Tuesday 10 July 2007

What, me?

Well, here are my 8 random facts that you never dared to ask because you never thought you'd like to know but now and thanks to Larry the Brownstone Birder, there is nothing you can do about it:

1. If I had become a forester, I would have been the 8th generation in my family in a row to take up this profession. My father nurtured a deep interest in forests and it looked pretty good for the largest part of my youth until I realized my dad had ignited such a deep love and respect for forests and trees in me that I would never, ever be able to have an old-growth tree cut down for profit. The most annoying sound to me is a chainsaw and I think it was the worst invention ever, even surpassing atomic bombs and butterfinger chocolate bars.
It is my strong belief that one should technically only be able to cut down a tree in the same time it took that particular tree to grow, just so that people appreciate what it is they are destroying and how long it will take that wound to heal!
I therefore studied Biology, which in my opinion is close enough to keep me from being stigmatized as a family traitor.

2. During my late high school years I was a member of our school's theater group and my acting abilities apparently weren't too shabby. I still have a few video tapes of the plays we performed and the whole idea of moving to the US for a while was to accidentally drop them in front of Steven Spielberg's house, become a Hollywood star and eventually the richest birder on this planet. I am still working on that.

3. I hope Bill Gates is no birder, or I'll have a hard time acting...

4. During my high school years I was also a member of a rock band. I used to be the singer until we found someone else who could actually sing and so I ended up playing the bass guitar because no one likes to play the bass guitar unless he's a singer who got kicked out of his position but still wants to remain in the band. I was - of course - also birding at the time and wanted to spend two weeks in late May/early June at the Varanger peninsular of Northern Norway. We had a gig planned just days after my return and the other band members demanded I step back from my trip plans. No way, and so I took my notes and bass guitar with me and practised each day at the camp fire up on the Norwegian coast, surrounded by Arctic Terns and King Eiders, with gloves. The gig went well, but I later decided life was about getting your priorities straight and stopped my musical career. What remained however is that I am incredibly fond of the bass guitar / drums section of songs which explains why Iron Maiden rules. Harris and McBrain, they rule big time.

5. As a Master's thesis, I studied the ecology of a Mountain Zebra population close to the Fish River Canyon in Southern Namibia and had an area of 600 square kilometres all to myself. Empty: no roads, no inhabitants, just one small building for me to seek shelter in, but plenty of the most fascinating rugged desert canyon landscape anyone could possibly imagine. The most incredible experience of my life. Times like these make riding a bus in metropolitan areas quite stressful though.

6. After a long day's birding, nothing surpasses a large piece or two of chocolate and a glass of milk, both right out of the fridge. Sorry, my dear American readers, I meant chocolate, not Hershey's...

7. As a baby I had disproportionately large ears. They luckily didn't grow as much as the rest of my body so that it was soon mended, but I noticed lately that I am starting to have disproportionately little hair on my head...

8. My all time favourite bird species is the Bearded Vulture. When I was a kid and got my first "real" field guide that you could also use away from a feeder, I was fascinated by this huge bird with a falcon's silhouette. Back then my parents traveled widely with me around the Mediterranean and all I wanted to see was a Bearded Vulture. In the course of these travels over quite a few years, I saw all the vulture species of the area, including Lapped-faced Vultures in Israel just before they went extinct, but had to wait until a birding trip to Spain with two birding pals in 1995 to finally get my first Bearded Vulture. Well worth the wait, and even though I now have around 1.300 species on my life list, only one came (very) close to the Bearded Vulture, and that is the New Zealand Fantail.

Okay, these were the 8 random things about me you struggled so hard never to learn. As everyone has apparently already been tagged, I won't list other blogs right now but if I come across one or two in the next few days, I'll make sure they won't escape!


Larry said...

Thanks for playing along-
-Chainsaws are an annoying sound but then again, I've never heard an atomic bomb blast in person.
-We need a few stars who are birders.-That would really help the conservation cause.
-I was basically in the same boat as far as the band was concerned.
-saw lots of Maiden Concerts too.
-That Zebra study-it must have been great having such isolation for a while.
-Now I'm going to look up Bearded Vulture to check it out.

Anonymous said...

You're right about Hersheys. And don't even think about their "special dark" chocolate. Gack!

Anonymous said...

I know - Hershey's, yuk: they smell baaad...Give me a Mars bar anyday - in fact give me one right now.('Comment' followed by sound of car door slamming and wheels screeching on tarmac as Charlie heads to nearest shop)

Ben C. said...

What's your favorite 'brand' of chocolate? Any experience with California's 'Scharffen Berger'?

Jochen said...

My favourite "brand"?

Difficult, and I am not sure all of them can be obtained in the US.
I really like Ritter Sport and think it is one of the best.
Milka is good too but has a very distinct taste that can get a bit boring after a while.
And then there is Lindt, in a class of its own.

The problem with Hershey's seems to be that the amount of chocolate is reduced. If you close your eyes while eating it, you'll barely notice you are eating chocolate and not some other kind of sweets, like cake icing or "white chocolate". It just tastes sweet.
I have never seen California "Scharffen Berger" here in Michigan, but I'll check the stores to see if I can try it!

Jochen said...

And Charlie...
there's still a Mars bar near Greifswald that's got your name on it.
It was last seen around Kieshof in the company of a large black bird with a red cap and a headache.

And Wren...
As I am not so fond of dark chocolate, I will just take your word for it!!

Jochen said...

So, Larry, have you checked the Bearded Vulture?

It is H U G E.

And it can fly so slowly along a mountain slope you wonder why it doesn't just drop straight down.