Sunday, May 3, 2009

Extra Credit
X-Men Origins
Brotherly Love
The first thing that I have to get off my chest is how hot Wolverine looked exploding out of the tank when they were putting the adamantine skeleton in. Then especially when he jumped off the waterfall naked, I found my mouth watering and my heart pounding. I love the X-men movies but still find a bad taste in my mouth from X3 where they killed Xavier (really idiotic). I am glad that I went to see this movie. It was very emotionally engaging. The battle scenes were absolutely wonderful. I really liked Deathstrike (Wade) before they changed him. I thought that he was extremely hilarious.
I could not believe how old that Sabertooth and Wolverine were. 1845 is when the movie began, and I also did not know that they were brothers. I also did not know that he had the claws before, but they were only bones. The fact that Sabertooth saved him in the end and he actually seemed to forgive him was slightly mind boggling.I have been following the X-Men for years and felt extremely stupid that I did not know this before going to see this movie. It really made you feel for Wolverine and all that he has been through.
When you first found out that Wolverine’s girlfriend had betrayed him, you wanted to jump through the screen and bitch slap her. Then you find that she did it for her sister and you want to cry. In the end, when Wolverine did not know who she was, but had felt a very intense love for her before she died, you also wanted to jump through the screen and bitch slap him. I wish that she would have used her powers of persuasion to kill Striker, but then it would not be good for the rest of the movies. All in all, I thought that this movie was much better than the other X-Men movies. The special effects were great, the action was intense and the emotional aspects were gripping. The only problem is that it was a quite predictable story line.
Walking into class that first Monday night, I looked around and noticed that the whole room was practically full. I did not think that there would be that many people in a night class for English. The teacher came in and introduced himself and then began talking about the assignments and how to turn them in and how frustrating it was that his other classes did not understand and could not seem to get it right. We better pay attention and make sure we understand this because if it is not done right then we get a zero. After leaving class the first night, I was actually terrified. How would I possibly get all of this work done and be able to figure out how to turn my assignments in correctly. I actually considered quitting as it had been seventeen years since I had attended any kind of schooling. After the first essays, it got a little better, except the nail biting in between assignments when I was waiting very impatiently and checking blackboard ten times a day for my grade to be posted.
Mr. Gasparo was a good teacher that was able to keep us all engaged in the learning process for writing. Never did I realize how much rhetoric influenced our lives on a daily basis. The class discussions were very interesting and at times had me wanting to roll on the floor howling in laughter. The movies that he showed us were engaging and really made you think about the influences that are imposed daily upon us in the world. Adding technology into the class was a great asset and made it easy to find the help needed for assignments with all of the student examples and helpful texts that were provided. It was really cool to see how the writing process affects people like Bruce Springstein. Prior to class I had always thought that Born in the USA was actually a patriotic song and not a slam on the government and people for how Vietnam vets were treated.
The hardest assignment that I thought we had was the rhetorical analysis essay. Writing about yourself I believe is the absolute hardest thing in the world. Having to actually think and write about what made you who you are is completely and absolutely aggravating because it is really hard to lie to yourself. The argument essay was also very hard as sticking to one topic without branching into others and going off on a tangent is something that I have a hard time with. I learned that as Tim O’Brien said in his speech, to be a writer you must learn to ration the alcohol. I also found that difficult to do through the course of this eight-week ball busting class. Whenever I would get overwhelmed in this class, I would look at the pictures I took in Yellowstone with my children in 2004( see picture to the left), and take deep breaths and calm my inner psycho (yes, I did mean psycho not psyche). I would not recommend an eight-week course to everyone. I know that most people if they wanted to could do it, but from what I have seen of other students since I began taking college courses, I do not know that there are many that are willing to put forth as much effort as is required to do well in this class. I believe our class started with twenty-five people and in the end, there were maybe only ten to twelve of us left.
At the end of this experience, I am glad that I had Mr. Gasparo for a teacher and that I made myself continue and finish the course. I do hope that our adjunct teacher finds a school that takes care of him and allows him to continue to help students in the engaging manner that he has helped me.

Saturday, May 2, 2009

Diagnostic Essay
The first time that I was directed to enter a diesel fuel tank onboard a ship, my thoughts were, you want me to go where and do what? I stared at this hole in the deck of a ship that was oval in shape with a ladder descending down into complete darkness. My supervisor gave me a flashlight and a bundle of rags. The look I gave him must have conveyed my confusion as he began instructing me as if he were speaking to a child. “Take these rags into the hole and wipe all of the muck out of the tank”. I then proceeded to ask him with a feeling of panic “what is muck?” All too soon I found out what muck was. Beginning the descent down into the tank, my eyes, lungs and nostrils began to burn as the fumes from the diesel fuel started to permeate my senses. Descending into the darkness and directing my flashlight onto the steel bulkheads of the tank, there was a noticeable black, slimy, jelly like ooze that seemed to run down the walls and beams. I focused my flashlight forward, directly in front of me was another oval shaped hole. Proceeding forward through the darkness, my hands grabbing whatever means were available, I felt as if I were descending into the belly of a beast. Reaching the oval shaped hole, I realized that I would be required to fold my body in half to continue. Lifting one leg, placing it through the hole and reaching my hand to the beam above to pull myself through the access, there was an audible squishing noise. I jerked my hand back, jumped and hit my head on the opening. Pointing the beam of my flashlight toward my hand, I knew that I now held the intimate knowledge of what muck was.

Eleven years ago my work with Accurate Marine Environmental began in earnest. This was my first real job after leaving the Navy. I never would have guessed that there was a need for a company that specialized in cleaning fuel tanks. I started as a simple laborer whose only goal in life was to provide for her children. At the time it did not matter what I did or how long I worked, only that my children would be fed and my bills would be paid. In the beginning, it was the worst possible job that I have ever had in my life, it compared nothing to the Navy. It was dirty, disgusting, physically and mentally demanding and most of the time we were working seven days a week, ten to twelve hours a day. The days melted into months, the months melted into years and before I knew it eleven years of my life had seemed to fly by. During the course of these years I found that I seemed to be able to visualize and remember the different types of vessels, their tanks, spaces and compartment layouts. After the first three months of working there I was raised to the level of supervisor, and then later to the quality assurance and safety manager. I continued to improve and after eleven years I am now the production manager in charge of sixty to seventy five men and women and the coordination effort of work on ten to fifteen different vessels throughout Hampton Roads at any given time.
I have lived by the quotation “you can’t judge a book by its cover”. I am now of the opinion that at first, I could not have imagined a worse job, however due to hard work and perseverance I have come to realize that this is the best job I have ever had. My job is challenging and stressful and demands almost constant attention, but has been worth every effort that has been required of me throughout the years. I enjoy it and take pride in the fact that as a thirty four year old woman and mother of three in a man’s world I have been able to excel.

Final Diagnostic Essay
Petroleum Princess
I stood on the pier watching as the hulking, rusted ship seemed to materialize through the fog in the harbor. As the ship advanced toward the pier at Accurate Marine, terror gripped my heart as I thought of the three people that had lost their lives during the salvage operation to remove this wreckage from the murky depths of the Bermuda triangle. Now it was here and the survey and repair job that we had been planning for months would begin.
“They’ve got to be out of their fucking mind, millions of dollars wasted to salvage this ship and millions more to be wasted in trying to make another museum. Just because this is the first ship that has ever been recovered from the Bermuda Triangle. My fucking tax dollars at work” Doug said as he finished his cigarette and stomped the butt out on the pier. “Come on Dani, let’s get this shit started”. Following him up the gangway that had been lowered from the top of the ship I said “Hang on Doug, I’ve got to get the meter out to check for oxygen in the engine room before we start opening the tanks”. I turned the meter on and quickly calibrated it as I realized he also did not want to be here. I turned on the meter and my headlamp and followed Doug down six ladders to the engine room. As we worked our way down the ladders, I noticed a thick smell of mold and mildew coming from the grime and the peeling paint along the way. Areas to my left and right were so thick with rust that I dared not move either way as I would probably fall through the deck.
As we finally made it to the lower level of the engine room, I began looking for the first fuel oil storage tank that we were required to survey. “Over here Dani” said Doug. I made my way over to him, kneeled on the deck plates and began taking tools from my bag to remove the cover from the fuel tank. It took several hours and what felt like buckets of my sweat to remove the cover and when it was finally off I felt like doing cartwheels. “Alright Doug, I am going to have a look. We are just supposed to be looking for damage, deterioration and holes, right?” I said. “Yes Dani, just give me a report on the interior of the tank surfaces” Doug said.
Lowering myself into the tank access, visions of my first experience at entering a fuel tank began to flood my memory. Descending down into the tank, my eyes, lungs and nostrils began to burn as the fumes from the diesel fuel started to permeate my senses. Directing my flashlight onto the steel bulkheads of the tank, there was a noticeable black, slimy, jelly like ooze that seemed to run down the walls and beams. Proceeding forward through the darkness, my hands grabbing whatever means were available, I felt as if I were descending into the belly of a beast. Reaching the oval shaped hole in front of me, I realized that I would be required to fold my body in half to continue. Lifting one leg, placing it through the hole and reaching my hand to the beam above to pull myself through the access, there was an audible squishing noise. I jerked my hand back, jumped and hit my head on the opening.
Just muck I told myself. Continuing through the tank, I began to notice a fluorescent reddish orange light coming from ahead. Calming myself, I thought of my Mother and told myself that she would not be afraid and that unless my meter began giving me warning alarms I would continue. As I got closer to the light source, my skin began to burn but I felt extreme cold and could see my breath as I exhaled. The next pocket contained the bulk of the light source in a huge lump that looked as if it were beating like a heart. I attempted to sidestep the alien looking mass and instead tripped and fell headlong into the clump of unknown material. Jumping up and trying to brush this fluorescent goo off my face, arms and stomach, I had a sudden aching in my gut as if the entire contents of my gut were going to explode and cause me to begin projectile vomiting. Sitting down, I knew that I had to remain calm and breathe. After several minutes I was finally able to continue. I went through several more pockets until I finally found the bulk of the remaining diesel fuel that had been underwater with this ship for over thirty years. I was curious as to how deep the fuel was and stuck my hand down to measure. I heard a sucking noise, looked at my hand, and realized that the diesel fuel in the tank was disappearing into my skin. Okay, I thought either I am losing touch with reality or all of the fuel in the tank just disappeared through me. Holy shit! I was not sure what was going on but I began running around looking for more pockets of diesel fuel. I found several small puddles and ended up with the same results. I decided to try and see if I could get the fuel back. Calming my mind, I aimed my hand toward the far wall of the tank and thought of fuel spraying out of my fingers. It worked and fuel began to coat the walls of the tank.
I ran out of the tank. “Doug you’re not going to believe this shit, watch” I said. Fuel began spraying on the walls of the engine room. He stared at me as if I had two heads, but did not say a word. I ran off the ship and to my truck parked on the pier. I removed the gas cap and stuck my hand in and could feel the fuel being pulled out of my vehicle. I ran to all of the cars in the parking lot and began siphoning the fuel through me. What a fucked up power, why couldn’t that alien goo give me super strength or the ability to fly. No, I can suck fuel up. Big fucking deal. Then all of a sudden I realized, wait a minute if I could control all of the world’s fuel supply, I would control the world. I grabbed the next vehicle I saw with keys in the parking lot and drove to Craney Island, the Navy’s largest fuel depot. I quickly drained all of the tanks and decided to continue to all of the oil processing plants in the U.S. It took several days to drain the fuel from all over the U.S. Watching the news, you could see anarchy unfold as millions of people’s lives were suddenly on hold because they did not have any fuel. The President was on t.v. every night appealing to whoever had done this horrible thing to come forward and help make it right. I guess the dumbasses should have worked harder on hydroelectric, thermal and wind power.