Friday, August 19, 2016

Look Before Flocking

Those of you who bravely subject yourselves to the ramblings contained in this blog, already know we have bird feeders ("Goldfinch Gold Mine" May 3, 2016).

You likely already know, too, that after resisting the idea of acquiring the feeders, I am the only one who looks after them ("Feeder Fodder" November 30, 2010). I have been the only one who *&%$#@*!~ looks after them for many, many, yes - that many - years!

Four seasons a year, sometimes every second day, I fill them with seed!

At considerable risk to my sanity, I fight tooth and nail with greedy squirrel intruders to protect the feeders, and my wallet, from bottomless rodent appetites.

Hey, the birds are depending on me.

Our neighbours have moved away. They never wanted a fence between our houses and, in the beginning, that was fine. After we bought dogs, however, we always wanted a fence, so the beasts could have their very own dog run.

This week, we got a fence installed.

The delighted dogs run themselves silly, even in this heat! Their kingdom has expanded, although they eat way too much of its grass!

The new reality
The birds that know our feeder are not used to factoring in dogs when they visit, and yesterday, the second day we could let the dogs run around the yard, Bear, our Australian Labradoodle, pounced on something and then picked it up in his mouth. My wife and son pried open his mouth to find a little swallow inside.

We scolded giddy Bear, but I could tell he was oblivious.

The bird flapped, rose for a short distance, and then landed back on the grass, her breast heaving.

We called the wonderful people at Le Nichoir, the rehab centre for songbirds.

They agreed to stay open until my son and I got there with the swallow.

We were instructed to put the bird in a covered, dark box, with something like paper, or a towel, on the bottom.

After arriving at Le Nichoir, my son filled out a form and we waited to hear whether the bird would be ok.

Catherine gave it to us straight, telling us its femur had been broken and because bird bones are hollow, there would be no way to heal it.

She told us the bird would be put down.

We asked, reasonably we thought, whether it could survive with one leg and she explained that perching birds, perch.

With one leg, it would lack sufficient grip to perch where it wanted, fall to the ground, and break its wings.

On that rather somber note, we thanked Catherine, made a donation, and left.

Our new reality, and the new reality for birds visiting our yard, is that our dogs want to swallow swallows.

My son vowed to stand by the feeders when we allow the dogs into the yard.

I suggested we hang a gong on the back deck and then bang it, to scare off birds and squirrels, each time we let the dogs into the yard.

Birds of a feather can flock together, I just hope they have a look around before they flock here.

Sunday, August 7, 2016

Citius. Altius. Fortius.

When health officials are warning athletes not to go into the water with open sores, not to swallow the water, and to shower immediately after exiting the water, you know those athletes probably shouldn’t be competing in that water!

That very same news report quoted experts as saying the water quality at some of the Olympic venues in Rio was consistent with “raw sewage”.

That’s among the warnings I saw reported by the media leading up to the Rio Olympics. Then, there’s Zika, the social strife, and the ongoing political crisis in Brazil.

How could the IOC allow the Games to happen under these conditions?


How could the IOC allow such rampant doping in previous Games?

Again, I shake my head in sympathy with disgraced Canadian sprinter Ben Johnson. He paid with his Olympic gold medal for being caught, likely at a time when so many others went undetected.

Citius. Altius. Fortius.

For so many reasons, I had decided I wouldn’t watch the Rio Olympics but, here it is, Day 2 - and I’m hooked! I especially enjoy watching the sports you don’t see televised very often; those include judo, badminton, wrestling and water polo.

On the other hand, watching the Olympics, I’m still irritated by the “sports” that are, incomprehensibly, included in the Olympic Games, like synchronized diving, synchronized badminton, synchronized uneven bars and synchronized timepieces.

Why? (Courtesy: Wikimedia)
Why is there beach volleyball, when there is no beach Frisbee, beach soccer, beach bobsled or beach campfires?

I refuse to see these as legitimate Olympic sports, but if I reach way down deep, I might be willing to recognize them as completely arbitrary Olympic sports.

There are other Olympic sports I’m genuinely thrilled to have discovered and which I can’t get enough of, including ski cross, snowboard cross and thanks to Rio, women’s rugby sevens.

Lots of sports should be included in the Olympics, many of which currently fall under the heading, “extreme”.

Faster. Higher. Stronger

While we’re on the subject, I also have a problem with multi-millionaires competing alongside amateurs. I don’t want to see NHL’ers, NBA’ers, PGA’ers, or WTA’ers at the Olympics. 

Go roll around in all the money you make for doing the same thing Olympic caliber athletes do solely for the love of sport. Let the Olympic caliber athletes compete against other Olympic caliber athletes, not unionized big business advocates whose motivation centres around their bank accounts.

A couple of months ago, the AIBA, the amateur boxing federation, voted to allow professionals in the ring with Olympic amateurs. The reaction was overwhelmingly negative. Not just mine.

Moneyius. Speakius. Loudius.

Whoa! Gotta go! The rugby sevens quarter-finals are about to start…