Tuesday, October 12 2021

connor's painting, pet world, and spiker's hunger strike

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Dear Journal,

Good morning, everybody. Welcome to Tuesday. The house feels quiet this morning. From the dining room, I only hear the idle hum of the air conditioner and Minnie quietly ripping out the thread seems from her toy octopus. Oh, and also my noisy clacking on the computer keyboard - that's always the case.

Today is another cool, dark, drizzly day. But the cool weather is a welcome change. A moment ago, I helped usher Marissa and Rodney out the door. Rodney slipped his shoes on and pulled his thin hood over his head. He was radiating confidence from his outfit choice. "I have a dinosaur hoodie for walking into school, and I have a dinosaur shirt underneath for when I get to my locker," he explained. Whether he's walking through the drizzle outside or sitting in his classroom inside, Rodney will have a conversation piece that leads to his favorite subject. Nothing beats having the perfect outfit for facing the day.


I'm glad I don't have to be walking around in the rain. Right now, I prefer to stay inside where there's coffee.

Sip. Happy Tuesday. So, how are things?

Yesterday I had a long Zoom call with my friend Connor. He had just returned from a vacation to Utah with his friends where they ran a half marathon.

"Traveling is exhausting even when you're not doing anything - but you drove there and then ran a half marathon?" I asked in disbelief.

"We almost called it off," Connor laughed. "After we got there, I was like 'guys, we could just not do this.'"

But admirably, Connor didn't press his friends on bailing from the race and ordering a pizza. They participated in the race, which made them even more tired. Then they made the long, quiet drive home.

Hearing Connor on the computer, Rodney barged into my office, followed by Marissa and Miles. Our zoom call turned into a family affair. While Rodney was in the room, Connor dashed off camera to get something.

"Hey Rodney, remember this painting you made for me?" Connor held up a cragly piece of paper with colored blobs. "What is this a painting of?"

Rodney leaned closer to my laptop, studying his painting. "It's two monsters," he said confidently. "It's a three eyed monster and a two-eyed monster."

Rodney's interpretation of his old painting felt improvised, but to his credit it held up. The painting indeed featured two blobs - one "monster" in the center, and one "monster" leaning in from behind the first. We're lucky we had Rodney there to give us the authoritative answer. Now the next time Connor throws a fancy cocktail party in his apartment, he won't look like total bafoon when pressed about the installation by prying socialites.

Just before they had crashed our zoom call, Marissa, Rodney, and Miles were returning from our local Pet World. We're trying to prepare the leopard gecko enclosure in time to pick up our new animal family member on Friday. Marissa ordered most of the things on the Internet, but they decided to take a family trip to Pet World to pick off some of the easier items.

Or so she thought. She bought a UV-B lamp on a recommendation from one of the employees. She hooked it up next to the enclosure for a test run. The tiny light bulb gave off the same unenthusiastic glow as a cheap key chain flashlight. Marissa furrowed her brow while she combed over Internet results. Sure enough, she bought a bulb that was way too small.

"I've been pet-worlded," she sighed.

At least when it comes to animal facts, here's why the Internet is more reliable than the typical Pet World employee. Putting something informational on the Internet requires work. You have to garner a reputation, judiciously follow the rules of the platform, make the content concise and appealing, and if you get something wrong you have to deal with the blow-back from passionate hobbyists in an angry comment section.

A Pet World employee doesn't face the same type of opposition. Their position, uniform, and name tag give them the comfortable pretext of authority. They don't need to be concise or convincing. They don't face any consequences for giving out bad advice. They just need to answer your questions in a way that leads you to purchasing something - hence, being pet-world-ed.

A gecko's needs vary, and their enclosure is complicated. Since it's impossible to ask a gecko what it wants in a particular moment, you just have to provide it options for everything it could want. Our wide enclosure has to facilitate all the extremes - warm and cool, humid and dry, hidden and spacious. I'm told they also like to have a special corner just for pooping.

In other news, I had a short email conversation with my spider breeder. I asked about Spiker's immediate hunger strike the first night in his new enclosure.


Spiker's lonely fortress.

"I consider this normal behavior," she replied. "The little one has been in the same enclosure for over a year. The move and getting bounced around in the mail must have thrown him off, but I'm glad to see it recognized the familiar substrate and made a home. It might take a week."

Such a tiny spider - already a year old! That means Spiker was probably climbing out of his egg sac around the time Miles was born. Like Miles, Spiker is a COVID baby. All things considered, a week in hiding doesn't seem like a long time at all.

Meanwhile, Venom is really coming out of his shell. I've watched him explore a little further out of his burrow every day. Last night, he went hog wild throwing dirt around his enclosure and drinking his water bowl dry. He filled the lower level of his yard with loose dirt, like a big fluffy swimming pool. I can already tell Venom is going to be a favorite - adventerous, playful, and a droopy puppy dog face.


That's what I got today. Thanks for stopping by, have a great Tuesday everyone.