Reality, virtually

I feel like this little corner of the internet is a neglected child. Only slightly more neglected than our pet turtle… We’re having a holiday this week, and I hope to get back on the writing/blogging horse after spending some time in the recovery position.

It’s also been a while since I wrote anything about life – which was, when I started this thing, the whole point. I know I’ve moved on a little. It’d surprise me greatly to find any people who read my original blog still reading (with the exception of my family), while now there are heaps of people I don’t know who seem to read this stuff. I’m yet to figure out the work/life/blog balance in this new chapter of life.

So here, in something of an explanation, is what has been keeping me occupied recently (outside of church).

We moved house, into a place with a yard. A yard we can dig up into a vegetable garden, use to grow a variety of produce (including chickens), and to raise a puppy. So I’ve built a chicken coop and we bought a dog. These domestic pursuits are leaving me feeling a little like Walden.

I’m not very good at building stuff, so the chicken coop took an extraordinarily long time. It hasn’t fallen over yet. I have hundreds (probably) of little cuts on my hands.

The vegetable garden is producing.

The puppy is part wolf (husky), part labrador, part border collie. Pretty much what you’d get if you added all the things Robyn (Labrador), and I (husky), wanted in a dog, along with our perfect compromise dog (border collie). Her name is Tully. She’s named after Marcus Tullius Cicero.

And, since we’re sharing and stuff… I’m about to start my eighth week of the Michelle Bridges 12 Week Body Transformation. It seems to be working. I didn’t even get KFC on the way home from church tonight (nor have I in the last seven weeks).

Zombie Gnomes: for the black thumbs out there

I don’t have a green thumb. By some miracle the coffee pot plant I bought 18 months ago has seemingly died and been resurrected multiple times since I purchased it, other pot plants have not fared so well. My gardens have been full of dead things for as long as I can remember. Including multiple dead pets (mostly birds… mostly finches… mostly dead in one day… well, 12 of them). Anyway. Should these dead flora and fauna ever plan to come back to haunt me, this gnome (available from Etsy) will provide all the leadership they need.

No “pet” names, it’s insulting

In the latest case of dumb things dumb people do because they are dumb and think dumb… ethicists have suggested that calling animals “pets” is demeaning and dehumanising.

“Despite its prevalence, ‘pets’ is surely a derogatory term both of the animals concerned and their human carers…”

Domestic dogs, cats, hamsters or budgerigars should be rebranded as “companion animals” while owners should be known as “human carers”, they insist.

Even terms such as wildlife are dismissed as insulting to the animals concerned – who should instead be known as “free-living”, the academics including an Oxford professor suggest.

The worst thing about the findings of this pro-animal journal:

“It is edited by the Revd Professor Andrew Linzey, a theologian and director of the Oxford Centre for Animal Ethics, who once received an honorary degree from the Archbishop of Canterbury for his work promoting the rights of “God’s sentient creatures”.”

That’s some great theology right there. Because animals have sensitive egos.

Also. We can’t talk about bad human actions in terms of animal behaviour:

“Phrases such as “sly as a fox, “eat like a pig” or “drunk as a skunk” are all unfair to animals.”

It’s this sort of thinking that leads to the development of stupid weasel words. I mean. Vacuous and empty phrases that lack any grace or clarity.

A beginner’s guide to keeping pet turtles

Somebody, somewhere (I think it was a guy named Andrew, who I think, based on his email address, was a leader on the schoolies camp I went on – how random that he would be reading my blog ten years later) suggested I blog about having pet turtles more often. I think that’s a good idea. Pet turtles really are the coolest thing since pet rocks. And pet rocks were cool.

They do funny stuff. Like this:

Why you should get a turtle

  • They’re exotic, a little left field, and people (especially kids) love them. They love watching them in the water, and the love watching them run around. Turtles have a funny way of running, with in built comedic value.
  • Turtles are relatively low maintenance (eventually).
  • Turtles are amphibious. Amphibians are awesome. So are reptiles. Turtles are both.

What you should know before you buy a turtle

A hatchling

Our turtles at a very young age

  • There’s really no such thing as a penny turtle. You might remember having one as a child. What you had was a baby turtle that you probably grew out of. Our turtles started off the size of 50c pieces. Now they’re somewhere between the size of a bread plate and a dinner plate. They start small, but grow big.
  • There’s a bit of set up cost involved – you need heat lamps, UV lights, docking platforms, and eventually a big tank. If you get two (which we did) there’s a good chance they’ll fight. And you’ll need extra space. Most of our problems have been caused by turtle fights.
  • Get lots of Betadine. Betadine fixes everything. If your turtle has a wound, a fungal infection, a spot – Betadine will fix it.
  • You can’t tell if young turtles are male or female. It’s a gender lottery.
  • In some (many) Australian states you need a reptile license. You get these from the EPA in Queensland (or whatever they’re now called).
  • Turtles bite. But only really in the water.
  • If in doubt – take them out of the water – they only need to be in the water about an hour a day. They like being in the water. But sometimes their shells need time to dry out. For a long time ours slept in a box, wrapped in towels.
  • The internet is your friend. There are heaps of good turtle resources online. I even bought ours on the internet and had them flown up to Townsville from Brisbane. When I was worried about one of them I turned to the internet for help. One of our turtles, Rosie (short for Roosevelt) was a little more sickly than the other, Frankie (short for Franklin) perhaps because Frankie used to bite her around the neck and take her for a death roll.
  • Get a bucket to feed your turtle in. Turtle food stinks. And feeding them in their tank is a recipe for an incredibly stinky weekly clean up job.

Steps to getting your pet turtle

  1. Check licensing requirements where you live. Organise this first.
  2. Find a breeder – normally there’s enough time between contacting a breeder and getting the turtles to complete the next step.
  3. Set up the tank – you’ll need a dock of some sort (a rocky platform will do), a UV lamp to keep the shells healthy, and a heat lamp to keep their blood warm. A heater in the water is optional. They’ll get on their docks more if the water is cold (this is good for their shells too). You need to set up a tank a week before you put the turtle in it to get the chemical stuff happening properly. Apparently.
  4. Get some food – we use pellets and frozen turtle cubes (fish guts). We’ve tried with some cereal based pellets and they hate them. We also occasionally give them fruit and veggies. Which they seem to like. We put feeder fish in their tank, about 100 at a time. And they gradually disappear. But if you want some fun – kill one and hand feed it to the turtles and watch them go nuts trying to catch more.
  5. Get your turtles. Watch them swim. Enjoy some LOLs.
  6. Check your turtles regularly (especially when they’re young) for little blotchy spots on their shells and skin. These are bad – and should be treated pretty much straight away. Keeping them out of the water a bit will help.
  7. Take them for walks outside (but watch for birds). The sun is good for them.
  8. Wash your hands after touching them when they’re little. Turtles carry salmonella. And trust me. You don’t want that. Buy some of that reptile wash. Trust me. A week of gastro isn’t fun for anybody. They grow out of this after a while – I’m not sure at what point – but I don’t wash my hands anymore.

Some links

A dog’s life

Anybody who tut-tutted my coffee machine’s carbon emissions (2.3 tonnes per year) should think twice. Especially if they own a dog.

So says Good Magazine and a team of scientists… and who can argue with them… here’s a nice little infographic breaking down the comparitive eco-footprint of pets and four wheel drives… I’m guessing that a turtle is about on par with the hamster featured in the bottom left hand corner.

Pet peeves

Losing a family pet is never easy. I should know. I once had about nine pet birds die in one day, and then there was the night of the long flush this year when I said goodbye to four fish in once morning. I can understand wanting to preserve the memory of the good times shared with a pet dog through the miracle of taxidermy….

What I can’t understand is why you’d then try to sell your dead dog when you move house…

So that’s how these things work

I’ve wondered what it is that makes Macs cool. I think it might be that they’re powered by guinea pigs.

I’m not sure how they fit them into the laptops…

Actually, this makeshift animal cage is pretty cool. I’ve always wanted to turn an old TV into a fish bowl. But it’s really dangerous. There are things in old cathode ray TVs that can kill you. Apparently. Anyway, kudos to Ali who worked valiantly to find something on the internet that I hadn’t posted before…

YouTube Tuesday: Teenage Mutant Cyborg Turtle

Ninja Turtles have all the fun.

I’ve been tracking the story of Simone and her frisky dog. If you haven’t been – then you should. She took him to the vet the other day. The same day we sent our little Rosie to the vet for the first time. I’d never sent an animal to the vet before, but I think it was the most expensive five minutes of my life – and I wasn’t there. We sent her with my in-laws.

The vet told them that we’d already cured said turtle of her fungal infection by the power of betadine. Hooray for us. And then he charged us $50.

This little turtle had significantly greater problems… he lost his legs, so they replaced them with little plastic bits that slide along the floor.

No dogs go to heaven

The first movie I ever saw on a cinema screen was All Dogs Go To Heaven. It was in the little cinema in Grafton, 40 minutes from our home town in Maclean. It’s a Disney cartoon with really bad theology. There’s no Biblical reason to expect your pet to be in heaven with you (except perhaps for the Biblical illustration of lions lying down with lambs… but I’d say that’s more an allusion…).

Even the atheists know this. In fact. In the same vein as the service that sends post cards to your unsaved loved ones post rapture comes a new service offering to care for your pets.

We are a group of dedicated animal lovers, and atheists. Each
Eternal Earth-Bound Pet representative is a confirmed atheist, and as such will still be here on Earth after you’ve received your reward. Our network of animal activists are committed to step in when you step up to Jesus.

For those who doubted – this is proof that atheists can be moral people after all.

Which is sweet. We’ll have two very appreciative turtles – which is lucky – because apparently turtles are impervious to fire.

3 Reasons to keep your fish tank clean

  1. When fish tanks stop being clean they start being smelly.
  2. When fish tanks stop being clean your fish start being dead. Flushing a beloved family pet (who has been in the “family” longer than my wife) down the toilet is distressing. Even if it’s just a fish. Flushing two of his fishy brethren at the same time is even sadder. 
  3. When fish tanks are not cleaned regularly the pump gets all slimy and stops doing its job. When your pump stops doing its job your fish die and the clean up job is much bigger and more daunting.

Why I didn’t blog much over the weekend

  1. I organised the Willows Presbyterian Church Calvin 500 Conference.
  2. I spoke at said conference about Calvin v Servetus
  3. I organised the dinner part of said conference (and made coffee) where Mike Raiter talked about the New Calvinism.
  4. I attended the Townsville 400 V8 Supercar Event
  5. When I wasn’t doing those things I was cleaning out my big fish tank after a mishap with the filtration killed three of my pet fish and endangered the life of a pet turtle.
  6. I was telling the national director of MTS why I like MTS but don’t think it’s for me.
  7. Or I was watching The Ashes and Robyn was using the laptop.

Tickle me Elmo?

I don’t normally get excited about Chinglish. It seems vaguely racist to laugh at another country’s attempts to come to grips with a literally foreign language.

But I couldn’t resist this

Seeing a cute furry thing with that written on the box reminds me a little bit of our family’s pet kitten – Cadbury. I was a cat person for about four months*. Until Cadbury met an untimely demise due to a windblown pot plant… to cut a long story short it crapped all over little sister number 2’s arm.

Just one of those stories I’ve always wanted to put on my blog but never had a pretext for… until now.

* I have no real recollection of how long we had the cat for – but it was most traumatic when he/she/it died. We even had a day off school.

Spider man strikes again

David Thorne gained international (or at least internet) notoriety for trying to pay his bill with a drawing of a spider.

So he’s not the kind of guy you should send this sort of letter to. You’re really just asking for trouble…

There’s some pretty funny stuff on his site – but also some not so funny stuff. Be warned.

Here’s a sample from the string of emails he sent to his real estate agent…

“Currently I only have eight dogs but one is expecting puppies and I am very excited by this. I am hoping for a litter of at least ten as this is the number required to participate in dog sled racing. I have read every Jack London novel in preparation and have constructed my own sled from timber I borrowed from the construction site across the road during the night. I have devised a plan which I feel will ensure me taking first place in the next national dog sled championships. For the first year of the puppies life I intend to say the word mush then chase them violently around the apartment while yelling and hitting saucepan lids together. I have estimated that the soundproofing of my apartment should block out at least sixty percent of the noise and the dogs will learn to associate the word mush with great fear so when I yell it on race day, the panic and released adrenaline will spur them on to being winners. I am so confident of this being a foolproof plan that I intend to sell all my furniture the day before the race and bet the proceeds on coming first place.”

Ball loon

This is quite incredible.

It really wouldn’t be out of place in a circus – and I feel like I should know. Because last night Robyn and I hit big top for the Great Moscow Circus. It’s in Townsville for three weeks.

It was worth the price we paid for admission (free through a work contact) and probably worth the price others will pay.

There was a disappointing scarcity of scary animals – unless you’re scared by miniature ponies. Which Robyn isn’t – she wants four for the yard. She dreams of running our very own menagerie of rare and bizarre animals. That’s why ordinary people have pet dogs – and we have turtles.

It was actually a thoroughly enjoyable night – despite Robyn’s head cold/flu thing (she caught my man flu but it’s bashed her about a bit) – and it’s pretty cheap.

There are 13 performers (by my count) who each take on multiple roles (including selling pop-corn before the show and flashing trinkets and refreshments during intermission). It’s impressive. As is the guy on the ball – who prompted the post, and was discovered here

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