Odun Bölerken – While Choping Wood

Today, at roughly 18:00 GMT -5, in the little hamlet of Muncie, Indiana, in the small 1/4 acre backyard of a pseudo middle-class family, two boys found some stuff.

I wanted to share some pictures (below) of the cool wasp larvae we found while splitting some wood which had been left to enbugafy for a winter or more. I have seen several large 2-3 cm long wasps flitting around the yard. I conducted an “internet search” on “Google” and found that there is a whole class of wasps, called “Wood Wasps” also known as “horntails.”

This second name is given to the wasp due to the “horn” or ovipositor organ which projects from ther abdomen. Like all wasps they use this ovipositor to deposit their eggs onto (or often into) their prey.

The life cyle works as follows: an adult wasp comes and lays eggs in wood such as logs or your house (Amerikalılar, evlerini ölü ağaçlardan inşa ediyorlar). Then when the eggs hatch an ant-like grub chews a tunnel into the wood, or your house. Some of these grubs get eaten by woodpeckers who, hearing their chewing sounds, come in, bore a bigger hole and pull out the tasty larvum/grub. Eventurally, the grubs who survive grow up, become adult wasps, have sex, and then the female finds new pieces of wood, or your house and lay eggs into it, thereby starting the cycle again.

Here is a chart I made to explain the lifecyle.

wasp lifecyle_2

As you can see from the above chart, these wasps, are bad-news bears if your house has wood siding. If your house has brick siding, or is made of concrete like in most uncivilized countries, or is a cave (the Frech do this), then your house is impervious to the Wood Wasp, but subject to attack by earthquakes.

But you clicked for the shocking images of what we found inside the log. Here, without further ado, are images from our grub/wasp discovery adventure time!

Here is a picture of a hole in our house made by a woodpecker, likely a Hairy Woodpecker (Picoides villosus). My brother tells me that the woodpecker would wake him every morning with his constant, tapping, rapping at the siding outdoors. His solution? Throwing books at the wall.

Tasty grubs were had, now we have a decorative hole in our house!



Flowers of Istanbul

Spring has come to Istanbul. It came several weeks ago because like so many entities and organizations in Turkey, spring does not subcribe to Western imperialism. This includes not abiding by the Gregorian calendar and the absurdity of specifing the beginning and end of four seasons based on careful calculations of the Earth’s spiral trip around the sun.

I live in the remains of European medieval society. This means I live human community which spread and grew in a time when walking was the way most people got to work and went back home. How far can you walk in an hour? Therefore there are not vast unpopulated green spaces like you find in the USA.

Worse yet, since the Turks conquered these ancient lands, less importance was given to open squares. In more “Western” parts of Europe -say to the East in Russia, or to the South in Crete, the city square has served as an important place for society to carry out some of its most important practices, such as electing public servants and decapitating  public servants. In Ottoman society, however, covered or enclosed spaces such as mosques, the gardens of mosques, tea houses and the home were where people met to discuss policy. Executions can be carried out anywhere, such as in teh street and in front of peoples houses. As many a concubine learned briefly, the Bosforus is great place to execute people.

For this reason (the lack of open space, not the executions), Istanbul lacks in green space. The only green spaces accesible by walking are empty pieces of ground that sometimes remain between two concrete structures, hills sides of more than 400 degrees angle, and cementaries. Continue reading “Flowers of Istanbul”

Why drive a Mustang? Prius is better.

While I was walking in San Francisco with my brother this week, I saw this.

It got me thinking. Why would someone (a man) buy and drive a Ford Mustang? Do they “just like the lines”? or are they trying to find a way to keep the sheets warm on cold, foggy Bay Area nights?

Both a  2017 Toyota Prius and a 2017 Ford Mustang cost about $30,000 USD to buy new in the United States. While one could argue that the Ford Mustang is a pretty sexy car (and by sexy I mean accident inducing) I think I would choose the Prius instead. Sure, the having a Mustang would help me date 22 year-old college students, but I also imagine that the Prius would help me keep enough cash around to buy drinks for my questionably dates.

According to Edmunds.com, while the Mustang gets about 21 miles per gallon in city driving, the Toyota Prius gets 51 mpg in the city. That’s just about 2.5 times less gas burned for the same distance. If you drive 10,000 miles a year, then at the current price of gas of $2.70USD per gallon, the driving the Prius means you will spend $726USD less per year.

Put another way, that’s a week’s vacation in Mexico!

At the same time, using some internet car insurance rate estimator tool called nerdwallet.com I learned that driving the Mustang will probably cost me $30USD a month more than driving the Toyota Prius. That’s $360USD you get to keep in the bank, every year if you drive the Toyota.  If you invest that money in  gym membership at the Berkeley YMCA, not only will you be able to date the sort of women who go for muscle-bound Mustang drivers, but also, date more of them since you’ll live longer.

A quick look at goodyear.com reveals that on average one (1) Mustang tire costs about $250USD, while a similar quality Prius tire costs about 100USD. Assuming you change your tires every 50,000 miles, driving a Prius saves you $120USD a year or ($600 USD every five years if you drive 10,000 miles a year).

The most important point is that the Prius can also help land you dates with environmentally aware graduate school students who will be earning 6 figures in a few years. The Mustang, however, gets you a date with people who un-ironically wear Duke’s of Hazard clothing.

A great show for denim, cowboy hats, old symbols of racist nationalism and tight abs.


Sistine-Chapel-1560x690_cAn amazing thing happened the other day. I was speaking with some new Turkish friends at this café not far from where I work, here in Istanbul. I met these guys three days ago. Our conversations deal mostly with language. I wanted to avoid the subject that day out of respect for my newfound friends. I am always afraid that people get tired (and they do) of my constant “linguatalk”.

But they insisted on talking about the stuff. After much conversation about Turkish words, English words, Arabic words etc., they finally asked a question about something that really puzzled them: “Why do English speakers always talk about God as ‘He’?”  I was floored by the question. I immediately remembered to my first conversation in Turkey with the airport shuttle guy. I had gotten him to “conjugate” being American in Turkish for me, and I realized that there was no gender in the 3rd person.

Even after I gave them the explanation I am about to give you, one of the people at the table remarked “but still… How can that be? God has no gender.” I had heard similar “but still”s coming in the other direction –from English-speaking friends asserting that things could be no different somewhere else, because God, or their perceptions of gender, society, even physics, MUST BE correct.

There is no gender in Turkish. There is only one third-person pronoun o. They add to it different endings to reflect its use in different parts of speech, but it is genderless.

In my eyes, a great contrast is drawn between male and female in Turkish culture. For example maybe 50% of the women I see here in Istanbul are covered with an eşarp. Yet my Turkish friends cannot understand why “God” would ever be anything other than an entity, above or beyond sex. They told me that it even says so in the Koran; that God has no gender. But ask an Egyptian and he/she/it will tell you that God is male. I did in fact ask an Egyptian who corroborated this.

Yet, for some Christians, the very notion of God being something other than “he” is offensive. God is male. He is God the father. Even progressive, liberal, Left-wing, pro-choice Christians refer to “God” as Him, He, and the Father, who together with his son rule the Universe. But most Christians speak language where there are 3rd person gendered pronouns and in some cases nouns with gender.

There is no difference between “language” and “culture.” Within the parts of human interaction which so-called Linguists study there is an explanation for this. I have already alluded to it. Learning to communicate with gender colors (filters, taints, skews) the way you perceive the world including the ethereal forces we only intuit or wish into existence.

In our youth we are taught to diffrentiate among some things like color and gender. But we are not all taught the same categories. Just like the popular example from the Illiad and other ancient texts (eg. The Bible) human interaction (in this case language) allows some to perceive things that others may not. For example, it is quite possible that neither Homer, nor Cleopatra nor Lao Tzu ever thought of the color blue as anything other than a sort of red or green. They were never taught that the color existed.  For my new friends the very notion that God should have gender is vexing  –God can never be anything other than O, he-she-it all in one word.

Life in Madrid, un bosquejo

At the Sherry Bar El Matritense
At the Sherry Bar El Matritense. My friend William took me here. It is ina picturesque rare visited plaza.

Spain for me has been like no experience before. Perhaps the part that impresses me least is the untold centuries of human history on display. Every corner of the city (Madrid) every hectare of land on the peninsula has reams of history associated with it, most often of a regal variety. Sometimes, when you are with interesting people who know how to tell the story,  that can turn out to be interesting, otherwise it is boring and for me unimpressive.

“You mean to tell me that people, with simple machines built this wall, which was later destroyed by other people using simple machines? Oh, do tell me more about this fascinating story about the building of walls.”

Roman mosaic on display in a museum whose main attraction is a magical well into which a child had fallen yet was saved by magically rising waters. I can't remember the name of the saint.
Roman mosaic on display in a museum whose main attraction is a magical well into which a child had fallen yet was saved by magically rising waters. I can’t remember the name of the saint.

Madrileños are people no different from anyone else in the world –except—in their habits. And when I speak of Madrileños, I am not speaking of the immigrants who provide the Madrileños with all the comforts they enjoy, because as I confirmed this weekend, they live in wholly different parts of town. Aluche is one such place.

One a sunny are warm day, a day which heralds the coming of spring, young Frenchmen show of their circus skills for the frenchwomen who are watching them off the frame. There they were the girls, letting the men compete for them, like do the femaes of hooved animals.
One a sunny are warm day, a day which heralds the coming of spring, young Frenchmen show of their circus skills for the frenchwomen who are watching them off the frame. There they were the girls, letting the men compete for them, like do the femaes of hooved animals.

I don’t know how to tell the story of my experience in Madrid, because, it is basically daily everyday awesomeness. None of the experiences are like mi hiking trips or muggings, yet they are all so profoundly enjoyable.  Sure, my wallet was stolen when I was in a bar in La Latina. But that would not make for an interesting story.

Today a friend, whom we will call Kundus invited me to have dinner at his father’s house in Navalafuete a small farming town 2 hours outside of Madrid. I went with him his lovely wife and his children –loveable devil spawn.

The day was spent visiting an overly restored castle, running into one of my coworkers, having dinner with his silver-tongued philosopher father and hiking around in the country visiting a donkey whose name I believe is Pepe.

Over restored castle in Manzanares del Real
Over restored castle in Manzanares del Real

Continue reading “Life in Madrid, un bosquejo”

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