austin_dern (austin_dern) wrote,
austin_dern
austin_dern

Gonna wear no socks and shoes with nothing to do

I had at least one friend confused about the kangaroo exhibit so let me describe it, even if I can't quite put photographs yet where I want them. Anyway the exhibit, called now the Australian Outback, is a walk-in enclosure. It's an elliptical disc, but humans were confined to one sidewalk curve by a single-post fence. Kangaroos -- they had several models and a good-sized mob there -- could in principle come up and onto the sidewalk, or even down a little decline past that, but they instead laid about in the sun well away from humans. That basic topology hasn't changed, though a slope down towards the shore has been fenced in so kangaroos can get across but humans can't anymore.

What is different is first the grounds. They had been pretty barren, dry, dusty affairs. Now there's grass everywhere, many more trees, grass plants, all sorts of greenery. This alone seems to have made the kangaroos, wallabies, and associated marsupials (plus ostriches and squirrels) more active, since I've never seen them moving so much. There's also a truck where people can sit and get their picture taken in front of a wide-screen TV showing pictures of the Northern Territory. And there's now a feeding station in the human-accessible walk, so there's some motive for a wallaby to come and eat while surrounded by humans who try to pet or feed her.

This opens up the possibilities for great comedy, first as human cubs smaller than the wallabies are pushed forward by parents to pet it. Then there's humans of all ages holding out grass blades and have cute one-sided conversations like, ``I'm going to feed it, take my picture ... isn't she cute, she's eating ... aw, look at her teeth ... ow!'' because timing just when you should let go of the grass before the wallaby gets around to biting fingers is an art.

Trivia: Fox West Coast Pictures pledged US$50,000 in 1930 to fight California's adoption of Daylight Saving. (They expected more evening daylight would cut into movie theater revenues.) Source: Keeping Watch: A History of American Time, Michael O'Malley.

Currently Reading: The Syndic, Cyril M Kornbluth. Playing against expectations, Kornbluth sets this mid-21st century tale in a future in which the government of the United States (and, I think, Canada too) has collapsed, and the continent divided up between rival formerly-criminal gangsters; the remnants of the North American government tries occasionally fighting back onto the mainland from pathetic bases set up in severely depopulated Europe.

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