Saturday, January 30, 2010

The Living Planet Aquarium and Disneyland

I recently participated in Disneyland's "Give a Day, Get a Disney Day" program. The idea is that you sign up for a specific service opportunity (through Disneyland and the HandsOn Network), and then after you give your service, you are compensated with a voucher for a free ticket to Disneyland. They're only giving away one million of these free tickets, so if you want one, you better volunteer soon!

Of all the opportunities for service listed in my area, I chose to volunteer at The Living Planet Aquarium in Sandy. When I got there, I was with a group of about a dozen or more people; they had 45 total in that day alone who were volunteering for the Disney Day. Here is what I did for my service:

1. I cut cardboard into small squares about 4" in length. We were told these were for the birds: they colored the squares with food coloring, then hung them as an "enrichment" (her word, not mine) activity for the birds to tear apart. Sounds fun to me. I didn't mind the cutting; it was easy, and I enjoyed calculating how best to cut each box so the pieces would come out a decent size.

2. I washed plastic cups. The aquarium had bagels and beverages available for the volunteers, and the cups in use were some plastic ones donated by a hotel. They're that plastic that is cheap enough to be thrown away, but thick enough to be re-used. An Aquarium volunteer and I washed those.

3. I burned stuff. Honestly, if you know how much I love burning stuff you'll understand that this was like giving me cookies for having eaten my ice cream. I got to melt the ends of straps so that the edges wouldn't fray.

4. I sat in a room. They had a little theatre—fewer than 50 chairs—in which they present their animal shows. I sat in that room as they brought the birds in for the upcoming show. If anyone came into the theatre I was to tell them to get lost. Just kidding, I was to tell them when the show started, THEN tell them to get lost. :o)

5. I burned more stuff.

6. All the volunteers were taken into the theatre, and we watched the animal show! They had hissing cockroaches, a scorpion, a tarantula, a snake, parrots, and macaws, and they were holding all of them (not all at once). I'd never really heard a parrot "speak" in real life before, and that was amazing. Another cookie for eating my ice cream!

7. I went on a backstage tour of the aquarium and saw the parts that the public will never see. I saw the back of the shark tank, and also asked the volunteer coordinator a bunch of questions about sharks and people falling into tanks and stuff like that, which is essential to know for my novel.

And that was it! We were free to wander around the aquarium if we wanted, or leave if we wanted. I actually returned to the volunteer room and finished burning the straps really quickly (honestly, I enjoy burning things), then wandered the aquarium. Sting rays are soft and squishy and slimy, and I loved touching them.

Can you believe that? 2.75 hours of fun, and I got a free Disneyland ticket out of it! I'm planning on returning to the aquarium sometime when they're not so crowded (i.e. any day but Saturday) to watch the animals and read more about them. What a lovely place to be.

Thursday, January 21, 2010


Today, for the first time in maybe 3 years or so, I ran without the fear of not being able to breathe. Hooray for my new inhaler!

Sunday, January 17, 2010

10 Things I'm Grateful For Right Now

In no particular order:

1. My cat. I love when she follows me around and nudges herself into my lap--no matter what else is already there--or when she tries to eat some of my popcorn by sticking her whole head into the bag, like she did last night (at which point I pushed her head out and threw three pieces at her, which she ate).

2. My scriptures. I almost accidentally left them on Trax today. That would have made me quite unhappy.

3. Friends. All of them.

4. My computer(s) and the Internet.

5. Singles Ward mingles where they feed you a meal.

6. My mom. In hindsight, she's nearly always correct. There's something to be said for listening to your mother.

7. My bed. Nothing is as beautiful and inviting as your own bed after being away for nearly a month.

8. Medicine: for a happier, healthier ME!

9. The basics: food, clothing, shelter, work, etc. I have them all.

10. Plants. I think the peperomia I propagated is finally growing! Woohoo!

Sunday, January 10, 2010

The Bronx

Yesterday I paid $5.50 for the privilege of spontaneously sightseeing as I drove through the Bronx. I did cross two lovely bridges in my travels though, so I guess that was kind of nice. It was the New Jersey Turnpike that saved me. I was supposed to be in New Jersey, you see, not in the Bronx.

I still can't stop myself from singing Simon & Garfunkel in my head every time I see a sign for the New Jersey Turnpike.

The New Jersey Turnpike took me right to where I wanted to be, AND it only cost me $4.50 for the privilege.

I kind of like Utah, where you can get lost for free.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Fun With Word 2007

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Writing Workshop

I am sitting here in my room watching Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince (in English) and writing a blog post. But guess what I could be doing? Writing a novel. THAT would be something worth blogging about.

Speaking of writing, there's going to be a wonderful conference/workshop this year, held at the Waterford School in Sandy. It's the annual Writing and Illustrating for Young Readers Workshop. You can link to it here, or there's a link on the side of my blog.

As I'm going to be involved in the workshop, and as I'm starting graduate school next week, and as, at this moment, I happen to be ill, my blogging may suffer over the next few months/years...

For now I'm going to finish this movie. After that, I write.