Sunday, March 28, 2010

shell games

The torrential rain today meant that my wife and I had to suggest an indoor activity for our house-guests. My wife's sister and four of her kids are here on their spring break. We drove to tourist-friendly Sevier County and were slightly delayed by the last participant in the Knoxville Marathon. One of the cops who stopped traffic confirmed to me that I was watching the final runner cross Henley Street.

Three and a half years ago, my wife and I enjoyed a visit to RainForest Adventures. We thought her young nephews would want to go there too. They liked it, almost as much as I did. Because I'm a fan of tortoises, I tried looking eye-to-eye at one through the glass. Another glanced up at me from the middle of a huddle.

Another visitor bought pellets to feed some Australian pygmy goats. I saw two flightless birds out in the rain but didn't notice their egg until I got home and viewed the photos.

Labels: , , , , ,

AddThis Social Bookmark Button

Saturday, August 15, 2009

feast of the consumption

Even though Michele Silva has taken herself off the air and gone into sales, I was happy to continue my tradition of posing for a photo with her at Feast with the Beasts. She was sampling some foods with Beth Haynes, who was nice enough to have her picture made with me again (and again). My wife and I also enjoyed another visit with former WBIR reporter Jim Ragonese and his wife Jaime. We last saw them at an event I think of as "indoor Feast with the Beasts."

The most interesting thing that I saw at the annual fundraiser for the Knoxville Zoo was a woman in a leafy costume on stilts. My best guess is that she was dressed as kudzu. We watched her make several graceful moves. There's probably a ballet dancer or gymnast under that green makeup.

I could have used a zoo map to help me find some of the food booths that we heard about from other party goers. The ribs at Texas Roadhouse had completely fallen off the bone, as usual. Someone said to be sure to go to The Crown & Goose for raw oysters.

The "homemade" turkey and cranberry sandwiches at Kroger featured the Martha Stewart-like tip of the day. They used pretzel sticks as toothpicks to hold the sandwich together. By the way, somebody should tell the people who put together Kroger's current advertising campaign that a truly homemade TV commercial would look more like a YouTube video and less like Terry Gilliam's style of animation

My wife thought her piece of alligator from Bayou Bay Seafood House was too tough and too spicy however mine was just right. I normally don't like to eat reptiles because I am such a fan of them when they are alive. On the other hand, a cake shaped like a turtle would be perfect for me. The folks from Mango Cakes were auctioning off a sweet tortoise. They said it was a copy of a groom's cake they had made recently. Unfortunately it's pose reminded me of my beloved pet Mo after he had died but before I had him preserved.

One of the people we chatted with was a popular local Twitterer who goes by the name The Fool Monty. He and his wife warned that the gumbo at New Orleans on the River was very spicy, which made me want to try it all the more. They said the Cajun food was in a booth just past The Carousel. I was surprised that particular bar was represented at the event and wondered what they were serving. Turns out Monty meant a real carousel.

Labels: , , , , , ,

AddThis Social Bookmark Button

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

settled our brains

There is lots of good news about tortoises and turtles in my drafts folder. As a huge fan of the reptiles, I've collected several stories over the past two weeks. First the turtles. South Carolina has seen a big increase in sea turtle nests on its shores this year. The numbers are almost double last year's and almost quadruple 2004's.

The Knoxville Zoo has a long history of success breeding exotic turtle and tortoise species. The News Sentinel had another article about the program earlier this month. The zoo has over 225 individual turtles, including a one-eyed, black breasted leaf turtle named Willie. Visitors often see his eyeless side and think he's dead.

Meanwhile at a zoo in Ecuador, a 90-year-old Pinta Island tortoise named George has been unable to reproduce. Scientists are trying to figure out if he's doomed to die as the last of his subspecies. There's still a slim chance he could father some hatchlings with a female of a slightly different subspecies.

A family in Carson Valley, Nevada, just added three hatchlings to the ten desert tortoises they already had. The Nevada Appeal ran a nice story about them with a couple of super-cute photos of the day-old babies.

Last but not least, there's joy in Cupertino because Butch is back. The 150-year-old pet had been missing for weeks. He was apparently taken from his family's yard on September 25 and was returned on November 10. His first order of business? Take a long winter's nap.

Labels: , , ,

AddThis Social Bookmark Button

Thursday, May 08, 2008

artful dodger

Stories about animal cruelty often evoke a greater response than stories about cruelty to humans. The news about a box turtle in Brooklyn has gotten my attention. Myrtle was found covered in the same orange paint used at construction sites. I thought everyone knew that you aren't supposed to put paint on a turtle.

When I was a kid, we would visit my grandparents' house on Long Island every summer. I loved walking through the nearby woods to look for toads and box turtles. Sometimes I would bring one back to the house and feed it some wild raspberries before eventually letting it go. There's at least one box turtle who lives near my house here in Knoxville. Perhaps you remember the time I saved it from drowning in my pool.

Myrtle's story was first reported on Monday by a Brooklyn blog called Gowanus Lounge. Since then it's been picked up by the wire services and the local media. WCBS-TV has a video report you can watch.

The outlook is good for Myrtle. A painted shell is much more harmful to baby turtles than to one that's full grown. The Gowanus Lounge readers posted links to the Turtle Rescue of Long Island, which may be able to help. Another reader suggested using a product which worked for a turtle named Goldie. It would be fitting for the orange paint to be removed by a product called Fast Orange.

Labels: , , , ,

AddThis Social Bookmark Button

Friday, August 10, 2007

the hare only went 15 yards

The staff at Roanoke's Mill Mountain Zoo feared the worst. Had someone stolen their Burmese mountain tortoise to make soup? It was unlikely to have climbed out of the enclosure on its own. Fortunately a zoo visitor spotted the missing tortoise 20 yards away and all was well again. Zookeepers still think somebody lifted the creature over the wall.

Meanwhile in Knoxville, a less rare species was out on the town for a supervised visit. I was excited to see a Western Box Turtle from the Knoxville Zoo at the Mayor's First Day Festival yesterday. The first turtles I ever knew were the Eastern Box Turtles I would see at my grandparents' summer cottage in Noyac. Both varieties of box turtle have the distinctive hinged plastron that creates a tight seal. However the Easterns have much more colorful shells and skin. It was an Eastern Box Turtle that I saved from my pool almost two years ago.

Labels: , , ,

AddThis Social Bookmark Button

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

friendly neighborhood turtle-man

Turtles and tortoises were the true stars of a documentary on PBS last night. I saw a blurb about the show on the Pop Candy blog and was able to set my TiVo before going out for the evening. The film moves slowly, as you might expect from something turtle related. "The Chances of the World Changing" follows a New York writer whose life unravels as he tries to care for 1,200 turtles and tortoises. He and the turtles get pressured to move out of his Manhattan apartment and his deal to buy land in New Jersey falls through. He had hoped to build an institute for the preservation of his beloved turtles, many of which were endangered species. He began his difficult journey when he saved a turtle from being made into soup at a Chinese restaurant. Ultimately he realizes that he cannot keep his huge collection together and he has to find new homes for the turtles. I learned from the documentary that there is a Turtle Survival Alliance. This TSA has its annual conference next week in Atlanta.

During my first year in Knoxville, I was invited to see the turtle collection of a local lawyer and his wife. As I recall, the husband was also a metal sculptor and the wife was an actress. They eventually moved downtown and donated their turtles to the same facility in Sevierville where I went last year to see some rescued baby sliders. More recently some friends from church have invited me to see their turtles. We need to find a mutually convenient time for me to bring a camera and take some photos for the blog.

Labels: , ,

AddThis Social Bookmark Button

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

put on your pith helmets

The Knoxville Zoo is known for its success breeding tortoises. Earlier this year the zoo made news for hatching a rare spider tortoise from Madagascar.

I saw something about tortoises when I was clicking around the WBIR website the other day. It turned out to be another one of those Glitterville features that astounded me last November. Click here for the story and the video. Really. Watch it.

Labels: , ,

AddThis Social Bookmark Button

Thursday, December 21, 2006

hear now the news

Three recent news stories resonated with me. They each provide an interesting follow up to a topic previously discussed on the blog. I try to do this every once in a while.

As a fan of turtles and tortoises, I was interested in a story that says turtles don't die of old age. The internal organs of 100 year old turtles are virtually indistinguishable from those of teenage turtles. If they don't get crushed by a car or succumb to a disease, they could theoretically live forever.

On ABC's "Primetime" last night, two groups were challenged to lose weight. One group relied on teamwork and positive reinforcement. The other group faced a credible threat. If they didn't lose 15 pounds in two months, their photo would be shown on the scoreboard of a baseball stadium. Oh yeah, they were photographed at their heaviest while wearing only a skimpy bathing suit. The results were close. Both methods helped the subjects lose weight. My wife and I are proof of that. We had each other for support and we also had the public pressure of announcing our weight loss progress in a new radio commercial each week. In case you hadn't heard, my wife lost over 70 pounds and I lost over 60 pounds on LA Weight Loss.

Laughter is contagious. A study of facial muscles shows that people start to smile when they hear laughter. This explains why lame sitcoms have to add a laugh track to trick you into thinking the show is funny. Does it also explain why my favorite comedies do not have a laugh track?

Labels: , ,

AddThis Social Bookmark Button

Monday, September 18, 2006

not to be confused with White Castle or Krystal

Hong Ta Show was arrested last week. He was charged with illegal possession of wildlife after being caught selling baby turtles at a local flea market. A blog reader mentioned the story out of the blue in their comment to last Tuesday's post.

The turtles are the red-eared sliders that many of us had as pets when we were kids. They used to come with an inadequate clear plastic container that you would partially fill with water and then stick a plastic palm tree into the island in the middle.

The TWRA relocated the turtles to a tourist attraction in Sevierville called RainForest Adventures. My family and I went to see the little sliders yesterday. The facility is a lot like the reptile house at the zoo. I didn't even try to count all the species we saw. Some of my favorites were the tortoises, macaws, lemurs and a king cobra that put me in mind of Harry Potter and other parselmouths.

Two vending machines offered containers with shed skins from your choice of either venomous or non-venomous snakes. At 3pm, the keeper put on a presentation with birds, an alligator, a tarantula, a toad, a hedgehog and several other animals. Some we could not touch, like the snapping turtle, but others we could, like the snake we draped over our shoulders. The gift shop offered mostly animal related toys and souvenirs but it was a totally random t-shirt that made me laugh.

Labels: , , , , ,

AddThis Social Bookmark Button