The times they are a-changin’

Fri, 04/07/2017 - 11:45am

During my wife’s recent travels to China and Iceland this year — and being a keen observer of fashion — she noticed how a certain hairstyle is reemerging. In Beijing, at the Great Wall, Reykjavik, and in the Blue Lagoon, she noticed people of all ages sporting the popular hairstyle of the 80s — the mullet. Many people sported this hair coif at the docks back in those heady days. Ferry manager Janette Centracchio said regarding this cutting-edge style, “All business up front, and a party in the back.” Moreover, ferry worker Brian Cox said with enthusiasm, “I had a mullet!” Recently, Janette has mentioned, in all seriousness, “It might be time to bring back the mullet, Joe.” We all know what’s old eventually becomes new again, and that 80s fashions are returning. I know, right now you’re picturing yourself rocking a mullet with the melody of “Achy Breaky Heart” spinning in your head. It’s okay, you’re allowed.

How about drones? With the invention of drones, there has been some recent controversy. Invention precedes law — it’s always been the case — and the courts have been inundated with conflicts whirling around (bad pun intended) these sometimes-intrusive flying objects. The upside of this technology is that Block Island homeowners may benefit from some recent ideas being introduced by aviation experts. One particular idea seems to take into consideration both issues of practicality and aesthetics — of this newfangled technology. This regulation would allow homeowners to program a drone to fly around their home — day and night — 365 days of the year. There are of course stipulations. First of all, the drone operator would need a Certificate of Operation, which would be issued by the Federal Government. The operator would be a tested — with rigor — by flying experts. Moreover, the homeowner could operate and monitor said drone with a free iPhone 6 application. Secondly, the altitude restriction would be within the Rules and Regulations, mandated and enforced by the FAA. Thirdly and most importantly, all drones must be painted a bright color, and have a minimum of four multi-colored flashing lights — after sunset — for obvious safety reasons. As a result of this new regulation the island landscape would be enhanced by the brightly colored lights — year-round — and would create a festive context, especially in the bleakest of Block Island winter evenings. This is one changethat could serve the greater good. Just sayin’.

It has been no surprise to locals this winter, at the amount of strong winds and rough sea conditions. When the purple flag goes up; the ferry is not running. Of late, some folks new to the area have mentioned that they are “perplexed” by the purple flag, and had mentioned perhaps an addendum to the design of the ferry cancellation flag is in order. One of those confused folks suggested to me that we could possibly redesign the purple flag by adding a picture of the ferryboat within a circle, with a diagonal line going through the circle — on both sides of the flag. I told the concerned observer, “I just line up the cars for loading, but I’ll mention it to the operations manager and he can bring this up at the next board meeting.”

A few weeks ago, a diver was heading out to Block Island to do some research on the cable — a big change — which connects the wind farm to the mainland. Evidently, the buried cable sends off some electromagnetic waves and these micro vibrations can possibly be attracting certain species of sea life; assorted ground fish and possibly sharks are drawn to the EMF the cable emits. This fall, a recreational diver who I met in the standby lot told me of an experience he had near the cable. “I was diving in 50 feet of water, and decided to swim over the cable and do some exploring,” he said, “Then, I stopped to check an object in the sand, it looked like perfectly round stone, about the size of a golf ball. Suddenly,” he said excitedly, “I began rising off the bottom vertically at a fast rate of ascent. I had stepped on the back of a huge manta ray!”

Unbeknownst to the diver, he had landed on the back of the huge ray, which was 28 feet wide and approximately 18 feet long. This species is usually found in sub-tropical waters — mostly off the coast of Hawaii. The diver explained that he had been examining the eye of the ray, and not a stone. The bulk of the fish had blended in with the sandy bottom as a flounder would — when it suddenly made the quick ascent. He essentially rode the huge ray while holding on to the wing-like flukes. “When I slid off the manta ray’s back, I surfaced kind of disoriented, and found myself off Ballard’s Beach. It was wild!” I thought the guy was joking; however, I checked with ferry engineer John Tally to see if this was at all feasible. Tally — a sharp guy — paused and thought for a moment, “If the cable is giving off positive ions, and say the water temperature is near 68 degrees, then the light refracting off the bottom could intensify the ion’s capacity to give off inverted vibrations within a five-mile radius,” he said, “and could possibly attract different species of fish that are heading inshore or offshore to migrate or spawn.” Hmmmm.

Indeed, like Bob Dylan said, the times are changing. And we will adapt to the changes — humans have been doing this for thousands of years. In regards to the mullet, I personally never understood the attraction of that hairstyle. A few weeks ago, after coming home from getting a haircut, the bride says, “Hey, are you going for the mullet look, it’s kind of long in the back.” I immediately spun on my heels and said, “I’ll be right back,” and then went directly to my hair cutter and corrected the mullet-like length.

Happy April!