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Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Neptune v. Ethan (or Something Sounds Fishy)

Two weeks ago I was vacationing in San Diego. We went for good eats, shoreline breezes and surf. We came back with a story equal to the epic poems of antiquity.

Thursday afternoon. The sea was fearful angry with swells stories high if they were a foot.(1)

I was blissfully adrift in the pull of the tide, tearin’ up tasty waves on a loaner boogie board. And then … “Ooch!!” It was like stepping on a wood screw. I plunged my open hands into the water, desperate to snare the offending sea creature.(2) Nothing.

Even so there was no doubt. Whatever the species, I knew for certain it was the meanest, most beatly thing to ever haunt the Pacific, with terrific teeth like daggers. A true man-eatting, colossus of the open ocean.(3)

Back on the beach, my right foot throbbed with pain. I staggered to the lifeguard stand, seemingly miles away.

"Sounds like you stepped on a stingray," said the lifeguard after having heard my tale and a quick survey of my injury.

I replied in a booming baritone. “Not a shark or that dinosaur people say lives in the Loch Ness in Scotland?” He stared a blank stare.

“Kidding … obviously,” I said, giving a disingenuous smile. “Of course it was a stingray. Some sort of super stingray, an aberration of nature to be sure.”

“Probably a normal stingray. Probably a baby one. Did the stinger break off?”

I kicked my foot back, eyeing it over my right shoulder. No protruding stinger.(4)

“You need to soak your foot in the hottest water you can stand. Heat neutralizes the venom.(5) We can do it here, or we can give you a heat pack."

“Just give me the pack.”(6)

There is a lesson to be learned here. Yes, some lifeguards are humorless,(7) but that’s not it.

Rather, in big and small emergencies being informed is about knowing who to contact and where to find information or advice that you can trust.

So when you hear “be informed” as a part of getting all-hazard prepared, it means identify neighborhood hazards, know local evacuation options and bookmark as an Internet favorite. It could save your valuable time later.

(1) - The surf report for the most of week forecasted "poor" surf conditions. We saw nothing over 6 feet all week. Lousy waves.
(2) - In truth, I wasn't sticking around. I swam from that spot and hopped around on one foot before scurrying to shore.
(3) - Research (i.e. Wikipedia shows that the diamond stingray (Dasyatis dipterura) is common to San Diego beaches. The ones I had seen in the days prior were juveniles maybe 12" across .... MAYBE.
(4) - The "wound" was the size of a paper cut. It must have been super deep though, right?
(5) - Forget the heat pack; it didn't help. On the other hand, that hot water bath worked wonders.

(6) - This whole conversation is fabricated. The ENTIRE thing. I was parked in a beach chair. My girlfriend also got "stung" and walked over to the lifeguards. I haven't a clue what was said. She returned with a heat pack.
(7) - Obviously a joke. I'm sure some are funny, hilarious even.

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