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Saturday, January 21, 2017

Not a Pet

In my mind, I expect continuity and consistency and lifelong friends and readers. But in almost every area of life, there is a lot of turnover, and new people show up who know nothing about what has come before, kind of like that new Pharaoh who had never heard of Joseph. Not only do people not know the history of their own country or of the world, they also do not pay attention to the history of a blog or a Youtube channel that they happen to stumble upon.

To me, it's as if somebody had come in on page 343 of one of my novels and started asking weird questions about things that were made plain at the beginning of the novel, like who is Jean Laffite. "Is he a pirate? Then how come he keeps saying he's not a pirate? I'm confused." But just as characters in the Old Testament did not always seem to know what was in earlier chapters of the books they were in, people who visit my Youtube videos at random have no idea what some of the earliest videos in the series were about.  Often they are very well meaning, and it does not do to  jump down their throats when they ask innocent questions like "He's very cute. Is he a chimp? Is he your pet? Is he your pet chimp?" No matter how annoying I find that, I need to be nice.

Today, I tried to reorganize things so there is a readily handy playlist about Bow's history.

Whenever somebody asks whether Bow is my "pet", I will just refer them to this playlist, while telling them he is a research subject in a cross-fostering ape language experiment.

The  classification of chimpanzees as belonging in only two possible categories -- wild or pets -- is fraught with misunderstanding. The American Society of Primatology, (ASP) rejected my abstract last year, because they decided that Bow was a "pet", and they have a rule that all abstracts by owners of pet primates are to be rejected, no matter how astute and ground-breaking they are. I was not sure what they meant by "pet", and they refused to elaborate, but I thought it might have been because he was privately owned. Yet they also rejected other abstracts on the same grounds, when the other apes in question were institutionally owned, and the researchers were primatologists in good standing. So what they really seemed to be referring to was the fact the apes in question had been raised in contact with humans.

Not every animal raised in contact with humans is necessarily a pet. For instance, those chickens who keep trespassing on my land are probably not pets, even though they are tame and owned by humans.
They were on my land again this morning, and they seem to be growing bolder.

If I went over and asked the neighbors: "Hey, are those your pet chickens?" they would probably laugh at me. Farm animals are not pets, even though they are domesticated.

In the grand scheme of things, there are many different kinds of relationships between humans and non-humans, and the designation "pet" is only one possibility. There is no reason, however, to take offense at the innocent question of someone who stumbles onto my videos by chance. It's just another opportunity to educate. So there we are!

Friday, January 20, 2017

Bow's Reaction to the Inauguration and Chickens Crossing Our Border

Today was the inauguration. Bow and I saw a little bit of it, via The Libertarian Republic.

At first, Bow sat quietly and watched.

Then he felt a big display coming on.

Notice that no matter how violently he felt the need to express himself, he stopped well short of harming the computer. Bow has strong opinions and desires, but also a remarkable self-restraint. He knows how not to cross the line.

And speaking of crossing lines, yesterday I spotted some trespassers in my front yard. Three hens and a rooster, free range chickens, from across the fence had infiltrated into my orchard. But as I drew closer, they hurried away.

They crossed back into their own territory going single file through a thicket by the fence. They seemed to know they had no right to be here, and once detected, they went home willingly.

Should I try to build a wall to keep stray chickens out? No, I think we are doing fine just as things are.

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Friday, January 6, 2017

The First Snow of 2017

The first snow of 2017 fell yesterday and blanketed our world in a thin white cover. It wasn't really all that much snow, but it was white and fresh and different.

Bow looking out at the snow in the outer pen
We had had flowers blooming as late as December, so the fresh fallen snow was not unwelcome.

No, this climate is not entirely hospitable to chimpanzees in their natural condition, but neither is it to humans. That's why if someone is homeless. he would do well to move further south.

Bow is not homeless. He has a home and a family, and in the cold of winter he stays indoors and is warm and snug and cared for.

We spent a lot of time grooming each other yesterday. Somebody in the comments to one of my videos said it was too bad Bow could not go outside. But I think there's a different way to look at it: it's lucky that Bow doesn't have to go outside, if he doesn't want to. It's good that he has the indoors option.

Bow does not lack for companionship. There is Lawrence who sits with him if I have to go out. And there is his friend who brings the bananas. Last week, Lawrence asked Bow what his friend's name is who brings him bananas and grapefruit and pickle ice, and Bow spelled out "G-I-R-L". He was quite insistent. Twice Lawrence asked him, and twice Bow spelled out  "G-I-R-L". But actually, her name is Charla.

Bow and Charla
No, things are not ideal in this state for chimpanzees, but it is probably one of the best states in the union in terms of legislation, because free chimpanzees from other states have been flocking here, as the laws have made it impossible for them to live anywhere else. And yet the long arm of the Federal government is closing in on us, and already many of Bow's contemporaries are in trouble with the law.

In case you are interested, this is what has been happening lately to chimpanzees in Missouri:

There are legal consequences to the decision by US Fish & Wildlife to label domesticated chimpanzees in the United States as endangered wildlife. One of the most convoluted is that owning them is now considered a "take" that prevents them from breeding, and PETA is trying to force breeders to send their chimpanzees to sanctuaries where they will never be allowed to breed, and all in the name of conservation.

Meanwhile, in our snowy, quiet world, all is still calm, and we still hope. Eternal Hope is the title of the instrumental music by Kevin Macleod that I chose for the video of our first snowy day of the year.

Yes, we still hope, And if you still hope along with us, please vote us up and speak up for us wherever you can. Let the world know that you understand what we are up against, and that you sympathize and care. Sometimes that's all it takes.

Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Bow's Year in Review

Everyone else has a "year in review" film, so I decided to make one for Bow as well. In this video we see the highlights of Bow's day to day life from 2016.

I have also compiled my own "year in reviews" video, showing all the reviews that I have gotten on my books in 2016. If you want to do well, you must get many more reviews than you have books to your credit. 

My new year's resolution is to spend less time writing and publishing and more time creating publicity for those works that have already been written and published. If Bow is going to live on residual income after my passing, we need to start making sure that the works are well known.

What can you do to help? Besides buying books, review the ones you have bought and vote up the positive reviews that are already posted. It does not cost anything to log into Amazon and vote up a review, but it could make a world of difference to a reviewer's ranking and ultimately to the ranking of our books on Amazon.

Have a great new year, and Bow and I will see you in 2017!

Sunday, December 25, 2016

Bow Warms Up to his Christmas Blanket

Bow is a teenager now. He is fourteen going on fifteen. Even though he knows all about our Christmas traditions and looks forward to having the tree up each year with Christmas carols playing, and even though he understands all about gifts,  he just doesn't get that excited about the whole thing, anymore.

It is no secret that Bow gets a new blanket as a Christmas present each year. He has become a bit blasé about all this.

That's why the moment he knew what it was, he stopped working at opening the present.

Bow rested for a while from unwrapping then started at it again, and even when the blanket was completely unwrapped, he spent some time ignoring it, with his back to the Christmas present

Eventually, Bow warmed up to his new blanket. 

Soon he had wrapped himself in the blanket and was walking all around the pen dressed that way.

I put all these clips together for your amusement in this musical number,

Merry Christmas!

Thursday, December 22, 2016

Bow's Christmas Card and Other Surprises

Bow often receives mail addressed to him. Usually, it is a catalog for expensive food that Harry & David think that Bow might like to order. But Bow never orders anything. He just looks at the pictures in the catalog, stopping for a moment to contemplate each, but never expressing a preference for any.

Our rural mailbox totally fell apart this year. First there had been those bullet wounds it suffered years ago. Then a beautiful wild rose bush grew all around it. Then somebody -- not anyone I know -- must have sprayed the rose bush with weed killer, because it withered away quite unexpectedly at a time when all the other wild rose bushes were blooming and  thriving. Then, after that, ants started swarming inside the poor mailbox. I can't help but think this last event was related to the dying rose bush.
After that, the lid of the mailbox fell off and someone ran over it and flattened it. Unperturbed, I still managed to put the lid back on there in a precarious sort of way. But finally when we returned from St. Louis I decided to replace the old mailbox with a new one. Lawrence put it up on the wooden post for me. And the first piece of mail we received in the brand new mailbox was addressed to Bow Katz.

It was a card by the look of it. I gave the unopened envelope to Bow.

Inside was a card with the head of a white polar bear sticking out of a hole in the front of the card. Bow was very cautious in how he proceeded. First he turned to card over to see what was on the back.

Then he opened it. Big surprise. The bear began to dance to tune of "Jingle Bell Rock". Bow took this all in his stride, as if dancing bears inside cards were an every day event for him. He was happy with the card and not at all spooked by it.

Another nice surprise was a new review of When Sword Met Bow.

A new review
It is  helpful to have a review like this from someone who has actually read the book with children who are at the age of the intended audience. I have had some unfair reviews in the past from animal rights activists who had not even read the book, but assumed that Bow was still a baby, and I would not be able to cope with him past that point. (Bow will be fifteen in February.) The book itself is not so much about cross-fostering as it is  a the story of a new baby in the family and how an older child reacts. So if you are looking for a Christmas present for a young child with a new baby sibling, this book would be a good choice.

But the nice surprises did not end there. We received a package from an old friend who used to spend Thanksgivings with us. She could not make it to this year's Thanksgiving celebration, but she sent us a box full of baklava and a card about the memories.

This is such a nice time of year to be home with your family, to hear from old friends and to share memories of years gone by.

A picture of Sword and Bow with our friend who sent the baklava.