Daily Archives: December 17, 2013

I’m Living In My Own Private Tanelorn

As many people wiser than I am have noted, life is just high school with more money. Well, more respect as well, especially for unorthodox attitudes about social proprieties. Take my word for it: a 17-year-old attempting a few practical jokes during a major holiday usually gets slapped down, expelled, or even deported. Add 30 years to the date and give that kid access to better resources, and all anyone wants to do is tell family and friends “Can you believe what the old guy in Engineering did last night?” The spirit of Tezcatlipoca runs strong this time of the year, especially when among people with the same priorities.

A case in point: at my day job, my department has had a longrunning tradition concerning holiday presents. Namely, we’re serious about the present itself, because we all honestly respect each other and enjoy each others’ conversations. It’s just the presentation that makes everyone outside our circle worry for the future. Since 2007, our prerogative is to find an appropriate gift and then wrap it with the tackiest, most disturbing wrapping paper we can find. That definition of “most disturbing” gives me a lot more headway, as my co-workers have teenage daughters, and I’m constantly being told, over and over, abut the latest TV show or musical artist to capture their fancy. Most of the time, I shudder with them: the only thing worse than being a preteen in the days of Shaun Cassidy and Leif Garrett was hitting my teen years just in time for Phil Collins. With Christmas approaching, though, the gloves are off, and the local Target store keeps giving me rolls and rolls of brass knuckles.

As I’ve related before, everyone has to understand that it’s entirely possible to go overboard with a quick comment or action in the workplace. This is how I ended up with an FBI record for allegedly selling government secrets to the Daleks. This is why, when getting my boss a model of the Apollo 11 command module and Lunar Excursion Module, I practically oozed subtlety and restraint:

Disney Princesses

Not that I could say the same thing for my other co-worker. You see, his birthday is in December, so it just made sense that I focus on giving him a birthday present that he’d remember forever. Oh, he’ll remember it, the way he’ll remember the chipped teeth he got when his jaw hit the floor:

Justin Bieber

As I told him, “Just be glad Target was out of My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic bows.” That probably would have left him catatonic with horror. It’s Christmas: there’s no reason to be mean.

It’s also time to keep up longrunning traditions. For years, I’ve kept a big candy box at my desk, with the contents being open season to everyone on my floor. With a new candy dispenser, it just needed a touch of festiveness to really make you feel like the season is here. Sing it with me: “It’s beginning to feel a lot like Christmas…”

Mister Hanky

Post-Nuclear Family Gift Suggestions 2013 – 2

Mischa with "The Mullet of Metal"

(Most sites and blogs put together lists of interesting sites for tips on gifts this holiday season. Let’s assume that family members and friends are already taken care of, and you yourself might need something to do through the long winter. Keep checking back every day between now and New Year’s Day, and with luck, you might find something of interest.)

I’m regularly asked if and when the Texas Triffid Ranch will start online sales of plants and arrangements, and I have to be honest. Part of the reason why the Triffid Ranch doesn’t ship plants is because most of the plants and arrangements are too large and too heavy to ship on an economic basis. It’s not fair to charge, say, $10 for a plant and then another $60 on shipping for the rest of the assemblage. The other reason, though, is that I have plenty of mentors and friends who do offer online sales, and I can’t recommend giving them your business highly enough. If asked whom I prefer, I’m going to tell the absolute truth and say “all of the above,” because each one has something to offer.

To start, just about everyone in the carnivorous plant trade owes a debt of gratitude to Peter D’Amato of California Carnivores, if only because of the seminal reference guide The Savage Garden. If you end up in the North California area next year, consider a trip to the nursery location, but also don’t be afraid to order plants all year round.

On a more personal level, I sincerely regret that I didn’t get hooked on carnivorous plants about six years earlier. This way, instead of wasting time with a writing career when living in Portland, Oregon, I’d have spent almost all of that time ransacking the inventory over at Sarracenia Northwest. While making plans for your own arrangements and displays, you might want to check out SN’s series of instructional DVDs, just to get everything ready for when you’re ready to start your plant collection.

And on the other side of the continent from these two, we have Black Jungle Terrarium Supply, in central Massachusetts. Black Jungle carries a lot of carnivores, but it also specializes in dart frogs and dart frog supplies, and a lot of fascinating non-carnivorous plants. By way of example, check out Black Jungle’s collection of ant plants (plants with specializations that encourage ants to nest inside), and if you really want something different, consider a bioluminescent mushroom kit.

With all three venues, I’ve purchased plants, including some that hold places of honor in my personal collection, and never had an issue, and I recommend all three without reservation. One day, I hope to return a tiny sliver of the goodwill and knowledge they’ve offered me, but I’m going to have to work at it.

More to follow…