RW37 - Three Cups of Coffee and a Dead Bird

This week, Dan and John talk about:

The show title refers to John’s story about having found a dead bird in a beer stein in the garden that had coffee in it and that he had forgotten. The stein was big enough to contain three cups of coffee and a dead bird.

John was recording and has reverb on the vocals again. If they both were recording this podcast together in an empty cistern he would be into it, but just being himself in a cistern with Dan being in a nice, dry, safe environment John would rather come out of that hole. There is buzzing on John’s line.

Raw notes
The segments below are raw notes that have not been edited for language, structure, references, or readability. Please do not quote these texts directly without applying your own editing first! These notes were not planned to be released in this form, but time constraints have caused a shift in priorities and have delayed editing draft-quality versions to a later point.

Air Force pilots and Navy pilots (RW37)

It is Seafair and this is the week that the Blue Angels arrive. They woke him up this morning and they love to do, the Blue Angels, the naval aerobatic jet fighters. The Air Force demonstration team is called the Thunderbirds and the Navy team is called the Blue Angels. Dan learned about that when he was a kid, thinking the Navy is all about ships and they don't have planes because that is the Air Force. Naval Naval Aviation existed from the very get go. They were a very early adopter of the airplanes and they recognized that it extended their reach to to shoot planes out from their boats. Naval aviators are very proud and very chauvinistic about the Navy's air power. Some of the best fliers are in the Navy, that is what they think.

They fly under radically different conditions than other pilots, especially if you are on an aircraft carrier. John’s dad was a Navy pilot and that was a big deal to him. Navy pilots think that they are a big deal. Not that Air Force pilots don't think they are a big deal. The Air Force has an institutional culture that is pretty strait-laced. The Air Force Academy is in Colorado Springs and within the war-fighting culture there is a sense that the Air Force upper brass are often evangelical, so within the Air Force there is a buttoned-up culture that isn't real cowboy, but much more tight laced. The Navy is Top Gun-y, swaggery, leather jacket-y. If you are a Navy flyer on board of an aircraft carrier you don't have to be all ”Yes or no, sir!”, but you can just slouch around.

Being a nerd (RW37)

That is at least the sense John gets as a complete layperson who has never served a day in the armed forces. He is an avid reader of military… There is a type of guy who never served in the military, never was a policeman, certainly never was a spy, but spends an inordinate amount of time sitting around talking about the military, the cops and the spy services. That is John, but he doesn’t like that. He hopes that that is not him in the sense that your typical guy that meets that description is… If you are a with a star on your belly, you may be a very unusual sneech, but you are still characterized by the star on your belly, relative to others sneeches.

John dabbles in the dark arts of train sets and shortwave radios, but the danger is that if you trend too much that direction, you can become one of those guys that is driving around in a decommissioned police car, which you have made some attempt to make like it is currently a police car, which starts to get a little weird. Or you go the other way and you are a 1962 dad who is just out in the basement all the time, trying to listen to the Russians on his shortwave radio. It is fine for for a 10 year old to think about airplanes all the time, it maybe is even fine for a 19 year old, but then it becomes just a little bit suspect.

In our contemporary culture you are not just allowed to be a nerd your whole life, but also should be very proud of it and there is probably someone listening to this program chastising John for not being totally proud about sitting around reading his father's old naval aviation magazines that he still has a subscription to because even though he sent them a cancellation notice when he died, it is one of those magazines that they will just send you for your whole life. John was an avid magazine subscriber and some magazines you can cancel as much as you want, but they will just keep sending you the magazine forever.

In the magazine business they don't make any money actually selling you the magazines, but they make all their money in advertising, kind of like the Internet. The way they charge a lot of money for advertising is by their circulation numbers. They are charging you pennies on the dollar for the thing in the first place and to lose your number is worse than to lose that money. One time John subscribed to Redbook, a magazine for mothers and grandmothers. It has a lot of good recipes and a lot of good home tips. John subscribed to it because he was into home tips, he got a home now.

The paper is very thin because the magazine has a lot of pages, but within those pages it was hard for John to find things that he really considered useful tips. He is not trying to get lipstick out of his shirt collar, for example. So over time the Red Books were just piling up and John asked them to cancel it, but you couldn't cancel the Red Book and so he routed them somewhere, like: ”Why don't you send my subscription to Redbook over here to this other place, this rehab center for old ladies!” and he finally got them to stop coming. Canceling the subscription was not enough.

Quora emails about tank battles (RW37)

John doesn't want to revel in his nerdy, youthful proclivities, He doesn’t want to celebrate the fact that he sits around reading Quora about Russian tank battles from World War II. He is not embarrassed by it, but he doesn't want it to be defining about him. John never signed up for Quora, he had no idea it existed, but one day he started getting e-mails from Quora. For a long time he just deleted them like he deletes all his junk mail. He gets 40 junk mails every time he opens his email, but he didn't set up a filter or something.

One day John opened one of these Quora emails and there were all these threads, like: ”What is the greatest lopsided tank battle victory in history?”, which is a very specific question and John too was curious and he opened this e-mail and read this fascinating answer about one time in Kursk one German tiger tank killed 30 Russian T-34 tanks in one battle while suffering no damage. ”Wow, cool story, bro!” Then somebody else was like: ”Well, technically: Yes, but remember this story about the one time that one Russian T-34 tank held off 24 German tanks.” Who knew that these battles were taking place? This is a little bit more specific than John typically goes when it comes to knowing about tank battles.

John started reading these Quora emails and every one of them had multiple questions about tank battles, so for a few months he thought that Quora was the online forum for discussing tank warfare. After a few months of reading these accounts, like: ”What is the best job inside of a tank?”, or ”What did Saddam Hussein's tanks smell like inside?”, all this weird stuff about tanks. So finally one day John clicked on the link to actually see what Quora was and it turned out you can talk about anything. John didn't sign up for these and somehow for some reason Quora started sending him these daily updates. Does that mean that someone signed him up for this and when it said: ”What are your interests?” they checked the box Tank Warfare and just started sending John emails about tank battles? It still is a real mystery and John still gets them every day.

John went on Quora at one point and said: ”I am interested in a lot of things, like this and that and space travel and some other kinds of battles. Let's talk about horse battles!” He put a bunch of stuff in there that he wanted to talk about, but obviously this email is coming from a different thing because he didn't start getting a second email and the email that he is getting still is mostly about tanks, sometimes about tank killing aircraft. There is a tank element to every story and John was not previously Mr. Tanks.

Quora seems like Matt Haughey’s Metafilter. These were things that in principle John loved the idea, but he hasn’t yet fully become a member of the Quora community. He never answered a question, he was just a lurker. Like all those years je spent on 4chan: He never said a word because he was afraid of getting doxed, like: ”Who is this newb!” and then he would get 400 pizzas. John is not smart enough about computers. All those teenagers on 4chan that are like: ”I can find your IP address, it reflected in your glasses frames!” John doesn’t want to risk it!

Posting a photo of his keys online (RW37)

Dan remarks hat John is afraid of that, but he is not afraid to put a picture of his keys on Instagram. He is not afraid of somebody coming up on his porch and having a set of his house keys because his house already got broken into, he already got the worst experience. Do your worst!

John also never locks his car. He doesn’t want somebody breaking the window to get in and steal nothing, which happens all the time. They will break a side window to open your glove box and find nothing. Go ahead, rifle through John’s car! You are going to find nothing. It is not like John clears out the car and it is completely clear, he has a pair of World War II era binoculars.

Dan’s friend Bill would leave his cell phone in the car, this was before iPhones, and he would leave his cell phone in the car because who cares? He argued that stealing it would be the dumbest possible thing they could do. What do they want his cell phone for? This is a guy who did pioneering work for DEC, inventing the VT100, but he thought people would be dumb to steal his phone.

Multiple times people have come into John’s car in the middle of the night. You can tell that they have been in there. They open the glove box and the place where he has the binoculars. They are looking for a pistol in the glove box, they are looking for $15 in quarters that his mom got stolen from her car the other day, and then they are looking for your cell phone, your laptop. John can just see one of these drug addicted car rifles bringing his World War II binoculars to their fence, saying: ”What do you give me for these?” and the answer would be: ”I will give you less money for those than the amount of energy that you expended carrying them here!” You would have to buy twice the food that this money would provide you just to replenish the energy.

The do your worst thing about ”break into my house” is one thing, but the 4chan? It is getting you from both sides because the teenage kids on there were trying to convince each other that they had special Internet Super Powers, like ”If you troll me one more time about my cat I am going to come after you and turn the lights off in your house!” Whether or not they believed one another is unclear, but John totally believed them because he doesn’t know anything about that kind of technology and he doesn’t want to attract the attention of these monsters. They would sometimes post their victories where they had targeted some innocent person and ruined their life. These kids are amoral terrorists! The flip side of it was that the FBI was supposed to be there and all these kids were totally paranoid the FBI was watching them and baiting them.

John didn’t want to attract the attention of the FBI either just for being a guy that is lurking on here and every time he logged onto 4chan he was tiptoeing around until eventually it wasn't fun anymore. 4chan changed and it became a bunch of newbs and it wasn't fun anymore. John has a certain amount of faith that the actual work of making keys from a photograph and then having those keys and being weird enough that you would come seek out the person that you already like or know enough to follow on the Internet to have gotten these keys in the first place and then key into that person's home, that is a sequence that at every step just seems more and more unlikely. John almost wouldn't put it past listeners of this program that at least one listener had a set of his keys that they made. That seems like a perfectly nerdy thing that somebody would have done.

The person who succeeds in making a key that gets John into any one of the things that those keys represent, his house, his office, his truck, John will prepare a very cool prize for the person that accepts that challenge because first of all he is very curious to see if it can be done, given that you can only see one side of the key, and if it is successful, maybe it will function as 4chan-ing him again into being a little bit more cautious. In the early days of the program John does with Merlin he was always very cautious about saying things online that would allow people to triangulate to his house, and John was the same way or worse. He never put geotagging on any of his photos, he didn't mention his daughter's name for a long time, but he said enough things about where he lived and there were a couple where Merlin wondered if John really wanted to say that.

Stalkers (RW37)

John is very careful not to have photos taken at the front of his house where you can see the address. There are a couple of people that he was worried that they were going to show up. Not about listeners, because the people that write John from the program have a lot of things they want to talk about. They have a lot of questions they want to have answered and they want to make a connection because either they have a lot of questions or they want to be friends, and sometimes you feel like they are a little bit aggressive, but never scary.

The only people John has ever been scared of are people that he knew in real life who were fans of the band or people that he had known personally who had lost the plot a little bit and had become stalkery. What they say is that when somebody is stocking you online or in person, what you want to do is try to reason with them and say: ”Hey, I hear what you are saying. I hear what you want, but you have to understand that that is not reasonable and I want you to start leaving me alone now because it is getting weird and I know that you don't want to be weird, so let's just move it along!” If you are dealing with somebody who is authentically a stalker and authentically has that character, what you are actually meant to do is not acknowledge them at all because if you give them any acknowledgement you are just feeding the monster.

John has a couple of friends who are truly stalked. They will be at some receiving line, some event, and they will be moving their way down, shaking everybody's hand and getting pictures taken with them and they will see one of their persecutors in the line and they are not in a position to whisper to some security guard: ”Get that person out of here!” So when they arrive at that person and that person sometimes has had a relationship with them for 10 years and has all this stuff in their hands, like: ”Remember the time that you touched my coin?” What John’s friends have learned and what they try to impart is to say: ”Hello! Nice to meet you! Thank you so much for coming!” And the person is like: ”Ben, it is me!” and your reaction is just like: ”Hello! Thank you! Yes! Wonderful!” and just looking right through them, moving down the line. No acknowledgement, no recognition! Eventually they will find someone else because what they are looking for is the exchange of energy.

Dan knew a woman who at one point she had been at a conference, speaking to the many people that she met. There was one guy who was just a nice guy and she didn't leave with any kind of weird feeling, he stayed in touch with her a little bit, send an email here and there and then the conference came around again next year and he started getting really excited, reaching out and asking which hotel she was in and if they can meet up.

She had never replied to anything that he had sent and she was starting to get nervous and when it actually came time to interact with him and she not sure what to do, but then she took an approach where she pretended to not remember anything to reveal that no real connection had been made and it was fine. You always don’t want to make the person feel bad and if you made that person feel like they have a special connection with you and then you say: ”You need to stop bothering me!”, that is 1000 times worse.

Leaving coffee on the counter for three days (RW37)

John microwaved another cup of coffee, which a lot of people will be displeased to hear. He made coffee at home and let it sit in the coffee pot for three days maybe because he has one of these big coffee pots that makes 18 cups of coffee and one of John’s first principles is to always make the entire package of bacon. That is the Bacon Method, the website Dan made. Do not make six pieces of bacon because you only intend to eat six pieces of bacon. Make all the bacon! The same is true with coffee: Do not make two cups of coffee. Make 18 cups of coffee every time and then if you drink two, if you drink four, it doesn't matter. The rest of the coffee sits in the pot on the counter and the next day you wake up and all you have to do is microwave it. Then you only have eight cups of coffee left in the coffee pot, which are there for you the following day.

Dan will go to the edge of his comfort zone and say three hours, just out of kindness for John. Beyond that, there are all kinds of plagues and things that can get in there. Dan had a coffee mug, his Hulk mug, that he just on the desk overnight and the next day he came in and there were all kinds of lily pads growing in it. John doesn’t believe that this happened overnight because he knows how long it takes for mold to form in the bottom of a coffee cup better than any living person who doesn't currently work in food safety, focused on coffee. He sees it all the damn time because takes ceramic coffee cups in his truck and knows the different stages of what happens to old coffee.

Having a dead bird in his coffee cup (RW37)

One time he took a cup of coffee into the garden. One of his big steins. He was working in the garden and sometimes you lay your stein of coffee down somewhere and you forget it, so there was a big stein of coffee out there somewhere for a long time. As he came along several weeks later he picked it up and a bird had perched on the edge of the coffee and had tried to drink it and had fallen in, so there was a dead bird inside of the coffee. It was a big stein, big enough to contain three cups of coffee and a dead bird.

John’s sister’s grape juice turning to wine (RW37)

Has John accidentally fermented alcohol in the car? That happens periodically. When they were little kids John didn't really care for grape juice, but his sister loved grape juice and their mom would get grape juice and portioned it out as a reward for John’s sister, but it was so rare, not that Susan did a good job, but so rare that there was even an opportunity for her to do a good enough job at anything to earn a glass of grape juice than that grape juice routinely turned to wine in the refrigerator. Susan was getting a little six ounce glass of it maybe once a week.

Leaving a sandwich in the car the whole day (RW37)

John likes to always push the food safety boundaries. Yesterday he was at a store in the afternoon, asking for a cold roast beef deli sandwich and while he waited he had a pound of chicken tenders until he realized that a pound of chicken tenders is an entire meal of chicken tenders, so by the time he got to the bottom of the chicken tenders he didn't want that sandwich anymore. This was a custom sandwich and you can't throw this back so he asked the guy to wrap the sandwich up to go. John wasn't going home, but he was driving around and had other things to do, so he put the sandwich on the dashboard, driving around, then he realized it is a hot summer day and you don't put that sandwich on the dashboard, so he tucked it under the dashboard instead.

It is a beautiful warm day at 80 degrees, sunny with a little breeze off the water. This whole adventure started about 3:30pm and at 10:30pm John came out to his truck because he visited a friend that was in the hospital and he thought about his sandwich. Roast beef sandwich in the hot sun from 3:30pm to 10:30pm, it had mayonnaise on it and John was not 100% sure, but he was 90% Yes, but things happen in food, but then he always thinks about how resilient the human being is, how resilient John is, how gastro-intestinally strong he has proved to be and this was going to be just fine. In fact he decided not to eat it then and drove it all the way home and eat it like a gentleman sitting at the table.

There are a lot of reasons not to do that, but then there are all the reasons to do it, including the number one reason, which is that he paid for that sandwich and it was delicious when he finally ate it. Sure, the tomato was no longer completely crispy, fresh and maybe the oil and vinegar had soaked into the bread a little bit, but the whole thing had taken on that quality of stew that has been in the refrigerator a couple of days where the flavors all blend.

Has John ever gotten ill from eating something? The food poisoning that comes from eating food in a restaurant and somebody prepared it uncleanly and six hours later you are throwing up. John had that. That is just the luck in the draw, you get food poisoning in a nice restaurant, too.

Getting food poisoning at Jack in the Box (RW37)

In 1993 the first national events of this kind there was a Jack in the Box in the University District in Seattle that had E.Coli. It was the first time that John ever heard of E.Coli and nationally it might have been the first time that E.Coli became a thing in the common parlance because it killed a handful of people. The undercooked Jack in the Box hamburgers killed some kids and old people and it was all in the news.

The first time somebody bought some food at a grocery store and it had been poisoned by a bad guy, the Tylenol scare, that was big national news for a long time. Somebody tampered with a bottle of Tylenol and it is the only reason we have those tamper-proof seals on everything now.

John ate at that Jack in the box now that day and got very sick. The news was all about all these people that were sick and then dying, but John didn't die. He was not living on the skids exactly, but those were not his high years. He wasn't in a position to be like: ”I also have this!”, but he was huddled up in a corner of somebody’s apartment feeling very bad. He definitely had it, but he shook it off. A lot of people ate at that restaurant that day and most of them didn't die and John was among that crew.

John very rarely throwing up (RW37)

As his mom is fond of saying, he did not throw up very much. In his whole childhood he threw up a countable number of times. If he got sick he didn't throw up. When he drank, he very seldom threw up. He would drink an astonishing amount of alcohol and never vomit. Toward the end of his drinking career he would vomit intentionally to improve capacity in the sense that he would just get so full of alcohol and wanted to keep drinking and had to get rid of some of this superfluous water that had accumulated in him. He never blacked out in his whole time.

One time he blacked out on his feet when he was walking through a restaurant in Garmisch Partenkirchen and he had been drinking that German Jägermeister that has some special German herbs in it. He got up and was walking across this stube and just fucking blacked out on his feet and came to lie on the floor, surrounded by all these concerned people in Lederhosen. That was impressive. Walking along like a normal person and somebody just pulled the string out and all your limbs stopped working on.

There were a couple of times like that, but John wouldn't call it blacking out the way that people say: ”I don't remember what happened!” John remembers every note. He didn't really vomit and he has a bulletproof constitution in that sense.

John is always eating stuff… in college he would be cleaning his room and find a pizza under the bed and wouldn't be able to remember exactly when he ordered that pizza and he would just eat it. everything on a pizza is cured. It is not great, but… His mom has always had a thing when he asked: ”Is it okay to eat this after it has been in the refrigerator this many amounts of time?” - ”Smell it!” - ”It smells fine!” - ”It is probably fine!” There are scientists listening who are going to say: ”That is not fine!” It hasn’t killed John. He wouldn't feed it to his kid, but some of us are hunters, but when you are out hunting and you don't see the wildebeests and you find something that died on its own or killed by something else, you brush the dirt off of it, you are going to cook it probably mostly, but the human being wants to persevere against all odds.

In John’s case, some of those odds are: How long is this coffee been sitting on the counter? Four days?

Cats (RW37)

Toxoplasmosis is the weird powder in cat poop that creates an insanity in us that makes us want to have more cats. When John’s daughter's mother was pregnant she had two cats and when they first found out she was pregnant John had just recently read something about toxoplasmosis. More importantly, this was an opportunity to get rid of those two shitty cats that she had. John loves a cat and there is nothing better than a great cat, even a great dog. John is allergic to cats. Dan grew up with cats and had cats until he was in his mid/late-20s. John too. Sneezing and coughing, itchy eyes and itchy throat, but he just thought that being a human being was having itchy eyes, scratchy throat, a constant cough and a runny nose.

John sees dogs every day, he knows dog people are great and dogs are great, he knows the love, sees the love, shares the love, nothing better than a great cat. That said, there is nothing worse than a shitty cat and there are some shitty cats and John’s daughter's mother had two of the least redeemable, most disagreeable cats who if they had been in the wild the other animals, not only higher predators, but also their fellow cats, would have dispatched them many years ago just out of pure disagreeable. They were friendless, these creatures, because of their own machinations. John was against these cats from the get go and when he found out that she was pregnant he said: ”Those cats have to go! And I think they have to go right into the Soylent Green machine!”

She refused to send them to live on a farm, but she sent them to live with her sister who was a cat lady and she adopted these cats into her brood of other disagreeable, socially maladjusted cats who all lived in this house, one of them was living on top of the refrigerator, one of them living under the hot water heater, they stake out their own little place where you can't pet them or interact with them at all, they are just lurking gargoyles. She loved it, she loved these cats, she lived by herself, no babies, seldom even houseguests.

They got them out of the house and every once in a while he would visit his daughter's mother's home and find some thing from the time many, many years ago when she had cats, like was the film on this ballpoint pen some cat-based film? Right into the dumpster! Toxoplasmosis changed John’s way of seeing the world. He doesn’t currently have a pet. For a long time he wanted a turtle, but then he realized that he didn't want a turtle.

Dan’s son wanting a turtle (RW37)

Dan’s son wants a turtle. John really wanted a turtle when he was Dan’s son's age. Dan went to Dallas for a long weekend for a little summer trip and they went to the Dallas Aquarium. They do have fish there, but it is as much wildlife and birds as it is fish. It is a wonderful construct, six stories full of birds in it, it is quite amazing, like that science center in San Francisco, but more open. It is well worth your time. They call it the Dallas Aquarium, but there are like eight fish. They have giant crocodiles, they got everything. There is whole turtle section and they have a little arena setup for the turtles. You see them migrating together in small groups from one resting area to another and they are eating food and they spent a lot of time looking at these turtles.

China Syndrom, Jane Fonda having a tortoise, tropes to make characters more interesting (RW37)

Recently Dan was watching China Syndrome and Jane Fonda got some giant tortoise in her apartment. There is one scene of her at home and after a long day and she walks in and there is a giant tortoise. She picks it up under her arm, carries it around the way a L.A. housewife might carry her little poodle, and eventually lays it on her bed, smoking a cigarette, talking on the phone, eating a snack, and gives a little bit of her lettuce to the tortoise.

That was back in the day when you established a character in a film by giving them a very quirky thing like a tortoise. There are other examples of that where the character is made more interesting by discovering something in their home in the background as you come in. Not B.J. and the bear where it is a plot point that he has an Orang Utan. There is a photo where she is at home, holding her tortoise, she got her tape recorder, her black traditional G.E phone, what looks like a goose light, and a picture of Marilyn Monroe in the background. She seems to be a very quirky, eccentric character as established by these things. John is thinking about this as a movie trope: Your main character comes home, they throw their keys in a bowl, they look at their mail, and then they walk over and and greet their cockatiel.

Crockett had an alligator in the early seasons of Mint Miami Vice. He lived on a boat, that was one thing that made Crockett interesting. We maybe never saw where Tubbs lived. He was simply there to provide a foil for Crockett. Tubbs was the one that would sometimes wear a tie. Crockett lived on a boat because he was the star of the show and Tubbs lived probably in a nondescript condo. Did he actually need a pet alligator? He already had the Ferrari, he had the white linen suits, he lived on a boat. It seems little bit overkill to give him a crocodile, just as it seems a little bit overkill that Jane Fonda would have a goose lamp.

Whatever John’s level of quirk is at his house, he is very cautious about adding a defining quirk. If he had a tortoise the whole thing would turn on its head. He got 14 Hudson Bay blankets in the living room, that is quirky, but a tortoise? Now the whole thing just got turned up so that it is too loud! You just turned the stereo up so that it is bothering me!

Dan knew a kid that had an iguana that had free rein of his house. That is a movie thing: Somebody with a big iguana that just has free rein.

John had a pretty good friend who had a fairly big rabbit that had run of the house. The rabbit understood to go to the bathroom in its bathroom area. This friend's house had a dog, a cat and a rabbit all running around. A dog and a cat, sure, but when you see the rabbit come into the room and stake out a little quadrant everybody takes notice. The rabbit moves around of its own accord and it has its own will and destiny and for sure you want the rabbit to come over. You are not going to sit in the room like a cold hearted monster and not see the rabbit or not care about the rabbit. You want that rabbit to come over and validate you, but it is a rabbit and most people don't know how really to relate to a rabbit. Rabbits are not in the business of validating you, it keeps its own council and has a brain the size of a raisin. John thinks you could call the rabbit, it was a sentiment rabbit.

John doesn’t have any pets and he very cautious. Maybe a chinchilla might be a thing he would get. They are very soft, pleasant little animals, apparently and they are hypoallergenic.

There is that scene in The Wire, the tropical fish scene where you think he is about to take a bullet and then it just turns out it is all about tropical fish. That is one of those great suspenseful moments in a TV show where you don’t know how to bear this suspense and then there is this tremendous relief. The second time you watch it, you can't remember how suspenseful it was the first time because you are looking for all of the foreshadowing of: ”This isn't what you think it is!” That happens sometimes. The first time you watch The Godfather and you see the scene where Michael's brother in law meets his end. He gets a ticket to Vegas, he is told never to come back and then Carlo goes out the door and meets his end.

Dan’s son wanting a turtle (cont)

Dan is still very cognizant of the fact that if his son gets a turtle he will have to take care of it. He is eight and a half and he is more than capable of taking care of a turtle if he were to get one, but he just won't do it. Also, Dan wouldn't put turtles in the category of domesticated animals. A turtle isn't a domesticated animal really, in the sense that dogs, cats and maybe you could even argue rabbits are domesticated to a certain degree, designed and bred to be in a house with us. Dan doesn’t know how you communicate to a turtle that it has done wrong somehow and to curb that behavior. You can’t discipline a turtle and Dan can’t think of a way to impress upon the turtle that pooping over here is bad and pooping over here is good, or spilling the water out of your bowl is bad.

John has two turtle stories. One is his friend Joan Hiller who owns a turtle named Sheldon. Dan’s mom dated someone named Sheldon in the 1970s. Because turtles live for 100 years Joan has had Sheldon since she was a little girl and they have a very close relationship. She takes Sheldon out into the lawn with her and Sheldon eats the grass and she claims to really know what Sheldon is thinking. Sheldon just appear to be a turtle to John and he couldn't ever divine its intent.

Watching a turtle kissing a koi in Venice, California (RW37)

Recently John was in Venice, California. He has been there many times, but he only ever knew it three ways: There is Venice canals, from which it gets its name right, which is actually a pretty small neighborhood of houses that are built around these canals. It is very charming, but it is pretty can contained. Then there is Venice the boardwalk, the beach, which is gross and Coney Island style, but with no rides and just a lot of people on skateboards and other people playing Jimi Hendrix guitar and juggling. Then there is Albert Kinney, he main drag coming into Venice, which is now just a bunch of Mustache Petes riding Victorian bicycles and selling $15 smoothies.

John was in Venice long enough with his lady friend that they were touring the neighborhoods and you find that there are all these wonderful neighborhoods in Venice that John would never have known about. It is one of those cities where the houses in the neighborhoods face walking paths and you never see the front of the houses when you are driving, all you see is the backs of the houses and their garages because you are driving around what are effectively the alleys, but you can't ever see the fronts because the fronts are just facing one another across a pedestrian path. They were built this way 100 years ago, this isn't some new development, these are old classic bungalow homes built with this configuration and you wouldn't discover them unless you were walking around.

John grew to understand, appreciate, and love Venice, California in a way he never noticed before. He was walking through one of these neighborhoods and came upon a koi pond that someone had in their front yard. He was looking at the koi and some of them are big as a salmon. Sure and there are also turtles in this koi pond. John and his lady friend were watching this interaction and this big Koi with Catfish whiskers swims over to this turtle and the turtle puts out both of its little hands on either side of the fish's cheek very gently and starts kissing/nibbling at the fish's mouth. The fish stays there and the turtle is kissing him and stroking his cheeks with the turtle’s little claw hands. The fish very gradually starts moving backwards and the turtle follows all the way across the pond, stroking its cheeks and kissing it. They both had never seen anything like this.

They got all the way across the pond and the fish was like: ”Alright, enough!” and breaks off and starts to swim and the turtle follows the fish, really trying to keep up, but the fish can move faster than the turtle. The turtle follows the fish all the way around the pond, paddling hard until finally the fish settles down, the turtle comes up, corners him, and then starts this again, hands on the cheeks, kissing and nibbling, pushes the fish all the way backwards around the pond until the fish was like: ”Quit it!” These two live in this pond together. They got to be doing this all day. This wasn't a thing that John just happened upon them doing this for the first time in their lives. This is their deal. He is the biggest fish in the pond, the turtle is his special friend. John is not sure what they are doing, whether the turtle is eating little parasites off the fish or whether they really are in love or what.

John has never seen anything like it and it really impressed upon him‚ this interspecial friendship that you can have with a turtle, even a fish can have it with a turtle. Or is the turtle having it with a fish? Whose pet is who? The fish is much bigger than the turtle and it seems like a koi can live a long time. It is not like the fishes only lives for five years and the turtle lives for 100. It is a little bit Mary Doria Russell where you want to think that this is about the turtle and the fish being friends and you discover later that that is not what it is about.

Dan got several fish tanks at the and he doesn’t think a fish can think in terms of having its own pet, that would give the fish way too much credit for thinking ability. Dan thinks the turtle is setting the tone and it was the pursuer, too.

Dan’s son wanting a turtle (cont)

John did have a friend in high school who had a turtle and he did not care for the turtle very well and the turtle had crusty eyes and lived in a box. If Dan’s son is not ready to take responsibility for the turtle this is the 100 year problem. If you get a turtle when you are 11, you are basically signing on to be 111 and having had this turtle your entire life and the turtle will outlive you.

Joan Hiller and Sheldon? Sheldon is going with Joan. You marry Joan, you marry Sheldon. John’s chinchilla isn't going to last that long if he gets a chinchilla. It is going to be four years old and will be the oldest chinchilla that ever lived. Dan’s kids are both at that age where they really want a pet. If they would just show a little bit more interest and responsibility around the care of these fish, which involves a water change once a week and just drop in some food into the tank, even if his son said: ”Dad, don't forget to feed the fish!” the door would be cracked open a little bed. At least he was aware that they eat.

They have a pair of angel fish that have started to breed and lay eggs in the tank, which is a fun experience because the eggs will be laid and hatch only a couple days later. Once they hatched within these two days they go into a different stage. Dan was always familiar with the way that guppies gave birth to little miniature guppies that are right away able to swim and eat, but the angelfish, like many fish, go into a stage called wigglers where they don't even really look like fish and they just wiggle while pressing against the surface that their eggs were laid on. They do that for a period of time until eventually they become free swimmers and that is when they really start to get picked off by the other fish in the tank.

The parents are the kinds of fish that if the little egg or baby fish falls off of its place where it has been laid, they will pick it up in its mouth and spit it back out where it goes. You see these two parents, which are now in this defensive breeding mode where anything that gets even remotely close to where these babies are, they are going to dive-bomb it. They don't hurt the other fish, but they herd them into another part of the tank. It is a really interesting experience and both of Dan’s kids are very interested in this, but that doesn't seem to translate to them being ready to care for a pet of their own.

When Dan was a kid and got their first cat he really thought he would be taking a lot of care of that cat but his mom did everything. He was aware that it had a litter box, but he wasn't about to approach that.

John’s guinea pig Cinnamon Toast (RW37)

John had a guinea pig and he and that guinea pig made a very powerful bond. It was named Cinnamon Toast and lived in a cage in his room and often slept in his bed with his. Cinnamon Toast was a very, very smart guinea pig who never ever ever pooped or peed anywhere but his cage. He would sleep in John’s bed the whole night and then he put him in his cage and he would wait to go to the bathroom. John got him in 2nd grade when he was 7 years old and Cinnamon Toast lived a very long time. Their cat Tippy and Cinnamon Toast were very close friends. The cat would sometimes climb into the cage and they would sometimes cuddle up with one another. They would groom one another. Sometimes Tippity, Cinnamon Toast and John would all sleep in the bed together.

Cinnamon Toast was a big muscular guinea pig and he was just a wonderful guy. They live a couple of years, but Cinnamon Toast lived four years. He was a good pal. A guinea pig cage is a steel cage and that sits in a base that you carpet with newspaper and then the poop and the pee go through the bottom of the cage and you can clean it fairly easily. But in the summer John would take the cage-part out from the from the base and put the cage in the grass so they could be out in the yard together, John would be in the hammock reading and Cinnamon Toast would be there luxuriating in the grass that came up through the bottom. Sometimes John would just take him out of the cage and they would party in the lawn.

When Cinnamon Toast finally died it was very tragic, they were all broken up about it, and John got a couple of new guinea pigs to replace Cinnamon Toast in his life, but these guinea pigs were idiots, just normal guinea pigs who were just dumb and did not want to be part of the family, they wanted to be damn guinea pigs. It was not just that John was upset at not being able to bond with these things, but he was deeply philosophically upset that it turns out guinea pigs are stupid and he didn't even recognize these guinea pigs as being a member of the same phylum.

They did not resemble Cinnamon Toast at all. It was like having a friend and then meeting another person and then the other person doesn't even speak your same language and just has dead eyes. These guinea pigs had dead eyes! John got rid of them, but Cinnamon Toast even today, in John’s family at least, if you start talking about Cinnamon Toast everybody got a story!

guitar ending

Unless otherwise stated, the content of this page is licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 License