Tree of Finches

Little birds chirping about big things

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Archive for the ‘Miscellany’ Category

Back, Kinda

Posted by A birch tree on June 26, 2008

So my discharge went through, and I’m home with my family, which is really, really good news. It gets better every day I’m home.

I really feel like I dodged a bullet, in spite of my ambivalence. While I bristle a bit about being offically labeled as nuttier than squirrel shit in the mental health department (I went nearly 30 years and never noticed, as I may have mentioned once already), watching world events and reading Heart’s post about Navy rapists, I can’t fight the feeling that had I managed to stay in the Navy I would have ended up just as bad as all of the people I wrote about in A Hall of Shame and/or slowly rotting in at the bottom of the sea at the start of the next world war. Fortunately, I’ll never know.

Being home again after all this time has a lot of challenges, like finding a Real Job(tm), re-integrating into civilian life, getting to know my family and my role in it from a new perspective, and so on and so forth. That’s made posting a bit more of a hassle than I’m ready to tackle on a regular basis. I’ve put up a couple of things, but nothing substantial.

I’ve got some ideas that are formulating, though, and I anticipate a couple good, meaty posts coming in the next week or two, after Aria and I get back from our backpacking/camping trip.

In the meantime, here are a few things I’ve been reading that I recommend:

Updates on the New Jersey 4 Dandrige and Hill have had their convictions overturned! Rejoice!

A discussion of women’s choices over at Feminist 101. I cannot for the life of me find it, but I’m reminded strongly of a post put up a very long time ago by one of the UK feminist bloggers (I think); she said she always believed it was her free choice to shave her legs until she did an experiment to prove it, and didn’t shave her legs, and after a couple weeks, her boyfriend had a complete fit and she realized that she had less freedom of that choice than she thought. I wish wish wish I could remember who posted it, and could find that post again. I think it was called “Pressure” or something similar. It was pretty eye-opening for me.

From Our Bodies, Our Blog, an analysis of Abstinance Only sex education when put up against Comprehensive sex education.

And now I’m off to help make homemade cinnamon rolls with cream cheese icing. And I don’t even have to worry about making weight for any upcoming physical readiness tests! JOY!

Posted in Feminism, Links, Miscellany | Leave a Comment »

Kibbles and Bits

Posted by A birch tree on June 11, 2008

1) So they moved me out of my room in the barracks, because it’s been “condemned”. Actually, the entire building has been unofficially condemned, but they get to keep housing us here by calling only certain rooms condemned and shuffling us around to less-condemned rooms. Thus, why I am accessing the internet from the laundry room, rather than from at my comfy desk. The free internet doesn’t extend to my new side of the hallway. How laughable is that?

2) When moving out of my old room, I just found out I left my pool cue behind. I hope the construction guys who come in to empty it and make their evals have a nice time with it. Damn it.

3) I have my discharge date! Said date was greeted with both enthusiasm and disgruntle…uh…ment. Disgruntlement. The first, because I know when I get to go home to my family who I haven’t seen in six months, and go on with my life after having been jerked around for, like, ever by a system that couldn’t decide if it wanted me to stay or go. The second, because the Navy was pretty much the only job I ever had that could make me feel like I was successful. Like I was good at something. And now I feel like I’ve failed at it, somehow. How do you fail at a job where 80% of your performance is based on showing up on time in a squared-away uniform with a good attitude?

I didn’t want to leave the Navy. They diagnosed me with a mental condition that made staying in the Navy impossible. Maybe it explains some of my past, but shit, I lived 25+ years without knowing I was nuts, and my family didn’t know I was nuts, and my parents didn’t know I was nuts, and my friends all say “Man, that’s such a load of shit, you’re not nuts!”… but the doc knows best, right? Whatever. I bounce back and forth between being happy as a lark or grumpy as a snail in a salt mine. I guess I’m mostly just be happy to have it be over, finally, and go home to be with people who know me and whom I care about, and away from some of the nastiest, meanest people I’ve ever known. Should I really take pride in succeeding in such a misogynistic, violent environment? I don’t know.

4) I’ve been reading The Gift of Fear. It’s a pretty good read, and the premise of giving people (primarily women) a set of logical, empirical reasons behind why their intution works the way it does (and thereby giving them permission to heed their intuition without feeling silly or irrational) is great. I’ll probably be quoting lots of things from it as time goes by, especially about Nice Guys, violence against women, entitlement, priviledge, and lots of other cool topics. Unfortunately, it also rasies my hackles in a victim-blamey sort of way in many spots, although I guess that’s inevitable with any book that tries to give people tools to avoid becoming victims. It’s always going to open the door for people to say “See? This expert guy says there was something you could have done differently, why did you let this happen to you?”, and a book about how violent people can use their own intution about themselves and the reactions of people around them to suss out and curb their own violent tendancies probably wouldn’t sell very well. Still, it would have been a nice attempt.

5) Yes, you’re right, I did in fact edit the picture on top of “A Bit About Male Priviledge” a little bit. You weren’t just seeing things before, I promise.

6) I don’t really have anything else to say that wouldn’t take hours of research and typing and proofreading and editing while sitting in a stiflingly hot laundry room. So I’ll stop now.

-a birch tree

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RIP Sunset

Posted by A birch tree on May 31, 2008

Sad news.

I love finches, and my family loves finches. We keep a few finches as pets, and they’re the very best pets ever; they sound like summer all the time, and they’re so pretty and active. Watching the finches is like fifty times more fun than watching fish in an aquarium.

Sadly, our oldest friend, our first finch, died just yesterday. Sunset was a Peter’s Twinspot, and his song was the prettiest song we’ve ever heard.

We didn’t know anything about finches when we first brought him home. We were in the pet store, because playing with the puppies is the best free entertainment a family can have on a saturday night, and I walked by their finch aviary. It was little more than a big, plexiglass box housing dozens of small birds of different sizes and types, from tiny Spice finches to big, agressive Orange Weavers and Red Bishops. Not good.

So I walked by this aviary, and looked in, and this miniscule little bird with a red breast and polka-dotted wings hops up to the wall and looks back at me. What struck me right away is that this poor little bird was not having a good time of it. His feathers were damaged and there was not a single feather on the top of his head; the bigger, agressive birds had plucked him bald.

I kept looking at that bird, and it looked right at me. I walked to the other side of the cage, and it followed me. It just keep looking at me like “Please, please get me out of here, I want to come home with you.”

So I brought Ari over and while the kids played with another puppy, I showed her this poor little bird. She agreed with me right away; we were going to buy him and take him home. So we picked out a cage, and we picked up one of those “How to care for finches” books and skimmed it, got all the other stuff, and set out to find out how much was that finchy in the window.

They had a little price chart, with pictures, but we couldn’t find this little guy on it. We called over a salesman, and he told us it was probably a Strawberry Finch… $50. Ouch. On top of a cage and everything else. We almost didn’t go through with it. I mean, if we had that kind of money to drop on a bird, we wouldn’t be spending our saturday nights playing with puppies for free. But he was so pretty, and so sad, and kept following me as I walked around the aviary. We couldn’t take it; we bought him anyway. The salesman mentioned that finches are social animals, and he wouldn’t be happy by himself, so we also bought a much cheaper Zebra finch to keep him company.

When we got home, we set up the cage, got the food and water all ready, and put them in it. They got along great, and we named them Sunset and Shyguy. Sunset, because he looked like a sunset, and Shyguy because he always slept in his little nest rather than out on a perch like Sunset did. The two of them got along wonderfully, and within a couple days we began to hear this absolutely beautiful song. At first we didn’t know if it was Sunset or Shyguy, but after a little bit of observation, it was clearly Sunset.

After a while, we decided to get some more finches, but, like I said, we didn’t know anything about finches, so we looked it up on the internet.

Turned out that Sunset was not, in fact, a Strawberry finch, but a Peter’s Twinspot – which usually run closer to $150 at a pet store! All the websites also said that Peter’s Twinspots are supposedly so agressive, as tiny finches go, that they’re unsuitable for a mixed aviary. Fortunately for us, Sunset didn’t read websites. He was always the most laid-back, happy, friendly bird we’ve ever known. He never fussed with anyone, never fought, never made a ruckus. He lived with Zebras, Socieites, Gouldians, and even a Canary, with no trouble or stress at all.

Thus began our love affair with finches. Unfortunately, they’re also fragile. We made several mistakes in the first year we owned finches, and some of our little friends paid for it. We lost Pebbles, a little Society, after she got her toe caught in the weave of a cheap nest and couldn’t free herself. We freed her, and she got on fine for a day, but we found her dead with her mate, Hermes, cuddled up next to her the next evening. Hermes himself died sometime later because I had gotten too busy to check their water, and he dehydrated; I will never forgive myself for that. Finally, that winter, we lost heat, and Shyguy passed away from the cold.

But through it all, Sunset was there, singing and being pretty. His feathers all grew back on his head, making him even more beautiful. We learned more about finches, and have a healthy little colony going with two Gouldians (Thelma and Louise, since we can’t tell which is the male and which is the female), a Canary (Finchybird), a Zebra (Nadie), and Sunset.

Last night, however, Ari came back from a dinner out with the kids and found Sunset sitting on the bottom of the cage, unmoving and still warm, but definitely deceased. We all cried, the kids and she took turns holding him, petting him, remembering his song and his beauty, then buried him in a little wooden box next to the millet plant in the herb garden. We’ll always miss him, and we know we’ll probably never have another Twinspot, since his laid-back friendliness was apparently an anomaly among his kind.

We still don’t know why he died; the websites all say finches can live to be 8-12 years old, and he’d only been with us for 4, although we don’t know how old he was when we first got him. The other finches in the cage are all fine, active, healthy, and happy looking, but we’re keeping a close eye on them in case Sunset had anything contagious. My feeling, however, is that for whatever reason it was just his time to go. I hope he was happy here, and I hope he knows how much we all loved him.

Goodbye, Sunset, and happy journies to you, wherever you may be headed next. Thank you for spending your time with us and brightening our lives with your song and your beauty. You will be sorely missed.

RIP.


This is not actually Sunset, but much to our horror, we discovered that in all four years we’d known him, we’d never taken any pictures of him! That made us all very, very sad indeed.

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The internet is a grand thing!

Posted by A birch tree on May 24, 2008

I’m back! I have a semi-reliable internet connection again, and lots of chirpings that have gone unchirped. Stay tuned!

Posted in Miscellany | Leave a Comment »

Still No Internet

Posted by A birch tree on April 25, 2008

…and it’s driving me batty. I’m going to have to come up with a workaround soon or things may get ugly.

Be that as it may, I’m going to try to have a couple things up this weekend. Sorry for the long blank period.

Posted in Miscellany | Leave a Comment »

Ow.

Posted by A birch tree on April 15, 2008

Today’s informative and enlightening post has been replaced with, well, this one, where I whine out exucuses as to why posting today will be problematic.

I have apparently overdrawn my karma balance today, and the universe decided to even it up for me. I’ve got the sprained ankle from hell. The doc says it’s a “mild sprain”, in spite of the fact that within fifteen minutes it had swelled up to about twice its normal size and the whole foot was bright red, moving into purple.

Hooyah, Navy doctors!

You’re guessing I’m going to say that I’m on such great pain medicine that I can’t post straight, but the truth is, I’m just on such distracting pain that I can’t post straight. Motrin is my med, and Motrin does jack-all for me even on the best of days.

Depending on how my night goes, I may or may not have a post up, but the one I was planning to do was on a fresh subject, requiring fresh research, so it’d take a bit more focus than I can imagine acquiring tonight.

Sorry.

-a birch tree

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Post Forthcoming

Posted by A birch tree on April 10, 2008

The inspiration for my next post came late, and it’s likely to be a long one that requires a bit of research, so it’ll be up later than my posts usually go up. Don’t fret, though, I’m still keeping to my one-a-day schedule. If I can’t finish this one out before taps, I’ll grab a less intense idea and put it up as a warm-up.

Posted in Miscellany | Leave a Comment »

So, what’s this all about?

Posted by A birch tree on April 4, 2008

I’ve got a lot of ideas, see. And I like talking about those ideas. I don’t like talking about these ideas among my RL friends and colleagues because, well, let’s be frank, I’m in an environment that attracts people who are entirely hostile to my ideas.

So what are these ideas? Mostly, they’re about gender dynamics and inequality in modern society, oppression of women, minorities, and nature, global climate change, the environment in general, feminism in general, and a whole host of other heavy topics. I just decided to start a blog and write about them, so I didn’t explode trying to keep from arguing with bullheaded morons in person.

I’d much rather argue with bullheaded morons on-line. Wouldn’t you? Hell, maybe that’s why you’re here!

So, as I’m not much for introductions, I’ll go ahead and get right to the posting.

Posted in Miscellany | Tagged: | 1 Comment »