Tuesday, August 22, 2006


Lucky me: there are turtles swimming in the fountain in the lobby of my office building. So far I've seen two, although there may be more; they tend to hide out behind the miniature waterfall that rings the trench at the fountain's perimeter. Whatever space lies behind the falling water serves as the turtles' home. The trench is there for our mutual entertainment - at least, I'm hoping that the turtles find us entertaining when they emerge from the waterfall to pull their bodies up on the decorative rocks and stretch their necks out to stare back at us. Are we not equally as strange and ugly to them as they are to us? When my eye meets the dark eye of the turtle, I imagine that its stare communicates the following message - You are amusing to gaze on, Unshelled Thing, and one day you will be my food.

The turtles in the lobby are probably the closest this city gets to a zoo. I believe there are koi ponds in select backyards, and every Easter the ritziest hotel in the city installs a wooden pen full of chicks and bunnies in its lobby. And there's a neurotic parrot at the pet store on North Albert Street. If you close your eyes and imagine all those creatures together in a field, then you've got a really lame zoo. But it's free.

Across the road from my high school you could cut through the woods and come to a river about twenty yards in. It was shallow, fast-flowing, the colour of weak tea. Trout flashed brightly and snapping turtles sat on granite rocks near the bank. Once my girlfriend waded out and picked one the turtles up. She cooed at it while the creature swung its head around on its neck and tried hard to bite at her forearms with its weird curved beak. Once it realized that it couldn't get at her, it pulled its head as far under its shell as it could manage. Snapping turtles aren't generally very good at retracting their body parts under their shells, so it mostly just lowered its head and affected a really pissed-off look. You could tell, as my girlfriend rocked it back and forth, that the turtle had given up on fear and simply decided to wait until it could bite off a thumb.

Ever since then I've admired turtles.

This post, by the way, is my first foray into using Writely, Der Web's spanky free full-feachah word processing app. lication. It's not bad, but in the bottom left hand corner a little strip of text claims that "No one else is editing this document". This phrase, quiet and unassuming, has been taken up by my brain and turned into a deadpan voice muttering into my left ear. This is my personal Voice of Paranoia and Sleep Deprivation, and is usually the first sign that my neurotransmitters are all a' flooey, jumping synapses and pulling out normally dormant regions of my consciousness to the fore. Consequently, I don't feel informed; I feel as if someone at any moment could start editing this document. Someone living in a cave in the heart of a mountain, sitting there with a year's worth of rations and a dial-up connection. Weird bastard.


My Head Is Too Big said...

You're forgetting the bird sanctuary. I always feel so bad for that one pelican, though. Busted/clipped wing, no pelican sweetheart. Every other kid tries to feed the po' bastard bread... What's fun is those white looking geese. Snow geese? They show up for bread in a big group/gaggle and all the other birds get out of their way. Some kind of avian mafia. I think I saw one shaking down a duck for his breadcrumbs last time. He was all, "Look Frankie. You don't like it and I don't like it, but the gaggle's gotta eat, capiche?"

Sven said...

This is not to mention the many jack rabbits that frequent the downtown core of our quaint city. I have one that spend an inordinate amount of time right outside my picture window. I can't help but suspect it is planning something.

sgazzetti said...

I'd been wondering about Writely. Other than providing a voice for your paranoia, what do you like about it? I carry my computer back & forth and don't do a lot of collaborating, so I'm not sure I would see any benefit.

If you're among the 4% market share, you should most certainly try WriteRoom, which promises "distraction-free writing" and delivers by eliminating all the fun stuff from your computer. It's an eerie thing, but effective.

Turtles, especially snappers, give me the heebie-jeebies. I like duckies.

Katie said...

Wow, turtles, are they the little teeny ones, or the big ones? Can you steal one for me? Ive always wanted a big ass fishtank, big enough for me to keep enough water for fish in the bottom, and have a pile of gravel and stuff for a turtle or frog to muck around on. I saw turtles for sale the other day, the teeny red ear ones, for $60

cenobyte said...

I'm in love with Writely. Been using it at the office and at home for the last week.

It has its limitations, but I think there are workarounds.

Oh, and those are mime-control turtles. They're there for your protection. From mimes.