The Fish Story

Your Personal Pothole Guy; The Future Will Hopefully Blow You Away

By JAY MANN | Apr 11, 2018

I’m on a piss-’em-all-off roll. Last week, I managed to highly annoy both the for and against sides of the ban-the-plastic-bags issue. So why not keep the venom flowing this week by dissing most oceanfront homeowners, along with many a devout LBI beachgoer? Bird lovers and cat people, climb aboard the PO line. You’ll see what I mean, further below.

Before that, I might mention that I’ve kinda resigned myself to playing the role of master pisser-offer. My new thinking: By driving away any lingering readers of this column, I’ll be forced into retirement. This no-more-me notion was at first worrisome, in a mortgage-paying way. Then came some escapist thinking. I could finally run off and live deep within a distant forest, where a man is judged primarily by the size of his chainsaw. That dream faded when I remembered I can’t even start a stinkin’ chainsaw without spitting out foul language and smashing it against the very tree I was there to cut.

Then, just last week, I was trucking about when I literally bumped headlong into what could be my post-columnist calling. It’s sheer genius. Is the world ready for The Mann’s Private Pothole-Filling Service?

In a nutcase shell, I’ll build an on-call pothole patching business. It will be marvelously seasonal in nature, offering me summer “off-seasons” to surf away my immense winter profits.

So, should you have a nearby pothole you simply can’t stand running into one more time – while futilely waiting for official road crews to finally reach it – simply call your own personal pothole guy. That would be me.

My qualifications? I’ll have you know I’m highly accomplished when it comes to road repairing. I can handily handle that black stuff, whatever the hell you call it. I even know how to fortify my black stuff with stones, which I’ll glean from graveled yards around town. Hell, who’s going to miss a bucket here or a bucket there – gotten after dark, of course. I see it as collecting a small fee for the inconsiderate use of impervious coverage.

Another pothole-mending option will be to take a pick and, uh, borrow chunks of street from healthier roads. Talk about job security. “Uh, is this Jay the Pothole Guy? The weirdest thing, there’s suddenly a pothole in the road just outside my driveway. Can you rush over?”

An added perk to my new calling is how it will afford me an odd appreciation of lousy winters. Plus, I’ll finally get to put up my “Mann at Work” sign.

I’ll let you ponder that as I do some cringing exercises prior to seriously pissing off a slew of soon-to-be former readers.

WIND ME UP: The winds of change are blowing something wicked out there. New England has just been given the green light to go full-bore with its nearshore wind-power plans. While wind power is literally the future blowing in, having it show in such a near-in coastalized form is something that far too many LBI’ers think really blows. Since I’ll herein be stumping for it, I guess I’ll also blow. Potholes here I come.

My fellow Americanos, if we ever want to shed the wallet-sucking OPEC ties that bind us, we need to get serious about harvesting the untapped natural resources blessing our nation from above, specifically wind and sun. I’m subscribing to natural energy sourcing, aligning with federal folks who are fostering ways to tap the endless wind power just off shorelines from New England to North Carolina – and our home-point twixt the two.

Hey, don’t run off, this segment will get more interestingly infuriating.

Remaining trite for one more instant, a worldwide conversion from fossil fuels to natural neverending energy is not an if but a when thing. It won’t matter how high the seas rise or how low the sky sinks, a successful future must be energized by renewable power. Bank on it – stock-wise, if you’re smart. Hey, everyone of us could have bought original “penny” shares in Google, Facebook, Microsoft …

All this is a necessary lead-in to nearshore windmills, technically wind turbines, which must be close enough to terra firma to make the electrical grid-bound journey financially feasible.

Regarding arriving ocean-based wind-power, I’ve been closer than most to the PO’edness being voiced by many an LBI’er as they envision bladed wind-power devices affixed to our eastern horizon – eventually manifesting in wind farm formations. The prospect of such a horizon changer will likely have many naysayers fighting tooth and nail … and lawyer.

Succumbing to the pressures of such NIMBY wind-power cynics will surely put us behind the times, especially future times. Bringing up the rear? How utterly un-American. However, around the planet, virtually all nations, even those of a Third-World ilk, have freely accepted and embraced the inevitability of going all-natural when powering their domains into times to come. Just imagine what our great nation would look like to outsiders, as we openly opt to further ruin the planet’s air – and nose-pay the pipers of oil producing and exporting countries – all in the name of preserving a high-rental ocean view.

I’ll bet the billion-dollar beach farm that nary one Island tourist will be lost due to a nearshore wind farm presence. I’ll up the ante by portending that area rental prices will remain lodged in the stratosphere – spinning wind turbine blades or no.

FLIGHT OF UNFANCY: Now to moaningly address the squawking of bird people – bitterly opposed to spinning turbine blades, which they see as the potential bane of all bird life. Just great. Now the world will hear we choose to remain oil-addicted and dirty-aired for the sake of not only ocean views … but also birds. This is not going to look good on a United Nations environmental assessment.

My dear birders, talk of turbines killing entire flocks of fliers in one fell swoop is atmospherically nonsensical. Nonetheless, being a bird enjoyer myself, I’ll run/fly with the likelihood of an avian cost, albeit minimal, related to spinning blades. To that, I’ll offer a sound solution. Follow me here: If we can now merely ask out loud and our phones will answer any question in the world, we can surely devise some sort of warning transmission – be it sound or energy – to prevent birds from flying headlong into wind turbine blades. Hell, I know some heavy-metal music that could deflect birds on amplified guitar licks alone.

Now to a further-piss-’em-off point. There’s no logic in saving a few birds whilst, in doing so, we allow the deadly polluting of their skyways. As my mother was wont to say, “Are you daft, people!?”

HOW BIG!?: All of this piss-offery is my lead-in to announcing a supersized breakthrough in wind power, recently loosed by General Electric. The long-lived power company is breaking into the wind-power realm in an immense fashion. GE recently went public with plans for “The World’s Largest, Most Powerful Offshore Wind Turbine.” Called the Haliade-X offshore wind turbine, the prototype models will stand 853 feet tall and sport 351-foot blades.

“We want to lead in the technologies that are driving the global energy transition,” General Electric CEO John Flannery told NBC news.

I’m blown away by the scope of this towering power-gatherer. For perspective, the blades alone will be over a football field long. As to its juiciness, it will outpower any existing turbine by almost 45 percent. It has Eastern Seaboard wind farms written all over it, per its developers.

To picture the Haliade-X in light-’em-up terms, a single GE mega turbine will be able to generate 67 gigawatt-hours per decent wind year. That’s enough electricity to offer clean-air energy to as many as 16,000 households. Thinking in even larger, save-the-planet terms, a 750-megawatt wind farm configuration, comprised of many a turbine, could power 1 million households! In the immortal words of Popeye, “Blow me down!”

ARE WE WORTHY?: I’m among meteorological legions predicting wind increases from over-warmed seas. Albeit an atmospherically suffering world, it’s a perfect time to be a wind turbine – maybe slightly more than being an also world-worthy solar panel.

Along the Jersey Shore, we’ll be able to spin blades with the best of them, compliments of fierce winter winds from the northwest and southwesterly summer gusts. In fact, in the summer, the coastline can have kicking late-day winds while in-land areas swelter in totally calm air. Face it, we’re ripe for wind power.

As to the wind turbines being able to survive fierce western Atlantic storms, technology gleaned from, ironically, oil rigs in places like the North Sea will allow wind turbines to shine even when the sun ain’t. There’s even the electrified irony that the fiercest storms are the most valuable power producers.

I’ll be following the arrival of wind power … when patching potholes, mind you.

VIEW TO A KILL: This week, I got an angst-filled appeal from down Brigantine way, where naturalists are aghast over the state’s killing of the local red foxes. Here’s just a small look at what I was emailed.

“Our beloved Brigantine red fox has been mysteriously disappearing. Whats going on?

“Over the past few years, many have noticed a dramatic decrease in fox sightings in Brigantine. What gives? Are these foxes being killed, trapped or shot dead? Is the State of NJ involved? That answer is ‘all of the above.’

“NJ DEP claims Brigantine fox kill is needed to protect endangered birds like the piping plover.”

Been there, killed that … so to speak.

LBI has experienced everything from fuming cyanide canisters thrown into fox dens (south end) to randomly placed fox-seeking wire snares (north end) as ways to de-fox any plover nesting premises.

It’s during killing times like these that I become complexly conflicted. Who wouldn’t shudder over the lethal ways and means employed by authorities targeting coastal foxes? As noted, such neutralizations are most often done in the good name of piping plover perpetuation. However, there’s a certain seemingly frivolous carte blanche-ness when it comes to controlling resident foxes.

Why the ferocity? I can’t be a card-carrying naturalist and not recognize that foxes are among the – gotta say it – foxiest creatures. They’re cannily adept when it comes to nabbing plover eggs and chicks. They’re no slouches when it comes to taking down full-grown plovers, along with other assorted raræ aves, i.e. rare birds. When it comes to trapping foxes, they easily outsmart all but the deadliest man-methods. Did I mention toxic gases?

But are foxes the worst culprits on the dead-bird front? I’ll now thematically piss off feline-fascinated folks by daring to confidently suggest that the number of rare birds killed annually by cats, both ferals and free-roaming domestics, is a thousand times greater than the number of birds killed by foxes. But pity the fool who tries to rein in cats … or their owners. De-foxing is far easier than de-catting.

SIDEBAR: I’m perpetually told that carousing cats are simply playing out their one-time untamed-beast heritage. By hauling home massacred wildlife – to “Oh, how cute” praises of owners – they’re somehow mirroring onetime jungle lives. Never mind they’re then being fed multi-dollar cans of epicurean cat food. Screw that “only acting natural” cat crap. Place Fifi back into the wilds of, say, an all-natural rainforest and there are butterflies that can rip her apart. Just sayin’.

That said, that’s me bending over, all “Hey, little guy,” should a random cat saunter over and nestle up to my leg … hopefully not as a prelude to a rabid chomp-down. Cats are man’s best non-friend.

Then, there I go, going all “Awwwww” upon seeing a gorgeous piping plover bopping around on the sand, sporting a tag on its itsy-bitsy widdle weg. Such a beatific bird. A must to be saved from extinction. Let me at those lousy foxes!

And there I am again, this time absolutely tickled pink when red foxes sidle up to me at night while I’m surf fishing. It was a natural honor to have foxes politely hit me up for a handout … and even a bit of companionship. I remember one male fox that would regularly stop by at night, dine a bit, then come nearly close enough to touch – before curling up and take a little snoring siesta.

Along those companionship lines, I read in National Geographic that it might very well have been foxes, not wolves or coyotes, that first brought canines into the humanly beloved realm – and onward to becoming man’s best friends. That makes it doubly troubling to think about foxes being hideously taken down in the name of stinkin’ birdlife.

It’s when pondering complexly conflicted issues that I somehow manage to make things even more complex, i.e. we wipe out the habitat of plovers through build-out and then resort to brutally killing foxes, a creature that lived here long before we did, as if foxacide acts as some sort of repentance – and ecological repair work.

In the end, I think I should simply get better at starting a chainsaw.

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