09 June, 2006

Emails to Barbaro

So, Barbaro is continuing to recover from his injury, in the care of the University of Pennsylvania's Vet school. Who, very appropriately, are raking in the $$$ in donations based on their excellent care of him. His updates are easily accessible on the web, and they've established a little app through which people can send Barbaro get-well emails.

Of course I have sent my messages to Barbaro, and I've been checking his message board (all the messages sent in by everyone else) regularly. I expected that my messages would be mixed in with millions of others, all from 12 year old girls. Because, well, who else would send a horse an email message? Right?

Wrong! So, I'm 42 years old, and it turns out I'm one of the youngsters on the message board. Here's a little demographic breakdown of the messages that were visible yesterday. There were 78 messages, all had been sent that day or one day previous, that included the sender's name and age.

Overall, the average age of a sender was 48 years.
Only 7 of the senders were younger than 20.
The oldest of the senders was 77, the youngest was 8.
64 of the 78 senders were women. This is the only part of the deal that I thought was totally predictable. Average age of a female sender = 48, average age of a male sender = 46.

Really, really, weird. Maybe little 12 year old girls aren't going through that horsey stage anymore? Or maybe nobody under 40 watches the triple crown races? I don't know. I would bet you that at least 90% of those posting messages to Barbaro were watching when Ruffian (undefeated filly) broke her leg in the match race against Foolish Pleasure (Kentucky Derby winning colt) back in the 70s (remember battle of the sexes matches?). Ruffian had to be put down - and I recently learned from the UPenn vet site that this is what happened to Ruffian.

She underwent a successful surgery to repair the leg she broke in the race. However, when she was coming out of anesthesia, she begain to flail about (as apparently horses often do) and ended up re-breaking that leg and another. Which is why now they float horses in a pool when they're coming out of anesthesia - they can flail and flail, and they won't re-injure themselves. Barbaro profited directly from Ruffian's experience - and here's the proof!

02 June, 2006

Pigeon Naming Conventions 2

In addition to the color-phase-based naming conventions provided below, a number of names are available for use in addressing or pointing out pigeons in one's environment that are related to the pigeon's behavior, attitude, or special markings. Some of the more useful of these shall be described here.

The name "Pants" should be used for a pigeon whose markings are a light blue-grey on his or her underparts, and which therefore give the impression that the bird is wearing some sort of light-colored trousers. Most often, Pants is of the blue-bar or solid color type - but in principle any bird with a lighter underside may be addressed as Pants.

Birds of the Cap'n variety, should they have a darker patch of feathers on the top of their heads, which patch is shaped as a triangle, may be called "Napoleon". There may only be one such bird on earth - but he is a very handsome Napoleon indeed.

The names "Greasy", "Sticky" or "Gummy" may be used for birds who have an oily-feathered appearance. This happens most frequently in environments in which the pigeons are stressed and unhappy, and so such birds should be addressed with more than just the usual amount of empathy and kindness.

Many birds in urban environments suffer injuries or deformities to their feet and legs - but these problems don't seem to affect their viability or overall health and well-being. These birds may be addressed (warmly) as "Gimpy", "Limpy", "Lumpy", or "Stumpy", depending on the nature of their problem. Birds who have injuries or deformities which seem to be endangering their health should be rescued and properly tended to rather than merely named.

All pigeons bob their heads as they walk - but a pigeon with a particularly salient bobbing motion may be called "Bobby" or "Prancey". Pigeons who seem to enjoy the twirling-high-stepping-pigeon-dancing type walking may be called "Dancey" or "Swirley".

Finally, pigeons of any type who display a greater-than-average acumen for graceful flight may be referred to as "L'il Lindbergh". Those who fly extremely rapidly and sometimes land near enough to others so as to displace them from their perches should be called "Maverick". Birds who seem to greatly enjoy flying, whilst sometimes being a bit awkward at it (especially in terms of take-offs and landings), and who often limit themselves to short flights at low altitudes, should be called "Orville" or "Wilbur". Birds who show up with spectacular feats of aeronautic prowess, but who appear to be completely lost while on the ground should be called "Amelia".

You will notice, as you watch pigeons in flight, that there are a great many more Li'l Lindbergh and Maverick type birds than befit any of the other aeronautical names.