August 31, 2007
I know that the way she describes her culture’s attitude towards homosexual is quite different from the attitude in Ecuador, which is nearby and culturally similar in many respects. But I think that telling people about their own countries is probably not the best idea as well. I have gotten quite a bit of that while traveling, and while I mostly have agreed with their assessments, it hasn’t always led to enjoyable discussions.
Rhiannon, your reply further stimulated some slightly edgy thoughts I had about my conversations with Mary from Peru.
First, I should say that I like her quite a bit for the following reasons:
1) I admire people who work hard with determination to achieve difficult goals.
2) I adore people who “break out” of preset categories and labels, in ways ranging from charmingly silly—“I am from Peru and my name is Mary”—to major determination to set their life goals on their own terms—“even though I am a woman I made up my mind to be an engineer instead of an accountant.”
3) We immediately hit it off well and have had pleasant conversations on a variety of topics.
All that said, the edgy parts come from the following:
1) In general, the way she describes Peru to me makes it sound as if it’s a mellow, friendly, happy place with a lot of good fellowship and amiability among the people who live there. While I am not an expert and have never lived there, I have my doubts.
Rhiannon’s comment distills one area of doubt for me.
Another comes from the general world of Peruvian politics:
In terms of politics, the section of the Wikipedia article on Peru’s recent history conveys to me an impression of a country that’s not quite a complete “Happy Meal” as far as being one big happy nation.
2) I also have a stereotype of Latin American countries as often having a considerable “upstairs-downstairs” gap between a complacent “upper class” and a “lower class” of workers and peasants who aren’t quite the “happy campers” the upper class think they should be.
So I wondered if her cheerful description of Peruvian society represented the sheltered viewpoint of a person to the “manner born.” However, when I first met her, she struck me as a person who came to the United States with virtually no money and who jumped right in to working nights in a nursing home without displaying the least attitude about it, while going to graduate school during the day. Not exactly what I would expect of a spoiled aristocrat.
So life is full of little mysteries. This seems to be one of the happier ones I encounter.
August 30, 2007
In my work, I had an interesting contact with a young Peruvian woman who attended graduate school in industrial engineering in the United States.
When I met her, she introduced herself as “Mary.”
Thinking she was over-anglicizing her name, I addressed her as “Maria.”
“No, my name is ‘Mary,’” she politely insisted.
I’m polite in person even though not on the Internet, so I addressed her as Mary from then on. However, as I get older, I’ve become less worried about offending people by asking stupid questions, so I recently asked her why a woman from Peru would be named “Mary.”
“My father loves American movies,” she replied. “For example, his favorite movie is Gone with the Wind, so one of my sisters is named ‘Vivian.’” (I forget what American “Mary” movie star she is named after.)
When she meets other Hispanic people, they are equally befuddled when she introduces herself, “Hola, I am Mary from Peru.”
I asked her what caused her to become an engineer. (Higher education for women is a tradition in her family. One sister is a psychiatrist specializing in working with children. Another sister is working on her doctorate in linguistics in Spain. A brother is a BMW mechanic in Brazil.)
“When I was in school [in Peru] my guidance counselor suggested as I was good in math I should become an accountant as that was a suitable career for a woman. I said to myself, ‘I don’t want to be an accountant, so I became an engineer.’
After she received her undergraduate engineering degree in Peru, she applied for graduate school in the United States and was accepted. When I first met her, she was just starting school. To work herself through school, she got a job at a nursing home. She looks like someone from a poster about the Incas, and while her English is good, she speaks with a strong Hispanic accent. I imagine someone might have looked at her taking care of bed pans and the like and thought, “Oh, my gosh, another illegal immigrant taking jobs away from Americans.”
She graduated with a Masters degree in industrial engineering and now works for an American utility company. Although she is soft-spoken and very polite, she is obviously a person with a lot of determination and an ability to stand up for herself. She said when she started her job and would be introduced at a meeting; she had to point out from time to time that she wasn’t an “exchange student” or an “intern,” but a person with a Masters degree in engineering. (Also, I am sure she was “legal” during her entire time in the United States.)
As I also have become less reticent about asking people personal questions, I asked her whether she is a Catholic. Yes, she said, though the rather “PC” way she described her beliefs made me think of what I describe as “low agnosticism.” However, I try not to bore people to death in person as I do on the Internet (as it’s more difficult to “scroll by” in person), I did not explain to her about radical agnosticism.
However, I did ask her about attitudes toward homosexuals in Peru. She described something like a cultural “Don’t ask, don’t tell” attitude—if you don’t bother other people with your life style they won’t bother you. Sometimes I suspect the Peru she describes to me is a little idealized, but I generally avoid telling people from countries where I’ve never been about their own country, so I mostly listen to what she has to tell me.
August 29, 2007
Follow-up to exurban savagery.
Probably the main reason I have not used a .22 rifle is that I have been following the lead and guidance of The Friendly Neighbors, who use an air rifle.
Also, apparently rifle hunting is not legal on our island. I am not sure how this can be, and why the NRA has not thrown everybody not in support of unrestricted gun use off the island into the ocean.
In addition, at one time my daughter worked in a medical research lab and had to off rabbits as part of the research. As a conscientious person, she carried out this task as directed, but as a gentle, kindly person she was distressed by the responsibility. Now, as a mom of a three year old girl, she has apparently had a resurgence of her gentle, kindly, “fuzzy bunny” self and is not entirely enthusiastic about her dad’s emergence as a blood-thirsty rabbit killer, or so her mom tells me. I suspect she would not be all that much of a fan of dad increasing his firepower.
I have been a bit concerned that a rabbit I shot be really dead, as mentioned in several messages. I move them around a bit to make sure they seem clearly lifeless, but I have been drawing the line at trying to take a pulse or detect breath on a mirror.
Although the Friendly Neighbor is big on using a scope, I have mixed feelings about it. At times a rabbit is wandering around where I can focus on it with the scope and aim at it, but often the rabbits are bounding out from under my feet, and the only chance I would have to get one of them would be to fire off a quick shot.
As I think Pete indicated, a rifle with just a sight might be more useful for quick aiming and firing. For that matter, a pistol would probably be better for quick shots at a bunny that’s visible for a few seconds. Unfortunately, air pistols don’t pack enough punch to really damage the bunny. Mrs. Friendly Neighbor indicated that her air pistol mostly irritates the rabbits. Now while it’s obvious that irritating a bear by shooting it with a pistol is probably not a good idea, I am not sure how dangerous it is to irritate a bunny with a pistol, but why take a chance?
Besides the two rabbits I clearly shot, and I think were clearly dead, I had a pretty good shot at one rabbit the same day. It bounded into the thick underbrush of the woods, but a couple days later, my wife detected a bad smell coming from that part of the woods, which we thought a fairly clear indication of dead bunny.
So at the moment, the score stands at two clearly dead rabbits, one probably dead rabbit, and several frightened rabbits. We have not seen any rabbits for a few days.
Mrs. Friendly Neighbor said to us, “After you get a few rabbits, they seem to get the idea you don’t want them around, and stay away for a while. But they always come back eventually, and you have to start shooting them again.
However, in the meantime, the zucchini are clearly avoiding any sudden moves and watching me very carefully. However, their strategy is to double in size overnight, while staying in one place.
My strategy is to take the zucchini to work on the mainland and leave them in the staff room with written instructions to co-workers to take take them home quickly and eat them at once while we still have a chance to survive their onslaught. Seems to work so far, as all the zuchinni I left have disappeared, though they may only be lurking in the corridor waiting for a chance to jump me and bring me down as a pack.
August 28, 2007
The following story is rated R for extreme violence. Sensitive people are advised to skip to another blog.
When a Masai boy in Kenya notices a lion killing off cattle (or less politically correct, when he simply notices a lion), he uses a spear to kill the lion so he can complete his rite of passage to become a man.
When I was 12 years old, I held our aggressive Muscovy duck while a neighbor chopped off its head. However, I am out of practice at getting in touch with my inner savage. Now that I have reached the emotional age of 13 at the chronological age of 63, it’s time for me to get in touch with my inner savage again and take another whack at the rite of passage business.
Although we have no cattle pasturing and no lions roaming on our five acres of woods, we do have rabbits preying on Mrs. Random’s organic vegetables, bringing her quickly in touch with her inner savage. First I helped her kill a rabbit with rocks, and finished it off by stomping it with my boot. The next day, by herself in the garden, Mrs. Random killed off another bunny by herself.
Both of us grossed ourselves out by getting in touch with our inner savages. As is typical of civilized humans, we decided to make it easier to kill by using a weapon of remote destruction, namely an air rifle that shoots pellets.
The day after our first futile effort with the air rifle, my wife said, “There’s a rabbit in the front yard.”
I loaded and cocked the air rifle. The rabbit was nibbling weeds in our front yard. As it was not in the garden, perhaps I violated the Rules of War. Nevertheless, as it was about 30 feet away, it was at the distance to focus it in the rifle scope as I leaned my arm on the porch railing. Convenience trumped civility. I leaned my arm on the porch railing. I sighted carefully, took a breath, squeezed the trigger. The rabbit moved a couple of feet, and then stopped, apparently mortally wounded. I reloaded and fired several more times. The rabbit collapsed. I examined it. It looked pretty dead. I tossed it into the woods for the convenience of the crows or the coyotes, whichever scavenger was more convenient.
I suppose we could have cleaned the rabbit and eaten it. I have been told that the wild rabbits are infested with viruses, and are not good for humans to eat. It is more convenient for my inner squeemer to believe that.
Later the same day, I saw another rabbit, closer to the garden. Circumstantial evidence made it easy to infer evil intent. As Cameron noted, rabbits sometimes move very fast. However, rabbits have two responses to danger: flight or freeze. The rabbit moved into a pile of brush left over from a chainsaw outburst and froze. It might have been hidden from a coyote looking from the side, but it was visible to a human looking from above. I came to the conclusion that rabbits are sort of prey on training wheels for beginning hunters.
It took several shots before it stopped writhing and twitching. I am not sure of the etiquette of savagery here. Is it more appropriate to stomp it again, although I find myself reluctant to do this again, or is it acceptable to shoot several pellets into it until it stops writhing?
Perhaps Michael Vick can provide me with some guidance.
August 28, 2007
No matter what else you have seen me write, I sincerely salute your love for your daughter, her partner, and their daughter.
Random, you have a wonderful, loving family. Congratulations to you and your wife on 42 years of marriage, and congratulations to RD and OP on 15! I love reading all these touching and funny little stories about your family life, etc. Like Kyle, whatever I might believe about “God’s ideal”, I know love and wholesomeness when I see it. And BTW, thanks for spending time on worldmagblog.
Kyle and Janie, thank you for your generous words. I believe people should be honest and forthright about their beliefs and values, as you are, and when in doubt, aim to err on the side of toleration and love, as you do.
Average Jane said,
You are what I would like people to be but they seldom are. That makes you an amazing man.
Thank you. I’ll try to live up to my image once in a while, but don’t turn the light up too bright, as I am kind of shy.
Mr. Random, you are so cool, and so is your beautiful family. I am basically ignorant regarding same sex attraction, but I do know lovely people when I meet them. FTL, jen – P.S. I saw a DVD entitled “The Right Man” where Robin Williams plays a candidate for U.S. President. He addressed a question regarding his view on same sex marriage this way: I don’t know what the big deal is about same sex marriage, everyone knows that after you’re married, it’s always the same sex!
Your loveliness radiates out of every message you post, jenny.
It always makes me feel kind of mushy (which is really an accomplishment) when I hear about your accidental family, and your who-knows-how-it-survived marriage, and your complete acceptance of your daughter. I really wish more people were like you and Mrs. Random . . . I think there would be more happy children if they’d all been raised by people who didn’t necessarily like children but who took the job seriously.
I spoke recently with Josh about same-sex marriage, which is legal in Amsterdam . . . he cracked me up by saying: “Jurriaan and I find the concept offensive. We don’t want to be associated with something that straight people fail at all the time.”</i>
Feeling kind of mushy is kind of sick. I’ll overlook it this time, but try not to let it happen too often or I’ll tell Little Liu on you.
August 26, 2007
I finally figured out about 3% of using our new digital camera. OK, .3%. The scene you see is the anti-bunny fortress, known in more innocent days, as the “garden.” You can’t see the background where a squad of terrorist bunnies are plotting their next suicide attack.
I haven’t really figured out how to prepare my pictures properly for inserting them into WordPress, but now that I’ve gotten old, I no longer worry as much about looking stupid. I’ll slowly get better, or I won’t live that long enough to get better, in which case I won’t worry about it very much at all.
August 23, 2007
After our lesson with the air rifle at the neighbors, my wife and I and our weapon returned home. I had twice hit the picture of the cardinal on the seed bag in the head. Although as far as I know, no cardinals live west of the Mississippi River, if any invade our space, they will be in a world of hurt. If they hold still enough for me to aim.
I was supposed to practice shooting at the bird seed bag some more. However, on the next Saturday, my wife said, “There is a rabbit living in the garden.” So I decided to go into battle without additional target practice.
I loaded the rifle with a pellet. (It only takes one pellet at a time, so it is less likely to jam, as Pete wisely points out.) I put the safety in the safe position, so I wouldn’t shoot my wife or myself by accident.
We entered the garden. The berry bushes are near the front (east side). The raspberries are on the left (north) and the boysenberries on the right (south).
The strategy was to flush the rabbit out and chase it back to the rear of the garden (west). When the Friendly Neighbor had come over with his air rifle, the rabbit had conveniently run to the rear of the garden and posed for a few seconds while he aimed and shot.
Mrs. Random used the hose with a nozzle to spray and a stick to poke to flush the rabbit out. After various sprays and pokes, the rabbit ran out. “Get it! Chase it to the back!” My wife yelled. I chased. The rabbit ran to the fence on the south and hid under the peas along the fence.
My wife pursued it into the peas. The rabbit ran back and circled around into the boysenberries.
My wife came back to the berries. She flushed the rabbit again. It ran between us, and got back into the raspberries again.
My wife attempted to flush it out of the raspberries again.
“Did it come out?” she demanded.
“No.” I said.
“Are you sure?” She asked.
Now when it comes to a question such as, “Did you empty your pockets?” when she is doing the laundry, it makes some sense to ask, “Are you sure?” as I have been known to leave a tissue in my pocket.
However, when I am looking as attentively as I can, gun in hand, for a fleeing rabbit, even dumb as I am, I am not going to watch the rabbit gallop by and fail to note that fact to my spouse.
My wife said, “Next time, pick up some rocks, and chase the rabbit back to the fence!”
I put the rifle down, picked up some rocks and assumed what I calculated was a good position for rabbit driving.
“No! Not there. Over there!” My wife criticized my positioning in her best, “Why did I marry this idiot” tone.
I thought (but did not say out loud): You are addressing a spouse who is using a loaded weapon for the first time. Do you really want to address him in this tone and manner?
“Look around the garden!” demanded my wife. On the south side, I saw a rabbit bounding away on the outside of the fence. Generally, once the rabbits get inside the garden, they seem to forget how to get back out. However, our hot pursuit may have refreshed its memory, though there was no way to tell for sure if it was the same rabbit or an innocent bystander rabbit.
“Are you sure it was the same rabbit?” my wife demanded. After some additional marriage-bonding dialog, we decided to call it a rabbit-hunting day.
Next: Shots fired!
August 22, 2007
On August 13, stevo wrote:
Perhaps you could reach some sort of truce with the rabbits? Or make them your minions?
The problem is the fleas. They do not understand the meaning of peaceful co-existence.
On August 17, Pete wrote (among other interesting thoughts):
If you are going to buy an air rifle, consider a few things: The scope is really nice but not necessary. Just be sure the sights are adjustable. Also the feeding of it. You can get ones that you can load a bunch of pellets in at once (Very convenient) but they are more prone to jam. The single feed ones are less convenient but there is no action to jam. a pellet pistol will only be accurate at close range, and rabbits are generally not known to let you get close.
Your comments (and Cameron’s) are pertinent, and as I continue my hunting tale I will tell some interesting things about fast and slow moving rabbits.
On August 17, Jenny wrote:
My mom took the boys and I to visit her very elderly grade school teacher, Miss Ida. A delightful woman, full of life and humor, she told us about her chickens and how much she loved them. One morning, she went to the coop to gather eggs and saw a snake, a vile enemy of Miss Ida and her hens. The boys hold Miss Ida in great esteem after she told them how she saw that the snake had swallowed an egg and she wrestled the snake, squeezed the egg back out of its mouth and then killed the snake! The morale of this comment… don’t mess with a woman and her hens! You’ve been warned.
We have a lot of garter snakes in our garden, and Mrs. Random is very fond of them. I kind of doubt they prey on chicken eggs, but we will have to see.
Pete also posted:
The chickens actually have a little personality, too. The one bummer is they are hard to sex when they are one day old, and sometimes you end up with a rooster when you don’t want one. A good example of when you don’t want one is 5:00am when it is crowing. The roosters are always the most attractive, too (If there is such a thing…) And if you have lots of coyotes and raccoons you might find dead mauled chickens from time to time. I finally built a cage with a wire roof that seems to do the trick nicely. We go for the Anaconda’s (Likely wrong spelling), also known as Americana’s (Not to be confused with coffee drink.) They lay blue eggs, which is quite handy come Easter time. Also chickens make great fertilizer. They run free in our garden all fall/winter/spring when there are no crops. The soil is always good to go the next planting. So I say go for it and get a few, at least three, in case you decide to get rid of an unwanted rooster.
I rambled a lot to make up for the months it has been since I posted to your blog!
When I was in high school in Wisconsin, I had a crush on a girl named Delores, who played trumpet in the marching band. (As I was such a dork at that age, the crush never went anywhere, as she later joined the Marines, which was very unusual for a young woman to do in the 1950s. If I had gotten fresh, she probably would have beaten me up.) In any case, one summer she got a job as a chicken sexer. A local farmer sold baby chicks to research laboratories for medical experiments. Depending on the experiment, the purchaser sometimes needed boy chicks (so to speak) and sometimes needed chick chicks. Delores’ job was to examine each chick closely and then put it into the boy chick crate or the girl chick crate so they would be shipped to the proper mad scientist. When I saw her at school the following fall, Delores told me she had become very weary of looking closely at chicken private parts. (As far as I know, roosters do not have a Playrooster magazine for looking at improper centerfolds of chicks.)
Some of the organic farmers on the island make what they call chicken tractors. These are chicken cages on wheels. They move the chickens to one part of a garden that has lots of weeds. The chickens spend the day scratching the ground and eating the weeds without being able to get at the food plants. That part of the garden has then been weeded and sort of plowed.
Cameron wrote on August 18th:
We have a few friends with chickens who bring eggs to church each Sunday. You truly can tell the difference in the size and quality of eggs. I don’t know anyone who regrets having a few chickens. Start thinking on names for your soon-to-be new arrivals.
Maybe I will assign Random Granddaughter the job of naming the chickens to be.
On August 18th, Vicky wrote:
We have 6 chickens at the moment. Enough to keep us ,as well as a few other families, in eggs.
I cannot even think of eating eggs from the store anymore, but I don’t especially care for the chickens.
Our grandson (5) thinks they’re great and he collects their eggs everytime he’s here. Otherwise, my husband does it.
Last year, RG visited a farm with us, and saw the farmer’s wife milk a goat and gather an egg from under a chicken. She was rather intimidated by the whole experience, but after she names our chickens, she may be better able to deal with it. Also, she will probably be four years old by then, and it may be that four-year-olds are mature enough to deal with chickens and their eggs.
On the same date, David Rochester wrote:
After all the comments, I’m jealous that I don’t have room to keep hens. As I understand it, however, the eggs are in rather a regrettable state upon exiting the ovipositor, and I fear I wouldn’t like touching them. I would have to do it with gloves, which would probably offend the hen.
On another but related topic, I think it’s strange that we eat bird ovulations.
On the other hand, I don’t know if David will be mature enough to deal with chickens and their eggs when he is 40 years old.
August 20, 2007
Pete, Vicky, and everybody else who commented. I have read all your comments with interest and appreciation and will write longer replies as soon as I get a chance, but I was busy with the last two posts. Please be patient and stay tuned.