I Was Feeling Creative…

…And so I created a video.  It was pretty easy, I just cobbled some video clips from my iPhoto folder together with some music, and voila!  These video clips were taken over the past two years or so.  The music is Dragging your Heels (The Steel Wheels) and Stumptown (Nicklecreek).

Time for Thanks and Updates

Well, it’s Thanksgiving.  Many are spending today thinking about what they are thankful for, and I suppose I’m no exception.  I am of course thankful for the usual; family, friends, food, health, and a job.

But I think my thankfulness for some of these things goes deeper than it did for me in the past.  It hasn’t been an easy year for Melissa and I, and Melissa has been a major encouragement as I struggle to get up the gumption to go to work everyday, and as I come home, sometimes very discouraged.

My parents have also been a major part of helping provide a little extra when my paychecks don’t quite get us all the way there.  Not only have they helped us financially, they provided a vehicle for us when ours broke down this November.  Additionally, Melissa’s mom has been a constant source of encouragement for Melissa and I.  So thank you to our parents.

And to our friends; we are so blessed by our group of buddies.  While we are more spread out now and can’t get together to watch The Office and 30 Rock every Thursday like we used to, we still are incredibly thankful for the encouragement and friendship that we get from our group, “The Penguin Avengers.”

I’m also thankful to have a job.  While that used to be something we all took for granted, we no longer can afford to overlook how lucky we are to be able to go to work everyday.  I don’t always enjoy my job; while being a full time lifeguard isn’t what I thought I’d be doing at this point in my life, it has paid the bills over the past 14 months or so.

What goes along with that is my health.  I’m not in the best shape of my life (I’m improving), but I’m healthy and I don’t have to go to the doctor much.  Additionally, I’m healthy enough to enjoy the outdoors.

All these things give me incredible optimism for the coming year.  And so do the updates, which come next.

First, and perhaps most exciting, is an update that hit Facebook a few weeks ago but which I haven’t had time to put here yet.  Melissa and I are expecting a baby!  We don’t know what we are expecting yet; in fact, we’re going to do our best to keep in a surprise (though with advances in ultrasound technology, it may be impossible NOT to tell…).  Until we know, we are calling him/her “Bean.”  If you look at the Cast of Characters page, you will find that Bean has been added.  Don’t take the color of the diaper as any hints; we honestly don’t know.  To be honest, I’m hoping for a girl…  Bean will be making her/his appearance in the ten days before or after May 23, 2012.

Second, I passed the Outdoor Emergency Care exam, and am now a member of the Massanutten Ski Patrol.  While I’m not going to be patrolling the slopes, I will be working in the aid rooms on the mountain, which is a little more in line with my interests/qualifications than being a lifeguard.  Woot!

Finally; good news on the job market!  My days as a lifeguard at Massanutten are numbered!  About two weeks ago I interviewed at the Sheridan School Mountain Campus, located in Luray, VA.  I wasn’t very optimistic going into the interview; I didn’t have a great experience with at the last outdoor ed job where I had to live on-site, and I didn’t know how I’d do a on-site job as a married man and soon to be dad.

Turns out the interview not only went very well, but that I would not be required to live at the facility. Additionally, they made a pretty good paycheck offer with benefits.  So, I’m happy to announce that two weeks ago I accepted a position at the Sheridan School Mountain Campus as a field instructor.  I will be starting in April.

So, thanks and updates.


Letter to Waterpark Guests, RE: Shooting the Lifeguard with the Water Cannon

Dear Guests,

As your local resort representative (that’s right, me, the one in the bright red shorts), I hope you’re enjoying the start of the holiday season here at the waterpark.

It’s come to my attention that some of you think it is acceptable, fun, and even (according to your girlfriend, who is laughing her butt off) hilarious to blast the lifeguard with the water cannons mounted on the play structure.  While I understand that getting wet is one of the many risks of working in an aquatics environment (hence the swim trunks that are part of my uniform), being a water gun target is not part of my job description or job related duties.

So, in order that we can both achieve our goals (for you, that’s remaining at the waterpark and continuing to have fun, and for me it’s maintaining my control on my temper and somehow making it through my 11 hour work shift), here follows a quick primer on understanding the signals your’s truly is sending you when you decide to shoot me with the water cannon.

  1. The first time you shoot me with the water cannon, I will not lose my temper or chew you out.  Believe it or not, I’m a pretty nice guy, and I attempt to give everyone the benefit of the doubt.  Maybe, I’m thinking, he didn’t mean to do that, or didn’t know he shouldn’t?  So, while I will be feeling a bit of annoyance, I will look up at you, smile, and shake my head or give you the “cut it out” sign.  Basically, I’ve just given you a chance to stop on your own, nod your apology, and for us to part as friends.
  2. What the heck.  You just shot me a second time after I told you to stop.  That little hint of annoyance I mentioned earlier?  Yeah, it’s now a pretty strong sense of frustration.  Just a quick note here; it is never a good idea to tick off the lifeguard.  We’re the ones who have to come and respond to your emergency.  Now you have.  However, I’m still a nice guy, and I still want to be a good employee at the waterpark.  So now, I’m going to give you a dirty look that says “Seriously?  Are we still doing this?” and I will spread my arms in a questioning gesture.  Again, I’m giving you a chance; stop now, move on, and I promise I’ll do my best not to really dislike you for the rest of the day.
  3. Ok, now I’m mad.  Not only have you blasted me a third time despite two earlier warnings, but your girlfriend thinks it’s hilarious.  Remember how I suggested you not tick off lifeguards?  You just did.  And here’s the other thing; management here at the waterpark not only likes me, but as long as I’m doing my job will take my side.  But I’d rather not get them involved; they’re busy people, and they won’t kick you out for this anyway.  So, you and I get to have a talk now (despite the fact that you are a guest, and I’m an employee, I CAN give you a stiff scolding.  The customer is not always right).  Now hear this:  I’m just trying to do my job here, and you are making it difficult.  My job involves walking back and forth here, and I’ve told you three times now to stop blasting me.  I can get management over here if that’s what it will take to make you stop.  Are we going to have a problem here?  No?  Good.

So, for future reference; the lifeguards and attendants are not your water cannon targets. If you feel the need to blast someone, there are literally hundreds of other guests around for you to shoot.  We aren’t paid enough to have to put up with this.  Additionally, if you distract us too much, we may not see the 3-year-old who has run into a post, knocked himself out, and is now laying face down, unconscious, drowning in 6 inches of water.  Now that IS part of my job.

Enjoy the waterpark.

Sincerely, your lifeguard at the Meltdown Front station,

Ethan (the one in the red shorts)

Everything in the post is true, and happened yesterday at the waterpark.  Despite being told two times to stop, some guy still blasted me a third time.  His girlfriend laughed uproariously each time.  Finally, I called him down out of the play structure, and called him out on it.  The attendants who were watching from the nearby towers nearly cheered.

First Trad Lead! Also, Mary Climbs Seneca!

We had a heck of a day recently.

I’ve been trying to learn how to trad lead.  For those who are not climbers, trad climbing is placing your own removable protection in the rock as you climb, thereby protecting yourself from falling too far if you slip.  Its a bit more technical and dangerous than sport leading, where you clip into bolts screwed into the wall because if you don’t place your protection correctly, it may pull out if you fall on it.

The issue wasn’t not knowing how to do it; the issue has been finding the time.  A couple weeks ago my dad and I managed to get a day off on the same day.  My younger sister Mary was able to join us as well.

We left Harrisonburg early; all our adventures seem to start this way.  We had our sights on Skyline Traverse, a three pitch 5.3 that would take us to Luncheon Ledge.  There, we would climb Old Ladies Route, another three pitch 5.3, that would take us to the summit ridge.  6 pitches and about 600 feet of climbing all told.

I led the first pitch of Skyline Traverse up a corner/gully system.  I focused on placing good protection and climbing well.  I did my very best not to look at the panorama behind me!  When I reached the belay ledge at the top of the first pitch, I built an anchor and brought Mary up.  Then we brought Dad up.

Dad led the second pitch, and then I led the third pitch to Luncheon Ledge.  I then led the first and second pitches of Old Ladies Route, and let dad take the final pitch up Windy Corner.  Getting to the summit felt all the better since I had helped lead.

It was also Mary’s first time on the South Summit.  So, all in all, a day of firsts for all of us!

Here are some pictures.  They turned out really well for having come from a point and shoot disposable camera.

Mary climbs the first pitch of Skyline Traverse.

Hanging out on the first belay ledge at the top of the first pitch.

She's thinking, "How did they talk me into this?!?"

Mary on the South Summit!

Mary and I on the South Summit.

Group shot!!!

I love the fall.

Now that I know I can lead, I intend to do it as much as possible.  Hopefully soon…