Mind the Turtles. Ignore the Bullshit.

Sorry about the profanity, but let’s call a spade a spade.  There’s a lot of bullshit going on, and we pay too much attention to it.

A lot of it is political, which we avoid here. Then there are stories out there, like rich parents bribing colleges to get their kids admitted, and planes crashing and what not.  None of this bullshit is worth the trouble, so we’re not going to pay attention to it here.

Also, please note this is my first blog title that doesn’t begin with “On.”  Shaking it up.

By the way, to “call a spade a spade” is not racist, no more so than the heebie-jeebies.  It was originally a Greek phrase, “call a fig a fig and a trough a trough,” which historians and linguists agree was probably a vulgarism (use your imagination, Einstein, not while flying that airliner, that is), and was changed by the philosopher Erasmus upon translating from Greek to Latin. He used a spade instead. Not the card suit, a garden spade.

I will call him… “Spadey.” Dramatic, eh?

Some say he thought it sounded more dramatic.  This translation has been in common English usage for over 500 years. Only when racists began to use “spade” as a derogatory term for African Americans (from the black suit of cards) did this very useful phrase become tainted by racists, who seem to ruin everything.

Thanks again, Wikipedia.  Maybe we need to go back to figs?

As for the war and terrorism bullshit, this week marks the 50th anniversary of the publication of the anti-war novel Slaughterhouse 5 by the groundbreaking and brilliant writer Kurt Vonnegut.  Here is a famous quote from that book:

“I have told my sons that they are not under any circumstances to take part in massacres, and that the news of massacres of enemies is not to fill them with satisfaction or glee. I have also told them not to work for companies which make massacre machinery, and to express contempt for people who think we need machinery like that.” – Kurt Vonnegut, Slaughterhouse 5

That pretty much sums up many people’s feelings on war, or even on today’s politics, which feels like war.  The best part of Vonnegut’s advice is not to take satisfaction in the suffering of your enemies. Or to work for arms manufacturers.  Many people should heed these words.

Frankly, there are too many people in the world for war, territorial disputes and tribalism to continue.  We’re all bumping up against each other like molecules. We don’t need open borders, but we do need open minds.  Or at least to follow the laws of molecular physics.  Otherwise, the whole thing is liable to blow up.

Was that political?  Not funny?  Oh well, here’s some nonsense to make up for it.


The San Fernando Valley was very different 100 years ago.  For a long time, the entire area was covered in citrus groves.  It was a big industry.  Then, when LA started to spread and the Valley was developed, most of the groves were cut down and new citrus farms established in the Central Valley.  But if you drive around enough, you will see that there are still a few small groves here and there.  And in some of the nicer areas, many of the lemon, grapefruit and orange trees were spared the ax and left in the yards of homes, where they bear fruit to this day.  And I mean, lot’s of fruit!

When I was a kid, we had apple trees in the backyard.  One was particularly fruitful. We had cases and cases of apples in the garage, right next to the paints and chemicals.  They were delicious. But you know you have a lot of apples when you see Dad in the kitchen preparing 6 pies for the oven, especially when you’ve never seen Dad bake in your lifetime.

Which makes me think, this is one hell of a lot of juice.


Back east, the return of the robin red-breast (actually called the American Robin) was a sign, at least in my Long Island neighborhood, of the return of spring, but not so much here as it doesn’t get cold enough for them to leave in the first place.

In our little community, we have a lot of animals.  Freeloaders, I call them. The koi don’t go anywhere.  They can’t. Some of the ducks go away but not all of them, but the turtles disappear for a few months.

No, not these Turtles…. Flo, Eddie, is that you?

Turns out, they hibernate. Well, not hibernate but go dormant.  They lay down in the bottom of the pond, in the mud, and their heartbeat slows down so much and they use so little energy they don’t even need to breathe!  Wow. I so wish I could do that!  They must feel so refreshed when they wake up.

In any event, the turtles are back in Woodland Hills.  Which begs the question, why do we love turtles so much?  And I’m not talking about certain Asian cultures where they are a delicacy, and so they love them because they’re tasty (I presume).

We love turtles because even if they’re kind of ugly and wrinkly, and they don’t smell so good, they’re kind of cute, like Yoda. They carry their house around with them and can pull their legs and head inside to hide and escape predators!  What a superpower that is!

Our turtles are common pond turtles called red-eared sliders, named for the red stripe on the side of the head.  I don’t think they have ears do they?  Not outer ears anyway, which is why they look like aliens. These are called sliders because they can quickly slide into the water to avoid predators.

Yes, Wikipedia.  You need to know more about turtles. I do the googling and you reap the benefits, dear reader!

See the little red “ear?” This guy isn’t sliding either. Maybe he doesn’t like koi.

By the way, if you see a turtle walking somewhere away from water, don’t bother it.  It might be looking for food.  Or a hot date.  You never know. Only move and re-settle a turtle if it appears to be in danger of going onto a busy street.  This is straight from the International Turtle and Terrapin Association.  Tortoises, or land-dwelling turtles, have their own group, the Testudines Foundation of North America.

Okay that last part about the association and the foundation was bullshit. Just remember, mind the turtles but don’t disturb them.  And ignore the bullshit.  Even mine.

When you get a chance, please read Smoking in Bed: dreams of love, sex and terrorism

I tried to keep down the bullshit, and no turtles or other wildlife were harmed in the writing of that book.


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