Sunday, December 17, 2006


Well I got the new Verizon FIOS installed for my Internet connection, my television, and my phone. There have been some glitches with the televisions not working right, or I should say with the Verizon FIOS TV cable not working right, but it seems okay now. My phone is staticky, but they came to check it and it appears my old phone is tired and worn out. Time to try a new one, if that does not work, time to have a repair person from Verizon pay another visit. The repair guy who came, for the above problems, was prompt and courteous.

As for my Internet service, it is much faster than dial up, probably faster than our cabole at work too. No big problems there.

As for a billing problem I had, they told me they will credit my account $75.00, making it about right as i see it.

Hopefully once all the bugs are worked out of their new system, it will all go well. The television servie is more than worth it, many more premium channels than CableVision, for a lesser price.

All the best,
Glenn B

A Tortoise Called Hermann (yes with 2 N's)

There is something about turtles and tortoises that just get most people to like them. I don't know exactly what it is, but even people who dislike other reptiles, the snakes or lizards, often warm up to these cold blooded critters. Maybe it is because they seem so vulnerable and they often pull their exposed body parts into their shells at the first sign of danger, or maybe it is because so many of us are familiar with them by the time we first go to school through fables and other children’s' stories such as Aesop’s fable of the tortoise and the hare, or maybe because they are unique among the vertebrates in that they are basically self contained living mobile homes, or maybe it is because they look soulful, or maybe because they look as if they have an awareness of the wisdom of the ages in their eyes, that makes them so attractive to so many folks. Whatever it is in them that helps them to possess us is beyond my telling, but I can say that they have fascinated me since I was a young child.

My first pet, as far as I can remember, was a Red Eared Slider turtle. My uncle Ken (we called him Unkie way back then, and I still do sometimes today) bought my brother and I each a turtle at a local pet shop. It was an experience I, at least in parts, have remembered vividly through the many years, and many other pets that I have kept, since that day; but that is a story to be told another time. I guess the fact that a turtle was my first pet did something to make them and tortoises a favorite animal of mine. Those first ones lasted awhile, but sadly not too long, as back then an awful lot about their correct care was not known. As I grew though, I learned more and more about them, and about animals in general; yet they remain among my favorites. They don't come like a dog when called, but sure know when it is feeding time, and they do to some extent like to be petted, especially under their chins (please don't try this with aggressive species like snapping turtles, or with wild caught turtles of any species).
It turns out, or turned out, that land turtles and tortoises became preferred by me over water turtles some time back, maybe because they were easier to keep, or should I say because their enclosure was easier to keep clean. I still prefer them somewhat over water turtles now that I am older. Our (my son's and my) tortoises outnumber our water turtles 3 to 2. Then again, maybe it was because of Aesop's fable that told of a tortoise as the underdog, and how it beat the highly favored hare in a race, all because of using its wits and determination, that I developed a tendency to prefer them a bit more. I am not sure, but whatever it is, how can you not love a face like the one in the picture?
The particular tortoise in the picture is a Hermann's Tortoise. It is about 3 years old now. I got it from a friend in the Long Island Herpetological Society. It is a captive bred specimen, much preferred by me over wild caught if only because captive bred specimens take some of the pressure off of wild populations. Still I would keep either WC or CB as the case may be because WC specimens introduce genetic variation into captive breeding programs. I have not attempted to breed mine yet, I have two of them. I am not even sure if I have a sexed pair or not, I tend to think they are both females, but I am in no hurry to find out. In another year or two I may attempt to breed them, but if they are both females I'll get a male first.
Hermann's Tortoises come from the countries around the Mediterranean Sea such as Spain, France, Italy, the Balkans, Greece and so on. They are primarily vegetarians, I feed mine a diet of almost exclusively vegetable matter consisting of lots of green leafy vegetables, some other vegetables like bell peppers and broccoli, some fruit, and some commercially produced tortoise pellets. Right now they are kept indoors because of the weather; but in the warmer months they are kept in a pen in my backyard. They love and need sunshine to help them metabolize vitamin D3 in order to help them metabolize calcium from their foods. While staying inside they get a special lighting arrangement of incandescent bulbs for heat, and special florescent bulbs to replace sunshine. Since nothing is a match for the sun though, they get outside for the nicer months.
We also have a Russian Tortoise that I recently adopted. I believe it to be about 4 to 5 years old. It is from Russia as its name implies, and is probably a wild caught specimen, though captive bred ones are now becoming available. As for water turtles, we have two Common Musk Turtles. I am 51 years old, and if I keep these guys properly, they are almost certain to outlive me, and follow my son (who will probably keep them after I am gone) into his middle or old age. Yes they can live a ling time, and if you are interested in them as a pet I suggest you bear that in mind before getting one. They are a long term commitment, but well worth the time and effort it takes to care for them as I see it.

If you do ever plan of getting one as a pet, please make sure to research their care prior to getting one. This way you will be ready to care for it once you get it, making it all the easier for you and the tortoise or turtle. If you ever plan to give one to a child for a pet, make sure that at least one parent is going to be willing to take care of it exclusively, this since children are not the best caretakers in the world, what with their varied interests and short attention spans. Nothing wrong with one of these as a pet for a child older than say about 5 or 6, but don't believe even for a moment that a child that young is responsible enough to care for a pet without the diligent attention and help of a parent. Do trust me when I tell you they are a long term commitment, tortoises and turtles (especially tortoises though) may live well into old age as the youngster goes from child, to teen, to young adult, to middle age, and finally into old age. Maybe that is another attraction they hold for us, they seem to exhibit an everlasting loyalty in their long lived connection to us, something often all too lacking in the hustle and bustle of today's ever changing world.
All the best,
Glenn B
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