The unsinkables.

If it’s Monday, it must be time for the Grosse Pointe North High School Cardboard Boat Regatta of 2014, now in its third or fourth year, always with new rules. This year’s were:

Cardboard and duct tape only for construction materials, with duct tape only along seams — no wrapping for stiffening. This year they were also warned not to try anything too fancy; evidently last year some group of wiseasses launched an enormous craft that had a second dinghy concealed onboard. They got to the far wall of the pool and launched the second boat — I’m imagining they were going for some sort of low-rent James Bond effect — and the whole thing sank. Stuff was sucked into the pool’s filtration system, the custodians were furious, and stern warnings were issued.

This, then, was Kate’s team’s entry. It was called the Poseidon, after all rejected Alan’s suggestion (Box of Rain):


Very utilitarian. Of course, Alan knows boats — not uncommon in a lakeside community full of sailors — and helped with construction, but his major contribution was to suggest the cardboard mailing tubes for gunwales and bulkhead stiffeners. No one else did it quite the same, but quite a few teams used tubes in other capacities; one made a pontoon out of cardboard post-hole forms, stuck a box on top, paddled it up and back, and scored the A. It wasn’t as pretty as Poseidon, but it worked.

Another rule: Two paddlers. Here they are, ready to launch:


I was concerned about the lack of freeboard, but it had a triple-layer bottom and the girls were able to paddle it while sitting flat on their fannies. If they’d ever done it together and maybe been better-matched, I think they could have won their heat. As it was, I think Kate dug in too hard and they got fouled up in the lane dividers. They didn’t get the big bonus for the win, but if your craft made it up and back without sinking or capsizing, you got the A. They did:

Others weren’t so lucky. A few sank at the dock, so to speak, and others capsized or went down mid-voyage. I think Poseidon could have done a few more laps easily, but upon completion, everything went into a special dumpster parked outside. Lessons learned:

  • Stability, stability, stability.
  • Duct tape is nice, but Gorilla Tape is better.
  • A parent who likes to make stuff is very helpful.
  • Have fun.

And now I think we’re done with these projects for a while. It doesn’t get more exciting than this, unless they build a rocket ship. (Kate’s taking astronomy next year; her school has, no shit, a radio telescope. Senior year, when the electives really become important, should be the best of the lot. We’ll see.)

And with that, I have to get to work on another extracurricular project, a grant application for a friend. So I leave you with this, which someone sent me today. It gives me hope, because obviously I wasn’t the only person who found Mitch Albom’s column yesterday ridiculous:


I would have made it “young person” instead. Stop listening to that Lady Geegaw, young person! The Beatles were better!

See you tomorrow…

Posted at 12:30 am in Same ol' same ol' |

23 responses to “The unsinkables.”

  1. Dexter said on February 11, 2014 at 2:58 am

    Oh yeah, with a little better turn, Poseidon wins the gold. Nice try, nice looking boat.
    In Detroit, Maurice Cheeks has been fired as Pistons coach. Apparently the brass thinks this shitty team has the tools to make the playoffs and the thought the coach was the problem, so they hired a gym rat assistant coach that nobody, but nobody but the most intense fans have even heard of. His name is Lowyer. He made his bones as an assistant to Lawrence Frank when Frank was the coach of the old NJ Nets. An assistant to another nobody, as Frank was a jock sniffer, a gym rat who just hung on and got to be a coach of two teams. I don’t chase around the internet seeing how much coaches are paid, but some are paid fortunes. I bet this Lowyer guy is the least paid coach in the entire league.
    Meanwhile, in MichaelG’s neck of the woods, a flying cop Supermans a thief off his escape bike.

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  2. Dexter said on February 11, 2014 at 2:59 am

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  3. Deborah said on February 11, 2014 at 4:57 am

    The video had me on pins and needles. Good job, Kate and her team. What fun.

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  4. coozledad said on February 11, 2014 at 7:50 am

    That is a nice boat. You could make that out of 1/2″ marine plywood and PVC and sneak up on the fishes in it.

    And that’s my seventh grade English teacher on the front. What’s she doing with the potato fork?

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  5. nancy said on February 11, 2014 at 8:06 am

    I should probably mention: One team was DQ’d, after their designated paddlers showed up drunk. I assume one was the girl I saw following her father from the main office out to the car, yelling “I’M NOT DRUNK.”

    Why the two remaining kids weren’t permitted to paddle, I don’t know.

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  6. beb said on February 11, 2014 at 8:25 am

    The Good Ship Lollipop has set sail. Shirley Temple Black has died at age 85.

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  7. Basset said on February 11, 2014 at 8:39 am

    I’m with Cooz, that would make a nice creek-fishing boat… just needs cupholders.

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  8. brian stouder said on February 11, 2014 at 10:33 am

    A great video*, and indeed, it looks like a marvelous event all around (drunk paddlers to the contrary notwithstanding).

    So the vessel was named Poseidon (a guy), and the portrait on the bow appears to be a (modestly dressed!) commanding mermaid… and I would give extra points just for that sly social/political commentary!

    *I have no sound at work; can we also hear the cheering and exhortations?

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  9. MichaelG said on February 11, 2014 at 10:51 am

    Nice looking boat and well done!

    Great take down of the bike guy. That was a fun video. That was on Freeport, just down the street from Taylor’s Market about which I’m always blathering.

    Here’s a fantastic, hilarious interview. Some dweeb at KTLA talking with, well being talked to by Samuel L. Jackson. Scroll down to second entry.

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  10. MarkH said on February 11, 2014 at 10:59 am

    Great effort by Kate & Co. and as others have said, a great and interesting design that would not have occurred to me.

    Taking the week off accompanying my wife at the Wyoming District Court Clerk confab in Cheyenne through tomorrow. The legislature is in session here as well and since I have a lot of time on my hands today and tomorrow…

    I’ll let you know how quickly the marijuana legalization bill dies.

    RIP Shirley Temple. BTW, beb, the Lollipop was an airplane, which is where Shirley sang the song in the film.

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  11. velvet goldmine said on February 11, 2014 at 11:04 am

    I love the video, the boat, the project…the whole thing. It’s a morning-brightener.

    The following listicle was a bit of a sour-er for me, on the other hand, and I’d be curious to read other takes. People — smart people — were swooning about this on my FB newsfeed. I, on the other hand, thought it read like GQ asshattery. Or maybe Esquire. Whichever one is always amped-up over putting something over on the more testosterone-challenged.

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  12. LAMary said on February 11, 2014 at 11:07 am

    I’m sure there were drunk kids in my high school but I wasn’t aware of them. When I was in high school the drinking age in NJ was 21 and in New York, spitting distance away, it was 18, so the weekends were full of “going upstate” to Rockland or Orange counties in NY, getting drunk at one of the bars right at the border, and driving back blind and barfing.

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  13. LAMary said on February 11, 2014 at 11:18 am

    I was in a meeting all day yesterday so I couldn’t comment, but I wanted to mention that several people in my household, while watching women’s speed skating, asked me why I had never done that. Okay, I’m half Dutch and I’m tall but what are they saying about my legs? One of the people suggesting this, who shares some of my genes, should go into speed skating. I think we all missed our calling.
    Go Nederlands.

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  14. brian stouder said on February 11, 2014 at 11:36 am

    Mary – Indiana’s drinking age has been 21 forever, but Ohio used to be 18 (at least for beer?) – and weekend nights you’d have any number of horrible crashes, usually involving kiddos, coming back west again.

    I think there was a drinkin’/dancin’ place many went to in Antwerp, Ohio…which the natives pronounce “Antwerp” – very soft on the ‘T’ and with an abrupt switch between the syllables.

    Anyway, I think Uncle Sam and the Federal highway money (or lack of same) compelled the end of that bloody parade of impaired underage drinkers

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  15. brian stouder said on February 11, 2014 at 12:07 pm


    “antWHUrp” (think Foster Brooks)

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  16. Dexter said on February 11, 2014 at 12:58 pm

    brianstouder: Indiana Road 8 becomes Ohio Route 18 towards Hicksville. There was a bad Indiana curve (I think over the years they engineered a lot of the danger out of it) but of course it became known as “Dead Man’s Curve.” For years , drunken teens cracked up their cars on that curve, some even going to Hicksville, but more trying to return home driving drunk. Several kids I had heard of but didn’t know died there. Fort Wayne kids , many of them, died on Route 37, sometimes tangling with the Amish buggies in the days before the Amish lighted heir rigs. Route 37 , The Fort -Hicksville,has many bad curves which claimed the lives of many teens who drank in Ohio. Kids could drink 3.2% beer only, but of course IDs were so easy to fake. My pals and I would drive to different Ohio towns to drink, but at first everyone converged on the Edon Steakhouse. Tom and Dorothy ran this shithole, Pabst Blue Ribbon for 30 cents in 1968, and that’s all everybody drank. PBR. Damn good stuff. I have the neck label from my first beer, stashed in an old wallet in a trunk in the attic. Once travellers saw the sign and came in and ordered a steak. Hah! The name was a joke, it had been years , if ever, when steak dinners were served there. They would grill a burger and serve chips…that’s it. By Defiance, a rural place called “Our Place” had rock and roll bands . In Van Wert, the same people ran a joint called “The Other Place”. I think there was a third place called “That Place” or something like that. These were Saturday night meccas for Indiana kids. Beer and pretty girls, how the hell could we stay away?

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  17. Joe K said on February 11, 2014 at 1:49 pm

    My day, mid 70’s it was the Madison house in Bronson Michigan. The WARF on Cold water Lake the bowling alley in Cold water and the Kinderhook carry out. Case of Carlings $4.99. Summers at lake Gage. Find a hay field get some beer hang with friends. 3.2 beer in Ohio, full strengh in Michigan. Learned you don’t buy alcohol you just rent it.
    Pilot Joe

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  18. brian stouder said on February 11, 2014 at 3:11 pm

    Birth of a nation’s new/old meme…President Obama is uppity

    Mr. Obama made the tongue-in-cheek remark as he toured Monticello, the Charlottesville, Va., estate of Thomas Jefferson, with French President Francois Hollande. The visit is part of Mr. Hollande’s three-day stay in the U.S. this week.

    The president delighted in his ability to “break the protocol” and view the Monticello grounds from a private terrace. “That’s the good thing as a president. I can do whatever I want,” Mr. Obama said.

    So the Moony Washington Times did say it was a “tongue-in-cheek” remark, so they have some room to walk back….but the article runs with a photo of the president with his feet on his desk.

    Ay yi yi.

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  19. Dexter said on February 11, 2014 at 4:24 pm

    Joe, I was 24 when I first hit “The Mad House” (real name Matteson House) but even then I was like Grampa there…it was definitely geared for very young drinkers. There was also an inordinate level of parking lot sex going on, it was quite a hookup place. This part I heard from younger friends because I definitely did not fit in , being so ancient, I left after an beer and never went back. But if you wanted it, it was easy to dance with a cutie and then bang her in the backseat before you knew her name.

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  20. Bitter Scribe said on February 11, 2014 at 4:33 pm

    Anyway, I think Uncle Sam and the Federal highway money (or lack of same) compelled the end of that bloody parade of impaired underage drinkers

    Same thing with Illinois underage drinkers going to Wisconsin, where the drinking age was 18. Route 12, crossing the border, became known as “Blood Alley.”

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  21. brian stouder said on February 11, 2014 at 4:48 pm

    Years ago, the Journal-Gazette, our morning paper, ran one of those long (long) Sunday pieces about our own “blood alley”.

    It was so well written and evocative that it made me a little bit sick; one detail I remember – after the utterly predictable progression of carload of kids/drink drink drink/trip home/horrible crash – was that the driver had been ejected from the car, and then the car rolled over him.

    His friends – or at least the ones who emerged more or less unhurt – rushed to his aid, and found that his eyes were wide and he seemed more terrified about (dad’s?) car, and as he laid there, he had blood streaming from his ears.

    He died by the roadside, thus ending another Saturday night/Sunday morning.

    I could never be a newspaper reporter

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  22. Joe K said on February 11, 2014 at 7:09 pm

    No comment. Lol.
    Pilot Joe

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  23. Bob (not Greene) said on February 12, 2014 at 12:34 pm

    Hey Brian, I just wrote this one — it’s a doozy!

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