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January 28, 2007

Hamster Eulogy

Well, it may not come as a surprise to anyone when I say this, but "hamster" and "eulogy" are not two words I ever would have expected to Google. At least not together.

My son Max's hamster, Stripe, passed away this week. Pet loss for children is one of those milestones most all of us pass.

Max was fairly saddened by the event. We did our best to carry out the proper procedures. This included:

Our preparations were spread over the past few days - like human funerals are I suppose (at least those of close family and friends I've been through). As the funeral for Stripe was today, it came time for final preparations. Settling on the exact burial plot - and, a eulogy. This is where Google came in.

Now, while there were 48,700 hits for "hamster" and "eulogy" - that is a bit misleading. This is not that prevalent an Internet topic.

Even still, I was impressed with Rob Zarzueta's contribution as well as the operators of the Happy Hamstery Home Page. The Happy Hamstery even has a Hamster Memorial page.

I have to admit, when it came to considering a eulogy, I had much the same thought as Sam Jenning did here:

“Beatrice… was… a hamster. But she was also more than a hamster. She… um… yeah, she was a hamster.”

Ultimately, what I chose, comes from an unknown author:

Eulogy for a Companion Animal

Our Father in heaven, we thank you for all creation, for flowers of field and garden, for friends and family voices, and especially for our faithful friend and constant companion, STRIPE.

This beloved pet, though unable to speak, told us in many ways that we were loved by one of Your creation. It has been said that actions speak louder than words. In many ways, STRIPE spoke of his/her constant love, respect and loyalty to us. Would that mankind could do likewise.

We have come here to say farewell to a true friend and loving member of our household. We thank You, Lord, for sending us this beloved companion. STRIPE will not be forgotten.

I found that one while searching for "pet" and "eulogy" I believe. This is a good standby - one to always have on hand for that unexpected pet passing. I think for our next pet funeral I'll attempt to compose one from scratch. We'll see.

Finally, petloss.com had lots of prayers and poems for animals of all kinds.

In any case, Stripe and his passing is now behind us. We had a lovely service and the eulogy was a hit. Well, as much as there can be "hits" at funerals (or should be). Google's results for "hamster" and "eulogy" will soon grow by one with this post.

More importantly, Max has a new pet - a parakeet, as of yet unnamed, which he picked out this afternoon. Life moves onward.

I've got a feeling we'll get pretty good at pet funerals.

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January 1, 2007

Book Short: Octavian Nothing

I am a busy guy. Not bragging here - believe me... just telling it like it is. I work full time. I'm very happily married. I have three wonderful kids. Overall, we are all pretty darn busy here at the Bartel household - and I'm not any exception. I also enjoy reading - however these past years I've noticed that reading for me goes rather slowly.

I finished Undaunted Courage in November, for example, but I started it in May. I find that reading before bed, for example, I maybe get five or ten pages in, if I'm lucky, before I nod off. A 500 pager goes rather slowly at that pace. (Speaking of Undaunted Courage, I need to post a book short on it as well - it too was an excellent read).

Anyway, since I'm such a slow reader given my life currently, I was astounded by how quickly I roared through The Astonishing Life of Octavian Nothing.

I caught a review for it in a magazine or newspaper - a short, less-than-50-words type blurb that compelled me to order it up. Something like this from the Wall Street Journal:

It is the eve of Revolution in Boston, where Octavian and his beautiful African mother live in circumstances of great elegance and high-mindedness. Outdoors, patriots are shouting "Liberty and Property!" while within the walls of the curious Novanglian College of Lucidity a group of rational philosophers -- so rational that ...

You get the idea. In any case, this book - for me - was a riveting piece of fiction. Set in Revolution-era Boston, the book is written in 18th century style and narrated from Octavian's point of view. The language is colorful - and while it took me a while, I finally settled in and got used to the language.

Octavian and his mother are subjects of an odd psycological and sociological experiment for a group of elitist and purported intellectuals. As the story passes, Octavian ages and his circumstances change drastically. Through its full course, the book explores concepts of slavery, free will, racism, human rights, war, inner peace, self-perception and more.

Subtitled "Traitor to the Nation, Vol. 1: The Pox Party" I was glad to read that author M.T. Anderson plans at least a second volume where we should learn more about Octavian. I look forward to it, and recommend this book as a slightly deep, thought provoking, and very enjoyable read.

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