind myself "well it is May already!" That seems crazy to me too... May. The other day I reached the 3 month mark. :-) Anyhow, I'm not sure exactly what time the sun comes up but it's pretty early... Like I said, a few times now I've woken up at 5:30 and it was light out. But it stays light until atleast 9:30pm. Almost close to 10.

For the second week in a row, I've had a near death experience by motorized push cart! I'm actually surprised I didn't write about this last week. We have these motorized carts that you can carry stuff in and for the past two weeks, Adam has left one at the dock for me because he used it to carry stuff down to the boat. These carts pretty much have a mind of their own... and they're CRAZY! Well, thankfully, on both occasions it has been high tide which makes the ramp up at a flatter angle and easier to push it up. (If it was a very low tide, the ramp would be VERY steep.) Though I had a little trouble last week, I managed to get the cart up this ramp and onto the boardwalk. But you also have a small ramp down to the driveway, which is the scene of the accidents! Like I said, it's got a mind of it's own! And even though I try to go down the ramp slow, the cart basically MANHANDLES ME and I end up going off the side halfway down the ramp! Thankfully it's a short ramp and only one of the wheels went off the side but it's impossible to pull it back onto the ramp so I had to pull it around so that I head backwards down the ramp. Last week I went off the left side which has some rocks right there and this week maybe I overcorrected because I went off the other side! There's nothing you can do but laugh it off I guess but this week was especially embarrassing because Scott and Josh were loading something into a boat right there and saw me! I blame it on the cart AND the fact that really, the ramp does have a weird curve to it... sort of concave in certain spots. These push carts are going to be the death of me!

Well, not all that much else to report. I was looking out the window in the stairwell today, looking out into the lagoon when the dogs (Waylon and Ada) started barking and looking across the lagoon. I knew that could only mean one thing, which WAS the reason I was standing there looking out... hoping to see a bear! And there was. I ran to get my camera and went outside... I got a few shots but with the darn delay, I ended up missing him. So, sorry, still no bear pictures yet. I know, I'm slacking on the pictures this week but the only other picture I took this week was of the puzzle Adam and I started that took me 2-1/2 days to finish! And that's not very exciting!

Well, tune in next week... :-D

SHOUT OUT OF THE DAY - To the 4 lovely ladies who recieved packages Wednesday, HAPPY MOTHER'S DAY! I love you! To any other mothers out there, Happy Mother's Day to you also!

Also, Aunt Sandy, thank you for the card! And Grandma Moser, I got the box. Thank you! You must have been in my mind when you sent that box because I am very low on my Finesse and last week I sent for some at the grocery store and found out they don't carry that kind! The HH is good too! :-D THANKS!

Saturday, May 5, 2007

NSRAA stuff

Hey everyone... I was just browsing the NSRAA (Northern Southeast Regional Aquaculture Association.... aka WHO I WORK FOR!) website looking for something but I came across some things that I thought I'd share. It seems they are attempting to revamp the website so it's a work in progress but some things were cool.

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Make it larger... This shows you how close Hidden Falls is to Takatz and other places.

There's also a cool chart that shows the amount of fish that we can expect back during spawning season but I couldn't make it show up on the page very good. So if you are interested, and it's kinda cool, go here... http://www.nsraa.org/2007%20Forecast.htm

Anyhow, just a few cool things. It's currently raining like crazy out... hopefully it dies down by around 5, otherwise it'll be a nice WET ride back to Takatz. Assuming the water isn't going nuts out there!

Friday, May 4, 2007

The Day The Crows Attacked


Another week has passed... though nothing all that exciting to tell. This week seemed to go pretty fast... which I guess makes sense cause I worked 6 days last week so 4 days this week. My 2 days with Adam went like usual, except that the boat ride back to Takatz was BUUUUMMMMPPPPYYYY! Roughest seas we have had yet. It was interesting... a bit amusing even. Though I'm glad I wasn't driving! Then it was 2 days with Chris, the new girl who replaced Dean. This meant that I'd be driving the boat there and back without Adam (or Dean obviously) by my side! Thankfully the water was really calm both days I drove. But Chris is easy to get along with and hey, she's from Michigan! Saginaw area originally...

Oh, there has been a humpback whale sighting! YAY! When Adam and I were going to the hatchery, he noticed one but I didn't see it. Then on the way back with Chris, I kept my eye out to see if I could catch one. First I saw the spray of water which alerted me. I didn't actually see it SPRAY but it seems to linger in the air or something... almost like the water went up but took a while to go back down. Then I kept watching and I saw it come up a little but not that much.

Anyhow, that's about it... I have some pictures for you and I can add some more about the week as captions for the pictures.

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I just thought this was sort of funny so I took a picture. Here at the hatchery, the crows will get into ANYTHING! That's why we can't leave bags of fish food out because they will tear them opened... even if you leave them for a minute! So not thinking anything of it, I put the garbage bag over my backpack, just so it wouldn't get wet on the ride back, and then I left it for a few minutes. When I returned, I noticed the crows had attacked! Funny.

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Click on this picture after you read this to really see what I'm talking about... I was just feeding one day when I noticed this eagle sitting up in the tree. A few minutes ago it had been squawking at another eagle so that's what got my attention. Well that other eagle flew away... but I noticed that this guy was sitting funny in the tree. Sitting with his wings pushed out a little... I found it sort of funny and odd.

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This will be alot more noticeable if you click the picture and make it bigger too. While I was taking the picture of the eagle, there was a rumble from an avalanche. So I looked over in the direction of the rumble and managed to catch a little bit of the avalanche! This past weekend at Takatz was the first time we have actually SEEN the avalanches... granted they were pretty small though. I saw 3. (I hope you all can see it...)

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Chris and I took a boat ride to the back of Takatz Bay because I wanted to take some pictures of the couple waterfalls that I noticed were back there. This waterfall wasn't spilling much water but it was really pretty the way it was falling. You can actually follow the water all the way down too.

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This was another smaller one...

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Make this bigger... Did you know that Alaska has hummingbirds? It never occurred to me. We always have a few buzzing around and I tried and tried to get pictures before they took off. This guy was perched on the string of Christmas lights under the porch.

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And lastly, Chris and I got excited one day when we saw this Coast Guard come into the bay! We thought maybe some hot Coastie boys had heard our call and were going to come SAVE US! ;-) Sadly, right after this, they turned around and left. This was the 3rd boat we had in the bay this Takatz trip. The night before we had some random boat come in but we didn't notice it until we saw it driving away. Then the first night back with Adam, I randomly went outside around 9:30pm or something and saw a large boat driving into the back of the bay. The next day we heard a helicopter... the helicopter ended up making ALOT of trips back and forth to this boat, picking stuff up from it. Not totally sure what it was doing but Adam thought maybe it was something for the cell phone towers?

SOOOOO.... I had the usual folks commenting on my blog. I figured I'd get some more people... maybe some friends who were reading this or something... I was a little disappointed but oh well... I don't wanna FORCE anyone. And though there were a FEW guesses about the title to my last blog, only one person got it correct. So the nickle goes to Patty... who is Patty, you ask? I haven't a clue!! Whomever she is, she's a smart lady! She knows drum corps... that makes her smart! :-) HA HA SO, Patty... if you happen to read this again, thanks for comin back! Who are ya!? If you happen to know Patty, lemme know!

SHOUT OUT OF THE DAY - I'm going to send this shout out to the church group. You guys know who you are... the donut crew! :-) I know you're reading... thanks.