Kindle Forum banner
1 - 20 of 66 Posts

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,633 Posts
Discussion Starter · #1 ·


Welcome to the Book Klub discussions for Distant Cousin: Repatriation, volume 2 of the Distant Cousin series!

Whether you enjoy contributing, or asking questions, or just following along to see what others say, I hope you'll enjoy the ride. Distant Cousin: Repatriation is the shortest of the three volumes, only 173 pages in the DTV, and it's a fairly quick read with only a few complications, which we may discuss as we get to them. I don't expect this Klub will drag on, in other words.

Still, I'd like to start slowly, please, to give time for word to get around so that all who are interested will discover us and join in.

I know several readers are eager to begin, however, so I'll go ahead and post some starter questions for chapters 1-10. Do not feel limited by these! If anything strikes your fancy or if you have other points to bring out, by all means contribute!
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,633 Posts
Discussion Starter · #2 ·
Discussion starter questions for chapters 1-10

1. What sort of fellow does Scott Zimmer seem to be? Good guy or bad guy? That is, we learn that quite a number of other investigators have tried and failed to find Ana Darcy, and since the book begins with this particular investigator, it seems fair to assume that he'll eventually locate her. What sort of fate do you expect Zimmer is headed for?

2. How does Ana's child-rearing style strike you? Surely, many readers will have raised children, and most people have their own ideas anyway. What do you think of hers? (Have you ever heard of anything in any way similar?)

3. The hearing looking into the fate of Bennec Vianogh plays out in these chapters. What are the implications of the findings for Ana and the Mendez family?
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
3,141 Posts
BrassMan said:
1. What sort of fellow does Scott Zimmer seem to be? Good guy or bad guy? That is, we learn that quite a number of other investigators have tried and failed to find Ana Darcy, and since the book begins with this particular investigator, it seems fair to assume that he'll eventually locate her. What sort of fate do you expect Zimmer is headed for?
Scott seems a little suspect to me. On one hand, he's not really done anything worse than Matt did in the last book to get the story, but the references to drugs and stuff make him seem a little skeevy. He does seem determined to find Darcy, and I'm a little worried for her.

BrassMan said:
2. How does Ana's child-rearing style strike you? Surely, many readers will have raised children, and most people have their own ideas anyway. What do you think of hers? (Have you ever heard of anything in any way similar?)
I think it's definitely interesting. Most bilingual families teach their kids both languages, and I know some people go out of their way to have a nanny or someone who speaks a foreign language take care of their kids. Some people teach their kids sign language, too. Even Sesame Street teaches kids a little Spanish, and I think maybe a little signing, too. Of course, when money is no object you can hire 10 nannies to be there around the clock talking to your kids :) The teaching math thing is probably a lot rarer, though.

BrassMan said:
3. The hearing looking into the fate of Bennec Vianogh plays out in these chapters. What are the implications of the findings for Ana and the Mendez family?
Well, we didn't really find out what's going to happen to them, if anything. The other members of the party seem to have accepted their story, but it sounds like the real verdict will be what the terrestrial Thomans have to say about it. That part actually seemed a little anti-climatic to me. I was hoping to see a real court scene.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,633 Posts
Discussion Starter · #4 ·
I'm waiting a bit to get the discussion rolling to give everyone time to find us and follow along--say, another couple of days.

In the mean time, it's a lovely morning in south Texas, and a good day to cook some frijoles. They're delicious, cheap, and nutricious, and the recipe I'll be using, which originated with a cattle-drive chuck wagon cook back in the old days, can be found at http://www.distantcousin.net/recipes.htm.

There's also a simple recipe for the very best salsa I know of.

Cheers,
Al
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,803 Posts
Discussion starter questions for chapters 1-10

1. What sort of fellow does Scott Zimmer seem to be? Good guy or bad guy? That is, we learn that quite a number of other investigators have tried and failed to find Ana Darcy, and since the book begins with this particular investigator, it seems fair to assume that he'll eventually locate her. What sort of fate do you expect Zimmer is headed for?

I agree with Marianner: Zimmer kind of creeps me out. He seems obsessed with Darcy, and will go to any length, tell any lie to meet her in person. He's also pretty convinced that once he does meet her, all will magically be right in his life. I think he is setting himself up for a big disappointment, even if he does eventually meet Darcy.

2. How does Ana's child-rearing style strike you? Surely, many readers will have raised children, and most people have their own ideas anyway. What do you think of hers? (Have you ever heard of anything in any way similar?)
I think it's great that she is giving the twins an opportunity to learn so many languages. I'm convinced that being exposed to multiple languages as a child has wired my brain such that it is easier for me to pick up new languages (sounds, grammar, etc.). Kids pick up languages with very little effort, simply by being exposed to it.

3. The hearing looking into the fate of Bennec Vianogh plays out in these chapters. What are the implications of the findings for Ana and the Mendez family?
The hearing happened kind of fast, but was a good recap of what happened in Book 1. I'm glad that Darcy's secret is out; it would have been difficult for her to keep denying her marriage and her twins. Also, now this puts her in a new role. She no longer outranks Herecyn, so she will have to figure out some other way to thwart his greedy ambitions!

N :)
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,633 Posts
Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Well, I did cook a pot of frijoles, and they were great if I do say so. I added some Texas/Czech sausage just for interest, and made some arepas to have alongside instead of tortillas. Mmm-mm.

I reckon this klub is ready to Motorola, no? I suspect some are more than ready. I am too. ¡Vámonos!

Zimmer seems skeevy, huh? Love it! Don't plan to pull down the dictionary--none needed. You never know about driven people, do you? You never know about anyone, come to that....

There seems to be agreement so far about the advantages of learning languages early. I'd love to have had Ana's money to do something like that in our family. As it was, we had to make do with English and Spanish--but then, neither my wife nor I were native speakers of Spanish, so it was plenty challenging. We used books in Spanish to help stand in for native-quality spoken Spanish in our home. It worked pretty well, actually.

What was your experience, Neekeebee, if you don't mind saying?

The record for exposure of a child to many languages, as far as I know, was described in a paper by Dr. Theodore Andersson, an expert on early education (especially early bilingual reading). He found a case of a child who was brought up in India, the parents of two diplomats. Each parent spoke a different language. The grandparents were present also, and they spoke still other languages. And this was in India: the child's nanny spoke one language, the kids at school spoke a couple more, and the people in the town spoke still another. At one point, around age four, the child could understand and speak nine languages! Interviewed later in life, he said he'd forgotten some of them, but he remembered thinking one simply spoke differently to different people. It had not been a problem. He had no headaches or nightmares. It was perfectly natural and normal. His parents used to take him shopping, because he could interpret with the shopkeepers for them!

I had something like that in mind for the Mendez household, though there too, multiple languages would have been very difficult to maintain. Still, it does change the developing brain. It makes one more adaptible. Has everyone heard Henry Kissinger speak? He has a thick German accent. He learned English in his early teens. Moral: if you want to learn to speak a language like a native speaker, you'd better be a kid. That's when we do our best language learning.

As for the hearing, I guess from one point of view it was anti-climactic. They did have to conduct it in an odd way, being separated from each other and far distant from the home district. You're right, Neekeebee, that it was partly to review material from volume one, and partly to set Ana up for a new situation. She could no longer use her rank to make things happen; she had less political power. That'll cause problems, as we'll see.

It's great to have this running at last! All are welcome to add thoughts to the discussion so far, or to come up with points not mentioned--I wish you would, actually. I'm so familiar with the story I probably miss some obvious things, like I did in the discussion of volume 1. So don't hide your light--let's hear it!
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
7,047 Posts
1. What sort of fellow does Scott Zimmer seem to be? Good guy or bad guy? That is, we learn that quite a number of other investigators have tried and failed to find Ana Darcy, and since the book begins with this particular investigator, it seems fair to assume that he'll eventually locate her. What sort of fate do you expect Zimmer is headed for?
Wellll, not sure you would not have put him in here if he was not sorta a good guy, working construction to support himself, quitting smoking, but 3 or 4 beers?, not sure about that. Will have to wait and see, as N stated he seems to think that everything will be okey dokey once he finds her.

2. How does Ana's child-rearing style strike you? Surely, many readers will have raised children, and most people have their own ideas anyway. What do you think of hers? (Have you ever heard of anything in any way similar?)
Not having children not too sure about this, but I like her style, and I definitely like the language bit. I learned Japanese at a very early age, but then never had occasion to use it when we left Japan, I was 10, so it disappeared. Wish I had paid attention to Spanish being from Texas, but struggling with it now.

3. The hearing looking into the fate of Bennec Vianogh plays out in these chapters. What are the implications of the findings for Ana and the Mendez family?
This seemed to be anti-climatic
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,633 Posts
Discussion Starter · #8 ·
Yeah, three or four beers might just be the sign of a bad guy. If he goes as high as six, it's a done deal. Stay tuned for further developments.

Interesting about your early Japanese, Anju. I'm going to opine that while you think you forgot it, it's still there, back in a corner of your brain somewhere. This is based on my own experience. Back when I was in the first grade in El Paso, I was part of an experiment in early language instruction. Carlos Rivera, a very courtly and friendly gentleman, taught us little kids basic phrases, colors, numbers, and the like, and we loved it. As so often happens with such programs, the funding was not renewed and the whole thing was dropped. I tried to learn a little Spanish later on, in junior high, with a tutor, but little came of it. I gave up.

Later, in college, I signed up for French. UT had a great French program, and I learned it pretty well in two years. I had become interested in linguistics, and went on to major in it, so I continued with upper division French courses and added beginning Spanish, thinking I might finally make some serious progress. To my surprise, I seemed gifted, performing well ahead of the rest of the class. Even my accent was excellent, said the professor. At some point toward the end of the first semester, it hit me: I wasn't that gifted. It was that early experience that was coming back to me. The pronunciation was the key. I thought I had forgotten that early instruction, but I had not. It came back.

So maybe you should sign up for a Japanese class, Anju. I bet you'd surprise yourself! (In like fashion, I'd predict that the twins won't remember all the languages they heard as infants, but if they pursue them later they'll find they pick them up much more easily than true beginners.) Early instruction is not wasted, I bet.

Everyone seems to be disappointed that the hearing didn't turn into a courtroom drama. I'm sorry. It was partly just to recap what had happened in the first book, but consider: the whole thing was an informal inquiry, like a trial on a Navy ship. You can have a court, you can reach a verdict, but it all will have to be approved later by higher authority, and higher authority for Thomans is 50 years away. Uncle Rothan and the others knew Bennec had problems. They were embarrassed he had slipped away from them. They needed to establish what had happened for the record, but they had to move on. And for the sake of the story, Ana Darcy had to have her status clarified. That determines much of her later action.

 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,633 Posts
Discussion Starter · #9 ·
Dang it, I don't know why it didn't occur to me to do this for the Distant Cousin Book Klub, but it's not too late so I'll do it now.

Here are Google maps, satellite maps, of key areas where stuff in both books happens.

The first one shows Las Cruces and El Paso. The green swath connecting them is the Mesilla Valley, with the Rio Grande running through it. The Mendez family lives about ten miles south of Las Cruces, right along the river.



This is the map that should have gone with Distant Cousin. You can see Alpine, bottom right, but Fort Davis and the McDonnel Observatory (where Ana landed) do not show on this one. They are halfway between Alpine and the Interstate 10 shield above, in the Davis Mountains.

 

·
Registered
Joined
·
6,347 Posts
1. What sort of fellow does Scott Zimmer seem to be? Good guy or bad guy? That is, we learn that quite a number of other investigators have tried and failed to find Ana Darcy, and since the book begins with this particular investigator, it seems fair to assume that he'll eventually locate her. What sort of fate do you expect Zimmer is headed for?

I am not sure that I like Scott Zimmer. Something about him just strikes me as off. I think it may be the whole "I'm obsessed with the Starchild and I'm sure I'll find her even though everyone has been looking" mentality.

2. How does Ana's child-rearing style strike you? Surely, many readers will have raised children, and most people have their own ideas anyway. What do you think of hers? (Have you ever heard of anything in any way similar?)

It sounds very interesting. We picked up a little German just hanging around when the grandparents and greats played dominoes. And growing up in South Texas, I picked up some Spanish - not proper or anything, but I can cuss pretty fluently :) I know that my husband spent a lot of time with the Mexican housekeeper when he was little (in Brownsville, TX) and spoke Spanish before he spoke English. But he doesn't really remember very much of it.
Mental math has always been difficult for me - I do much better with pencil and paper, but if I had been exposed earlier, it might be easier. That makes sense also when I think about how easy it was for me to read and spell since my mother started reading to me very early.

3. The hearing looking into the fate of Bennec Vianogh plays out in these chapters. What are the implications of the findings for Ana and the Mendez family?

I actually forgot that Matt didn't hear what Ana told Bennec in the pod (well, didn't understand). But it's obvious that Ana is going to have some problems later with her brother-in-law. The hearing itself was not what I expected. Hleo could have rigged something so they could at least done a video conference instead of just exchanging emails...
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
7,047 Posts
BrassMan said:
So maybe you should sign up for a Japanese class, Anju. I bet you'd surprise yourself! (In like fashion, I'd predict that the twins won't remember all the languages they heard as infants, but if they pursue them later they'll find they pick them up much more easily than true beginners.) Early instruction is not wasted, I bet.
So I'm gonna find a Japanese class at Lakeside (Chapala) in Mexico - I don't think so ;)

Love the maps - cool!

I took Spanish in high school and one year in college but it all went away. When I married Jimmy many many years later, and with most of his family being Brazilian I started taking Portuguese at the Community Colleges in Dallas, my Spanish kept getting in the way! Now my Portuguese gets in the way when I am talking to our neighbors :D but that's ok, just makes life more interesting.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,803 Posts
Anju No. 469 said:
I took Spanish in high school and one year in college but it all went away. When I married Jimmy many many years later, and with most of his family being Brazilian I started taking Portuguese at the Community Colleges in Dallas, my Spanish kept getting in the way! Now my Portuguese gets in the way when I am talking to our neighbors :D but that's ok, just makes life more interesting.
It's so funny about languages getting in the way! I took Spanish in high school and German in college. A few years after college, I had to use some Spanish for work, and kept saying und when I meant to say y, and inserting other German words in the middle of Spanish sentences, earning me a lot of quizzical looks! ;D

Brassman, I was saying earlier that learning multiple languages as a kid made it easier for me to pick up new languages later. One thing I have noticed is that I seem to pick up new sounds, accents, inflections, etc. better than most. For example, my first German teacher was a native speaker, and I managed to pick up her accent. I didn't realize this until my American-born German teacher in my third semester commented that my accent was more German than his.

Anju, don't give up on the Japanese! It is in there somewhere! Watch some Japanese movies, download some podcasts, and I think you'll be surprised how much is still in there!

N :)
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,633 Posts
Discussion Starter · #14 ·
I agree that Anju probably still has lots of latent Japanese stashed away down deep that she doesn't know is there. Still, at least in my case, it would help to have a reason to try to bring it back. I wouldn't imagine there'd be a lot of reason, in Mexico, but what do I know?

I know a woman in town who speaks English, Russian, and Greek, and can read all of them (in different alphabets). Now she's learning Arabic, by herself, online. She's making progress, slowly, but why is she doing it? Mind you, it's none of my business, and I admire her curiosity and determination, but I can't see it doing her much good. She's having a good time, though, so I'll just let her do it.

The early math thing really intrigues me. Doman brought out Teach Your Baby Math after we'd had our two, and we almost had a third just to try it out. If you think about it, math works a lot like language, except there are no exceptions! You learn the basic principles first, in both, and then you can run almost as if on instinct. I've seen videos of little kids, toddlers, who can answer addition and subtraction problems with multiple steps, like is mentioned in Repatriation, and never make a mistake. They just KNOW. And the heck of it is that they learn using random dots on cards, not symbols. The dots actually ARE the quantities, not abstract representations of them like "7," for example, and with a little practice they soon get the hang of manipulating them. It's uncanny, but it's really not that different from the way they figure out, say, verb forms. When a little kid says, "The dog bited him," he doesn't know it's an irregular verb. But he does know how to form a past tense--add "-ed," basically, so that's what he does. No one tells him to do that, he isn't taught: he figures it out on his own. They do the same thing with math, and I'd love to see it happen in my living room.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,633 Posts
Discussion Starter · #15 ·
Here's another shot of Fort Davis, marked on this map, unlike on the one above. You can see the relation between Alpine and Fort Davis. They're 30 miles apart, and the terrain rises to the mountains from Alpine to the north. The Williams ranch (fictional, but based on the real ranches in the area) is halfway between Alpine and Fort Davis, off to the east (the right), in the lighter area, which are the flatter plains that run up to the mountains to the north.

It's a beautiful area, and you don't have to see No Country For Old Men to see it on the screen. (I've never heard of serial killers on the loose there.) You can see Dancer, Texas, a sweet little indie movie filmed in Fort Davis. Gorgeous country.

If you travel northeast out of Fort Davis (which really was an old cavalry fort--it's still there, reconstructed, and a state park) you'll come to the McDonnel Observatory, a lightish patch in the photograph. There are clickable pictures of the domes as well as other scenes from the Mesilla Valley and so forth, at http://www.distantcousin.net/pix.htm. The page references (sorry, Kindlers) pertain to volume 1 of Distant Cousin, but many are repeated in Repatriation.

 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,633 Posts
Discussion Starter · #16 ·
Let's see some of this from ground level, shall we? I'm on a picture kick tonight.

Here are shots from around Las Cruces and Mesilla. All self-explanatory, I hope, except maybe for the satellite shot of some of the pecan groves in the area. I'm telling you, there are a lot of pecan trees there, and the groves are huge. You'll recall, Matt and Ana have stashed the pod in an old warehouse in the middle of one of these groves.







In chapter 6, when Zimmer finally met Matt, Matt treated him to lunch in a little place in Truth or Consequences. This is the kind of excellent meal that Zimmer finally enjoyed:



An irrigation canal:



Here's the Las Cruces/Mesilla area with the Organ mountains in the background. Bennec is up there somewhere, poor guy....

 

·
Registered
Joined
·
8 Posts
Hi there!
I have just caught up and finished this section.  My comments are shown below...

Discussion starter questions for chapters 1-10


1. What sort of fellow does Scott Zimmer seem to be? Good guy or bad guy?  That is, we learn that quite a number of other investigators have tried and failed to find Ana Darcy, and since the book begins with this particular investigator, it seems fair to assume that he'll eventually locate her. What sort of fate do you expect Zimmer is headed for?

--- I can see Zimmer getting in big trouble with Ana Darcy, if it appears she gets too close.  Matt has already tried the planned, nice and easy way to get rid of him.  I can see the other side of Ana lashing out at Zimmer much like the robber in the parking lot, especially if Zimmer gets too close to the twins.

2. How does Ana's child-rearing style strike you? Surely, many readers will have raised children, and most people have their own ideas anyway. What do you think of hers? (Have you ever heard of anything in any way similar?)

--- I totally agree with Ana's style to raise children.  Now, I have not specifically raised children, but I have spent time helping with my sister's.  I personally believe that until age 3, children are like sponges -- if you feed them reading, languages, even Math, and structure -- along with no TV unless maybe a LITTLE Sesame Street - that's fine.
BUt if you "feed" kids with little structure, etc. and they soak that up - potentially they turn out to be worse off...

3. The hearing looking into the fate of Bennec Vianogh plays out in these chapters. What are the implications of the findings for Ana and the Mendez family?

---- I am not sure --- the Thoman's treating Ana as an outcast might have a lot of implications.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,803 Posts
Welcome to our Book Klub, Law Girl!  :)

The kids thing is really intriguing.  Law Girl, I agree with you about it being critical what you "feed" kids at an early age.  Brassman, when you talk about using dots for numbers, it reminded me that one summer--I was probably about 12--I found an old abacus, and decided to learn to use it.  I just sat there with the TV Guide or whatever had lots of random numbers, adding them up on the abacus.  I can still remember the smooth beads and the satisfying clicks they made as I added away.  :D  After a while, I could visualize the abacus in my head (in fact, it was all I could see when I closed my eyes  :-\), and could add and subtract large numbers with very little effort.  Like you said, numbers are just representations of quantities.

Love the  maps, but the food pictures are making me hungry!  Maybe I'll get some Mexican food for lunch today!

N :)
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,633 Posts
Discussion Starter · #20 ·
Good points, law girl. Matt got rid of Zimmer nice and easy, which is usually best. Now, Zimmer knows what Matt looks like. He's also seen Ana, but he didn't recognize her!

Most experts, like child psychologists (Burton White comes to mind), say that 50% of an adult's intelligence is developed and set in stone by age four. (I used to tell my college students that they only had 5% left to work with, so they'd better make the most of it.) Some parents take that the wrong way. I've seen little kids who knew all the state capitols, or who could name the Presidents. That's not intelligence. Whatever helps the imagination and the understanding leads to intelligence: math can do it, word games, being read to or reading oneself, actually using one's brain rather than having it stuffed with input (like from television)--things like that are best. In my opinion, to be sure.

Now, another implication of that hearing: Ana no longer has any official capacity, but she'd still want her people's arrival to go well. So she'll have to start getting involved somehow. We'll get a better idea of how soon.

Sorry about the food pictures, Neekeebee, heheheh. I lucked into TexMex food for lunch just now, but it wasn't as good as New Mexican food. You might note that what looked like a bowl of soup probably wasn't. There could have been enchiladas, tamales, tacos, who knows what, under that cheese and sauce. Wowsers!

Neat business with the abacus! You really have an inkling, better than I do myself, of how early learning of math works. Doman says to make flash cards with dots on them, one through 100 dots, and not grouped in fives or anything, but random. You start the kid with one through ten, telling him or her what they are, showing them upside down or any old way. It usually doesn't take long before they can identify them at a glance. Then you introduce the principle of addition: show one dot and two dots, and then show the three dot card. Or you can show the three dot card, minus the two dot card, and show the one dot card. He says they catch on quick. They learn the principle! Then you expand it to more dots. Before long they can do it almost without thinking.

I made myself a set of flash cards with dots just to see if I could learn to do that. I only used ten through fifty. I was in my forties at the time. I got to where I could get close: I could tell a given card might be 22, or 23, or 24, but I could never be sure. Little kids are sure. It's amazing.

The abacus would be a great toy for a kid like that. I'll have to try that on my grandkids!
 
1 - 20 of 66 Posts
Top