14 Comments

  1. These days, with even people who live in agricultural area unaccustomed to free range chickens, most people are unaware that “Why did the chicken cross the road” was a real question. But there was a time when it was much more common for chickens to have ready access to roads. It often happened that one of these chickens would see a car coming and be in an agony of indecision whether to cross the road. Consistently, the chicken would think about it for a bit, then dash across the road at the last second. It was not clear why chickens engaged in such inexplicable behavior – what was so important about crossing the road, in the chicken’s mind, that it was willing to risk its life (and sometimes the chicken didn’t make it), rather than waiting a few seconds until the car had passed? Hence a serious question, with only a jokey and useless answer.

  2. Usual John is correct for probably 99% of the country, but where I live there are feral chickens EVERYWHERE. And unlike farms, there are almost as many roosters as hens. And yes, they cross the road, but for the most part, they know what traffic is and try to avoid it. The island is considered rural, (the largest population center is under 12,000), but I wouldn’t say we are living out in the boonies by any standard.

  3. I can’t say I’ve noticed the indecision/dash behavior with squirrels or opossums, although I now live in an area with both (but no free range chickens). Perhaps this is because I now live in a suburb, where the animals are of necessity habituated to frequent automobiles. The chicken behavior was on country roads that did not have constant traffic.

    It may be that feral chickens are more intelligent than farm chickens. It would not be a high standard.

  4. Yesterday I saw a cat perform an insane dash across a 50 km/h (30 mph) street, successfully bisecting oncoming traffic from both directions. It creeped me out a bit, because on Saturday I had seen a different (unsuccessful) cat on the grass next to a different road, and a couple months ago one of our neighbors lost a cat to a car just around the corner from our house.

  5. Looks to me like the chicken crossed the other chicken, not the road.

    At the very least, it’s the second chicken who looks cross.

  6. I’ve often seen “the indecision/dash behavior” with squirrels and rabbits around here. Even a deer, once.

    And I got a real kick out of the “nuke” comic. I’ve never liked that term for microwaving, although some crossword constructors seem to love it. Decades ago, we used to sare farewell by holding up one hand and bending the uppermost finger joints repeatedly; we called it microwaving.

  7. “I’ve never liked that term for microwaving, . . . ”

    OK, I’ll admit to a moment of stupidity; I didn’t realized that was the ‘joke’ ’til Boise Ed mentioned it. It wasn’t even a CIDU for me; it was just a ‘MEH’ and I went on with my life. NOW I think it’s amusing.

  8. I once saw a cat do the following:

    Hurtle out of a driveway/passageway onto a busy road into the path of an oncoming car.

    Leap into the air shortly before impact, twist round, land with its feet on the side of the car, push off, twist round again, land on the ground and hurtle back into the driveway/passageway.

    What the poor driver had seen, and heard, as she screeched to a halt was a cat hurtling into the road, disappearing from view, and a loud thump.

    She got out, distressed, and was looking for the body. I’d been driving in the opposite direction, stationary in traffic at the time, and was able to pull over, get out, and go and reassure the driver about what had happened.

    To this day I wonder if the cat was just 1-in-9 lucky, or if it was a manœuvre it had practised.

  9. @Usual John

    It may be that feral chickens are more intelligent than farm chickens.

    It may be that only the intelligent ones avoid predation.

  10. I never questioned the slang usage of “nuke” until a young child asked me what it meant. I chuckled and explained that I should have said “cook in the microwave“, and he understood it perfectly. That was back in the mid-80s. More recently I was able to explain to my own son just why the two verbs are (at least tangentially) related in terms of physics.

  11. I enjoyed a clip someone shared not long ago of a British food person (could it have been Nigella Lawson?) pronouncing “microwave” as though it were a French or Italian loan term. Mee-crow-wah-vay.

  12. That’s a common story on the internet. A quote from her goes, “I do say it like that, but not because I think that’s how it’s actually pronounced.” Trying to find out if there’s a significant difference in UK pronunciation is cluttered by that.

    I recall one time when Craig Ferguson was still doing the Late Late Show. He had US musician Ingrid Michaelson on. When he introduced her, he pronounced her last name as “Mick-el-son”. From backstage she yelled “Mike-el-son!”. I don’t know if he did it deliberately as a joke or not.

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