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She Speaks!

“Duck.”
–Kharmin’s daughter’s first word.

Wow. Of all of the words in the English language, and with all of the talking we do around our little girl, this is the first word that she actually says? She’s been babbling for months, saying “Dah-dah-dah-dah” and so forth, but this was the first actual word she said: “Duck.” So, where did that come from?

Well, I was giving her her evening bath before going to bed, and in the tub we have this rubber duck. It’s one of those saftey things, that on the bottom shows whether or not the water is too hot before you put the baby in the tub. Well, once she was seated in the tub, I handed her the toy, and said, “duck”, to which she responded by repeating the word. Then, she would drop it and pick it back up and say, “duck” again. She did this about four or five times! It was evident to me that this was a deliberate utterance, not some chance muttering. No multiple syllables; just the one: “Duck.”

I told my wife about it afterward, and we decided to give it another day, and see if our little girl did it again. So, fast-forward to the next evening. My wife was giving our daughter her bath, while Dad (me) was taking care of other chores, and when she was handed the rubber duckie, she grasped it and said, “duck.”

That clinched it. Two different opportunities, with two different parents, she performed her newest trick. We congratulated her, and encouraged her to keep it up (which after a few tries apparently it loses it’s appeal, for she gave up and started chewing on a wooden spoon), all the while silently thanking ourselves that she hadn’t picked up some other, forbidden word, to be her first. I’m not sure about my wife, but I was a little jealous that the toy duck emerged as the first word over “da-da” for daddy.

Alas, it seems that in this, too, our daughter has her own agenda.

© 2005 – 2009, Kharmin's Small Piece of the 'Net. All rights reserved.

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Kharmin Goes Deer Hunting

[Homer drives into a preserved deer statue]
Homer: D’oh!
Lisa: A deer!
Marge: A _female_ deer…
–from The Simpsons, episode #517

To me, this is probably one of the top classic lines from The Simpsons. Rarely, now, do I really laugh at their antics, having grown older and have already been exposed to much of what this dysfunctional family has done. Some scenes still get a chuckle, or a snort, but not often do I get a good laugh. This was a clever scene with just the right dialogue. But as in most things, it’s only funny when it happens to someone else.

This morning, I had a close encounter of the thunk kind (not to be confused with Close Encounters of the Third Kind) with a deer. Still dark, with dawn easing its way into the eastern sky, traveling in rush-hour traffic, a small deer leapt to meet its fate with the front of my truck. At close to 70 m.p.h., the odocoileus virginianus didn’t have much of a chance. Oh, it turned away at the last moment, but physics being what they are, it just wasn’t fast enough.

At least I was driving my truck, and not my wife’s Ford Escort.

The damage will certainly be enough for a claim with my insurance company, but on initial inspection (in the pre-dawn light at the side of the road) it didn’t look too bad. Had the deer been larger, it might have impacted the bumper higher which would have caused the airbags to deploy– which in that rush-hour traffic would have made for an interesting (and educational) ride. Instincts being what they are, I admit that I did hit the brakes, but probably not as hard as I could have. We’re told not to hit the brakes because that will cause the front of the vehicle to dip down, thus increasing the potential for more serious damage: there have been instances of deer rolling up car hoods and smashing into or even through windshields! Had I really hit the brakes, I doubt it would have come up to my windshield, but by not dipping the front too much lower, I probably prevented the bulk of the impact from deploying the airbags.

So, now I get to deal with the insurance company, and coordinate a time and place to have the truck repaired, and work out my commute with my wife since we’ll be short a vehicle for a day or two. Sure, it’s a hassle, but no one got hurt (other than the deer, of course), and the damage can be fixed. That’s the end of the story, but not the end of this musing…

The deer population in the eastern United States is getting out of control (see article here). Nature activists protest controlled hunts which would cull the herd of deer down to a more manageable size. The problem isn’t just on the highways, either. Deer overpopulation affects airports, farmers and other species of animals. To be sure, there is some validity to the argument that the rapid increase of suburban sprawl increases the rate of encounters with humans and deer, but again with controlled hunts this can be managed.

I have nothing against deer. Heck, we’ve had a family of seven deer running through our rural property ever since we moved to the country, and I expect to see them there. The one that I struck was closer to the metro area where I work. But one thing we’ve noticed in the 3½ years we’ve lived in our home: there seems to be no set life-cycle for the deer in our area. It used to be that you could expect to see more at one time of year, and in the spring, you’d see the babies. Now, we see the small deer all year around. This tells me that the population of deer isn’t just growing in predictable phases. We have new deer entering the environment throughout the year. With hunting only allowed during certain weeks, and with hunters limited to the number they can kill, the deer are quickly outpacing the ability for their natural surroundings to sustain them. Deer are only so smart… and they will go to wherever they can find food. With more deer than the land can support, they range farther out from the dense forests, and into our neighborhoods.

Too many traffic deaths and injuries are caused by this menace. Too much money is spent on insurance claims (vehicular as well as health). Too many farmers are losing crops to deer, which causes the price of food to rise. Let’s just face it: there are too many deer. The time has come to ease the restriction on hunting deer, and to open up more controlled hunts to ease the burden that an overpopulation of deer is causing.

It’s too late for me and my truck, but without some immediate measures, I’m sure it will happen again, and I would much rather someone hunt them with a bow or gun than me with my truck.

UPDATE: A University of Missouri study is mounting cameras on the heads of deer to study deer-car collisions. We’re actually paying for this?

© 2005 – 2009, Kharmin's Small Piece of the 'Net. All rights reserved.

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Happy Anniversary, Mrs. Kharmin!

“Someday you will ask me what’s more important: my life or you. I’ll answer my life, and you’ll walk away never knowing that you are my life.”
–Annonymous

Today, my lovely spouse and I celebrate our marriage. Thirteen years! It’s hard to imagine that someone would tolerate me for so long. Seriously, though, I cherish my wife, for she indeed is my life. I have mused on this topic once before, so I won’t repeat it here.

In honor of this most fateful day, I will touch on a few happy thoughts from the last baker’s dozen years (in no particular order):

  • Our first (of several) trip to Harper’s Ferry, West Virgina
  • Riding the Rebel Yell at King’s Dominion
  • An interminable trip to and from the Georgia Renaissance Festival (ok, so maybe not an entirely happy thought)
  • Getting “re-married” at our local Renaissance Festival
  • Our honeymoon trip to Italy
  • Buying and moving in to our first home
  • Our trip to Albequerque, New Mexico, by way of Denver, Colorado [insert favorite Bugs Bunny line here]
  • Watching Independence Day fireworks at Columbus, Ohio
  • Traveling to Okefenokee Swamp from Savannah, Georgia in a Dodge Neon

Before I continue, it seems that we’ve done a bit of traveling, doesn’t it? Why do these memories stand out? Because our lives have been one adventure after another, and the best adventures I’ve had have been with my wife. That we enjoy each other’s company so much makes traveling together that much more special. How about some other happy thoughts? Ok:

  • Learning how to play card games like canasta, pishte, cribbage and so on
  • Spending time, poolside after work at our apartment
  • Driving around to all of the yard sales and flea markets within a 10 mile radius from the house
  • Picking pumpkins for Hallowe’en
  • Playing miniature golf in Hilton Head, South Carolina
  • Hiking in various places on the Appalachain Trail
  • Decorating our first Christmas Tree together

There are so many more memories I have over the last thirteen years… but most of them are private ones for just the two of us to share. With the baby now, we probably won’t be able to do anything so extravagant as in the past, like traveling to Italy, but I don’t mind.

Just so long as I can spend some more time with this terrific woman who married me… who is my life.

© 2005 – 2009, Kharmin's Small Piece of the 'Net. All rights reserved.

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