b3ta.com user FleetlordVT
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Profile for FleetlordVT:
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Fairbanks, Alaska, USA
formerly of:
Key West, Florida, USA

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» Anonymous

Clifford the big red dog
In high school, I worked at the local library. Since I'm a massive nerd, it seemed like the best job -- I like reading, and library = books, last time I checked.

Of course, I didn't think about the fact that library work = shelving books != reading them. But there was one time when it all worked out.

The library was putting on a kids' reading presentation, and they'd chosen a few Clifford books. They'd even gone so far as to get a big costume -- two of them, actually -- one for Clifford, and the other for his owner.

Problem was, neither "actor" had shown up on time. With ten minutes left to go before the show, I did the stupidest thing I could've done -- I volunteered. I put on the big Clifford suit, the gloves, and an enormous plastic and wool head that weighed about 20 pounds. Needless to say, it was like wearing a snowsuit in August. I was sweating so badly it felt like I was taking a bath. And the smell ... evidently I hadn't been the first person to sweat that badly in the costume.

In the end, me and the other person got ourselves comfortable in the reading room about five seconds before a horde of five-year-olds poured through the doors like someone had left the gate open in the monkey exhibit. I stewed in the suit for what felt like eons, waving maniacally as the kids got settled.

Another twenty minutes followed as I nodding in apparent sincerity at everything Clifford did in the books. I wasn't allowed to speak, fortunately, so we didn't scar too many kids for life -- only the ones close enough to see through Clifford's mesh-covered "eyes", and I can only imagine their terror at seeing the demon inhabiting Clifford's red fur.

As miserable as I was, however, it was all worth it when at the end of the show I stood up and all fifty five-year-olds, in unison, let out a whoaaaaaaa of awe as the six-foot-plus Clifford loomed over them sitting on the ground.

Now I know what Godzilla feels like.
(Thu 14th Jan 2010, 12:11, More)

» Pet Peeves

Bad grammar
I can understand a few misspellings every now and then, but there's absolutely no reason to confuse your and you're.
(Thu 1st May 2008, 23:23, More)

» The Soundtrack of your Life

Rock the Casbah
I used to live in the Florida Keys, and because you can't enjoy perfect weather too much, I drove a convertible. Now, because of the geography of the Keys, there's only one highway, and everything's pretty much on top of the highway -- there's not much room for anything else.

This includes airports -- and a military airfield. One day, as I'm driving down the highway with the top down, and the radio blaring, Rock the Casbah comes over the air and into my ears. I turn it up, since it's an awesome song. I'm nearing the airfield when there's an enormous series of roars as fighter jets begin practicing touch-and-go landings.

Because the highway's only a few hundred yards from the airfield, they're coming in only a few hundred feet above the highway, and the roar matches perfectly with the song, the weather, and the mood I was in. It's probably the most perfect matching of music to moment that I've ever experienced in my life.

And it's one I'll never have again. That car was drowned by a hurricane, and I've since moved to Alaska.
(Thu 28th Jan 2010, 13:31, More)

» I just don't get it

I don't understand Canada. It's as if they're an American state, but they resent the fact. They're like a little brother who can never compete with his big brother, and lives in the big brother's house, but always bothers the big brother with his life problems, and always asks him to hand over the remote. Eventually the big brother just gets so pissed off he either throws the little brother out or kills the little brother and eats him. I don't understand Canada.
(Fri 1st Apr 2005, 0:48, More)

» Have you ever seen a dead body?

I work in newspapers, and normally it's a great job. I sit behind a desk, get to read things pretty much as they happen, laugh at people's dumb mistakes in the police blotter, and generally have a grand old time. About six months ago, I was working at a newspaper in the Florida Keys. It was a small office -- just a half-dozen writers who all took their own photographs, wrote most of the paper, and handed it off to we layout folks and copy editors.

Because we worked behind a desk, it was mostly just a 9-5 job. Clock in, do work, clock out. Nothing special. Now, being in the Florida Keys, we get a ton of automobile, truck, RV (caravan), and motorcycle traffic. All of it comes down a single two-lane roadway 120 miles from Florida City. Because of this fact, and the fact that most folks are drunk half the time (it's the Keys, right?) there's an astonishingly high number of traffic accidents (former U.S. Attorney General Janet Reno was involved in one) and a high, high number of fatalities. It's not uncommon to have 30 or more traffic deaths a year -- and this in a county where the permanent population is just over 80,000 people. Most of the deaths happen at night, when people are at their drunkest, and most happen in two particular stretches of the highway -- both of which are far north of our office. There are particular times of the year -- during the buildup to tourist season, New Year's, during Fantasy Fest, the Poker Run, and any day of the week ending in 'y' -- when things are particularly bad.

On one fine, sunny day, we were in the office as usual, rattling away on the keyboards, when we heard a godawful screech and bang from outside. Within a few seconds, one of the secretaries came back into the office to let us know that there had been a bad accident right outside the front door. Well, there weren't any writers around at the moment, and I figured it wouldn't hurt to grab a camera and a few lenses on the way outside.

I threw on a telephoto lens and zoomed in on the action (God ... did I really type "action"?). A motorcyclist and his rider had been driving at 55 miles an hour (speed ascertained from the speedometer, which had stopped at the moment of impact and which was clearly visible in the photographs), and had slammed into the back of a vehicle stopped to make a left-hand turn. Needless to say, neither were wearing helmets.

I'd like to say that I immediately dropped the camera and ran to help the victims of the accident, which had happened less than a minute prior. Unfortunately, I can't say that. I kept snapping pictures, walking around the crash site in a circle. I ended up taking over 200 -- pictures of the first people on the scene, pictures of the police running to assist, pictures of the ambulance arriving, pictures of crying bystanders. But most of all, I got pictures of the victims.

I don't know their names. I've never bothered to check, mainly because I feel guilty that I didn't do anything to help. I simply saw everything through the lens, as if it were on television. I was detatched, remote, a thousand miles away as two people died on the road not fifteen feet away from me, limbs splayed wildly, blood and brains leaking onto the pavement.

I like to think that there was nothing I could have done, that they were already dead by the time I ran out there. Regardless of whether they were or not, I'll always remember one particular moment, one particular image. A policewoman, hand over the head of a victim, screaming for help. And I just stood there, taking pictures, pausing to change lenses to make sure I got the absolutely best shot.
(Mon 3rd Mar 2008, 11:26, More)
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