html xmlns="http://www.w3.org/1999/xhtml" xml:lang="en" lang="en"> From the archives: Jason will like this post.

Monday, August 14, 2006

Jason will like this post.

I was trying to understand the feeling of not knowing, and then I remembered! There was that one time! I was working up in Tahoe for the summer, setting pitfall traps (for tigers, mostly). One of our sites was a miserable 45 minutes straight up from the road, no trail. We had to carry in all our gear to set up the pitfalls the first time and it sucked. Three of us had worked all morning to get our gear in, and installed one pitfall trap. We were just starting to dig the second pitfall array when someone noticed a column of smoke from a forest fire a couple ridges over. A light wind was blowing toward us. What to do?

One of my co-workers thought a fire could rapidly cross two ridges, and we should evacuate immediately. The other co-worker thought that two ridges away was far, that we should finish our trap and then head back. I had no way to evaluate those choices. Either option, that a fire two ridges away was dangerously close or no imminent threat, was completely plausible to me. Neither consequence, getting caught in a forest fire or having to haul all that gear back in plus looking dumb, was easily discounted. I was going to have to make an important decision between two very different choices with no way to get the information I needed.

Man, that’s a terrible feeling! I remember it clearly. Now I can empathize with y’all. If you are ever caught in the woods, with work left to do and a fire maybe coming your way, you can imagine me there. I’ll be shaking my head all sympathetic, and I’ll pat your hair and murmur “I know, hon. That’s rough.” Anything else, like work, marriage, kids? I’ll bake you cookies and tell you to sack up and choose. I just can’t understand.

16 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Why can't you understand people not being sure about kids? Just like your fire story, since we don't have kids, we don't know what having them will be like. They could be a disaster we're bringing on ourselves, or they could be the coolest pets we've ever owned. It's impossible to know up front, you've just gotta have them and see.

So, the situations seem kind of similar.

Justin

2:54 PM  
Blogger capella said...

that doesn't sound like a hard choice at all. a couple extra hours of hauling, plus "looking dumb" vs. significant risk of death? are you serious?

obviously i am failing to understand the making this decision was so difficult for you. but perhaps there is some inherent difficulty other people feel in choosing between two radically different kinds of life that you are not appreciating.

3:49 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

So which option did you choose???

4:48 PM  
Blogger Jason said...

Jason did.

Cap, finding out it wasn't a significant risk of death and then accounting for time lost on the project was the other side of that coin. Not always clear. Sort of like when folks say, "There are no stupid questions." and I prove them wrong.

Anon448, I'm guessing a heroic dash to the frontlines, a quick lat/long check to determine jurisdiction for billing codes, followed by judicious use of backburning and, when that went all to hell, a call for airtankers and BBQ (tiger, mostly) back at camp. Close, Meg?

2:23 AM  
Anonymous jens said...

Tigers in Tahoe, needing to be trapped?

Learn something new everyday.

8:51 AM  
Blogger Megan said...

It is a really sad situation, Jens. I mean, the tigers are so incredible and gorgeous and native to the area. But people are intruding on their habitat and chasing away their prey. So the tigers have started lying in wait near trails and feeding on the villagers. We were digging pits six feet deep, installing stakes in them to impale the tigers, and covering them with big leaves.

I felt really ambivalent about the job the entire time, but I do appreciate having a couple tigerskin rugs in my living room. Who wouldn't?

9:01 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

tiger pelts wouldn't make for a very thick rug.

They'd be much better for scrubbing cars.

Justin

12:58 PM  
Blogger Megan said...

Justin, that was fucking awesome. You're my favorite.

1:10 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Really? What is it you like best about me?

Justin

5:21 PM  
Blogger Megan said...

Hey Justin,

Well, I sorta just meant that you were my favorite for as long as I was cracking up about using tiger pelts to wash cars. When someone else cracks me up, she'll be my favorite.

But most of the time you are one of my favorites because you are so strongly yourself. Your tone is utterly consistent, very literal and contrary. I love that I can get such a sense of you with such little interaction and that you never betray it. Besides, you sent me those nude pictures of yourself.

6:11 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Keep those to yourself. I've been thinking of starting my own website, people won't pay if they've already seen everything.

Now, off to the gym, so I can keep this amazing body, and make my millions as an internet porn star.

Justin

6:55 PM  
Anonymous jens said...

Yes, I know that the tiger thing was silly...but, as well as going along with the joke, I was kind of curious to learn about what the pitfall traps WERE.

Googling(TM) pitfalls with watershed and irrigation got me mostly items such as "Data for arthropods captured in pitfall traps on LTER II consumer plots".

Sorry this is off-mission, but I KNOW you weren't setting pitfall traps for men!

8:52 AM  
Blogger Megan said...

It is a really sad situation, Jens. I mean, the men are so incredible and gorgeous and native to the area. But tigers are intruding on their habitat and chasing away their prey. So the men have started lying in wait near trails and feeding on the tiger cubs. We were digging pits six feet deep, installing stakes in them to impale the men, and covering them with big leaves.

I felt really ambivalent about the job the entire time, but I do appreciate having a couple manskin rugs in my living room. Who wouldn't?

10:28 AM  
Blogger Megan said...

Sorry. I wasn't doing irrigation work that summer. I took different field jobs every summer I was in second grad school, because I desperately needed to be outside and not thinking.

I was part of a multi-species monitoring team up in Tahoe, on the herp/amphibian team. We set up pitfalls that looked a little like Figure 2 to catch small creatures, who were threatening the lives of the villagers.

(Hey Jens, I wanted to write you about something else, but wasn't willing to log on to MySpace. Could you please email me (although I won't get that until tonight)?)

10:35 AM  
Blogger Megan said...

My bad. Figure 2

10:38 AM  
Anonymous jens said...

Either terrifying or irresistable, depending on whether you are an insect of Ms. Piggy.

Method seems best suited to capturing rather careless species.

Sadly, the figure does not explain the placement of the stakes :-)

2:58 PM  

Post a Comment

<< Home