Treasure Hunting

One of my fellow bridgetenders, whom I met in my Drawbridge Lovers Facebook group, recently asked me if I had ever heard of magnet fishing. I had not. He suggested that I do a search for it on Youtube, so I did. And it opened up a whole new world for me.

What made him think of suggesting it, I believe, was a recent blog post that I wrote about never really knowing what’s beneath the surface of the water, and how easy it is to start believing there’s nothing there. In fact, there’s a whole world down there, just out of sight. It’s both exciting and a little scary to contemplate.

Magnet fishermen know this all too well. They attach a rope to a very strong magnet that’s about an inch thick and the size of your hand, and they toss it in rivers and canals to see what metallic detritus they can find. They’re modern day treasure hunters.

From the looks of the oddly compelling Youtube videos I’ve seen so far, mostly what they come up with is a whole lot of nothing. Cans. Broken fish hooks. Jagged chunks of metal. Lots and lots of garbage. (We humans have been treating our waterways like waste dumps for centuries.)

And yet I can’t seem to look away, because you just never know, do you? They might pull up some valuable historic artifact. Or a submerged safe. Or a murder weapon. Who knows?

They like to look around bridges and docks and places where factories once stood. They assume that with all the human activity, more stuff will have been dropped or disposed of. That makes sense. And it makes enough sense to keep them coming back.

If I were a magnet fisherman, I’d be checking out the ship canal here in Seattle. There used to be so many houseboats floating in Lake Union that you could barely see the water, I’m told. And there are several sunken ships down there. I’d also go to London and check out the Thames. Or the canals in Holland. Centuries of history there. I bet it would be fascinating.

I think this obsession with finding something amazing, in spite of the fact that we keep coming up with practically nothing, is a very strong human trait. Who among us doesn’t wish to change our stars? It’s why we buy lottery tickets.

I’m absolutely obsessed with the series The Curse of Oak Island, which is on the History Channel, and also available on Hulu, for that very same reason. Why do I sit there, episode after episode, season after season, when all they usually come up with is just more dirt? Because once in a blue moon, they find a button. Or a three hundred year old coin. That’s all I need to keep tuning in.

But the thing that makes magnet fishing even more appealing than digging holes in Oak Island is that while these guys are tossing their magnets in there, even if they come up with nothing of note, they’re helping to clean up the waterways. So even on a bad day, their activities are a plus for us all.

Hmm… Maybe I should buy myself a magnet…

(Thanks, David M, for the inspiration for this post!)

1000-pound-pull-force-fishing-34490

I’m proud to say that my book is available in paperback, kindle, and deluxe color edition! http://amzn.to/2mlPVh5

My Response to Search Queries

One of the great features that I get to take advantage of because my blog is on WordPress is the “search engine terms” feature. It lets me know what questions or phrases people have used to find one of my blog posts. (Never fear, it doesn’t tell me who is searching for what or even when, so if you recognize yourself below, rest assured that I do not.)

Can I just say that there are a lot of strange people in cyberspace? Some of them are so odd, in fact, that I feel the undeniable urge to interact with them. I’ve done a post like this before. But new levels of bizarre seem to have cropped up, so I thought it was time for another one.

What follows are honest to God search engine terms in bold, my response to them, and links to the blog posts these queries probably came up with.

  • Can psychopaths have friends? Actually, I’ve gotten many queries along these lines, and they never fail to make me sad. Yes, I used to have a friend who was a psychopath, for many, many years. I thought she was my friend, but was I hers? In retrospect, no. I must have served a purpose for a good long while, but as soon as I stopped serving that purpose, as soon as I started pushing beyond the boundaries that she established, it was over.

    If you’re making this query, dear reader, my first instinct is to tell you to find a better friend. Psychopaths, by their very nature, cannot and do not truly care about you. You deserve more. Set your sights higher. See also: My Friend the Psychopath.

  • Is it bad to change your favorite color? Well, I’ve done it. And the world didn’t come to an end. So I’d say no. A better question might be, “Why do I care if it’s bad to change my favorite color?” See also: Changing My Favorite Color.

  • Gas gauge empty pee, gas gauge montana pee. Okay, there’s a story behind this query. There has to be. And I’d love to hear it. But it probably sent you to a post about my trip through Montana when I was moving from Florida to Seattle.

  • Can you get addicted to acupuncture? Yes, I once wrote a blog post called Addicted to Acupuncture, but I didn’t mean literal addiction. I just liked the way that title rolled off my tongue. I apologize if this caused any confusion. I absolutely love acupuncture and highly recommend it. I can’t imagine how an actual addiction would be possible under these circumstances, but then, I’m no doctor.

  • Where are the best location for the drawbridge and why? Er… over a river? Where you need a lower bridge but taller vessels must still transit the waterway? I’m really not sure what you’re getting at, and I doubt any posts of mine were much help. This one must have just sent you to my blog in general. I hope someone was able to answer your question for you.

  • Why is he picking a fight with me? I have no idea. If he does it often, though, you may want to move on. This kind of thing can go downhill quickly. Take care of you. Good luck. See also: How to Become a Battered Woman.

  • Why are drawbridges so scary? I am sorry you feel that way. You’re not alone, though. I’m sad to say that quite a few people are frightened by them.

    The most common reason I’ve heard is that when you’re going across them, you can feel them move and bounce. But trust me, you do NOT want a rigid bridge. Rigid bridges can lead to disaster. We learned this with Tacoma’s Galloping Gertie. You really do want a bridge to be able to move and flex within reason, so it can adjust to shifting weights and winds and temperatures. If you don’t allow for that, the bridge will find a way, just like Gertie did.

    Other people are afraid of the open grating that many bridges have, as opposed to solid asphalt or concrete. This is to reduce weight and wind drag when they are up in the air. I used to be afraid of these grates, too, but trust me, they will support your weight. Buses and semi trucks cross over them all the time. If they can support that, they can hold up your car, your bike, and/or you. Just don’t look down. You’ll be okay.

    Other people are afraid that the bridge will open up while they are crossing it. There are a whole lot of safety systems in place that you aren’t aware of to prevent that. And most bridgetenders take their jobs very seriously. Do people get hurt on drawbridges? Yes, it happens. You can do a lot of very common sense things to make sure it doesn’t happen to you. First of all, DO NOT wear headphones or ear buds when crossing a drawbridge. You want to be able to hear the warning gongs that signal that a bridge is about to open. And if you see a red light, stop. If you see a gate go down, do not try to run past it or crawl under it.

    I’m sorry you are stressing out over this. I just suggest you stay safely outside the gates when a bridge is opening and enjoy the show! If you allow yourself to become fascinated with drawbridges, they won’t seem nearly as scary.

    This is another query that probably just sent you to my blog in general, but I’d also like to invite you to join my Drawbridge Lovers Facebook Page.

  • Construction man cement porn. Okay, I have no freakin’ clue why this brought you to me. And I’m not sure I want you to stay. Maybe you stumbled upon my post about Gender Specific Jobs? I don’t know. But I’m kind of worried about you.

  • Drawbridge jokes. If you know any, I’d sure love to hear them. But I got nothin’. Something about this job having its ups and downs? Yeah. I’ve never heard that one before.

  • Weird face. I sure hope this didn’t bring you to me because of my face. That would be crushing. But perhaps you stumbled upon my post about Uncanny Valley. That one has some weird pictures. It gives me the shivers just thinking about it.

  • How to hate alcohol. It just so happens that Why I Hate Alcohol is one of my most visited posts by far. It seems that there are quite a few people out there who hate it, and for very good reason. I think if everyone did, the world would be a much nicer place.

    Unfortunately, there’s no one who will be able to convince you not to like alcohol if you do, in fact, like it. The fact that you’re making this query leads me to believe you are ready to make a change, though. I wish you the best of luck.

  • Anorexic women with breast implants. Okay, I did write a post about Valeria Lukyanova who is the poster child for this. But I hope you didn’t just go there to “admire” the picture of her. My post was a cautionary tale. This woman is not healthy, and I hope you don’t want to emulate her.

  • Hoop skirt pee, and/or six inch heels. I wrote about the first topic because I was genuinely curious about how this maneuver was pulled off. But it seems to have drawn quite a few fetishists to my blog. I’m quite sure they leave very disappointed. And I think the photograph of the heels in another post (in which I was trying to explain how self-destructive humans can be) is the most viewed photo in my whole blog. That kind of makes me sad, because the post is informative, but I bet it’s rarely read. I wasn’t really trying to please pervs. Oh well.

  • Graffiti is like dogs peeing on lamp posts. I do tend to agree. But I have to say, some graffiti definitely approaches the level of art. And I think I said as much in my post entitled Sliz. It’s a shame these artists choose to destroy other people’s property instead of using their power for good.

So welcome to my blog, you fascinating, quirky people! Hope you’ll come back soon.

Welcome

Like the way my weird mind works? Then you’ll enjoy my book! http://amzn.to/2mlPVh5

Where are All the Bridgetenders?

Bridge operators are a quirky group. We like our privacy. We tend to be slow to trust. We like to be kings of our castles, so to speak. Plus some of us (not me, not anymore) work under some draconian rules and have to fear for our livelihood. That’s probably why there isn’t a widespread network of us out there. We aren’t communicating.

I think this lack of community is a pity. Not only would we benefit from sharing our best practices and telling each other about job openings, but it would be fun to exchange our crazy stories. I would dearly love to hear about and see other views from other drawbridges! So if you know anyone who knows anyone who knows anyone who opens a drawbridge for a living, please share this post with them, and also invite them to join my Facebook group The View from a Drawbridge, and my other group, Drawbridge Lovers. (Of course, the rest of you can join, too!)

Lets hope this whole 6 degrees of separation thing works, because I’m looking forward to meeting some fellow travelers! Anyone can be a part of Drawbridge Nation! You just have to open up! (Sorry. I couldn’t resist.)

09012015-drawbridge01
The Fremont bridge opens for a sailboat and a pontoon for the 520 bridge. (Ellen M. Banner / The Seattle Times)

Drawbridge Mentality

While searching the internet for things to put on my Drawbridge Lovers Facebook page (Join us!) I came across the term drawbridge mentality. Imagine my disgust as a bridgetender when I learned that it was an insult. Basically, someone with a drawbridge mentality moves to a community, and then does his level best to prevent anyone else from moving there, or from developing the area in any way. The implication is extreme selfishness and a feeling of, “I deserve this, but you don’t.”

draw

If that isn’t the immigration issue in a nutshell, I don’t know what is. As a second generation American, I have always felt rather uncomfortable with the idea that our borders should be closed. If that attitude had prevailed prior to WWII, I wouldn’t exist. And if I lived in a third world country, I’d move heaven and earth to try to give myself a chance at a better life, legally or illegally, so who am I to judge?

Without Immigration, we wouldn’t have:

  • John Lennon
  • Paul McCartney
  • Albert Einstein
  • Irving Berlin
  • Mother Jones
  • Sanjay Gupta
  • Levi Strauss
  • Igor Stravinsky
  • Bob Hope
  • Amy Tan
  • George Takei
  • Deepak Chopra
  • Rita Moreno
  • Cesar Chavez
  • Tito Puente
  • Andrew Carnegie
  • John J. Audubon
  • Liz Claiborne
  • Omar Sharif
  • Mario Andretti
  • Yo-Yo Ma
  • Ansel Adams
  • Sidney Poitier
  • Michelle Kwan
  • Michael J. Fox

All of these people either came to this country or were born of parents who did, and we are much a much better country for having them.

If you repair to your castle and raise the drawbridge, put alligators in your moat and lay in a steady supply of boiling oil, what you do is deprive yourself of invention, culture, wisdom, art, innovation, health and new ideas. The minute that drawbridge goes up, you begin to stagnate, to rot from the inside. That does not sound like an attractive option to me.