Jun 04 2011

Reflections on a Year

Tag: UncategorizedJonathon Haradon @ 4:39 am

Exactly six months ago Karen and Matt left Syzygy in my decidedly nervous, questionably capable hands. I was both looking forward to and filled with trepidation at the idea of being ‘the captain’ and with no other owner within 6000 miles.

I survived a flood, one of the more hair-raising situations of my life. It was easily the longest continuous amount of time I’ve had to walk the line of near catastrophe. I did some single-handed sailing. I ran aground. Twice. I made some bad calls, and some conservatively good ones. I began to wear with more ease the badge of captain and the load of responsibility that Matt correctly predicted I would feel with him gone. He was also right in knowing that him being gone and my captainhood would add a dimension to my Syzygy experience that I will forever cherish and be proud of.

I did more work on the boat in the four months between December and March then I had during the last three years of our ownership. And there is a sizable amount of work ahead in the next two months. For two years I mostly watched from afar in Colorado as Matt and Jonny worked on her, and then I spent another year feeling that I had somehow let down our enterprise and myself by not being able to contribute when I was slated to. Now, I feel absolved of my own torment on the issue and proud of what I’ve accomplished in upgrades and maintenance. And after a while, the neophyte actually started to know what he was doing. People were offering to pay me to work on their boat, fix this or sew that. Boomsticks!

I have had an outstanding time sailing the Australian coast. With Justin along, I’ve seen some beautiful places. Lady Musgrave probably tops the list; Bait Reef, the Whitsundays, Magnetic Island, and the reefs off Cairns were other beautiful places. The overnight sails that Justin and I did were noteworthy for how peaceful and contemplative I felt while looking up at the stars and out at a relatively calm sea. I’ve surpassed Matt and Karen in time spent on Syzygy traveling (though not even close in miles traveled). Dolphins, turtles, spear-fishing, diving, sailing with gorgeous islands all around; I’ve had a grand time.

And now, it’s time for my trip to end. I’ve decided after much contemplation and reflection that I’ve achieved for myself what I needed and wanted on this trip. Continuing on will not net me more of what I want. Yes, I could see more beautiful places, have amazing experiences, get into some more trouble. But in my heart, I know I’ve reached a point where there’s a next stage in my life to move on to.

At some point, I had thought my choices would make this trip an impossibility for me. And then, in the end, I had a second chance to go. I still reflect upon the wrenching of emotions that happened in those stages. For a significant time afterwards, the emotional wresting back and forth continued to inform my emotional state and choices, and because of those choices it affected, it subsequently still dramatically affects my life. The feeling that I needed to take advantage of this time, of the possibilities of this trip, has only recently run its course and abated. Now that it has, I am ready to start the next stage of my life. I am ready and excitedly want to give other aspects of my life a try. I don’t know what is going to happen, but I want to at least give it a try. New opportunities await and new adventures are possible.

I can point to many reasons for my reflections. I miss my family. Skyping doesn’t quite cut it and my niece is growing up. I want to see her, my sister, and my parents more often. I miss my friends and feeling as though I am part of a social network. Cruisers are great people, but it seems the social network is ephemeral and, as people sail where they will, transient. I want to be back in a tighter social fabric. I miss making money. Australia is abhorrently expensive and vacationing and cruising when trying to pinch pennies has begun to be wearisome. I miss a sense of purpose beyond hedonistic enjoyment. Which basically means I miss working. Or having something productive on my mind other than wondering how much fun or relaxation can I have. People with jobs may crucify me and perhaps I will regret thinking this 6 months after returning to the States, but I look forward to being enterprising and challenging my mind in ways the boat, even with it’s constant demand for maintenance and work that is either new to me or that I don’t quite understand, does not do. A catalytic reason, I miss my girlfriend, and have been gone too long.

So I’ll be returning to the States soon. The plan is to leave Cairns in about one week and sail the boat back to Brisbane, where we hope to berth at East Coast Marina in Manly. I’ll be doing some final work there, cosmetic really, making the boat look as pretty as possible for the next owners. There is also laborious process to go through in order to sell a boat in Australia. My Australian visa ends August 25th, so that’s my time limit.

For perspective buyers reading this, please see our ‘Syzygy is For Sale‘ page for detailed information on all the systems of Syzygy, equipment lists, photos pertinent to prospective buyers, and an asking price. Please don’t hesitate to contact me with any questions or to set a time to either see Syzygy or take her out on a sea-trial.

So now I am transitioning into a new phase of my life. A whole myriad of options are possible and my excitement is palpable. I will be continuing to blog through the sale of the boat, and to our readers, I can only say thank you for your time and thinking that Syzygy’s little corner of the blogosphere was something worth paying attention to.

The entire experience of Syzygy has been extraordinary for me. It has tested my in ways I would have never thought possible. My path over the last six years and particularly the last two has been stupefyingly unpredictable. I am a different person than I was six years ago; a better one I hope. And with that evolution in hand, in hand to depend on, in hand to reflect and smile upon, in hand to be proud of, and in hand to remember the mistakes and learn from them, I’m heading home to a new phase. And I’m excited as ever.

Oct 12 2010

musings on Time

Tag: Uncategorizedmattholmes @ 12:34 am

The only reason why I’m posting this is because I’m writing it in one sitting, late at night, and after some drinks, so keep that in mind. Editing be damned.

So I’ve been doing some thinking about Time, Time with a capital “T”, Time in the sense that physicists talk about Time, and these are my thoughts:

Time as humans think of it is an illusion, resulting from a curious combination of the laws of physics together with the biology of memory. These thoughts that I will discuss are not new; many smart people know of it, and allude to it. Most recently, Brian Greene convinced me that he is clued in, in “Cosmos”, and Neal Stephenson convinced me that he, too, is in the club, in “Anathem”. I come across hints of other indoctrinees occasionally, so I am well aware that I am talking about old ideas. Truthfully, the only reason I have resorted to this sort of introduction, naming names, is so that you are more inclined to give my explanation here a chance. I’m not the only one, is what I’m saying. Other people get it. Just because it doesn’t agree with our sensory observations doesn’t mean you should dismiss it out of hand. Undoubtedly all sorts of physicists and possibly even mystics have a feeling for the notion of Time that I am going put forth here, but the trick is to get some to listen to you. Right now I don’t care, which is why I’m writing. It all just seems so counterintuitive; no one (that I know) will listen to me. Jon thinks I’m silly with these ideas, Gary won’t accept them either, so I wonder whether I’ve gone off the deep end this time.

But here’s the thing: although it feels wrong, as humans, it feels ever so right, as a physicist. When I finally put it together, I had an “ah hah” moment, one of those “of course this is that way it is” feelings, because it explains so much, it makes so many puzzle pieces fit into place, and just like a puzzle suddenly a much bigger picture suddenly clarifies. I’m missing many pieces; much is still very unclear to me; it is likely that I am wrong about quite a few things. However, I feel very strongly that the overall sense of Time as I explain it here is accurate, because it makes so much sense of so much unexplained physics. Just as a Roman may not be able to explain exactly how the sun comes up and the seasons change, and yet nevertheless the explanation that our earth is rotating and we are orbiting around the sun seems so very powerfully helpful in deciphering that mystery, SO TOO I have an abiding sense that these ideas about Time are powerfully explanatory in a way that cannot be wrong–and that even though I may not have a 10th of the answers required to fully enumerate the theory, nevertheless the truth must incorporate as a special condition these very ideas, because they seem to me at this point to be self-evident. When it came together for me, it was a eureka moment, and I said to myself “of course this is the way it is!”.

Okay now that you are sufficiently primed, I will start in with the explaining. I will give you the conclusion, and then I will lead you down the path to reach the conclusion.

We feel that there is a past, present, and future. We feel that there is a single moment of time that is the present, a privileged moment; we feel that there is a portion of the universe that is over and done with, and we call it the Past; and we feel that there is an indeterminate portion of the universe that has not yet happened, that is yet-to-be, and we call this the Future. The Present is a single instant, illuminated like a spotlight, moving forward through history at some pace, that both the Past and the Future are inaccessible, and that the only thing that exists is the Present moment. That is the common view, that is what we feel, what we know of life.

This is an illusion. The history of human thought is filled with examples of species self-centered thought which has proven to be mistaken. We once thought that we were the center of the Earth, around which a disc of flat ocean encircled us. We once thought that we were the center of the universe, around which the Sun and everything else rotated. We once thought that our solar system, even with the Sun at the center, was the center of the larger universe, around which everything rotated. We were once ABSOLUTELY CONVINCED of all of these things, and yet we were wrong, wrong, and wrong. We should be skeptical of what our senses indicate to be de facto truth!

Here’s the truth of this one: Time is an illusion. The passage of Time is an illusion. There is no Past, Present, and Future in the universe; it is a conceit resulting from arrow of Time (Second Law of Thermodynamics) coupled with the nature of human memory.

Let’s revert to kindergarten and use stick figures to draw each second of our life on a piece of 1ft x 1ft clear plexiglass with a sharpie. If you are 32 years, old, go to TAP plastics and purchase a little over 1 billion sheets of thin plexiglass and use a sharpie to draw each second of your life, reduced to the bare essentials of plot (think kindergarten here) on these sheets. Now take all of them and line them up in one continous block of Life. Each sheet represents a single second of your existence.

This stack of plexiglass moments, altogether in one unbroken block, represents the universe as it actually exists. Select one sheet of plexiglass at random, just slip one out, and interrogate the “you” of that particular slice about Past, Present, and Future, and that version of “you” will answer that she happens to reside in the one and only Present, and that the Past is behind her and the Future is ahead of her. Pick another plexiglass page at random, and the answer will be the same. Every single iteration of “you” in that stack will think that they are in the one-and-only Present, and that the Past has already happened and the Future is ahead of them. In that stack of plexiglass moments, no one sheet is more real, or “now”, than any other. They all exist, “simultaneously” if you will (though now we run up against the constraints of our syntax in providing the best imagery, since “simultaneous” is clearly defined within our conventional notion of “time”), and no one moment is more privileged than another. All of our “selves” in that plexiglass block of time are equally real, and every single one of them thinks that she is in the present and “moving through time”, because moving through time is AN ILLUSION.

This illusion of time arises from a combination of the second law of thermodynamics together with the nature of human memory. If you start out with a deck of cards all nicely ordered from 2 to Ace and in their respective suits too, and you shuffle it, you know that when you turn the deck over they will be less organized and more of a mess than they started out as. The principle that drives the evolution of the state of cards is the same principle that results in our sense of time, and you may be disappointed to discover that it arises from mere statistics. The past is an ordered deck of cards, and the laws of physics are the rules for shuffling the cards, and the result is, inexorably, a less organized state of affairs. We no more expect the universe to go backwards in time, as we expect a deck of cards to put itself back in order, and this is the thing: every microscopic, subatomic, interaction in the universe must obey the same statistics, and as a result, the macroscopic, large-scale world that we see seems to evolve in a particular direction. We call this the “arrow of time”, and it results from the “Second Law of Thermodynamics”, which is sometimes stated as “entropy always increases”, and otherwise you can think of as the same rule that means the deck will get more random the more you shuffle it.

Take the three hundred pages of a book, and throw them in the air. When they come down, will they fall in order 1 to 300, just so? Of all the inconceivably enormous ways in which the pages could come down together, there is only one in which they will be all in order, and there is an inconceivably larger number of ways in which they will be out of order.

Our world is comprised of an indescribably, inconceivably enormous number of particles, which comprise everything that we see and know, and all of these particles follow those same laws of statistics. Every moment, the particles are metaphorically “thrown in the air”, and every moment they come down less ordered than they started out. These statistics cause there to be a “forward” and “backward” in time. The statistics define a direction. Though there is no one single Present, Past, and Future, there is a definitely a distinction between moving “forward” and “backward” in time. There is an “arrow of Time”, as physicist refer to it, that results from the simple fact that the world we know of consists of countless billions of particles that are constantly interacting in ways that cause the deck to be more random, as it were.

This forwardness and backwardness, this distinction between forward and backward, this arrow of time, is what gives us the illusion of being in the Present, and as follows:

We can only form memories of the Past. Statistics causes the “backward” direction of Time to be more “knowable” in a way, than the future. In the shuffled deck, you can make memories of it being all in order! You can make memories of the more ordered state, you can make memories of the “past”, but you cannot make memories of the future. This is not because it has “not yet happened” as we usually say! In the plexiglass block of time slices, the “you” from each slice is capable of forming memories of the universe in only one direction–this results from the statistical evolution of the universe!

Memory is biased; memory is what makes you feel like you are moving through time. Memory gives you knowledge of the moment previous, but not the moment to come; memory makes you feel as if you are always on the edge of the Present. Memory separates the universe into two halves: Past and Future, and makes you feel like you are riding right on the line between the two. This is an illusion!

Take yourself above and outside it all, and consider the stack of plexiglass moments of time, every second of your life already laid out. Pull out each stack and interrogate your own self in that moment, and the “you” of that moment will have a memory of their past, and not of their future, and will think that they are in the one and only Present moment. But they all think they are in the Present! In every single slice, they think they are in the one and only privileged Present, because in every single slice, the version of you in that slice has a knowledge and memory of one half of the plexiglass universe, and a total inability to know anything about the other half, and as a result every version of you feels poised in the Present moment. I think I’m repeating myself. If Gary’s reading, I consider it my duty to do so–take that, naysayer! Listen to it a few more times, biotch, until you give it an honest chance!

There will be objections that this is a deterministic universe, and that there is no free will. Some will complain that in my explanation, everything is already determined and nothing we can do will change anything. That is both true–and an inaccurate way of looking at it. The universe IS; all of Time, past and future, is part of it. We can never know the future, determine the future, or change the future, because there is NO FUTURE. It is an illusion. Everything is “already done”, if you will. Every interation of us is simultaneously feeling as real as any other. We are all in existence, “simultaneously” if you must cling to our inferior syntax, and every slice of ourselves “feels” the Present as strongly as any other. And no one single slice can feel the mindset of another; no single slice can have the knowledge or the perspective of their own iteration in a different slice–which is exactly why all of us feel like the very only privileged one.

I’m done for now. I’ve started to write something about this many times, and always give up because I sound a bit mad, and I don’t have all the answers, and I haven’t had enough to drink to start blabbing on as I have been here. In another installation I’ll try to convince you that this viewpoint of Time, i.e. that looking at Time in this way, makes sense of many other generally counterintuitive aspects of physics (and thereby hopefully provide some more compelling evidence than just a good explanation). It makes clear sense of special relativity, and it may even be able to resolve the difficulty that all sensible people have with quantum mechanics. I’m not yet sure, but I don’t think that this view of Time is the same as Einstein’s hidden variable interpretation, which has been conclusively routed by Bell’s inequality (i.e. EPR paradox and the victorious copenhagen interpretation). I feel somehow that, because this idea showcases the symmetry of time on the non-statistical scale, the contradictory aspects of some experiments in QM may make intuitive sense. What if the parting pair of entangled particles must obey the rules of the future as equally as the past? Is it not sufficient to explain the faster-than-light communication between them? Perhaps not. Smarter people than me have been thinking about this for a long time, so I expect that Bell’s inequality will limit my views of Time in some fashion–we cannot avoid the randomness in any case, but I’ll finish with this: it can only help us to start thinking of Time as it really is, and dispensing with this illusion we have of a privileged Present moment.

Sep 16 2010

Engine Repair Part 2

Tag: UncategorizedJonathon Haradon @ 1:45 pm

After spending three days relaxing, hanging out in cafes, recovering from sailing so much the last two weeks, we decided we were ready to move on to other anchorages in Tonga.  Our engine had other plans.

The engine performed admirably since Matt and I patched it, motoring for ten hours or more enroute to Tonga.  But less than 60 seconds after having left the mooring we were at just off Neifu, less than 60 seconds into our foray into the fun side of Tonga and away from the cafe side of Tonga, the exhaust manifold sheered a bolt again.  And snapped the hose clamps we had added.  Back to the mooring ball.  Back to Aquarium requesting additional days on the mooring.  Back to mind-numbing cafes.

We formulated a new plan which involved putting all efforts into getting out the sheered bolt that still had the extractor bit inside it.  Then, we would construct a bracket to brace the heavy exhaust elbow infrastructure, hopefully reducing its vibration and consequently its tendency to sheer.

The next morning I took a taxi to the hardware stores and purchased eight new drill bits.  Getting out the extractor bit would be no easy task.  I then set upon trying.  I drilled.  1 bit broke.  And another.  And another.

Four hours later, I was exhausted, frustrated, indignant, furious, and capable of going no further.  I opened a beer and popped in an episode of West Wing.  One episode turned in to ten as I drowned my misery and anger in escapism.

The next day, Matt took his turn.  Similar results ensued.

The next day, I took the drill.  Our engine block at this point had drill holes down all four sides of the bolt with the extractor bit in it.  We had broken nearly a dozen drill bits.  Dulled beyond use another dozen.  Used drill bits ranging from 3/64” up to 1/2”.  The gauge around the extractor bit was twice as big as the bolt that originally went through it.

And then, after more multiple hours of drilling,  the extractor bit wiggled.  The smallest of movements!  This tiny victory buoyed my spirits as I drilled for another hour until it was finally freed!  Celebration ensued.  Much beer was drank.

The next day, Matt re-tapped holes into the engine block.  They are suspect, as the holes we tapped are 5/16” coarse thread instead of the original 5/16” fine thread.  And the hole which originally had the extractor bit inside the bolt in it, well the surface of that bolt hole is gouged down so far that very few threads seem to actually contact the new fine thread bolt.

We enlarged the bolt holes going through the exhaust manifold.  And most importantly, Matt added a beefy bracket that definitely reduced vibration in the exhaust elbow.

Four days later, we were ready to leave again.  We turned on the engine.  We waited anxiously.  Straining our ears for odd sounds.  Squinting our eyes to look for unusual vibration.  All appeared normal.  Maybe it worked!

We gingerly left Neifu and went exploring some other anchorages in Tonga.  Now in Fiji, the engine has motored plenty and is holding up fine.  We have guests arriving though, Gary, Anna, and Allison, and if the engine wanted to break again, now would be a most inopportune time to do it.  We really hope it doesn’t!

Sep 16 2010

Engine Repair Part 1

Tag: UncategorizedJonathon Haradon @ 1:39 pm

While on watch during my midnight to 4 am shift, the wind began to die.  We had been flying just our jib sail.  However, I thought flying the drifter would be a better choice and so set about changing it.  Since we were flying only the jib, I  needed to roll it up and then set the drifter.  Since between having the jib rolled up, and letting out the drifter there are minutes, sometimes many minutes because I sometimes have problems getting the drifter set, where we have no sail up.  To keep us moving in the right direction and not just bobbing around randomly, we turn on the engine.

So it was with the engine on that I moved onto the fore deck to finish setting up the drifter.

And then the engine shut off.  Matt popped his head up from the companionway and motioned me back.  Smoke he said, was being emitted from the engine room.  This is bad.  Ironic though it may seem to a sailboat, severe problems with the engine are one of the worst things that could go wrong.

The smoke was exhaust from the engine.  Normally, the exhaust goes from the combustion chambers inside the cylinders, out the engine block and into the exhaust manifold.  From the manifold, it exits to our new, heavy duty exhaust elbow, through some tubing, through the water-lift muffler, through some more tubing, and finally out the boat.

Now, the exhaust was going into our boat.  Bad.

Two of the four bolts that that hold the exhaust manifold to the engine block sheered off.  THEY WERE 30 years old, so you have to give the bolts some acknowledgment for lasting that long.  The new, heavy duty exhaust elbow Matt had installed a year ago probably contributed to increased vibration and force on the bolts holding the manifold.  But they were 30 years old.

The next day we start in on the work, drilling out the part of the bolt that was left behind in the engine block.  The bolts are corroded.  They don’t want to turn.  They are steel.  Our drill bits are dull.  Did I mention that the boat is rocking back and forth while sailing towards Tonga?

One drill bit dulls.  Another drill bit breaks.  Matt takes a breather and I give it a go. A drill bit breaks.  Another drill bit breaks.  Cursing ensues.

Matt gets back into it.  One of the bolts comes out.  After a while, he decides he has drilled enough of a divot into the other bolt that he wants to try using an extractor bit.  These bits are conical shaped and reverse threaded on the outside.  The idea is that as you drill them into the divot, they will force the bolt to spin the other way and the bolt will follow its threads out the hole.  Nice theory.  Terrible in practice.  Extractor bits, we will later realize, are forged from the blood of the devil and hardened as if they were the devils own stone heart.  Extractor bits are pure evil.

Matt snapped off the hardened steel extractor bit inside the bolt which is inside the engine block.  Large amounts of cursing ensues subsequently followed by large amounts of beer drinking to end the day.

The next day, we formulated a new plan.  Leave the extractor bit in the old bolt, doing nothing to help fasten the exhaust manifold there, put in a new bolt for the one we got out, and then put on hose clamps around the exhaust manifold and part of the engine.  Along with new gaskets, we hoped the hose clamps would dampen the vibration, and help squeeze the manifold towards the engine.

With everything put back together, it looked… suspect.  the hose clamps were fastened to a heavily corroded fitting on the exhaust manifold, bent through a 90 degree turn and over a slight bend on a different axis.  It looked janky.  We fired up the engine with our fingers crossed.

And it worked.  Exhaust went out the boat.  Not into the boat.  Hopefully this will hold up until we get to Fiji with larger cities and bigger stores and where friends can bring us spare parts to help with a more permanent fix. Tonga is just too small.  Here’s hoping.

Sep 16 2010

Shark Bait

Tag: UncategorizedJonathon Haradon @ 1:35 pm

Shark bait

As we were leaving Beveridge Reef, sailing out through the pass, it occurred to me that I should take one more look at the pass through the reef.  The snorkeling and diving we had done in the pass over the last two of days was the best we had done for shark watching, schools of large fish such as grouper and bumphead parrot fish, and large coral formations forming canyons.  One last look was worth the effort.

So while Matt sailed out through the pass, I put on my flippers, mask and snorkel, put out a tow line, and then lowered myself down from the swim ladder.  We were slowly cruising along at about 4 knots, much faster than I could swim, but I could easily hold onto the swim ladder as the water rushed around me.

We were in a particularly shallow area at the time, a depth of perhaps only 15 feet.  It’s a tenuous feeling watching your boat rushing by the sea floor, less than 10 feet away.  I relayed up to Matt we should steer further to port for deeper water.

We then sailed directly over where we had snorkeled/dove the day before, on the North side of the pass.  The schools of fish were there, I saw the interesting coral formations, including the arch I swam through.  And of course the sharks.  Dozens of sharks lazily drifted around, mostly close to the bottom of the sea floor, about 50 feet down, though some were more shallow.

We sailed slowly by, at 4 knots moving slowly enough to look at everything again.  Quick enough that we passed by faster than my memory wanted it to.

And then four sharks peeled off from the main group and started following us, interested in, I believe, what they thought might be some food.  Me.

It occurred to me later that I looked quite a bit like the lines we trail behind our boat when we sailing on passage, trolling  and trying to catch fish.  Just a bit bigger.  Shark sized bait, you might say.

I let that go on for about three more seconds before I quickly pulled myself up out of the water and onto the swim ladder.  I might have been within 10 feet of the sharks while diving, but sharks tailing me like they were looking for food… too much.

Jun 16 2010

On the Effects of Toughness, Derision, and Arrogance of Nonos

Tag: Uncategorizedmattholmes @ 10:42 am


(written 5/27)

The guidebooks say to beware of getting bitten up by “nono” bugs on some of these beaches.  The guidebook for this anchorage states “The clear water provides excellent diving and shelling although the beach has many nonos.”  These nonos were a frequent topic of conversation among some of the puddle-jumpers before reaching the Marquesas–people were choosing or avoiding a destination based on whether nonos were reported to be present.  I was dismissively skeptical.  Inside my brain, I laughed at them for being sheltered little white babies afraid of bugs.  I pictured these types as the same ones who won’t go outside because of mosquitoes, or the ones who hike with one of those dorky hot uncomfortable mosquito-netting face bubbles because they don’t want a single bug bite.  Bugs were not going to dissuade me from visiting a place, let me tell you what.  Please, people, are we going to cross an ocean and then be afraid of getting a few bug bites?  

My arrogance on this matter is being revisited on me ten-fold.  Karen and I visited the beach both yesterday and the day before yesterday, and although we were unaware of it, apparently we encountered nonos.  Millions of them, potentially.  Last night hundreds, perhaps thousands of bites materialized across our backs and arms and legs, little red welts that itch furiously.  My back looks like some sort of chickenpox redux.  I am desperate to itch; it is difficult to concentrate on anything with the itch distraction;  I am barely containing the urge to scratch my entire back right off.  

These nonos are legit, my friend.  They are little ninja biters, is what they are.  You can’t see them, you don’t know when they’re attacking you, you don’t know when to run, you’ll just sit there getting eaten up, oblivious to the danger.  Invisible flying minions of the devil.  I felt nothing.  Then at night I have a bite-ridden body.  How do you avoid them when you can’t see them or feel them?  Henceforth, I will go to the beach defensively armored for battle.  T-shirt and shorts minimum, with a prophylactic misting of deet juice.

It makes me think: surely one must develop an immunity to these bugs over time.  If I was a native living on this beach, it would only take a week worth of this hellish itching before I got my ass out of here.  It would be unbearable to live on this beach permanently if it meant always being a pincushion of itchy welts.  I was only exposed for an hour or so–hell if you were out there all the time it would be an ugly sight.  So maybe after a while the bites don’t raise itchy welts–that would make sense to me.  But if there’s no immunity to develop, how the hell did the original Marquesans live on these beaches?  A) they didn’t live directly on the beach B) one develops immunity over time C) they got bitten and ignored it because they are 2 orders of magnitude tougher than me.  Now, no doubt they were tougher than me, so the answer could be C, but I’ll bet you three pamplemousse that the answer is B.  Smarties out there, can you enlighten?

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