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Did you know that even God has a web log now?
I've been having a lot of problems with my
site host lately. Can anyone recommend a
good web site host company?
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My baby Jack is the best baby ever.
Last night Karen and I saw Stomp. We left Jack with my friend from work,
Denise, and her fiance, who happens to be
my old boss, Toshiro. They were pretty excited
about baby-sitting because they are both
eager to have kids soon, so I guess they
looked at taking care of Jack as a bit of
a dry run -- kind of like testing the waters
of parenthood by dipping a toe in to the
cool pool that is Jack.
Jack has been baby-sat a few times before
but only in our own apartment, and his baby-sitter
was a sweet little Japanese granny. This
was the first time that we left him in a
strange place with strange people (though
they met once a long time ago).
We knew that our friends would take good
care of Jack, but we were worried that he'd
be afraid and would miss us.
We returned to pick him up at about 11:00
o'clock. As we walked in we saw him sitting
on Toshiro's lap on the sofa watching TV.
We called out to him but he didn't even notice
us. We walked in and finally managed to get
his attention. He was happy to see us, but
it was obviously 'no big deal' in his mind.
It turned out that he had a great time with
Denise and Toshiro. They took him out in
the stroller and he fell asleep. They played
games with him and he laughed all night long.
Denise taught him how to say ahh and hit
his mouth with his hand (kind of like an
Indian war whoop in an old Western). They
said he was the happiest and and most enjoyable
baby they've ever seen.
Of course it was flattering to hear such
nice compliments, but I must admit that I
felt a bit disappointed that he didn't miss
Is it possible for a baby to be too well
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Children grow up so fast, and my baby Jack
is no exception. I don't know what it is,
but he seems to have matured a
the past little while and it's starting
It all started when he began hanging
with a strange new group of friends. Karen and I didn't say anything at first
because we didn't want him to become rebellious.
So, we turned a blind eye.
The next thing you know, he's drinking
No big deal, right? Yeah, that's what
said. But before long I started to
that Jack was developing a drinking
Now I'm sure of it because last night
home a bit early and found him completely
I tried talking to him, but it doesn't seem
to be doing any good. I suspect that he's
keeping secrets from me.
The worst thing, however, is that I think
he's starting to develop an interest in crack.
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I killed three pigeons last Saturday and
it was one of the most difficult things I
have ever done. I am not a violent man. As
a matter of fact, not counting insects and
fish, I have killed exactly two animals in
The first was a frog. I was five or six years
old and it was at my grandparent's house
in Newfoundland. There was a pond in the
pasture out behind their house. My older
cousins played a game where they would catch
small frogs in the pond, carry them to the
road, throw them up in the air and watch
them get squished as they fell on to the
asphalt. I remember joining in on this, but
not really liking it.
The second animal that I killed was a baby
bird. I was six or seven years old and it
happened at my dad's cousin's house. They
had a son (I can't remember his name) who
was older than me by a couple of years. He
knew of a bird's nest in his backyard. We
went to go take a look at it but we found
that one of the babies had fallen out of
the nest and on to the lawn. He picked it
up and decided that he wanted to see if it
could swim or not. We put it in a puddle
by the side of the house and it drowned.
I have talked about my pigeon problem on Hunkabutta before, but I think that a
recap of the details is necessary at this
point. It all started in November 2000 after
Karen got pregnant and we moved into our
new apartment in Minami-Senju. The apartment
was large by Tokyo standards, it had three
rooms, a separate kitchen, a bathroom, and
a balcony that stretched the entire width
of the place. There were doors to the balcony
from both the main bedroom and the living
room. It was a bonus to have such a nice
balcony because in Japan they are very utilitarian
household features. We could use our balcony
to hang our laundry to dry; to air out our
futons; and to ventilate the apartment during
the heat of summer.
What we didn't see until after we had moved
in was that our neighbour had abandoned his
balcony, netted it off partially, and then
left it for what must have been a few years
to degenerate into the most disgusting den
of pigeon filth that you could possibly imagine.
There were twenty or more pigeons at a time
living on his balcony. They had nests and
young. The blanket of droppings was inches
thick and attracted roaches. Of course the
pigeons also landed on our balcony too.
We let the problem with the neighbour slide
for a while and just tried to keep our balcony
clean, but we couldn't keep up with all of
the pigeon shit. Eventually we started filing
complaints with the building management.
In Japan it is very hard to get people to
take action in situations like this because
nobody wants to be confrontational. It took
months of letter writing and arm twisting
but we finally got them to clean their balcony.
Problem solved, you think? Well, you're wrong.
The neigbours shooed the pigeons away, removed
the partial netting, and cleaned the mountain
of shit off of their balcony. Within a week
they had moved out and the building management
proceeded to completely net off what was
once their balcony. Where do you think most
of displaced birds ended up? I'll tell you:
on everyone else's balconies.
It became impossible to use our balcony because
we couldn't keep the pigeons off of it. They
slept there at night and
the droppings would pile up at an amazing
rate. I tried keeping it clean but couldn't
keep up. We had to start hanging our futons
out in front of the building, which looks
bad, and we had to learn to live with racks
of drying laundry in our living room.
We began a campaign of deterrence. I stuck
plastic bottles in the gaps between the railings
where the pigeons liked to land and I strung
wire along the railings: It didn't stop them.
I made sheets of spikes by driving an entire
box of nails into thin strips of cardboard
and then taping the spiked sheets where the
pigeons liked to roost: They learned to stand
in the spaces between the nails. I cut the
tops off of 17 pet bottles and taped them
along the balcony divider where they liked
to perch: They learned to knock the bottle
tops off. We tried scaring them at night;
throwing things at them; we even tried hanging
up a fake owl that had mirrors for eyes.
It all failed.
After a year or so it became harder and harder
to find the time to keep the balcony clean
and we would let it go for weeks at a time.
Things started to get really filthy. Jack was a newborn and we began to worry
about his health. Pigeons and their droppings
carry a world of diseases. We decided that
we were out of options and that the time
had come to kill the pigeons, but how were
we going to do it?
Neither of us wanted to kill the birds and
Karen was particularly adamant about them
not suffering. After stalling for several
more months, and on the advice of a friend,
we decided to buy a pellet gun and shoot
them. We spent several weekends shopping
around for the gun to no avail: We discovered
that they're not sold in Japan.
Next, we decided to try poisoning them. The
only problem was that you can't buy bird
poison. Our solution was to buy mouse poison, crush it up and
mix it with bird seed. It was a disgusting process. The poison
came in little pink lozenges that looked
like Chicklets (the gum). I had to stand
out on the balcony amongst all of the shit
and feathers and grind these poison pellets
into dust. I crushed up a third of a box
of the mouse poison, mixed it with a couple
of cups of seed, and spread the concoction
around on an old pizza box on the balcony. The birds ate the seeds
and left the poison. The next weekend I tried
the same thing, but this time I mixed the
powdered poison with water to make a paste
and then coated the seeds with the paste.
This time it worked. For three days the pigeons
gorged themselves on poison and seed. We
sat back and waited for them to die, but
they didn't. All they did was shit more.
Karen decided that we didn't give them enough,
so we did it again the next weekend, only
this time I doubled the amount of poison.
I used half a box (a huge amount). Once again
the birds ate the mixture for several days
and didn't die. I wanted to give up on the
poison but Karen insisted that we try again.
I repeated the process another couple of
times but the birds would just not die.
By this point our baby Jack was crawling around. It was summer again
and starting to get hot. We had to leave
the balcony doors open a bit to air the apartment
out, but all of that shit and filth and poison
dust would just blow in the apartment. We
couldn't even take Jack out on the balcony
for some fresh air. My patience had finally
run out and I decided that it was time to
use the method that I knew would work but
had been avoiding for months: Sticky traps.
Imagine a giant piece of fly paper designed
to catch rats and you've got a pretty good
idea about what these things are. I taped
two of the traps to the floor of the balcony
beside the old pizza box and waited for the
pigeons to come. I didn't have to wait long.
Within half an hour the first bird got stuck.
Karen and I were sitting in the living room
feeling all nervous and gross with anticipation
when we heard the fluttering of its wings
and then a sudden silence. I looked out and
saw that a small gray pigeon was stuck down
flat on the trap.
I didn't know what I should use to kill the
trapped pigeon. We have no tools or other
heavy objects. Finally I settled on an old
frying pan. I put the frying pan, a cheap
little meat cleaver, and two plastic bags
on the balcony just outside the door. Karen
and Jack hid in the front bedroom. I stepped
out onto the balcony and into my sandals.
Then without looking at the franticly flapping
bird I summoned up every ounce of barbaric
violence that I could find in the dark corners
of my mind, picked up the frying pan by the
handle, spun around and with a guttural shout
brought the frying pan down as hard as I
could on the head of the pigeon. Then I did
it again, and again one last time. I hit
it so hard that I put dents in the pan. The
pigeon quivered for a moment, and then it
died. Then, just to really make sure that
it was dead, I took the little meat cleaver,
put it on the limp bird's throat and hit
it with the frying pan so as to break the
neck. I then used the cleaver to pry the
trap free of its tape and I put it, stuck
bird and all, into a plastic bag. I then
put that bag into another opaque plastic
bag so that nobody could see what was inside.
I took the dead bird down to the garbage
After the first bird, killing the second
bird was easier. It got stuck about twenty
minutes later and I dispatched it in much
the same way as the first. The third and
final pigeon however was a great buck of
a bird and he fought for his life. To my
great disbelief he tore himself loose from
the trap but lost so many feathers in the
process that he couldn't fly away. I had
to corner him, throw a table cloth on him,
and then bludgeon him with the frying pan
through the table cloth.
When it was all over and done with I sat
on the sofa, clenched my jaw, put on a Chet
Baker CD and tried not to think about what
had just happened. I played with Jack for
the rest of the day. I always used to say
that any person who eats meat or uses leather
should have the strength of character to
be able to kill an animal, but I never realized
how difficult it could actually be.
Looking back on the experience now, I think
that the reason that the death of the birds
was so unsettling is because it foreshadowed
my own death, something which I tend not
to think about. We all know that everything
living must die someday, but in our little
cloistered reality where meat comes on nice
styrofoam trays wrapped in plastic we tend
to forget how brutal and short life really
is. That is, we forget until that day when
the frying pan comes crashing down upon our