Wednesday, May 24, 2017

If It Walks Like A Duck

Young minds and old minds are not alike. Young people think about how to complete the most tasks in the least amount of time, effortlessly sifting through dozens of technological options, and old people think about taking a nap. Old people grew up in an era when a lot of things were out of their control. They might squawk open the door to the Rambler and head off to meet someone, but with no assurance that the car wouldn't strand them in the boonies under a plume of steam. Or they might make it but the person they were meeting doesn't, and they'll have no way of knowing why. Or they might run out of cash and that's that until the bank opens on Monday. This may sound like a worrisome existence, but in reality it was relaxing. A lot of life was just about saying "Oh well" over and over, or "Huh," or "Don't that beat all."

Which is one of the things I was thinking about when our friend Vivi, who moved to Pittsburgh, mentioned she thought platypuses were really cool. "Maybe the Oregon Zoo has a platypus," I ventured, thinking that would be another plus in the column for her moving back to Portland where she belongs. A local platypus is not usually enough to get someone to box up her dishes and go, but added to a lot of other things it could provide that last little nudge.

Now, how to find out if the Oregon Zoo has a platypus?

Young people have lots of ways. They have Devices and they know how to use them. They could shake that very information out of them without even taking them out of their pockets, probably, just by thinking at them in a hard and pinpointy way. In fact Vivi lives with a disembodied spirit named Alexa whom she is regularly hitting up for stuff. All she has to do is call her by name, because otherwise Alexa thinks you might be talking to the toaster. I don't know how any of this works, but I have no doubt that the answer to the question "Does Portland have a platypus" is readily available in the ether.

But we're old. We don't do "readily." We don't even want to. All we need to do to answer this question is ask ourselves a few others: Is it nice out? Do we have time? And are there neat things to look at outside?

(1) Yes; (2) We have time because we are retired, thanks to the American Labor Movement and the underappreciated sacrifices of thousands in the early part of the last century, and no thanks to the Republicans; and (3) Hell yes, there are neat things to look at outside, because every living thing is looking for sex this time of year. Stamens are waving, wings are flapping, slugs are swinging on slime ropes with their penises out. Woo is being pitched. It's all there for the noticing.

So off we went. We left the house at 10:30 a.m. and walked downtown and thence up the hill to Washington Park where we continued through the forest on a trail and ended up, nine miles later, in line at the ticket counter of the Oregon Zoo, where we planned to take a photo of a platypus if they had one. Dave got to the front of the line and poked his head in. "Do you guys have a platypus?" he asked. "No," the ticket lady answered. "Okay then," he said, and we turned around and walked home again, with a stop for a Reuben and a beer and a detour for ice cream at our friend's new ice cream shop.

That is Platypus Availability Determination, done old-school.



And this is the sort of thing you can get for it. Happy spring!




38 comments:

  1. Paul and I find ourselves baffled by technology more and more. Recently, we went on a couple day trips. It involved parking our car, of course -- normally a simple matter. In the "olden days" (like five years ago), you would put some change in a meter, or park in a garage and pay someone in a booth on the way out. No more. Now they have "kiosks", and you have to punch in either your slot number or your license plate number... which entails a trip back to the car because the kiosk is never located around the car and whichever number you remembered... they want the other one.

    One of our yearly destinations, Wayne, PA, used to have parking meters and strict enforcement of using them. A couple years ago, we blew into town and saw that there were no meters. "Great!" we thought, "They did away with paid parking!" Yes... we were that stupid. Then we wandered around a while and started seeing these signs about paying at the kiosk. We puzzled over it, as we hadn't noticed any kiosks. Finally, we came across someone actually using one. It entailed a trip back to the car, of course, and spending a good deal of time figuring out what the kiosk was asking us to do. You can't avoid this by parking in a garage, because they have them there, too. Since we only use them a couple times a year, we forget in the interim how to use them. *Shakes head* Paul and I have something we say to each other now, when we encounter this scenario: "It's not our world anymore." We are the dinosaurs.

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    1. I always find myself saying "the world is passing me by." There is no reason for parking kiosks to be so unclear. You have to hunt all over for the instructions. If there are enough witnesses, I just skip it and drive home and walk.

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  2. A year ago I went to an art supply store in Atlanta that I liked so much I would definitely go back, except that there are parking meters. My tech-savvy daughter was with me and it took her 5 minutes to figure out the steps to pay, and with a credit card at that. I'm not even going to try.

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    1. Might as well have a sign "You have to be this smart to enter this store."

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  3. You walked, like, 20 miles? That's....a LOT!

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    1. It kinda is. Not too unusual for Dave, but he doesn't often get me out for anything over 15.

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  4. "Do you guys have a platypus?" he asked. "No," the ticket lady answered.

    They probably do have one, but it's hiding, out of fear of those lust-filled slugs. That's my toaster's opinion, anyway.

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    1. I never listen to my toaster. Too annoying. All those pop-ups.

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    2. ha ha, that's funny, from both of you.

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  5. Was that crow foreplay? How come we don't have platypuses in this country? It just doesn't seem fair.

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    1. People remark on how quick "the act" is with birds; but maybe that is because "foreplay" not only exists, but is so extensive. When I watch some of these new-fanfgled shows on Netflix, during the "love scenes", my husband and i wonder aloud to each other, "Um... where exactly is the foreplay?"

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    2. Those crows. Ain't they sweet?

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    3. Crow foreplay is so beautiful. Thank you for capturing the video. I have tons of stills shots but it's so much more endearing to see a few minutes of their ritual. They're much more romantic than English Sparrows who look like dogs or cats. (I refuse to call them anything else because WHY DID THEY HAVE TO CHANGE THE NAME?).

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    4. Wait a minute--they had a different name?

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  6. "Mind the eyes, Fred!!" because I've no doubt that it is the gent who is doing the grooming with his stabbity beak.

    This is a scientific opinion based on watching humans AND birds at their respective feeders.

    Sorry, I meant "scientific" - oh, does that make a difference?!

    I'm sorry you didn't get to see a platypus, but those crows were wonderful.

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    1. I think you're right: that's Fred doing the grooming. I suppose another way to look at it is he's looking for snacks, but it sure looks like love to me.

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  7. Would it have been nearer to walk to Australia? And I did like the corvid caw-vid.

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    1. I don't like walking in water over my head.

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  8. I adored the crows. Of course.
    And have been lucky enough to see platypuses too.
    And still smile broadly thinking about it.

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  9. Heartfelt thanks to you for a well remembered memory of a time when I reveled in not knowing and being totally okay with that.😊

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  10. Vivi the platypus fan here. As I was reading this out loud to big Dave, Alexa woke up at the mention of her name. "Might as well," I thought. "Hey Alexa, does Portland have a Platypus?" her answer: "Sorry I am still learning how to answer questions about platypus. Try asking me a platypus fact for trivia". And then you didn't find a platypus, which was expected by YOU GOT MY HOPES UP. At least I learned the word thence because I am always learning from you two. Thank you for checking if the zoo had a platypus. <3

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    1. "expected *BUT" (not "BY," dammit)

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    2. Aha, your phone miscomspellulated for you! Don't trust it. And you're welcome.

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    3. By the way, I'm hoping that after a year or so, you'll say "Alexa?" and she'll say "What NOW?"

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    4. I sure hope so. She puts up with a lot, and I am eagerly waiting for this day.

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  11. You walked all the way to the zoo and didn't go in? Just because of the lack of a platypus? What if they had something else equally special? and now you missed it.

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    1. The people in line behind us were incredulous. And they probably thought we'd driven all the way there. They have baby river otters! Seen 'em. Oh, and naked mole rats.

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    2. EQUALLY special? Impossible!

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    3. Our zoo has otters and sometimes there are babies. I could watch them for hours :)

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  12. (Naked mole rats give me the teevee heeby-jeebies.) My dad used to say "Oh, well" often. And mean it. Born in '22...there was that Depression, then a whole war that swept him away and into pup tents in N. Africa and Italy. When things started going well after that, he was amazed! Humble, graceful, grateful. You don't get character out of a gadget.

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  13. Well, you are certainly more energetic than I. Also, if I got to the zoo I would have to go inside and put in another couple of miles. Then the next day after that long walk I could not get out of bed!

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    1. I'm not sure where the downside of that is...

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  14. I totally get walking 9 miles (and back) to see if there's a platypus at the zoo. What I don't get is people posting fake news and quotes when *the very devices they're posting on* could tell them in a nanosecond that it's fake ... they just have to ask. It's not like they have to walk 9 miles to find out...

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    1. Someone has her crankypants on! But we hear ya.

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