Life in general Private

Mourning, and happiness (and more mourning)

Yesterday at around 5:30 in the evening, a great light went out in the universe and a great part of my heart died.

After a terrifying incident and bounce-back two years ago, Pooper started fading again five or six days ago, and… there was a long paragraph here about the circumstances of her passing, but I cut it out. It’s not important. It’s how the story ends, but it’s far from the important or best part of that story. It’s enough to say that she gave me kisses and snuggled in hard as she passed, and let out a familiar little sigh and was gone. I spent some time with her after, and Marisa and I went home on a cold night with the threat of snow in the air.

I could write a book about Poopercat.

Not like a children’s book; a 900-page epic. Full bore Tolstoy. It’s hard to describe her to people who didn’t know her; she was a boundlessly positive presence, open and trusting and loving and curious.

The beginning of the story is when Marisa and I went to the Societé de Protection des Animaux in Sherbrooke over a decade ago. Marisa wanted to find a dim boy cat because her beloved Ozzy had died several months before. We looked at all the cats in cages but none of them vibed. Then we went to the play room, and out of all the cats in the back of the room, a tiny calico with bright eyes bounded over to us. When I reached down to pet her she hopped up on my shoulder and nuzzled my ear, and when Marisa bent down to pat her she gave Marisa kisses as well. We hadn’t thought of a girl cat, but as we left we realized she was the one. When we returned two days later, she was gone, and we were terribly sad — until from the back of the play room a pair of ears and eyes emerged from a hammock, and then she bounded down and ran over to us like she’d been waiting anxiously to come take her home.

We took her home.

She was so scared when we let her out of her cage that she hid under the steps to the basement; I got a blanket and a book and sat there and read Don Quixote for over two hours until she eventually came out.

And then she was My Cat. We signed some sort of contract in that moment where we would be best friends forever. And we will be best friends forever. 
I’ve had other cats, and my family had dogs as a kid, but Moxie Parker was my first experience with pure unconditional love. She’d follow me around the house, squeak to be picked up and patted, and spend every moment she could with me. She thought I hung the moon and the stars, and I tried to meet that with my dumb imperfect human love as well as I could.

She made me a better person. Being the recipient of such pure and unconditional affection made me a warmer, more affectionate person. Her simple focus on simple joys — a good nap, a good meal, a sunbeam, and loving and being loved in return — helped ground me in what’s important and appreciate the joys of daily life and deal with some of its frustrations. She changed me, forever, for the better, and Marisa, too.

It’s hard to describe her personality, really. “Affectionate” is covered above, but also this undefinable combination of intelligence, curiosity, and enthusiasm for things.

She had a quality where you just wanted to make up and tell stories with her.

And we did. Over the course of over a decade, Marisa and I made up countless personae for Moxie Parker. The very first, I’d venture, was Moxie Parker, Girl Detective, when she’d bumble around the house and poke at nooks and crannies and explore. But the list grew, and grew, and grew, and her sweet silliness gave rise to our sweet silliness, and we were all sweet and silly together. Here’s the list, which we compiled several months ago. Much of it is incomprehensible to the casual viewer, because these were in-jokes that only three people in the world knew about and understood; two humans and one cat (or several dozen cats):

  • Moxie Parker, Girl Detective
  • Nurse Pooper (“I’m gonna nurse you STRAIGHT TO HELL!”)
  • Spooky Bumpire
  • GD Butters, buttery pat tycoon
  • Edgar Allen Poops
  • Shakespoops
  • Bumbee
  • Dark Pooper
  • Other Pooper and Other Other Pooper (“Burn it all down!”)
  • Cosmic Clown Pooper
  • Goat Ghost
  • Lawybler Pooper
  • Entrepreneur Pooper (Pöop)
  • Skritch the Almond Genius Pooper
  • Scanner Pooper
  • Broadway Pooper:
    • [End of Act 1] I’ve got Grouchity Face / I want my snacks and I want my space / I want to be swaddled in a special place / because I’ve got / Grouchity Face
    • It’s Me! It’s Me, Everybody! (musical)
    • Listen, Listen! (one cat show)
    • Don’t Stop Pooplievin’ (showstopper)
    • Get Right In There Clean The Butt (disco hit)
  • Flapper Pooper
  • Friend of Stan Tan, winning at chebs — a prolonged take on the old Devil and Daniel Johnson thing, including a mispronunciation of “chess” and a riff on an Ingmar Bergman movie, and more
  • Belly Newsletters! Rolling over on her back and sharing her belly; when you started to turn away, kicking the leg out a little for _even more belly_
  • 100% not a twap!//TOTALLY A TWAP — the state of enticing you to touch the belly before turning into a murder machine
  • Enemy of Morris B., lover of Tallsworths
  • “Good thing I brought my dancing shoes!”
  • Flee, flop or fart: the survival tactics in order
  • Grooming for the Queen
  • The “chubby hustle” when she was booting around the house in a hurry; “chubby rage” when Digby or another cat would provoke her to the point that she’d rassle.
  • Unto every generation, a Poopercat is born!
  • Pooper is accused of crimes by the Vatican and protests her innocence (Innocente! Innocente!) and is cleared and elected the new Pope (Bededicte! Benedicte!)
  • Defender of the Treasure (“Death to the twessul seekuls!”)
  • Pooperbucks: given/taken for snuggles/taking liberties. Kisses may cost Pooperbucks. Balances change radically and without notice (“It’s a volatile currency!”)
  • Doctor Poops, travelling time and space in the DARBAS (Dinner and Relative Breakfasts and Snacks)
  • J.P., her Quebec boyfriend, and his motorcycle sidecar
  • Face merge technology – the nightly habit of mushing my face and her face together, in the hopes they would eventually become One Face
  • Eye biggening exercises: the daily maximum cuteness routine
  • Kuddle Kween, her superhero identity — tiara, cape and a diaper (it gets busy out there)
  • Cuddle Cop, forcing herself in between Marisa and I in bed and pushing us apart when we try to spoon
  • Tapping for attention… since she was a kitten, she’d sit beside you and politely tap you with a paw for pats.
  • Chubby Bear: sitting on her haunches/back legs, paws up, and then leaning forward and licking her belly while still balanced on her rear end, front paws just kind of dangling in the air

Every one of those comes with stories. Every one of those could take an hour to explain. And there’s so much more.

I gave her “pony rides” when she was a kitten through a cat; I’m sure it happened in Kingston, but the clearest memories are Sherbrooke: I’d get on my hands and knees and she’d hop on my back, settle into a comfortable position (often facing backwards, for some reason) and I’d crawl around the house with her riding on my back like a princess, usually dropping her off at the bed in the bedroom, where she’d gracefully alight and then lie down for a nap. This sounds really stupid when I write it down, but I got a huge kick out of it, and so did she.

Her absolute passion for the Big Room, which is what we called the side deck and yard. One click of the door lock and she’d launch herself from her saucer bed in the kitchen and hustle to the door, practically knocking you out of the way to get out, where she would walk on the garden stones to avoid touching grass (lava!) and would loll in the sun, so happy that she’d just roll slightly back and forth on her back and squeak in the warm sunlight. When winter hit, the first time you’d open that door and the cold would hit her nose and she’d recoil, shaking her head quickly, looking at you like you broke it. But every spring, the sheer joy of going back out again.

Her excessive caution coming down stairs, leading with front paws and then both back legs with a deliberate hop, and — if you somehow got downstairs before she did for breakfast — listening to that unique hop, but faster than you thought possible.

Her tremendous fondness for boys, especially big guys with beards — she could walk into a room full of people and would beeline for the burliest man with facial hair.

Sleeping with us — me — almost every night, starting out standing on my chest and getting pats, then settling in between or behind my knees for the night. Always coming upstairs for naps, usually lying beside me, where she’d snuggle in between my torso and my arm, rest her head on my arm, and give a little sigh before falling asleep. As she was getting older, I made a box to help her hop up on the high bed in the bedroom; it had a little wobble to it, so every night I would lie there, waiting to hear her soft tread, then the wobble of the box, then her ears and eyes peeping over the side of the mattress, before she hopped up for a cuddle and some sleep.

COVID couch cuddle time: once I transitioned to working from home, it became a lunchtime ritual that I’d lie down on the living room couch; she’d clamber up, climb on my chest, practice some face-merging, then snuggle in so that she was nestled on me and against the back of the couch, wiggling into position and then letting out a sigh — that little sigh! — of contentment before falling asleep. Sometimes I’d doze too, sometimes just lie there for a while. If she didn’t get her couch time at lunch, she’d get angry, and barge into my office in the early afternoon and squeak until she got pats.

Her love/hate relationship with Digby, who she called the Goblin — sometimes playing with him, sometimes chasing him around the house in a state. He’s a skittish cat, which would trigger her to get at him, and if there was a loud noise anywhere in the house, she’d get up from her saucer or bed and go looking for him, looking all the world like she was rolling up her sleeves, to see if he was vulnerable and ripe for a chasing.

Her distinctive, swaybacked, “skatey-legged” walk, gliding rather than stepping, a kind of side-to-side motion with her low center of gravity and determined gait.

Her morning routine of having Marisa pick her up on a kitchen stool, holding her like a baby, with Marisa trying to steal kisses and Pooper putting up the “no paw” to keep Marisa’s face away from her face.

The way she could make me happy just by walking into the room. The way she _lit up_ a room.

She permeates every room of this big old house. There isn’t a couch or a chair or a vent where I don’t expect to see her snuggled up in having a nap, or a stairway or a hallway she shouldn’t be hopping down or skating along. Last night was largely sleepless; I can’t lie in our bed without the absence of her weight and warmth next to me turning into a terrible abyss. Every room I enter I catch my breath because I’m hoping to see her.  

Somewhere up in that list of things is “Unto every generation, a Poopercat is born!”, which started as some sort of dumb Buffyesque riff on the idea that a cat of her spirit is gifted to every generation, and — like the Buddha — if one Poopercat passes, another great spirit rises somewhere else. And, in between fits of doing things I thought only happened in books and movies (crying so hard you pull a muscle behind your eyes; literally collapsing in tears; making sounds you’ve only ever heard in horror movies featuring mutant woodland animals), this is an idea that gives me profound comfort.

Two years ago, when she was very very sick, I made a cot and slept next to her in her saucer bed on the kitchen floor, by the warm vent, for three nights. She was too ill to move. I laid there and gave her pats and wept and asked her, and the universe, for please, just a bit more time. Just a bit more time basking in the warmth of her. And I got it; she recovered, miraculously, and there was two more years of kisses and fun.

So I can’t complain. Not really. I got a full complement of Poopercat, and then I got two extra years. That’s a triumph.

And now, unto a new generation, somewhere on this big dumb planet, somebody who really needs a Poopercat will find one.

Somewhere on earth, somebody is meeting a cat for the first time, and the cat is saying “I’ll be your best friend forever if you’ll be my best friend forever.” Maybe it’s in India, or Spain, or Iraq, or the Russian Steppes. Somewhere, a cat and her person are meeting for the first time, and making a deal: it can’t last forever, but for as long as it does, there will be a bond of unconditional love and trust and friendship. Somebody will know what unconditional love feels like, and will grow and become better and stronger for it.

That’s the one thing that makes it okay right now: the idea that somebody is finding their Poopercat today, and making the deal that I made. It ends with heartbreak, but the joy on the journey far outweighs the pain at the end.

There will be cuddles and silliness and lolling in sunbeams and time on the couch and snacks and careful hops down the stairs and stories and laughter.

And love, and love, and love.

Just for fun Theory

The hedgehog, the fox, and the honeybee

Something short this week. This has rattled around in my head for about five years, and I’m finally writing it down.

Prior to starting at the law faculty, I had very limited exposure to academia. I was in for-profit marketing / advertising, where there were a lot of terrifically brainy people, but we all tended to be the same kind of brainy: fast-thinking, creative, aggressively innovative, think-around-the-problem types. Succeeding in advertising requires a lot of different things, but optimally rapacious curiosity and the ability to take vast amounts of information on board in a hurry. If you don’t understand the client and the client’s business to a fair degree of acumen pretty fast, you’re not going to be able to help them.

Academia was definitely not the first time I’d met another kind of brainy: dogged, deep, and intense thinkers in one very finite area, but not necessarily interested in or curious about others. I started thinking more about types of brainy, and landed here. It turns out there are lots of ways to think about this, and probably some folks have got this down to a different and better degree than I do, but on a cursory Internet search, it doesn’t look like there’s a definitive take on this. So here’s mine:

Intelligent is deep, but not wide. “The fox knows many things, but the hedgehog knows one big thing,” as Isaiah Berlin said, then later regretted saying because people kind of ran away with it. I’m one of those people, because he was originally writing about lenses for political philosophy and here I am further bastardizing it with this small bit of nonsense. Intelligence is the hedgehog trait. An intelligent person who is very interested in the history of woodworking can tell you when the first lathe was created or the average width in microns of a sharpened chisel… or not, if they’re interested in going really deep in a woodworking subset, in which case they might be absolute geniuses at wood grain but know nothing about how a table saw works.

Smart is wide, but not necessarily deep. Smart is the fox trait. Smart people know a lot of stuff, and have a crazy huge sampler tray of knowledge to draw from. A smart person could know that the reason your microwave isn’t turning on is that the turntable is broken, but also the evolutionary path of the platypus and where we’re at as a species on the path to colonizing Mars. Smart people do well at trivia night.

Clever is wiggly, and belongs to neither foxes or hedgehogs, but aligns itself more with foxes. Let’s call it the honeybee trait: honeybees, like many foraging species, use chaotic patterns to optimize food searches. They’re seemingly all over the place, but in a way that ultimately serves a goal. A clever persion might look at your broken microwave and use their knowledge of a systems planning process for a Mars mission to devise a way to figure out what is wrong with the microwave, and apply their understanding of the history of the lathe to tinker with the broken turntable inside it.

Nobody is only ever one thing. Intelligence, smarts and cleverness exist in everyone, in unique mixes. In my experience, they also wax and wane with time. I would say I am more clever than smart or intelligent, at the end of the day, but can find myself sliding into long periods of intense interest in a single subject, and crowd out most of my brain with a single point of focus. Similarly, I can get sick of something and spend weeks dabbling in various ideas, and dip into a dozen different areas of knowledge.

Clever seems to be the most baked-in trait: you’re either curious and prone to lateral thinking, or focused and not given to crossing mental wires. There’s no good or bad to it; lateral thinking can lead to disasters as well as successes (“I bet I can fix this fusebox with that piece of chewing gum” is lateral thinking, but also dumb as hell).

That’s it. No grand thesis of life, just some categorization that’s been rattling around in my head for half a decade, waiting to get written out. Intelligent, smart, clever: the hedgehog, the fox, and the honeybee.

Higher Ed Marketing & Communications Sponsorship Theory

Sponsorship should not be a function of marketing

When I started my Best Job Ever in July, I took over a marcomms shop run by somebody who had done it for 11+ years, and the circumstances of their leaving were less than ideal. There wasn’t a lot of leftover explanation of processes and systems; given that vacuum, there was also some reshuffling to move things into the marketing and communications shop that didn’t reside there before I started.

One of those things has been sponsorship. It’s going to be part of my budget; I’ve got a medium priority (i.e., back half of 2021) to come up with a comprehensive strategy around sponsorships.

There’s a natural fit there: one of the outputs of sponsorship is recognition. So why not put the people most in charge of our public-facing presence in charge of sponsorship?

My office is best positioned to analyze the optics and media value of a sponsorship. I know how much an ad costs in a national newspaper; I know how much it costs to produce a video; I know the rates for advertorial space in specialty magazines. Sponsorship, with “your logo goes here” and “we’ll mention you in our press releases thusly,” fits right into that matrix.

The difference between the former things and the latter things, though, is that media impact is the sole point of conventional paid media placement.

Even that’s not precisely true. There’s an optics and support component as well, in terms of what you chose to affiliate with in a media buy. I wouldn’t counsel us buying ads on a white-nationalist website, for instance; in fact, we have specific exclusion protocols set up ourselves and with media companies for this reason, so that when Google (for instance) is automatically placing ads, they don’t wind up anywhere nefarious. Social media channels are also on their way to their own kinds of polarization, where presence in one channel sends a message about the nature of your organization as well as the content in the message itself (Marshall McLuhan, I can’t quit you). A video on TikTok sends an inherently different message about who you’re speaking to and why than the same video on Twitter (and I’d argue that they shouldn’t be the same video anyway).

Fuzzily diagrammed — I’m still working through this, mentally, so don’t pay too much attention to it. Back of the napkin chicken scratch as I work through this.

Graph describing relative value of paid print, paid social media, editorial and sponsorship content. Sponsorship does not fare well in most categories.

We’ve got:

  • Paid placement (print and social)
  • Editorial and organic content (web, print, social)
  • Sponsorships

And the outputs:

Optics: do we look good through our presence here? This is very high for sponsorships (the appearance is generosity), lower for editorial (we’re obviously self-motivated to be telling these stories), quite low for paid (it’s transparent that we’re spending money to say this thing).

Story: how much fidelity is there to an overall narrative? Do we control it? Pretty much a three-way tie at the top here, but sponsorship fares worse: we’re telling our story through the sponsor’s lens, and that carries more inherent risk.

Value: if you came in and plunked a stack of cash on my desk, how would I spend it? This is something we could spend a lot of time on, but my approach to structuring and building a shop that creates and sustains narrative is (obviously) that capacity to create and disseminate editorial/organic content is far and away the best bang for your buck. Then social’s better than print for specific targeting reasons, then print, and sponsorship justifiably at the bottom — you’re not paying for marketing, you’re paying for the organization to do what they do. A key part of this in the sponsor relationship is that getting value out of the sponsorship often requires the same capacity load as just running editorial and organic content.

Placement: how precisely do you control where your message ultimately appears? Print offers total control, social offers targeting but more fuzziness in exchange for spread, editorial/organic is at the mercy of those who share it, and sponsorship is largely ultimately out of your hands.

Message: Do you control the precise message you’re sending? Again, a three-way tie for paid / editorial / organic, and sponsorship fares worse.

Persistence: what endures over time? Only editorial, through SEO and ongoing web presence, really endures. Print advertising, paid social, sponsorships — all pretty ephemeral, social the fastest to vanish.

Caveat: I literally came up with this in 15 minutes on a Sunday morning, so don’t lose too much sleep over it. I can poke a bunch of holes in this myself on quick review, but I think it holds together in broad strokes.

So what’s the point?

“I believe in what you’re doing and want to give you money to support it” is the heart of a sponsor relationship. The more you drive sponsorship decisions into the marketing sphere, the more transactional the relationship will become, and — I’d argue — the higher the risk that the organization you’re sponsoring will become worse at what they do because their efforts turn more and more toward generating ROI opportunities for sponsors than pursuing their core mandate.

There’s no shortage of voices trying to encourage — or force — the relationship. Articles like this one present sponsorship as a marketing activity.

When you put that decision in my hands, however, you’re asking me for a professional evaluation based broadly on three things:

  1. Optics — how does it look for us to be supporting this?
    • FOMO — who else is in? How does it look for us not to be present?
  2. Storytelling — what value can we generate by talking about this ourselves?
    • Does that story mesh with a strategic, overaching goal of ours?
  3. Value adds — what will the organization do to promote our brand and story?
    • Will this be a resource the organization can generate, or will it take capacity and collateral on my end for them to fulfil that part of their mandate?

This is all well and good — it’s a reasonable matrix for evaluation of a spend — but you’ll notice that nowhere in there do we see “are they doing work that is good and of value, and that we want to support”. It’s kinda in the “optics” category, but optics is just as much about the organization’s media presence and recognizability, how readily understandable their work is, and so on.

It’s sponsorship as fast carbs: an approach that prioritizes looking at short-term or immediate gain and not at ideals or long-term prospects.

As much as it removes things from my control, I am, on balance, a bigger fan of the other approach: the Dean or other senior admin make values-based judgments on what we want to sponsor and support, and there’s a hand-off that says “make the most of this from an optics and marketing perspective.”

I’m pro-sponsorship. Avidly so. I just think it’s best supported for reasons that start with mission and values, and not originating through the marketing lens.

This tail-wags-dog approach doesn’t align well with my ideals and ideas around what sponsorship could and should be. It can work, and I’ll make it work, because that’s what I do, but the aforementioned report on sponsorship planning will be a solid matrix of what we get from sponsorships, in terms of optics, marketing, communications and partnerships… and a full-throated defense of doing things that other way, where the institution supports and aligns with organizations that meet its mission and goals first, and marketing becomes a byproduct of sponsorship, instead of the primary driver.

In the interim, if you’re doing great things in the engineering space and want sponsorship, hit me up! I can’t promise much — the budget is small! — but the more data points I can get into the “mercantile” matrix, the better it’ll be when I make the case for sponsorship to be a function of ideology, not direct benefit.

Higher Ed Marketing & Communications Theory Workplace

You can’t flip every turtle when the turtle farm’s on fire

Helpful’s in my genes.

I can’t, er, help it — it’s a combination of positive attributes, like being somebody who cares about people and wants them to be happy, and negative attributes, like being an inveterate people-pleaser. It’s also in the professional DNA; marketing is a combination of being creative and being productive, where the desire to do and make interesting things intertwines with the desire to get stuff done and move projects forward.

It’s generally all good. Broadly speaking, wanting to get things done, and to help people, is a good way to be. Being a self-starter whose first instinct when I see a problem is to solve a problem has gotten me to pretty good places careerwise. It’s also won me a lot of friends.

So no problem, right?


The problem with being helpful is that it’s driven by an emotional state. Somebody’s in distress — external emotional state — or something isn’t right and it bugs me — internal emotional state.

Emotional states don’t necessarily lend themselves to super great decision making. I can get pulled down into a micro-focused area of detail while neglecting a broader, bigger priority. It’s the whole urgent vs. important issue, writ small, and writ constantly.

Being a manager — and managing good people who similarly want to help — has really helped me come to grips with this, and develop better strategies to make sure I’ve got my eyes on the big issues while still moving things forward on the micro level.

The analogy I’ve been using lately, which I’ve gotten quite fond of, is flipping turtles.

I watched Blade Runner a few times in university, I guess. For those who haven’t seen it, this is essentially the Blade Runner Turing test for replicants — androids passing as people.

“The tortoise lays on its back, its belly baking in the hot sun, beating its legs trying to turn itself over, but it can’t. Not without your help. But you’re not helping.” Why aren’t you helping? Are you a human, or a replicant?

The whole tortoise analogy sticks with me: it’s a great illustration for helping, especially the kind of minor-effort, costs-nothing help that people in creative roles can exercise a dozen times a day. It’s just another 15 minutes to make the web page look a bit better; it’s just five minutes to proofread something for somebody; it’ll only take an hour or so to fix this, or do that. Going the extra mile, bailing somebody out of a jam, taking care of something nobody’s even noticed is wrong (yet). Walking down the road, flipping turtles over. It feels great! Happy turtles all over the place.

And while I switch it to turtles (I like turtles! Plus, flipping a tortoise seems like it’d be a recipe for back strain.), it also conveys that pervasive guilt I feel for not helping. Every email unanswered in my inbox is a pang. Letting copy go out the door without making sure it’s absolutely deathless prose feels like shirking. Saying “no” to people is unsettling. I feel like I’m letting turtles bake in the hot sun. What’s wrong with me? Am I a replicant? Why am I not helping?

Because, as I’m now very fond of saying:

You can’t flip every turtle when the turtle farm’s on fire.

Me, July 2020 and constantly thereafter

And in roles like mine, the turtle farm is quite frequently on fire. COVID hasn’t made things easier, of course. Even outside of a COVID context, however, higher ed marketing and communications is in a continual state of expansion: the expectation is best-in-class websites running seamlessly on constantly varying and upgrading platforms; seamless adoption on new and evolving social media platforms with ever-changing algorithms; mastery of storytelling among wildly diverse audiences ranging from high-school students (and parents) to 75-year-old alumni to Nobel-prize-winning academics to industry leaders and government wonks; quality analytics and reporting on all channels to show value; broad strategic branding and positioning work; institutions are reckoning with their colonial pasts, and under constant scrutiny for past and current misdeeds on the diversity and inclusion front… and the beat goes on.

Which is the job. It’s a thrilling, evolving, breakneck process of continual evolution and refinement and I’m there for it.

But it does mean that various parts of the turtle farm are continuously and spontaneously bursting into flame. Plunging in and reprogramming how a page template renders images on a phone screen represents an hour you’re not spending on a plan to change CMSes and move your antiquated site to a whole new web platform. Re-reviewing a set of social posts for an upcoming speaker event is time you’re not spending on the annual budget. Helping proofread the annual report is time you’re not spending reviewing recruitment trends and making sure your tools and messages are on point for the latest iteration of messaging.

There are a lot of turtles to flip, and not flipping them can make you feel like a negligent monster.

But the turtle farm’s on fire. If the ten turtles flip today keep you from saving a hundred tomorrow, you’ve made a bad choice.

This isn’t a solve-the-problem post. It’s an articulate-the-problem post. Managing the work — figuring out what constitutes a turtle to flip, and what constitutes a turtle-farm-fire (and sometimes a flipped turtle is an indicator of a fire — maybe they’re flipping over in their hurry to flee the flaming turtle farm, and maybe I am investing too much thought in working this metaphor to death) is going to be something I unpack and look at a lot.

For now, though, the analogy stands. I like it. You have to stop flipping turtles when the turtle farm is on fire.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I’ve got some turtles to save.

Addendum: I solicited some friends for a name for a fictitious turtle sanctuary, thinking it’d play into the above somehow, but the name just didn’t seem to play out well in the context of the piece, and I wound up liking a farm more than a sanctuary because it sounds snappier (no pun intended) in a pithy phrase. Sorry, friends! Special shout out to Nathalie Noël for “Shellter,” the best turtle sanctuary name of them all.

And here is a list of more turtle sanctuary names, if anyone wants to start a turtle sanctuary. My gift to you.

  • Turtville
  • Slowpokes Ranch
  • The Turt Yurt
  • As The World Turts
  • Turt Around, Bright Eyes
  • She Shells Sanctuary
  • Sancturtary
  • Snap Judgments
  • Sanctum Sancturtum
  • Reptile Resort
  • Turtal Recall