Monday, September 17, 2007

the russian way

So Toni over at No Eye Contact, please asked how Russians drink vodka. Now this is purely hearsay, mind you, based on what my sister told me, and she did admit that the lessons got somewhat blurred.

Apparently, the first thing non-Russians do wrong is sip. And taste. Neither of which is supposed to be done to vodka. My sister tells me, in a strong accent aided by a few goes at the Russian vodka, that 'vodka is not for the mouth. Is for the stomach.' and that it is served in very large shot glasses, at least two tots she reckons. Having thrown it down your throat, one waits two minutes before having a second, and three minutes before the third. So that's about 6 tots of strong spirits in 5 minutes. After that you can settle down to a steadier pace for the rest of the evening - she wasn't too sure whether there were any other rules.

Guess I'd be banned from the pub for mixing my vodka with about 500ml of Coke lite!

Today was a drive-around one. Pick up a pet mynah who had been found in someones garden, pick up two baby doves, pick up dog and take her through to domestic-rehab centre for treatment, and back to pick up an unknown number of pigeons. Inner-city school, with contractors doing some remodelling, and not being comfortable with sealing pigeons into the roofing they were about to close up. So, there I am on a short ladder, sticking my hand into a gap just arm-width and 8 inches above my head, and feeling around for nests, and then for babies. All in a roof that hasn't been cleaned for about the last 30 years. At least 30 years, and with the nests that the current inhabitant's grandparents 20 times removed had left there, along with all the associated pigeon-poop. And an audience of about a hundred school kids. Not my favourite rescue scenario. Didn't manage to catch any of the parents, but brought home one babe of about two weeks, one of about two days and 6 warm eggs. Might be too soon for the eggs to be viable, but at least they will have a chance. It's unusual for builders here to call us - although some of the biggest, burliest guys I've seen have come in with little birds nestled in a hard hat. Mostly they just clear the nests out if it's easy and close up. And I've heard horror stories about some who just close up regardless - feral pigeons worldwide are regarded as vermin by many people. So, yucky as it was, I really appreciated the chance to get the babies out.

Most interesting pigeon fact? They always lay two eggs about a day apart, in almost 100% there will be one of each sex, and in about 78% of nests the male chick will be the firstborn. No-one has learned yet how they manage this so consistently - there are other species that generally have one of each sex, but none that manage the order quite as regularly. Reason for this apparently is that the male is stronger at birth and for the first two weeks, and if there is a sudden food shortage or some other natural hardship and the parents can only raise one chick, the male will stand more of a chance of surviving. Brings new meaning to loving one's brother....

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