FUGU SANS SAYONARA: The death thrill of eating raw fugu/pufferfish is dying faster than someone who just ate a bad piece of same.
A Japanese aquaculture company has raised 50,000 fugu that are non-aggressive, toxicologically speaking. Farmed away is the species’ naturally occurring, death-dealing anhydrotetrodotoxin 4-epitetrodotoxin. Where it went is a trade secret.
In nature, the fugu fish sports toxins so lethal it can scare the crap out of cyanide. All the fish’s killer juices are contained within its ovaries and liver. Cleaning wild fugu is allowed through national authorization only. There cannot be so much as a scratch to the fugu liver or a pinhole-sized puncture of the ovaries during preparation or the cleaner must take his own life. Well, maybe it’s not quite that strict but I did hear of one fugu cleaner who fouled up, sending an restaurant’s entire clientele to that big rising sun in the sky. He then tried committing hari-kari but was so well trained at avoiding internal organs he stabbed around for hours before somebody said “Gimme my hari-kari knife back” and stormed off. (Hey, my sources are sound -- maybe a tad off key, but sound).
Prior to the fugu’s aquacultural defanging, as it were, a diner could eat a badly cleaned slice of fugu sashimi and only have enough living time left to offer the Japanese equivalent of “Oh, crap” before plopping forehead-first into the table’s plate of condiments. This would often lead to a nearby diner lifting up the victim’s head to see if he was totally gone. Then, all the other sake-socked eaters at the table would giggle uncontrollably as the decedent’s head was repeatedly lifted up and allowed to plop back down into a wasabe and soy sauce mix. Hey, the fugu-eater knew the repercussions of eating pufferfish sashimi – including the customary post-mortem head plopping.
But, alas poor Yorrickgami, such decedent head droppings might be a thing of the past if only farm-raised no-octane fugu are allowed to be sold. Believe it or not, this doesn’t sit well with many fugu fancying chefs.
Shinichi Ueshima, chef of the Dote fugu restaurant (Yokohama, Japan), was quoted as saying it’s the x-treme rush associated with potentially poisoning yourself that is part and parcel to the fish’s epicurean appeal.
“It's a very tasty fish, but that's not the only reason people choose to go to a fugu restaurant,” Ueshima was quoted. “It's obviously more than a little exciting to go to a restaurant knowing that it might be the last meal that you ever eat. Where is the enjoyment in eating something that has no risk in it?”
I fully agree, fugu-san. I know my appetite all but jumps out my belly when I walk into an eatery thinking this could very well be my last supper. I inwardly smile by thinking what I’ll save by not having to leave a tip. Ka-ching.
EGGHEAD SHAPED ANCHORS: Well, boaters might have their anchoring made easier by, of all people, those famed eggheads up at MIT, the toughest school in America to get into – though I’ve found you can sometimes find a backdoor left open here and there.
Professor: “Mr. Mann, you don’t seem to be on my attendance sheet.”
Me: “Uh, I’m like a transfer from Harvard and stuff.”
Prof: “Oh, then this is upward mobility for you then, eh?” Chuckling in an esoteric manner.
Anyway, the boys and girls of Toosmartville, a heady suburb of Cambridge, have actually turned their enlarged cerebrums to upgrading boat anchors -- after they finally mastered finding a better mousetrap.
By the by, that mousetrap perfecting came about with the help of the nuclear reactor on campus. Yes, they truly have their very own nuclear reactor on the MIT campus. That atomic appliance turned out being the perfect hypothetical source of strontium-90 for a mousetrap that employs motion-activated atomic detonations, downsized for rodents.
I like it. Imagine sitting in an easy chair watching late-night television when this flash, then eerily glow, appears behind the entertainment center, followed by a small mushroom cloud.
“Look at that, Emma. I told you that trap with a nuclear warhead would work.”
“Yeah, well guess what, you’re gonna be the one to putting on the radiation suit to pick up what’s left of that mouse. And don’t put it in the garbage disposal!”
(By the by, there’s a grain of truth in that atomic mousetrap tale, as an MIT grad once facetiously devised just such a device – on paper.)
Anyway, far more recently, a few MIT’ers decided it was time to look into a far better anchor, a device that has gone relatively unchanged since the start of the Anchor Age. Oddly, instead of looking at modern marvels to upgrade the look and grab of anchors, they went into the mud and muck. Researcher took to pondering our very own razor clams, anchoring artists of the highest order. Just try to hand-pull a razor clam out of its burrow.
Long-term studies followed the way a loosed razor clam adroitly tongued itself back into the sand and burrowed at a rate that surpass that of a hand-digging clammer. The big eureka for the MIT’ers came from the way the clam tunneled via an odd bobbing up and down motion. The bob upward created a vacuum that sucked in water, which mixed with the sand, creating something of a quicksand sinkhole. The bob downward was the clam utilizing the looseness.
To relate to that process, simply recall standing in wet sand while wiggling your feet, creating a vacuum, then a sinkiness -- allowing you go deeper and deeper, laughing and joking, until someone has to call for help when only your nose and eyes remain above the wet sand.
What the MIT top-brains came up with was a robotic anchor called, appropriately, Robo-Clam. Gospel truth. The contraption mocks the burying progression used by razor clams. It is even somewhat clam-shaped. It is remotely controlled to burrow from above-water. Once parked firmly under sand, its stay-put-ness is far beyond mere mortal anchors. The coolest part is the way it instantly releases when the power is tuned off.
Currently, the Robo-Clam prototypes are kinda involved– and are designed for big-ass anchoring jobs, like our upcoming ocean wind turbines. However, a smaller vessel model is already in the mental making. The days of “Do we have a bite yet” (anchor speak) will be over.
DAMN YOU, DEER: The weirdest deer event for me was a dumb doe running me clean over while I was mountain biking the “fields” of Greenwood Forest, west of Rte. 539, Lacey.
I was peddling at a decent clip on a hard-pack dirt road within the manmade “quail fields,” consisting of a grid work of at least 50 fields, maybe 150 x 150 yards each, separated by stands of trees. The cleared fields host a slew of ground plants favored by deer. And the whitetails cruise there in droves – not herds, since deer, technically, are not herding animals. The quail Fields are also a super mountain biking animal-observation zones during the protracted closed-to-hunting periods.
Anyway, I was out there biking from one field and toward the next when I spooked maybe a dozen grazing does. Most of the animals bolted away from me, per common behavior. But a few decided they just had to get to the woods across the road directly in front of me, likely trying to get back to familiar territory.
Thinking nothing of it, I just kept hard peddling. I wasn’t in their league when it came to escape velocity. They easily bounded across the road well ahead of me, with the exception of this one younger doe. For some reason, she slowed, seemingly uncertain about making the road crossing. This threw me off. I began peddling harder to get ahead of her so she could cross behind me. But that spurred her into accelerating into that full-fledged bounding mode. She was soon so close I could see that deer fear in her eyes. At that point, we had both picked up speed. In a move that couldn’t be choreographed more perfectly, I managed an incredulous “What the hell are you doing!?” before we crashed into each other. We both went down in a rolling gravel-spewing heap of fur (hers) and fury (mine).
Predictably, I got the worst of the wreck.. I had scar-worthy rock-filled gouges on both my forearms and also sustained one of those nose-squashing face plants that had me staggering around with watery eyes and a sense that I felt like sneezing continuously for the next month or so. She was knocked on her side but was fully unhurt – and outta there with not so much as an “You OK, buddy?” I aftermathed by launching into a soliloquy rant, through arm, face and eye pain.
THE HORROR OF HORMONES: My deer wreck was a pure accident. However, another far spookier angle on deer clashes twixt humans and whitetails has become one of the most viewed videos on YouTube. Check under “Whitetail deer attacks hunter.” It can also be found under “All-time numbnuts move.”
This hunter sprays himself with buck hormones then nonchalantly walk into the wilds, his wife behind a videocam. What the guy did was replace any sixth sense he had for sex scent.
No sooner was he afield, than this truly big-ass ten-point buck, failing to see the humor in a human messing with his antlered head, attacks. And attacks and re-attacks. The bruiser buck, utilized something very akin to a prizefighter flurry, delivers a brutal barrage of headshots to the assumed rival. The animal even stops and rests for a few seconds before resuming going gonzo on his target.
For 45 seconds, the animal kicks the bejeezus out of the fightless and flightless hunter. On the video, you can actually hear the deer’s hooves solidly landing on the downed human’s bones. The only thing muffling the hoof-on-bone thuds was the man’s falsetto scream, something about being “killed.”
“What’s that you’re saying friend? I can’t make out what he’s saying, Helen.” ”
I’m usually among the very first folks to run and help a befallen comrade, but I have to admit that this attack was so weird (and fascinating) even I would have dallied -- just to find out, for posterity, what befalls a man who drenches himself in deer hormones then goes out and struts his stuff. Of course, I would yell some encouragement. “Lookin’ good, dude. Might wanna keep that guard up a bit. Sure, that’s gonna leave a mark but they’ve got sutures that’ll fix you right up. I definitely think you’re beginning to tire him.”
To myself “The guy’s dead meat.”
Many folks viewing this video can’t believe the guy’s wife merrily records the entire thing, perfect focus and spot-on centering – virtually no shake. Her comments later on: “He’s always joking around so I figured …”
Married a blond, eh?
BASS BANG WEEKEND: Well, the big story of the weekend was the remarkable bass bite. It was mainly south end-based, though a couple nice bass came from north end beaches. The batch of suds-side bass made it one of the busiest weigh-in days of the entire Long Beach Island Surf Fishing Classic. By the by, that tourney would have been over already had it been 6 weeks. One week to go.
Here is a fun report from a non-tourney angler who pushed the 40-pound mark while donuting in Holgate, as everyone else was throwing out the snag hooks.
“Chris and I caught two 37-inchers, one was 16lb the other 15 lb. The big girl was 47 inches and was darn close to 40 lbs. Had to borrow a scale … What a day. It was best ever for me -- and the release was as exciting as the 20 minute battle. J.K.”
The above report was complimented by a number of other “super stripering” reports. Most were based on snag-and-drop catches.
In all fairness, I also got this email:
“I am not sure what reports you are getting but I was out on the Miss Barnegat Light today and there was no bass bite at all. There were 3 shorts between 36 people. The Doris Mae had about 60 people and only 3 shorts. That is 6 shorts between about 100 people. The captain was seeing tons of fish on the screen but they were not biting. Dave C. Mt. Laurel.”
Many of us relate to Dave’s frustration, especially when hearing that not far off there was semi-insane stripering taking place. Hey, some days you eat the bass and sometimes the bass irks you.
The bluefish continue to make their 10-poundish presence known. The slammers are very spread out, though, like the bass, have taken a liking for the south end.
SAD SAGA: I, like many others, were shocked and saddened by the loss of Island local Allen “Big Al” Ollivier.
On Friday morning, Big Al was motoring out of Beach Haven in his 16-foot custom-made hunting/fishing garvey, heading toward the mainland after spending Thanksgiving on the Island with his mom. Something went horribly wrong on the Middle grounds, just north of sedges, seemingly between Buoy 110 and Buoy108. He cell phoned his mother, saying he was taking on water. Importantly, the winds at this time had been out of the northwest at 25 mph and gusting much higher. There were gale warnings posted.
The local police, state police, the Beach Haven Fire Department , TowBoat US and the Coast Guard were consequently notified. Time frames regarding the notification process are a bit confused at this time.
Be it engine trouble or simply overwash of the transom by 2- to 3-foot wind-waves, the vessel foundered.
Shortly after the call of a distressed boater went out, Rick Ellenberg, captain of TowBoat US in Beach Haven, headed to where he had personally last seen Big Al’s garvey heading westward. Members of the Beach Haven water rescue team along with local residents in boats also responded.
First-responder Ellenberg saw no vessel in the vicinity of where Big Al had last been seen. The boat had likely become totally submerged. Conditions were atrocious, with rescuers running into the same blinding spray and breaking waves that Big Al had experienced.
His body was eventually found -- by an unidentified vessel -- in the shallows of a nearby sedge island. It seems likely he was trying to reach the banks of a nearby sedge. Tragically, he had not donned a personal floatation device.
The body was transported to the docks of a yacht club where the Beach Haven First Aid squad undertook resuscitation efforts, to no avail. A doctor from the coroner’s officer pronounced him dead at the docks.
The garvey was eventually found and brought to shore. After the NJ State Police Marine Bureau examined it, friends destroyed the vessel.
(See related story this issue of The SandPaper.)
Aftermath: The fact that Big Al’s boat apparently sunk is important. The rule in all capsizing situations is to stay with the vessel until help arrives. However, that advice is off the board when a boat goes all the way under. In that situation, a boater immediately becomes a swimmer. To me, it would have been a rational move to attempt to reach the nearest land, i.e. the sedges.
It’s way too easy to second-guess what you or I would have done in the same situation. Hopefully, donning a flotation device would be first and foremost, even before calling for help. The thing that doesn’t always register, even in after-the-fact contemplating, is how insanely fast things go bad in a coldwater boating accident.
Here are some chilling statistics about a body’s reaction to cold water. Suddenly entering water below 60 degrees can cause a heart rate to immediately spike to between 150-180 beats per minute, while the breathing rate rises to 60-90 breaths per minute. This coursing can completely debilitate even a young or highly fit person. Such adrenaline-induced surges can lead to heart attack or stroke in less fit or older people. Knowing that there is virtually an instantaneous life-threatening reaction when forced into cold water is vital to keep in mind when boating, especially when piloting duck boats and garveys in cold and windy conditions.
It is also vital to remember that lethal hypothermia can occur even when one’s body is not entirely submerged. Much of the discussion in the aftermath of this tragedy centered on the fact the bay is shallow enough to walk through in most areas. However, trying to walk a hundred or more yards in chest-deep -- or even waist-deep -- water in hypothermic conditions is a formidable task.