Sunday, September 17, 2006

Sniffing copper.

One time several years ago I helped my dad out by offering to paint the underside of his sailboat - it was in the cradle in the springtime, and he was preparing the ship for when it would be lowered into the water by crane.

But first, a little something I know about copper. Mix zinc and copper together in a 60/40 ratio, and apply this to the underside of a ship, and it exhibits excellent biostatic qualities - known in shipping-circles as 'anti-fouling'. It prevents mussels, algaes, barnacles and things of that ilk from making their home, and in doing so, prevents them from reducing the hydrodynamic qualities of the underside of the ship. That way the boat will go 'zoom' and not 'squelch' as it zips around the oceans and lakes of our planet.

I guess in the early days the alloy (or pure copper until they figured out how to make it cheaper by alloying it with zinc) was nailed to the hull, but with the advent of fibreglass hulls, nails were no longer an effective binding mechanism. So someone at a paint company figured out how to add the biostatic substance to paint. I guess it isn't quite as hardy as sheets of metal, so I think it was the second time I'd painted it on in a few years. But before I go on about painting the bottom of the boat, let me tell you about my eyes.

I studied psychology in University and spent many evenings in the library reading medical and psychological journals - mostly for fun but also to keep the demons away. I'd been particularly anxious in my second year, and one late night came across an article about Kaiser-Fleischer rings which are a manifestation of Wilson's Disease.

Wilson's disease is an autosomal recessive defect in the copper metabolizing pathway in your cellular world. You end up getting copper accumulating in your liver, and later in your brain, and kidneys and in your corneas. What had caught my attention was something like this:

"Clinical Presentation: Neuropsychiatric sx-motor sx (tremor, chorea, decreased movement), loss of coordination of fine movements; personality changes; sz are infrequent; sensory abnormalities don't seem to occur."

I'd read something about anxiety/depression etc... in the original description I'd seen in the journal article. I probably left my cubicle, and went to the bathroom, and on my way out examined my eyes to see if I could detect any Keiser-Fleischer rings evident in my corneas. I saw them. Coppery-coloured deposits in my corneas. That's why I have greenish-brownish eyes. COPPER. OH MY GOD PANIC.

So the next morning I called the clinic and got an appointment with the school doctor. The nurse met me first in the office and took my history. She was older and big and I think she looked like an Olga or a Helga. To make a long story short, she sent me home after I explained my dire prognosis to her, but not before giving me a hug and telling me I needed to have more rest and to relax a little.

But anyway, back to painting that hull. I remember beginning to paint. The black, tarry paint was heavy with a slurry-like concoction of what seemed like iron-filings. As I painted it on, I inhaled more and more of the potent solvent that gave fluidity to the magic elements that would promise to keep creepy-crawlies away from the boat hull in the coming seasons. I remember my dad driving up to the shipyard after a few hours of my being left alone to paint, I remember him exiting the car, and I remember giggling furiously and trying to be composed while he made jokes with me about nothing at all, like, 'how about this weather?' and, 'are you hungry?' etc.... I was incredibly high from the solvent and it took a couple of uncomfortable hours for me to come down.

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Please may I have a Buck Saw?

I have honed and adjusted my camping kit in the past years, experimenting with different items - I am working towards a most minimal list of items for backcountry camping. If I had the freedom from work, I would spend a good month in the bush canoeing and exploring, every 6 months.

I suppose the trip that really taught me a lesson about weight and extraneous gear was the trip I took last September with my dad. The backcountry lake we were intending to canoe into has 9 permits available, and it was a busy weekend and we were just too late - I felt very stupid. The ranger told us if we portaged a bit we'd reach a lake with few campers if any at all. A bit. Because of the amount of gear my Dad and I brought with us, and the fact that we'd rented a 2-person canoe with the intention of only canoeing - we had a great deal of weight. It turns out we ended up portaging 19-kilometers just to get to the next lake, all of it with either a canoe strapped to my head and shoulders or carrying an awkard canoe-bag, certainly not amenable to hiking. A canoe bag is a thick, sturdy canvas sack designed to safely carry gear in a fairly waterproof housing, with thick leather straps attached for securing it.

And so I have spent considerable time, imagination and effort to reduce my load for trips. I have left my camp shovel (the folding variety) behind - I can use a sharpened stick for digging, etc... etc... Weight in a back-pack adds up by the grams, and lightness is gained from gradually overall reduction. But some items are indispensable: I have a camping axe, which is useful for many things - primarily for felling deadwood and splitting logs for firewood - but once you have a long tree laying on the ground, the best way to cut it is with a saw.

And this brings me to the reason I started writing this post: I want a Buck Saw. Bucking wood is the act of cutting boughs and logs into manageable pieces. I want item 'A' in the image below this quote - Lee Valley's web site describes it thusly:

"Buck saws are ideal for cutting firewood or for felling and bucking trees (up to 6" in diameter), but are not usually portable. These well-made modern versions are.

Available in two sizes – 18" and 24", the saws pack up into a compact 1-3/8" dia. by 19" and 1-3/8" dia. by 25" size respectively for easy transport or storage. The open A-frames have 6-1/4" throats and are made of lightweight anodized aluminum. The Swedish steel blades have an aggressive cutting action that is both fast and easy to control. Both saws assemble in under a minute and pack up neatly in the largest handle part.

The highly portable 18" version is an ideal accompaniment for camping, backpacking, etc. The 24" model, with its longer, more comfortable stroke and greater speed, is best suited for trips to the wood lot."

*Wouldn't you know it - 12 hours after I posted this, I get an e-mail from Ray Mears' company stating they have just added a new item to their online store - a folding buck saw. But of course I don't know what it looks like and I want to see an image first begore I decide this is better than the one posted above. The description begins with -
"As salt is to pepper, this saw is to the axe. They complement each other perfectly."

Anyway, by the time we reached the end of the portage I was pumped full of endorphins, and felt wonderfully drugged up and happy and like I could walk for hours. We canoed the last kilometer as daylight rapidly vanished (it was mid September) and we clamboured onto shore as the sun spent its last 10 minutes in the sky. We immediately directed our efforts to making camp - Dad was terrific at putting up the tent and arranging the gear and I drank a beer while lighting the fire. That or the next beer were maybe the nicest beers I remember drinking:

Friday, September 8, 2006

I got dugg...

Well, I got dugg... and instead of my roughly one dozen daily dedicated Mungo says bah readers, since this afternoon, I've had roughly 7,000 readers. Bah!

Thursday, September 7, 2006

How to delete all cookies in Firefox on closing, EXCEPT for those from selected domains!

*Note this has been updated for Firefox 2.0 here - June 4, 2007:

How To Delete Cookies in Firefox Except from Particular Sites like Google - Exceptions in Privacy Control

Using the Firefox ‘Clear Private Data tool’, I set my privacy settings on my Firefox to clear the following when closing:
  • browsing history
  • saved form information
  • download history
  • cache
  • authenticated sessions

Trouble is, when I needed to log into Gmail, maintain my Google search preferences, keep my Digg login active, New York Times login, my Blogger login – you name it, I had to re-submit my credentials each time.

Now, Firefox doesn’t seem to have a ‘Delete all cookies except the following’ feature under a fancy button entitled ‘Delete all cookies except the following feature’. But here is the way to do it without installing any add-ins or extensions

Select the Options feature from the Tools option in the File Menu:

Under the Privacy region, select the Cookies tab.

Select ‘Allow sites to set cookies’, make sure the 2 checkboxes beneath that are un-checked (‘for the originating site only’ & unless I have removed cookies set by the site’), ensure the drop-down option box for the item ‘Keep Cookies’ equals ‘until I close Firefox’.

Now, here’s the good part. The Exceptions button beside the ‘Allow sites to set Cookies’ option contains the important elements.

I have added several domains for which I wish to have the cookies retained on my system, and you will see how I am adding ‘’ to my list. Choose ‘Allow’ to add this domain to your list, and then click ‘Close’. Then click ‘Okay’ on your Options window, and then exit out of Firefox.

Once you open it again, you will be able to visit the sites for which you have allowed cookies to be retained and you won’t need to log in again - i.e. the cookies remain, while all others are deleted.

This will save me much annoyance - and I hope it saves you much annoyance too.

You can go home with Mungo now.

Saturday, September 2, 2006

Wildlife Illustration

I was very interested in wildlife illustration as a kid, my parents bought me books by Keith Brockie and Glen Loates who I met at White's bookstore in Oakville and he signed a book for me and made an illustration of an eagle for me. I dreamed that one day I would be able to draw like Glen Loates and live a gypsy life like I pictured Keith Brockie lived.

In the summer between grade 8 and grade 9 - between leaving public school and gearing up to going to private school which I had written a test to get into and had passed with much excitement and pride - I was in the old section of the town in which I grew up. I had a sketch book and set of pencils with me and was tucked into a grassy fenceline drawing an old house. A skinny old woman walked by and asked to look at my work. Later on she ended up being a major artist, but more importantly, turned out to be an art professor at the private school I attended for the next year. She gave me a few suggestions and remembered my name. I remember hers - Betty something.

I think I should start drawing again. I'd like to get good at it.