When Killer Whales, uh, Kill

When Killer Whales, uh, Kill

So remember last February when the Killer Whale, Tilikum, at Sea World killed the trainer who was alongside the water? She got pulled under by her ponytail and drowned? Remember that?

Such a tragic story. Kids who were present were traumatized, parents lost their daughter, colleagues lost their friend and SeaWorld lost its main performer when they had to take Tilikum out of the show.

Jason and I were discussing this last night because it was news that the Killer Whale was back and performing again as of yesterday. Where was he for 13 months? Did they put him in time-out? How does one punish a killer whale?

I fully understand that the death of a person, in front of a crowd, is very news-worthy. What isn’t news-worthy, though, is that the whale “did something wrong.”

The whale is an animal. Trained, it’s still an animal. A wild animal that happens to know how to follow a few directions and do some fancy-dancy tricks.

Killer Whales, aka Orcas, are certainly beautiful. They are majestic creatures and always appear to be smiling, so who wouldn’t love them? If it’s smiling it can’t be BAD, right?

But the bottom line is this:

It can’t be expected to not do what it was born to do. You can’t unlearn those things, especially when you’re not a human.

The trainers, however, can understand. I’m going out on a limb here, and I hope this isn’t offensive to any whale trainer friends I may have (which is approximately zero), but when you sign up to swim with and train KILLER WHALES, it seems like *maybe* you’re signing up for a potentially deadly job.

And then you voluntarily get into a tank (or even near a tank) with a whale that has already killed 2 other people? I just… I don’t understand.

Tilikum, in 1991, was one of 3 whales that killed a woman in a tank in British Columbia. In 1999, a man was found dead in the tank with Tilikum, though he apparently stayed in the park after closing and got in the tank on his own free will (idiot) (also not a deliberate “Free Willy” reference, but kinda funny anyway).

Why would one who knew about the previous killings get in a tank or even NEAR a tank, with a KNOWN KILLER killer whale, a WILD animal? Why, though it’s horribly tragic, would anyone be surprised that a KILLER whale would be capable of KILLING another human after his history?

We take these animals out of their native environments, put them in a tank, try to teach them tricks and expect them to domesticate and forget all of their God-given instincts. This is wrong in so many ways. Animal rights aside, entertainment potential aside, removing the essence of the creatures is impossible.

So if we want to enjoy them as entertainment, though I have personally never been to a SeaWorld show or a live whale show of any sort, we need to enjoy them as that. But as the deadly, wild creatures they are and knowing that even by just going to a show it could be potentially dangerous.

And if you’re going to be an animal trainer to a killer whale or a tiger, bear, rhino, whatever, just know you are taking your life into your own hands. AND putting it in the paws and jaws of a wild creature.¬†SeaWorld (and other places like it) isn’t forcing trainers to do this. They applied for the job, trained and desired to be a whale trainer. They are free to quit if they feel in danger, but they don’t. It’s what they want to do with their lives. And that’s cool. The employer does expect them to do it once they’ve signed on to be an employee, but it’s their choice to stay or go so blaming the employer just ain’t gonna fly (unless they’ve done something truly against the rules).

I’ll continue to feel sad when someone gets hurt or killed, but I WON’T be surprised that it’s because they were handling a wild creature that they desired to train, handle and interact with. It’s dangerous. And they choose to take that risk.

(Side note: I know SeaWorld has taken safety precautions before bringing him back, including a steel cage type thing for the trainers to stand behind, but it’s just a matter of time before something like this happens again. I’m not a huge “OMG FREE THE ANIMALS” person but when you’re talking wild KILLING animals, I probably lean that way. Aquariums are slightly different because they tanks are enclosed. I’m not here to challenge, discuss, debate animal rights or cruelty. Just fyi.)

Photo Source: ScottKinMartin via Flickr

Why do…

Why do people who don’t follow traffic rules always honk and flail around like they’re right? And why are they usually driving minivans or Kias?

Why do stores sell bumpers for cribs if you’re not supposed to use them because they’ll suffocate your child?

Why do we use 12 times more cups than anything else in this house?

Why do I only need to get gas on days that it’s pouring rain?

Why does the world continue to have crib recalls because babies get stuck in the slats? Why not solve the problem once and for all and make the sides solid?

Why do people think the value of their possessions should always go up and the price of goods should NEVER go up? (ie: houses and groceries)

Why do ladybugs invade houses in the spring and fall? Do they like living inside my vacuum cleaner after I suck them up with the hose?

Why do men not shave their underarms? Or at least trim the hair? This goes for their eyebrows, legs, private parts, BACK HAIR… why do women have to do all that (minus the back hair part) but they don’t?

Why do your feet grow when you’re pregnant?

Why do I not like coffee anymore? All I drink is Chai now. (guess that’s a good thing, though, maybe)

Why, in 2011, is mental illness talk still frowned upon? Get over it, people, it’s LIFE.

Why do certain spices seep out of your pores and cause you to emit the odor of the spices? (yup, looking at you, garlic and curry)

Why do I think of hundreds of these questions while I’m driving but then can’t remember them when I get home to write them down?

What do you want to know “Why” about?


For awesome New York updates, check out the post about the diner and about meeting the hero.

Unplanned Can Lead To The Unexpected

Unplanned Can Lead To The Unexpected

Friday, March 25, 2011. New York City. Sunny. Cold and crisp.

Me. Henry. Alone in the city.

We had plans.

They involved a Subway. That we navigated by ourselves. *gasp*

We met my Twitter friend Lauren (@unguidedmissile) at a cute little restaurant in the SoHo area. She was lovely and SO not a serial killer. Thank goodness because that would have made for a bad weekend!

They could almost be twins. The head tilt was NOT planned!

Our next plan after lunch was to just mosey over to the Scholastic store and then probably back to the hotel.


We passed a Fire Station with a fallen hero memorial out front (like most all of them have). I lifted Henry up real quick to peek in the window. As I did, a face appeared in the window.

The fireman opened the door and asked if he would like to come in and see the station.

With wide eyes, Henry said, “Yes sir.”

He opened the big doors of the station and opened the door to the hook and ladder truck (#5 if you’re interested). Henry was a tiny bit overwhelmed by the size of the truck. I was just shocked by the kindness of the fireman.

He got up in the truck and was chatting up the fireman. He was taking it all in, everything around him in the station.

There was a diesel pump. There were pump and hoses and a big thingy that hooked to the exhaust so the trucks could be on in the building.

There were rows of gear. There were bells and whistles.

There was a wall. A wall that Henry looked at and (for some reason) very solemnly said, “Who are those people on the wall?”

The fireman replied, after looking at me with a knowing glance, “Those are members of our Company that died in fires they were fighting.”

I took that moment to say, because Henry has seen 9/11 footage, that most of the men on that wall were Heroes on the day that the planes flew into the buildings.

My voice cracked, a lump formed in my throat and I asked the firefighter, “Were you there that day?”

And his simple answer was, “Yes I was.”

My response was simply, “Thank you.”

What more was there to say?

But Henry always knows what else to say. He said, “So you’re a Hero, too?”

The fireman gave me another knowing glance and I answered for him. “Yes, he is a Hero, too.”

**pause to wipe your eyes**

Before we left, the fireman let Henry put on his hat. THIS picture makes the cost of the new camera worth it.

I failed to get the name of the wonderful fireman and I’m kicking myself now. It was a wonderful, very much unexpected treat. He suggested we go to the Fire Museum that was just a few blocks away. Another wonderful treat.

So, we did as he said and we moseyed to the Fire Museum.

They had uniforms to try on. Henry thought they were too heavy. And all he had on was the coat and hat!

There they have a permanent 9/11 Memorial. It has pictures, artifacts, memorial photos for all the fallen firemen. It’s a beautiful display. Very moving.

Without my having to tell him, he stood in solemn silence in this room, taking in all the pictures and artifacts and burning them to his memory. There were others in the room so we weren’t able to talk much.

He asked me for change for the donation jar. Of course, I indulged.

Afterwards, we headed to the Scholastic store, but not before stopping for a drinking chocolate at the Vosges Chocolate Shop. It was magnificently delicious.

Once back to the hotel via the Metro, we went to the top of the building to see the view of the Empire State Building.

Henry tried to climb it!

So a day filled with almost zero plans turned into a day filled with unexpected turns, teachable moments, memories forever burned in a little boy’s mind and a day that this Mom will never forget… mostly due to a very kind stranger who is now my little man’s ultimate Hero.

Did This Really Happen?

Saturday morning, New York City.

Sun is out. The breeze is cold and crisp.

The continental breakfast at the hotel just isn’t cutting it. (side note: What does “continental breakfast” even mean? There’s nothing from all the continents. There’s nothing exotic. What’s the deal?)

We must find a place with greasy meat and eggs.

We had passed a diner called Andrew’s Coffee Shop and thought that might be a good place to hit. Cute little place. Great food.

Of course, the waiter wants to know where we’re from with our thick accents. Me, mostly. He’s half smitten with Henry and his bubbly personality. He’s attentive and very personable. He goofs off with Henry saying in his big thick Jersey accent, “What chu doooin” and “Get outta heeeeah.” Henry’s eating it up!

We eat giant plates of pancakes, eggs, bacon, French toast… then he brings the check.

We pay.

He comes back with change and looks at Henry and says out of the blue, “What do you think my name is?”

Who asks that? Strange.

I’ll give you a hint,” he says. “It starts with a C.”

Jason and I look at each other, knowing. KNOWING what was about to come out of his mouth.

Henry says “Carl.”

The waiter says, “No. It’s CHARLIE.

As tears fill my eyes and Jason’s eyes, Kaye and Henry giggle with Charlie and I hear nothing except him say, “He’s a real angel.”

Jason and I look at each other with sheer disbelief. Did he just say that? Was he talking about Henry? Or about our Charlie? He said it while looking at Henry. He didn’t say, “YOU’RE a real angel.” Interesting…

We talk about it later. About how strange it was that (a) he asked us to guess what his name was and (b) that it created that reaction from the two of us. We both admitted to thinking right then and there that if we went back and asked to sit in Charlie’s section, they would have no idea who we were talking about. That he was not actually there.

We agreed that going back would just freak us out.

Do things like that actually happen in real life? Could someone really have NOT been there to others and been there to us? I know it’s WAY far fetched, but that’s how it felt. Like once we left, he wasn’t there anymore. That it was just meant for us.

But that doesn’t explain how he was waiting on another table or how the people knew what we ordered.

It does further explain one thing, though.

Everybody loves a Charlie.




*clears throat*

I’m Jana and I’m an addict.

I’m addicted to my computer.

Maybe addiction isn’t the right word. Maybe I just LOVE my computer.

My computer is part of me. It’s molded to my fingers and lap and personality. It knows what I want to do before I do it. It’s always awake with “people” in it to talk to. Any hour of the day or night. SOMEbody is there to talk to. SOMEthing is there to do.

At any given moment, or EVERY given moment, I have Mail, Safari, Tweetdeck, Adium and Word open. Normally iPhoto and iTunes are open, too. I have 4 tabs on Safari that are always up and being checked. I have 2 or 3 chats in Adium going.

I’m writing on my site, editing on Band Back Together, moderating comments, working the behind the scenes stuff for both, writing for my new gig, venting about something on The Facebook or The Twitter, reading blogs, reading news… I could go on.

Some would say it’s unhealthy. I say it’s my job. No, I don’t get paid for it (well, for one thing, but not everything) so most think it’s just goofing off.

My computer is my lifeline.


I’m not taking it to New York. I’m going to be gone for FOUR WHOLE DAYS without my computer. I’m already starting to feel panicky which shows me I do need to unplug.

This WILL be good for me.

This WILL be good for me.

This WILL be good for me.

This doesn’t mean I won’t have my handy dandy iPhone (which is probably what Steve from Blues Clues wishes he had instead of that stupid handy dandy notebook…). I will have that puppy and will use it. I can Tweet, Facebook, even look things up on the internet.

But mostly, I’ll use it for directions, finding things to do and places to see, navigating the subway system and keeping up with anything that’s earth-shattering. I’ll post some pictures probably but for the most part, I’ll be unplugged.

Which means I’ll see y’all on Monday!


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