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Monday, December 27, 2010

Wrap Your A$$ in Fiberglas™!

A tribute to power of advertising, I read that phrase once and only once over 30 years ago, and it's stuck with me ever since (the sign used S's rather than dollar signs – just my small concession to maintaining some semblance of family-friendliness in our favorite blog). I was a young teen or pre-teen attending a swap meet or flea market of some kind in the Detroit, MI area, and saw that slogan above a booth. I remember feeling a combination of indignation and pity that the business proprietors would (1) presume to display such an rude, off-color slogan in a “family” venue (I had much higher standards back then), and (2) as full-grown adults—they were in their 20's after all—had so little class as to display same.

A headliner at this venue was one Lynda Carter (Wonder Woman from the 70's), signing autographs. I remember that I should be thrilled but wasn't exactly. Incidentally, Lynda Carter purportedly lives in the next county over from me in northern VA, along with Robert Duvall, and shoots skeet at Bull Run, one of my favorite shooting galleries.

BTW, in case you're one of my 10 or 12 regular readers, mea maxima culpa for the dearth of VOBs lately. I've been home for some weeks now, but for the preceding half year, I was in the middle east, working for Uncle Sam, about 12 hrs/day, 6 or 7 days/wk, with little time for much besides, including writing. “Happy Groundhog Day” was a standard greetings among my co-workers.

I have no idea what they were selling or what aspect of the Fiberglas™ business they were in, so maybe their advertising wasn't all that after all. I assume it was automotive or nautical, given the locality. I also assume it wasn't undershorts, as the most literal interpretation of the slogan would imply, and I'm further assuming it wasn't caskets, but if it were, I might be interested in doing some business with them some time in the future.

The Father of Bruck (FOB) is in pretty good shape for his age, and he's not in any danger of passing on from “natural causes” any time soon, In fact, if not for his sailing proclivities, he might well outlive yours truly. Y'all may recall a couple of previous VOB dispatches: Taming Lake Superior and Sailing Lake Superior, an Update.

But first, since I'm writing this part on Christmas Day, let me share with you some of my early Christmas memories. At the tender age of 3 or 4, old enough for abstract reasoning, but young enough to still “believe,” I had some serious concerns about Santa Claus:

1)How does he fit down the chimney? I knew that the chimney was only about 6” thick (I looked), far too narrow a needle for anyone with a “bowl of jelly” midsection to thread. I also could see that the chimney vents were only about 5” square at the top, but I just assumed he removed the crown before descending and replaced it upon completion of his delivery.

2)A related concern was, if Santa can get into my house via the chimney, wouldn't it also be vulnerable to robbers, thieves and other nefarious characters? We did, after all, once have a raccoon enter the house this way. On the other hand, if we ever locked ourselves out, we'd have a non-destructive way to get back in.

3)For that matter, certainly there were some good children who lived in houses without chimneys – how does Santa deliver presents to them? “He just uses the front door,” answered the Mother of Bruck to my query. Well, thought I, why the F doesn't he just use everyone's front door?

4)I had no problem with the concept of flying reindeer and pulling a sleigh (I sort of equated that with whatever magic airplanes used to stay aloft) , but I was concerned about landing on the roof. Virtually all of the roofs with which I was familiar were sloped, so how would they land there without sliding off, particularly with the standard picture postcard blanket of snow thereupon? I figured that they could achieve equilibrium by straddling the peak, but that also struck me as a rather tedious thing to do on the roof of nearly every single house containing good boys and girls.& like the front door issue, why didn't they just use the driveway?

5)I had my own set of rules about Santa, one of which was that we had to be in bed and asleep for him to come, and in particular, if we came home and surprised him in mid-delivery, this would somehow ruin things.. . somehow. One snowy Christmas Eve, riding home up Woodward Ave. from Aunt Hazel's apartment in Detroit, I remember urging my parents to hurry up and get home so we could be in bed before Santa got there. My folks tried to reassure me by confidently speculating that he was probably doing other rounds right now and would get to our house later. They failed. I didn't relax until I got home and verified for myself that he hadn't gotten there yet.

So, a pretty friggin' neurotic little tyke, wouldn't you say? No wonder I went into engineering.

Back to sailing: this past summer, the FOB and his sailing friends up in the Birch Point region of eastern Lake Superior arranged the first of what they hope to be annual “We Gotta Regatta” wherein local sailors either race or just sail in a cluster across the bay, about 5 miles, and back, and then party down. They didn't really put much thought into liability issues, but probably will next year; one sailor went over and had to be rescued, exhibiting symptoms of advanced hypothermia. He came around soon thereafter.

I had a great idea the other day. At least _I_ thought it was a great idea. I heard that my sister-in-law-in-law (SILILOB) – that would be the fine, upstanding wife of an equally exemplary mountain-climbing brother-in-law of Bruck (FUWOEEMCBILOB) – voluntarily jumped out of a perfectly good airplane not too long ago. A number of my friends and relatives have gone skydiving in the past, but it's appeal is completely lost on me. That is, until an epiphany hit me. I recently netflixed The Fight Club (a strange, strange movie, not recommended for viewers under fifty). It occurred to me that skydiving would be infinitely more interesting if you could stage a fight inside the airplane, both contenders having been fitted with parachutes beforehand. The winner would be the one who succeeded in throwing the other one out the cargo bay door. We'll call our new game “skythrowing.” Then the next contender would enter the ring for similar grappling, and so on until all participants for that flight are exhausted, whereupon the final winner may jump out the cargo door at his or her discretion. Now THAT would be fun! I might even give that a try.

And I think it would be a bit safer than sailing on Lake Superior.

The summer of 2010 witnessed a continuation of the disturbing pattern of mature sailors on eastern Lake Superior not respecting the forces of nature and coincidentally racking up big insurance claims. And in case you were wondering, miraculously, aside from the guy with hypothermia, nobody was injured.

In July, 2010, the FOB and a few friends went sailing in two boats in the eastern end of Lake Superior. The FOB had one passenger and the other pilot also had one. Against Einstein's warnings (you will recall this being a root cause in previous mishaps), the FOB turned the helm over to his inexperienced passenger who promptly upended the craft. Unforch, the architecture of said craft is not conducive to righting after capsizing, therefore they just drifted toward shore. Meanwhile, the other pilot headed back home to call the Coast Guard, who collected the sodden sailors and delivered them to CG station in Sault Ste. Marie, MI, where they were picked up and brought home by the wife of the other pilot.

Once again, the FOB and his passenger escaped injury but the boat's fate wasn't so happy. While they were drinking warm brandy, the wind and current dragged the boat across the rocks in the shallows of the next bay to the east, damaging the hull beyond repair.

Why I recommend not owning and insuring a boat in Michigan: you'll be sharing the risk pool with these guys. The insurance company covered the boat as a total loss, and allowed him to keep the wreckage for spare parts. The other boat in the above misadventure was similarly lost, covered, and scrapped out later in the summer – it was beached and battered in a windstorm.

So, what's this all got to do with wrapping one's a$$ in Fiberglas™, you may ask? Well, I got to thinking: as we discussed previously, the FOB seems to have a penchant for ignoring danger with aforementioned anatomy planted in a Fiberglas™ hull. Well, I'm thinking, when he eventually goes to that great breezy bay in the sky, whether of natural or lake water-induced causes, a suitable and lasting tribute would be to send him on his way in a Fiberglas™ casket – for one last time, wrap his, well I think you get the picture.

And for my former co-workers still toiling away in the cradle of civilization, Happy Groundhog Day!

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