Squawking Flock – Not Murder – of Crows Explained

Carl and his flock take a break.

For the last week or so my neighbours and I have been awakened just before sunrise by the sound of crows swooping about and cawing, landing in trees and squawking.  Yesterday I had the good fortune to be able to ask one of these crows a few questions when he dropped by my bird feeder.

I watched him munch away for a few minutes through the window until he noticed me and nodded his appreciation for the snack. I slowly opened the window and greeted him.

“Good morning.”

“Good morning sir,” he said pleasantly.

“If you have a moment,” I said. “Can I ask you a few questions?”

“Please feel free,” he replied.

“Mr. Crow,” I began, but he put up his wing to stop me.

“Please, call me Carl.”

“Thank you Carl, I was going to ask why you and your fellow crows, every spring, go through this process of swooping about the neighbourhood en masse at sunrise.”

“Oh that’s simple,” he began. “We are updating our distance service, much like every now and then you may notice a Google vehicle passing along your street with all those cameras on top. They update their map service all the time.”

Trying to impress him with my knowledge of collective nouns I said “Your murder provides a distance service, Carl.”

“First let me point out that we prefer flock and not murder,” he stated.  “We had a terrible time with that collective. People and other birds figured we had a gang mentality, Crips, Bloods and a Murder of Crows; not very nice. We launched a successful Stop the Murder of Crows campaign, that had a positive dual effect.”

“OK, so flock it is, just like seagulls.”

“No, not like seagulls, we are crows.”

No,” I explained. “I mean a flock of seagulls.”

“Are you referring to the New Wave eighties band from Liverpool?” he asked me.

“No, I just mean I will now refer to your group as a flock and not a murder as was once the fashion.” I said trying to get us back on subject.

“Good, because that whole murder thing was very damaging to our reputation. Hopefully it will be heard nevermore”

“Can I quoth you on that?” I asked.

“I may be black, but I am a crow, not a raven, so no ‘quothing’ please, let’s keep this off the record.” he replied sternly.

“Fine, but I am very curious about this updating you are carrying out. And all that noise.”

“It’s simple, we fly about shouting to the recorder crows, those with iPad, the various distances between points on our journey. We then update our service.”

“Okay,” I said. “Please tell me a bit about this service you mention.”

“Certainly, although I imagine you are familiar with it already. It is called ‘As the Crow Flies’ and gives people a much more accurate assessment of the direct distance between two places.”

“More accurate than Google and GPS?” I asked.

“Without question,” Carl replied.

“So you fly about constantly reassessing and updating your service. Do you publish the results in a book?”

“We used to, but now we find it more helpful to post it on the Internet at http://www.asthecrowflies.org.”

He was in a rush to get back to his flock so I thanked him and wished him well. As he was about to leave he said I should consider downloading the app, available for iPhone and Android.

DCMontreal – Deegan Charles Stubbs – is a Montreal writer born and raised who likes to establish balance and juxtapositions; a bit of this and a bit of that, a dash of Yin and a soupçon of Yang, some Peaks and an occasional Frean and maybe a bit of a sting in the tail! Please follow DCMontreal on Twitter and on Facebook, and add him on Google+

 

Slippers, Flip Flops and Conniptions

One of the advantages of working from home is wardrobe selection. For several years I worked in a suit and tie setting. Not sports jacket and khakis mind you, but a suit every day, including Friday. Perhaps I will return to that environment one day, but for now I am just fine in my casual garb.

I’ve even been known to nip across the street to the corner store in my slippers assuming the weather is conducive

My footwear of choice while at my computer busily creating wonderful copy are slippers. But I  am tough on slippers. During the course of my average day I make several trips down two flights of stairs to my mother’s apartment and back up again. I’ve even been known to nip across the street to the corner store in my slippers assuming the weather is conducive.

I was pleased to learn that the recently departed Leonard Cohen wore Foamtread slippers when he walked about Montreal on his visits home. There are many reasons to like Cohen, the slippers just add to his charm.

Given my tough treatment of slippers it is not surprising that I often am in need of replacements. These new slippers usually come from others as gifts, Christmas or birthday. But last week, having blown out the bottom of my current left slipper while climbing a flight of stairs, my wife and I went slipper shopping.

UGG women’s POLER listed at CDN$165!

This proved to be both frustrating and informative. Frustrating in that many stores did not have any slippers at all, claiming they only carried them at Christmas (I never thought of slippers as a seasonal entity) and informative in that the price of those slippers that were available were ridiculously high. Who in their right mind would spend a hundred bucks for slippers? But sure enough that was the going price. A C-note for a pair of leather slip-ons.  

Then again, there is always the option of duct tape around the torn slipper I have on right this minute. 

Even if they had been reasonably priced, I am not a fan of slip-ons. I need a full slipper, much like Cohen’s Foamtreads, but it must also allow for easy step in step out. Slip-ons drive me batty as they usually arrive at the bottom of the stairs before I do. And flip-flops are right out of the question. The mere thought of something between my toes has me quaking. (Should a sock shift in the course of walking and lodge between my toes, that shoe is coming off and the sock straightened immediately to keep me from going into conniptions.) If I am ever held and tortured to reveal state secrets don’t waste your time with waterboarding, just threaten to put flip-flops on me. I’d be blabbing like an idiot, making up stuff if need be.

So I will continue my quest for a new pair of durable yet sanely priced slippers. Then again, there is always the option of duct tape around the torn slipper I have on right this minute. Hmmmm

DCMontreal – Deegan Charles Stubbs – is a Montreal writer born and raised who likes to establish balance and juxtapositions; a bit of this and a bit of that, a dash of Yin and a soupçon of Yang, some Peaks and an occasional Frean and maybe a bit of a sting in the tail! Please follow DCMontreal on Twitter and on Facebook, and add him on Google+