I think I've just figured out what tattoo I want.

It took me, what, 15 years?

A gloriously beautifully written, but sad article


I love Google

I opened up an internet browser. The first page, as always, was Google search engine. The "Google Doodle" was a colorful drawing of some woman.

"Hmm, who's that?" I thought, and clicked on it. Turned out, it was Jeanne Baret, the first woman who circumnavigated the globe. Reading that Wikipedia article, I learned that having private toilet facilities on the ship helped her disguise her gender and spared her from having to use the head on the ship.

"Hmm, what's a head?" I thought, and clicked on the link. Turned out, the head was an area of a ship where everyone went to... well, poop, basically, quite openly. (There are many quite descriptive images available on Google :).) In that article about toilets on ships, it mentioned that on submarines the toilet facilities are very difficult to build and operate - to the point that some ships have sunk because of it.

"What? Submarines sinking because of malfunctioning toilets?" I thought, so I clicked on the link. Turned out, a malfunctioning toilet was, indeed, the thing that led to the demise of U-1206, a German submarine.

The story is so spectacular I might just quote directly from the Wikipedia article for it:

"On 14 April 1945, 24 days before the end of World War II in Europe, while U-1206 was cruising at a depth of 200 feet (61 m), eight nautical miles (15 km; 9.2 mi) off Peterhead, Scotland, misuse of the new toilet caused large amounts of seawater to flood the boat. According to the Commander's official report, while in the engine room helping to repair one of the diesel engines, he was informed that a malfunction involving the toilet caused a leak in the forward section. The leak flooded the submarine's batteries (located beneath the head) causing them to generate chlorine gas, leaving him with no alternative but to surface. Once surfaced, U-1206 was discovered and bombed by British patrols, forcing Schlitt to scuttle the submarine. One man died in the attack, three men drowned in the heavy seas after abandoning the vessel and 46 were captured."

And this is why I so love Google. I learned all this because I opened an internet browser.

PS. What I am going to do with this knowledge is another matter altogether :D

Midwinter thoughts

On Sunday we returned from an overnight trip to lake Manapouri. The kids did super well. It was -3 C degrees during the night, but we wrapped them in big goosedown sleeping bags. Seemed to have worked out alright!

We were the only ones there - alone in a 40-bed DOC hut.

On the way back we set aside a couple of hours to pop on a ferry and explore the glow-worm caves on the other side of lake Te Anau. It felt eerily special doing it in the quietness of what is, ordinarily, a bustling tourist town - captain included, we were only 13 people on the ship. Inside the caves, we all fit on a single paddling boat.

Then, upon returning home, I discovered that Kim Hill had interviewed Jon Krakauer on Saturday morning. In that interview, Jon admitted that he had no intention of writing books any more.

I was, like, oh. Sad and glad at the same time: glad for Jon that he is allowing himself to be free of the intensity of work that goes into researching a book when he has, maybe, only about 10 more "good" years left in him, but sad for me for I am such a fan of his writing. 

So, I have wondered about Into the Wild and listened to Eddie Vedder's soundtrack.

It has led to further, old rock songs.

Meanwhile, I am reading a book called Herding Hemingway's Cats. It's a good read - I recommend it.

Life is quiet, sort of. Winter cold rain and thunderstorms pelt the coast, ground was white with hail this morning.