Month: May 2012

A Better Solution to Controlling CWD in Deer

 from the Rock River Times

By William O’Leary

Chronic wasting disease (CWD) is a fatal prion disease found in deer and elk similar to Mad Cow Disease. Prions are transmissible protein viruses. The disease attacks the brain and nervous system, causing deer to become emaciated, display abnormal behavior, lose coordination and eventually die in about two years. Ninety-three percent of deer that have been tested positive in Illinois appeared healthy for nearly two years, long enough to reproduce.

CWD can be passed by contact with or ingestion of infected body fluids (saliva, blood and urine). Prions from decomposing infected carcasses and body wastes may remain in the soils for many years. There has never been an instance of people contracting the disease from eating meat from infected deer. A World Health Organization panel of experts conclude that there is no scientific evidence that CWD can infect humans. The prion that causes CWD accumulates in the brain, eyes, spinal cord, lymph nodes, tonsils and spleen. There is no evidence that CWD can be transmitted to cattle, sheep or other livestock.

IDNR (Illinois Department of Natural Resources) has implemented some good regulations (and one very bad action) to help control CWD. When field dressing deer:

• Wear rubber gloves.

• Bone out the meat.

• Minimize handling of brain and spinal tissues.

• Wash hands and instruments thoroughly after.

• Avoid consuming brain, spinal cord, eyes, spleen, tonsils and lymph nodes.

• Dispose of inedible parts properly.

IDNR bans feeding of deer or placing salt blocks in other than domestic livestock areas.

The “very bad action” was to hire sharpshooters to reduce the size of deer herds in 10 northern Illinois counties to near extinction. Since CWD is not a communicable disease, this has no controlling effect on the disease. Nature may provide the same natural immunity that the Black Plague survivors did for the following generations in Europe. Perhaps the offspring of CWD-infected deer will develop immunity to the CWD prion. The money spent to hire sharpshooters would have been better spent for research on the disease. I believe the IDNR sharpshooter program may have ended, as Gov. Pat Quinn eliminated the IDNR forestry budget, putting hundreds of people out of work in forestry alone.

William O’Leary is a retired educator with master’s degrees in administration and geology with concentration in science electives. He and his wife, Nancy, have 16.79 acres dedicated to IDNR forestry.


A Japanese Cremation

I meant to write this a few months ago.  The experiences below do not relate to any particular family member.  We did, however lose my wife’s mother 5 weeks ago.  The following is a combination of my experience with the bone-picking ceremonies over the past 20 years.   I would not want to violate the privacy of anyone living or dead.

First, the burnable casket placed on a gurney once it arrives at the crematorium. Family members gather in front of the doors of the incinerator.  There is often a Buddhist priest or other spiritual advisor present to lead final prayers.   After the body is slid through the doors of cremation machine, the relatives retire to a waiting area.    There are sofas, chairs and small rooms if people want more privacy.   The remains of an adult take 1 1/2 to 2 hours, a child less than an hour and an infant as little as 20 or 5 minutes to finish the cremation process.  This allows some time for a light lunch catered in lunch  boxes, a beer and some time to sit and chat. 

Not all cremation halls are equal.  I was shocked at what hell holes some were.  It seemed they obviously weren’t taking care of remains to afford a coat of paint, decent furniture a few shrubs and a flower bed.  The crematory is selected by its conveniece of location rather than the financial resources of the family.  I have been to some beautiful ones serving poorer families and and real dumps for families with considerable wealth.  One of the nicest ones I visited was in Yokohama a year and half ago.  Shiny granite type floors, walls  cushy leather furniture and plushly carpeted rooms. 

After relaxing in the lounge and having a light meal, we hear over a load speaker that they crematory staff is ready for us to return.  For lack of better explantion, they are saying the body is done.

Here is a big difference between western cremations and Japanese cremations.  We in America receive ashes and the remaining bones are crushed and pulverized.  Conversely, in Japan, the bones are collected and the ashes of the deceased are not kept.  I have never been involved in any way with a cremation in the United States.  As far as I know, all my kin were embalmed and put six feet under in a cemetary. 

I have participated in about a dozen of bone picking ceremonies over the past 20 years.  Although a skeleton is a pretty generic looking thing, I have never seen any two sets remains look the same.  I have seen pearly white bones, brown bones and gray bones.  I was once told that cancer sometimes ravages the body so badly that the process pretty much disinigrates everything.  On the other hand, a strong 20 year old who died unexpectedly was amazingly intact.  A large portion of the skull remains intact and when you enter the room the top of the skull is usually facing you as the remains enter head first.   Assuming the bones are in relatively good condition, you will see the a complete skeleton except from the neck down the bone structure is completely collapsed and flattened with the skull retaining its shape.  One of the strangest bone picking ceremonies was for a delayed discovery unattended death.   Instead the crematory staff walked across the large lobby carrying two silver trays of bones right through other parties waiting for their cremations to be finished.  Prior to that we were ushered into a large room in front of an empty marble table.  I thought, this is peculiar.  There is no door for the cremains on a gurney to come out.  Then I heard the rattling of bones behind me and two men carrying the trays into the room.

 When the bone-picking ceremony begins, the bones of the feet are picked up first, and the bones of the head are picked up last.   There is a reason for this.  They want the deceased to enter eternity head first up in the urn.   Everyone picks up the small bones using long chopsticks and transers them to the urn.  There are about 8 pounds of bones or less.  The chopsticks are longer than the type people eat with.  After many years in Japan, I have enough skill to handle chopsticks as well as I can a knife and fork.   The Adams Apple bone or the hyoid bone are picked up last by the closest relative.   The final part some may find disturbing.  The skull being relatively intact is very brittle.  The crematory representative will the break into it with the large chopsticks.  He will break it down into 4 or 5 plate like sections.  This will line the the urn just below lip.  The remains are now appropriately right side up with the skull bones and the hyoid bone at the top. 

Finally, the urn is closed and placed in white silky box or cover.  The representative will also hand the next of kin a certificate of cremation.  From there the box will return to home and sit on the family altar or Butsudon(an expensive cabinet in many Japanese homes).  The time in the home depends on the situation.  It could be just a few days or about 40 days before it is finally taken to the family plot and interred inside until the end of time.


Mystery of the Phantom Deer

from the Rock River Times

By William W. O’Leary

In the June 9-15 Rock River Times article, “John Deer: From foe to friend,” I wrote that there were no signs of deer in O’Leary Forests. My questioning of people in northern and central Illinois only netted a sighting of 25 deer in Ogle County by one person. This article is an update with corrections and reason why we don’t see the deer.

Since the June article, several people have reported to me that they have seen a deer or two at several locations in Winnebago County. A poacher/trespasser shot and field dressed a deer in Stand Three of our forest.

National Geographic and Animal Planet (television channels) rate deer as the most intelligent big game animal in North America. I believe the deer have altered their lifestyle to be more secretive to survive. Although I haven’t seen deer, I find the tracks of what appear to be a doe with fawn and a large buck in the main trail of our west forest and two lines of weeded trees in Stand One west. I believe the doe to be “Jane Doe” who can identify our planted trees. The large buck is probably a new recruit. Their tracks and trails were fresh in the first two weeks of July 2010. This is encouraging.

In the spring of 2009, I was hand-weeding trees on my knees. I stood up and nearly backed into two buck deer. At first I wondered why they were so close to me. When I looked toward our north fence and saw two men with guns, I got my answer. The bucks were using me as a shield. I regularly hear gun blasts in our west woods. The trails are paved with spent cartridges. Until recently, Sunday mornings were a time when poaching occurred in our west woods, which is in the City of Rockford. Poachers would park their cars among the church-goers at Silver Hill Church (license plates removed) because they knew that our family and staff would be off to church. This changed when City of Rockford Police began patrolling on Sunday mornings.

Although numerous people have contacted me to let me know they read my article in The Rock River Times, no one has brought me an orphaned fawn. I am repeating my request to save deer from extinction:

1. Put a moratorium on deer hunting for two years.

2. Prosecute poachers.

3. Contact me if you have an orphaned fawn.

While I can’t guarantee that poachers can be entirely controlled, we will do all in our power to protect the deer. The deer are free to roam.

William W. O’Leary is a resident of Rockford.

Goodbye Cheery O’Leary, Hello, Cherry O’Leary.

My name is Kevin O’Leary, Kevin rhymes with seven and O’Leary rhymes with cheery.  Well, so I thought.  Throughout my childhood, people always called me O’ Larry.  Just like Larry the Cable Guy, Larry King or Larry Hagemann.  I used to be amazed at how retarded or just plain lazy others were that they couldn’t take the courtesy to try to get my name right.  Hey, hey we are the O-LEE-REES! 

Well,  based on new information that has just come to my attention through the indispensible tool of the internet, I learn almost a half-century later I was wrong.  I now humbly take this opportunity to apologize to everyone for those icy glares and my condescending pronunication instruction I have given you all when I thought you were mispronouncing my name. 

In the Cork and Kerry areas of Ireland where the name originated, the name is pronounced as O-LEY-REE or something similar to that.  Our name ryhmes with scary, hairy or fairy.   This corresponds with the Munster dialect which is most likely spoken by O’Leary’s in the great Emerald Isle.   Based on that, it is completely understandable that young immigrant schoolboys did not want to set themselves up for taunts by their classmates.    Since I am all grown up now and can kick anybody’s butt, I think I’ll be cool and start introducing myself pronouncing my name to rhyme with cherry.   

My first name being of Celtic origin also comes from Ireland.  It would be Caoimhín Ó Laoghaire.  Thankfully, I never had to spell that out.  The anglicized version is Kevin O’Leary.  I have learned my first name is pronounced as KEE-VHEEN in the Gaelic language.  I do not not like sound one bit, by golly.  I’ll go American on this one.

I live in Japan now.  Japan is a backwards country that cannot afford extravagant consonants like Ls or Vs, both of which I need to say my name in Japanese.  I am known as ケブン オレーリー here.  Pronounced as KAY-BUN O-RAY-REE.  I never would have imagined that through Japanese my name was closer to its original form than I had in America.

Meanwhile, my sister claims to have discovered we might be black.  Well, fer land sakes.  That’s cool by me.  I wonder what a black Mr. Bean would look like. 

Now that I have finished my educational research into Ireland and watched back to back episodes of Mrs Brown’s Boys, I’m up and ready to go and bone up on my Eboneics.

Thanking a WW2 Veteran for Our Freedom

-by Kevin G. O’Leary
 Late last year I got an email from my cousin in Oregon, IL that our uncle would be taking an honor flight to Washington, DC with other World War 2 veterans.  The Honor Flight Program has been taking place across the country for a number of years.  Volunteers, businessess  and organizations have generously given their time and resources to thank those who made the sacrifice for our freedom. 
On November 3, my mother’s elder brother Bob Chamberlin took one of the honor flights from the Quad Cities Airport in Moline.  The veterans are flown free of charge to the nation’s capital to personally visit the monument made in their honor.   One of the highlights of the return flight is the “mail call.”  Friends and relatives of our heroes were asked to write a letter to our special veteran that is delivered to them onboard the plane.   Below I will share the letter I wrote for our Uncle Bob.
Dear Uncle Bob,

I am thrilled to learn you are taking this flight of honor.   It is important that people enjoying the freedoms in 2011 do not forget that these freedoms do not come with a lot of personal sacrifice by young men and women who answered their country’s call to service.  I thank you for serving long before I was even born to ensure that I could grow up in a free country.

Today, nearly seventy years after the attack on Pearl Harbor, generations have grown to embrace peace when possible but be prepared to fight when necessary.   But, now  these nations are our stanch allies.  It would have been unimaginable that I would one day be working in Japan.      Incidentally, until last week I was working in Sasebo City which is was a huge center of Hirohito’s Imperial Navy and where Japan’s leaders projected their horrific tyranny.  Now, it is the site of huge Dutch Theme Park and Flower Kingdom.  How  peaceful is that!  

Washington, DC is an amazing place.  I’m not sure which of the three airports you will land at.   I have lived there twice from 1981-1984 and again from 1986-1988 when I was a Navy petty officer stationed at the Naval Air Facility at Andrews Air Force Base.   You will be able to see many memorials and and landmarks each which is a historical building block of what made the United States what it is today.  It was amazing experience to live in Washington during that time.   Ronald Reagan was president then.  When I was in the Navy in Naval District Washington, I was able to participate in some of newer monument dedications and events.  One was the final farewell funeral parade for General Omar Bradley another was the Vietnam Veterans Memorial dedication as well as the the  Tomb of the Unknown where a fallen solider from the Vietnam war was briefly interred.  A few years later, he was positively identified and and returned.  It’s hard to see everything, but you can never get tired of visiting our capital.  

In 2011, there are many things to grumble about when talking about our country.   We can openly and critically question our president, our leaders without fear of punishment.  In contrast, these were liberties that Hirohito, Hitler and Mussolini’s subject could not even imagine.  As a result of their defeat by brave World War II veterans like yourself, you not only guaranteed our freedoms in the US, but brought freedom to nations of oppressed people.  We all owe you and your fellow veterans a debt of gratitude.   I thank you for being there for me and our country.

Enjoy your flight.  Your nephew and all your kin are cheering for you!



Today many young men and women are making the huge sacrifice in Afghanistan and Iraq.  Seventy years from now will the next generation remember what they did for us?  Let’s hope so.  Freedom is never free.

Inside the Land of the Rising Dough

-By Caoimhín Ó Laoghaire

In the fall of 2011, I began working in the early mornings for Biggareau Bakery.  I think the name means the Big Cherry in Italian.  It is part of the Shiraishi Bread Company of Hita.   Breaking the great bamboo ceiling in Japan is  quite a victory for me.   The opportunity to work in a relaxed fun environment  and to joke in Japanese does wonders for my mental health.  For once, I am not confined to the classroom.    At the bakery, we all really cut up  in the kitchen and its not just the sliced bread.   We have to be careful to keep our laughter contained which is not easy.

I work with many interesting people.  There is Mr. Jojima, the king of the ovens.  Nobody touches the ovens but him.  There is a nice jumbo sized wood fired Italian pizza oven and many other types of ovens that line the wall and he rules that kingdom.   The people of Biggareu are great to work with.   In addition to Mr. Jojima the the oven master, there are about 4 people working in the kitchen rolling, kneading and filling.   Last but not least, we cannot forget the sales staff out in the shop.  They are all young ladies and they are all hotter than the hot crossed buns out of Jojima’s inferno.

It seems to me some of the young ladies are doing a lot of educational reading in their free time.  I get asked quite frequently to explain difficult questions about something they have seen in American movies or have read.   I have not come across these types of inquiries in my English teaching, nor have adequate ELT textbooks addressed this essential part of western culture.  Consequently, I really do not know the answer to many of their questions.   For example,

” Do all American women shave their pubic area and sport Brazilian Waxes?”

” Why do Americans have sex with the man standing in the doorways carrying the woman?”

“What does S & M stand for? ”

Really!  How the hell should I know?   I have been involved with exclusively Japanese women for the past 30 years and have been completely baffled for about 27 of those years.  Boy, do I have some questions for them about the Japanese!    Let’s be fair and have a fruitful cross-cultural exchange.  I may not be the best coach for them as I have always been an introverted dull boy and it is beyond my area of expertise.  I just tell them, “Let me email the only woman I know in the United States that won’t slap me and I will try to get the answer to your questions.”  Afterall, my area of expertise is researching the unknown and like a good salesman saying, “Golly gee, I don’t know.  But I will investigate for you and get you the answer.”  It sure is an education for me too.  Darn shame creeping close to 50, I am to old to do much field research on the subject and learn a few things myself.

We have quite a large menu in the sandwich area where I usually work.  I really only involve myself with half of the menu.  I’m not really the best at cutting the different types of bread and putting out some of most attractive sandwiches.  In a typical day I will make  Ham and Cheese Oven Baked Breakfast Sandwiches, Cheeseburgers, Tarter Fish Filet Sandwiches, Pork Cutlet Burgers, Shrimp Patty Sandwiches,  Croquette Sandwiches, Teriaki Chicken with Burdock Salad, Hot Dogs, Oven Baked Chili Dogs, Oven Baked Mentai Dogs and 3 varieties of Italian Panini, BLT and Bagel Sandwiches.  I start these up at 7AM and get most of them done by about 9:30 as long as the only person older than me, Miyoko, shuts the hell up so I can do my sandwiches.   If she starts fondling my cabbage bed on my hot dogs and stuffing, tucking and suggesting this and that, I will be lucky to finish by 11AM.  She is in her 60s, means well and is kind, but damn lady, go back to your paninis and let go of my wieners!

I do a fair amount of prepatory cooking for the bakery.  I make Chocolate Cream filling, Custard Cream filling,  and help with making the Curry for the famous Curry filled bread, Secret sauces for sandwiches, spice mixing.  These are all original recipes which I will not be sharing the secrets here of.  I am not mad at boss so his set up and ingredients are are safe with me.

I have also been cross trained to help out in the, bakery kitchen if there is a sudden emergency or absence of key people.   In this event, I would be seperating and cutting dough.  making loaves of bread, putting together two varieties of handmade pizzas,  Teriaki Chiken and Pepperoni.  They really are good pizzas from the time I make them from scratch until they come out of the oven.  From there it is all downhill.  I sometimes want to rush the kitchen and save these poor pizzas when they exit the oven.  For land sakes, ladies why do you squirt mayonnaise on the top of a perfect creation and sprinkle it with seaweed?   Yes, we know we are in Japan, but give the customers a real pizza already!

I am far from being a pro even after seven months and I make more than my share of mistakes.  I always know when something isn’t right, when my super hot supervisor Aya says, “Ah, Kevin, Kevin.”  When my name is said twice, I know I made a mistake that I have to go back and correct.  If I hear my name once, I know I am OK and she just has another question about western style intimacy customs.

In summary, I have to reccommend this place to anyone living in the Asakura area.  It is a very good bread shop and when you come in, you can get complimentary coffee when you buy bread.  It has a great atmosphere and there is even a kiddie corner with books for the kids so Mom and Dad can take their time selecting their baked goods.   I personally reccomend the curry pan, American style cinnamon rolls and any item that has our original custard or chocolate cream.

How I Feel About Non-Japanese Name Usage in Japan

-By Caoimhín Ó Laoghaire

Most Japanese adults do not know how to address others or introduce themselves properly in English. They introduce themselves by last name only, for example, ” Hello, I am Bush” or “Nice to meet you, my name is Johnson.”   This does not seem to be a big issue on its face, but we have to keep in mind that a non-Japanese that has not lived here might not recognize they have been presented with only a last name.  Mistakenly believing the friendly Japanese person introduced himself American style by first name, the non-Japanese may commit a big faux paux the next time they meet addressing an important contact by last name only minus any honorific title.  This would be exceedingly rude in most countries of the world.   I have made it my personal mission to painstakingly retrain the Japanese population.

An overwhelming majority of AETs, ALTs and foreign teachers in schools have adopted the practice of using their first names only with elementary and secondary school students.   Or I should say, others have adopted this practice for them.   I believe there are several reasons for this being the standard practice.   Some Japanese believe western culture is much less rigid and formal and all foreigners prefer to be called by first name.   More than two decades ago when the JET programme began to provide foreign ALTs to the school, the idea was to foster friendship between the young people of each other’s countries.  Thus, the upper age limit for employment for JET ALT positions was only 27  years old.  Finally, the least pleasant theory is it is a subtile means by the host schools to separate and keep the foreign teachers in guest/visitor station throughout their assignment.   This is a form of microagression or microinvalidation that is either unintentional or intentional.  It depends on the perpetrator, I guess.

In recent years, the JET programme participants have been cut back and it is not uncommon to have a foreign teacher as old as 50 or 55 teaching in the school.  Nowadays, many school districts with budget constraints are relying on staffing and dispatch companies to supply their foreign teachers.  I worked at a junior high school with 5 other English teachers.  At age 45, I was the oldest English teacher in the school.  In a school environment, I do not feel comfortable reinforcing to children younger than my own to address me by first name and address the other teachers in the room with me by their family name and title.  Although by definition, Assistant Language Teacher is in an inferior role in the classroom, it is best in my opinion that youngsters learn to address all adults using the proper respect.  In this role, my preference is Mr. O’Leary or オレーリー先生.

I make an extra effort to illustrate examples of name etiquette as it used in western countries.  In my home country, the United States, first names are very common and perfectly acceptable in many organizations.   For example, in the USA,  I worked for Lowe’s Corporation which is a large company that operates home improvement centers nationwide.  At Lowe’s, first names are used by the newest employee all the way up to the CEO.  This is not unusual at all as it emphasizes the importance, value and equality of each team member.  Everyone uses first names.  However, it would be very awkward if some were referred to as Mr, Ms and others were referred to only by first name.  The key point is to use forms of address in kind and never be unequal to anyone when addressing them.  Like, Japan, last names only would also be extremely abrasive and rude.

Last year, I began to work for two different companies in Japan.  I work for Watami, a food processing center and also at an upscale bakery.  At Watami, at age 48 I am one one of the youngest on my team.  Workers there have their last names stenciled on our uniforms and are referred to as Tateyama-san, Mori-san etc.  In kind they address me as Ore-ri-san.  This is standard practice.  There are two old farts though aged 59 and 60 respectively who refer to me as just Ore-ri.   I find this increasingly annoying.  However, these are very kind, helpful decent men who would never intentionally disrespect anyone.  I sometimes tell them, “Oh, by the way, Ore-ri is my family name.”  It doesn’t sink in to their wrinkled brains.  Last names should never be used in Japan without the honorific suffix san.  It is crude and rude.    I have invited them to call me Kevin or as they would say Kebun.  For some reason, although only I would be referred to by first name, I do not feel slighted.  It does not grate on my ears to be called in a friendly way by my first name without the honorific suffix san.

In contrast, when I go to work at the bakery, I am one of the oldest workers.  The young ladies 20, 22 and some in the 30s refer to me as just Kevin.  I like this.  It is friendly and similar to how they would address their English conversation teacher if they were studying at a school.  Surprisingly, I found that last names are used exclusively even among the youngest workers.  Even though I am the odd man out in address, it is fine because I feel their warmth and sincerity.

In the case of both the schools and the companies where last names are commonplance, there is good reason I become oversensitive.  If someone does what they call 呼び捨て which means to drop the honorific to my last name, I feel the disrespect is being extended to my family.  I consider myself to be a humble person, but I am fiercely protective of my family and would never tolerate anyone disrespecting them.  When I was working with the schools in the same community my children attended school, I found it awkward confusing to try to justify to my daughter why only her parent was referred to by first name.  A well raised child is taught to refer to adults by last name and title.  The disparity can have a subtile effect on the child and they may find that having a non-Japanese parent is an embarrassment and nusiance.  This was occasionally the case with my son during his school days.  What do non-Japanese residents like myself really want?  The answer is when on the job, when doing our part living responsible lives in the community, we do not want to be treated differently.  We want to blend in.  We do not want our spouses and our children to be treated with less dignity because they have a non-Japanese spouse or parent.

My typical training pattern for self-introductions I instruct my student is this, “Hello, My name is Hiroyuki Tanaka.”  The well raised individual would likely respond with, “Nice to meet you, Mr. Tanaka.”   At this point, Mr. Tanaka might say, “Please call me Hiro.”  This is gives Tanaka-san the opportunity to offer the gift of friendship and informality by inviting another to refer to him by first name.   The rule of thumb is not to be presumptuous and wait until invited before using someone’s first name.

To live in a global environment takes a certain degree of patience and temperment.  Etiquette  slips are often forgiven across cultures.  When unfamiliar with which is correct, refer back to your own culture and Amy Vanderbuilt’s Book of Etiquette.  You would be surprised to find our cultures are very similar.  If you are on your best manners expected in your home country, you will be pretty close when traveling abroad.   Like the name of this blog, remember, It is not about our differences….It is about our similarities.