Flying Canaries Reader’s Challenge

Issue 8 and Volume 107.

Editor’s Note: The “Flying Canaries” joke printed in the April issue of Power Engineering included a Reader’s Challenge, asking readers to explain whether or not a bunch of canaries flying in an enclosed truck will reduce the load on the truck. We are printing some of the wittiest responses.

Canaries, Take 1

The weight of the truck is a moot point. First, the manufacturer of the vehicle grossly overstated load capacity, and the truck is overloaded with all the birds released. There is no governmental oversight to control this type of consumer fraud. There is no funding for police to arrest this guy for abandoning his vehicle at every stoplight and causing a traffic hazard, or for his obvious cruelty to animals.

Because of his inhuman treatment of these poor birds, many in this payload will die miserable deaths before arrival. However, because the purchasing agent was not trained properly due to staffing cuts, the terms and conditions of the contract state that title passed at the shipping dock of the seller, so losses during shipment are at the expense of the buyer. Realizing his mistake, he will not report what happens unless he is related to a lawyer, who will file suit as ‘a friend of the court’ and a defender of animal rights.

Click here to enlarge image

If we had a scale to weigh the truck just as it pulled away from each traffic signal, this is roughly what you would see: weight of the load increasing slightly at each signal. Why you ask? When the driver strikes the truck, approximately half of the canaries lift off. In their panic and haste, they instinctively leave behind any excess body weight that can be quickly jettisoned. Therefore, with half the flock on the floor of the truck, and an ever-growing mass of waste accumulating on the floor of the truck, the scales indicate slightly more weight at each signal.

Because this is an unscrupulous trucking company, the birds are being shipped in deplorable conditions. There is no water for them to drink, the heat in the van is going up and up. The stress of the trip and the constant banging on the van at every stop causes some birds to perish. These birds do not rise above the floor of the truck, adding to the weight of the load at every signal. Death of the most fragile birds adds to the stress of others and increases the mortality rate. Fewer and fewer birds fly when the van is stuck.

Eventually, no birds fly at all. The load has always been 3 tons of birds. Some will argue that the force of the flying birds is transferred to the bed of the truck, and therefore, flying or not, the load is 3 tons. Some will argue that the load is a variation of a sine wave always maxing at 6000 pounds, but dropping first to 3000 pounds, returning to 6000, dropping to just over 3000, with the lower number increasing until it reaches 6000 pounds as waste and dead birds accumulate.

The ‘weight of the load’ is really on the society as a whole. How could we have allowed this to happen? Why were these birds captive in the first place, and why did we allow them to be abused for profit? Our government and our society failed, and the misery of these frightened birds is on our conscience.

Is there a lawyer out there who will file a class action suit for all of us against these miserable canary abusers? We all want to be fabulously wealthy because of the pain and suffering we endure because of your abuse of these poor creatures.

Is there a lawyer who will file suit? What am I thinking? The guy driving the truck IS a lawyer out drumming up business!
Neil Webster

Canaries, Take 2

My analysis indicates that, yes, the flying canaries reduce the load on the truck!

However, it is a question of diminishing returns based on a flyable to non-flyable ratio. If the driver keeps scaring the cr^% out of the poor birds, the ratio of bottom ash to fly ash will increase, slowly negating the desired effect!
Paul Jusak