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Big Foot Is Really a Blur; Spiders Sucking Fumes By JAY MANN | Jul 04, 2013

The Fish Story

Big Foot Is Really a Blur; Spiders Sucking Fumes

By JAY MANN | Jul 04, 2013

BACK TO MUNDANENESS: Dang-it all. That Barnegat Inlet tsunami thing set the intensity bar hopelessly high in my column-writing realm. Last week, a waterspout in Loveladies tried to help out but that water twister was gone in a gust beat. Now, I guess I have to saunter on back to writing blogaciously about things like, let’s see, how about the great 2013 minnow shortage?

Yippee. All together now, sing along: “Where have all the minnows gone, long time passing? Where have all the minnows gone, long, long time ago? …”

Younger readers are all thinking, “What’s the hell is he singing about?” Come on, kids. Kingston Trio? Peter, Paul and Mary? Pete Seeger? Marijuana? That stuff isn’t in your history books yet? Guess you hadda be there.

Anyway, as to the missingness of the minnows, the only high-intensity angle would be if the minnies are being ravenously devoured by an insurgency of vacationing, Big Foot-type creatures, somehow loosed by Sandy. Hey, if I lose the Sandy thing, I’m runnin’ on low-octane everydayness.

BIG FOOT FORRAY: I’m actually a bit of a Big Foot fan. In fact, I’ve recently begun espousing a Mitch Hedberg theory: What if Big Foot really is blurry, you know, just an out-of-focus creature in general? Explains all the photo evidence, eh?

That blurriness adds clarity to my personal theory that Big Foots are adroitly extradimensional. They have happenstancely stumbled upon a way to traipse from one parallel dimension to the next – but are most comfortable hanging in a human-free dimension teeming with huge, hairy, out-of-focus, big-footed creatures.

I see some significant social advantages to a universe that is all blurry and out of focus. For instance: It’s last call time in Big Foot Land, as a popular bar is shutting down. The last of the unspoken-for lady Big Foots are leaning up at the back of the wall. By now, these less-than-dainty damsels are so out of focus they come across as Angelina Jolie’s hairy twin sisters.

Overheard:

Desperate Big Foot dude: “Hey baby, you’re sure lookin’ hot.”

“I’m over here, dude.”

“Oh, yeah, so you are. Anyone ever tell you ya look just like Angelina Jolie’s hairy twin sister?”

“Yeah, sure, whatever.”

But back to Big Foots visiting our dimension. It just might be that Big Foots think all of us are out of focus, thus the seemingly confused looks on their blurry faces when we come across them.

We just might have the best chance of communicating with these enigmatic beings if, instead of leaving out chunks of dead deer meat, we set out some ultra-large Lenscrafter eyeglasses, ground for distance. It might break down that visual barrier between our two dimensions. Of course, it could be ruinous for the late-night Big Foot gals back at the bars if the glasses make it back to Big Foot Land.

I told you I was having a hard time after that tsunami excitement.

CLOSER TO KILLIE REALITY: To check on the allegations that our beloved killifish (minnows) have gone missing, I went to three, highly secret backbay locales, where I used to commercially trap minnies. Despite being instantly weighed down by a soggy wool blanket of heat and humidity, I found a very healthy load of marine life in the water – accompanied, topside, by thousands of biting insects, many of whom I knew from back in the day. They were so very glad to see me. I, in turn, greeted them with a solid slap on the back.

I did some seines and scoops, nabbing everything from mumms (mummichogs) to sheeps (sheepshead minnows) to grassies (grass shrimp), sandies (sand shrimp) to s-heads (s***head minnows) to assorted crabs (assorted crabs). The water was hoppin’ with marine life.

That was real good news. My main season for hitting the way backbay was to make sure nothing significantly eco-sinister had followed the Superstorm.

Obviously, my seine-and-flee look-see offered way too small a sampling to override pervasive worries that fluke-attracting minnies have fallen on hard times. I didn’t go to the trouble of soaking traps through a tide or two. That would have been a better tell on the killifish biomass.

If the suspected shortage is real, it’s very possible/likely minnows are being overfished – egged on by the annual angler rush to load up on summer flounder in a restricted timeframe.

I should note that during my netting, I noticed a peculiar paucity of grass shrimp. These important crustaceans should have been thickly lodged beneath sedge overhangs, post-spawn. I had heard grassies have been AWOL in many bay zones, making it tough for anglers who chum them for stripers, weakfish and assorted panfish, like blowfish and kingfish. I’ll give them another week to get back to their summer haunts before I go back for a more involved seine search for them.

GAS-SNIFFING SPIDERS (FROM MARS?): I have to run afoul of arachnophobics by bringing up the increasingly bizarre subject of the yellow sac spider – and the way they’re impacting the auto industry. This tale easily fills my weekly weirdness demands.

Quite common in Jersey, these small, yellowish spiders are nasty little buggers. That’s demonstrated by their Number One rating when it comes to spider-bite cases entering medical facilities.

Entomologists have duly dubbed sac spiders as “very aggressive.” When even vaguely pissed off at a human, they’ll fang down upon same. Since they have a decent jolt of toxin, a sac spider bite often speaks for itself, offering pain, redness, and swelling, occasionally requiring a hospital visit. If you’re allergic to them, Katy bar the symptoms door.

But, believe me, I wouldn’t be bringing up this spider for just its middling biting capacity. Instead, I’m blown away by the way it continues to make a name for itself – inside frickin’ gas tanks!

If you’re one of the tens of thousands of folks who have had vehicles recalled because spider webs are blocking gas from entering the tanks properly, you have run afoul of the sac spider’s tight-knit hiding web, used for off-hour seclusion, not prey capturing.

Mazda has recalled two model years of the Mazda6 sedan after a spider web was found in a car's gas-tank ventilation system.

Just so you know I’m not jerking your gullibility leashes, here’s just one news report, this one from CNN Money: “Mazda is recalling about 52,000 Mazda6 sedans (later increased to 66,000) in the U.S., because yellow sac spiders like to build their nests in part of the fuel system.

“A certain type of spider may weave a web in the evaporative canister vent line and this may cause a restriction of the line,” Mazda said in a letter to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.”

We stand shoulder-to-shoulder to skeptically say, “You can’t be serious!”

They can be.

There are now videos of the tangled webs that yellow sacs weave inside the gas tanks.

Further along the prove-it trail, I’m told a local gal recently came up against a backed-up gas tank, woven shut by a yellow sac. The scary part is hers was a heretofore spiderless make of 4-cylinder sedan.

I was raised on B-grade horror movies. This is exactly how the horror quietly starts – except in the case of The Rocky Horror Picture Show, but that’s for another column.

Steering my sputtering truckload of thought more toward science, I have to wonder how in bloody hell can any creature tolerate not just a gasoline bath but fumes foul enough to etch glass. Something seems fishy in Spiderland, so to speak.

While I’m routinely the antithesis to conspiracy theorists, I swear there has gotta be more to this creepy story. I’m now looking back to when the first gas-happy sac spider crawled on-scene, circa 2010. And did there just happen to be any, say, meteorites spotted flaming down very near the factory where the Mazdas were being made? (Along with horror movies, I was also part and parcel to the era of David Bowie’s “… Spiders From Mars.”)

My other conspiracy theory has to do with the boys of Japan. I wouldn’t put a spider ruse beyond their cunning cover-up abilities.

My theory: They blew it on a fuel system design, got all Chinese-eyed on sake, saw a spider in the corner and knew they found the perfect eight-legged scapegoat. Hey, when you’re soarin’ on sake, things just sorta jump out ya.

Anyway, the webbed-shut gas tank problem is present and accounted for in our county. Please (oh, please!), if you’re one of those folks who have needed yellow sac spider web removal, let me know. The future of the planet rests on you contacting me. (I’ve always wanted to write that.)

VIDEOHEAT: Hard to believe but I’ve been taking some mild heat (“dislikes”) over the host of “raw” videos I’ve been placing on my blog (jaymanntoday.ning.com) and on Facebook.

Oh, most folks are just fine with seeing my amateur captures of odd and unusual scenes. But, there are the few whiny prissies who expect picture-perfect video scenes, with no camera motion or dizzying zooms. Screw that – and them!

I’m not out there to kick cinematographic ass. I’m just hell-bent on securing some fun scenes for rough reviewing by my blogites and Facebook crews – and admittedly those groups have grown into the thousands through the miracle of social media pyramiding.

When homing in on socially interesting, oft-fleeting scenes, I’d screw away the moment if I first set up a tripod, checked the lighting, centered the scene, shot loads of footage, rushed it back to the office, “shopped” the footage into well-edited vignettes, transferred to YouTube … Hell, the rest of my day would be shot to hell and back. What’s worse, I’d surely have missed other scenes while staring into a computer screen for some whineaholics.

Spontaneity in videotaping is actually cool. Proof: Watch some of the most insane scenes now on the nightly news. You’ll see the jaggedly mesmerizing videos from on-scene folks pointing and shooting with any camera on-hand, most often cell phones.

This is a lead-in to getting all ya’ll shooting away while fishing, outdooring, watersporting or just plain cruising about. I’d sure like to display such scenes on my blogs. The Sandpaper is even interested in those we can put on the cloud.

Note: Be a tad careful with, uh, background language. Admittedly, I’m as profanely inclined as the next narrating guy when insane things are unfolding all around. But, it’s a bitch, I mean, a real problem erasing commentary fluctuations without employing more advanced editing equipment.

TICK TALK: Not that many folks travel the backwoods nowadays but I wanted to alert that the area’s tick count is mysteriously low this year – at least to date.

OK, so maybe your backyard is loaded with ’em for whatever tick-logic reason. I’m talking about the big-picture tick count I’m seeing during my widespread cruisings of wooded and fielded stretches of Ocean, Burlington and Atlantic counties.

I’m a bona fide expert when it comes to spotting a clothing-hugging tick – even the deviously tiny deer tick. They just ain’t been out and about with any authority this year. At most, I’m finding one here and there, where there is usually a steady stream of grabbers-on.

Not that this short-term paucity is an indicator of any significant decline in long-term tickiness of our world. It just means this might be a half-decent summer for you to finally get back to doing some hiking, pickerel fishing or, daringly, some camping – pastimes that have fully fallen from the popularity since Lyme disease crawled on-scene.

Admittedly, it only takes one infected tick to transmit the minuscule bacteria with the long name, Borrelia burgdorferi sensu stricto. Therefore, a substantial spray of OFF! – or any DEET-significant repellent – is a must, with the added benny of annoying the hell out of skeeters, chiggers and biting flies.

Spray up and enjoy NJ’s outback.

After some enjoyable outdoorsing, make sure to place all clothing into the washing machine for an immediate wash in hot water.

Then, take the obligatory de-ticking shower. Hot, soapy water is the bane of ectoparasites (outside the body), like ticks, providing they haven’t already burrowed their snouts into skin. As I’ve written before, there’s something in dandruff shampoos, aka Head and Shoulders, which ticks hate. They bail off – and swirl into drain, off to tick heaven.

The finale to a de-ticking is a post-shower application of baby oil over the body. It not only allows you to easily feel any hangers on but I’ve been told the oil clogs a tick’s breathing hole (near back legs) forcing them to pull the plug on their bloodsucking plans.

MITCH HEDBERG: Catch-and-release is an angler’s way of making a fish late for wherever it’s going.

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