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Sunday, January 14, 2018

A Place of No Return

Do you remember the scene from Pinocchio where the bad guys are recruiting children to go into their Sanctuary? (Yes, I'm going to call it a sanctuary, because it's a place where children are liberated from adults.)

The real problem with the proposition from the fox and the cat was not just that it was a misrepresentation of Pleasure Island as a Sanctuary free from care. The real problem was that it was a Place of No Return."They never come back ... as boys."

I know of a lot of places with a hard sell, but no right of return. They include sanctuaries for chimpanzees and old folks homes. These places are advertised as Pleasure Island where the isolated chimpanzee or elderly person can find friends of his own age or species, but they don't offer a money back guarantee or a free ticket home if you don't like it there. In fact, many old folks homes expect the elderly to sell their house and give them all the money. They have complicated contracts, so you can't just decide to go there as a vacation and then return home when you have had your fill. I have known a few people who went into those homes. They never come back out alive.

By this, of course, I do not mean that the institutions intentionally kill the elders who enter there. Most die of old age. But once you put yourself there, it is very hard to leave. The same is true for chimpanzee sanctuaries.

Once a chimpanzee enters the sanctuary system, he might be sent to a different sanctuary if the one he is in turns out to be a death trap, but he can never leave the sanctuary system. There is no going home. If I were a chimpanzee, I would be afraid to go there for that reason alone, much less what might happen to me during the first introduction to  other inmates.

"If you really respect Bow, you would leave it up to him to choose," my primatologist friend said to me recently. Really? And if I had a little boy like Pinocchio, I suppose you think I should leave it up to him to accept or reject the offer of the fox and the cat? Because after all, that is the libertarian position, right?

Wrong. Which brings me to the recent issue of age of consent that came up in my libertarian circles. Most of us agree that minors do need to be protected by their parents and should not be allowed to make irrevocable decisions about their lives without the help of a parent while they are yet too immature to be emancipated. Most libertarians, even the radical ones, understand that being a human does not automatically equip one to deal with complex, life altering issues from day one. Literate fifteen-year-olds are in most cases still not ready to sell themselves to the highest bidder.

"But if you believe that Bow can read and write, then why won't you let him decide for himself?" For the same reason I would not let any teen sell himself to a place of no return.

The truth is, if there were a place that Bow could go for a fun vacation, I would probably let him go. I would use that time to take a vacation, myself. But I am not shipping him off to Pleasure Island -- because if it were a good place, they would not have a no return policy.

Tuesday, December 26, 2017

Bow's Christmas Day 2017

Bow got two gifts on Christmas day: a new blanket and candy bracelets in festive red and green.

Half the fun in getting presents is unwrapping them.

Bow delighted in tearing away the paper to reveal the gift inside.

The blanket is an oversized plush with two foxes peering out at Bow.

The second present had Bow crying out in joy as he struggled to open it.

Imagine, candy you can wear! But not for long.

Bow had a wonderful Christmas. This morning, the candy bracelets are no more, and Bow is napping, entirely surrounded by the new blanket.

It's a new day, and the sun is rising.

Saturday, December 23, 2017

Snow on the Ground

This morning we woke up to snow on the ground. It was not much snow, but it is the first snow of the season.

In the back yard, the liquidambar pods were topped with snow, like tiny Christmas ornaments.

The bench in the outer pen was frosted with snow.

I tried to entice Bow to go out into the pen to experience the snow, but even when I told him that Leo was out there, he stubbornly refused to go out.

He preferred to stay snug and warm indoors.


Saturday, December 16, 2017

Bow's Christmas Card and Gift

Bow received an envelope in the mail today. It was addressed to "Mr. Bow Katz", and there were beautiful stamps on the front.

"Look, Bow. Here is something for you. It came in the mail. Do you want to open it?" He examined the envelope and set about opening it. Then he fished something out of the card inside it. It was a red Christmas hat shaped ornament, with a bent paper clip for a hanger and a little bell at the end. This fascinated Bow so much that he almost did not notice the card.

The card said "Wishing you a furry Christmas" on the outside and inside there was a dog that barked the tune to "We wish you a Merry Christmas." In handwriting it said:: "Merry Christmas, Bow. Your friend Charla."

 Bow listened to the barking dog sing a little and then jiggled it. But the red hat ornament was what he really wanted for his own. He handed me back the card after a while, held on to the ornament, and asked to go outside.

Bow went walking around outside, human style, stomping his feet and carrying the ornament in his hand. This really impressed Leo.

Bow was very happy with this early Christmas present. It was the perfect gift!

Wednesday, December 6, 2017

It's All in the Point of View

Bow and I  are getting ready for Christmas. As we put up our tree, many of the ornaments, which are just pictures of Sword and Bow in their younger days, make us reminisce about the past.

Then we  look at old photo albums and old books, like my own When Sword Met Bow.

You cannot go back in time, but our memories are fairly vivid, and we can see old scenes replay in our mind's eye, even with our eyes closed.

But back in the present, there are also wonderful things taking place. From the perspective of research, publication, or just plain living, good things are happening, and we have much to be grateful for. Sometimes I try to share our happy little moments with others on social media, but every person has a different point of view, and each one sees something different.

We have different audiences on Facebook and on YouTube. On Facebook, the video of Bow jingling the bells is really taking off. Everyone on Facebook agrees that Bow is cute. And, of course, that's true. No denying it. But there are other aspects to Bow's personality, and the focus of YouTube viewers is a little different.

On YouTube, it's the grooming videos that everyone wants to see. My top performing video at the moment is the one below.

Sometimes viewers will ask me questions that reveal their own bias. "Why do you  have so many grooming videos?" One person asked. "Is Bow your pet chimpanzee?"

I do not have "so many grooming videos." Out of 1903 videos, only a handful are of Bow grooming someone. But just at the moment, those are the ones that are trending. They are not even my top ten videos of all time.

Besides the Leslie Fish music videos, which have always done well, there is the Diorama of an Amazon rain forest that Sword made when she was in grade school. I always suspected that it got so many views, because there were so many other children and parents scrambling to assemble one of those, since it was assigned to them in school.

But besides class assignments, which are often mandated by the government, and besides Leslie Fish songs, which are very rebellious and cool --and I enjoy them, too, or I would not have them here -- the vast majority of the public has ignored the vast majority of my content.

There are the very serious playlists of videos explaining Project Bow and its scientific findings.

There are the songs from my musical with composer Daniel Carter, The Debt Collector.

And there is a playlist of the trailers for my books.

Not one of the videos in these playlists is anywhere near the top ten for my channel. This is not a reflection on me. It is an indication of what YouTube viewers like to watch.

The vast majority of my videos include nature scenes, like the one below of a Monarch butterfly. Hardly anyone watches them, though.

I was so excited to get this close to a Monarch butterfly this year! I was really proud of this video, but most viewers did not notice it at all. That is perfectly fine, though, because each of us has different interests, and one of the great things about YouTube is that we can watch whatever we like. As a libertarian, I am all for that.

But it's amusing when a viewer complains about there being too many grooming videos on my channel. If all you see on my channel are grooming videos, then that is because that is all you are looking for. It reflects on you, not on me! Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, and so are the videos that rank high with each viewer.

Bow looks through When Sword Met Bow

Today, Bow and I were reminiscing about the good old days.  So we leafed through When Sword Met Bow. 

It is one of the books that would make fine gift for someone on your Christmas list.

Books by Aya Katz

There's something in there for everyone. But if all you see are books on a particular topic, then that might be because that is the topic that appeals to you. We each create our own universe from our  point of view.

Our Tree -- How many of my interests can you spot in this picture?

Meanwhile, enjoy the holidays, and if you find one of my books appealing, give it a read!

Monday, November 27, 2017

What Bow Did Over Thanksgiving Break

Bow's favorite thing at the Thanksgiving dinner is the sparkling red grape juice.

His second favorite thing is the cranberry sauce.

His third favorite thing this year was the apple pie. He had so many servings of these delicacies that he hardly touched the turkey or the stuffing. But he did like the sweet potatoes, too. We had so much going on, though, that I did not take that many pictures of Bow eating.

A day or two before the guests began to arrive, we had an internet outage, so Bow and I got very engrossed in a book I ordered about Monarchs and Milkweed.

The first of our guests to arrive was my Sword. There was much jubilation!

My mother arrived shortly after. She really admired my old gnarled oak tree, so I took a photo of her in front of it.

That evening, we had the most beautiful sunset.

I love that old oak tree, but it died this year, and people say it must be chopped down. I am hoping to find some other way. But I am glad it was still here this year for my mother to pose with.

Besides all that was going on, Bow and I continued to work on the trailer for the release of Audible Vacuum County.

The trailer was published late on Thanksgiving day. I sent a link to Sword a few days later, and she sent me back this screenshot.

I am glad that videos of Bow grooming me are doing so well, but I would also like people to pay attention to the book trailers. By the way, Bow helps me to edit all my videos. In the one embedded below, you can see how he grooms me, and then he attends to the process of rendering the video.

Bow is involved with everything I do, and he is not as unsophisticated as some people assume. He knows he is being filmed, and he cooperates with the entire process. He is a bit of a ham.

Bow dislikes clothes, but he even agreed to put on the Vacuum County T-shirt this morning, when I told him it was for a good cause.  Here's the back side.

No, he doesn't have any pants on, but he did put on the shirt all by himself. By the way, Bow and I wear the same size of shirt. It's a women's medium. But that shirt comes in many other sizes.

If you would like to make a contribution to Project Bow this year, consider buying a T-shirt or one of the books I have published. 

Books and Shirts
There is also a chance to win a free T-shirt, if you follow the link below:

Thanksgiving was great. But this is Cyber Monday. Even Bow understands. Let the buying begin!

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Bow the Conservationist

The logging continues, but Bow and I are finding ways to ignore it and get on with our lives.

Bow leafs through an issue of the Missouri Consevationist
Yesterday, for instance, Bow watched the loggers for a while without getting too upset. and then he led me in an exercise session indoors.

The loggers are here in the morning, but they leave long before noon. So when I go for my afternoon walk, all is calm, and I can enjoy the wildlife. 

Yesterday, I got to watch a leaf fall from the sky, a common buckeye butterfly resting on my path, and two different groups of deer.

Some deer bound away at the first sight of me, and others stare at me long and hard.

This morning, Bow was so accustomed to having the loggers around that he let me go to the post office to mail off some bills and to buy new stamps. I chose the stamps featuring Monarch butterflies.

When I got home, Bow had been good. No accidents, no mess. So I showed him the stamps I had bought. Later he asked me to go out, saying he'd heard the loggers had food. (שמעתי שיש להם אוכל). I went out expecting to see the loggers eating sandwiches. But instead I spotted the twin fawns, nearly grown, taking shelter near the house.