Wednesday, November 18, 2015

To a certain YL living in Japan.

I'm an AMERICAN and I'm pretty proud to say it.

I wonder how many people in the world REALLY knows what it is to be an American.

It means that our ancestors got booted out of every other decent place to live. About the only other place in the world that is even close to the United States is Australia because it was settled by British convicts.

I have been trading emails with a couple of Japanese lately and I'd bet that the average Japanese can trace their ancestors back for well over a thousand years. 

I am a very rare American because I can trace one side of mine back to 1620. Most Americans can't trace themselves back that far. It's a stretch but I think the Pilgrim would be a 28th cousin 94 times removed. (or some damned thing. I never figured all that geneology stuff out and I am guessing  here. ) 

I am of half Irish ancestry and they came here during some potato famine or something in the second half of the 1800s.  One my ancestors came here  to escape being hanged for stealing sheep according to my mother.

My father's side is different. My fraternal grandfather had roots that went back to the Pilgrims and the early settlers. There is a historical house in Maine that my his side traces back to.

My father's mother came to the States in the early 1900s from Austria and worked as a maid for a while. During WW1 she faced a certain amount of predjudice for being Austrian.  I remember her as a woman that came out every morning and raised the flag. She took it down every evening, regular as clockwork.

To the day she died she had a touch of the Austrian accent and had minor problems with Vs and Ws.

Some Japanese seem to have problems with the letter L and someone told me the sound is alien to the Japanese language. I just worked a Japanese in Anguilla on vacation about  an hour ago. There was an L in his call sign and I did have a hard time picking it up. Most Japanese I have QSO's on SSB have mastered the English L, though.

Anyway, that's just me and where I came from. The bottom line is that I am a mongrel just like most American that have been here for more than a couple of generations.

When you look at the way this country was settled it is no wonder we are the way we are. In parts The United States was settled in waves pretty much depending on what was going on in Europe.

A couple of potato famines sent waves of Irish over here and something in Italy sent waves of Italians over here. The steel mills of Pittsburgh sent over waves of eastern Europeans as there was likely no work in eastern Europe at the time.

As is human nature, the arriving wave of immigrants was usually subjected to predjudice that really didn't last for very long. I would have to say that a lot of this was probably over jobs. Those that were already here were probably afraid of losing their jobs to newcomers. As jobs were created things probably settled down and they were accepted.

Most of us figured out how to live with each other as best we could and in a generation or two started intermarrying. Seeing international or interracial couples in this country is the pretty much the way it is. Seeing anyone that can say that their family is 100% anything probably means they are either new immigrants or maybe first generation.

When you couple that with our history it is little wonder that we are basically an odd lot.

One of the interesting things that brought my wife's family here back in the 1800s was the availability of land. 

The Homestead Act of 1863 was an effort on the part of the govenrment to settle the Great Plains of North America. It would give the title to 160 acres of land to anyone that could 'prove up' to it. This was not a give-away, but an opportunity. 

One had to work hard to improve the land and there was a five year ime limit or one would lose the land. Both the Swedish and Norwegien ancestors of my wife settled there from their respective countries and worked hard to 'prove up' and were given the titles to thier farms.

I will add an interesting note here. The act did not close until the mid 1970s. I had just gotten out military service and was in college when the act closed. I was very seriously considering applying for 160 acres in Alaska at the time it closed. 

Incidentally the Homestead Act not only gave a lot of people an opportunity to make a life for themselves and their children. It also created a huge over abundance of produce. For decades the American midwest was considered to be the 'breadbasket of the world' as it grew so much grain it was exported in huge quantities.

This mess we call the United States is a mixture of people from every part of the world. That includes Japan and I am writing this post for a young lady that is Japanese that has been helpful to me. I met her on the air.

There are a few terms occasionally used to describe Americans of Japanese descent. None of these terms are insulting.

A young American man of Mexican decent that has parents born in Mexico may say "I'm a Chicano." It is not an insulting term.

An American may say "I'm Nisei." This means his or her parents were born in Japan. In the States he would be considered to be first generation as he is of the first generation to be born here.

An Issei is an immigrant, born in Japan. A Sansei would be the son or daughter of a Nisei.

While these terms still are in use in this country, one seldom hears them used by the younger people. A person of Japanese descent is more likely to describe themselves as being of Japanese descent.

An American of Japanese heritage in this country would not even draw a passing glance as they assimilated decades ago.

One of the very few things that I have to admit that is 100% American and only 100% American is the western movie with horse chases, revolver play, Indian fights and the US Cavalry coming to the rescue of the wagon train at exactly the nick of time.

Incidentally one of the older more well known westerns, The Magnificent Seven really isn't American in origin. It's Japanese. A Japanese named Akira Kurosawa made a movie in Japan named The Seven Samaurai.   

The Magnificent Seven is just the Japanese movie spun off in Amercan western style. 

Still, the American western is one of the few things that is totally American in nature. It is kind of difficult to picture a bunch of cowboys driving a herd of cattle through downtown Tokyo. Then again, I suppose if someone made a movie like that it would he hilarious. Personally if I were to make a movie like that I would choose Paris.

It often gives those that don't live here somewhat of a misguided idea of Americans.

In 64 years of living in this country I have never been in a wild west gunfight, fought off Indians or been on a cattle drive. While most people probably know that you would be surprised how many don't. However, I can ride a horse and one time I rode a bull.

Do not ask me about the bull ride. I was young and stupid then and drinking tequila at 8 O'clock in the morning.

About thirty years ago I landed in Paris. Many Americans at the time would try and dress like Canadians or Brits. I didn't.  I showed up dressed like an American cowboy. The French customs agent went through my bags carefully. He said he thought I might have a six-gun in my baggage.

I told him I left it back at the ranch (I don't live on a ranch) because I didn't think I would have to shoot anybody in Paris. He gave me an annoyed look. So I told him that if I had any problems I would call the US Cavalry because they always get there on time.

The Frenchman was not amused.  He said Paris was a civilized place. The Canadian behind me was laughing. He dryly commented to me that he could just picture the US Cavalry straight out of the movies galloping on horses down the streets of Paris with the bugle blowing, just in time to save the day.

The Canadian actually told the customs man that I probably wasn't going to have a showdown with someone at high noon while I was telling a French outlaw to get out of town before sundown. The Frenchman got mad at both of us.

The hapless man had no sense of humor.

One thing about an American western movie, you can't make one in Paris, London or Tokyo. Only in America.

I think there are a few things that are 100% American but not too many. One thing totally American is the hamburger.

When you consider that our people came from all over the world and brought their food with them it is no surprise that what is often called American food is nothing more than a conglomoration of foods from all over the world.

The American hot dog is an example. It is German in origin. Pizza has Italian origins. 

One of the things most people do not know about the US Navy is that besides being warfighters many of our vessels are set up to do double duty as relief vessels. Even most Americans are unaware of this.

An aircraft carrier in addition to carrying 5500 people trained in damage control, first aid and many other useful things also carrys 3 hospitals, a nuclear powerplant that can supply shore power, aircraft to evacuate patients. It can cook up to about 50,000 meals a day. That's a lot of food! They can do a lot more than that to help people.

One thing I am proud of is that they have supplied relief during natural disasters all over the world.

While we are on the subject of relief, the Japanese people sent us an awful lot of relief after Hurricane Katrina tore up New Orleans. While the Japanese government was generous, it was the Japanese people themselves that dug into their personal pockets and supplied the bulk of it. This American says Thank you very much! That was very kind of the Japanese people.

One of the things that creates difficulties is that Japan is a very polite society and Americans are different. We come across sometimes as being rude. Truth is, we're just different.

If someone suggests something in this country and someone disagrees they are probably going to say something like "That's not a good idea." Saying that to a Japanese might leave him feeling insulted when he should not feel that way.

The American is simply saying what is on his mind and means no insult. He's simply saying the IDEA isn't a good one. He's not saying anything bad about the person. It is just a given that all of us have dozens of ideas daily, some good, some not so good. To an American it is no big thing.

A Japanese might say about a bad idea something like "The idea should go through careful consideration."

To an American that means that it should probably be looked into and considered how it can be enabled. There is a lot of room for mis-communication between the two cultures. There is no right or wrong here. It simply is what it is.

While that is not too bad, a Japanese in the States traveling around is going to have a pretty hard time if they get used to English as it is spoken in Aroostock County, Maine and then go to Cajun country down in Louisiana.

Not only is their English different as far as accents and inflections go, their vocabulary is different. It is sometimes hard enough for a lot of Americans to understand each other. For someone else not born here? They would be lost!

The funniest SSB QSO I ever heard was between two Americans. One was in the northern part of Maine and the other was a Louisiana Cajun. It took forever for them to even trade call signs. Someone later commented that that particular QSO was DX by everything but definition. Those two would have been a lot better off using CW.

I suppose a lot of people think the United States is a strange place to live but the truth is I like it. While we sure have our share of problems here but it is interesting.

If this is difficult for you to understand then maybe you know someone that has been to the States and can help you read this.

73 and Good DX!

To find out why the blog is pink just cut and paste this: NO ANIMALS WERE HARMED IN THE WRITING OF TODAY'S ESSAY

1 comment:

  1. What makes the part about Northern Maine and the French Canadians in Quebec are called Acadians and the Louisiana Cajun are from the same origin and morphed Acadians to Cajun. Those 2 could easily have been related