April 15, 2006

Birds and bird-brains

I went to a wonderful talk last weekend, by an entertaining fellow from Birds Australia, and he made one of those observations which are almost universal truths. He said that unless great self-control is exercised, when someone spots a bird (or plane, landmark, or anything requiring the use of the binoculars hanging around the neck), that person will look down at the binoculars before raising them to the eyes. In the process, of course, the object has moved or otherwise become invisible, and it often takes some time to find it again.
His point was that we know where the binoculars are, so there is absolutely no need to look down to "find" them. We should keep our eyes on the bird or whatever, and raise the binoculars to our eyes. Of course! But a quick survey of friends and acquaintances confirmed that we all look down first. This sort of self-evident fact can easily make my day.

Of course it can just as quickly be unmade by yet more proof (as if it were needed) that people have more money than sense. I was at a party last night, and one of the other guests (obviously unaware that I was a doctor) was regaling us with details of her "new" diet and health regime. Less than fascinating stuff at the best of times, but I had to snap back from my daydream when she announced derisively that "My doctor tried to tell me that I was wasting my money on these [insert phony chemical name] herbal pills and the special liquid I have to drink before each meal." I was very well behaved, and resisted the urge to shout "Hear Hear!", but fortunately someone asked her what they cost. "Oh, they're very expensive," she replied proudly. "But I think you only get what you pay for." Right.

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