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Occasional Observation #169

A great week for birds! Walking around Lac Leamy yesterday afternoon, I saw a pair of Tufted Titmice, in practically the same area of the path and at just about the same time of year as I saw a clump of them last year. This bird is evidently so uncommon in Canada that Earl Godfrey didn’t even include a range map for it in his compendious Encyclopedia of Canadian Birds.

Today, something even more remarkable. As I walked briskly down Jacques-Cartier early in the morning, having chosen this time slot in an attempt to avoid the forecast rain, I saw a Pileated Woodpecker. This sight on a residential street is uncommon enough, though I did see Pileateds on three separate occasions on Jacques-Cartier the winter before last. But the bird was not just any Pileated, and its location was strange to the point of being bizarre.

For the most part, Pileated Woodpeckers are extremely shy, preferring heavily wooded areas offering lots of decayed or decaying trees they can peck into with their mighty bills. But this Pileated, almost certainly a young male given his red crest but relatively small size, had a cheerful, almost extroverted way about him. And he was making like a Flicker, first perching on a stump, then flying down to the wet ground in search of worms. It was the first time in a lifetime of bird-watching that I’d seen a Pileated on the ground, or anywhere close to it. His cheerful behaviour–I could almost have sworn he seemed glad to see me–reminded me of the Pileated in the “Woody Woodpecker” cartoons. Did those cartoonists know something about the species we everyday bird-watchers don’t?

All in all, it seemed a salutary reminder that not all birds of the same species look and act the same. Perhaps this was simply a “teenager” bored with the solitary life of the deep woods, and hungry for the bright lights and companionship of the big city?

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Occasional Observation #168

With regard to music, I confess to being a complete peasant. I want to hear pretty tunes. . .sweet melodies. The modernists’ solipsistic atonal maunderings leave me completely cold. And I believe–with Toscanini–that it’s the conductor job to carry out the composer’s intentions and, to the extent possible, to play the music as it has been written, not as he or she wishes it had been written.

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Occasional Observation #167

One of my most frequently-used, if not exactly favourite, words is “defective.” I wonder what this says about me? Does it say more about me or the world I for better or worse inhabit?

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Occasional Observation #166

Shopping when one doesn’t need anything is akin to eating when one isn’t hungry.

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Occasional Observation #165

More and more, I’m finding that the orderliness of a person’s mind is inversely proportional to the orderliness of his or her home environment.

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Occasional Observation #164

Attempting to keep a high-priced, labour-intensive institution like Amherst College going with the annual mites I give them is like attempting to change the hue of Lake Ontario with a jar of food colouring. My donations are made solely for the purpose of maintaining solidarity with the college and my classmates.

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Niblet Publishing

Occasional Observation #163

Technology simply cannot be trusted. It is really that simple.

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Occasional Observation #161

I admire the work of Maya Angelou, but she is way, way off base when she says, “People will forget what you said. They will forget what you did. But they will never forget how you made them feel.” I mean, how else are you going to affect someone’s feelings other than by what you say and do? This isn’t quite as dumb as saying that runs scored in baseball are more important than runs batted in–but it is close.

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Niblet Publishing

Occasional Observation #160

Fewer things. More time.

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Occasional Observation #159

I’m not sure that declaring the war was over worked even for Phil Ochs; it definitely won’t work in the case of COVID.