Perfect Air

Occasionally, I have been referred to as a perfectionist. Mind you, it’s usually preceded by an expletive – and it hasn’t been that infrequently. But over the years I have come to accept that description, adjective and all.

Being detail oriented, (OK nit picky) has its pros and cons. You get things done just the way you like them but you must resist re-doing the work of others, lest you suffer from the above mentioned derogatory label. But you also have to come to terms with the fact that not everyone is bothered by crooked pictures hung on a wall a quarter inch off square or bent over nails hammered flat.

If you don’t accept those differences, you acquire another moniker. “Knock, knock” – who’s there?– ‘Control Freak — now you say control freak who’.

Perfectionists and control freaks have a place in life but I am not sure where that might be. It is a mild form of disability. Maybe in PC terms I am ‘over detailed’ or ‘authority challenged’.

When developing and following a strict protocol, perfectionism can be an advantage but when your work relies on the variations of weather, a control freak suffers internal turmoil that can result in ulcers or surliness.

Our progess south depends on calm, fogless air with a low lapse rate and overcast ceilings. These are conditions that are not all that common in the fall and are predicted and reported by the one occupation that enforces no penalty for being wrong most of the time — save politics. Maybe we should elect our weathermen so they can be impeached.

The reason we need calm air is because Whooping cranes are soaring birds. Their seven foot wings are designed to carry them aloft on thermals so they can glide to the next one along their course without much effort. We don’t have the talent or the range to fly the way they do, so our birds instinctively learn to fly on our wake. But that can only happen when the air is calm and the wing is stable.

Then it is a simple job for them to tuck in behind the wing tip and get pulled along like an airborne trailer. The following video shot by Jo-Anne Bellemer last week displays this quite nicely and confirms that this entire cohort has already learned to ride the wake.

Many people have wondered why these birds would follow us south. Part of it is their instinct to stay with what they perceive to be their family unit. Part is the insecurity of young, naïve birds and some has to do with the conditioning they have been exposed to since hatching. Their ability to surf on the wing is another factor but that requires smooth air and if we don’t get some soon I’ll have buy more Zantac.

Maybe like everyone on this team, we are weather challenged.

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  1. birdlady9 September 30, 2015 2:47 pm

    We love the entire OM team just the way you are! Well done!

  2. Dorothy N September 30, 2015 8:25 am

    Hail the $@#$*** perfectionist that is needed for the work you do!

    *** committed

  3. eugenia (aka CraneWatcher) September 30, 2015 7:58 am

    So glad you got your day, Control Freak, uh…..Joe!

    Thanks for a beautiful morning to start migration!

  4. Donald Huffman September 30, 2015 6:15 am

    I wouldn’t have the courage to pilot the aircraft you are required to fly.
    That is why since ’01 have followed the whooping crane migration, I keep you and the other pilots under the protection of my guardian angel.

  5. Kate Crook September 30, 2015 5:56 am

    Thanks for the explanation Joe. There are a bunch of craniacs who feel just like you do! Hang in there!!!