PFD and birds

Posted: Sunday, October 03, 2010

Jane and I are lucky enough to live in a cabin near the sea.

Usually it's so quiet around here that a visit to a mausoleum seems like a social outing but not today. Just when I was making a decision on whether to write about the minute difference between a septic system back up and the actions of Congress or the wise use of this year's Permanent Fund Dividend, all %@+% broke out on our small dirt driveway.

At first, I thought that it was just another squabble between two huge wild pheasant roosters who have decided that they own the yard. Their turf dispute has been going on all summer -- sometimes at three in the morning or late at night with beak duke-outs and talon fights extending onto the surrounding deck and even to the bed cover of my pick-up truck.

This morning things were different. I detected the sounds of more challenge calls and the bashing of a multitude wings so I took a look and stumbled onto what seemed like a gang fight between different factions of Galliformes (cool looking chicken-like birds for those of you who think South Park characters are real).

The same old boys were going at it but they were surrounded by at least 13 youngsters that looked as if they were a combo of two hatchings. There were four young males with half developed coloration and the rest were teenage females who were highly excited but didn't know why. The same went for the adolescent roosters. They wanted to get into the fight, I guess to impress the chickettes, but the serious studs knocked them on their butts every time they jumped in between them. The insanity reached its peak when three very buff magpies came zooming in out of nowhere and entered the fray yanking on the tail feathers of the major combatants.

Will somebody explain that to me? I guess it could have been be a case of the mags attempting to impress the young ladies for nefarious crossbreeding purposes but I think their egos overwhelmed their ability to jump that high.

I really didn't care but the battle continued until I tossed an M-80 near the dust-up and then things suddenly became very quiet after the detonation. Rumor has it that Girdwood reported an unexpected infusion of a panicked population of pheasants and there was an unusual sighting of some magpies migrating south with arctic terns. Go figure.

Anyway after the bedlam subsided I decided to write about splurging some our PFD funds for a bit of travel rather than dumping all of it into paying a litany of growing taxes.

Wrongo move.

Have you glanced lately at some of the additional fees airlines are charging nowadays?

Forget the little asterisks next to their published fares meaning those great looking prices are only one way. That's only the beginning.

Some outfits are whacking you so much for checked baggage that it would be cheaper to Fed-Ex the whole family and that's not including extra fees for an exit, aisle, or window seating along with pillows, blankets and food that would lose a taste contest to cardboard chewables containing tiny packets of Frito-like stripes melded with mystery oozes of pseudo cheese that would cause a dog bolt for something that it had buried a year ago.

Forget about having an adult beverage to sooth your nerves during flight. The cost of a rum and Coke now competes with making a car payment and bottled water may soon offer the ultimate dilemma. Buy one for $1.50 and then spend an extra $2.00 to get rid of it in a sub-sonic pay toilet or do a great impression of an orange squeezer until you touch down two hours later.

The next thing that they'll be charging is five bucks for emergency oxygen in case of unexpected decompression and $15 for a pass to use their inflatable exit chutes after a crash landing.

Let's not forget the possibility of a ten dollar plastic chair seating fee for the waiting area or three bucks for merely chilling on the floor. Both are subject to an additional seven green for being able to face the TV screen showing continuous loops of CNN Headline News (personally, I think travelers should be given credit for not watching it or free access to a wine fountain if they are forced to).

Come to think of it, I think we'll stay home. Our PFDs are better spent locally and what's left over after taxes we might be able to afford air for our winter tires.

Nick can be reached at ncvarnet@gmail.com if he isn't loading up for the next invasion of Galliformes who will end up in his freezer rather than downtown Girdwood.



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