"I'm going to speak my mind because I have nothing to lose."--S.I. Hayakawa

Tuesday, February 19, 2019

The Incredible Adventures of Dipper continued

“Hey, Dipper, have you ever been to Antarctic?”


“Me?   No, no.   No way, no how.   Never.   And not because of the cold, either.”


“Well, why not?”
“Because of all those big-toothed critters down there.   You know, like fur seals, and leopard seals, and Patagonian toothfish.”

Fur seal

Leopard seal.   Photographer unknown.

Patagonian toothfish

“Elephant seals too?” 

Young elephant seal

“I’m not sure elephant seals still have mouths after they grow up.   It’s hard to tell.   But, my great-great-ad-infinitum-granddaddy was there once.”

Adult elephant seal.   Hard to tell if it has a mouth.

“He was?   What was he doing?”

“Well, according to family lore, GGGGranddaddy was on South Georgia Island, just looking around.   After a while, he got tired of the stench of the whaling factories and the toothy critters.   So, he stowed away on the first ship leaving the island that wasn’t a whaler.

Ruins of the Norwegian whaling station Stromness on South Georgia Island.

“After a few days, he jumped ship for the nearest iceberg that floated by.   Said he couldn’t get any sleep on the ship because the sled dogs kenneled on the upper deck were always barking and howling.

Take notice of the small vessel at left bottom of the berg.

“Anyway, some time went by before he saw the ship again, so he flew over to see what was going on.   The ship was caught fast in the ice and was slowly being crushed.   The dogs and the crew and a big pile of supplies were on the ice.

Frank Hurley photograph of the dying Endurance.

“GGGGranddaddy noticed one man who kept going back to the ship and diving into the frigid water.   But, he always came back empty-handed.   GGGGranddaddy  asked the man what he was looking for, and then GGGGranddaddy went into the water and found them.   He guided the man to the spot and watched as the man hauled out 150 glass negative plates.”


“Dipper!    Are you  talking about  the Shackleton expedition?   The Endurance?   The greatest survival story of all time?”

“Yeah, that’s what they called it.”

“And your GGGGranddaddy helped Frank Hurley save his negative plates?”

“That’s what I’ve been told.”

Chinstrap penguin.

“That’s really something dipper.  By the way, that Patagonian toothfish you mentioned?   Some genius renamed it and created a booming market for it.   It’s served  in all the best restaurants”

“You mean people actually eat that ugly thing?”

Patagonian toothfish.

“Yes.   But now it’s called Chilean sea bass!”

Saturday, February 16, 2019

A Mini-Melodrama from a Vast Winter Wilderness:

Merganser finds herself trapped in an ever-diminishing circle of water.   

She is the only living soul within 20,000 leagues.....


Like Pauline tied to the railroad tracks, the unforgiving ice encroaches minute by minute....

Is there no one to come to her aid? Will the ice freeze her in its deadly embrace?


 She turns around and around, trying to keep the small puddle of water open.


There's always that one itchy feather.... It takes her mind of her plight just briefly.


Whatever shall I do, she sobs.


Snow falls lightly, muffling her cries for help. There is no one to hear.


Her long serrated bill with the hook on the end is made for catching fish, not acting as an icebreaker....


She dives, seeking an escape route.....


Again and again and again....



Until..... She's gone.

What the little stinker does is come up behind me, quack so loudly I almost drop my camera, and then flies away on a wing and laugh.