Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Haunting a Giant... Bickford?

` That's been my job, and I have lots of photos - and I tried using Blogger Photos to upload them to. Turns out that I have to use a calculator to figure out the accurate height and width for the code to display each photo, which I did. Then, I looked at them all and found that Blogger had shrunk them when I uploaded them, so they were the right size, but all pixellated!
` WTF kind of worthless shit is that?
` Okay, I've been having a horrible day - this annoyance is not helping. First, let me upload everything to Imageshack, insert the code in the right order, and I'll get back to my post:

` Little do the corn maze visitors know, they are being followed by me in a bloody lab coat - and some of them completely don't notice me at all despite my maniacal laughter and yelling at them from ten inches away. It's a bizarre phenomenon. So, just what is this corn maze like?

` Even more bizarre - it's a giant Bickford! That is an actual cheap reproduction of an aerial photo of the field - revealing what appears to be a car dealership ad. The Bickford logo is actually the only section that is 'haunted', though it's been modified in such a way as to make a path. My station is on the very left and bottom side of the 'mountain range', so I have a sharp corner to chase people around.

` One day when superhero Lou Ryan and I were driving there, we paused at a gas station and B-Dizzle came running up! So, he wound up being part of it, too! Here's the picture I took when we got back to our apartment!

` At the time, he was staying with someone where our little prankster that had just scared the crap out of us could often be found, so I think B-Dizzle used it to freak him out.
` BTW, how do you like our deceased plant? I wanted to get rid of it last year, but Lou insisted on keeping it, so we have a decaying, dessicated plant hanging over the couch.
` There are also plant corpses in this picture - displaced corn stalks that were to help disguise our little tent we used to change into our costumes.

` Just a little more blood....

` That day, B-Dizzle found a mask!

` We were very close to the line of people waiting to get in... as you can see, there wasn't even a solid barrier to keep the kids out! By the way, that guy is the 'freakishly tall' Joe the 'Crow, my 'partner in crime' for this year.

` After enough kids had started to invade our little tent, Dan and Lou were made up enough to scare them away.

` Here's Joe putting more straw in his scarecrow outfit....

` Here's Lou and B-Dizzle, ready to go and scare the crud out of people!

` Lou does not make a very nice decaying decoration, I would say, and B was this crazy cannibalistic zombie or something. He would hide and then throw a fake hand into the path. He also had barbecue grills with charred hands and feet smoking over them! What a great set!

` I also thought this idea was great - the 'cute little girl' with a teddy bear that has huge fangs and claws. Unfortunately, condensation or something completely blurred it, so we only have an impression. At least you can still tell that there's scary dolls nailed to the little doorway thingy.

` Here, the girl who was playing her that night demonstrates her 'creepy' look. "La la la la la la la!!!"

` There was also a replacement when she was in a play, who had military training to stare for... ever without blinking! She would sit there and people would mess with her and think she was a mannequin... then she would get up and follow them!

` This next picture is what happens when you fail to remove your makeup and go straight to bed.

` Though I really wanted to take a picture of the yellow moon rising over the fake fog in the cornfield, I didn't have my camera on me. But I did have it on another night when it rose a lot earlier!

` These past days have been rough - and to make things more complicated, instead of white cloth to keep visitors away we have a tiny trailer with inconsistent electricity that comes from a very loud generator. It's very cold and dim and at the opposite end of the field as everything else.
` Though there's no kids in there, it takes about three minutes to get there from the parking lot, which is also where our only bathroom, the 'HoneyBuckets', are.

` Anyway, here's a shot of Lou in the trailer in progressively more elaborate costume (by now he's figured out how to blend the prosthetics in with his skin!):

` And me? Well, don't I look just dandy?

` "Do you like my scarecrow? I made it myself!" That's my main spiel.

` I am so freaking tired. At least Monday and Tuesday are days without many visitors, but tonight is going to be really rough because it's Halloween.
` The weekend was hectic, though, In fact, I wrote a 'notebook paper' post on Sunday, just before going to bed. Here it is:

` Today, Joe the Scarecrow (who I'm stationed next to) got punched six or seven times. Though people were throwing corn, it only hit the back of his post, not the back of his head like last time.
` Had to escort some people out again because they were too scared to go through. Others made a tunnel, wrecked part of our path and kicked Joe's 'blind light'. They kept ruining things! At least fourteen people got through at that spot!
` 'Eyeless' Lou was getting lots of female attention. Actually, I so was I because half the people think I'm a guy - some of them also make fun of me for not sounding particularly manly.
` But I digress - as for Lou, there was this one girl who works at the Y as a lifeguard who was completely hitting on him! He tried to subtly hint that he knew where she worked by saying "one day when you're at work, I'll drown you!", which is creepy, but she didn't seem to notice. So, as she was walking off, he called; "See you at the Y, Laura!" Her reaction was priceless.
` When we got home, I spent five minutes removing my mud-covered boots with my frozen fingers so that I could have them off by the time Lou needed me to remove his costume. As he was removing his makeup, I vied for space with him in the bathroom, sqashing the contents of the litterbox into a trash bag.
` As Lou heated up some food, I switched off the heater so the power wouldn't go out, then spent the next fifteen minutes or so washing dishes. Then, while he was eating, I finally got around to washing my makeup off. Then I finally let myself fill my empty belly.

` Boy, I wish I could just not go today. I have tremendous cramps, including ones from my raging diarrhea. In biology class, I embarrassed the hell out of myself by being in so much pain that I couldn't get all the way up and fell down on my ass!
` Luckily, my bio partner is really awesome, plus she gave me 1,000 mg of Tylenol, but they hadn't kicked in yet. Well, my biology teacher thought I had passed out, so she called 911. That really was humiliating because the paramedics thought I'd had a seizure or something and should come with them, and I had to explain that the only thing wrong with me was my period was being weird!
` By the way, I simply must have high doses of painkillers from now on because the recommended ones apparently have the potential to fail me in public! Best thing is, my hormone-induced diarrhea seems to have gone away, so perhaps I won't have to be running a half mile to the HoneyBuckets every ten minutes in front of all the customers!
` In all, it's been an eventful and stressful week. For one thing, PayPal is holding eight hundred bucks instead of giving it to a camera equipment company for a dolly that Lou was supposed to buy. (He's a producer now!) Well, they didn't notify us in any way, and Lou has spent the past four days trying to do something about it. Still, they can't move the money anywhere, not even back into my account. Poor Nathan Lee (director of our first movie together) is going to have to delay his shoot!
` Things are just not working right. Not only that, but most of the heating coils in our floor heater have burnt out, so we're really freezing right now!
` Also, I'm buying a new car, and we're moving to the apartment downstairs, which costs the same amount as ours here but is 50% larger and has a room with a door on it. B-Dizzle is also moving into the apartment across from that one.

` As a consequence, I may not have the internet. Or I may. I have no idea because I was going to pick up X-Dan, who has a laptop, and we were going to test that out, but as I was nearing the school to pick him up, he said he was going to Seattle. Thanks, X-Dan for not telling me about that even though I tried to call you beforehand. You're fired!

` To Be Continued?


J Morgetron said...

I think that your blog should be called Tres Bizarre.

I wish I hadn't taken that name. That way you could use it on another blog since you already have like 300????


Sometimes Saintly Nick said...

Sara, you are just too bloody intelligent, creating dilemmas were they need not be. I never use a calculator to figure out the accurate height and width for the code for Blogger to display photos. Just indicate the size you want displayed (Large, Medium, or Small), then the orientation of the photo (left, right, enter), click on the search for the photo file on your computer, and load the thing. You can edit the size on the dashboard and, one posted, clicking on the photo allows one to view it at its orginal size.

Enough of that! I hope you are having fun in your haunting. Thanks for this post and the photos. May you get some good rest.

May you also safely navigate through the ghosties, goblins, sprites, trolls, imps, hobgoblins, ghouls, banshees, poltergeists, specters, spirits, witches, and warlocks wandering the earth this night.

Kingcover said...

Yeah I do the same as Saintly Nick with the photos. Just a few clicks and it's all done. I didn't even realise you could go into all that resizing stuff or is my blogger different from yours lol?

Neato post dude! I guess the maze must be quite a distance away from you otherwise you would be going back to your apartment each night unless staying in the trailer is all part of the experience for you. And that's how I imagine you to be all the time in your mad scientist's lab coat - looking like a ermmmmm mad scientist :-D
Nice way to spend Halloween though.

angel said...

sheeeez but you been busy!!!
it looks totally exhausting- but i would have loved to be there too!!!

Galtron said...

That's so funny you were in a giant commercial logo! That IS scary! You look so... well, isn't that what you usually look like? I think I would be scared if I saw you on the street -- they hired the right person!

Good luck with everything! Hope you still have the internet!!

S E E Quine said...

` Morgy... I know, my life should be called Tres Bizarre!

` Nick; it's very hard for me to estimate (by dragging and clicking) the size I need to display the photos, so I have to do it manually.
` Plus, if Blogger is going to shrink my (larger) photos, so you can't actually view them in their original size, I don't want them being uploaded on there in the first place.
` As for the last day of the haunt, I didn't go because I had some... complications and wound up passed out in a bathtub. It's a long story. But at least I got some very good rest!
` Luckily, I didn't need to navigate safely through all the creatures, or the giant Bickford, though I hope you've managed to pull through?

` Gareth, I guess I'm just obsessed with getting my pictures displayed the right size and shape - I've always been able to do it before much more easily:
` I usually upload my photos elsewhere, then copy a bunch of 'image' html codes all down the post and then copy the URL of each photo in each piece of code.
` No way in hell I would stay in that trailer - it's just a freezing cold box with a deafening generator that very shakily powers a light bulb.
` All it was for was to replace the tent because changing into our costumes with paying customers trying to get in at us constantly kind of spoils things.
` Plus, then we had to parade out into the maze ahead of everyone, so they saw us very clearly.
` While the trailer was incredibly inconvenient, at least nobody saw us... though it was hard for us to see well enough to get into the maze.

` Angel, yeah, you have no idea. And PayPal somehow 'lost' the $800 dollars we gave them.

` Thanks, Galtron. Since we've been waiting since the 29th for our key to even get into the new apartment, I still don't know if we'll have the internet, but if we don't, we'll probably just tack that onto our new expenses.

Weird Science said...

Their work is noninvasive—for the apes, that is . . . "Have I been pissed on? Yes," says anthropologist Cheryl Knott of Harvard University. Knott is a pioneer of "noninvasive monitoring of steroids through urine sampling." Translation: Look out below! For the past 11 years, Knott and her colleagues have trekked into Gunung Palung National Park in Borneo, Indonesia, in search of the endangered primates. Once a subject is spotted, they deploy plastic sheets like a firemen's rescue trampoline and wait for the tree-swinging apes to go see a man about a mule. For more pee-catching precision, they attach bags to poles and follow beneath the animals. "It's kind of gross when you get hit, but this is the best way to figure out what's going on in their bodies," Knott says.
It's a job that separates the boys from the men, OK, OK, their real job title is usually something like "cryobiologist" or "laboratory technician," but at sperm banks around the country, they are known as semen washers. "Every time I interview someone I make sure I ask them, 'Do you know you'll be working with semen?' " says Diana Schillinger, the Los Angeles lab manager at the country's largest sperm bank, California Cryobank. Let's start at the beginning. Laboriously prescreened "donors" emerge from a so-called collection room that is stocked with girlie mags and triple-X DVDs. They hand over their deposit, get their $75, and leave. The semen washers take the seminal goo and place a sample under the microscope for a sperm count. Next comes the washing. The techs spin the sample in a centrifuge to separate the "plasma" from the motile cells. Then they add a preservative, and it's off to the freezer, where it can stay for 20 years. Or not. Thanks to semen washers (and in vitro fertilization), more than 250,000 babies have been delivered in the U.S. since 1995.
"The hardest part is explaining it to friends," Schillinger says. "But we do have stories." Like what? "Like the donor who was in the room for the longest time. We had a big discussion about who was going to check on him. Turns out he thought he had to fill up the entire specimen cup."
The smell is just the start of the nastiness. Almost 1.5 billion tons of manure are produced annually by animals in this country—90 percent of it from cattle. That's the same weight as 14,432 Nimitz-class aircraft carriers. You get the point: It's a load of crap. And it's loaded with nasty contaminants like campylobacter (the number-one cause of acute gastroenteritis in the U.S.), salmonella (the number-two cause) and E.coli 0157:H7, which can cause kidney failure in children and painful, bloody diarrhea in everybody else.
Farmers fertilize their fields with manure, but if the excrement is rife with E.coli, then so will be the vegetables. Luckily for us, researchers at the University of Georgia's Center for Food Safety are knee-deep in figuring out how to eliminate these bacteria from our animals, their poop and our food. But to develop techniques to neutralize the nasty critters, they must go to the source.
"We have to wade through a lot of poop," concedes Michael Doyle, the center's director. "If you want to get the manure, you've got to grab it. Even when you wear gloves, the fecal smell tends to get embedded in your skin." Hog poop smells the worst, Doyle says, but it's chicken poop's chokingly high ammonia content that brings tears to researchers' eyes.
Odor judges are common in the research labs of mouthwash companies, where the halitosis-inflicted blow great gusts of breath in their faces to test product efficacy. But Minneapolis gastroenterologist Michael Levitt recently took the job to another level—or, rather, to the other end. Levitt paid two brave souls to indulge repeatedly in the odors of other people's farts. (Levitt refuses to divulge the remuneration, but it would seem safe to characterize it thusly: Not enough.) Sixteen healthy subjects volunteered to eat pinto beans and insert small plastic collection tubes into their anuses (worst-job runners-up, to be sure). After each "episode of flatulence," Levitt syringed the gas into a discrete container, rigorously maintaining fart integrity. The odor judges then sat down with at least 100 samples, opened the caps one at a time, and inhaled robustly. As their faces writhed in agony, they rated just how noxious the smell was. The samples were also chemically analyzed, and—eureka!—Levitt determined definitively the most malodorous component of the human flatus: hydrogen sulfide.
In the early '80s, Virginia Tech profs Tracy Wilkins and David Lyerly studied the diarrhea-causing microbe Clostridium difficile in sample after sample after sample of loose stool from the disease's victims. They became such crack dysentery docs that they launched a company, Techlab, dedicated to making stool-analysis kits. Today, Techlab employs 40 people, 19 of whom spend their working hours opening sloppy stool canisters and analyzing their contents in order to test the effectiveness of the company's kits. You'd have to have a pretty good sense of humor, right? Well, fortunately, they do. The Techlab Web site sells T-shirts with cartoons on the front (two flies hover over two blobs of dung; one says to the other, "Pardon me, is this stool taken?") and the company motto on the back: "Techlab: #1 in the #2 Business!"
Researchers who want animal sperm —to study fertility or for artificial insemination—have a suite of attractive options: They can ram an electric probe up an animal's rectum, shove an artificial vagina onto the animal's penis, or simply do it the old-fashioned way—manual stimulation. The first option, electroejaculation, uses a priapic rectal probe to send electricity pulsing through the animal's nether regions. "All the normal excitatory signals that stimulate ejaculation, like touch, sight, sound and smell, can be replaced with the current from the probe," says Trish Berger, professor of animal science at the University of California, Davis. "It's fascinating. Of course, this is a woman talking." Electroejaculation generally requires anesthetizing the animal and is typically used on zoo dwellers. The other two methods—the artificial vagina, or AV, and the good old hand—require that animals be trained to the procedure. The AV—a large latex tube coated with warm lubricant —is used primarily to get sperm from dairy bulls (considered the most ornery and dangerous of bovines). The bull gets randy with a steer; when he mounts the steer with his forelegs, a brave technician, AV in hand, insinuates himself between the two aroused beasts and deftly redirects the bull penis into the mock genitalia, which he must then hold tight while the bull orgasms. (Talk about bull riding!) Three additional technicians attempt to ensure this (fool)hardy soul's safety by anchoring themselves to restraining ropes attached to a ring in the bull's nose. Alas, this isn't always absolutely effective: Everyone who's wielded an AV has had at least one close call, and more than a few have been sent to the hospital. The much safer "digital pressure" is used mostly with pigs, who are trained from an early age to mount a small bench while the researcher reaches around with a gloved hand and provides appropriate pleasure—er, pressure.
Natural history museums display clean white skeletons or neatly stuffed animals, but what their field biologists drag in are carcasses flush with rotting flesh. Each museum's taxidermist has his own favorite technique for tidying things up. University of California, Berkeley, zoologist Robert Jones swears by his strain of flesh-eating buffalo-hide beetles and has no problem reaching his bare hand into a drawer to pull out a rancid shrew skeleton swarming with thousands of these quarter-inch bugs. Jeppe Møhl at the University of Copenhagen Zoological Museum deposits sperm whales and dolphins into vast empty tanks and lets nature take its course. And then there's the boiling method, useful for chemically preserved samples that bugs won't touch—an approach favored by archaeologist Sandra Olsen, who has done her own skeleton work. She recalls a particularly vivid experience boiling down hyena paws: "It felt like inhaling the gases would literally kill us." Nah. It merely gave her a lung infection.

S E E Quine said...

` Wow. That's some pretty gross stuff! Long ago, when I had a TV, I saw an elephant masturbator at work!
` Those big bull elephants can be dangerous, so they are trained to walk into a cage where people can get in and out of before the person with the plastic bag comes along.

Winters said...

Hello again Miss Quine.

It's been a long time, but I'm happy to see that you're continuing to give birth to such entertainingly spurious brainchildren with such gusto.


S E E Quine said...

` I must have child-bearing fingertips!