Skeet Shares
stuff I find interesting
Monday, January 29, 2007

I would not have thought it possible to post anything on this site that combines the beauty and wonders of Hawaii with matters relelvant to my working life. Well, except silly anecdotes like my gecko-in-the-bra story. Today I feel privileged to share with you some news about a man-made wonder and how my industry came to her aid.

Hokulea has been called the pride of Hawaii. She is a double-hulled Polynesian voyaging canoe, built and navigated in the ancient ways. Her path is calculated by the stars; no modern navigational aids are used. Her accomodations are rudimentary; there are no luxurious cabins, no breakfast buffets and no bathroom facilities to speak of. Hokulea has traveled throughout the Pacific since 1974. Her story provides proof to the old oral traditions, handed down through many generations, of Hawaii being settled by Polynesians traveling in great canoes. Thor Heyerdahl proved in 1947 that such journeys were possible when he sailed Kon Tiki from Peru to Raroia atoll. Holulea continues to fill in the blanks in Polynesian history. She is currently out to sea. You can stay abreast of her progress via the Polynesian Voyaging Society weblog. Do go to there and look around. You can spend hours viewing photos, reading the crew's logs and tracking Hokulea's progress. Her journey is being used as an educational experience for school kids throughtout Hawaii, but in truth, almost every man, woman and child in the state is following along in facination. She is at the top of our headline news almost daily. I guess the broadcasters are wise enough to know that all of our hearts are with her.

So what does this have to do with my work? Well, way back in the '80s I took my first pest control licensing exam, and I have had the privilege of renewing about every four years since then. When I've transferred, first from Louisiana to California and later to Hawaii, I had to take the exams in my new home state. I've always worried to the point of making myself physically ill in the days leading up to exams. In California and Hawaii the test is mostly fill-in-the-blank and multiple choice, with a lot of math to keep me on my toes. In Louisiana, where I was first licensed, a good portion of the test was in the form of questions to be answered with essays. Having worked myself up into a frenzy in the days preceding that first exam, I was relieved to find that most of the answers rolled smoothly off of my pen. Then I got to the last question and drew a total blank. You see, while it is necessary for me to understand all of the available remedies for a given pest control problem, I have never carried the separate license required for fumigation. I know the basics, but the question posed a problem I'd never even heard of, much less performed corrections for. After excusing myself to upchuck my breakfast into a toilet, I returned to my seat and felt my doom descend upon me. The essay required that I describe every aspect of how one would fumigate a boat in water. Treatment materials to be used, procedures to be followed, safety equipment needed, precautions to be exercised ... everything. After much time spent in fruitless thought, an answer came to me. "To fumigate a boat in water, I would call the Department of Agriculture (licensing agency) and request that they provide advice and direct supervision." This was not, of course, the answer that was sought. It was, however, deemed appropriate in the end, with a few points subtracted for lack of detail. I should have rememberd that fumigant gasses, being lighter than air, will not penetrate water. No contamination can occur. The proper procedure requires that tarps be affixed to the structure (a ship or boat) to contain the gas, and that they extended into the water. Well, duh! Of course it does.

I got my most recent online edition of Pest Control Magazine today. Memories of that horrible first exam came flooding back when I saw that it featured an article entitled Historic Hawaiian Ship Rescued By Fumigation With Vikane. I was disappointed that I somehow had not known that Hokulea had had a drywood termite infestation (for what other ship could it be?) I would have known how to handle the problem, having had about twenty-five years to correct my past ignorance. Irrelevant, of course, since I still choose not to be involved in fumigations, but, by golly, why had no one shared this worthy news with me? Anyway, while the article makes me proud of my industry, it didn't actually relate all that well to my exam dilemma. Those wimps waited until she was in drydock to fumigate Hokulea. HA! If they'd only called me first ...

Still, it gave me a springboard to tell you a story that combines two of my passions, so I guess it's all good.

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Blogger whimsicalnbrainpan said...
That is pretty funny. I'll bet you that they did it in dry dock because most people would assume that the chemicals would contaminate the water and would make a fuss. They probably didn't want the bother of having to deal with that.

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