I wrote to the MObirds listserv, mentioning a piece of doggerel that I’d written about birding.
(You can see it
and also giving the link to the video I’d taken, of an Indian Blue Robin bathing
(the post is
and I got a reply from someone called Ken Thompson.
“Sorry i didn’t get a chance to me you when you were here in St Louis. I have to mention that besides my two main obsessions (genealogy & birding), i’m a fan of spicy food — and the samples of southern Indian food that i’ve had from Priyaa & Gokul (restaurants) have been delicious! It’s interesting to see some of the same vegetables that we grew on our farm in Ohio, prepared in totally different ways.
“I’ll be following your future posts with interest.
“near the confluence of the Illinois, Missouri & Mississippi rivers”
I found this email very interesting, so I replied to him:
“Wow, Ken, what an interesting email! One of the vegetables I know of, made completely differently, is Okra…I’ve yet to taste gumbo, though. What other vegetables have you noticed? Eggplant, maybe? A liking for spicy food …how did you come by that?
“Genealogy seems to be a very riveting topic, too….in India, we have not been great at documentation, so our efforts to trace our roots falter and fail after the 3rd generation preceding us. My son-in-law’s grandmother was an Eitzen, and his mother and uncle once came down to St.Louis and had great fun tracing various branches of the family tree.
“Do you have a blog or a website that I can go through?”
To which I got this reply:
“No, no blog, website, or any such. Am actually an ancient mainframe computer programmer (40+ years experience), being forced into the 21st century by my geek-boy sons. Both of whom cook up dishes too hot for me, even. Was brought up German/English, in northwest Ohio, USA. Dad’s mother still spoke German, we made our own sauerkraut (imagine, weak kimchi), ate much potatoes, cauliflower, green peas, root crops, etc. To me now, aloo gobi & mutter ANYthing are ‘comfort’ foods. The only way i’ll voluntarily eat eggplant, is baingan bharta; still not a big fan of okra, tho. Have tried many different cuisines, mainly from Europe (English, German, Bosnian, Italian, Russian) thru the Middle East (Persian, Lebanese, Afghani) to India, China, Thailand, Vietnam, Japan & Korea. Saint Louis is nice, in that respect. My wife agrees with all of the above except Korean, and some of the very southern Indian dishes. Years ago, i decided that life is too short for dull food, and have been trying (almost) anything since.
Genealogy can easily become an obsession. I call it my socially acceptable form of OCD. On some lines, with help from other researchers, have tracked back into the 1700s in America & Germany, and in England & Scotland for my wife. On my Thompson line, have not been able to trace back past 1850 or so, in New York state. Am currently reading thru the parish records of the Roman Catholic church where my mother’s family lived, finding many relatives that i never heard of before. It’s the most that i’ve used my Latin & German language training in DECADES! And none, or very little, of this research would have been possible without the Internet. It’s rather mind-boggling, really.
“Well, i’ve rattled on enough. Must get ready for work tomorrow.”
I was chatting with and when he heard the name, he went ballistic. “You mean to say you are in touch with KEN THOMPSON?” he exclaimed in huge capitals.
“Er, yes,why, who’s Ken Thompson?” I said.
“Read those words….an ancient mainframe computer programmer (40+ years experience)” he said. “I’m sending you a link….read it.”
So he sent me the link to the
I was totally zapped when I read it.
“An American pioneer of computer science.Thompson designed and implemented the original Unix operating system. He also invented the B programming language, the direct predecessor to the C programming language.”
Amongst other awards, he’s won the Turing Award and the National Medal of Technology. WOW.
This is the person with whom I am casually discussing birds and genealogy! My toes curled.
But the wonderful part is….the fantastic people that birds bring into my life! Ken may be a supernova….but I must say that every person I meet as a birdwatcher is highly interesting and enriches my life further.