ClamHouse Rocks! A Back To School Primer

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YOU CAN TELL IT’S THE END OF SUMMER because since July 4th the CVS and Walgreens have been pushing their Halloween goods, teachers have been quitting their side jobs, and seasonal workers have been trying to figure out how to correctly collect unemployment until April.

That means it’s back to school time in the city, that magical time of year where students who are done harvesting on the family farm return to the schoolhouse equipped with new chalk and writing boards, eager to complete the three Rs.

Teachers are relieved to get a steady paycheck once again, and parents are excited to have something to busy their kids with for six-to-eight hours aside from Camp, the beach, wandering the town’s streets and parks, the beach, a neighbor’s pool, summer job, hanging out with cell phone in the house, the beach, protesting outside Market Basket, the river, or the beach.

Lesson: to every thing there is a season, and purpose, except in summer. During summer we’re just waiting until the kids can be busy again. Countdown to Columbus Day: six weeks.

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YOUR, YOU’RE, YORE & THEY’RE, THEIR, THERE – Gone are the lazy, hazy, crazy, Swayze days of summer – it’s now officially sweatshirt weather at nights, and probably a strange heat wave for the first few days of school. If you have kids ages zero to seven, this might mean you still stop by the beach after school or the weekend. Otherwise, the rest of us  are now slaves to anything school-related and weekends full of non-stop sports games and birthday parties at the bowling alley. Always the bowling alley, always.

In the adult world we operate on the notion that life is fifty-two weeks at a time, and you’re always working unless you take a vacation (who does that?). In school we think of life a grade at a time, or a semester or quarter at a time. Learning is somehow confined to 180 days, six and a half hours each, only from September to June. Fight the power! Learn alongside your kids if you can – have them teach you what they learned that day. Have them show you some new way of learning math or remembering history facts. Before long (you have until they’re like fourteen, right? Maybe twelve?), your children won’t want to tell you anything, so enjoy them while they’re young enough to talk about their day. You can always follow your kids’ lives on Twitter or Instagram because Facebook is now only for old people, and by old people we’re talking like the 24-64 demographic).

Lesson: Trick yourself into learning things by tricking your kids into doing homework with them. Doubleplusgood! Countdown to Thanksgiving: twelve weeks.

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Y=MX + B – It’s important to remember that you (and your children) have and will forget most of what you learn in school. Adults have forgotten about 70% of what they learned since three years old, even counting college and grad school and the years of television shows and movies they’ve consumed. And if they were paying attention? Still 70%. That’s right – educated humans will forget most of what they learn in 14+ years of school (that’s counting pre-school). Adult humans always forget how to be kind and not beat each other up, and rarely know how to share, and those were some of the basics.

Lesson: I totally forget. I knew it at one point, but maybe I have it written down somewhere in a notebook in the attic? Countdown to Christmas Break: sixteen weeks.

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FAILURE IS AN OPTION – That’s right. Any teacher, coach, or principal who says otherwise is totally wrong. Whether you’re a teacher, parent, student, or all three, don’t be afraid to fail. Fail big, fail often, but only after you’ve tried your bestest and then learned something. If you fail as a parent, you have time to make it right, even if your kids are grown. If you’ve failed as a student, there is always a chance or teacher or test you can do to regain your place in the world (or another road to travel to get to where you want to be). If you’ve failed as a teacher, start over. September is a good time for this.

Lesson: Life is very long, so you’ve got time to become the person you’ve always wanted to be, whether you’re a freshman in high school or a rookie parent. Countdown to February Break: twenty-four weeks.

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THE GOOD WILL HUNTING ANOMALY – Only 20% of you are going to run the world. Well, probably like 1% of 20% of 20% of you. That means the rest of us get to party and protest and out-learn each other, which is what we call society. HOWEVER there is this place that has ALL the knowledge in the world (aside from the library): this place of magic and wonder is called the Google.

On the Google you can literally learn everything ever taught or learned in the history of ever. From Plato to plate tectonics, from embryos to empires, it’s all there. ‘Ol good Will Hunting from Cambridge once said something like, “you could get a $100K education from a $1.50 in late fees to the library,” and he was right except that most people don’t read and most people don’t even know where the library is. But you – yes, you! have the entire knowledge of the world in your pocket! It’s that rectangle thing with the broken face that you just can’t seem to fix. Install the Wikipedia or TED Talks or NPR app and learn something new every day. In fact, you could spend a whole year just learning from the Google and you would probably know more than most people on the planet right now.

Lesson: Use technology to supplement your learning, not just for pixelated adventures and Twitter. Countdown to Spring Break: thirty-three weeks.

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TIME IS RELATIVE – If you are living in Massachusetts, and reading this, and own a computer, and have finished at least eighth grade, and you and your children are relatively healthy, then, in the year 2014, you’re doing better than 98% of the world over all of time and memorial. Really. You’re better off than every empire and state that ever existed. That’s how awful the world is and history has been for regular people. And just think, Massachusetts is the best place in America (and most of the world) for education. THE BEST. AND Gloucester schools are amazing, as are their teachers and students. So there are no limits for any of us – those returning to school, taking time off of it, avoiding it, or starting it up for the first time.

Lesson: We’re too advantaged to waste one day. Well, maybe one. Well, maybe we can waste a few days, but only a few. Countdown to Memorial Day: thirty-eight weeks; Countdown to Graduation: forty weeks or so; Countdown to next year’s Back to School Special Primer: fifty-one weeks.

See you at the bowling alley.

No Snark Sunday: Master Builder and Commander

Over a thousand people attended the screening of The Lego Movie at I4C2 on Wednesday.

One. Thousand. Plus.

What does that tell you about what the people of Gloucester want, considering everyone there could stream the movie at home online for five bucks and not face the very real risk of being crapped on by seagulls? It tells me that people long for shared experiences in an age when you can get anything you want through a handheld screen. It also tells me that the folks who put on the outdoor film series are awesome. Well done, peeps.

The official Clam Huzzah Goat Scream to you:

The experience reminded me of going to see movies at the Drive-In in W. Gloucester when I was a kid. I remember once on the screen we were facing was Jaws 2 but if you turned around and looked out the back of the car one could see Animal House. We young-uns were instructed that under no circumstances were we to turn around lest we get in big trouble for seeing the horror that are boobs. We were ordered to look straight ahead at images much more appropriate for us pre-tweens: beachgoers being dismembered by a giant shark.

Remember when it ate the helicopter?

Remember when it ate the helicopter?

But the Lego Movie is terrific, we’ve come a long way since 1978 (now the sharks have lasers!). For those of you reading this via teletype from the darkened halls within a rotting mansion deep in the Catskills  (lets be honest, The Clam has some weird fans) for a hundred minute-long commercial for toys, this “kids’ movie” has a message far more relevant to modern society than any film I’ve seen short of Spike Jonze’ Her. It lays bare the differences between consumers and creators in the 21st Century with humor and charm (and lasersharks, see above).

In the Lego movie the main character Emmet is a regular-Joe construction guy whose life revolves around following the instructions provided to him by the corporate government. He likes the popular music, dumb TV shows and pays 37 dollars a cup for coffee. In a Matrix-like plot twist, he finds himself at the head of a dwindling band of “Master Builders” who make things the they want without the constraints of rules or plans.

Sound familiar? It’s the plight of following the herd or breaking free. It’s the story of every creative person, ever. Additionally it features Batman in his first comedic role.

Also features 80's space guy, my favorite

Also features 80’s space guy, my favorite

Ok, so great. Fun movie, a lot of people came, goat scream, Batman, all that. I think this was the third time I’d seen it, maybe the fourth. But somehow taking it in next to the harbor on an inflatable screen with 999 of my neighbors on a lot that we, have been unable to figure out what to do with since before Steven Spielberg first went fishing using Richard Dreyfuss as bait, seemed strangely meaningful.

Later in the week I went to see the O’Maley Musical Theatre Summer Camp show, and I saw more of what I was starting to get a ‘cosmic page’ about. The production used old props that have been lovingly kept (Russ!) and stored for future use, costumes were repurposed from previous productions (kudos to Linda Stockman!) , the set (also built by Russ!) has been everything from a castle to a candy factory to a New York City street. Repurposed, rebuilt, switched around. It’s like a huge Lego set. Once you’re there long enough you start to see the pieces being re-used in new and clever ways. “Wasn’t that a boat two shows ago?”

Then I started thinking about all the house tours I’ve ever attended in Gloucester. I’ve even started doing it myself, when people come over you take them down to the basement and talk about the parts of your house built from other things: “This part of the structure was a fish shack that they drug up the hill once they built the freezers. You can see the floor joists are the spar from a sailing ship, a partially-burned timber from when the HMS Falcon shelled the town in 1775 and the vestigial femur of an extinct Ichthyosaurus…”

See, this guy has one holding up his wall

See, this guy has one holding up his wall

It hit me. Like a diamond brick: Gloucester is made of Legos! Everything (all the cool stuff, anyway); buildings, cars, schools, everything is repurposed, repaired and re-used. Dare I say, that Gloucester is a city of Master Builders. New is frowned on, old is better. Maybe it comes from fishing boats having to be custom-built and repaired at sea or maybe it’s because we’re on the end of the world out here and parts are hard to come by or maybe we’re just sort of wacky, but out here: Repairs are cool and bragging rights go to those who make new stuff out of old.

No, hon, I have not seen your headphones.

No, hon, I have not seen your headphones.

This is why creative people have flocked here for so long. Yeah, sure, they tell you there is “great light” but I never believed photons came in grades. Cheap liquor and an “anything goes” vibe seemed to be more likely culprits. Now, in reality, I think a lot of it has to do with the ‘Master Builder’ mindset. Not just with physical objects, but groups of people forming and reforming into new combinations, the same buildings and pieces of land with different roles and purposes. When your prime mindset is, “Hey we can take this and turn it into that,” rather than, “Tear down that weird, old stuff and build normal, new stuff!” you’re going to attract people who like taking stuff apart.

Not those who want to ditch the old for the new, but those who want to provide legacy with new life.

As an aside that is maybe related, I’ve always thought Gloucester would be a great place to sit out a zombie apocalypse. Partially because it’s easy to seal it off from the mainland, but mostly because folks here would be quick to turn power-washers into flamethrowers and bulldozers into rescue-tanks. Also a lot of us have been planning on one since we turned around in the station wagon to see Dawn of the Dead on the West screen when we should have been watching Superman on the East one.

Google "Superman Zombie" and the Internet willingly oblidges

Google “Superman Zombie” and the Internet willingly oblidges

Make a Happy HUMVEE

I’m pretty much a huge fan of the GPD. They’ve saved my butt a bunch of times and have always been practical and professional in my interactions with them. Too professional, even. There have been times when I really wanted to see them beat the shit out of some shirtless asshole they were arresting after spending way, way, too long trying to rationalize with a dude who can’t even figure out the basics of torso coverage. Check out my homage to them and how I don’t think they are anything like the out-of-control play-soldiers in Ferguson MO here.

But for a while I’ve been wondering, and in light of the recent events in Missouri I think it’s now worth asking:

Can someone explain why we have not one, but fucking two military-grade HUMVEES sitting out in the police parking lot?

And if the zombies take our our first Humvee, we have the backup...

And if the zombies take our our first Humvee, we have the backup.

What are those things doing here in G-town? What possible practical purpose could they serve? And how is that purpose better served by not one, but two of them? Are we planning on some kind of scenario where the police, who now have multiple SUVs, trucks ATVs and that faux Segway thing that looks like something out of the 1980s Dr. Who series, cannot hack it with the vehicles on hand and need to deploy not one, but a pair of jacked-up war-surplus utility combat vehicles? Are there also crossbows and flamethrowers? What. The. Hell. (Note: Don’t even start with “snow” okay? Snow-equipped vehicles have shit like plows and winches and that’s really the Fire Department anyway. This is the police.)

Chainsaw bike. Do they have chainsaw bikes?

Chainsaw bike. Do they have chainsaw bikes?

The worst thing about them from the perspective of Gloucester Police is, in a word, optics. We don’t need our police force looking like a military outfit, because they don’t act like one. Unlike what we’re seeing out in Missouri, as I said above, our cops are completely different. So looking like a military-equipped police force has become, like so many things where one bad group ruins it for everyone, over. It’s like how hipsters ruined wolf sweatshirts forever.

Also ironically rides a mobility scooter in the grocery store

Also ironically rides a mobility scooter in the grocery store

I assume we can’t get rid of them. So what to do? We here at your beloved The Clam are all about solutions. So if we can’t get rid of them, how about we pimp them? Thus, The Clam offers some solutions for our police parking lot to make it appear less like a Forward Operating Base in Afghanistan circa 2003.

OPTION 1: PINK IS THE NEW CAMO How can you feel threatened by anything this adorable? I recommend gluing pink felt all over both vehicles Then it’s like, this isn’t a tactical response, it’s a tactile one!

Hug assault, on the way!

Hug assault, on the way!

OPTION 2: STEAMPUNK We’ve already explored how the police have moved beyond the practical to pure optics, so why not go all the way? Zeppelins; hot, tattooed, half-Asian chicks in corsets; impractical weaponry. The GPD could embrace both the arts and Geek communities in one simple stroke. And no one is intimidated by Steampunks. Once you put on knickers and a tophat festooned with brass telescopes, your threat posture evaporates.

Stop! In the name of Her Majesty Queen Victoria!

Stop! In the name of Her Majesty Queen Victoria!

OPTION 3: DELICIOUS CANDY So the primary use of these vehicles is for the Horribles Parade? Then go all the way and just coat the thing in gumballs.

Suck on this, lawbreakers and jawbreakers alike!

Suck on this, lawbreakers and jawbreakers alike!

OPTION 4: FRENCH BAZOOKA VESPAS Look, I’m going to level with you guys here. Sometimes at your The Clam the image tail manages to wag the content dog, as it were. I don’t really have much more to say about how this would work for the GPD, I just really googled “impractical military vehicles” and saw this then found I really liked writing the words FRENCH BAZOOKA VESPAS in all caps. Also FRENCH BAZOOKA VESPA would be a funny name for an absurdist comedy troupe. Also: Owl Stretching Time.

The French thought this was a good idea for a weapon. Say no more.

Hey French Army, I think that’s pointing in the wrong direction. Snap!

OPTION 5: LEGO Even the most terrifying looking vehicles become family-friendly fun when made out of the creative bricks from Denmark. Out in Ferguson everything is awful. But with Lego-styled Hummers, in Gloucester everything is awesome!

I only work in Tan. Or very dark Khaki.

I only work in Tan. Or very dark Khaki.

Ok, that’s it. Submit your ideas to make our local enforcement vehicles more approachable and less reprochable in the comments.

Oh, and note to military-hardware pedants: I know that it’s a recoilless rifle on the Vespa, not a bazooka. Save your breath.

Behold, Supermoon! Moons Over My Clammy Edition

Cops, parents, and retail workers will tell you that human beings become even more awful and unmanageable during a full moon, something about the tides and humans being 73.8% saltwater that shakes us up and makes us pointed jerks. Well what about a Supermoon in Gloucester? Field Clam-porter Jeremy McKeen was on the scene this past weekend trying to make sense of the phenomenon known as “Supermoon” and its effect on Fishtown. The results were not typical, however.


Just like a factoid is in fact a wrong fact, not a “little fact” (as most often is reported, incorrectly), most people report the wrong definition of factoid so much that the word factoid has become the definition of itself, which is a cliched, trivial fact that has lost its meaning and is reported incorrectly over and over and is eventually accepted as whatever the meaning is that is attributed to it over and over. Whew.

The Supermoon, or “closer moon” is indeed a variety of factoid. But that doesn’t mean the myths don’t ring true.



It turns out that Gloucester parents and kids are so beach-worn that the moon has very little effect in general. The vitamin D from the sun and their slight dehydration negates the effects of the moon pushing and pulling the tides within their tanned bodies. This leads to a calming acceptance of strange occurrences and occasions when something “full moon” happens, and something is always happening in Fishtown, whether you’re listening to neighbors set off fireworks or yet another Block Party or Bazaar work full motion toward the work week.

Landlocked masses trekked to Stage Fort Park peaceably from every part of Massachusetts, despite nine festivals happening simultaneously as well as three family reunions, four church picnic gatherings, eleven independent gatherings needing grills (who all properly disposed of their coals, as the stone monuments say), a smattering of dog park people, and locals trying to avoid the beach. Representatives from all separate Blues, Reggae, Folk, Alt. Country, Bike, Shriners, Worm, Cat, and Crafting festivals said that everything was beautiful and no one got hurt. The Cat Festival almost got out of hand when the crafters misplaced a giant ball of yarn, which was later located behind the Cupboard. With or without the Supermoon, you would have been able to predict that joke. Not the Glostafarians, though. They’re surprisingly humorless.


The night of the Supermoon I was returning to the McDonald’s/7-11 parking lot in exchange for a boy’s toy for my son’s Happy Meal – he received the Barbie toy instead, and if kids know anything about a $3 meal it’s that it should come with fruit and a gender-specific toy. The usual characters in this parking lot were orderly and few, and even the Redbox customers were timely and found exactly what they wanted. No one left their car running while choosing a movie or visiting inside for discounted cigarettes. Even the customers next door at the Car Wash tipped extra well.

Still, nothing much. The moon was fuller and closer. Where were the teenage werewolves breaking in the new field or wandering coyotes slurping out of backyard pools?


– A group of teenagers was apprehended outside of a Washington Street convenience store not soliciting adults to buy alcohol or vaping units but rather looking for notebooks and writing utensils to finish their summer reading, after which they planned on flossing and brushing, and going to bed at a reasonable hour.

– Man, 62, was caught using his turn signal at the Eastern Ave. Shaw’s impossible intersection. The man, who obeyed all the rules of traffic, was neither headed to the beach nor to the supermarket. He had no trouble navigating the six directions of traffic either.

– Woman, 44, with accomplices, parked legally and carried their trash to the barrel after their time at Good Harbor Beach, and parking at Stop & Shop was plentiful.

– Man, 27, paid charges and fees for placing his 4Loko cans in a neighbor’s recycling bin. The local man said he thought the bin was his and was remorseful for littering but was even moreso remorseful for being someone who is 27 and purchases 4Loko.


– Niles Beach parking was orderly and minimal from the hours of 12 and 3PM both Saturday and Sunday. And all the ice cream man’s prices were lowered 50 cents.

– Wingaersheek Beach slushies were reported to have stayed firm between the slushie cart and townie family blanket several hundred meters away.

– The larger-than-life but not larger-than-the-Death-Star “Supermoon” caused five Tedeschi regulars to ask even more questions about the taste of Mavericks vs. Checkers cigarettes and whether or not it was smarter to save money usually spent on scratch tickets than to spend it all every day on never winning.

– Local dog owners were not cited for leaving their dog doo-doo on the sidewalk. “We’re all waiting for late fall to let the steaming piles of our dog’s dookie sit and decompose during winter. Then – you know, so it’s just the right mix of mushy and nasty, children can step on it when the snow melts,” said local dog owner.

– A local gathering on the Annisquam River was dispersed after authorities mistook 30-something parents imitating hipsters. They were enjoying ‘smores un-ironically, drinking IPA in cans not Mason jars (mistaken for Pabst Blue Ribbon), and wearing regular glasses, not oversized novelty glasses. Their children, however, were cited for similar offenses.

– Local astronomers gathered to look at the “Supermoon” noting that a “Supermoon” is just a regular moon appearing eight percent bigger than normally, and up to thirty percent brighter than a normal full moon. “It’s like “Polar Vortex” or “Electoral College Super Voters” in terms of new made-up media phrases that sound official,” said group spokesman.

– Local supermarket employees returned to work after striking for several weeks. CEOs applauded their collective effort and offered them real pensions, health coverage, and a living wage. CEOs also contemplated splitting up their large, mainly carb-only product-carrying supermarkets into smaller farmers markets and craft food shops. “With all these millions of dollars it’s like I have the power to do good and not ill,” said local CEO millionaire.

– Local man, 35, writes “KEEP GLOUCESTER WEIRD” on local Gloucester Facebook page to the chagrin of real locals and confused transplants and then quickly deletes it.

– Local Shark enthusiast and expert, 55, told authorities that despite the “Shark Week” phenomenon in America, sharks are no more a threat than they ever were to Gloucester locals, and despite 300 million years of evolution, sharks are mostly cartilage and have not changed much over time.

A blessed Supermoon to you all, and beware the horizon.


The Rescue of a Cat and a Drone From a Tree, a Clamparison

In 2000 my friend Amy’s faithful cat, Idgy got stuck in a tree. Of our friends I was selected for the rescue as ‘the guy most likely to risk his life for a six-pack’. Earlier this summer Martin Del Vecchio’s drone, “Droning Myrtle” also was similarly stranded and yet again I was pegged for the extraction (same logic). Despite the seemingly similarity of ‘things cared about stuck in trees’, the experiences turned out to be vastly different.

I was informed by the other Clameditors that without this image the post would be unceremoniously deleted

I was informed by the other Clameditors that without this image the post would be unceremoniously deleted

For fun, let’s clampare:

The setup:

In both cases the supposedly self-preservatory functions of each failed spectacularly. Example: It does a cat no good to escape a doberman by scrabbling sixty feet into the crown of an oak, a distance from which she cannot descend. Is this some sort of evolutionary quirk? Will paleontologists one day discover that her feline ancestors were hunted by a kind of canine-bat hybrid, but one that could only ascend a limited distance therefore favoring those escapees who got the furthest up into trees? But even that logic fails considering marooning yourself in a tree ill-favors reproduction similarly to being devoured. I have no explanation. Darwin’s corpse not only spins, but tumbles end-for-end.

Her mechanical soulmate had an even worse excuse: dumbass human programmers. The entire function of the “auto return” feature on the drone fails given an absurd imposed limitation: insufficient pre-determined altitude. Here is how the scenario went down (literally): The drone stopped receiving signals from the control station (Martin) because he ordered the drone to fly behind an obstruction the signal could not penetrate, the island itself. You may think this seems like a stupid way to operate the vehicle, but remember this is not a remote-controlled plane of yore, this is a ‘drone’ in every sense. Upon loss of contact it just comes home using pre-programmed GPS coordinates. All was working smoothly and as its builders intended. But here is the rub, to make this return the drone is programmed to ascend to a safe height of sixty feet.

Sixty feet is considered safe? Effing Sixty feet? Do it’s programmers live in the taiga just below the Arctic Circle where the harsh conditions stunt the trees to the height of landscaping shrubbery? Hell, even in the desert there are occasional power lines taller than sixty feet. Drones are cleared by the FAA outside sensitive areas below 400 feet. The tallest tree in the world, the Redwood Sequoia is 380 feet. Might I recommend the preset for the ‘return to base’ feature be then set at the average of the two at 390 feet?

Anyway, here’s what happened, recovered first person video of the crash from the drone with Martin’s commentary:

So, as in the case of Idgy, we have a beloved and loyal companion stuck up in a tree. Time to mount a rescue.

The Approach:

Idgy: My friend and her partner lived on Leonard Street in Annisquam. I pulled up to their house in my truck and the tree was right off the driveway. Idgy indicated her position via a series of low, plaintive yowls.

Myrtle: Ram island is in the Salt Marsh and is unapproachable by road. Each of two drone rescue attempts required mucking through mid-calf low-tide mud lugging armloads of gear we assumed would be useful for the rescue. The island is covered in vine-entangled thickets of thorns and poison ivy. Also it was greenhead season. Also too it’s 14 years later and I am fucking way out of shape.

The Gear

Idgy: Even at this dawn of the Internet, cats ruled the web. A simple Yahoo search (remember those?) of “rescue, cat, tree” yielded the suggestion of bringing a backpack and a towel. At the time I possessed a tall ladder and a tree harness with which to secure myself.

Myrtle, First attempt: The drone was atop the very crown of a wonky poplar, branchless for the first 40 feet and impossible to climb. Ladders were not going to cut it. We figured we could poke the drone out of the tree using some kind of tall pole (something Amy would have frowned on in the case of Idgy), so we dragged out half a dozen lengths of aluminum electrical conduit along with what turned out to be an insufficient length of rope, an assorted tool kit and plenty of duct tape.

Second Attempt: A bow and arrow, fishing line, an appropriately lengthed rope, more duct tape.

Rescue Narrative:

Idgy: Extended ladder to maximum height and climbed to top wearing backpack on front in adherence to Internet instructions. With safety line around tree, I shimmed up to the branch where Idgy was perched. I then wrapped Idgy in towel, shoved her down into backpack (she was less than amused, but generally compliant) and descended. Presented package to relieved owners and admiring onlookers waiting at bottom of ladder.

Myrtle, First Attempt: To increase challenge level, decided to include hyperactive redheaded nine year old on extraction team. In retrospect he was the best equipped of all of us to manage the situation as he simply stood on a rock and made actually useful suggestions while Martin and I spectacularly failed at everything. Even finding the tiny, white aircraft from the ground (remember it entered the leaves from above) was a massive challenge in the thick brush, taking hours and a great deal of crashing through razorwire-like vegetation. Bugs treated us like the arrival of food trucks at Hempfest.

We eventually did locate her, upside-down and wedged by her rotors in a matrix of branches at the top of the uppermost canopy.

We soon discovered that short of exotics like titanium or tungsten carbide, there is no linear material strong enough to extend sixty feet in the air and still be light enough to wield from the ground effectively. We never even got close to sixty feet with the contraptions we tried to make out of the conduit we’d lugged out there. We did get the too-short rope not very far up the tree at one point and tried shaking it. Then to our dismay a slight breeze would come and shake it a little more than we were capable of.

Myrtle remained literally unmoved.

We decided to scrub this first attempt and made back for the shore, but the tide had come in leaving us cut off from Granite Pier where my wife was waiting in the minivan to take us to a soccer game. Braving the tide, I stuck boy on shoulders and waded D-Day style through the chest-deep water. My legs were torn up from the thorns as though I had coated my lower limbs in a tasty rodent-slurry and dangled them into the enraged weasel pen at the local zoo. I arrived at the field in Hamilton sopping from the chest down, bloodied and covered with stinking marsh mud and salt grass. I represented the Gloucester side looking not unlike one of the inhabitants of the interior tribes of the remote corners of the Indonesian archipelago.

The next morning we set out again across the flats, this time replacing the boy (although, again to his credit, he was no more or less effective than any of the crew on the initial attempt) with Martin’s most excellent brother-in-law Dan and his archery gear. In this attempt we attached fishing line to the end of an arrow and he Henry Wadsworth Lonfellowed that shit as far as he could up into the tree over a high branch. The arrow came back down the other side and we fastened it to the appropriately-lenghted rope which we ran up and over the branch as if we were raising a flag.

This is how you get a drone out of a tree. Welcome to the 21st Century.

This is how you get a drone out of a tree. Welcome to the 21st Century.

Now, with a stout line 40+ feet up into the tree we got to shakin’, freeing the drone after a few quick tugs and causing it to cascade dramatically through the brush and crash to the ground ejecting its battery dramatically out one side. NEVER DO THIS WITH A CAT YOU SICK WEIRDOS.

After the robot uprising, I'm going to need to explain this

Not a lot of meat on ’em. But they are tasty.


Here the paths of both Idgy and Myrtle reconvene as both were completely unscathed by their arboreal adventures. Idgy went upstairs and licked her paws on the bed for a while, eventually coming back down for dinner as if nothing had transpired.

Back on the pier and equipped with a fresh battery Myrtle flew, received commands, sent video and generally was none the worse for wear. We were giddily ecstatic, mostly from blood loss. Here’s the vid:

So you can say that both had happy endings, short of the thought that cats are still prone to this kind of behavior, but based on user feedback the drone and all those subsequent to it will no doubt be reprogrammed to not make the same mistake again. This is why cats are more passive overlords allowing us to live our daily lives to provide for them, but drones will use lasers to brutally enslave us in their yttrium mines.

Here is a photo of us, from Myrtle, after her rescue.

Author holding roll of duct tape

Author holding roll of duct tape

I only ask for remembrance of my service to their kind.