Creepy-sweet Dream

No idea whatsoever why I dreamed this, or whether my unconscious needs therapy. But it was so coherent I had to sketch it.

In my dream I find this carved piece of ceramic amongst some abandoned boxes in a house. It was crafted by a doctor who lovingly cared for his patient over the years as she was dying.

The carving is in blue Wedgewood china. It's smooth, round and featureless, like a riverstone, and it fits perfectly in the palm of the hand, no matter which way you hold it.

A secret panel slides open on the front and reveals writing etched white into the ceramic., It chronicles all the details of her illness in a little calendar, right up until the day of her death -  March 09, 1905. She had died of uterine cancer.
My unconscious self is sobbing as I turn the object over and over in my hands, examining the craftmanship.

But when I tilt it to look at the base, there is a large organically-shaped cavity hewn into it. Deep up inside the cavity is a mass of china-white dreadlocks, carved so exquisitely finely that, despite being ceramic, they are soft and flexible, like a mass of steel wool. I can push them aside to see that, buried deeper within the cavity, the dreadlocks erupt from the skull of a skeletal torso. It is Death, in her uterus.

What I learned today in Marine Systems Class


  • some larger systems have a heater pass through from engine, to provide warm water at tap

  • some larger systems have an expansion/accumulator tank so pump doesn;t have to run every time

  • all tanks should have a venting system

  • all tanks should be easily cleanable

  • what type of pump do I have? electric? hand pump?

  • even in Great Lakes, many greywater systems drain overboard

  • in most places, it is illegal to have a blackwater dump, but still legal for a greywater dump

  • not in G.L. even greywater dump is illegal

  • in fact, any system whereby blackwater can be dumped overboardf (and that includes a porta-potty) is illegal (this is why the super-inconvenient vacuum system is used!)

  • Y-valves can be used offshore (bluewater, > 7 miles)

  • generally, do not trust tank water for drinking


  • don't use any solvents or cleaner in head - will degrade pipes

  • use baking soda, vinegar, marine grade antifreeze

  • Head cocktail: 1/2 L vinegar, flush, 1/2L vegetable oil, flush (lubricates O-rings, coats walls)

  • be gentle with hand pump , don't use full up/down strokes - it'll last longer

Bilge Pump

  • wise to place manual bilge pump in cockpit so can be on-deck and still pumping

  • elec. bilge pump should bypass panel

  • when chartering, don't assume pump works - dump  a few buckets in bilge, test outflow

  • check how effective elec. pump is re:

  • leak inflow rate

  • battery capacity

  • check how effective manual pump is re:

  • outflow rate

  • manual capacity

  • most sinking (80%) is via through hull leaks, and most (80%) is after bilge pump runs down battery

  • check: water in bilge? empty to form bsaseline, strainer clear? bilge free of debris? fittings secure? do hard test w/ water


  • solid fuel, diesel, propane - none use electricity

  • A/C

  • electrical are usually too consumptive to be effective unless on shore power

  • other types are seawater


  • I have 0/A/B/A+B switcher

  • good method: start engine on A, run for 5 minutes to recharge, then switch to B, run all house power off B

  • better to switch only when running at low idle

  • deep cycle battery is meant for house, std. battery has high cranking amps for engine

  • other optinos are GEL batteries - safer, sealed, but more $$

  • AGMs are even safer, very efficent and last much longer

  • however, sholdn't mix type - chargers prefer onny one type - amnd a smart charger will allow you toprogram which type

  • solar panels are a great option for keeping batteries charged, but efficiency is greatly reduced with shade or poor angle to sun

  • wise to keep battery top clean - discourages trickle discharge


  • industry switching over to LEDs, much more efficient

  • conversion is easy


  • should have its own panel

  • 55% of boat fires are electrical (shorts, overloads), 24% engine, 5% fuel leaks, only 1% alcohol stoves


  • alcohol stove do not normally explode (unless somehow contained)

  • alcohol fire is invisible

  • unlike others, alcohol fire can be doused with water

  • keep a pot of water handy when cooking w/ alcohol


  • mark rode, chain with zip ties at depths


  • use floating line for painter so as not to foul prop

  • good engines: gas engine w/ integral tank, or TORQEDO (electric)

  • small electric motor is not recommended

  • at night, secure dinghy so it does not bump hull

  • tie to rode so it can swing freely

  • tie to boom, tie off boom 90 degrees

  • raft securely alongside hull or on dock

  • in Caribbean, dinghy theft is #1 crime - use a lock for boat and motor or haul aboard


  • make a hush box

Totall Recall


[Minor Spoiler (click me if you dare)]
OK, so back of napkin calcuation. How much wind resistance would you encounter if you stuck your head out of the window of a car doing 27,500 miles per hour?

No, I did not slip a zero in there.

The elevator at the center of the story is unambiguously explained.
Diameter of Earth: 7800 miles, Reported travel time: 17 minutes.

That's Mach 36, or 1 1/2x the speed of a space shuttle re-entry (you know, where it glows cherry red from friction?).

They're climbing on the outside of it. They climb on top of it. 27,500mph. No vacuumed tunnel, no nothing.

Nitpicking? I dunno. That's a factor of about 100 from plausibility.

Would it be nitpicking if, central to the story of Gallipoli, the foot race occurred at 1,500mph (a 100 yard dash taking 1/10second)?
Would it be nitpicking if, central to the story of Smokey & the Bandit, the car chase occurred at 10,000mph (doing their 1,800 mile run in 20 minutes)?

Lesson in reality from nature - and CSI

Okay, not really offensive, just kind of gross.

I now know more about Bot flies than I ever wanted to know.

'tis the season of vermin moving indoors. So I set up a couple of mouse traps in the kitchen and - surprise, surprise - the next morning there were a couple of mice in them.

Being the early riser, it was the missus who first encountered the corpses. What was strange, she said,  was that, about a foot away was what looked like a turd. Black, about the size of your first pinkie joint. That's pretty impressive compared to a mouse that barely 4 inches nose-to-butt.

And then the turd moved.

Suppressing a gag, she bravely picked it up in a baggie and tossed it in the trash, still having no idea what it was or where it came from. She turned around and found a second one, near the other mouse.

Strange thoughts passed throught her mind. "Are these the souls of the mice, exiting their bodies after death?" (true story, not coerced).

So when I got up, I heard the story, and went looking (sorry - disposed of the mouse corpses - THEN went looking) for these moving soul-turds.

They were black, segmented, and obviously pupae of something. A quick Google turned up rodent bot fly larva. It seems that these parasites - which grow to be as big as a mouse's head - live under the skin. They enter the mouse as tiny larvae, through the eyes, mouth or wound, and make their way to a spot under the skin, feeding off dead blood cells and serous fluid. Apparently, as far as parasites go, they do not harm or hamper their hosts much (other than being a lump the size of their head, I guess).

They had burrowed out once the mouse had died and its body temp had dropped. Normally, they would burrow into the ground, but not in my kitchen.

Why can't vermin just die nice and neatly? Why can't they dispose of themselves, so I don't have to get intimately acquianted with their life cycles?

And why, now that these two are dead, must I wait for the babies to emerge, hungry and easy pickin's for my traps?