Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Cell Phone Mishap


For a number of years I avoided  having a cell phone. I didn't like the fact that everyone seemed to be connected to them like they were an integral part of their bodies. At the airport, as soon as people entered the terminal, out came the cell phones and they proceeded to call or text whomever. In the store I was privy to private or what should have been private conversations while I was checking out the baby carrots or cucumbers. On those occasions when I have to take a trip to Juneau on the ferry, it's not uncommon for three four or more conversations to be going on right in the main lounge, regardless of the time of day or night or who might be listening, intentionally or otherwise. I find cell phones very invasive. When we get together as a family during the holidays, cell phones seem to be part of the table setting,alongside the plates, silverware and napkins. Personally, I think people spend entirely too much time on them. That being said, several years ago when Jan and I were traveling down south, we were visiting our daughter Amber in Iowa in the fall. After we left and were on our way to the hotel, a tornado splashed down in the immediate area. We had no way to get in touch with the hotel, which had lost power and was totally black inside, so we passed by it several times looking for it. We couldn't contact our daughter or anyone else for that matter. It runs in my mind that we stopped at a roadside rest stop to use a pay phone which didn't work, and ended up driving almost to the Nebraska border before we could find a place to land for the night. That should have cemented it right there, we needed a cell phone, at least for traveling. However, being the ever wise man that I am, I held out a little longer- until fishing season. Most of the rest of the fleet conversed on cell phones as apposed to using the VHF radio, which used to be the most common way to call each other. I'm not too proud to admit that I frequently listened in on radio conversations between fellow fishermen to try and determine where they were fishing and if they were doing better than me, which they almost always were. My friend Fagan Skafelstad, who is a very good fisherman, finally told me he wouldn't talk to me on the VHF- I needed to get a cell phone if I wanted to know where he was and how he was doing. I still held out until a few years ago when I was going on a trip south to visit Buffalo Bob in Vermont. Jan was visiting her mother in Wisconsin, and we needed to be able to communicate, so I broke down and bought a cheap go phone from AT&T. It came in really handy, letting my friends and family know where I was and when I would be at such and such a place. I'm still not a big fan of them, but they do serve a purpose. Of course so does the atomic bomb in the right circumstances. Anyway, several days ago I was working on the boat. My phone was in my front pocket and I was doing chores in preparation for going back out fishing. I dumped the water out of my slush bag, which flowed into the bilge where the float switch should have activated the bilge pump. I waited for a moment, but the pump didn't come on. I opened the cover to expose the bilge and bent over to check the switch.When I did, the el-cheapo phone fell right into the bilge, swimming with the grease, fish blood, salt water, oily residue and whatever dirt and debris  had called the bilge home. I promptly pulled it out and rushed home to rinse it in cold water. For a moment, the phone buzzed and hummed and acted like it might make it, but alas, it's life was short lived. I looked on line to see what could be done to rescue it, and was surprised at the number of people who have dropped their phones into water. The most common being the toilet bowl. I don't know which is worse, the bilge or the toilet, but there is something less repulsive about the bilge. I can't help but wonder why people feel the need to take their phones into the bathroom with them, but it is what it is I guess. In any event, I now am the owner of a new, more expensive, more complicated phone which I now have to learn how to use. While there is always a chance that I MAY drop it into the drink or the bilge, there is almost no chance that I will ever be fishing it out of the toilet.

Monday, August 7, 2017

Raising the Roof






  When we first came on the scene in Hoonah, house fires were a common occurrence. It seems like there were two or three every year, especially during the winter time. I suspect most often that wood stoves were involved with the possibility that alcohol may have played a factor in some instances. In recent years, there fortunately have been considerably less fires, something that both homeowners and their insurance companies are grateful for I assume. A few years ago however, a home just a few houses away caught fire. It was a relatively new home, having been built in the past six or so years. The owner had just returned from spending the winter in Nebraska. No offense, but how is Nebraska any better than Alaska for spending the winter? Anyway, the first day home he decided to make a fire in the wood stove. I can't say whether any adult beverages were involved in the unfortunate incident or not, but the bottom line is, the house caught fire.  It was one of the larger homes in Hoonah, and at the time the owner wanted to make it even larger than the three floors it was comprised of. Fortunately, planning and zoning put the kibosh on that. While I applauded that decision, the same planning and zoning group allowed a trailer to be brought in from the logging camp and un-ceremoniously wedged between two newer homes. The trailer has a roof that extends well over two feet from the edge of the walls, no rafters, just the metal roofing, so that the snow, when it accumulated, bent the roof down on the ends so that it now covers about half the wall. To this date there still isn't an occupant in the trailer. Anyway, I digress. The house you see pictured in the above photos is the same one that caught fire a few years ago. At the time, the owner had family come up from Nebraska, and in record time they took off the roof and removed the third floor and replaced the roof. Now the new owner wants to restore it to a bed and breakfast and has decided a third floor would be an asset. I don't know all the ins and outs of this little project, but somehow the contractors managed to separate the roof from the rest of the house, and with hydraulic jacks and cribbing, raised the roof and are at this moment putting in the beams and studs and all the other house building materials  necessary to enclose the third floor. It was really strange. I went out fishing one day, came back two days later and saw this. I'm sure the contractors and owner are grateful that  a storm didn't choose now to make an appearance, or they might have been replacing the second and first floors as well. Never a dull moment in Hoonah.