Wednesday, April 13, 2011

My Friends, the Dinosaurs

I think I have always loved dinosaurs. If you don't believe me, ask my mother, who stopped me at the front door of our apartment during my only known bout of sleep walking.

"Where are you going, Aubrey?" She inquired.
"To play with the dinosaurs." 4th grade Aubrey replied.

On top of that, we didn't travel much when I was little. The first time I went to Disneyland, I was 20 (and I still dragged my dad to see all the princess-y stuff). But, I didn't feel developmentally lacking because of this. After all, I had Dinosaurland.

Dinosaurland (also known, to less fun people, as Dinosaur National Monument) is located in Northeastern Utah. I have been there (I think) 4 times. Maybe more. The first time I went there with my grandparents and my little sister. We don't have a lot of home video footage, but we do have footage of me dragging a 4 year old Martina around a museum yelling out the names of different species of dinosaurs. Seriously, I was such a know it all. I don't know if I was cute or annoying. I'll ask my grandma next time I see her.

I think the best thing that happened to me all of last summer was Mike taking me to the Ogden Eccles Dinosaur park. We took a lot of silly pictures and it was so much fun.

One of my greatest regrets in life is not going on a dinosaur excavation that I was invited to by a paleontologist in Price.

I guess I'm telling you all of this to make it clear that I am not a casual dinosaur lover. I have strong feelings on the subject. Which is one of two reasons that I had never read Jurassic Park until now. The other reason being that I generally make it a rule not to read a book which has the author's name bigger than the title on the cover, and this was my first exception to that rule for a long time.

Mike bought the movie of Jurassic Park for me for my birthday (since we have been searching for it in the $5 movie been where it is falsely advertised at Wal-Mart every time we've gone since November). We watched it and he convinced me to give the book a try. Overall, I liked. It was more intense than the movie in some ways (except for the kitchen scene... shudder...), and it was very engaging. I don't really want to write a whole book review, but I have a few thoughts after finishing the book today.

1. Even though the raptors were laying low until the last 100 pages or so, I would have been FREAKING out once I realized that the dinosaurs had been breeding and there were 37 of them, obviously not contained. For the majority of the book people are out chasing the T-Rex and getting eaten by other various carnivores, and I'm mostly terrified that they're going to run into these loose raptors. It just baffled me how they never even worried about the raptors at all until they had conveniently tranquilized the big T-Rex.

2. Also, what happened to the big T-Rex? She was tranquilized by the waterfall, but probably wouldn't drown (according to one believable character). But then later, there is only one T-Rex found. Did she drown? Did the scan not pick her up because she was tranquilized?

3. As Grant and the kids are traveling back to the headquarters they are continually surprised by the appearance of dinosaurs, especially T-Rex. Seriously? You choose to go through the dinosaur habitats, knowing that T-Rex is chasing you, and you're not on the lookout? I don't know how they made it back alive.

4. Relatedly, after barely surviving the raptor massacre, why would the survivors feel it was necessary to find the raptor nest? There was some unclear explanation of moral duty to count the eggs even though the entire island was about to be obliterated by the Costa Rican government, but I did not get it at all. If you did, please enlighten me.

5. Why did the last page have to create a weird cliff hanger? Are Grant and Sattler and Muldoon going to be kept in Costa Rica against their will until the sequel? Probably.

And, in closing, I would like to express my dismay at the continued delay of the re-opening of the Quarry at Dinosaurland. I have been planning a trip for literally three years, but they just never finish it. How will I ever prove to Mike how awesome it is if they keep the main part under construction all the time? Ugh, life.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Digimon and Gratitude

One of my favorite things about teaching is the magic of random. There are routines in school, but the most common routine is dealing with the unexpected. Often, the unexpected is unpleasant and upsetting. But, sometimes, the unexpected is happiness condensed into a small, memorable moment.

Last week, I had a moment like that. My seniors were working on their mock graduation speeches, and I was walking around helping them. As I moved past one table, a student asks me to come stand in the front of the room. I guess I'm suspicious, because I was hesitant. But, eventually they coaxed me to go along with their plan.

With a song from Star Wars playing in the background, I was presented with this.
Someone had found this card in a book they were reading, and then they all signed it and wrote some very nice things to me. It was a silly thing, but it was so special. It was so rewarding to see their gratitude for the effort I've been making. It made me feel a little bit more capable and it made me more grateful for them.

A few days later, during a different class, I had to leave for about 15 minutes to do something for NHS. As I left, I threatened them with my unending wrath if they snuck out or did anything very wild. I came back to this on my whiteboard.
And this, which they made up because they are silly.
This whole week, these silly messages have made me think a lot about showing love and appreciation. They showed me their appreciation, and even made up some from me to them. Being appreciated is something we all crave. We need to be recognized from time to time to feel valued and capable.

Most of all, this experience made me want to be better at showing my gratitude. It's a small way to make the world a little bit better.