Pecking Order

Things have been especially hectic here in The Department Of Expecting Flaming Debris To Come Raining Down Out Of The Sky From Nowhere In Particular And Land Directly On My Head Any Second Now. Again.

I’ve been so busy looking over my shoulder-not to mention looking straight up- that I haven’t had the time to write about some important findings that have emerged from The Masculinity Report: a 2018 study on the factors influencing emotional, physical and mental health and the overall well-being of American men.

The study was funded by Harry’s-a New York City-based men’s on-line bespoke shaving and grooming supply company. (Motto: Let the genealogists tend your family tree. We’ll help you groom your facebush.) The research itself was undertaken by Dr. John Barry, Honorary Lecturer at University College London and co-founder of the Male Psychology Section of the British Psychological Society. (Motto: Trying to work out whether Men are from Mars or maybe some other planet since 1746.)

As it turns out, the study revealed that job satisfaction turns out to be the strongest predictor of men’s happiness and well-being (aka Positive Mindset) by quite a large margin.

Contributors to Positive Mindset of American males

The next most important predictor of men’s happiness was health, with mental health outranking physical health by a few percentage points. Good grooming was right up there as an important physical health concern although the role of having a regular supply of bespoke shaving supplies wasn’t specifically addressed in the study.

What are we to take from this?

Well… it appears that the notion that men’s happiness revolves around status, power, money and physical prowess is outdated. Men really aren’t all that concerned about where they fall in the social dominance hierarchy or “pecking order” or how big their pecs are. They want to enjoy their work and maybe also keep a bit of an eye on how well-groomed they are compared to other dudes.

Rooster’s sizing up each other’s neck ruffs

But since job satisfaction outstripped the other factors so convincingly, let’s unpack that as the saying goes. Or maybe we could just look at it in more detail. Take your pick. Turns out that the key component of job satisfaction for men is feeling enabled to use their unique skills and talents in the workplace. Examples of this might include mindreading, calculating orbital mechanics in your head, and sword-swallowing, depending on where you work.

Other important contributors to job satisfaction that were uncovered included being surrounded by diverse perspectives, feeling that one’s opinions are valued, feeling inspired by colleagues and having the opportunity to chat freely with them.

So in the interests of promoting job satisfaction and general well-being, I’m going to give you some diverse perspectives you can share freely with your co-workers tomorrow morning or any other morning. Freedom of choice is important. These satisfaction-boosting perspectives include new insights into eagle-owls, chicken husbandry and my cat Zoe. Here goes:

A fellow named Jos Baart who lives in Geel, Belgium made the news in May 2020 when it came to light that a family of Eurasian eagle owls took up residence in a planter on the balcony outside his livingroom window. Personally, I think this is just great! Mostly because of the headline: “Man befriends giant, TV-loving owl family nesting outside his window“. But I just wonder if it might also have been worded: “Man befriends TV-loving family of giant owls nesting outside his window“.

Here we have Mr. Baart interacting with the owlets.

A giant TV-loving eagle-owl chick roosts on the head of its sibling-who apparently occupies a lower rung on the ladder of social dominance. The other sibling looks on, hoping it isn’t in line for head-roosting or worse-a thorough pecking.

Jos says this about the whole situation:

“When the television is on, they are seeing the movements,” he said. “They [are] all three before the window for [a] half an hour or more to look at television. Their favorite program is ‘So you think you can hoot?’. And also Hitchcock’s 1963 horror-thriller: The Birds. I myself also am quite liking this movie.”

The Eurasian eagle-owl is reputedly the world’s largest owl, with an average length of 66 to 71 centimetres, a weight of 1.6 to four kilograms and a wingspan of more than 1.5 metres. Baart says each owl chick is about 30 centimetres tall, or “as big as a big chicken.”

To paraphrase E.B. White1 that’s: “Some owlet.”

Speaking of chickens and chicks, my son and his wife decided to keep four laying hens in their yard this summer. They (the hens) star in the feature image for this blog. I can never tell them apart but their names are Dirty Bird, Lazy Bird, Adventure Bird and Dorothy. The hens have a nice fenced run complete with a coop that has a tasteful laying-alcove complete with its own curtain. One by one, led by Dirty Bird if memory serves me, the avian creatures dutifully lay their eggs every morning, singing their rhythmic egg-laying “songs” in the process. The “songs” go something like this:

“Cluck, cluck, cluck, cluck, squaaaaaaawk! Cluck, cluck, cluck, cluck, screeeeek! Cluck, cluck, cluck, cluck, yeeeeeeeeks!”

In your spare time, you can peruse the vast chicken husbandry literature to your heart’s content. There are all kinds of theories about why hens “sing” when they lay. My wife, a Nurse Practitioner specializing in Women’s Health with extensive experience looking after high-risk perinatal patients and with fairly extensive personal experience giving birth, most likely pecks the owl right on its proverbial head with this translation:

“Ouch, ouch, ouch, ouch, yowie! Ouch, ouch, ouch, ouch! Feathers! This thing is big! Get it out of me! Now! Ouch, ouch, ouch, ouch! Just wait until I get my talons on that rooster!!”

Let’s face it. These birds are making a ruckus because they are basically in labor. End of story.

When asked what she thought of the feathered additions to her family, my little grand-daughter Maxine simply opined, “They’re beautiful. They’re happy!”

Long live two-and-a-half year-olds. Innocence is bliss. So are fresh eggs.

And last but not least, long live cats. This is a recent photo of my cat Zoe, doing her Great Horned Owl impression while investigating a large bowl that mysteriously appeared in our livingroom a few weeks ago:

And here we have a photo of Zoe as a kitten, after mysteriously appearing amidst a parliament of baby Burrowing Owls:

Zoe and her adoptive family of Burrowing Owls. Counterclockwise from center: Zoe, Spooky, Pouty, Grumpy, Anxious and Gordon

At this point, I feel like I’ve given you enough here to boost your Positive Mindset score by a few percent. So exercise your unique talents! Talk it up with your colleagues at work! Inspire others! Trim your eyebrows!

Just make sure you don’t run out of razorblades.

  1. “Some pig” was one of the inscriptions the spider Charlotte wove into her web in reference to Wilbur, the famous pig in E.B. White’s classic story: “Charlotte’s Web.”

Author:

Dave Barry fan and Medical Director at Rocky Mountain Analytical