bike accidents, hangovers and volcanoes, oh my!

First, a bit of local news for those of you who haven’t already heard this: Mount St. Helens is in the process of erupting again. So far, all that’s coming out is steam, so it shouldn’t be quite the disaster that it was when it blew in the 80’s. Still, though, it’s pretty scary, because no one really knows what it’s going to do next. I remember when it erupted when I was a kid, and I didn’t know where Washington or Oregon were, so it didn’t have quite the same impact. When I moved here and saw Mount St. Helens – or rather, the concave back-side of it – I had nightmares for weeks about Mount Rainier erupting (which is much closer to Seattle and is also a dormant volcano). So it’s all a little creepy.

And speaking of creepy, this is going to be going on for the next 2 nights at an arena that’s about a block and a half from my apartment. As many as 18,000 Jesus-loving, God-fearing women all in one place. I’m terrified. I don’t think I’m going to be leaving my apartment until all of their charter buses are safely on their way back out of town.

One thing I forgot to mention about the last day of Orientation Week: I got there yesterday and everyone was saying “hey, have you heard about Ben?”, “Yeah, that’s really awful, I hope he’s ok,” etc. Ben is one of the Aussie guys in our class, so I asked another Aussie what happened. Here’s the story: Ben borrowed a bicycle from the hotel so he could ride around downtown. I guess it was kind of a crappy bike, because the brakes locked when he was coming down a hill and he fell off the bike. Only that’s not the end of the story. Oh, no. When he fell, he happened to land right in the entrance to a parking garage. A car came out, didn’t see him on the ground, and RAN OVER HIM!! Literally, one of the 4 tires of the SUV went completely across his torso. Now, here’s the amazing part: the guy is totally fine. They rushed him to the ER and kept him overnight, but he had nothing broken, no internal injuries, na-da. A few bruises and scrapes, but that’s it. He was released yesterday afternoon, then went back to the hotel to sleep off the drugs they gave him. We joked that it was a pretty extreme method to get out of the videotaped team exercise, but apparently he’s ok to fly back to Australia this evening. Thus proving the theory that all Australians, even the little scrawny computer geek types, are total badasses. The hotel, meanwhile, sort of panicked over the fact that this happened on one of their bikes and he could potentially sue the poo out of them (which probably doesn’t even cross the mind of most non-Americans), so they upgraded his room, sent many free platters of food to his room, etc. Nice.

Anyway, last night I went out with a bunch of the guys from class because it was their last night in town. Many drinks were consumed at the hotel bar, then we walked to Axis for dinner and more drinks. On the way there, we passed the spot where Ben had his bike accident, and we stopped for a respectful moment of silence as we stood around the spot of blood that was still on the sidewalk. Many of our fellow drunken cohorts took photos. I’m sure Ben will appreciate that when they email them to him. Anyway, I ended up getting very tipsy and talking about politics and religion with a bunch of foreigners (and one or two Americans). Strange evening, but fun.

And this afternoon, I have my very first performance review – it’s end of the fiscal year, so this is when they do all that stuff. Everyone wish me luck!