Ignorance Ain’t Bliss

Last week, hurricane, then tropical storm, Ernesto sort of roared up the coast and hit South Jersey. I figured our boat would be fine, since it was tied securely with two 1½” lines. I figured the fenders would help, too.

The winds here in Woodstown were in the 30 MPH range, just enough to make some noise and blow a few things around outside. Then I brought up The Weather Channel thing on my computer and noticed that the winds down around the Cape May/Wildwood area were sustained at about 51 MPH, with gusts up to 72. I started wondering if maybe I should have added a couple of spring lines, or something.

We made it down to the boat a couple of days later, and were relieved to see it still sitting in its slip. It looked a little funny, though, with the canvas missing from the top. Hmmm . . . Apparently, a fellow boater rescued the canvas, and placed it on the deck. The canvas itself was okay, but the wind ripped the zipper pockets off. The support frame was bent considerably, but I managed to straighten it.

We then discovered something else that we deemed interesting. The stern line was down to one of three strands, but some thoughtful fellow boater had secured the stern with line from one of our fenders.

I usually err on the side of caution with things like hurricanes, tropical storms, and gales. My attitude approaching indifference, in this case, seemed strange to me. For some reason, I never even thought about the canvas, probably the most vulnerable part of our boat!

But maybe my mind is becoming affected by the indifference of some of the other boaters out there on the waterways. Through the years, the amount of ignorance concerning rules of the road, common courtesy, and safety, has both amazed and annoyed me. No-wake zones apparently apply to only us and about 75 percent of the other boaters. The other 25 percent think that they were designated as no-wake zones only to inconvenience them from reaching their destinations at break-neck speeds.

The good news is that New Jersey passed a law this year requiring boaters to take a U.S. Coast Guard course on safety and rules of the road. The bad news is that apparently many people simply ignored what they considered as just another inconvenience for them.

Jet skis look like tons of fun, and are probably one of the greatest boating menaces ever created. They would be fine, if operated by relatively sane individuals acting responsibly, but like boats, they offer them to anyone who can come up with the money or financing. In NJ, taking a course is required, which doesn’t seem to stop anyone who doesn’t take the course from operating these things. This summer alone, three people were killed on jet skis in the back bays of South Jersey.

A young lady in her twenties drowned in Union Lake, in Millville, while swimming off a pontoon boat. Not surprisingly, no throwable personal flotation device (a requirement) was on the boat. Some boaters either never check to see what’s required by law, or simply ignore the inconveniences of maintaining a safe vessel.

There was no excuse for me not taking preventive measures to protect our boat from wind damage. If the vessel had broken loose, it could well have damaged other boats in the area. I can’t blame my negligence on the deficiencies of a small part of the boating world, and I’m thankful that someone else in the area at the time saved me from the consequences of indifference to a serious situation.

Time of the Seasons

A little more than a week left to summer, or at least as most people in the Northeast have come to know it. I don’t know why we’re so concerned with equinoxes and solstices, though. Everyone knows that summer officially begins on Memorial Day and ends on Labor Day, and has for many years.

That said, it stands to reason that autumn begins the day after Labor Day and ends around the first week of December, when college football is, for the most part, kaput. In ancient times, when my primary football interest ended at the high school level, autumn finished up on Thanksgiving weekend. Every year, it looks more and more as if the beginning of winter will be pushed back (or ahead, depending on how you look at it) another week or so to the second week of December. As Division 1A conferences expand, they add playoff games, extending the autumnal season a bit more.

There’s no need to panic, however, because Christmas will always occur during the winter season, as will college bowl games. The Super Bowl, though, moves ever closer each year to becoming a spring festivity.

No matter what Punxsutawney Phil predicts, spring starts edging in on Palm Sunday, and officially begins on Easter Sunday, no matter what your religion. The only belief required is that summer has now begun its approach!

Not everyone, however, understands how the seasons work. I spent a couple of decades in the South, mostly Georgia, and they seem to have the school thing screwed up beyond repair! For this, I apologize to my daughters for moving them there when they were younger, but they have both grown accustomed to living there and prefer it over the Northeast.

In our section of Georgia, school ended in May and started near the end of August, and while I could have handled getting out before Memorial Day, it never would have made up for going back before Labor Day! As if that weren’t enough, a few years ago, they revised the schedule, and students now return to class sometime in the middle of August! I think I would have run away from home, or something.

There’s no way that could have happened where I grew up, at the Jersey Shore. Labor Day always marked the last day of work for seasonal businesses, and most of the high school students held summer jobs at these places. But that was back before kids could elect to not bother working during the summer. Now, the amusement piers actually send recruiters all over the world to obtain summer help, to countries where children receive no “summer survival stipends.”

So, we’re near the end, and it’s time for students to return to school and write essays titled, “What I Did Last Summer.” It’s a good thing I’m no longer a student, because I’d probably fair no better than a D minus this year.

How I Dodged the Draft

The other day marked the 39th anniversary (if you want to call it that) of my entry into the U.S. Navy. What this means (besides almost nothing) is that I could have been retired now for 19 years! That sounds good, until considering the fact that I would have had to spend an additional 16 years in the Navy. I never considered that an option.

I truly lived out the old cliche¢ of “joining the Navy and seeing the world.” Up until the point I left for Great Lakes Naval Training Center (boot camp), my world consisted of about a 170-mile radius, although the distended blob of my travels looked like anything but a perfect circle. I eclipsed that record on the train, somewhere in Pennsylvania.

During my four years, I managed to visit 16 countries, sort of. Yes, I was actually there, but a couple of places, such as Guam and Okinawa, consisted of standing around while waiting to change planes, or waiting for the plane to be fueled, or something like that. Malta was another story. I stayed aboard ship in Valletta, not by choice, exactly. Actually, I was given a choice, and staying aboard ship seemed like the better option.

I was also treated to a full year’s stay in the lush, tropical paradise of Vietnam, riding boats up and down scenic rivers, and except for the little detail of a war going on somewhere over there, the rivers were very scenic indeed. For some reason, the enemy never figured out we were there, or so it seemed. Supposedly they shot at us once, and we were too stupid to realize it until the crew of a PBR pulled alongside and informed us, but the shots were coming from about a mile across the river, so it was one of those, “Okay, if you say so,” things. We were awarded the Combat Action Ribbon for that little episode, and I would have been embarrassed to wear it, except that it was quite nice looking. It also caught me a break now and then during inspections, after rejoining the regular (non-Vietnam) Navy.

Not being the heroic type, I didn’t exactly volunteer for Vietnam duty. I spent some time off the coast, on the U.S.S. Kitty Hawk, during the prior war season. I didn’t, however like my particular situation, especially concerning one supervisor, so I requested a transfer. The division officer told me that he would approve my request, but if he did, I would probably get orders to Vietnam. Again, it just seemed like the better option, and there was always the chance that I would be needed more in Philadelphia, or at least, that’s what I figured.

I arrived in Vietnam on a commercial flight, because my schedule was inconsistent with the Navy’s, and I showed up a few days’ late. The legal officer noticed the discrepancies on my expense report, so I guess you could say it cost me $175.00 for the comfort of a PanAm flight, instead of a regular military flight. That bothered me a little, because I was amassing a history of missing scheduled flights. I showed up five days’ late for the Kitty Hawk, but I really missed the flight by only an hour or two. I had to wait around Travis Air Force Base for five days, shooting pool, before they gave up and put me on a Northwest Orient flight. (Is it now Northwest Asian?) Anyway, everybody pretty much just shrugged and said, “Well, at least you finally got here.” I expected similar treatment in Danang.

I also missed out on their first attempt at putting me through Fire Fighting School. They even flew me off the Kitty Hawk for the occasion, and I don’t recommend that to anyone except dyed-in-the-wool thrillseekers! So the same division officer who later approved my transfer, said, “So you didn’t go to fire fighting school?” I told him I didn’t, and he said, “Oh,” and that was that. By that time, I was figuring that I could pretty much work out my own schedule for things, so you can see why I wondered about them raising such a fuss when I showed up “fashionably late” in Vietnam.

Okay, so I wasn’t exactly a model sailor, as they say. My only reason for joining in the first place was to dodge the draft, and all things considered, it was, again, the better option. I think I managed to somehow do a few things right, at least once in awhile, but I was never really happy about being there.

Everything in life seems to be a bit of a tradeoff, and so it is with service in the military. I went many places, saw many things, and experienced many other things that no civilian will ever get to do. I went to evening college (sounds better than night school) on the G.I. Bill, but I would never call it “free.”

So, would I trade all of the tropical sunrises for spending the time back home, working a regular job? Probably, but I’d still have to think about it.

PGA – Pretty Generous Advertising

I watched the PGA Championship over the weekend, and CBS put on a classic display of how not to televise a golf tournament. Yes, I understand that advertisements pay the bills, but two or four minutes of commercials for every 45 seconds of golf seems a bit excessive. Okay, maybe I exaggerated just a bit, but not by much.

I wonder if these companies realize that, as just one example, I’ll never do any business with the Royal Bank of Scotland, whatever that is. If that guy started engraving the trophy for Jack Nicklaus one more time, I think I would have jumped out the window! Okay, so I watched it from the first floor, and would have landed on my deck, but I think you know what I mean.

What a pleasure to watch the Masters Tournament, on the same network, but with only four minutes of commercials for every 60 minutes of golf! A few years’ back, we got to see the Masters with no commercials, because someone was protesting the fact that The Augusta National, an all-male club, had no female members! Strangely enough, I didn’t see any guys in the Miss Universe Pageant, but that may have been because I never watch it.

Aren’t we lucky to have computer graphics, though? Now, while we’re attempting to watch a birdie putt, we see people dancing across the bottom of the TV screen! All types of clutter shows up there, none of which ever interests me. Yes, I want to know about it if a major city (or even a minor one, if it’s near me) is being blown up by terrorists, or even by natural causes, but I can avoid “Dancing With the Stars” without being forewarned.

I wonder if CBS realizes that ESPN exists? When I’m watching a golf tournament, I really don’t care about the details of baseball games and tennis matches. That’s one thing that they actually could have scrolled along the bottom of the screen without much annoyance, rather than taking a “sports break” to keep me updated. The only updates I cared about were on the leaderboard at Medinah.

I also wonder if these corporations that spend millions of dollars on advertising realize that, much of the time, I don’t even know what they’re advertising! I’ve watched some of these ads dozens of times, and can’t even figure out what company I’m supposed to be buying something from, or why I’m supposed to buy it! Do they really think that I’ll run out and buy a particular vehicle because some girl changes into sassy clothes before hopping in the passenger seat? I would consider some of these cars they advertise, if only I could find a local road where the speed limit is 140.

But the PGA Championship wasn’t all bad. I don’t remember a single beer commercial. According to the beer companies, it’s okay to steal, as long as it’s your favorite beer. And beer should be much more important to me than the company of a pretty woman. My take on beer is that it never should have left the horse in the first place.

Falling Ahead

We’re into that time of year that instills a sense of dread in any reasonable person of school age, from elementary school through college. I say “reasonable” person, because I’ve known a few individuals who actually liked going to school. I managed to escape the feeling in college, for the most part, because I attended evening classes and generally continued on through the summers.

During my youth, I started cringing right around this time of the summer season, knowing that sometime soon, the lifeguards would blow their whistles, signaling “everybody out of the ocean.” Back in ancient times, it happened on Labor Day, but somewhere along the way, shrewd businessmen somehow figured out how to squeeze quite a bit more juice out of the grapes. It started with the senior citizen bus excursions, back in the 70’s, and next thing you know, everybody wanted in on the extended season.

I could always “feel” the end of the summer approaching, when the blazing heat of late July and early August gave way to a slight crispness in the air, and the shadows started losing their hazy vagueness.

Actually, my initial sense of dread started around July 4th, because it always came up more quickly than I expected, and I could visualize August looming on the horizon, much like a thunderhead on an incoming storm.

But August was the real thing! Just slightly more than four weeks to Labor Day, and the end of my parole! Those stupid back-to-school ads popped up everywhere, as if I needed a reminder! The herds of vacationers diminished a bit in size, as if many of them had already written off the season.

Some of them actually did write it off early, and headed back to wherever they came from to “get ready” for school. Like, who needs a couple of weeks to get ready for school? Fifteen minutes seemed more than adequate to me!

On the amusement pier where I worked, every few days, someone would make the rounds, bidding their farewells for the year. Some would be back the next, but some disappeared from the scene forever.

I disappeared almost forever in ’67, when I entered the Navy. My last year working on the pier was ’66, but I still visited during the following summer, before leaving for Great Lakes the third week in August.

I returned in ’71, and in just four years, the new regime had already infiltrated the ranks. The kids who used to run errands for us were now working the jobs we no longer wanted, but fondly remembered.

I hung around South Jersey until ’81, and lived in the South until returning in late 2002. They say you can’t go home again. Actually, you can. Just prepare yourself for the fact that somebody pretty much screwed it up while you were gone.

Pick Your Tabanus

Some people harbor fears of sharks, jellyfish, crabs, and other denizens of the deep (and shallow). Others fear the “undertow”, better known as a rip current, or they may even fear being knocked down by a large wave. All of these things help explain the popularity of swimming pools at motels along the Jersey Shore, and at shore resorts in general.

I maintain a healthy respect for sharks, but that respect has never made me go running for the nearest swimming pool. Even the sea snakes in Vietnam failed to keep us from swimming, although a few preliminary concussion grenades helped allay our fears.

Nor do I particularly care for jellyfish, and on more than one occasion have been forced to swim through a virtual wall of them, ending up with something resembling and feeling much like prickly heat, all over my body.

However, the one thing I hate more than anything else at the Jersey Shore is the dreaded greenhead fly, formally known as Tabanus Americanus Forester! The salt marsh horse flies (Tabanus nigrovittatus and Tabanus contenninus) are often mistaken for the greenhead, and they suffer from an identity crisis primarily because their attacks are just as vicious and painful.

It took me only about three years of life to encounter my first greenhead, in my backyard wading pool. It landed on my arm and bit me, drawing blood. My mom swatted it, and it landed upside down on the surface of the water. I reacted by crying, and my reaction is pretty much the same today. Okay, I’m kidding, but not by much.

Greenheads seem to flourish on beaches with dune grass, so for the past few decades they have not been as prevalent along the Wildwood beaches as they once were. Call them what you like, but salt marsh horse flies still abound, of all places, near salt marshes!

No matter which Tabanus one encounters, they all share one trait, namely a blood lust. They need blood to survive, and pretty much any mammal will do, thank you. Humans have the disadvantage of lacking a fur covering, so they become primary targets.

For the sake of convenience, henceforth I’ll refer to all of them as greenheads, and if this offends the nigrovittatus and contenninus species, they can bite me!

It’s easy to find a greenhead, or let’s say a horde of greenheads, especially if you’re not looking for them. They come uninvited, and pretty much stay as long as they please. If you take Route 47 (Delsea Drive) south toward Wildwood and Cape May, I advise following the main road (Route 347), rather than staying on 47. For one thing, it’s almost three miles shorter, but if traffic gets backed up on 47, and it does, the greenheads attempt to carry vehicles off the highway and into the marshes for later feasting. The only people greenheads seem to have no interest in, are the residents of East Creek Manor, who calmly sit outside and watch as the insects dive bomb the cars stuck in the queue.

Most of the villages along Delaware Bay become overrun with greenheads during much of the summer. The residents spend each night praying for strong winds the next day, one of the few things that keeps the carnivorous bugs at bay, no pun intended. On calm days, residents can be seen wearing Kevlar body suits while mowing their lawns and tending their gardens.

Greenheads also roam the rivers and back bays, hanging out on the “No Wake” buoys, waiting for boaters to slow their crafts to a crawl. The onslaught is relentless, resembling a feeding frenzy at a Golden Corral! One of the most difficult aspects of boating in South Jersey is making it through a no-wake zone completely unscathed.

So what is the solution to this annual problem? Well, they make greenhead traps, or you can make your own, but I don’t have one, although I know how to build one. They used to spray for mosquitoes, which also tended to keep the greenhead population in check. Even though research has shown that DDT was not the cause of thin shells on bird eggs, it’s still considered proper to allow a few thousand people to die from malaria and other insect-born diseases, rather than to spray DDT. I suppose that unless we eventually rid the legislative branch of insects, we’ll just have to keep on swatting!

Sandcastles of the Past

During the first twenty or so years of my life, I took a lot for granted, and never really considered the fact that many of the things I liked would eventually disappear. We all know that eventually many of our relatives and friends will pass on, but we generally pay scant attention to the temporary state of so many other things.

At least for now, the house I grew up in still stands within view of Sunset Lake in Wildwood Crest. The house across the street from ours is still across the street, but it’s not the same street, and it no longer sits at water’s edge. A newer house occupies that particular piece of ground.

The old neighborhood now looks like the new neighborhood, and whether or not newer is better depends on a person’s point of view. Our street had considerable character with the older, more diverse, homes on a street lined with sycamores for shade. The street now looks hot and greedy, where condos have nudged out many of the “real” homes.

I don’t remember my last root beer milkshake made by Jimmy Batts, but I would have paid more attention had I known it would be my last. The same goes for whenever I bought my last vanilla malt at Teitelman’s long-gone custard stand. I’ll always remember both gentleman’s friendly manners toward their customers.

Seacrest Bakery made incredible cheese pies with various fillings – “ my favorites were pineapple and blueberry – “ but nothing beat entering through the screen door in the alley at midnight and buying some glazed doughnuts while still hot and dripping! How the times have changed! We used to watch one of the bakers making lemon-filled buns, applying the filling with a cone fashioned from newspaper.

The best subs in the world (these are all my own opinions, of course), came from J&H Cold Cuts. I happened to be standing in there on one Sunday in November 1963, waiting for a cheese steak and watching the black and white TV up in the corner when Lee Harvey Oswald was shot. It’s a given that because I was buying a cheese steak at J&H, Luigi’s was obviously closed for the winter. We never knew when or if Luigi’s would close for the season, or how the interior would be arranged the next time we went in.

I think I actually remember my last pizza steak from Grasso’s Four G’s in Rio Grande, only because I remember my last visit. I’ve eaten many pizza steaks from many places since, but none has ever come close to the ones from the Four G’s.

For quite a few years, I considered Joe Mauti’s pizza the best in the world. He had a place on the boards across from the old, old Convention Hall, and he advertised it as the place where the wrestler’s ate. “Professional” wrestling used to be big at Convention Hall back then. A permanent sign on the wall inside the store also advertised “Free Spaghetti Tomorrow.” I’m not sure whether or not the place actually sold spaghetti.

After Joe Mauti closed up in 1964, a Dutchman from Boyertown, Pennsylvania took over the place. Apparently, Ralph Mutter’s experience with pizza consisted of selling soft pretzels out of a truck in Boyertown. When he opened on the boards in ’65, I rated his pizza as possibly the worst I had ever eaten, but he definitely knew his pretzels! Funny things happen, though, and sometime in early July of that year, a guy we used to call Father Anthony came strolling down the walk looking for a job. He had Joe Mauti’s recipe in his head, and the rest is history. I think I bought my last slice sometime around ’80 or ’81.

Gone for about 36 years now, Shaffer’s was the place where most Wildwoodians bought their hot dogs. Each dog was split and grilled beneath an iron press, as were the buns. After new owners took over, they tossed away years of memories and great food for a game stand. Most places on the boards sold Burk’s frankfurters. When did they disappear?

And who could forget the Taylor Pork Roll store on the boards? Nothing like a sandwich featuring a flame-kissed pork roll!

Ice cream waffles used to be hot (and cold) at the stand by the old “Mystery Castle,” a long-gone walk-through funhouse. Crowds stood four or five deep along the length of the stand waiting for a slice of ice cream sandwiched between two freshly-baked waffles, topped with powdered sugar. Messy? Yes, but well worth the effort! The waffles usually won the battle with the ice cream, so it was wise to lean forward while eating one.

Yeah, yeah, yeah – “ the Jackrabbit, the old merry-go-rounds with the music machines, Hunt’s Pier and Hunt’s theaters are long gone, along with the Casino Arcade. The potato chips warmed by a light bulb disappeared from in front of the bumper cars decades ago, as did the bumper cars themselves. At least all of those things survived much longer than the Scooter Boats, and if you remember them, you’re really dating yourself!

And now the motels of the “Doo-Wop” era are disappearing as quickly as 78-RPM records departed the scene. This started shortly after it was discovered that more doo-wop era structures were situated in the Wildwoods than anyplace else in the world, and were subsequently classified as “historic” buildings. Go figure.

So, whether your passion leans toward Curly’s Fries, Laura’s Fudge, Sam’s Pizza, or some other source of food or entertainment, enjoy them while you can! Not a single one of them is likely to last forever, but at least they’ll hang around longer than your average sandcastle.

Staying Alive

During every summer season I read about people who drown, and in many cases, the drownings were senseless, meaning they could have been prevented. It always amazed me that some individuals spend time in, on, or around bodies of water, and while they may consider themselves “swimmers,” many know little or nothing about “water survival.”

I’ve spent a lot of time in and on the water, and even before entering the Navy, I both knew and practiced water survival techniques, although I was never actually in an emergency situation. I used them routinely while swimming, and we frequently swam back and forth across the bay, dodging passing boats.

Distances in water can be very deceiving, and this factor alone causes inexperienced swimmers to panic and eventually go under. Sometimes the person swims until tiring, and thinks that the only solution is to give up. The important thing to remember when in the water is that it’s possible to stay afloat even when exhausted, and it’s important to not panic when realizing that you still have quite a ways to go! Yes, for the inexperienced swimmer, the absence of solid ground beneath the feet can be frightening when land is still a good distance away.

The normal method of treading water can be tiring, although it’s considerably less tiring than actually swimming. A person who treads water to the point of exhaustion will eventually give up. This is both tragic and pointless, and can be avoided in almost all cases.

One of the easiest methods of floating for some people is to float on the back. It’s not my preference, but it’s simple when done properly. Simply lie back, legs spread, and arms extended. The head should be leaned back as far as possible, and the arms should be moved back and forth to help maintain flotation. Breathing through the nose is recommended, because water will sometimes splash across the face.

An easier, and less tiring method of floating is what’s known as “survival floating,” and for some unexplained reason, seems to be a closely guarded secret, although it shouldn’t be. To start this technique, take a fairly deep breath, then lean forward, knees toward the chest, in what some call the “fetal” position. Your face will be under water during this phase. When ready to breathe, extend your legs and move your arms back and forth to bring your head out of the water. Stay in this position until you regain your breath, usually a minute or a few minutes, then take a breath and return to the fetal position. By using this technique, it’s possible to stay afloat for very long periods of time, and periods of more than a day or two in the water have been reported!

If you find yourself in the water fully clothed, your clothing can add some buoyancy. Even better, for some materials, such as denim, the clothing can actually be used as a flotation device. Long pants are the most effective, but even a shirt can be used. For pants, tie knots at the bottom of the legs and leave the front zipper open. It’s important that the material be already fully soaked. Hold the pants by the waist above your head, then slam them down on the water. The legs will inflate with air. While holding the waist beneath the water, thrust your body across the crotch, and the pants will act as a flotation device. Eventually, the air will leak out and the method must be repeated, but it’s a lot easier than attempting to float on your own.

If you’re wearing shoes when you enter the water, keep them on! They offer protection, and it’s just as easy to swim while wearing shoes as it is without them.

The methods described here pertain primarily to recreational and emergency swimming during warm weather. Although hyperthermia is always a factor when in the water, cold water survival employs some methods not covered here. It’s advisable to learn those techniques also.

Finally, some important considerations if you’re on a boat that is swamped, or if, for some reason, you decide to abandon the boat:

Stay with the boat, if possible, assuming there’s no danger in doing so.

If the vessel has capsized and can’t be righted, climb atop the hull.

If you can’t get in or on the boat, hang onto it and use it to keep yourself afloat.

If you decide to swim, don’t be a hero! Grab a PFD (personal flotation device), which all boats are required to carry, and put it on!

If you happen to have swim fins on board, put them on. These make it much easier both to stay afloat and to travel through the water.

And remember – “ Never Panic!

Some helpful links:

http://www.ehow.com/how_6582_survival-float.htmlhttp://oh.essortment.com/swimmingsafety_rkth.htm

http://www.boatingbasicsonline.com/course/boating/8_3.php http://www.ilsf.org/about/drowning_statistics.htm

Makes No Cents

This may be a tad political, but I feel that a few comments are necessary. New Jersey shut down the government, so to speak. Isn’t that what a lot of people wanted?

Anyway, the problem seems to be that the governor wants a sales tax increase, and the legislators want to increase taxes some other way. Of course, this makes sense, since NJ is one of the worst states to live in for those of us opposed to burdensome taxes. Throughout history, every society which has attempted to tax itself into prosperity has either gone down in flames or has eventually come to grips with reality.

But I digress. The thing that puzzles me is that the state decided to lay off all of its non-essential employees while keeping essential employees, such as state police officers, on the payroll.

It certainly makes a lot of sense, if the state has no money to pay employees, to keep the ones who produce no revenue and lay off the ones who produce revenue. For example, the casino industry is a win-win situation for the state. Those in positions of gambling oversight are paid far less than the revenues generated by the casinos for the state. The same with the Lottery, which produces significant revenue, yet the Lottery was shut down almost immediately.

This is something like an owner of a restaurant running a little short on funds, and determining that the solution is to lay off the cook and keep the cashiers and wait staff. It’s hard to say how they would generate any revenue with no food to serve, but if the government ran the place, that would apparently be its solution.

What we really have here is what’s commonly known as a hissy fit. We don’t get our way, so instead of keeping the revenue coming in, we shut down all services that are operating in the black.

Does anyone really believe that punishing vacationers who have saved up money for a long-awaited vacation will increase tourism, along with the state’s already somewhat tarnished image?

I certainly don’t see it that way, but I know that any increase in sales tax will encourage me to do even more of my tax-free shopping in Delaware. Does getting elected to office cause instant stupidity, or is that simply a necessary pre-qualification?

But all was not lost. New Jersey finally came up with a new state slogan that works – “Leaving for Las Vegas!”

Another Slipless Night

Our boat should have been in its slip near Cape May long ago, but a phenomena not unlike that which beset the Mary Deare has made its presence known.

Our slip rental runs from April 15 through October 16, and I was a wee bit disappointed that we actually had to wait until the middle of April before launching. It sat on the blocks in a marina about 15 miles away, and we figured it would take but a few days to perform routine maintenance.

The steering had frozen up before we took the boat out last fall, but I was pretty sure that I would be able to free it up, even though I know very little about boat steering. Okay, so I was wrong, but undeterred, I supervised my cousin and his friend in sanding and painting the bottom of the hull. We picked a nice, spring day of about 88 degrees or so, and I tired very easily watching them perform the task. Upon completion of the job, they resembled Smurfs, and I haven’t heard from my cousin since. I remember him saying something about leaving the country, but didn’t think he was serious.

I found a boat mechanic, and pleaded my case to get the steering repaired as soon as possible. He obliged, and we were ready for launch!

Everything went smoothly until the boat actually touched the water. The starboard engine started right up. The port engine followed suit, then died. It started once or twice more, and ran about as long as it takes to fill a glass of water with a firehose.

I took the spark arrestor off the carburetor and cranked the engine as it spewed gasoline all over. Okay, so we have a float problem, and it can be resolved with a little carb cleaner, right? Nope – I had to call in Mr. Boat Mechanic, who informed me that I needed a new carburetor, and that it would take a few days to get it. This made me a bit anxious, because the days of the season were beginning to run like sand through an hourglass, but I persevered.

Mr. BM finally installed the carburetor and we made preparations for our voyage south. The port engine started right up, then died. And died and died and died. It wouldn’t run below 2,000 rpm’s, and I just couldn’t feature trying to back the boat into the slip at that speed…

So Mr. BM returns to adjust the carburetor, but informs me that he thinks I need a new fuel pump. Well, he does this stuff for a living, so I took him at his word. The only problem, he tells me, is that he can’t do it until the following Tuesday, or maybe even Wednesday. Now indignant, I tell him that I’ll do it myself. I’ve replaced fuel pumps before, in fact it became a hobby on my old ’56 Plymouth. So what if it was back in ’65 or so; like how much can a person forget?

Quite a bit, I discovered, after driving 40 miles with my old fuel pump and returning with a new one. By then it was late in the day, and I decided to wait until the following morning. That just happened to be the day that Noah apparently stopped by South Jersey on a world tour or something. I think Sunday, Monday, Tuesday – okay, so by Wednesday, all systems were go. I was thinking how fortunate I was that I didn’t have to wait until the day before…

Well, it didn’t go in on Wednesday. I couldn’t seem to line up the bolt holes for some reason. Same thing happened on Thursday, so I called for reinforcements on Friday. My nephews (sort of) showed up, and the one who does the mechanical stuff had the same problem I had. He told me I must have the wrong fuel pump.

I made plans to see if I could find the right pump, but meantime, I called Mr. BM, who informed me that he didn’t think I had the wrong pump. He said I (meaning my nephew) had to hold up the little plunger and slip the lever beneath it. He was correct, and the fuel pump was finally installed by late Friday afternoon.

My mechanic had informed me that he would be out of town for the weekend, but I cared little about that, because I had my fuel pump and we would be spending the holiday weekend at our boat at the shore! Except that the engine did the same thing!

So, on Saturday, with resolution, we set out for the boat once more, and I figured maybe I could turn a screw or something on the carburetor and we’d be on our way! Uh – except that you can’t do that any more, because the days of external needle valves went the way of the covered wagon. Like how would I know that, since my last zillion cars had fuel injection?

Fortunately, a fellow boater was working on his boat and responded that yes, he did know something about carburetors. He looked at it, heard it run, then did a few general tests and discovered that there’s a compression leak somewhere.

On Sunday, we found ourselves too tired and too disgusted to drive the 45 miles to the boat. We may make an attempt on Monday, although our Fourth of July weekend is already shot, but ultimately, we await the return of Mr. BM.