Pet Escalation

July 9, 2010

The Friendly Neighbors have an old cat, ducks, and quite a few chickens. Random Granddaughter and her mommies have Sylvie, the world’s most extroverted and adorable cat. After 44 years with no pets, Mrs. Random and I have three hens: Big Mama, Moll of the Bad attitude (who pecks our fingers frequently), and Little Peep, who is small,  spunky, and clucks to a different metronome than the rest of the flock.

I once complained about chickens not purring. However, they do have a sound that seems to fill a similar ecological niche: compelling humans to become their slaves. Every once in a while, our three hens will all freeze and make a little “chirring” sound. They all do it together; they all seem to be frozen (as if they are taking a little nap); and after a few minutes they will return to going about their business.

The other day, we heard them clucking in alarm. Looking up, I saw a large owl (I believe the variety is called “barred owl”) gazing speculatively at the chickens from a tall fir tree. It was watching the chickens intently. However, after a few minutes they stopped alarming.

Today, the owl landed on our bird feeder and later landed on our porch railing. Owls are probably mor e interested in chipmunks and squirrels than in birds. The chipmunks are pests who eat our strawberries and our peas. I will see if I can train the owl to eat a chipmunk out of my hand.

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Not Ripe

July 9, 2010

Not Ripe

It is summer, it is hot, and the garden is beginning to bear fruit. We have pretty much finished picking the strawberries. The raspberries and boysenberries are beginning to show color. We are just starting to pick peas, and we have about finished picking the lettuce. We finished picking the spinach, which does not last very long before going to seed, a while back. We have six kinds of apples (on three trees), none of which are quite ripe yet, nor are the Italian prune plums.

One of the things about gardening is the acceptance that most of what we grow will get ripe when it is ready to be ripe. Picking it too early is likely to lead to an unpleasant taste and perhaps even an upset stomach.

The same thing is true of technology. Years ago, I worked for and with companies that were developing new technologies in both hardware and software. For example, I worked with some of the first laser printers to come on the market (produced by Apple and Adobe). I was working for a quick printing company and many of our customers wanted to save money by producing their own “camera-ready” copy. The first Apple LaserWriter did not work very well. The first software to prepare documents for preparing books and advertisements and brochures did not work well.

My jobs in the early days of the industry were low level and my skills were primitive. I worked with engineers and programmers who were much smarter and more sophisticated than I was. I remember all of us spending hours trying to get mediocre and not-ready technology to work. I remember spending hours with people selling us hyped technology that just would not work. For example, the first LaserWriter could not feed paper properly and maintain decent registration for color printing jobs. Pagemaker, the first desktop printing program, could not handle multi-page jobs or projects involving complex combinations of text and pictures.

Eventually, as the products matured and went through several versions, they began to work properly. I remember saying to my co-workers (for I was a gardener even then), “Technology is like fruit, it is going to get ripe on its own time. If we try to use a product before it is ripe, it is like trying to eat an apple before it is ripe. We will just make ourselves sick to our stomach.”

Although I was never very sophisticated about technology, for a while I could pretty much keep up with what was going on. Recently, I have let myself drift behind. When Mama (my daughter) and Mommy(her partner) switched their stereo to an iPod, we grumbled and said we were sticking with our old-fashioned stereo and CD-player and amplifier.

But much of what I listen to as I exercise on the treadmill at home or on the torture devices at the gym now comes as “podcasts.” My credit union, although an excellent organization overall, has become as addicted to gimmicks as banks, so they offer premiums for the use of their credit card. Painful experience has taught me that most of the premiums consist of fancy junk that does not work well, but I never learn.

Even though we only use our credit card where it is safer and more convenient than our debit card, and pay it off in full each month, I do accumulate “reward” points. I decided to spring on choosing an mp3 player. It’s essentially an iPod (as is Microsoft’s Zune), but a little cheaper. So far they have sent me two mp3 players. Neither works worth shit and I have sent both back and await the third, complaining loudly to a vice-president of the credit union who manages the gimmick program. I am a pain in the ass and I suspect he deserves me.

(My daughter’s iPod does work a little better, but I’ve hard her grumbling about having difficulties and problems with it.)

Once again, I find myself getting a stomach ache from technology that is not ripe.

Hmmm…one person is reading this blog, a kind sweet gentle person, Karen O. Shall I try to protect you from yourself? I appreciate that you read my other blog, and I do not hold you responsible from the traits and characteristics of worldmagblog that offend me.

Nevertheless, while I regard you as a pleasant, admirable, and intelligent person, you and I disagree on very basic issues. If you consider continuing to read me is likely to a) convert me to Christianity, or b) converting me if you did would scratch your existential dilemma itch for more than a moment of relief, or c) would make you any happier than you are now (and for all I know, perhaps you are quite happy and filled with joy at this moment), than it is your responsibility if you continue to read this blog.

On the other hand, you could encourage the worst people of wmb to come and read this blog. After all, what would Jesus do?

Slaters

July 3, 2010

Just as the Garden Tour was finishing, the Barely Extended Family arrived. They had stopped at some of the other gardens on the way in, and at a playground for Random Granddaughter to have a break from adult pastimes.

After visiting the Friendly Neighbors Garden after it had closed they came over to our house. I feed the chickens sow bugs as a treat, but I had been warned that RG collects sow bugs in little houses, so I wasn’t sure if having her help me feed some to the chickens would be politically correct.

Gingerly, I mentioned, “I feed sow bugs to the chickens as a treat. Do you want to help me collect some for them?”

She looked at me with a blank look. Eventually I discovered she did not know the term, “Sow bug.” She calls them, “rolly pollies.” Once the linguistic difficulties were overcome, she enthusiastically helped me turn over rocks and put the rolly polly bugs into a plastic dish and feed them to the chickens.

I think RG’s position at the top of the food chain is safe, unless we discover grizzly bears living in our woods, or a great white shark living in the Friendly Neighbors’ duck pond.

http://soilbugs.massey.ac.nz/isopoda.php

In New Zealand, sow bugs are known as “slaters.” If Australia and New Zealand are at peace, they may use that term as well.