Wednesday, July 30, 2014

The effects of plastic spectacles on the condition and behaviour of pheasants

"Blinders (poultry)".  Via Wikipedia 
Since I've come back from my stint in Collegeville, I've been trying to start each day with a short warm-up writing exercise.  I've been avoiding fussing over prompts (or at least avoiding link diving through the interwebs in search of a "good" prompt) and using ones I've used while teaching or that we used at the workshop.  I pick, set the timer for 10 minutes and write.

I remain mystified that I can write 300 words (that with some editing could be just fine) in 10 minutes, but can struggle to produce that many in a morning "on topic"?  I may try some quick writing with the essay I'm working on now.

Today's prompt was to write the beginning of the essay with the title The effects of plastic spectacles on the condition and behaviour of pheasants.  A paper with that title appeared in a literature search I ran yesterday (which I assure you had nothing to do with spectacles, pheasants or plastic -- so I'm at a loss to tell what keyword made it pop up, and I was too disciplined to actually look at the paper).  As I know nothing of avian eyeglasses, I was free to make it up, and did...
We offer a choice of frames, lively and colorful for the male of the species, that won’t fall off during particularly high-spirited mating displays.  For the ladies, something genteel, as befitting the decision maker.  Both anti-glare, and polarized lenses are available upon request.  As many find lenses fog up when they are flushed by the dogs, ask about our anti-fog lens cloths.  Young pheasants can be fitted for their first set of spectacles when they fledge...
I spent some time working through how you might keep spectacles on a pheasant.  Do they wear monocles, the lenses held in by pure muscle power?  Do they go over the head with a strap, like WW I aviator googles? Over lunch I looked up pheasant spectacles.  They are a thing, it turns out, used to prevent caged birds from pecking out their own feathers or cannibalizing their eggs.  They are also considered cruel, as the bridge is inserted through the bird's nose to keep them from sliding off. While I am frequently annoyed by glasses that slip down on my nose, this is not a solution I would be pleased with, either!

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