The Dobermans

As part of the census training, we learned about the greatest threats to us as census employees.

The greatest threat of harm was actually slipping and falling. It is very easy to get distracted especially when you are finishing up cases on your census phone while walking. Whoops! Guilty. Thankfully I didn’t fall but I did almost get into someone else’s car. I’ve also been on enough rickety staircases to last me a lifetime.

The third greatest risk of injury was due to car accidents. I could easily understand how that could happen especially when you have to find an address that is poorly marked at dusk.

Today I want to talk about the second greatest threat of injury, animals. I was more likely to be attacked by an animal than a person. I did worry at times of being assaulted or murdered although the percentage of injuries or deaths were rather small from those threats.

My supervisor told me about an employee who was swarmed by bees after knocking on an unused front door. I did come across nests rather frequently but lucked out in that regard.

I was more wary of dogs. I carried treats in my car. It was always a judgment call. How threatening does this dog appear? How old is the dog? How big is the dog? Are there signs that a dog lives there? Did the beware of dog sign hold any merit?

One day I had to make a house call in the middle of nowhere. The front door appeared to be a sliding door. When I knocked on it two Dobermans answered. They hurled their massive bodies against the sliding door and snarled at me. Next to the sliding door was an open window. It wouldn’t have taken much for the dogs to crash through the screen and maul me to death.

It shook me up a little. What if the dogs were outside when I got there and we didn’t notice each other right away?

I was wary of scary looking dogs. Thankfully most of the time the big scary looking dogs had owners nearby.

Thailand, Day 6

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We started off day 6 by hiking through Hellfire Pass.

This was the actual location that the POW’s from WWII and general laborers from Burma worked day and night to build a railroad through rocks and jungle. They were forced to work very long hours with very little sleep or supplies. If the men were too sick to work, they did not get fed at all in the attempt to get them back to work. Many men got sick with various serious ailments due to the harsh conditions. Many died of starvation.

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The workers were treated poorly and punished severely if they didn’t work fast enough. One hundred thousand people lost their lives building the railroad. The fires lit at night made the workers think of hell, hence the name Hellfire Pass.

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We took a train ride on a part of the Death Railroad that was still in use. We left the train and explored a cave that was set up as a medical aid station during the war. A shrine is set up there now. If you explore the cave past the shrine, there are a lot of bats in it.

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We stopped at a waterfall. It was a slippery climb, but I didn’t see anyone fall.

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In the afternoon, we visited the elephants. This was not included in the trip. It used to be included as an option, but the tour company got flooded with complaints saying that it wasn’t humane to ride an elephant. Unfortunately, the elephants survival depends on tourists dollars.

Many years ago the elephants were not treated humanely. They were given amphetamines to work long hours clearing brush and doing heavy lifting. After this was outlawed, the elephants could not be released into the wild. They would die. They created a sanctuary for these elephants and their families. Tourists can go to the sanctuary and pay to feed the elephants. Or they can ride the elephants, go on a river cruise, and swim with the elephants.

I was very nervous about riding an elephant at first. Look at them! They are huge. I was worried about falling off. The little seat on top of the elephant was held up by a couple of ropes that I was concerned wouldn’t hold our combined weight. Going up and down hills, I felt like I was falling. It was big time out of my comfort zone, but I decided to do it anyway.

After riding the elephant, we took a ride on a bamboo raft up the River Kwai. On the way back down, we jumped in the water and floated down the river. I couldn’t see or feel the bottom with my feet. When we got back, the elephants were waiting for us in the river. I had a hard time standing up as the current was fairly strong and the rocks under our feet were sharp. The elephants themselves are very gentle but whiskery with rough skin. They were only soft on the tip of their trunk.

I was a little nervous in the water too just from the sheer size of the elephants. Paul had an elephant fall in love with him. The elephant kept touching his bald head with her trunk. They gazed into each other’s eyes. Animals love him. The elephant seemed to sense my nervousness.

It certainly was a remarkable experience. I’m really happy I decided to go there.

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There are a few elephants that live in the wild. Some people on our tour bus saw one as we were driving through the jungle.

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We stopped on the way back to see some wild monkeys that were fed leftover food from the market.

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We were not allowed to touch the monkeys. The tour guide had to close the doors on the bus so they wouldn’t get inside and raid our food. It was unbelievable seeing hundreds of monkeys out in the open so close that I could touch them.

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We arrived back at the hotel in the evening and decided to eat outdoors at the romantic table. It was gorgeous outside. The average high temps were in the 90’s and it didn’t rain once the whole time we were in Thailand.

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Nearby was a table with a large extended family. Two little girls from their table danced to American music that played through the speakers. Either we didn’t hear any music at all or it was remade American hits from a few years back made into elevator music sung by a mediocre female singer. She even sang a song by Nine Inch Nails elevator style. I wonder if they even understood the words. I don’t specifically recall hearing any Thai music on our whole trip. I thought that was rather odd.

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Today was our favorite day of the trip.

Animal Kingdom’s peculiar animals

…the herd is taken over by a younger male gorilla…the older male loses his family and remains alone…the staff member says as she waves her hand towards an older gorilla that we are gazing at. 

Two little boys (~6) slide in next to me by the gorilla display. 

Boy 1: That gorilla doesn’t look very happy. 

Boy 2: That is because he is an adult. All adults look sad. 

Boy 1: I think he is a female. 

Boy 2 turns to me and asks…Hey lady, is he a female? What do you think?

I turn to the boys with a smile masking an inward chuckle. I tell them that the gorilla is an old male. Look at his white fur. He is simply old and tired. 

The boys, satisfied with my answer, thank me and walk away. 

The old gorilla looks my way. I bet he thinks how peculiar the humans are that parade by on display. 

Oh deer!

  

I awoke this morning to find a doe in the dead center of my driveway. 

I knew it was going to be an interesting day.

It certainly wasn’t what I meant when I said bring me the dough…Hmmm..

Why my driveway? Why!!?! We got a few strange looks… Some idiot probably hit it at bar time and left it in our driveway.. Geez…

I took advantage of the sad situation by having a photo shoot. I was happy that she seemed to be out of her misery quickly.

Do you notice anything peculiar about this picture? Besides the obvious of having a deer blocking my driveway. I mean, really?? How often does something like that happen??

In this picture, I am wearing a sleeveless shirt and shorts……in the middle of November! It has been a warm fall. It feels more like September than November. Yesterday I saw someone mowing their lawn in shorts! I only had to use the treadmill once this season and that was because it was pouring out. I usually start running on the treadmill in the beginning of October when the first flurries start to fall. 

It has been a great season for running and biking. I see so much wildlife on my journeys. Sometimes I sing to the cows as I breeze by. I am goofy like that. 

One of the craziest times on my bike happened last week the day after Election Day. I don’t know if I was suffering from a total sleep hangover or what. My whole route seemed ominous. The eerie silence was broken by the howling of a large pack of dogs in the distance. I always wondered what to do about dogs on my road bike. Do I try to outrun them and possibly end up somehow tripping over them at high speeds or stop and let myself get mauled? Jury is still out on that one.. I did see a huge dog on that day. It’s owner was dragging behind him on a leash. I wondered if it would be the day he would break away. Thankfully not!

Then there was noise coming from the railroad tracks. It set off a donkey that started braying loudly. I think I ride on the zoo route. I’ve seen horses, donkeys, alpacas, roosters, deer, skunks, squirrels, cats, and a plethora of dogs. 

Anyway, back to the story..I got to the railroad tracks and noticed they were doing some sort of repairs. There was a backhoe on the tracks coming towards me at a fast clip. WTH?? Who has the right of way? Who yields?? I wish I would have worried about all of the possibilities because I didn’t know..

That day I also noticed all of the Trump signs flapping in the wind. It struck me that I didn’t see any Hillary signs along my routes. How strange that our state turned from a blue state to a red state. I remember just a few years back when my route was filled with Recall Walker signs. (Our state had a recall vote to recall our governor which didn’t go through). My neighbor was one of the few that had a ‘I stand with Walker’ sign. Someone dumped a jar full of nails in his driveway that year. Who knows, maybe someone would’ve dumped nails in his yard if he put a Hillary sign out this year…People here can be a little strange. It’s the long winters.

Talking about winter, I heard that this long wonderful warm spell is coming to a grinding halt this weekend just in time for the opening of deer hunting season. We will have strong winds and snow. YES, SNOW! We haven’t even had a flurry yet…Today I even got tan lines from running…

Good bye, summer! Hello, winter! Oh deer!