Wednesday, September 28, 2016

October Surprise? East Coast Tropical Storm Late Next Week?

Now, we're more than a week away from when we'd need to be worrying about this, but we don't like to have anything sneak up on our readers.

Tropical Storm Matthew formed just east of the Windward Islands today. He's already a very powerful storm, at around 60 MPH. He should blow through the islands tonight and tomorrow, and then move between Hispaniola and South America over the weekend.

The water in this area is very warm, and Matthew should intensify. What he does after that is a bit of a mystery.

The European models drag it into either Florida or the Gulf of Mexico. Not our problem. The GFS model puts it on a run up the Eastern Seaboard. That can be a problem.

It's a problem that looks like this:

Now, we're dealing with a system that is over a week away, and there is a lot of disagreement among the geeks as to what happens to where and when.

There is also this weekend's rainstorm in Massachusetts, which could serve to drag Matthew up here as it pulls away from us.

Even if the storm takes a run up the East Coast, it could hit any Confederate coast state, the DelMarva area or even New Jersey. All of them are more likely to get it than us.

October hurricanes, while unusual, are not without precedent. The Halloween Gale, aka the Perfect Storm, hit at the end of the month.

If it does target us, the due date would be Thursday/Friday.

Here are the zillion spaghetti charts:

Monday, September 26, 2016

Hillary/Trump Debate Drinking Game

Donald vs Hillary! Debate time!

Will the former First Lady bury Donald in a blizzard of Wonk? Will Donald's world-swallowing charisma be too much to overcome?

Either way, this website encourages you to view this as a playoff game. You should be heavily into the firewater well before the opening salvo is fired.

You'll need that booze, because it's time to play the Debate Drinking Game!

I used to play Love Boat when I was in high school. Everyone gets a character, and you drink every time your character is on the screen. Everyone drinks if either A) they show the boat, or B) Issac is on the screen. This game, as awesome as it is, won't work for a two person debate.

The debate drinking game is ideally played between two ideological opposites. Both the liberal and the conservative should be able to drink as much as the other. However, you can play it with two libbers, or two rednecks.

Simply put, you each choose a side, and you have to drink when certain keywords come up, or when certain conditions are met, or when certain incidents occur. It might actually be fun for the liberal to choose Donald Trump or vice versa with the conservative and Killary.

I'm using beers and shots, with the shots reserved for special conditions. If you don't drink and favor THC, you can use bong hits and dabs, saving the dabs for the more serious transgressions. If you're a straight-edge fan of this column, try some BDSM thing with cuffs, whips and the strapper.

Either way, we're going to score it with alcohol. Here are the criteria:

* Hillary comes out in a pantsuit, one sip for the liberal

* Donald's tie is red, white or blue, one sip for the con

* Donald declines on saying "Madame Secretary," and refers to her by her first name... one sip, con

* Hillary says "The Donald.".. one sip for the lib.

* Hill'ry suffers a Katniss-style fall as she walks out... one shot for the lib

* Donald declines a pre-debate handshake.... one shot for the con

* Bill Clinton is attending, and he's sitting with a young woman who isn't Chelsea... one sip, lib

* Donald's wife is shown, and her dress shows cleavage... one sip for the con

* Donald dodges a tough question by insulting the moderator... one sip, con

* Hillary tries a joke, and it bombs like the Enola Gay... one sip, lib

* Which comes first, a "Crooked Hillary" or a "Deplorable?"... CH, one sip con, D, one sip lib

* Who gets brought up first, George Bush II or Monica Lewinsky? GB/lib, ML/con

* Donald slips and utters a racial slur.. one shot, con

* Hillary faints on stage... one shot. lib

* Who gets heckled by someone in the crowd first? Trump, one shot lib... Hillary, one shot con

* You see a black Trump supporter in the crowd... one sip, con

* You see a woman in Islamic dress with a Hillary sign. one sip, lib

* Trump throws a joke at Hillary, and she bests it with a comeback... one sip, Con

* Hillary infers that Trump is wearing a wig... one sip, lib

* Someone in the crowd is dressed as a wall... one shot, con

* Donald says "You're not even your husband's first choice"... one shot, lib

* Hillary points out that Donald has 5 kids from 3 wives... one shot, con

* Donald makes a cigar reference... one shot, lib

* Hillary dodges an email question... one shot, lib

* Donald shows that he's not 100% sure where Syria is... one shot, con

* Hillary has a coughing fit... one shot, lib

* Donald claims that managing a wrestler at Wrestlemania makes him qualified to lead our military... one shot, con

* Donald makes the moderator laugh... one sip, lib

* Donald has to be corrected by the moderator... one shot, con

* Who interrupts who first? Trump, one sip con... HC, one sip lib

* Hillary claims credit for killing Osama bin Laden... one sip, lib

* Hillary utters the words "game show"... one sip, con

* Hillary mentions Liz Warren... one sip, con

* Donald answers it with a Fake Indian line... one sip, lib

* What comes up first, Hillary's email or Trump University? Email, one sip lib,,, scam U, one sip con

* Donald infers that Hillary is killing people who get in her way... one sip, con

* Hillary says Donald's tie is made in China, Trump turns it over, and it says MADE IN USA.. one sip, lib

* Hillary bombs with a Donald Duck reference... one sip, lib

* Trump says "Killary."... one sip, con

* Hillary does a Trump impression, one sip, con

* Trump does a Bill Clinton impression... one sip, lib

* Hillary promises free college for all... one shot, lib

* Donald talks about his dick... one shot, con

* What comes up first, Trump Steaks or Vince Foster? TS, one shot con, VF, one shot, lib

* Hillary promises a minimum wage shot, lib

* Donald promises a land war in Asia... one shot, con

* Who gets called a rapist first... Bill Clinton or Julian Assange? BC, one shot lib, JA, one shot con

* First celebrity reference? HC, one sip lib.. Trump, one sip con

* Who gets booed first? HC, lib, DT, con

* Anytime the flag is shown full-screen, both opponents drink to the health of the other.

Saturday, September 24, 2016

The Messiah Cometh?

Gimme a T! Gimme a second T!

The New England Patriots have one game to play before Tom Brady comes back. They have two other QBs, but they both have suffered Injury and can not play. They may trot one out and risk permanent injury, or they can pursue other options.

Matt Cassell used to play for us, but he's backing up Marcus Mariota in Tennessee. Ryan "MC" Mallett is serving a similar role in Baltimore. Neither team is going to bail us out by cutting one of these men so that he can help win a game for a conference rival.

I'm not keen on playing Julian Edelman at QB, as there seems to be a Madden Curse/Foxboro Triangle effect on those who would replace Tom Brady. We need him catching passes and being tackled by little cornerbacks, not throwing passes and being hit by 340 pound Danny Shelton.

There is this one guy, he played some QB back in the day. He played for Belichick before, and he knows the Josh McDaniels offense. He is a phenomenal athlete and a model citizen, so we don't have to worry about him showing up with a beer gut or a cocaine hangover after killing someone. I'm sure that the New York Mets won't mind him freelancing a bit. He's not the best QB in the world, but neither is Julian Edelman, with the difference being that I couldn't tolerate seeing Edelman get hurt playing QB. He won the only NFL playoff game he took part in, against the Steelers, too. Most importantly, he has plenty of free time.

If you took his very famous name off of the jersey, would you NOT want an experienced QB, familiar with the offense, used to throwing at Gronk and Edelman, who you know is in top shape? You don't even have to worry about hurting his feelings when you cut him the instant that Tom Brady is street-legal again. He'd know he was in it for one game.

There's really no other choice. God himself commands it.

They have to call Tim Tebow.

Bourne Cheerleading Squad Aiming High

My friends and I would like to welcome Bourne's new cheerleading coach Tara Baker to town!

Coach Tara's mission is to transform Bourne's cheerleading squad into a regional powerhouse. Hey, maybe even national... you don't have to watch many cheerleader movies to understand that a wise man never underestimates cheerleaders.

My contacts at Bourne High School tell me that Bourne once had a championship cheer program, but that cheerleading stalled there over the years.

Cheerleading has traditionally been viewed as more of a hobby than a sport. People tend to ascribe a Queen-style Stomp Stomp CLAP simplicity to cheerleader routines, when the reality is far different.

Girls Sports are vastly underestimated by the general public these days. I do it myself, and a man who actually has looked at numbers all day should know better. A reporter who has evolved past viewing girl's sports as a sort of Pillow Fight is still very capable of answering "Football, wrestling, hockey, maybe lax" when asked to list dangerous high school sports.

In reality, the stats I'm looking at show a top three of Lacrosse, Football and Baseball/Softball. Girls play two of those, and girls even get on the football team now and then. The rest of the top 10 are Gymnastics, Soccer, Hockey, Track/X-country, Swimming/Diving and Basketball. Girls play every one of those sports, and comprise the majority of our gymnasts. If you throw in sports played outside of school, add in bikes, skateboards and trampolines.

It's shocking that Wrestling didn't make the top 10, as the object of Wrestling is to rough somebody up with the Black Widow or whatever they call wrestling moves that aren't on TV. Even more shocking is the fact that Cheerleading ranks 4th on this list.

Depending on the methodology of your stats, Cheerleading ranks higher. If you go by Catastrophic Injury, cheerleading accounts for 65% of injuries to girls in high school sports.

Again, the days of shaking the pom-poms while spelling out the school name are about 35 years in the past up here, maybe further down South where cheerleading is more prominent.

Cheerleaders work in a realm of flips, splits, leaps, catches, throws (you're more likely to get thrown in the air as a cheerleader than as a wrestler) and spins. As near as I can tell, they do their routines on either hardwood, meadow-style grass or- if your school has a football field with the Track lanes circling it- asphalt. The only surface you might survive a fall onto without suffering injury- grass- is pretty much the worst base that you can ask for to do dance/throws on.

Cheerleaders occupy a unique niche in school sports where, while doing their own sport, they can be injured by someone doing a whole other sport nearby. I've seen cheerleaders hit by pucks, run over by linebackers and bonked off the back of the head with a basketball. Only the team that practices near the javelin-throwers are in worse danger from such injury.

So, if you take into account the risk involved, cheerleaders are among the bravest athletes in the school. When you throw in the noble intent of cheering for their school, there is much respect due.

Coach Tara knows all of this.  Her girls will know it soon, too.

She will instill a program at Bourne that will make Cheerleaders out of these girls. They will be in great shape. I went to one practice, and they did splits and stretches and more push-ups than I've done in my life. They will drill their moves until they get them right (the best way to lower that injury risk that we led off with), and they will eventually act as One.

The team also has Tara's ex-military husband overseeing the training, so the cheerleaders won't be doing any sloppy push-ups without getting a R. Lee Ermey-style earful. Just kidding, he actually seems very nice.

They are going to need to be in good shape, because Coach Tara plans to have this team at competition level.

She has experience as a national champion cheerleader, and she has been coaching for 20 years. Her teams have won championships with her coaching. Now, she's bringing her talents to Bourne.

The kids deserve a good coach. They formed a cheer squad on their own last year, on a shoestring budget. This year, Bourne High came up with some funds, and the program is off and running. There is talk that the school may ask the girls to cheer for basketball, as well.

The move to bring in Coach Tara is already paying off. For the practice I attended, she brought in a guest speaker. Susan Shannon is the former Director of New England Patriots Cheerleaders from 1979 to 1985. She now works for the New England Professional Cheerleaders Alumni Association, as the President. She spoke to the current Bourne squad about leadership, public speaking, teamwork, confidence, character... basically everything that the Sport of Cheerleading has become.

She spoke of female empowerment and supporting your team, and also about how cheerleaders are athletes with opportunities for college scholarships. Susan spoke to the squad about leading not just your team and each other, but the football team and the crowd, as well. She discussed the importance of getting the crowd behind them. Susan told stories of former cheerleaders who took the skills they learned as a cheerleader and parlayed it into high powered careers.

Susan also discussed the legislative push in the state of Massachusetts to have cheerleading become a recognized sport.... a move that is lonnnnnngggggg overdue.

Bourne is now on the track to have a first-class cheerleading squad. They have a fine teacher and a great bunch of kids. The work of both the coach and the squad will carry on long after they leave Bourne High School, in the form of a solid cheer program that can become the pride of the town.

Three cheers for Coach Tara and the Bourne Cheerleading Squad! Don't forget to peep the Bourne Cheer website!  #SeeYouInTheStands #BHS_All_In

Thursday, September 22, 2016

Dealing With The Ocean On Duxbury Beach

Living on the coast is pretty much the peak human condition. You can walk around barefoot. The beach is within hollering distance. You have a zillion trillion gallon outdoor pool. If you can convince a girl to visit you, she's a good bet to show up wearing a bikini... something that I took for granted growing up on a beach, and something that I was slow to realize didn't happen everywhere when I went to school in Worcester.

Yup, life on the beach is pretty nice. There are costs, however. That gorgeous ocean can become stormy, and stormy seas can push ashore and inflict catastrophic damage on the houses there. While giant waves can smash houses to splinters, even little waves eat away bites of the shoreline in an endless war of attrition.

You can't beat the inexorable Mother Nature, but you can hold her off for a little while. In fact, if you either A) don't care if the house falls into the sea on the great-grandchildren's watch, long after you've gone to your reward, or B) have faith that the science people will solve the problem in the future, you really have to keep the sea at bay for only 20-75 years or so. After that... SEP.

We're going to tour a few beaches before the weather gets too bad and going to the beach becomes something akin to work. As we go to these beaches, we'll have a look at methods people use to fight Poseidon. 

There is no consensus on protecting beaches. You can see different methods on different beaches, something you'll notice as you read the articles we write about different beaches. You can also see different methods on the same beach, something you'll notice today as we start our series off in Duxbury.

Duxbury Beach has a mix of inhabited, uninhabited and semi-inhabited coastline.

You can see several methods of erosion control at work here. We have a dune, some snow fencing, some rocks, some beach grass, some scrub pine... we could use some beach plum bushes, but this will do.

Shoot, the whole of Duxbury Beach itself is an erosion control machine, as it serves as a barrier beach for Duxbury Proper across the bay.

The house that you can sort of see in the picture above is the last residence on Duxbury Beach. South of that, it's all sand dunes and snow fencing until you get to High Pines.

Beaches tend to get onshore winds, and those winds blow sand across the beach. Any sort of obstruction, be it a plant or a flower or a stone, slows down the wind and allows the sand and grass to accumulate. As the sea grass spreads, the sand is nourished, and other plants begin to appear. These plants block more and more sand. Over time, a dune forms.

If the ocean doesn't interfere, the dune grows and grows. However, that's a big If.

The snow fencing probably performs some erosion control purpose, but the main one I can think of is that it keeps people from walking on the fragile beach grass.

If you need to know how well it works, here's a picture of how the dunes looked when the Trans-Atlantic cable came ashore a little bit after the Civil War ended.... which is why everyone looks like General Sickles.

Duxbury-savvy folks will recognize that this is the area where Ocean Road North and Cable Hill meet. Prior to the cable coming ashore, this area was known as Rouse's Hummock.... after some guy named Rouse.

Most of the present beach south of the Blakeman's pavillion/bath house works along this model, but the dune in this picture is more impressive than anything seen on the beach today.

The dunes are lower because Duxbury Beach suffers from vicious nor'easters. Nor'easters seem to be elementally offended by dunes, because they wash over them regularly.

If that picture of the cable guys doesn't give you an idea how close to the water the dune is, worry you not! My house on Duxbury Beach was right about where the dude in the dark suit is standing off by himself on the top of the dune.

Here's a view from where he was standing 150 years later. There's a house there now, and a seawall in front of it, but those waves have been hitting the area like that once a year or so ever since time began.

There isn't much beach behind the dunes. Duxbury Beach is barely 100 meters wide at her fat points. The picture below is taken after a storm, and it is aimed at what is by far the fattest part of the beach. It turns to marsh just after the houses and trees.

Here is a picture out the back door (Duxbury Beach residents almost universally refer to the door facing the ocean as the front door, and the street-side door as the back door), showing how much slack the marsh is giving you. Much of Duxbury Beach becomes a series of small islands if the storm gets bad enough.

Post-storm, too...

Notice the shark fin in the water to the left of the telephone pole and above the hay bales? Ah, just kidding, that's not a shark.

That flood will take some time to go away, as the water table is maxed out and it's the lowest point in the neighborhood. The marsh will drain itself as the tide goes out, but the meadow is on her own.

They did lay some pipe under the road after this 2007 storm, and all but the final inches of water will flow back into the marsh through them.

Here are said pipes:

There are corresponding pipe holes on the other side of Gurnet Road. The pipes take care of the meadow and the marsh water. The waves are a whole other problem.

I went with the picture below because it was the best one I have that illustrates both the height of the seawall and the erosion of the sand.

The sand depth at the foot of the seawall varies greatly, and can be augmented by seaweed and rocks. It can make a great difference in wave damage.

The seawall/sand ratio is important, as the sand is what the seawall is based in. If there isn't enough sand supporting the wall, the wall can topple forward into the sea.

The seawall blocks waves for a gang o' houses that pay a pile o' taxes into the town coffers. Many are summer residences which pump no revenue-consuming brats into the town's school systems. Hence, the armored seawall.

Here's another blurry shot, showing how the Duxbury/Marshfield line has to use boulders to help shore up the wall. OK, "shore up" is probably the wrong term here.

I'd have gone closer to the boulders to try to get a shot that showed them better, but I wasn't trying to get wet.

The seawall is the central defense for the residential area of Duxbury Beach.

It's about 15 feet tall, with maybe half of it buried in sand. It's about two feet thick. It can withstand powerful surf without breaking, although they do break now and then.

It runs in two big lines, one extending from Green Harbor to the Duxbury line, and one from 100 yards past the other one down to the end of Ocean Road South.

The gap in the middle isn't a town vs town thing, as I thought it was until I talked to some old-timers. Now, I know that the gap in between the walls exists because the homeowners there, secure on a small bluff, declined to pay the $500 fee for the wall.

Their houses are still standing, so they currently are having the last laugh. Others are doing for self:

If you go there just after a storm, you get the virgin snowfall-looking sand cover.

It costs a pretty penny to put up your own seawall.

Q) Reason?

A) It's worth it.

This sort of DIY seawall, while very fine-looking, makes up about 1% of Duxbury's seawall shield.

Seawalls can only do so much. A powerful storm surge can make the ocean level with the seawall, and then the waves are rolling straight into the houses.

Some houses still have cellars, but they are a dying breed. You need sump pumps to get the ocean water out of them (I had a beach cellar, and the water came in through the windows, through the floor, and through the walls in the Blizzard of '78 and the 1991 Halloween Gale), and I neither have any pictures of sump pumps nor any desire to look for a Sump Pump video. You'll just have to take my word for it.

Any modern housing constructed on the shores need to be on pilings. This lets the water rush under the house rather than through it, which provides some comfort for the house and saves the lives of the homeowners.

This is a pretty good strategy, as I was trapped in my house on Duxbury Beach for the Perfect Storm in 1991, and I saw houses get torn apart by the surf. I also saw houses get lifted up by the surf and washed back into the road.

Stilt housing came into vogue shortly after that, and none of them have been knocked over yet. They have worked their way into the front line of housing along the coast.

There is some debate, mostly among people who were living on the beach for the peak storm activity of the Halloween Gale and the Blizzard of '78, as to whether the stilt housing will hold up against a 100 Year Storm.

Much like the Blizzard of '78 finished off the dune houses on Duxbury Beach, the next hurricane-force storm might finish off traditional-foundation style housing. Again, only time will tell.

Breakaway stairs are also useful.

They are made light enough to either

A) pull them up onto the wall by hand,


B) drag them back to your house with a Jeep if you got lazy or sloppy and forgot to do option A.

There is an option C, but that involves building the stairs out of mortar and cast iron. You don't have to pull these stairs up if a storm comes.

Pic by Sara Flynn

Be sure to check out our Plymouth version of this article.

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Cranberry Highway Flooding Becoming A Chronic Problem

This picture was taken from where the old 99 Restaurant was on the Cranberry Highway in Wareham.

The town may have a bit of a problem here. This is the main road in East Wareham.

Granted, we had furious rainfall yesterday. However, this has been a long-running problem in the area.

I was driving in this area during Hurricane Irene, when 7 inches of rain fell. The flooding, which only covered a hundred yards of Cranberry Highway in yesterday's event. spilled into the Wal-Mart parking lot. I saw a people who were nearly washed away by it.

The road was impassable, and flooding was bad enough that a car was stranded and abandoned by the 7-11. I saw one guy stall out in the mess yesterday, and he had to shove his car out of the water.

I'm guessing at this, but Dick's Pond and Sand Pond may also be prone to sending their overflow into the Cranberry Highway, as the road flooding I have seen along this road over the years went down near each them.

This could be a major problem if a hurricane strikes us full-bore. This road, which is pretty far back from the sea and was flooded yesterday by rainwater, is the only way to evacuate Onset.

I have no idea how to fix stuff like this, but someone must. It seems to be a pretty major problem.

Sunday, September 18, 2016

Massachusetts Lighthouse Tripping

The fun part about my job is that, while covering other stories, I can stop along the way and take pictures of lighthouses. I grew up near one, and am sort of accustomed to foghorns and circling lights. I never miss a chance to get a picture of one if I am out and about.

This is Nauset Light, one of the Three Sisters. She's essentially a replacement sister and sort of married into the family, but she sure does look nice. She's 48 feet tall, made of cast iron and is encased in brick. She's set back a bit, as Cape beaches were eroding long before the discussion of eroding beaches became fashionable. She was built in 1877. Lovers of snacks should know that this lighthouse is the represented in the logo for Cape Cod Potato Chips.

This is the much-loved Chatham Lighthouse. She's old enough (1808 birth) that Samuel Nye, her first keeper, was appointed by Thomas Jefferson. She went automated in 1982, and is prominent in the film The Finest Hour. The house next to it is an active Coast Guard Station, and even serves as a base for Homeland Security-type stuff. I actually drove by this without a hitch  the day before Tropical Storm Hermine came to town, but when I returned during the height of the storm, the traffic was like Boston. While I failed as a photographer in "getting a level horizon," I did manage to catch the light when it was flashing towards me. 

Old Scituate Light, the lighthouse that the American Army Of Two defended. She was built in 1811, the Bates sisters did their thing in 1814, and the construction of Minot's Ledge Light pushed her out of service in 1850. This being Scituate, she was brought back into service 2 years later when MLL was destroyed in  an 1851 tropical winter/spring storm. I suppose you can imagine the "I told you so" action that was going on among the old salts back then. MLL went back in service in 1860, which sent Old Scituate Light back to the bench. Scituate bought it in 1910 for $4000, and it was in a state of disrepair for most of the last century. They fixed it up well enough that you can tour it these days. 
Our photographer appears to be using the rocks to position himself to shoot Old Scituate Light, but I know him well enough to say that he is most likely looking at porn, fantasy football or both. Sharper-eyed readers may get a kick out of knowing that the only picture of his we used is the one that has water drops all over the camera lens... but we did lead off with it, so props to the Big Man.

Just in case you think that went to a shabbier lighthouse and just told you it was Scituate Light, we threw in a pic with the sign. We try to keep it real here at Cranberry County Magazine. This lighthouse is steeped in history. It is where the USS Chesapeake fought and lost to the HMS Shannon in 1813, a battle famous for the "Don't give up the ship" command was uttered by a dying Captain James Lawrence just before his surviving crew, well, gave up the ship.

Here's how you challenged a ship to a fight in 1813... "
As the Chesapeake appears now ready for sea, I request you will do me the favour to meet the Shannon with her, ship to ship, to try the fortune of our respective flags. The Shannon mounts twenty-four guns upon her broadside and one light boat-gun; 18 pounders upon her maindeck, and 32-pounder carronades upon her quarterdeck and forecastle; and is manned with a complement of 300 men and boys, beside thirty seamen, boys, and passengers, who were taken out of recaptured vessels lately. I entreat you, sir, not to imagine that I am urged by mere personal vanity to the wish of meeting the Chesapeake, or that I depend only upon your personal ambition for your acceding to this invitation. We have both noble motives. You will feel it as a compliment if I say that the result of our meeting may be the most grateful service I can render to my country; and I doubt not that you, equally confident of success, will feel convinced that it is only by repeated triumphs in even combats that your little navy can now hope to console your country for the loss of that trade it can no longer protect. Favour me with a speedy reply. We are short of provisions and water, and cannot stay long here."...  Captain Phillip Broke
A year later, two American girls chased away a boatload of British marines, so we sort of won back the honor of the coast. Eff England!

Not all naval action around Old Scituate Light involves us trying to kill Europeans. This rock represents the grounding of the Italian freighter Etrusco in a 1956 blizzard. The crew was saved by the Coast Guard. The ship, stuck on the rocks of Cedar Point for quite some time, was a local tourist attraction until it was freed by dynamiting most of the ledge.

Duxbury Beach, MA

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

The Army Of Two

Massachusetts has coughed up some tough mothers in her history.

Rocky Marciano was only defeated by gravity. Marvin Hagler looked like Louis Gossett and hit like Joe Louis. Cataumet's own Jay Miller split a few wigs in his day, as did Chris Nilan. Myles Standish, although only 5'3", slit more than one throat. Benjamin Church, who we'll definitely write about, was America's first Ranger. We're also where the 54th Regiment came from. John Cena will give you the Five Knuckle Shuffle... which sounds like something you'd read in the old Boston Phoenix classifieds, but which really means that he'll punch you in the face.

However, none of them turned back 200 of the world's best Marines. I'm not sure if Sergeant York can claim those kind of stripes, or even Captain America. In even his silliest movie, Arnold Schwarzenegger didn't try to sell himself as being capable of taking on 200 elite Marines.

So, naturally, this feat was performed by two young girls from Scituate. They were unarmed, of course. They had no backup, and may have been raped or even hung as spies if they lost. As is generally the case when two girls decide to make a stand against 200 Marines, they used Fear as their weapon.

The War of 1812 was very unpopular in New England, and we discussed seceding from the US over it long before the Confederacy made it fashionable. This meant little to the British, other than an opportunity to perhaps drive New England out of the war if they made life hard enough for them.

Understand that Massachusetts was the first colony to send the Brits packing in the Revolution. We had already attacked British soil in Canada. The British had been chased with their tails between their legs from Marshfield, one town to the south, in the previous squabble almost 40 years earlier. There was no love lost, and the British Navy wasn't going to use the kid gloves when they decided to send a raiding party ashore in Scituate, Massachusetts.

Her Royal Navy spent quite some time smashing up Massachusetts ports. We were known as a haven for pirates/privateers, Falmouth, New Bedford and Wareham were torn to shreds by the British Navy in this war, and they had already torn up Scituate a few times. Scituate had ships stolen and burned, and the British had shown up off of her shores in the summer of 1814, demanding provisions under the threat of more ill treatment.

The local militia assembled, and the British never came ashore. However, they never went away either, but the militia did. The Brits heard about this (Marshfield was heavily Loyalist when the Revolution started, and some holdovers may have been giving information to the Limey sailors) and prepared to pay Scituate back for not providing the provisions.

Keep in mind, the scholarship of this story is limited, and really good superhero stories tend to grow with time. This is especially true in areas with lots of fishermen. We're just going to give you the basic legend, and leave all of that further-study stuff to the reader.

In September of 1814, the British Navy made their move on Scituate. A ship, La Hogue, dropped anchor about a mile off of Scituate Harbor. They loaded the barges with Marines and started rowing towards the town. They had raided Scituate three times before, but had never come ashore, limiting themselves to burning/stealing ships. This time, they were coming to burn the town.

They chose a stealth approach, rowing towards isolated Old Scituate Light. Their luck was better than they could have hoped, as the lighthouse keeper (Simeon Bates) was away with most of his family. Only his wife and two daughters stayed at the station, and they were the first to see this less-musical British Invasion coming.

Rebecca and Abigail Bates were no weak sisters, however. They knew that the militia had dispersed, and that there was no way to get them assembled before Scituate was set aflame. Their home, a very valuable lighthouse that treacherous local shipping was dependent on, was probably the first thing that would be set aflame when John Bull got the matches out. They would be the first young girls that 200 marauding sailors would get their hands on.

There then commenced what I would say may have been the coolest teen-girl chattering that ever happened in America (I'm thinking hard on this, and can't get past 90210), and the two sisters decided that the British raid would be getting no further than them.

They chose an Audio defense. Grabbing a fife and drum, they hid behind a dune and started making a racket. History disagrees on who was playing what instrument, but they played loudly as they walked back and forth behind the dunes. Maybe they snuck a peek over the dunes now and then, or maybe they just put their heads down and had faith in the plan.

We do know that they played "Yankee Doodle" over and over.

As the Brits got closer to shore, there were five sounds they could hear. One was the ocean, one was the rowing, one was their officers' exhortations... and the other two were a fife and drum. Fifes and drums meant "Militia."

Two hundred British marines (I am making that number up based on a force that they used for a similar attack on Wareham) is nothing to trifle with, but even they couldn't stand up to what could be 1000-1500 men, all familiar with the territory, all crack shots who have to shoot their own supper a lot and who have had months to prepare for just such a siege. The British turned around and ran like scalded dogs. OK, they were in a boat, so they didn't technically run, but I don't have a metaphor for Rowing. "They had to Row like Versus Wade".... OK, I have nothing.

Exact records for the Battle of Scituate are hard to find. The girls both lived to old age, and would tell their story for anyone who'd pay a dime to hear it. Stories may get embellished that way. It's tough for a skeptic to debate a living, breathing Primary Source.

Likewise, the British have no record of the encounter. Very few men who wanted to advance in Her Majesty's Navy (I don't know if they had a Queen at the time, I just like saying "Her Majesty's Navy") reported back to the crown that "Well, your Majesty, were going to burn Scituate, but my 200 toughest Marines got scared off by a couple of teenyboppers pretending to be John Bonham."

American soldiers have been in some tough spots. Little Round Top was defended by 200 men against like 4 regiments, and they won the fight with a bayonet charge against an enemy who had guns. The Battle of the Bulge had Americans surrounded in a snowstorm by Hitler's best troops. The Minutemen gathered on a town square and stood toe-to-toe with the world's best light infantry.

They were wimps.

The Bates Sisters have them all beat. Two unarmed girls went to war against a veritable boatload of British Marines. I wouldn't touch those odds with a six and a half foot Pole, and neither would Rob Gronkowski. It matters not... the girls ended the day in possession of the battlefield.

The Bates sisters and their victory were not lost on military historians. General John Magruder used similar deceptions in Virginia during the Civil War. It even came full circle, with the Chinese using whistles to intimidate when attacking Americans in the Korean War. Some even say that the Vietcong used a similar strategy at Khe Sanh.

The Bates sisters did it better, though... and they have a sign to prove it.

Music hath charms...

Friday, September 9, 2016

Is It Possible To Jump The Cape Cod Canal In A Car?

The story of a man who drove his car into the Cape Cod Canal grabbed headlines this week. They say it was a suicide attempt, and they're probably correct. However, what if it were a little bit more than a suicide attempt?

I may be 100% wrong, but I can't shake the feeling that the man in the Ford Focus may have been trying to jump the Cape Cod Canal. I'm thinking of an effort akin to Evel Knievil's attempt to jump a rocket over Idaho's Snake River Canyon in 1974.

While suicide is a rotten option to choose, one must admire the man who tries to do it with Style. I'd bet that 100 people have jumped to their deaths into the Canal, but perhaps only one (I'm being told someone may have tried it in the 1940s) guy tried to kill himself while jumping over it.

There's an All Or Nothing, Death or Glory sort of hardcore appeal to this act. If you're going to push all of your chips onto the table and ask for the Eternal Answer, you may as well do so while crossing the most dangerous item off of your bucket list. When the one thing that you're normally afraid of losing when pondering ridiculous stunts has no worth, stunt-planning moves along much more quickly.

The Canal is incidental to this story. If this guy lived in Buffalo, I'd imagine that he'd probably have gone over Niagara Falls in a barrel. If he lived in Rwanda, he'd have slapped a silverback in the face. If he lived in Pripyat, he'd run have around nude and drank from the streams.

The plan was flawed for many reasons, some of which were apparent immediately. Other flaws reveal themselves to the expert (or the guy who spent a morning researching Stunt Jumping) upon deeper examination.

For starters.... if you try to kill yourself and live, your plan had flaws. You become the Polish kamikaze pilot from the 1970s joke book.

If you assign the man a higher motivation than suicide, you must also point out more specific flaws. His jump across the Canal ended 40 feet away- an impressive jump, but not one that you'd need to clear the 450 foot wide Cape Cod Canal.

I was undersexed as a kid, and therefore spent most of my Physics classes staring at legs... but I did stay on-task long enough to pick up some vocabulary that will come in handy here. The plan had fatal flaws (fatal flaws in a suicide attempt produce a Bizzaro-style polar opposite effect where the jumper lives) in the areas of Speed, Mass, Acceleration, Incline, Resistance and Drag.

There was also a pine tree-sized hole in his Exit Strategy plan, but we'll get to that later.

If you open Google Maps and look at the area at the end of Perry Avenue, it will help with comprehension. You'll notice that Perry Avenue is a straight drag, and you'll see an odd structure at the end of it. That's Three Mile Look, which serves as a Canal observation point 99.99999% of the time and as a ramp .000001% of the time. It is the smaller of the two numbers that concerns us today.

Three Mile Look isn't what a stunt man is looking for in a ramp. Other attempts to jump larger rivers involved an almost vertical climb. The other jumps also didn't involve the driver smashing through wooden railings before takeoff.

Three Mile Look also is about 2 stories above the Canal, maybe 3. An object falls 9.8 meters a second for every second that it is in the air. the Canal is 450 feet wide, about 1.5 football fields.

There's other math, but it confuses me. You could use Real Math, which means solving the  s=ut+½at² equation.Good luck with that.

I prefer to use Vin Diesel Math, which is where I find an article written in a science journal about a similar jump performed in one of those Fastest And Furiousest movies. I hope this math works for you, because we may also get into Burt Reynolds Math and Keannu Reeves Math if we tangent off into the Smokey And The Bandit or  Speed franchises.

Vin is in Dubai, way the hell up in the Etihad Tower Complex. The limey guy from The Transporter movie is chasing him with a rocket launcher. Even though he's on the 45th floor of a skyscraper, there happens to be a $3 million Lykan HyperSport supercar all fueled up and ready to aid in Vin's escape.

Vin gets it up to 100 mph in an apartment living room (the Lykan, of which only 7 were made, can reach that speed in 2.8 seconds)`and then jumps the car out of one building into one nearby, dropping a few stories in the process.

The buildings are 100 yards apart, a bit more narrow of a distance than the Canal, but my Math flaws will erase those distances.

The Lykan HyperSport has a top speed of 240 mph, considerably higher than even the best Ford Focus out there. They both weigh 3000 pounds or so. The guy jumping the Canal has one advantage over Diesel (two, if you count "isn't that worried about dying") in that he has all of Perry Avenue to use to build up what isn't that difficult of a speed to obtain. Perry Avenue is about 50 feet longer than the distance he'd have to jump. He might need to be going 150 MPH, but we'll worry about that later.

If you're keeping score at home, he has a shot at going fast enough, but he doesn't have enough ramp to get the necessary height with which he could drift a bit.

That height is important, because it will take him 3 seconds to get across the Canal at 100 mph, and he'll be losing speed as he flies. Every second that he is falling, he loses about 30 feet of height. Granted, he'll be going up for part of the flight, but 30 foot drops every second of descent aren't what you're looking for when your launch ramp is 30 feet high.

Acceleration at the point of launch is also important, as it is what keeps your nose from landing first. Speaking of landings, the Canal guy would have been in for a painful one had he gotten across the Canal. The only flat surface is the bike path, which is 30 feet across or so. It is bordered on either side by boulders and forest.

Ironically, he would have landed on Perry Avenue if he made the jump. I just noticed this now, but it appears that Perry Avenue was split in half by the construction of the Canal. He'd need a stout East wind, as the Cape side of Perry Avenue is to the west of where the mainland Perry Avenue ends. Fortunately, or perhaps after years of planning and waiting, the attempt to leap the Canal was performed during a Tropical Storm where Bourne was suffering stiff east winds.

It sounds so crazy, it has to be true. Cape Cod has a FTW-style Evel Knievil. He's just not that swift. "A" for effort, though... maybe an "A+" for imagination.

How would a professional handle the same leap?

For starters, some trees would have to come down. Three Mile Look, for all of her flaws as a launching ramp, is better than the Three Hundred Trees any jumper would land into on the other side of the Canal. Three Mile Look would have to be rebuilt with greater incline. A lot of trees would have to come down on the Cape side.

He'd probably need a car that is much more modified than the Ford Focus. The speed needed to jump would be easy enough to attain with a modified vehicle. However, this is where I should point out that, for all of his broken bones, Evel Knievil was never injured during his jumps. He was injured by his landings. I don't know how they modify cars to do stunt jumps, but they'd have to find out and do that.

Evel was jumping a river three times as wide as our Canal. He was also using a steam rocket. Vin Diesel did his jump in a car that can outrun a F-16 until takeoff. Burt Reynolds and Sally Fields only had to jump a stream.

Reynolds' jump over a dismantled bridge was more in the range of what the Canal guy should have tried. That jump was made with a rocket similar to what Evel Knievil used for his Snake River jump, as a 1977 Trans-Am wasn't powerful enough for the leap. It covered about the same 40 foot distance that the Canal jumper managed, and took off from a similar height. It was driven by a stuntman.

It also destroyed the car, which tells you all that you need to know about the feasibility of jumping a regular-person car across the Cape Cod Canal.

Thursday, September 8, 2016

Hermine Surf Check: Plymouth, Duxbury and Marshfield

We went to Duxbury and Marshfield Tuesday to check out what Hermine was doing up there. As it turns out, she wasn't doing much to Green Harbor.

Brant Rock was serving barrier beach duty for this storm. I was shooting from where Charlie's used to be.

The waves did hit the wall in Duxbury, but they barely hit it.

These rocks were placed here long ago to mark where the Trans-Atlantic cable came ashore. It's still there, buried under a ton of sand.

The former Gurnet Inn, now a rich person house.

Duxbury did get some nice waves... just nothing that made me happy to have skipped out on Westport or Truro.

Green Harbor had some wall-splashing. I would have moved forward and got out of that shadow, but I didn't want to get soaked.

The seas yield a treasure here and there. Wire traps wash up less than wooden ones used to.

I'm not sure if these waves are the work of Hermine...

... or maybe even Gaston, throwing waves at Duxbury from way out to sea...

... or just a strong East wind.

If you're missing your Tiki Torch Beach Stairs, hit me up in the comments and we can talk reward money.

I need to remember this vantage point for a day when I have a better camera or bigger waves.

... like in Plymouth the day before.

See you next storm!