What I Learned From Wild Turkeys

It’s Groundhog Day, but I want to talk about wild turkeys. I was watching this PBS documentary from their program, Nature, called “My Life As A Turkey,” which won an Emmy for outstanding nature programming. In it, we follow the story of a man raising a flock of wild turkey hatchlings from birth. It might not seem like the most exciting film to watch, but the man who tells the story, a Naturalist named Joe Hutto, is engaging.

Watch the Full Documentary at pbs.org

“My Life as a Turkey” -watch the full documentary at pbs.org

http://www.pbs.org/wnet/nature/episodes/my-life-as-a-turkey/full-episode/7378/

He cares for the birds day and night for more than a year and a half. To be a turkey “parent’ obviously required serious dedication – hand feeding them, walking them, protecting them from predators, teaching them everything a parent would need to in order for them to live wild in the forest.

I learned many things about wild turkeys in this film, but beyond that I was reminded of something important I could apply to my life. The following quote perfectly sums up the deeper lesson to take away:

“So many of us live either in the past or in the future and betray the moment, and in some sense we forget to live our lives, and the wild turkey’s were always reminding me to live my life. I think as humans we have this peculiar predisposition to be always thinking ahead and living a little bit in the future, anticipating the next minute, the next hour, the next day, and wild turkeys don’t do that. They are convinced that everything that they need – all their needs will be met only in the present moment and in this space. The world is not better a half a mile through the woods, it’s not better an hour from now, it’s not better tomorrow, this is as good as it gets.”

The turkeys are alert, as Joe describes, to everything in their environment, from the hawks flying above, to the grasshoppers in the long grasses, to the activity of the other animals and plants in the forest. They are very engaged, as we can see in the film, in their moment of being.

When I’m watching them I’m thinking about how I am different than a turkey, or different from animals in general. I know as a human I have a higher order of self-awareness than a turkey, but when I see the turkeys so present of their immediate environment I reflect on the fact that my higher awareness takes me out of the present moment so often. I’m often thinking about the meaning of something, or about accomplishing little things that I hope will bring me better things in the future. I didn’t see the turkeys setting goals or working on becoming a better turkey, they were living fully present in each moment. So while I am considered to be more evolved than a turkey and therefore can enjoy my advanced status, as it were, I am also part animal, and that animal part of me which is like the turkeys and fully present in the moment often gets overshadowed by the human part of me that wants to think about my future. Watching the turkeys really gave me a great example of living life in the moment.

As I continue to advance on my spiritual path I need these kinds of reminders to help me let go more and more of my fixation on what I will be in the future, or of not being what I was in the past. I am reminded to get back to the simplicity of the present moment. If I am always in a place of not quite being satisfied with my life, thinking that if I just did this this thing then I’ll be happy, or after I do that then I will be good, then I am perpetually becoming something, and never being anything. There is more power, I’ve observed, in being than in becoming, therefore I will do my best to remember the turkeys, and be fully present. In thanksgiving, I dedicate this post to all my wild turkey peeps out there.

(Check out other recommended documentaries on Brian’s list of Movies to Expand Your Awareness)

 

Goodbye SeaWorld – an Open Letter

After seeing the documentary Blackfish I felt very strongly that I needed to write a letter to SeaWorld. The movie really made it strike home that at water parks like SeaWorld, whales – yes, those multi-ton mammals – are living in what are essentially swimming pools. Not in the ocean, in swimming pools with other whales. It struck me as so obvious: this is wrong and it needs to stop. So now in this letter I formally bid farewell to SeaWorld and hope this situation changes soon. (Note: The following letter applies to all animals in captivity at SeaWorld. The word ‘whale’ can be replaced with any other animal, such as dolphin or polar bear, and still have the same moral conclusion).

UPDATE: 11.1.2013 My letter to SeaWorld has been cited in this recent article on digitaljournal.com: Op-Ed: Bombed by Blackfish, Fallout Continues for SeaWorld http://www.digitaljournal.com/article/361261

 

Whales

Dear SeaWorld,

In protest of keeping whales in captivity, I am boycotting all SeaWorld parks, and I am encouraging every compassionate person to join with me. The documentary Blackfish is what has caused me to reach out to you and let you know that I, in solidarity with millions of others, object to your keeping whales in captivity. As someone who truly loves animals, it saddens me to know that a whale has to live 35 years captive in a swimming pool.

It’s not right.

If an institution is going to be in the whale training and performance business, then by doing so they are inserting themselves into the debate of whether it is ethical that a “highly intelligent” and “social” mammal (SeaWorld’s words) be taken from its natural environment and brought to live in an artificial one that is infinitely smaller. Not everyone agrees this is right; critics of SeaWorld believe that it’s wrong, but SeaWorld’s actions show that they believe it is not morally problematic enough to not do it.

In SeaWorld’s written response to some of the criticisms in the film (SeaWorld’s comments can be found in full on Blackfish‘s website, www.blackfishmovie.com) we read such comments like, “SeaWorld does everything possible to support the social structures of all marine mammals, including killer whales; It moves killer whales only when doing so is in the interest of their long-term health and welfare; SeaWorld has never used punishment-based training on any of its animals…” In these comments SeaWorld defends its position by expressing concern for the whales, and by showing an interest in understanding them in their natural environment.

All controversy SeaWorld faces because of what Blackfish has brought to light, such as the death of SeaWorld trainers, the injury of trainers, or the treatment of whales, are related to the fundamental question – Is it right to keep whales in captivity at all?

I would like to briefly answer that question.

SeaWorld does have a right to take the position that it is morally justifiable to keep whales and dolphins in captivity. But it’s not clear that is actually SeaWorld’s position. SeaWorld’s position is more to avoid addressing the issue, and even the opposite – to show concern for the whales’ well being by downplaying the accusations of critics. If SeaWorld is truly concerned about the well-being of their whales, as are many of us, then they must also conclude that it is in all whales’ best interest to live in their natural environment instead of concrete pools.

Since both humans and whales are mammals, taking a whale out of the ocean and putting it into a swimming pool is like taking a human out of the world and putting them into a jail cell.  When we take a human’s freedom to roam the world away on purpose, we call it punishment. It’s a punishment not a reward. Therefore, since it harms a human to take away its freedom, we know it harms a whale, especially when it has no reason to be punished.

Because I truly believe that it is only a matter of time before public pressure forces SeaWorld to release whales back into their natural habitat, I encourage SeaWorld to seriously consider establishing a new business model, one that is not supported on intentionally keeping whales separated from their big world. Exploitation is not a platform to true success. SeaWorld can still work to teach children and adults about the beauty of whales, dolphins, and other marine mammals by giving tours, inventing new underwater interactive viewing things, by being creative – but building it on an ethical foundation.

Just by looking at the growth in animal advocacy over the years we can see that people are advocating on behalf of animals in increasing numbers. I believe it has come to the time in the moral evolution of the human species when we can no longer maintain conditions where these majestic animals live in swimming pools for their whole lives, and not the ocean.

At some point SeaWorld will need to face its day of reckoning and defend its position against the public-at-large as we demand the release of whales back into their natural environment. May I suggest that it’s better to take action now and plan for this future, than to hold to the belief that more of the same can last forever. Good luck in the transition, and we will visit you as soon as the whales are released.

It’s the right thing to do.

Until then – goodbye, SeaWorld.

 

Sincerely,

Brian Coe

September 2013

Los Angeles, California

Deep Seinfeld Trivia – How Well Do You Know the Show?

Seinfeld

 

Attention Seinfeld fans!

If you think you know Seinfeld, then you are in the right place!

These are 25 Seinfeld trivia questions that only true fans will know. They test your basic knowledge of the characters and your knowledge of some basic facts about the show. If you just watch the reruns, you might get a few, but it will probably be a bit rough.

I think because we are all good friends here we will do well within the confines of the honor system, so do be honest and leave a comment letting me know how you did. Good luck, and enjoy!

 

The Questions:

 

  1. What is Jerry’s address?
  2. What is George’s middle name?
  3. What state is Elaine from?
  4. What was Kramer’s name in the pilot (the first episode)?
  5. What is the name of the coffee shop they always go to?
  6. What is the name of the alternate coffee shop they sometimes go to?
  7. Where did Jerry and George meet?
  8. What is Newman’s apartment number?
  9. What size suit is George?
  10. What is Jerry’s phone number?
  11. What is Kramer’s level of education?
  12. What is George’s main alias?
  13. What alias does Jerry use?
  14. What are two of Kramer’s aliases?
  15. What is George’s mother’s first name?
  16. Where does cousin Jeffrey work?
  17. What is the tag line for “Rochelle Rochelle: The Muscial” ?
  18. What was Jerry’s dad’s business and what did he invent?
  19. What are the names of the two companies George worked at after the Yankees?
  20. Name three men that Elaine worked for.
  21. What are Jerry’s, George’s, Kramer’s and Newman’s names in the Bizarro world?
  22. What are the three books Kramer published?
  23. What is the name of Elaine’s grandma?
  24. Who are two of Kramer’s most mentioned friends we never see?
  25. What is the name of the holiday invented by Frank Costanza?

 

The Answers:

 

1. 129 W. 81st Street, Apt. 5A

2. Louis

3. Maryland

4. Kessler

5. Monks

6. Reggies

7. High school gym class.  George was climbing a rope, Jerry was spotting him. George kept slipping and burning his thighs, then landed on Jerry’s head. They’ve been close ever since.

8. 5E

9. 40 short – We learn that when George buys his suit at the unadvertised sale in the store where the mannequin looks like Elaine

10. KL5 – 2390, Elaine gives Jerry’s number to the sleazy stationary store guy in The Big Salad

11. High school equivalency – in the episode The Barber, Kramer goes to a bachelor auction, Elaine introduces him and his education to the audience

12. Art Vandelay

13. Kel Varnsen – He uses it in The Puerto Rican Day Parade when he pretends to be interested in buying an apartment so he can use the bathroom

14. Professor Peter Von Nostrand and H.E. Pennypacker

15. Estelle

16. The Parks Department

17.  “A Young Girl’s Strange Erotic Journey from Milan to Minsk”

18. Raincoats. He invented the beltless raincoat.

19. Play Now, and Kruger Industrial Smoothing

20. Mr. Lipmann – her first boss at Pendant Publishing; Mr. Pitt – the wealthy guy who hired Elaine as her personal assistant; Mr. Peterman – publisher of the J. Peterman Catalog

21. Jerry = Kevin; George = Gene; Kramer = Feldman; Newman = Vargas

22. The Coffee Table Book About Coffee Tables (the book he went on Regis and Kathie Lee to promote); “Astounding Bear Attacks”, and “Astonishing Tales of the Sea”, we learn of the last two books in The Andrea Doria episode

23. Grandma Memma – In The Wink Jerry dates Elaine’s cousin Holly who loves to eat meat, to avoid eating so much meat Jerry stuffs some chewed up mutton in Memma’s napkins.

24. Bob Sacamano, Lomez

25. Festivus